"Do you know anything about our grandparents?" Clary asked, fascinated despite herself.
Sebastian dropped his hand and leaped down off the wall. He held his hand up for her, and she took it, balancing as she leaped down. For a moment she collided with his chest, hard and warm beneath his shirt. A passing girl shot her an amused, jealous look, and Clary pulled back hastily. She wanted to shout after the girl that Sebastian was her brother, and that she hated him anyway. She didn't.
"I know nothing about our maternal grandparents," he said. "How could I?" His smile was crooked. "Come. I want to show you a favorite place of mine."
Clary hung back. "I thought you were going to prove to me that you had a plan."
"All in due time." Sebastian started to walk, and after a moment she followed him. Find out his plan. Make nice until you do. "Valentine's father was a lot like him," Sebastian went on. "He put his faith in strength. 'We are God's chosen warriors.' That's what he believed. Pain made you strong. Loss made you powerful. When he died..."
"Valentine changed," Clary said. "Luke told me."
"He loved his father and he hated him. Something you might understand from knowing Jace. Valentine raised us as his father had raised him. You always return to what you know."
"But Jace," Clary said. "Valentine taught him more than just fighting. He taught him languages, and how to play the piano-"
"That was Jocelyn's influence." Sebastian said her name unwillingly, as if he hated the sound of it. "She thought Valentine ought to be able to talk about books, art, music-not just killing things. He passed that on to Jace."
A wrought iron blue gate rose to their left. Sebastian ducked under it and beckoned Clary to follow him. She didn't have to duck but went after him, her hands stuffed into her pockets. "What about you?" she asked.
He held up his hands. They were unmistakably her mother's hands-dexterous, long-fingered, meant for holding a brush or a pen. "I learned to play the instruments of war," he said, "and paint in blood. I am not like Jace."
They were in a narrow alley between two rows of buildings made of the same golden stone as many of the other buildings of Paris, their roofs sparkling copper-green in the sunlight. The street underfoot was cobblestone, and there were no cars or motorcycles. To her left was a cafe, a wooden sign dangling from a wrought iron pole the only clue that there was any commercial business on this winding street.
"I like it here," Sebastian said, following her gaze, "because it's as if you were in a past century. No noise of cars, no neon lights. Just-peaceful."
Clary stared at him. He's lying, she thought. Sebastian doesn't have thoughts like this. Sebastian, who tried to burn Alicante to the ground, doesn't care about "peaceful."
She thought then of where he'd grown up. She'd never seen it, but Jace had described it to her. A small house-a cottage, really-in a valley outside Alicante. The nights would have been silent there and the sky full of stars at night. But would he miss that? Could he? Was that the sort of emotion you could have when you weren't really even human?
It doesn't bother you? she wanted to say. Being in the place the real Sebastian Verlac grew up and lived, until you ended his life? Walking these streets, bearing his name, knowing that somewhere, his aunt is grieving for him? And what did you mean when you said he wasn't supposed to fight back?
His black eyes regarded her thoughtfully. He had a sense of humor, she knew; there was a streak of mordant wit in him that was sometimes not unlike Jace's. But he didn't smile.
"Come on," he said then, breaking off her reverie. "This place has the best hot chocolate in Paris."
Clary wasn't sure how she'd know if this were true or not, given that this was the first time she'd ever been to Paris, but once they sat down, she had to admit the hot chocolate was excellent. They made it at your table-which was small and wooden, as were the old-fashioned high-backed chairs-in a blue ceramic pot, using cream, chocolate powder, and sugar. The result was a cocoa so thick your spoon could stand up in it. They had croissants, too, and dunked them into the chocolate.
"You know, if you want another croissant, they'll bring you one," said Sebastian, leaning back in his chair. They were the youngest people in the place by decades, Clary noticed. "You're attacking that one like a wolverine."
"I'm hungry." She shrugged. "Look, if you want to talk to me, talk. Convince me."
He leaned forward, his elbows on the table. She was reminded of looking into his eyes the night before, of noticing the silver ring around the iris of his eye. "I was thinking about what you said last night."
