Through Blood, Through Fire – Cassandra Clare, Robin Wasserman

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a child who should not have been born. A child of disgraced warriors—his blood the blood of the angels, his birthright forfeit while he slept, unknowing, in his mother’s womb. A child sentenced to death for the sins of his ancestors, a child spirited away from the Law that condemned and the family that couldn’t yet know how much they might someday need him and his progeny. Once upon a time, a child was lost—or, at least, such is the story as told by those foolish enough to lose him. No one is ever lost to himself. The child was simply hiding. As his child, and his child’s child, learned to hide, and on through the generations, evading those who hunted them—some seeking forgiveness, some seeking annihilation—until, inevitably, that which had been hidden was revealed. The lost child was found. And that was the end. Later, when Jem Carstairs tried to remember how the end began, he would remember the tickle of Tessa’s hair on his face, as he bent close, breathed deep the scent of her, which that day carried a hint of lavender. They were in Provence—so, of course, everything smelled like lavender. But Tessa was alive with it; breathing her in was like breathing in a sunlit meadow, a sea of purpling blossoms, springtime itself. That was what Jem would remember, later. The desire that time stop, freeze the two of them inside this perfect moment; he would remember thinking, with wonder, that this was how it felt to be perfectly satisfied. When Tessa Gray returned to that moment, the moment before, she remembered the taste of honey, which Jem had drizzled onto a sliver of baguette then popped into her mouth.

The honey, fresh from the hive behind the estate, was almost painfully sweet. Her fingers were sticky with it, and when she pressed them to Jem’s soft cheek, they didn’t want to let go. She couldn’t blame them. Memory has a tendency to fog the mundane. What Jem and Tessa were actually doing: bickering about whether the cheese they’d acquired that morning was goat or cow, and which of them was responsible for eating so much of it that a second trip to the fromagerie was required. It was a lazy, loving bickering, as befit their sun-dappled afternoon. They’d come to this retreat in the French countryside to strategize about the lost Herondale—who, they had recently discovered, was also heir to the Seelie and Unseelie courts, and so in more danger than anyone had ever imagined. This estate, the use of which had been offered by Magnus Bane, was a safe, quiet place to plan where to go from here. The lost Herondale had made it very clear to Jem that she didn’t want to be found, but Jem worried this was because she didn’t know the depths of danger she was in. They needed to find her.

Warn her. Now more than ever. The urgency was real, but so was their inability to do anything about it—which left many hours to fill, gazing out at the sunlit hillside—and at each other. Tessa had nearly decided to give in and admit that Jem was right about the provenance (goat), if wrong about who’d eaten the most (Tessa), when a tiny light sparked between them, like a tiny falling star. Except it didn’t fall; it froze in midair, getting brighter and brighter, blindingly bright, and forming itself into a familiar shape. Tessa sucked in a sharp breath. “Is that . ?” “A heron,” Jem confirmed. Years before, Jem had enchanted a silver pendant in the shape of a heron and pressed it into the palm of a young woman with Herondale blood. A young woman in danger, who steadfastly refused his help.

With this pendant, you can always find me, he had promised, in the silent voice with which he had once spoken. Jem had been Brother Zachariah then, still bearing the robes and duties of the Silent Brotherhood, but this mission—and this promise—had nothing to do with the Brotherhood. Jem was still bound by it: would always be bound by it. I trust you will summon me for help, if and when you need. Please trust that I will always answer. The woman he’d given that pendant to was a Herondale, the last heir of the Lost Herondale, and the silver heron meant that, after all these years, she needed him. As Jem and Tessa watched, the bird traced letters of fire upon the air. I turned away from you once, but please help me now. I thought I could do this on my own, but the Riders are closing in. If you will not come for me, come for my boy.

I thought I could buy his life with my suffering. I thought if I left him, he would be safe. He is not. Please come. I beg you. Save me. Save my child. Rosemary Herondale. The light winked out. Jem and Tessa were already in motion.

In the century and a half they’d known each other, much had changed, but this truth endured: when a Herondale called, they would answer. LA traffic wasn’t as bad as everyone said. It was exponentially worse. Six lanes, all of them nearly at a standstill. As Tessa inched forward, shifting lanes every time a space opened up, Jem felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin. They’d Portaled from France to Los Angeles, emerging halfway across the city from the source of the distress call. Magnus had reached out to his network of West Coast acolytes and secured them transport to get the rest of the way. The turquoise convertible didn’t exactly scream incognito, but it was enough to carry them the handful of miles from Echo Park to Rosemary Herondale’s house in the Hollywood Hills. The ride should only have taken a few minutes. It felt like it had been a year.

