Born to Endless NightCassandra Clare
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Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
--"Auguries of Innocence," William Blake
Magnus believed that many old things were creations of enduring beauty. The pyramids. Michelangelo's David. Versailles. Magnus himself.
However, just because something was old and imbued with years of tradition did not make it a work of art. Not even if you were Nephilim and thought having the blood of the Angel meant your stuff was better than anybody else's.
Shadowhunter Academy was not a creation of enduring beauty. Shadowhunter Academy was a dump.
Magnus did not enjoy the countryside in early spring, before winter had truly ended. The whole landscape was as monochrome as an old movie, without the narrative energy. Dark gray fields rolled under a pale gray sky, and trees were stripped down to gray claws clutching for the rain clouds. The Academy matched its surroundings, squatting in the landscape like a great stone toad.
Magnus had been here a few times before, visiting friends. He had not liked it. He remembered walking long ago under the cold eyes of students who had been trained in the dark, narrow ways of Clave and Covenant, and who were too young to realize the world might be more complicated than that.
At least back then the place had not been falling down. Magnus stared at one of the slender towers that stood at each of the four corners of the Academy. It was not standing up straight; in fact, it looked like a poor relation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Magnus stared at it, concentrated, and snapped his fingers. The tower leaped back into place as if it were a crouching person who had suddenly straightened up. There was a faint series of cries issuing from the tower windows. Magnus had not realized there were people inside. This struck him as unsafe.
Well, the inhabitants of the formerly leaning tower would soon realize he had done them a favor. Magnus eyed the angel in the stained-glass window set above the door. The angel stared down at him, sword blazing and face censorious, as if he disapproved of Magnus's dress sense and was going to ask him to change.
Magnus walked under the judgmental angel and into the stone hall, whistling softly. The hall was empty. It was still very early in the morning, which perhaps explained some of the grayness. Magnus hoped the day would brighten before Alec arrived.
He had left his boyfriend in Alicante, at his father's house. Alec's sister, Isabelle, was staying there too. Magnus had slept uneasily at the Inquisitor's house last night, and said he would leave them to have breakfast alone--just the family. For years he and Robert and Maryse Lightwood had arranged their lives so that they never saw each other unless duty called or large cash payments for Magnus beckoned.
Magnus was fairly sure Robert and Maryse missed those days and wished they would come back. Magnus knew they would never have chosen him for their son, and even if their son had to date a man, they would have preferred not a Downworlder, and certainly not a Downworlder who had been around during the days of Valentine's Circle and seen them at a time in their lives they were not proud of now.
For himself Magnus did not forget. He might love one Shadowhunter, but it was impossible to love them all. He expected many more years politely avoiding and, when necessary, politely tolerating Alec's parents. It was a very small price to pay to be with Alec.
Just now he had escaped Robert Lightwood and had a chance to inspect the rooms Magnus had requested the Academy prepare for them. From the state of the rest of the Academy, Magnus had dark forebodings about these rooms.
He ran lightly up the stairs in that silent, echoing place. He knew where he was going. He had agreed to come and give a series of guest lectures at the request of his old friend Catarina Loss, but he was, after all, the High Warlock of Brooklyn and he had certain standards. He had no intention of leaving his boyfriend for weeks. He had made it clear that he required a suite for himself and for Alec, and that the suite had to include a kitchen. He was not going to eat any of the meals Catarina had described in her letters. If possible, he intended to avoid even seeing any of the meals Catarina had described.
The map Catarina had drawn him was accurate: He found their rooms at the top of the building. The connected attic rooms could, Magnus guessed, possibly count as a suite. And there was a little kitchen, though Magnus feared it had not been updated since the 1950s. There was a dead mouse in the sink.
Maybe someone had left it there to welcome them. Maybe it was a festive gift.
Magnus wandered through the rooms, waving a hand that encouraged the windows and countertops to wash themselves. He snapped his fingers and sent the dead mouse as a present to his cat, Chairman Meow. Maia Roberts, the leader of the New York werewolf pack, was cat-sitting for them. Magnus hoped she would think Chairman Meow was a mighty hunter.
Then he opened the little refrigerator. The heavy door fell off, until Magnus gave it a stern look and it hopped back on. Magnus looked inside the refrigerator, waved his free hand, and saw to his satisfaction that it was now filled with many items from Whole Foods.
Alec would never have to know, and Magnus would send the money to Whole Foods later anyway. He swept through the rooms one more time, adding cushions to the bare, sad wooden chairs and heaping their multicolored blankets from home onto the lopsided canopy bed.
Emergency decorating mission accomplished and feeling far more cheerful, Magnus descended into the main hall of the Academy, hoping to find Catarina or see Alec coming. There was no sign of activity, so despite his misgivings, Magnus went to check for Catarina in the dining hall.
She was not there, but there were a few scattered Nephilim students having breakfast. Magnus supposed the poor creatures had gotten up early to throw javelins or some other unsavory business.
There was a thin blond girl heaping a gray substance that could have been porridge or eggs onto her plate. Magnus watched with silent horror as she carried it toward a table, acting as if she actually intended to eat it.
