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The point of stories is not that they are objectively true, but that the soul of the story is truer than reality. Those who mock fiction do so because they fear the truth.

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"We do not get to choose when in our lives we feel pain," said Matthew. "It comes when it comes, and we try to remember, even though we cannot imagine a day when it will release its hold on us, that all pain fades. All misery passes. Humanity is drawn to light, not darkness."

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James cried out. Lightning seemed to fork behind his vision, and suddenly he was back in Regent’s Park, kneeling on the grass. There was a firm grip on his shoulders. “Jamie, Jamie, Jamie,” said an urgent voice, and James — his breath tearing in and out of his chest — tried to focus on what was in front of him.

Matthew.

Everything was blurred in that moment but Matthew’s face, his green eyes wide and dark and steady. Behind him moved other figures; they seemed in that moment like the shapes James had been finding in the clouds — inchoate and untouchable.

“Jamie, breathe,” Matthew said, and his voice was the only steady thing in a world turning upside down. It had been years since this had happened. Years. The horror of it happening in front of a crowd of people —

“Did they see me?” he said in a cracked voice. “Did they see me turn?”

“You didn’t,” Matthew said, “or at least, only a very little bit — perhaps just a bit fuzzy round the edges —“

“It’s not funny,” James said through his teeth, but Matthew’s humor acted like a slap of cold water; he opened his eyes fully, saw Thomas and Christopher looking down at him. They had positioned themselves so as to block him from the crowd at the lake’s edge.

“Get up,” Thomas said. “It’s the best thing you can do, James, we’ll tell them you tripped or fell.” His hazel eyes were anxious but his tone was reassuring. “Honestly all the attention was on Ariadne — “

Matthew’s hands on James’ shoulders turned into a grip on his arms, and James was hauled upright by his three best friends. Christopher produced a handkerchief from somewhere and began to dust his lapels.

“Chris,” said Matthew. He was the only person who ever used that nickname for Christopher besides Anna. “Stop. Who cares if he’s dusty? He was just invisible.”

“But he isn’t any more,” Christopher pointed out.

“We need to get you back to the Institute,” said Matthew to James in a low voice. “If you’re going to start suddenly going all — shadowy — for no reason, then the Silent Brothers —“

“Not the Silent Brothers,” said Thomas. “Just Zachariah.”

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Cordelia glanced over her shoulder. “Is it — I mean, I wish to chat alone with you, too, but are we being dreadfully rude asking your brother to walk behind us?”

“Not a bit,” Lucie assured her. “Look at him. He’s quite distracted, reading.”

And he was. James had a book out and was calmly reading while he walked. Though he seemed entirely caught up in whatever he was perusing, he nevertheless skirted oncoming passers-by, the occasional rock or fallen branch, and once even a small boy holding a hoop, with admirable grace. Cordelia suspected that if she had tried such a stunt, she would have crashed into a tree.

“You’re so lucky,” Cordelia said, wistfully, still looking over her shoulder at James.

“Goodness me, why?” Lucie looked at her with wide eyes. Where James’ eyes were amber, Lucie’s were a pretty pale blue, a shade lighter than her father’s. The famous dark blue Herondale eyes had gone to Will’s sister’s children.

Cordelia’s head snapped back around. “Oh, because —“ Because you get to spend time with James every day? She doubted Lucie thought that was any special gift; one didn’t, when it was one’s family. “He’s such a good older brother. If I’d asked Alastair to walk ten paces behind me in a park he would have made sure to stick by my side the entire time just to be annoying.”

“Pfft!” Lucie exhaled. “Of course I adore Jamie but he’s been dreadful lately, ever since he fell in love.”

She might as well have dropped an incendiary device on Cordelia’s head. Everything seemed to fly apart around her. “He’s what?”

“Fallen in love,” Lucie repeated, with the look of someone enjoying imparting a bit of gossip. “Oh, he won’t say with who, of course, because it’s Jamie and he never tells us anything. But Father’s diagnosed him and he says it’s definitely love.”

“You make it sound like consumption.” Cordelia’s head was whirling with dismay. James in love? With who? The look he had given her when she stepped down from the carriage, perhaps she had imagined that?

“Well, it is a bit, isn’t it? He gets all pale and moody and stares off out of windows like Keats.”

“Did Keats stare out of windows? I don’t recall hearing that.”

Lucie plowed on, undeterred by the question of whether England’s foremost romantic poet did or did not stare out of windows. “He won’t say anything to anyone but Matthew, and Matthew is a tomb where James is concerned. I heard a bit of their conversation once by accident, though —“

“Accident?” Cordelia raised an eyebrow.

“I may have been hiding beneath a table,” said Lucie, with dignity. “But it was only because I had lost an earring and was looking for it.”

Cordelia suppressed a smile. “Go on.”

“He is definitely in love, and Matthew definitely thinks he is being foolish. He does not like her.“

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James could see his mother moving like an anxious pale star among the guests in her lilac dress, greeting each of them warmly, welcoming them to her home. She had not glamoured herself to look her husband’s age for the evening, and she appeared enormously young, though her hair was done up like a gracious older woman’s, not a girl’s. When Will materialized out of the crowd and came to put his arm around Tessa, smiling down at her, the gray at his temples flashed like silver. James looked away; he loved his parents for being extraordinary, but sometimes he also hated them for the same thing.

***

James pouvait voir sa mère bouger comme une pâle étoile anxieuse parmi les invités dans sa robe lilas, saluant chacun d'eux chaudement, les accueillant chez elle. Elle ne s'était pas enchantée pour sembler avoir l'âge de son mari pour la soirée, et elle semblait très jeune, bien que ses cheveux ait été placés comme ceux d'une vieille dame gracieuse, pas comme ceux d'une jeune fille. Quand Will apparu hors de la foule et vint placer son bras autour de Tessa, lui souriant, le gris de ses tempes brilla comme l'argent. James regarda ailleurs. Il aimait ses parents parce qu'ils étaient extraordinaires, mais parfois il les haïssait pour la même raison.

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“Sometimes grief and worry must take the form of action,” said Cordelia. “Sometimes it is unbearable to sit and wait.”

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I wonder sometimes if it is easier to be brave when one is young, before one knows truly how much there is to lose.

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We don’t always love people who deserve it.

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“People are only invincible in books," said Cordelia.

"I think you will find most of the time, not even then," said Tessa. "But at least we can always pick up a book and read it anew. Stories offer a thousand fresh starts.”

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That's everyone's dream, isn't it, really? Instead of many who give you little pieces of themselves-one who gives you everything.

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