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Cast Long Shadows, Page 2

Cassandra Clare

  His mama said his papa had such a dear, friendly, freckled face. Matthew had always wished he looked like him.

  But he didn’t.

  Matthew said, his voice strange in his own ears: “I do not understand what you mean.”

  “Henry Branwell is not your father,” spat Alastair. “You are Gideon Lightwood’s bastard. Everybody knows it but you.”

  In a white and blinding rage, Matthew struck him in the face. Then he went to find Christopher, cleared the area, and gave him matches.

  A short but eventful time passed before Matthew left school, never to return. In that interval, a wing of the Academy blew up.

  Matthew realized it had been rather a shocking thing to do, but while he was deranged he also demanded James be his parabatai and by some miracle James agreed. Matthew and his papa arranged to spend more time at the Fairchilds’ London home so that Matthew could be with both his papa and his parabatai. It had all, Matthew considered, worked out rather well.

  If only he could forget.

  The Shadow Market, London, 1901

  Jem halted in the midst of the dancing flames and black iron arches of the London Market, startled by the appearance of a familiar face in an unexpected context, and even more so by the warmth of Matthew’s greeting.

  He knew Charlotte’s son, of course. Her other boy, Charles, was always very cool and distant when he encountered Brother Zachariah on official business. Brother Zachariah knew that the Silent Brothers were meant to be detached from the world. His uncle Elias’s son, Alastair, had made that very clear when Brother Zachariah reached out to him.

  This is how it should be, said his brothers in his mind. He could not always tell one of their voices from the others. They were a quiet chorus, a silent, ever-present song.

  Jem would not have held it against Matthew if he felt the same way as many others, but he didn’t seem to. His bright, delicate face showed dismay all too clearly. “Am I being too familiar?” he asked anxiously. “I only supposed since I was James’s parabatai and that is what he calls you, I might do so as well.”

  Of course you may, said Brother Zachariah.

  James did, and James’s sister, Lucie, and Alastair’s sister, Cordelia, had taken to doing so as well. Zachariah considered that they were the three sweetest children in the world. He knew he might be a little partial, but faith created truth.

  Matthew glowed. Zachariah was reminded of Matthew’s mother, and the kindness that had taken in three orphans when she was hardly more than a child herself.

  “They all talk about you all the time in the London Institute,” Matthew confided. “James and Lucie and Uncle Will and Aunt Tessa too. I feel as if I know you a great deal better than I actually do, so I beg pardon if I trespass on your kindness.”

  There can be no trespass when you are always welcome, said Jem.

  Matthew’s smile spread. It was an extraordinarily engaging expression. His warmth was closer to the surface than Charlotte’s, Jem thought. He had never been taught to close himself off, to do anything but delight and trust in the world.

  “I would like to hear all about your and Uncle Will’s and Aunt Tessa’s adventures from your point of view,” Matthew proposed. “You must have had a very exciting time! Nothing exciting ever happens to us. The way everyone talks about it, one might think you had a dramatic star-crossed passion with Aunt Tessa before you became a Silent Brother.” Matthew stopped himself. “Sorry! My tongue ran away with me. I am heedless and excited to talk to you properly. I’m sure it is strange to think of your past life. I hope I did not upset or offend you. I cry peace.”

  Peace, echoed Brother Zachariah, amused.

  “I am certain you could have had a torrid affair with any person you wanted, of course,” said Matthew. “Anyone can see that. Oh Lord, that was a heedless thing to say too, wasn’t it?”

  It is very kind of you to say so, said Brother Zachariah. Is it not a fine night?

  “I can see you are a very tactful fellow,” said Matthew, and clapped Brother Zachariah on the back.

  They wandered through the stalls of the Shadow Market. Brother Zachariah was searching for one warlock in particular, who had agreed to help him.

  “Does Uncle Will know you are in London?” asked Matthew. “Are you going to see him? If Uncle Will finds out you were in London and did not come to call, and I knew about it, that will be curtains for me! Young life cut off in its prime. A bright flower of manhood withered untimely. You might think of me and my doom, Uncle Jem, you really might.”

