A Deeper Love – Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson

“I think first,” Catarina said, “lemon cake. Oh, lemons. I think I miss them most.” Catarina Loss and Tessa Gray were walking down Ludgate Hill, just passing the Old Bailey. This was a game they sometimes played—what will you eat first when this war is over? Of all the terrible things that were going on, sometimes the most ordinary ran the deepest. Food was rationed, and the rations were small—an ounce of cheese, four thin pieces of bacon, and one egg a week. Everything came in tiny amounts. Some things simply went away, like lemons. There were oranges sometimes—Tessa saw them at the fruit and veg market—but they were only for children, who could have one each. The nurses were fed at the hospital, but the portions were always tiny, and never enough to keep up with all the work they performed. Tessa was lucky to have the strength she did. It was not all the physical strength of a Shadowhunter, but some trace of angelic endurance lingered within her and sustained her; she had no idea how the mundane nurses kept up. “Or a banana,” Catarina said. “I never liked them much before, but now that they are gone, I find myself craving them. That’s always the way, isn’t it?” Catarina Loss did not care about food.

She barely ate at all. But she was making conversation as they walked down the street. This is what you did—you pretended life was normal, even as death rained from above. It was the London spirit. You kept to your routines as much as you could, even if you slept in a Tube station at night for shelter, or you returned home to find the neighbor’s house or yours was no longer there. Businesses tried to stay open, even if all the glass blew out of the windows or a bomb went through the roof. Some would put out signs that said, “More open than usual.” You carried on. You talked about bananas and lemons. At this point in December, London was at its darkest.

The sun went down just after three in the afternoon. Because of the air raids, London was under blackout orders every night. Blackout curtains blocked light from every window. Streetlamps were turned off. Cars dimmed their lights. People walked the streets carrying their flashlights to find their way through the velvety darkness. All of London was shade and corner and nook, every alley blind, every wall a dark blank. It made the city mysterious and mournful. To Tessa, it felt like London itself grieved for her Will, felt his loss, turned out every light. Tessa Gray had not particularly enjoyed Christmas this year.

It was difficult to enjoy things with the Germans raining bombs overhead whenever the whim suited them. The Blitz, as it was called, was designed to bring terror to London, to force the city to its knees. There were deadly bombs that could crush a home, leaving a pile of smoking rubble where children once slept and families laughed together. In the mornings, you would see walls missing and the inner workings of houses, exposed like a doll’s house, scraps of cloth flapping against broken brick, toys and books scattered in piles of rubble. More than once she saw a bathtub hanging off the side of what remained of a house. Extraordinary things would happen, like the house where the chimney fell, smashing through the kitchen table where a family ate, shattering it but harming no one. Buses would be upturned. Rubble would fall, instantly killing one family member, leaving the other stunned and unscathed. It was a matter of chance, of inches. There was nothing worse than being left alone, the one you loved ripped from you.

“Did you have a good visit this afternoon?” Catarina asked. “The younger generation are still trying to talk me into leaving,” Tessa replied, stepping around a hole in the pavement where part of it had been blown away. “They think I should go to New York.” “They’re your children,” Catarina said gently. “They want what’s best for you. They don’t understand.” When Will died, Tessa had known there could be no place for her among the Shadowhunters. For a time it had seemed as if there was no place for her in all the world, with so much of her heart in the cold ground. Then Magnus Bane had taken Tessa into his home when she was almost mad with grief, and when Tessa slowly emerged, Magnus’s friends Catarina Loss and Ragnor Fell encircled her. No one understood the pain of being immortal save another immortal.

She could only be grateful they had taken her in. It was Catarina who introduced Tessa to nursing when the war broke out. Catarina had always been a healer: of Nephilim, of Downworlders, of humans. Wherever she was needed, she went. She had nursed in the last Great War, only twenty years before, the war that was never supposed to happen again. The two of them had taken a small flat off of Farrington Street, close to the London Institute and to St. Bart’s Hospital. It was not as luxurious as her previous homes—just a small, second-story walk-up with a shared bath in the hall. It was easier this way, and cozier. Tessa and Catarina shared one small bedroom, hanging a sheet down the middle for privacy.