Then she noticed Magnus.
"Oh, hello," said the blonde, stopping in her tracks as if she had been hit by a beautiful truck.
He gave her his most charming smile. Why not? "Hello."
Magnus had been around the block before blocks were invented. He was familiar with what this look meant. People had undressed him with their eyes before.
He was impressed with the intensity of this particular look. It was rarer for people to rip off his clothes and send them flying to various corners of the room with their eyes.
They were not even particularly exciting clothes. Magnus had decided to dress with quiet dignity, as befitted an educator, and was wearing a black shirt and tailored pants. He was also, for that stylish educator touch, wearing a short robe over the shirt, but the glittering gold thread running through the robe was very subtle.
"You must be Magnus Bane," the blonde said. "I've heard a lot about you from Simon."
"I can't blame him for bragging," said Magnus.
"We're so glad to have you here," continued the blonde. "I'm Julie. I'm practically Simon's best friend. I'm very cool with Downworlders."
"How nice for us Downworlders," Magnus murmured.
"I'm very excite
d for your lectures. And to spend time together. You, me, and Simon."
"Won't that be a party," said Magnus.
She was trying, at least, and not all Nephilim did. And she mentioned Simon every other breath, despite Simon being a mundane. Besides, the attention was flattering. Magnus turned the smile up another notch.
"I look forward to getting to know you better, Julie."
It was possible he misjudged the smile. Julie reached out a hand as if to take Magnus's, and dropped her tray. She and Magnus looked down at the broken bowl and the sad, gray contents.
"It's better this way," Magnus said with conviction.
He gestured, and the whole mess vanished. Then he gestured to Julie's outstretched hand, and a pot of blueberry yogurt with a small spoon appeared in it.
"Oh!" Julie exclaimed. "Oh, wow, thank you."
"Well, since the alternative was going back and getting more of the Academy food," said Magnus, "I think you owe me big. Possibly you owe me your firstborn. But don't worry, I'm not in the market for anybody's firstborn."
Julie giggled. "Do you want to sit down?"
"Thank you for the offer, but actually, I was looking for someone."
Magnus surveyed the room, which was slowly filling up. He still did not see Catarina, but at the door he saw Alec, with the air of someone newly arrived and talking to a mundane Indian boy who looked about sixteen.
He caught Alec's eye and smiled.
"There's my someone," he said. "Lovely to meet you, Julie."
"Likewise, Magnus," she assured him.
As Magnus approached Alec, the other boy shook Alec's hand. "I just wanted to say thanks," the boy said, and left, with a nod to Magnus.
"Do you know him?" Magnus asked.
Alec looked mildly dazed. "No," he said. "But he knew all about me. We were talking about--all the ways there are to be a Shadowhunter, you know?"
"Check you out," said Magnus. "My famous boyfriend, inspiration to the masses."
Alec smiled, a little embarrassed but mostly amused. "So, that girl was flirting with you."
"Really?" Magnus asked. "How could you tell?"
Alec gave him a skeptical look.
"Well, it has been known to happen. I've been around for a long time," said Magnus. "I've also been gorgeous for a long time."
"Is that so?" said Alec.
"I'm in high demand. What are you going to do about it?"
He could not, and would not, have teased Alec like this years ago. Alec had been new to love, stumbling through his own terror at who he was and how he felt, and Magnus had been as careful with him as he knew how to be, afraid to hurt Alec and afraid to shatter this feeling between them, new to Magnus as it was to Alec.
It was a recent joy to be able to tease Alec and know he would not hurt him, to see Alec standing in a different way than he used to, easy and casual and confident in his own skin, with none of his parabatai's swagger but with a quiet assurance all his own.
The dimly lit stone dining room, the clatter of students eating and gossiping, faded away, nothing but background to Alec's smile.
"This," said Alec. He reached out and tugged Magnus to him by the front of his robe, leaning back against the door frame and drawing Magnus slowly in for a kiss.
Alec's mouth was soft and sure, the kiss slow, his strong hands holding Magnus close, pressed along the warm line of his body. Behind Magnus's closed eyelids, the morning turned from gray to gold.
Alec was here. Even a hell dimension, as Magnus recalled, had been greatly improved by Alec's presence. Shadowhunter Academy was going to be a snap.
Simon came up late to breakfast and found Julie capable of talking about nothing but Magnus Bane.
"Warlocks are sexy," she said in the tones of one who had had a revelation.
"Ms. Loss is our teacher, and I am trying to eat." Beatriz stared dispiritedly at her plate.
"Vampires are gross and dead, werewolves are gross and hairy, and faeries are treacherous and would sleep with your mom," said Julie. "Warlocks are the sexy Downworlders. Think about it. They all have daddy issues. And Magnus Bane is the sexiest of them all. He can be High Warlock of my pants."
"Uh, Magnus has a boyfriend," said Simon.
There was a frightening glint in Julie's eye. "There are some mountains you still want to climb, even though there are 'No Trespassing' signs up."
"I think that's gross," said Simon. "You know, the way you think vampires are."
Julie made a face at him. "You're so sensitive, Simon. Why must you always be so sensitive?"