I turned away from you once, but please help me now. The words echoed in Jem’s mind. He’d spent decades searching for the lost Herondale —finding her, finally, only to lose her again. But after she’d refused his offer of protection, he’d made her a promise. He would come when she called. He would save her, when she needed saving. I thought I could do this on my own. James Carstairs would always come to the aid of a Herondale. He would never stop repaying the debts of love. She had summoned him, using the necklace, and he would do everything in his power to honor his promise, but— Please come, I beg you.

Save me. There was more than just one life at stake now. Save my child. What if they were too late? Tessa put her hand on Jem’s. “This isn’t your fault,” she said. Of course she knew what he was thinking. She always did. “I had her, and I let her walk away.” Jem couldn’t stop picturing it, that morning on the bridge in Paris, when he’d begged Rosemary Herondale to accept his protection. He had asked a Herondale to trust him and been judged unworthy.

“You didn’t let her do anything,” Tessa pointed out. “She made her own choice.” “The Herondale way,” Jem said wryly. “You let her know you would always be there if she needed you, and now that she does—” “I’m twiddling my thumbs five miles away, useless.” “Enough.” Tessa abruptly swerved onto the shoulder of the road and sped past the clogged lanes, then careened onto the first exit ramp they came to. Instead of slowing down, she picked up speed as they hit the surface streets, weaving wildly from lane to lane to sidewalk. Soon, finally, they found their way into the hills, the road narrowing to a single lane of hairpin turns bounded by a vertiginous drop. Tessa didn’t slow down. “I know you have superhuman reflexes, but—” “Trust me,” she said.

“Infinitely.” He couldn’t tell Tessa the other reason he felt guilty—it wasn’t simply that he’d let Rosemary slip through his fingers all those years ago. It was what he’d done for her since, which suddenly seemed like next to nothing. Ever since he’d sloughed off his life as Brother Zachariah and fought his way back to James Carstairs—and back to Tessa Gray, the other half of his soul, his heart, his self—he’d given himself permission to be happy. They’d visited Shadow Markets all over the world, keeping watch for Rosemary, always searching for ways they might be able to assist her from a distance. They’d even visited the Market here in LA several times, but they had found no trace of her there. What if, despite his best intentions, Jem had missed something, some opportunity to find and help Rosemary before it was too late? What if, lost in his own happiness with Tessa, he’d enabled her suffering? The car screeched to a stop in front of a small, Spanish-style bungalow. The yard was a riot of color: monkeyflowers, hummingbird sage, desert mallow, jacaranda blossoms. A gauntlet of sunflowers watched over the path to the door, nodding in the breeze, as if to welcome them. “It’s like a house from a storybook,” Tessa marveled, and Jem agreed.

The sky was an impossible blue, dotted with cotton-candy clouds, and the mountains on the horizon made it feel like they were in an Alpine village, rather than the middle of a sprawling metropolis. “It’s so peaceful,” she added. “Like nothing bad could ever happen here—” She was interrupted by a piercing scream. They erupted into motion. Jem shouldered the front door open, readying his sword to face whatever lay beyond. Tessa followed close behind, her hands sparking with angry light. Inside, they found a nightmare: Rosemary lying still in a pool of blood. Looming over her, a massive faerie, his body covered in thick bronze armor, a longsword raised overhead. Its point aimed straight at Rosemary’s heart. In many ways, Jem Carstairs was no longer a Shadowhunter.

But in the most important ways, he would always be a Shadowhunter. He launched himself forward, a whirl of deadly motion, swordstick a silver blur as he hacked at the faerie with the full, righteous force of Shadowhunter rage. His blows glanced off the creature’s body without leaving a single mark. Tessa raised her hands and dispatched a blinding white wave of energy at the faerie—he absorbed it without flinching, then, almost carelessly, grabbed Tessa in one massive hand and flung her across the room. She slammed into the wall with a thud that caused Jem physical pain. Jem threw himself in the faerie’s path, kicked, spun, swung the sword down sharp and sure in what should have been a mortal blow. Any ordinary faerie—any ordinary Downworlder—would have been felled. This one only laughed, shoved Jem to the floor and pinned him there beneath a massive foot. Leaving Jem helpless to do anything but watch as the longsword found its mark and stabbed Rosemary through the chest. The faerie stepped back, freeing Jem to rush to her side—too late.

He tore off his shirt, pressed it desperately to Rosemary’s gushing wound, determined to keep her life from draining away. Too late. “I have no quarrel with you, Shadowhunter,” the faerie said, then gave a sharp whistle. An enormous bronze steed crashed through the bungalow’s front windows in a hail of glass. The faerie hoisted himself onto the horse. “I suggest you refrain from quarrel with me.” The horse reared and leapt into the air. And just like that, horse and rider were gone. Rosemary’s face was deathly pale, her eyes closed. She was still breathing, if barely.