They often worked at night and slept during the day. At least the raids were only at night now—no more sirens and planes and bombs and anti-aircraft guns at noon. The war had caused increased demonic activity—as all wars did, demons taking advantage of chaos caused by battle—which was almost overwhelming the Shadowhunters. Though it was a terrible thought to have, Tessa regarded the war as a kind of personal blessing. Here, she could be useful. One of the good things about being a nurse was that there was always something that needed doing. Always. Constant activity kept grief at bay because there was no time to think. Going to New York, sitting in safety, would be hellish. There would be nothing to do but think about her family.

She did not know how to do this, how to go on agelessly as her descendants grew older than her. She looked up at the great dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, lording over the city exactly as it had done for hundreds of years. How did it feel, seeing its city below, its sprawling child, blown to pieces? “Tessa?” Catarina said. “I’m fine,” Tessa replied, quickening her step. At that moment, a scream broke out all over the city—the air-raid siren. Moments later came the humming noise. It sounded like the approach of an army of angry bees. The Luftwaffe was overhead. The bombs would be falling soon.

“I thought we might be spared for a few more days,” Catarina said grimly. “It was so nice to only have two air raids this week. I suppose even the Luftwaffe wants to celebrate the holiday.” The two quickened their steps. Then it came—that uncanny sound. As the bombs fell, they whistled. Tessa and Catarina stopped. The whistling was just above them, all around. The whistling was not the problem—the problem was when it stopped. The silence meant the bombs were less than a hundred feet overhead.

That’s when you waited. Were you going to be next? Where could you go when death was silent and came from the sky? There was a clanking and a hissing sound up ahead, and the street was suddenly illuminated with spitting, phosphorescent light. “Incendiaries,” Catarina said. Tessa and Catarina rushed forward. The incendiary bombs were canisters that looked harmless enough up close, similar to a long thermal flask. When they hit the ground, they spread fire. They were being scattered all up and down the street by the planes, highlighting the road and spitting flames at the buildings. The fire wardens began running from all directions, dampening the incendiaries as quickly as possible. Catarina bent down to one. Tessa saw a blue flash; then the bomb extinguished.

Tessa ran up to another and stamped at the sparks until a fire warden poured a bucket of water over it. But now there were hundreds all over the road. “Must get on,” Catarina said. “It looks to be a long one tonight.” Passing Londoners tipped their hats. They saw what Tessa and Catarina wanted them to see—just two brave young nurses headed to the hospital, not two immortal beings trying to stem an endless tide of suffering. On the other side of the Thames, a figure was making its way through the dark beneath the viaduct, past where the normally flourishing Borough Market was held by day. Usually, this place was heaving with activity and scraps of the day’s market. Tonight, everything was muted and there was barely anything remaining on the ground. Every old cabbage and bruised piece of fruit had been plucked up by hungry people.

The blackout curtains, lack of streetlight, and the absence of mundanes on the streets made this corner of London foreboding. But the cloaked figure walked without hesitation, even as the airraid siren ripped through the night. His destination was just around the corner. Even with the war, the Shadow Market went on, though it was fragmentary. Like the mundanes with their ration cards, their limited supplies of food, of clothing, and even of bathwater, things here were in short supply. The old-book stalls had been picked through. Instead of hundreds of potions and powders, only a dozen or so graced the vendors’ tables. The sparkle and the fire was nothing compared to the flames that raged on the opposite bank, or the machines that dropped death from the sky, so there seemed little point in putting on lightshows. The children still ran about—the young werewolves, the street children and orphans who had been Turned in the dark corners of the blackout and now roamed, seeking nourishment and parental guidance. A small vampire, Turned far too young, trailed alongside Brother Zachariah, pulling on his cloak for fun.