  Might I? asked Brother Zachariah.

  It was fairly obvious what Matthew was angling to know.

  “It would also be very kind of you if you refrained from mentioning that you saw me at the Shadow Market,” Matthew wheedled, with his engaging smile and a distinct air of apprehension.

  Silent Brothers are terrible gossips as a rule, said Brother Zachariah. For you, though, Matthew, I will make an exception.

  “Thanks, Uncle Jem!” Matthew linked his arm with Jem’s. “I can see we are going to be great friends.”

  It must be a horrible contrast for the Market to behold, Jem thought, seeing this bright child hanging so carelessly off the arm of a Silent Brother, hooded and cloaked and shrouded in darkness. Matthew seemed blissfully unaware of the incongruity.

  I believe we will be, said Jem.

  “My cousin Anna says the Shadow Market is tremendous fun,” said Matthew happily. “Of course you know Anna. She’s always tremendous fun herself, and has the best taste in waistcoats in London. I met some very agreeable faeries who invited me, and I thought I would come see.”

  The faeries Matthew had been dancing with previously whisked past, streaks of light in flower crowns. One faerie boy, lips stained with the juice of strange fruit, paused and winked at Matthew. He appeared not to resent being deserted in their dance, though appearances were seldom reliable with faeries. Matthew hesitated, casting a wary eye upon Brother Zachariah, then winked back.

  Brother Zachariah felt he had to warn: Your friends may mean mischief. Faeries often do.

  Matthew smiled, the lovely expression turning wicked. “I mean mischief frequently myself.”

  That is not exactly what I mean. Nor do I intend to insult any Downworlders. There are as many trustworthy Downworlders as there are Shadowhunters, which means the opposite is also true. It might be wise to remember that not all those at the Shadow Market look with favor on the Nephilim.

  “Who can blame them?” said Matthew airily. “Stuffy lot. Present company excepted, Uncle Jem! My papa has a warlock friend he talks of frequently. They invented Portals together, did you know? I would like to have an intimate Downworlder friend too.”

  Magnus Bane would be a good friend for anyone to have, Brother Zachariah agreed.

  It would have seemed disrespect to Magnus, who had been such a good friend to Jem’s parabatai, to press the issue with Matthew any further. Perhaps he was being too cautious. Many of the Downworlders were sure to be taken with Matthew’s ready charm.

  Will had made it clear his Institute was there to help Downworlders who sought aid, as surely as it was for mundanes and Shadowhunters. Maybe this new generation could grow up in more charity with Downworlders than any before them.

  “Anna is not here tonight,” Matthew added. “But you are, so all’s well. What are we going to do together? Are you looking for something special? I rather thought I might buy Jamie and Luce a book. Any book would do. They love ’em all.”

  It made Jem warm to him even more to hear him speak of James and Lucie with such obvious affection.

  If we see a suitable book, he said, let us buy it for them. I would rather not buy them a tome of dangerous enchantment.

  “By the Angel, no,” said Matthew. “Luce would read it for sure. Bit of a daredevil in a quiet way, Lu.”

  As for me, said Jem, I ha
ve a commission from someone else whom I hold in high regard. Out of respect for them, I can say nothing more.

  “I completely understand,” said Matthew, looking pleased to be this far in Jem’s confidence. “I won’t ask, but is there anything I can do to help? You could rely on me, if you would. We love all the same people, don’t we?”

  Thank you most sincerely for the offer.

  There was no way for this child to help him, not in this current search, but his presence made Zachariah feel as if he could borrow some of Matthew’s delighted wonder as he looked around the Market, and they strolled around taking in its sounds and sights together.

