Home > Son of the Dawn (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1)(7)

Son of the Dawn (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1)(7)
Author: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan

“No,” the boy repeated slowly. “I should’ve known. You moved differently. I just thought it might be, since you gave me the staff.”

He bowed his head. It struck Zachariah as a sorry thing, that the child would not have expected even the smallest mercy from a stranger.

“Thank you for letting me use it,” Jonathan added.

I am glad it was useful, returned Brother Zachariah.

The boy’s glance up at his face was shocking, the flare of twin suns in what was still almost night. They were not the eyes of a soldier, but a warrior. Brother Zachariah had known both, and he knew the difference.

The boy took a step back, nervous and agile, but stopped with his chin high. Apparently he had a question.

Zachariah was not expecting the one he asked.

“What do the initials mean? On your staff. Do all Silent Brothers have them?”

They looked together at the staff. The letters were worn by time and Zachariah’s own flesh, but they had been struck deep into the wood in the precise places where Zachariah would put his hands on them when he fought. So, in a way, they would always be fighting together.

The letters were W and H.

No, said Brother Zachariah. I am the only one. I carved them into the staff on my first night in the City of Bones.

“Were they your initials?” the boy asked, his voice low and a little timid. “Back when you were a Shadowhunter, like me?”

Brother Zachariah still considered himself a Shadowhunter, but Jonathan clearly did not mean any offense.

No, said Jem, because he was always James Carstairs when he spoke of what was dearest to him. Not mine. My parabatai’s.

W and H. William Herondale. Will.

The boy looked struck yet wary at the same time. There was a certain guardedness about him, as if he was suspicious of whatever Zachariah might say before he even had the chance to say it.

“My father says—said—a parabatai can be a great weakness.”

Jonathan said the word weakness with horror. Zachariah wondered what a man who had drilled a boy to fight like that might have considered weakness.

Brother Zachariah did not choose to insult an orphan boy’s dead father, so he arranged his thoughts carefully. This boy was so alone. He remembered how precious that new link could be, especially when you had no other. It could be the last bridge that connected you to a lost life.

He remembered traveling across the sea, having lost his family, not knowing that he was going to his best friend.

I suppose they can be a weakness, he answered. It depends on who your parabatai is. I carved his initials here because I always fought best with him.

Jonathan Wayland, the child who fought like a warrior angel, looked intrigued.

“I think—my father was sorry he had a parabatai,” he said. “Now I have to go and live with the man my father was sorry about. I don’t want to be weak, and I don’t want to be sorry. I want to be the best.”

If you pretend to feel nothing, the pretense may become true, said Jem. That would be a pity.

His parabatai had tried to feel nothing, for a time. Except what he felt for Jem. It had almost destroyed him. And every day, Jem pretended to feel something, to be kind, to fix what was broken, to remember names and voices almost forgotten, and hoped that would become truth.

The boy frowned. “Why would it be a pity?”

We battle hardest when that which is dearer to us than our own lives is at stake, said Jem. A parabatai is both blade and shield. You belong together and to each other not because you are the same but because your different shapes fit together to be a greater whole, a greater warrior for a higher purpose. I always believed we were not merely at our best together, but beyond the best either of us could be apart.

A slow smile broke across the boy’s face, like sunrise bursting as a bright surprise upon the water.

“I’d like that,” said Jonathan Wayland, adding quickly: “To be a great warrior.”

He flung his head back in a sudden, hasty assumption of arrogance, as if he and Jem might both have imagined he meant that he would like to belong to someone.

This boy, hell-bent on fighting rather than finding a family. The Lightwoods guarding against a vampire, when they could have extended some trust. The vampire, holding every friend at bay. All of them had their wounds, but Brother Zachariah could not help resenting them, for even the privilege of feeling hurt.

All these people were struggling not to feel, trying to freeze their hearts inside their chests until the cold fractured and broke them. While Jem would have given every cold tomorrow he had for one more day with a warm heart, to love them as he once had.

Except Jonathan was a child, still trying to make a distant father proud even when death had made the distance between them impossible. Jem should be kind.

Jem thought of the boy’s speed, his fearless strike with an unfamiliar weapon on a strange and bloody night.

I’m sure you will be a great warrior, said Jem.

Jonathan Wayland ducked his shaggy golden head to hide the faint color in his cheeks.

The boy’s forlornness made Jem recall too vividly the night he had carved those initials into his staff, a long, cold night with all the icy strangeness of the Silent Brothers new in his head. He had not wanted to die, but he would have chosen death rather than the awful severing from love and warmth. If only he could have had a death in Tessa’s arms, holding Will’s hand. He had been robbed of his death.

It seemed impossible to stay anything like human, in among the bones and endless dark.

When the alien cacophony of the Silent Brothers threatened to engulf all that he had been, Jem held fast to his lifelines. There had been none stronger than that one, and only one other so strong. His parabatai’s name had been a shout into the abyss, a cry that always received an answer. Even in the Silent City, even with the silent howl insisting that Jem’s life was no longer his own but a shared life. No longer my thoughts, but our thoughts. No longer my will, but our will.

He would not accept that parting. My Will. Those words meant something different to Jem than to anyone else, meant: my defiance against encroaching dark. My rebellion. Mine, forever.

Jonathan scuffed his shoe against the deck and peered up at Jem, and Jem realized he was trying to see Brother Zachariah’s face beneath the hood. Jem drew the hood, and the shadows, close. Even though he had been rebuffed, Jonathan Wayland offered him a small smile.

Jem had not looked for any kindness from this hurt child. It made Brother Zachariah think that Jonathan Wayland might grow up to be more than a great warrior.

Maybe Jonathan would have a parabatai one day, to teach him the kind of man he wanted to be.

This is the link stronger than any magic, Jem had told himself that night, knife in hand, cutting deep. This is the bond I chose.

He had made his mark. He had taken the name Zachariah, which meant remember. Remember him, Jem willed himself. Remember them. Remember why. Remember the only answer to the only question. Do not forget.

When he looked again, Jonathan Wayland was gone. He wished he could thank the child, for helping him remember.

Isabelle had never been to the New York Passenger Ship Terminal before. She was not very impressed. The terminal was like a glass and metal snake, and they had to sit in its belly and wait. The ships were like warehouses on the water, when Isabelle had been picturing a boat from Idris as like a pirate ship.

It had been dark when they woke, and it was barely dawn now, and freezing. Alec was huddled in his hoodie against the wind blowing off the blue water, and Max was fussing at their mother, cranky about being up so early. Basically both her brothers were cranky, and Isabelle did not know what to expect.

She saw her father walk down the gangway with a boy beside him. The dawn drew a line of thin gold over the water. The wind made little white capelets for every wave in the river and played with the gold locks of the boy’s hair. The boy’s back was straight and slim as a rapier. He was wearing dark, close clothes that looked almost like gear. And there was blood on them. He had actually been part of the fighting. Dad and Mom had not let her or Alec fight even one tiny demon yet!

Isabelle turned to Alec, confident he would share her sense of deep betrayal at this unfairness, and found him staring at the new arrival with wide eyes as though beholding a revelation with the morning.

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