Zachariah did not disturb him. The child looked lonely and dirty, and if it pleased him to trail a Silent Brother, then Zachariah would allow it. “What are you?” said the little boy. A kind of Shadowhunter, Brother Zachariah replied. “Did you come to kill us? I heard at’s what they do.” No. That is not what we do. Where is your family? “Gone,” the little boy said. “A bomb dropped on us, and my master came and got me.” It had been all too easy to pluck these little ones out of the wreckage of a home, take them by the hand to some pitch-black alley, and Turn them.

Demon activity, too, was at an all-time high. After all, who could tell whether that torn limb was from someone killed by a bomb or someone ripped apart by a demon? Did it make a difference? Mundanes had their own demonic ways. A crowd of other vampire children ran past, and the little boy ran off with them. The sky roared, thick with the sound of planes. Brother Zachariah listened to the noise of the bombing with a musician’s ear. The bombs whistled when they dropped, but there was that strange punctuating silence as they neared the earth. Silences in music were as important as sound. In this case, the silences told so much of the story to come. Tonight, the bombs were falling on the other side of the river like rain—a thundering symphony with too many notes. Those bombs would be falling near the Institute, near St.

Bart’s hospital where Tessa worked. Fear for her ran through Zachariah, cold as the river cutting across the city. In these empty days since Will’s death, emotion was a rare visitor for him, but when it came to Tessa, feeling always bloomed. “Bad one tonight,” said a faerie woman with silver, scaled skin who sold enchanted toy toads. They leapt about on her table, protruding golden tongues. “Like a toad?” She pointed at one of the toy toads. It turned blue, then red, then green, then flipped on its back and spun, before turning into a stone. Then it burst forth into toad form again and the cycle continued. No, thank you, Zachariah said. He turned to keep moving, but the woman spoke again.

“He’s waiting for you,” she said. Who is he? “The one you have come to meet.” For months now, he had been slowly trailing a series of contacts through the faerie world, trying to find out about the lost Herondales he had learned of at the Shadow Market and carnival in Tennessee. He had not come specifically to meet anyone tonight— he had a number of contacts who provided information as they came by it. But someone had come to meet him. Thank you, he said politely. Where am I to go? “The King’s Head Yard,” she said, smiling widely. Her teeth were small and pointed. Brother Zachariah nodded. The King’s Head Yard was a nearby alley—a horseshoeshaped offshoot of Borough High Street.

It was accessed through an arch between the buildings. As he approached it, he heard the sound of planes overhead, then the whistling of a payload being dropped. Nothing to do but keep going. Zachariah crossed under the archway partway, then stopped. I am here, he said to the darkness. “Shadowhunter,” a voice said. From the bend at the end of the yard, a figure emerged. It was a faerie, and clearly one of the Court. He was extremely tall, almost human in appearance but for his wings, which were brown and white and spread wide, almost touching the opposite walls. I understand you wish to speak to me, Brother Zachariah said politely.

The faerie stepped closer, and Zachariah could see a copper mask in the form of a hawk covering the top half of his face. “You have been interfering,” the faerie said. In what, precisely? Zachariah inquired. He did not move back, but he tightened his grip on his staff. “Things that do not concern you.” I have been making inquiries about a lost Shadowhunter family. That is very much something that concerns me. “You come to my brethren. You ask the fey.” This was true.

Since his encounter with Belial at the carnival in Tennessee, Brother Zachariah had been pursuing many leads in Faerie. He had seen, after all, a Herondale descendant with a faerie wife and child. They had fled as soon as he recognized them, but it had not been him they feared. Whatever danger threatened the lost Herondale, Zachariah had learned it came from Faerie. “What is it you know?” the faerie asked, stepping forward. I would advise you not to come closer. “You have no idea of the danger of what you seek. This is Faerie business. Cease your meddling in that which affects our lands and our lands alone.” I repeat, Zachariah said calmly, though his grip on the staff was firm now, I ask of Shadowhunters.

That is very much my business.

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