  There were stalls selling faerie fruit, though there was also a werewolf outside the stall making dark remarks about being cheated and not making deals with goblin men. There were stalls with red-and-white-striped awnings selling cinder toffee, though Brother Zachariah had doubts about its provenance. Matthew stopped and laughed for sheer joy at a warlock woman with blue skin who was juggling toy unicorns, mermaids’ shells, and small wheels on fire, and he flirted until she told him her name was Catarina. She added that he certainly might not call upon her, but when he smiled she smiled back. Brother Zachariah imagined people usually did.

  The Shadow Market as a whole seemed rather bemused by Matthew. They were accustomed to Shadowhunters arriving on the hunt for witnesses or culprits, not demonstrating huge enthusiasm.

  Matthew applauded when another stall sidled up to him, walking on chicken feet. A faerie woman with dandelion-fluff hair peered out among vials of many-colored lights and liquids.

  “Hello, pretty,” she said, her voice rasping like bark.

  “Which one of us are you talking to?” asked Matthew, laughing and leaning his elbow against Brother Zachariah’s shoulder.

  The faerie woman regarded Zachariah with suspicion. “Oooh, a Silent Brother at our humble market. The Nephilim would consider that we were being honored.”

  Do you feel honored? asked Zachariah, shifting his stance slightly to stand protectively in front of Matthew.

  Oblivious, Matthew sauntered past Zachariah to examine the vials laid out before him.

  “Jolly nice potions,” he said, flashing his smile upon the woman. “Did you make them yourself? Good show. That makes you something of an inventor, does it not? My papa is an inventor.”

  “I am happy to have anyone at the Market who has an interest in my wares,” said the woman, unbending. “I see you have a honey tongue to match your hair. How old are you?”

  “Fifteen,” Matthew replied promptly.

  He began to sort among the vials, his rings clinking against the glass and their wood-and-gold-or-silver stoppers, chattering about his father and faerie potions he had read about.

  “Ah, fifteen summers, and by the look of you it has been all summer. Some would say only a shallow river could flash so bright,” said the faerie woman, and Matthew looked up at her, an unguarded child surprised by any hurt dealt him. His smile flickered for an instant.

  Before Jem could intervene, the smile resumed.

  “Ah, well. ‘He has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire?’” Matthew quoted. “Oscar Wilde. Do you know his work? I heard faeries like to steal poets. You should definitely have tried to steal him.”

  The woman laughed. “Perchance we did. Do you wish to be stolen, honey sweet boy?”

  “I do not think my mama the Consul would like that at all, no.”

  Matthew continued to beam radiantly upon her. The faerie looked discomfited for a moment, then smiled back. Faeries could prick like thorns because it was their very nature, not because they meant harm.

  “This is a love charm,” said the faerie woman, nodding to a vial filled with a delicately sparkling pink substance. “No use to you, fairest child of the Nephilim. Now this would blind your opponents in a battle.”

  I imagine it would, said Brother Zachariah, studying the vial full of charcoal-colored sand.

  Matthew was transparently pleased to hear about the potions. Zachariah was sure Henry’s boy had been regaled with tales of the elements over dinner time and time again.

  “What’s this one?” Matthew asked, pointing to a purple vial.

  “Oh, another one that would be of no interest to the Nephilim,” said the woman dismissively. “What need would you have of a potion that would make the one who took it tell you all the truth? You Shadowhunters have no secrets amongst each other, I hear. Besides which, you have that Mortal Sword to prove one of you is telling the truth. Though I call that a brutal business.”

  “It is brutal,” Matthew agreed vehemently.

  The faerie woman looked almost sad. “You come of a brutal people, sweet child.”

  “Not me,” said Matthew. “I believe in art and beauty.”

  “You might be pitiless one day, for all that.”

  “No, never,” Matthew insisted. “I don’t care for Shadowhunter customs at all. I like Downworlder ways much more.”

  “Ah, you flatter an old woman,” said the faerie, waving a hand, but her face wrinkled up like a pleased apple as she smiled once more. “Now come, since you are a darling boy, let me show you something very special. What would you say to a vial of distilled stars, guaranteeing the one who carried it long life?”

  Enough, said the voices in Zachariah’s head.

