“I have always needed you, Kieran,” he said. “I have needed you to live. I’ve always needed you so much, I never had a chance to think about whether we were good for each other or not.”
Kieran sat up. He was silent, though Mark saw—to his relief—that the white streaks in his hair had gone back to their more normal blue-black color. “That is honest,” he said finally. “I cannot fault you there.”
“How much time do you need?” Kieran had drawn himself up, and he was all proud prince of Faerie now. Mark thought of the times he’d seen Kieran at revels, at a distance; seen the smaller faeries scatter in front of him. Girls and boys who hung on his arms, hoping for a word or look, because the favor of even a disgraced prince was currency. And Kieran, granting neither those words nor those looks, because his words and looks were all for Mark. All for what they had between them when the Wild Hunt was looking away . . .
“Maybe a few days,” Mark said. “If you can be patient for that long.”
“I can be patient for a few days.”
“Why did you choose Cristina?” Mark said abruptly. “When you had to swear fealty to one of us. Why her? Did you do it to unsettle me?”
Kieran grinned. “Not everything is, as they say, about you, Mark.” He leaned back; his hair was very black against the stark white linens. “Shouldn’t you be going?”
“Don’t you want me to stay here?” Mark said. “With you?”
“While you weigh my merits as if I were a horse you were considering buying? No,” Kieran said. “Go back to your own room, Mark Blackthorn. And if loneliness keeps you from your rest, do not seek me out. Surely there must be a rune for sleeplessness.”
There wasn’t, but Mark didn’t feel like it would be a good idea to say so. Kieran’s eyes were glittering dangerously. Mark left, wondering if he’d made a horrible mistake.
Cristina’s room in the London Institute was much like the rooms she’d seen in pictures of other Institutes all over the world: plainly furnished with a heavy bed, wardrobe, dresser, and desk. A small bathroom, clean, with a shower that she’d already used. Now she lay on the lumpy mattress, the blankets pulled up to her chest, her arm aching.
She wasn’t sure why. She’d loved every moment of flying with the Wild Hunt; if she’d injured herself somehow, she had no memory of it. Not when she’d mounted the horse, or when they’d ridden, and surely she’d recall pain like that? And how could she have hurt herself any other way?
She rolled to the side and reached to touch her witchlight, on the nightstand table. It flared to a soft glow, illuminating the room—the enormous English bed, the heavy oak furniture. Someone had scrawled the initials JB+LH into the paint by the window.
She stared down at her right arm. Around her wrist was a band of paler skin, slightly reddened at the edges, like the scar left by a fiery bracelet.
“You’ll be all right?” Diana said. It was half declaration, half question.
Diana, Julian, and Emma stood in the entryway of the London Institute. The Institute doors were open and the dark courtyard was visible; it had rained earlier, and the flagstones were washed clean. Julian could see the arch of the famous metal gate that closed off the Institute, and the words worked into it: WE ARE DUST AND SHADOWS.
“We’ll be fine,” Julian said.
“Malcolm’s dead, again. No one’s trying to kill us,” said Emma. “It’s practically a vacation.”
Diana hoisted her bag higher on her shoulder. Her plan was to take a taxi to Westminster Abbey, where a secret tunnel accessible only to Shadowhunters led to Idris.
“I don’t like leaving you.”
Julian was surprised. Diana had always come and gone according to her own lights. “We’ll be fine,” he said. “Evelyn’s here, and the Clave is a phone call away.”
“Not a phone call you want to make,” said Diana. “I sent another message to Magnus and Alec, and I’ll keep in touch with them from Alicante.” She paused. “If you need them, send a fire-message and they’ll come.”
“I can handle this,” Julian said. “I’ve handled a lot worse for a lot longer.”
Diana’s eyes met his. “I would step in, if I could,” she said. “You know that. I’d take the Institute if it was possible. Put myself up against the Dearborns.”
“I know,” Julian said, and oddly enough, he did. Even if he didn’t know what prevented Diana from putting herself forward as a candidate, he knew it was something important.
“If it would make any difference,” Diana said. “But I wouldn’t even get through the interview. It would be futile, and then I wouldn’t be able to stay with you, or help you.”
She sounded as if she were trying to convince herself, and Emma reached her hand out, impulsive as always.
“Diana, you know we’d never let them take you away from us,” she said.
“Emma.” Julian’s voice was sharper than he’d intended. The anger he’d been shoving down since Emma had said she and Mark had broken up was rising again, and he didn’t know how long he could control it. “Diana knows what she’s talking about.”
Emma looked startled by the coldness in his tone. Diana flicked her eyes between them. “Look, I know it’s incredibly stressful, being kept from your home like this, but try not to fight,” she said. “You’re going to have to hold everything together until I get back from Idris.”
“It’s only a day or two,” said Emma, not looking at Julian. “And nobody’s fighting.”
“Stay in touch with us,” Julian said to Diana. “Tell us what Jia says.”
She nodded. “I haven’t been back to Idris since the Dark War. It’ll be interesting.” She leaned forward then, and kissed first Jules and then Emma, quickly, on the cheek. “Take care of yourselves. I mean it.”
She flipped the hood up on her jacket and stepped outside, swallowed up almost instantly by shadows. Emma’s arm pressed briefly against Julian’s as she raised her hand to wave good-bye. In the distance, Julian heard the clang of the front gate.
“Jules,” she said, without turning her head. “I know you said Diana refused to try to take the Institute, but do you know why . . . ?”
“No,” he said. It was a single word, but there was venom in it. “On the topic of confessions, were you planning on telling the rest of Mark’s family why you dumped their brother with no warning?”
Emma looked astonished. “You’re angry that Mark and I broke up?”
“I guess you’ve dumped two of their brothers, if we’re really counting,” he said as if she hadn’t spoken. “Who’s next? Ty?”
He knew immediately he’d gone too far. Ty was her little brother, just as he was Julian’s. Her face went very still.
“Screw you, Julian Blackthorn,” she said, spun on her heel, and stalked back upstairs.
Neither Julian nor Emma slept well that night, though each of them thought they were the only one troubled, and the other one was probably resting just fine.
“I think it’s time for you to get your first real Mark,” said Ty.
Only the three of them—Livvy, Ty, and Kit—were left in the parlor. Everyone else had gone to bed. Kit guessed from the quality of the darkness outside that it was probably three or four in the morning, but he wasn’t tired. It could be jet lag, or Portal lag, or whatever they called it; it could be the contagious relief of the others that they were all reunited again.
It could be an approximate six hundred cups of tea.
“I’ve had Marks,” said Kit. “You put that iratze on me.”
Livvy looked mildly curious but didn’t ask. She was sprawled in an armchair by the fire, her legs hooked over one side.
“I meant a permanent one,” said Ty. “This is the first real one we all get.” He held up his long-fingered right hand, the back toward Kit, showing him the graceful eye-shaped rune that identified all Shadowhunters. “Voyance. It clarifies Sight.”
“I can already see the Shadow World,” Kit pointed out. He took a bite out of a chocolate digestive biscuit. One of the few great foods England had to offer, in his opinion.
“You probably don’t see everything you could,” Livvy said, then held up her hands to indicate neutrality. “But you do what you want.”