The Red Scrolls of Magic Page 1


City of Love

You can’t escape the past in Paris.

—Allen Ginsberg



* * *


Collision in Paris

FROM THE OBSERVATION DECK OF the Eiffel Tower, the city was spread at Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood’s feet like a gift. The stars twinkled as if they knew they had competition, the cobbled streets were narrow gold, and the Seine was a silver ribbon twined around a filigree box of bonbons. Paris, city of boulevards and bohemians, of lovers and the Louvre.

Paris had also been the setting for many of Magnus’s most embarrassing mishaps and ill-conceived plots, and several romantic catastrophes, but the past did not matter now.

This time Magnus intended to get Paris right. In his four hundred years of wandering the world, he had learned that wherever you traveled, it was the company that mattered. He looked across the small table at Alec Lightwood, who was ignoring the glitter and glamour of Paris in order to write postcards to his family back home, and smiled.

Each time he finished a postcard, Alec wrote Wish you were here at the end. And each time, Magnus snatched the card and wrote, with a flourish, Except not really.

Alec’s broad shoulders were hunched over their table as he wrote. Runes flowed along the muscled strength of his arms, one rune already fading against his throat, just under the clean line of his jaw. A lock of his always-disheveled black hair was falling into his eyes. Magnus had the fleeting impulse to reach over and push his hair back, but he repressed the urge. Alec was sometimes self-conscious about public displays of affection. There might be no Shadowhunters here, but it was not as if all ordinary humans were totally accepting of such gestures either. Magnus wished they were.

“Thinking deep thoughts?” Alec asked.

Magnus scoffed. “I try not to.”

Enjoying life was essential, but sometimes it was an effort. Planning the perfect trip to Europe had not been easy. Magnus had been forced to invent several brilliant schemes single-handed. He could only imagine trying to describe his somewhat unique requirements to a travel agent.

“Going somewhere?” she might ask when he called.

“First holiday with my new boyfriend,” Magnus might reply, since being able to tell the world he was dating Alec was a recent development, and Magnus liked to brag. “Very new. So new we still have that new-car smell.”

So new that each was still learning the rhythms of the other, every glance or touch a move in a territory both wonderful and strange. Sometimes he caught himself looking at Alec, or found Alec looking at him, with luminous shock. It was as though each of them had discovered something unexpected but infinitely desirable. They were not yet sure of each other, but they wanted to be.

Or at least, that was what Magnus wanted.

“It’s a classic love story. I hit on him at a party, he asked me out, then we fought an epic magical battle between good and evil side by side, and now we need a vacation. The thing is, he’s a Shadowhunter,” he would say.

“Sorry, what?” his imaginary travel agent would ask.

“Oh, you know how it is. Back in the day, the world was being overrun with demons. Think Black Friday, with more rivers of blood and slightly fewer howls of desperation. As happens in times of despair for the noble and true—so, never for me—an angel came. The Angel gave to his chosen warriors and all their descendants the power of angels to defend mankind. He also gave them their own secret country. The Angel Raziel was a big gift giver. The Shadowhunters continue their fight to this day, invisible protectors, shining and virtuous, the actual non-ironic definition of ‘holier than thou.’ It is incredibly annoying. They literally are holier than thou! Certainly holier than me, as I am demonspawn.”

Even Magnus could not think of what his travel agent would say to that. Probably she’d just whimper in confusion.

“Did I forget to mention?” Magnus would go on. “There are beings very different from Shadowhunters: there are Downworlders, too. Alec is a child of the Angel, and the son of one of the oldest families in Idris, the Nephilim home country. I’m sure his parents would not have been thrilled to see him squiring a faerie or a vampire or a werewolf about New York. I’m also certain they would have preferred that to a warlock. My kind are considered the most dangerous and suspect in Downworld. We are the children of demons, and I am the immortal child of a certain infamous Greater Demon, though I may have forgotten to mention that fact to my boyfriend. Respectable Shadowhunters are not supposed to bring my sort home to meet Mom and Dad. I have a past. I have several pasts. Besides, good Shadowhunter boys aren’t meant to bring home boyfriends at all.”

Only Alec had. He’d stood in the hall of his ancestors and kissed Magnus full on the mouth under the eyes of all the Nephilim assembled there. It had been the most profound and lovely surprise of Magnus’s long life.

“We recently fought in a great war that averted disaster to all humankind, not that humankind is grateful, since they don’t know. We received neither glory nor adequate financial compensation, and suffered losses I cannot describe. Alec lost his brother, and I lost my friend, and both of us could really use a break. I fear the closest thing to treating himself Alec has ever experienced is buying a shiny new knife. I want to do something nice for him, and with him. I want to take a step away from the mess that is our lives, and see if we can work out a way to be really together. Do you have a recommended itinerary?”