Jem put pressure on the wound, willing her to hold on. Tessa knelt beside him. He let out a sharp breath, his heart clenching. “Are you hurt?” “I’m fine. But Rosemary . ” Tessa gripped Rosemary’s hands and closed her eyes in concentration. Seconds passed as she summoned the will to heal. He could see the effort written on her face, the torment. Finally, Tessa turned to Jem, a hollow look in her eyes. He knew what she would say before she said it.

“It’s a mortal wound,” she murmured. “There’s nothing to be done.” Tessa had volunteered as a nurse during one of the mundane world wars—she knew a mortal wound when she saw one. And Jem, during his decades in the Silent Brotherhood, had seen too many Shadowhunters beyond help. Far too many, in the Dark War. He too could recognize death, in all its guises. Rosemary’s eyes flickered open. Her lips parted, as if she was trying to speak, but she managed only a rasping breath. There was still one Herondale they could save. “Your child,” Jem said.

“Where is he?” Rosemary shook her head, the effort of motion causing her obvious pain. “Please,” she whispered. There was so much blood. Everywhere, blood, her life streaming away. “Please, protect my son.” “Just tell us where to find him,” Jem said. “And on my life, I will protect him, I swear—” He stopped, realizing there was no one to receive his promise. The shuddering breath had given way to stillness. She was gone. “We’ll find him,” Tessa promised Jem.

“We’ll find him before anyone can hurt him. We will.” Jem hadn’t moved from Rosemary’s body. He held her cool hand in his own, as if he couldn’t bring himself to let go. She knew what he was feeling, and it hurt. This was the joy and punishment of loving someone the way she loved Jem—she felt with him. His guilt, his regret, his powerlessness and fury: as they consumed him, they consumed her too. Of course, it wasn’t just Jem’s guilt, Jem’s fury. She had plenty of her own. Every Herondale was a part of Will, and so a part of her.

That was what it meant to be family. And she had knelt by the cold body of too many Herondales. She could not stomach another meaningless death. They would find Rosemary’s son. They would protect him. They would ensure this death was not in vain. Whatever it took. “It’s not just that she’s dead,” Jem said quietly. His head was lowered, his hair a curtain over his face. But she’d memorized his face, his every expression.

She’d spent so many hours, since his return, gazing at him, unable to believe he was really here, restored to life—restored to her. “It’s that she died alone.” “She wasn’t alone. She’s not alone.” This was not the first time she and Jem had helped a Herondale into eternity. Once, she had sat on one side of Will, Jem on the other, both of them longing to hold on to him, both summoning the strength to let him go. He had been Brother Zachariah, then, or that was what the world had seen: runed face, sealed eyes, cold skin, closed heart. She had only, ever, seen her Jem. It still seemed a miracle that he could open his eyes and see her back. “Wasn’t she?” Very gently, Jem unclasped Rosemary’s necklace.

He dangled the long silver chain, letting the heron charm spin slowly, gleaming in the afternoon light. “I thought this would be enough—a way to reach out, if she needed me. But I knew she was in danger from the Fey. I shouldn’t have underestimated that!” “I recognized that faerie, Jem,” Tessa said. “The bronze braid, the designs on his armor—all those etchings of the sea—that was Fal of Mannan.” She’d studied the Riders of Mannan during her time in the Spiral Labyrinth, part of her efforts to better understand the Faerie world. They were very old—ancient, even, from an age of monsters and gods— and they served at the pleasure of the Unseelie King. These were no ordinary faeries. They were more powerful; they were made of wild magic. Perhaps most terrifyingly, they could lie.

“Seraph blades are useless against the Riders of Mannan, Jem. They’re born assassins—a walking death sentence. Once he found her, no power on Earth could have stopped him.” “So then what hope is there for the boy?” “There’s always hope.” She risked putting her arms around him, then, and very softly extricated Rosemary’s hand from his grip. “We find the boy first. Then we make sure the Fey never do.” “Not until we’re ready for them, at least,” Jem said, a note of steel entering his voice. There were those who believed that because Jem was so kind, so capable of gentleness and generosity, because Jem loved so selflessly, that Jem was weak. There were those who suspected he was not capable of violence or vengeance, who assumed they could hurt Jem and the ones he loved with impunity, because he did not have it in him to strike back.

Those who believed this were wrong. Those who acted on it would be sorry. Tessa squeezed the heron charm tightly, its beak pricking sharply against the soft meat of her palm. She could feel Rosemary’s essence simmering in the silver, and reached for it with her mind, opening herself to the traces of the woman left behind. It was second nature to her now, Changing into someone else. Usually she needed only to close her eyes and let it wash over her.

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