"You're so terrible, Julie," said Simon. "Why must you always be so terrible?"
Alec had been with Magnus, Julie reported. Simon was thinking more about that than Julie's terribleness, which after all was not anything new. Alec was going to be staying at the Academy for weeks. He usually saw Alec in crowds of people, and it had never seemed the right time to talk to him. It was the right time now. It was time to talk it out, the problem between them that Jace had hinted at so darkly. He didn't want there to be something wrong between him and Alec, who seemed like a good guy from what Simon could remember. Alec was Isabelle's big brother, and Isabelle was--he was almost certain--Simon's girlfriend.
He wanted her to be.
"Should we try to get a little archery practice in before class?" George asked.
"That's jock talk, George," said Simon. "I've asked you not to do that. But sure."
They all got up, pushing their bowls aside, and walked to the front doors of the Academy, heading for the practice grounds.
That was the plan, but none of them made it to the practice grounds that day. None of them made it past the threshold of the Academy. They all stood on the front step, in a horrified cluster.
On the stone of the front step was a bundle, wrapped in a fuzzy yellow blanket. Simon's eyes failed him in a way that had nothing to do with his glasses and everything to do with panic, refusing to register what was actually before him. It's a bundle of junk, Simon told himself. Someone had left a parcel of garbage on their doorstep.
Except the bundle was moving, in small incremental movements. Simon watched the fretful stir beneath the blanket, looked at the gleaming eyes peering out from the cocoon of fuzzy yellows, and his mind accepted what he was seeing, even as another shock came. A tiny fist emerged from the blankets, waving as if in protest at everything that was occurring.
The fist was blue, the rich navy of the sea when it was deep and you were on a boat as evening fell. The blue of Captain America's suit.
"It's a baby," Beatriz breathed. "It's a warlock baby."
There was a note pinned to the baby's yellow blanket. Simon saw it at the precise moment that the wind caught it, snatching it off the blanket and whirling it away. Simon grabbed the paper out of the cold grip of the wind and looked at the writing, a hasty scribble on a torn scrap of paper.
The note read: Who could ever love it?
"Oh no, the baby's blue," said George. "What are we going to do?"
He frowned as if he had not meant that to rhyme. Then he knelt down, because George was the not-so-secret sweetheart of the group, and awkwardly took the yellow-wrapped bundle in his arms. He stood up, his face ashen, holding the baby.
"What are we going to do?" Beatriz warbled, echoing George. "What are we going to do?"
Julie was plastered up against the door. Simon had personally seen her cut off a very large demon's head with a very small knife, but she appeared as if she would expire with terror if someone asked her to hold the baby.
"I know what to do," said Simon.
He would go find Magnus, he thought. He knew Magnus and Alec had arrived and were awake. He needed to talk to Alec anyway. Magnus had fixed Simon's demon amnesia. Magnus had been around for centuries. He was the most adult adult that Simon knew. A warlock baby abandoned in this fortress of Shadowhunters was a problem Simon had no idea how to fix, and he felt he needed an adult. Simon was already turning
"Should I give the baby mouth to mouth?" George asked.
Simon froze. "No, don't do that. The baby is breathing. The baby's breathing, right?"
They all stood and stared at the little bundle. The baby waved his fist again. If the baby was moving, Simon thought, the baby must be breathing. He was not even going to think about zombie babies at this time.
"Should I get the baby a hot water bottle?" George said.
Simon took a deep breath. "George, don't lose your head," he said. "This baby is not blue because he is cold or because he cannot breathe. Mundane babies are not blue in this way. This baby is blue because he is a warlock, just like Catarina."
"Not just like Ms. Loss," Beatriz said in a high voice. "Ms. Loss is more of a sky blue, whereas this baby is more of a navy blue."
"You seem very knowledgeable," George decided. "You should hold the baby."
"No!" Beatriz squawked.
She and Julie both threw up their hands in surrender. As far as they were concerned, it was clear, George was holding a loaded baby and should not do anything rash.
"Everybody stay where you are," said Simon, trying to keep his voice calm.
Julie perked up. "Oooh, Simon," she said. "Good idea."
Simon fled across the hall and up the stairs, moving at a pace that would have amazed his evil Shadowhunter gym teacher. Scarsbury had never provided him with motivation like this.
He knew that Magnus and Alec had been put in a fancy suite up in the attics. Apparently there was even a separate kitchen. Simon just kept heading up, knowing he would hit the attics at some point.
He reached the attics, heard murmuring and movement behind the door, and flung the door wide open.
Then he stood, arrested on his second threshold of the day.
There was a sheet over Alec and Magnus, but Simon could see enough. He could see Alec's white, rune-scarred shoulders and Magnus's wild black hair spread on the pillow. He could see Alec freeze, then turn his head and give Simon a look of absolute horror.
Magnus's golden cat eyes gleamed from over Alec's pale shoulder. He sounded almost amused as he asked: "Can we help you?"
"Oh my God," Simon said. "Oh wow. Oh wow, I am really sorry."
"Please leave," said Alec in a tight, controlled voice.
"Right!" said Simon. "Of course!" He paused. "I can't leave."