“Yes.” Julian shifted his pack to one shoulder.
Arthur reached his hand out, as if he meant to take Julian’s, and Julian flinched back, startled. His uncle never touched him. Arthur dropped his hand. “In the republic of Rome,” he said, “there was always a servant assigned to every general who won a war. When the general rode through the streets, accepting the thanks of the grateful people, the servant’s task was to whisper in his ear, ‘Respice post te. Hominem te esse memento. Memento mori.’”
“Look behind you,” Julian translated. “Remember that you are a man. Remember that you will die.” A faint shiver went up his spine.
“You’re young, but you’re not immortal,” Arthur said. “If you find yourself in Faerie, and I pray that you do not, for it is Hell there if there ever was a Hell—if you find yourself there, listen to nothing the faeries tell you. Listen to none of their promises. Swear to me, Julian.”
Julian exhaled. He thought of that long-ago general, being exhorted not to let the glory go to his head. To remember that everything passed. Everything went. Happiness went, and so did loss and pain.
Everything but love.
“I swear,” he said.
“We have to wait for the moment,” said Cristina. “Where the moon on the water seems solid. You can see it if you look—like the green flash.”
She smiled at Emma, who stood between Jules and Cristina, the three of them in a line at the edge of the ocean. There was little wind and the ocean stretched out before them thick and black, edged with white where the water met the sand. Surges of sea foam where the waves had broken and spent themselves on the tideline pushed seaweed and bits of shells farther up the beach.
The sky had cleared from the earlier storm. The moon was high, casting a perfect, unbroken line of light across the water, reaching toward the horizon. The waves made a soft noise like whispers as they spilled around Emma’s feet, the surf lapping at her waterproofed boots.
Jules had his gaze on his watch—it had been his father’s, a large old-fashioned mechanical watch, gleaming on his wrist. Emma saw with a slight lurch that the sea-glass bracelet she’d fashioned for him once was still on his wrist beside it, shining in the moonlight.
“Almost midnight,” he said. “I wonder how much of a head start Mark has.”
“It depends how long he had to wait for the right moment to step on the path,” said Cristina. “Such moments come and go. Midnight is only one of them.”
“So how are we planning on capturing him?” Emma said. “Just your basic chase and tackle, or are we going to try to distract him with the power of dance, and then lasso his ankles?”
“Jokes not helping,” said Julian, staring at the water.
“Jokes always help,” said Emma. “Especially when we’re not doing anything else but waiting for water to solidify—”
Cristina squeaked. “Go! Now!”
Emma went first, leaping over a small wave crashing at her feet. Half her brain was still telling her that she was throwing herself into water, that she’d splash down into it. The impact when her boots struck a hard surface was jarring.
She took a few running steps and spun around to face the beach. She was standing on a gleaming path that looked as if it were made of hard rock crystal, cut thin as glass. The moonlight on the water had become solid. Julian was already behind her, balanced on the shimmering line, and Cristina was leaping up onto the path behind him.
She heard Cristina gasp as she landed. As Shadowhunters, they had all seen wonders, but there was something distinctly Faerie about this kind of magic: It seemed to take place in the interstices of the normal world, between light and shadow, between one minute and another. As Nephilim they existed in their own space. This was Between.
“Let’s move,” Julian said, and Emma began to walk. The path was wide; it seemed to flex and curl under her feet with the motion and ripple of the tide. It was like walking on a bridge held suspended over a chasm.
Except that when she looked down, she didn’t see empty space; she saw what she feared much more. The deep darkness of the ocean, where her parents’ dead bodies had floated before they washed up on the shore. For years she had imagined them struggling, dying, underwater, miles of sea all around, totally alone. She knew more now about how they’d died, knew they’d been dead when Malcolm Fade had consigned their bodies to the sea. But you couldn’t speak to fear, couldn’t tell it the truth: Fear lived in your bones.
This far out, Emma would have expected the water to be so deep it was opaque. But the moonlight made it glow as if from within. She could gaze down into it as if into an aquarium.
She saw the fronds of seaweed, moving and dancing with the push and pull of the tides. The flutter of schools of fish. Darker shadows, too, bigger ones. Flickers of movement, heavy and enormous—a whale, perhaps, or something bigger and worse—water demons could grow to the size of football fields. She imagined the path breaking up suddenly, giving way, and all of them plunging into the darkness, the enormity all around them, cold and deathly and filled with blind-eyed, shark-toothed monsters, and the Angel knew what else rising up out of the deep . . . .
“Don’t look down.” It was Julian, approaching on the path. Cristina was a little behind them, looking around in wonder. “Look straight ahead at the horizon. Walk toward that.”
She raised her chin. She could feel Jules next to her, feel the warmth coming off his skin, raising the hair along her arms. “I’m fine.”
“You’re not.” He said it flatly. “I know how you feel about the ocean.”
They were far out from shore now—it was a shining line in the distance, the highway a ribbon of moving lights, the houses and restaurants along the coastline glimmering. “Well, as it turns out, my parents didn’t die in the ocean.” She took a shuddering breath. “They didn’t drown.”
“Knowing that doesn’t wipe out years of bad dreams.” Julian glanced toward her. The wind blew soft tendrils of his hair against his cheekbones. She remembered what it felt like to have her hands in that hair, how holding him had anchored her not just to the world, but to herself.
“I hate feeling like this,” she said, and for a moment even she wasn’t sure what she was talking about. “I hate being afraid. It makes me feel weak.”
“Emma, everyone’s afraid of something.” Julian moved slightly closer; she felt his shoulder bump hers. “We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”
“Jules—” She started to turn toward him in surprise at the intensity in his voice, but paused when she heard Cristina’s footsteps quicken, and then her voice, raised in recognition, calling:
NEAR THE RIVER
Emma saw Mark immediately. A shadow out on the gleaming path before them, the moonlight sparking off his pale hair. He didn’t seem to have noticed them yet.
Emma began to run, Cristina and Jules at her heels. Though the path surged and dipped under her, she was used to running on the beach where the soft sand gave way under her feet. She could see Mark clearly now: He’d stopped walking, and turned to face them, looking astonished.
His gear was gone. He was wearing clothes similar to the ones he’d come to the Institute in, though clean and undamaged: linen and soft, tanned hide, high laced boots and a duffel bag slung over his back. Emma could see the stars reflected in his wide eyes as she drew closer to him.
He dropped the duffel bag at his feet, looking accusingly at his three pursuers. “What are you doing here?”