To: Annabel Blackthorn
You might not know me, but we are related. My name is Tiberius Blackthorn.
My family and I are looking for the Black Volume of the Dead. We know you have it, because my brother Julian saw you take it from Malcolm Fade.
I’m not blaming you. Malcolm Fade is not our friend. He tried to hurt our family, to destroy us if he could. He’s a monster. But the thing is, we need the book now. We need it so that we can save our family. We’re a good family. You would like us if you knew us. There’s me—I’m going to be a detective. There is Livvy, my twin, who can fence, and Drusilla, who loves everything scary, and Tavvy, who likes stories read to him. There is Mark, who is part faerie. He’s an excellent cook. There is Helen, who was exiled to guard the wards, but not because she did anything wrong. And Emma, who isn’t strictly a Blackthorn but is like our extra sister anyway.
And there is Jules. You might like him the best. He is the one who takes care of us all. He is the reason we’re all okay and still together. I don’t think he knows we know that, but we do. Sometimes he might tell us what to do or not listen, but he would do anything for any of us. People say we’re unlucky because we don’t have parents. But I think they’re unlucky because they don’t have a brother like mine.
Julian had to stop there. The pressure behind his eyes had built to a shattering intensity. He wanted to put his head down on the table and burst into unmanly, undignified tears—for the boy he had been, scared and terrified and twelve years old, looking at his younger brothers and sisters and thinking, They’re mine now.
For them, their faith in him, their expectation his love would be unconditional, that he wouldn’t need to be told he was loved back because of course he was. Ty thought this about him and probably thought it was obvious. But he had never guessed.
He forced himself to stay silent, to keep his face expressionless. He laid the letter down on the table so that the shaking of his hand was less visible. There was only a little writing left.
Don’t think I’m asking you to do us a favor for nothing in return. Julian can help you. He can help anyone. You can’t want to be running and hiding. I know what happened to you, what the Clave and Council did. Things are different now. Let us explain. Let us show you how you don’t have to be exiled or alone. You don’t have to give us the book. We just want to help.
We’re at the London Institute. Whenever you want to come, you’d be welcome.
Tiberius Nero Blackthorn
“How does he know what happened to me?” Annabel didn’t sound angry, only curious. “What the Inquisitor and the others did to me?”
Julian got to his feet and went across the room to where the aletheia crystal rested on a bookcase. He brought it back and gave it to her. “Ty found this in Blackthorn Hall,” he said. “These are someone’s memories of your—trials—in the Council chamber.”
Annabel raised the crystal to eye level. Julian had never seen the expression of someone looking into an aletheia crystal before. Her eyes widened, tracking back and forth as she gazed at the scene moving before her. Her cheeks flushed, her lips shook. Her hand began to jerk uncontrollably, and she flung the crystal away from her; it hit the table, denting the wood without breaking.
“Oh God, is there to be no mercy?” she said in an empty voice. “Will there never be any mercy or forgetfulness?”
“Not while this is still an injustice.” Julian’s heart was beating hard, but he knew he showed no outward signs of agitation. “It will always hurt as long as they haven’t recompensed you for what they did.”
She raised her eyes to his. “What do you mean?”
“Come with me to Idris,” Julian said. “Testify in front of the Council. And I will see to it that you get justice.”
She turned pale and swayed slightly. Julian half-rose from his chair. He reached for her and stopped; maybe she wouldn’t want to be touched.
And there was some part of him that didn’t want to touch her. He’d seen her when she was a skeleton held together with a fragile cobwebbing of yellowed skin and tendon. She looked real and solid and alive now, but he couldn’t help but feel his hand would pass through her skin and strike crumbling bone beneath.
He drew his hand back.
“You cannot offer me justice,” she said. “You cannot offer me anything I want.”
Julian felt cold all over, but he could not deny the excitement sparking through his nerves. He saw the plan, suddenly, in front of him, the strategy of it, and the excitement of that overrode even the chill of the razor’s edge he was walking.
“I never told anyone you were in Cornwall,” he said. “Even after the church. I kept your secret. You can trust me.”
She looked at him with wide eyes. This was why he had done it, Julian thought. He had kept this information to himself as possible leverage, even when he hadn’t known for sure that there would ever be a moment he could use it. Emma’s voice whispered in his head.
Julian, you scared me a little.
“I wanted to show you something,” Julian said, and drew from his jacket a rolled-up paper. He handed it across the table to Annabel.
It was a drawing he had done of Emma, on Chapel Cliff, the sea breaking under her feet. He had been pleased with the way he had captured the wistful look on her face, the sea thick as paint below her, the weak sun gray-gold on her hair.
“Emma Carstairs. My parabatai,” said Julian.
Annabel raised grave eyes. “Malcolm spoke of her. He said she was stubborn. He spoke of all of you. Malcolm was afraid of you.”
Julian was stunned. “Why?”
“He said what Tiberius said. He said you would do anything for your family.”
You have a ruthless heart. Julian pushed away the words Kieran had said to him. He couldn’t be distracted. This was too important. “What else can you tell from the picture?” he said.
“That you love her,” said Annabel. “With all of your soul.”
There was nothing suspicious in her gaze; parabatai were meant to love each other. Julian could see the prize, the solution. Kieran’s testimony was one piece of the puzzle. It would help them. But the Cohort would object to it, to any alliance with faeries. Annabel was the key to destroying the Cohort and ensuring the safety of the Blackthorns. Julian could see the image of his family safe, Aline and Helen returned, in front of him like a shimmering city on a hill. He went toward it, thinking of nothing else. “I saw your sketches and paintings,” he said. “I could tell from them what you loved.”
“Malcolm?” she said, with her eyebrows raised. “But that was a long time ago.”
“Not Malcolm. Blackthorn Manor. The one in Idris. Where you lived when you were a child. All your drawings of it were alive. Like you could see it in your mind. Touch it with your hand. Be there in your heart.”
She laid his sketch down on the table. She was silent.
“You could get that back,” he said. “The manor house, all of it. I know why you ran. You expected that if the Clave caught you, they’d punish you, hurt you again. But I can promise you they won’t. They’re not perfect, they’re far from perfect, but this is a new Clave and Council. Downworlders sit on our Council.”
Her eyes flew open. “Magnus said that, but I didn’t believe him.”
“It’s true. Marriage between a Downworlder and a Shadowhunter isn’t illegal anymore. If we bring you before the Clave, they won’t just not hurt you—you’ll be reinstated. You’ll be a Shadowhunter again. You could live in Blackthorn Manor. We’d give it to you.”