"I was hallucinating last night. I don't remember what I said to you."
"You asked me who I belonged to," said Sebastian.
Clary paused with her cup of chocolate halfway to her mouth. "I did?"
"Yeah." His eyes studied her face intently. "And I don't have an answer."
She set her cup down, feeling suddenly, intensely uncomfortable. "You don't have to belong to anyone," she said. "It's just a figure of speech."
"Well, let me ask you something now," Sebastian said. "Do you think you can forgive me? I mean, do you think forgiveness is possible for someone like me?"
"I don't know." Clary gripped the edge of the table. "I-I mean, I don't know much about forgiveness as a religious concept, just your garden-variety kind of forgiving people." She took a deep breath, knowing she was babbling. It was something in the steadiness of Sebastian's dark gaze on her, as if he actually expected her to give him the answers to questions no one else could answer. "I know you have to do things, to earn forgiveness. Change yourself. Confess, repent-and make amends."
"Amends," Sebastian echoed.
"To make up for what you've done." She looked down at her mug. There was no making up for the things Sebastian had done, not in any way that made sense.
"Ave atque vale," Sebastian said, looking down at his mug of chocolate.
Clary recognized the traditional words Shadowhunters spoke over their dead. "Why are you saying that? I'm not dying."
"You know it's from a poem," he said. "By Catullus. 'Frater, ave atque vale.' 'Hail and farewell, my brother.' He speaks of ashes, of the rites of the dead, and his own grief for his brother. I was taught the poem young, but I didn't feel it-either his grief, or his loss, or even the wondering what it would be like to die and to have no one grieve you." He looked up at her sharply. "What do you think it would have been like if Valentine had brought you up along with me? Would you have loved me?"
Clary was very glad she had put her cup down, because if she hadn't, she would have dropped it. Sebastian was looking at her not with any shyness or the sort of natural awkwardness that might be attendant on such a bizarre question, but as if she were a curious, foreign life-form.
"Well," she said. "You're my brother. I would have loved you. I would have... had to."
He kept looking at her with the same still, intent gaze. She wondered if she should ask him if he thought that meant he would have loved her, too. Like a sister. But she had a feeling he had no idea what that meant.
"But Valentine didn't bring me up," she said. "In fact, I killed him."
She wasn't sure why she said it. Maybe she wanted to see if it was possible to upset him. After all, Jace had told her once that he thought Valentine might have been the only thing Sebastian had ever cared about.
But he didn't blanch. "Actually," he said, "the Angel killed him. Though it was because of you." His fingers traced patterns on the worn tabletop. "You know, when I first met you, in Idris, I had hopes-I had thought you would be like me. And when you were nothing like me, I hated you. And then, when I was brought back, and Jace told me what you did, I realized that I had been wrong. You are like me."
"You said that last night," Clary said. "But I'm not-"
"You killed our father," he said. His voice was soft. "And you don't care. Never given it a second thought, have you? Valentine beat Jace bloody for the first ten years of his life, and Jace still misses him. Grieved for him, though they share no blood at all. But he was your father and you killed him and you've never missed a night of sleep over it."
Clary stared at him with her mouth open. It was unfair. So unfair. Valentine had never been a father to her-hadn't loved her-had been a monster who'd had to die. She had killed him because she'd had no choice.
Unbidden in her mind rose the image of Valentine, driving his blade into Jace's chest, then holding him as he died. Valentine had wept over the son he'd murdered. But she had never cried for her father. Had never even considered it.
"I'm right, aren't I?" said Sebastian. "Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me you're not like me."
Clary stared down at her cup of chocolate, now cold. She felt like a vortex had opened up inside her head and was sucking away her thoughts and words. "I thought you thought Jace was like you," she said finally in a choked voice. "I thought that's why you wanted him with you."
"I need Jace," said Sebastian. "But in his heart he's not like me. You are." He stood up. He must have paid the bill at some point; Clary couldn't remember. "Come with me."