  Shadowhunters do not make bargains for their own lives, said Brother Zachariah, and towed Matthew away by his sleeve.

  Matthew flailed and squawked a protest.

  The woman’s potions were in all likelihood colored water and sand, said Zachariah. Do not waste your money, or make any other bargain with the fey. You must be careful at the Market. They sell heartbreak as well as dreams.

  “Oh, very well,” said Matthew. “Look, Uncle Jem! That werewolf is running a book stall. Werewolves are surprisingly ardent readers, you know.”

  He dashed over and began to ask artless questions of a lady werewolf in a prim dress, who was soon patting her hair and laughing at his nonsense. Brother Zachariah’s attention was suddenly arrested by the warlock he had been searching for.

  Wait for me here, he told Matthew, and went to meet Ragnor Fell by the side of a fire built under one of the railway arches.

  As the fire leaped, it birthed green sparks that matched the clever face of the warlock and lit his snowy white hair, curling around the sterner curl of his horns.

  “Brother Zachariah,” he said, nodding. “A pleasure, but I wish I had better news for you. Ah well. Bad news comes like rain and good news like lightning, barely seen before a crash.”

  A cheerful thought, said Brother Zachariah, his heart sinking.

  “I went to several sources about the information you asked for,” said Ragnor. “I have a lead, but I have to tell you—I was warned that this quest might prove fatal: that it has already proved fatal to more than one person. Do you truly want me to follow up on the lead?”

  I do, said Brother Zachariah.

  He had hoped for more. When he had met Tessa on the bridge that year, she had seemed concerned as she talked to him. It had been a gray day. The wind had blown her brown hair back from the face that trouble could touch as time could not. Sometimes it seemed like her face was all the heart he had left. He could not do much for her, but he had once promised to spend his life guarding her from the very wind from heaven.

  He intended to keep his word in that at least.

  Ragnor Fell nodded. “I will keep searching.”

  So will I, said Brother Zachariah.

  Ragnor’s face changed to a look of deep alarm. Brother Zachariah turned and beheld Matthew, who had wandered back to the faerie woman’s stall of potions.

  Matthew! Brother Zachariah called. Come here.

  Matthew nodded and came reluctantly forward, smoothing his waistcoat.

  The look of al
arm on Ragnor’s face deepened. “Why is he coming over? Why would you do this to me? I had always considered you one of the more sensible Shadowhunters, not that this is saying much!”

  Brother Zachariah studied Ragnor. It was unusual to see the warlock rattled, and he was usually very discreet and professional.

  I thought you had a long and cherished history of mutual esteem with the Fairchilds, said Brother Zachariah.

  “Oh, certainly,” said Ragnor. “And I have a long and cherished history of not getting blown up.”

  What? asked Zachariah.

  The mystery was explained when Matthew caught sight of Ragnor and beamed.

  “Oh, hello, Professor Fell.” He glanced in Jem’s direction. “Professor Fell taught me at the Academy before I was expelled. Very expelled.”

  Jem had been aware that James had been expelled, but he had not known Matthew was too. He had thought Matthew had simply chosen to follow his parabatai, as anyone would if they could.

  “Is your friend with you?” asked Ragnor Fell, and twitched. “Is Christopher Lightwood upon the premises? Is our Market shortly to be engulfed in flames?”

  “No,” Matthew said, sounding amused. “Christopher is at home.”

  “At home in Idris?”

  “In the Lightwoods’ London home, but it is far away.”

  “Not far enough!” decided Ragnor Fell. “I shall decamp to Paris forthwith.”

  He nodded at Brother Zachariah, visibly shuddered at Matthew, and turned away. Matthew waved forlornly after him.

  “Good-bye, Professor Fell!” he called. He looked up at Brother Zachariah. “Christopher did not mean to cause any of the accidents, and the large explosion was entirely my fault.”

  I see, said Brother Zachariah.

  Brother Zachariah was not sure he did see.

  “You must know Gideon quite well,” Matthew remarked, his quicksilver mind flashing onto another topic.