He held his hand out. She stood up without taking it and retied his scarf mechanically; the chocolate she had drunk felt like acid churning in her stomach. She followed Sebastian out of the cafe and into the alley, where he stood looking up at the blue sky overhead.
"I'm not like Valentine," Clary said, stopping next to him. "Our mother-"
"Your mother," he said, "hated me. Hates me. You saw her. She tried to kill me. You want to tell me you take after your mother, fine. Jocelyn Fairchild is ruthless. She always has been. She pretended to love our father for months, years maybe, so she could gather enough information on him to betray him. She engineered the Uprising and watched all her husband's friends slaughtered. She stole your memories. Have you forgiven her? And when she ran from Idris, do you honestly think she ever planned to take me with her? She must have been relieved at the thought that I was dead-"
"She wasn't!" Clary snapped. "She had a box that had your baby things in it. She used to take it out and cry over it. Every year on your birthday. I know you have it in your room."
Sebastian's thin, elegant lips twisted. He turned away from her and started walking down the alley. "Sebastian!" Clary called after him. "Sebastian, wait." She wasn't sure why she wanted him to come back. Admittedly, she had no idea where she was or how to find her way back to the apartment, but it was more than that. She wanted to stand and fight, to prove she wasn't what he said she was. She raised her voice to a shout: "Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern!"
He stopped and turned slowly, looking back over his shoulder at her.
She walked toward him, and he watched her walk, his head cocked to the side, his black eyes narrow. "I bet you don't even know my middle name," she said.
"Adele." There was a musicality to the way he said it, a familiarity that made her uncomfortable. "Clarissa Adele."
She reached his side. "Why Adele? I never knew."
"I don't know myself," he said. "I know Valentine never wanted you to be called Clarissa Adele. He wanted you to be called Seraphina, after his mother. Our grandmother." He turned around and started walking again, and this time she kept pace. "After our grandfather was killed, she died-heart attack. Died of grief, Valentine always said."
Clary thought of Amatis, who had never gotten over her first love, Stephen; of Stephen's father, who had died of grief; of the Inquisitor, her whole life dedicated to revenge. Of Jace's mother, cutting her wrists when her husband died. "Before I met the Nephilim, I would have said it was impossible to die of grief."
Sebastian chuckled dryly. "We don't form attachments like mundanes do," he said. "Well, sometimes, surely. Not everyone is the same. But the bonds between us tend to be intense and unbreakable. That's why we do so badly with others not of our kind. Downworlders, mundanes-"
"My mother's marrying a Downworlder," Clary said, stung. They had paused in front of a square stone building with blue painted shutters, almost at the end of the alley.
"He was Nephilim once," said Sebastian. "And look at our father. Your mother betrayed him and left him, and he still spent the rest of his life waiting to find her again and convince her to come back to him. That whole closet full of clothes-" He shook his head.
"But Valentine told Jace that love is a weakness," said Clary. "That it would destroy you."
"Wouldn't you think that, if you spent half your life chasing a woman even though she hated your guts, because you couldn't forget about her? If you had to remember that the person you loved best in the world stabbed you in the back and twisted the knife?" He leaned in for a moment, close enough that when he spoke, his breath stirred her hair. "Maybe you are more like your mother than our father. But what difference does it make? You have ruthlessness in your bones and ice in your heart, Clarissa. Don't tell me any differently."
He spun away before she could answer him, and mounted the front step of the blue-shuttered house. A strip of electric buzzers ran down the side of the wall beside the door, each with a name hand-scrawled on a placard beside it. He pressed the button beside the name Magdalena, and waited. Eventually a scratchy voice came through the speaker:
"Qui est la?"
"C'est le fils et la fille de Valentine," he said. "Nous avions rendez-vous?"
There was a pause, and then the buzzer sounded. Sebastian yanked the door open-and held it open, politely letting Clary go before him. The stairs were wooden, as worn and smooth as the side of a ship. They trudged up them in silence to the top floor, where the door was propped slightly open onto the landing. Sebastian went through first, and Clary followed.