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[....and remember, glamor, glamor, glamor. Even when using different routes, a good glamor is a fugitive’s best friend. That was it for our tips to keep your safehouse free from danger, I hope some of these help in keeping you safe.

[rustling]

Now for the list of missing Allegiance Members, though some have yet to be confirmed as such. They will be substantiated as soon as news comes in.

Aldergreen, Priya and Akban - Shadowhunters - confirmed.
Appleheart, Jessaka - Shadowhunters - confirmed.
Blackwater, Zane and Greta - Shadowhunters - confirmed.
Calla - Seelie - confirmed.
Cartraven, Portia - Shadowhunter - unconfirmed.
Crosshallow, Arabella and Van - Shadowhunters - confirmed.
Fairheart, Josef - Shadowhunter - confirmed.
Fennis - Los Angeles Vampire Clan - unconfirmed.
Foxhood, Kae and Mei - Shadowhunters - confirmed.
Huntwell, Nikki - Shadowhunter - unconfirmed.
Jackson - New York Werewolf Pack - confirmed.
Merrigold, Deela and Rowan - Shadowhunters - confirmed.
Noreen - Seelie - unconfirmed.
Owlgreen, Victor - Shadowhunter - confirmed.
Pinewright, Sadie - Shadowhunter - unconfirmed.
Shadefair, Binnie - Shadowhunter - confirmed.
Starklight, Rosaline - Shadowhunter - confirmed.
Tallan, Harry and Dee - San Diego Werewolf Pack - confirmed.
Waternight, Frank - Shadowhunter - confirmed.
Wolfmark, Charlie and Ben - Birmingham Werewolf Pack - unconfirmed.
Young, Mason - Sydney Vampire Clan - confirmed.

A long list, I know, but remember, if you have any news on other missing Allegiance members, or can confirm any of these names, you know how to reach me. Stay safe, everyone. This is Indiana Organa signing off.]

 

Izzy stared down at the paper, running a finger over the names. She didn’t know anyone on there personally, but being the direct link between Alliance members and the greater Shadow world, she was the main point of call for every lost and injured person out there. It made every name on that list feel personal.

She hated Valentine with a burning passion.

Her own safehouse was tiny, much less extravagant than the Institute, but it was home and she was making do. A small bed shoved against the wall, a dresser, table, and small kitchenette made up the entire hut. Alec insisted she be out of sight and in the most inconspicuous place possible, and though she was irritated with him for it, she couldn’t help but agree that it was necessary.

It just meant she wasn’t in the thick of the action, even though she wanted to be. When she first proposed the radio as a way of unifying the Allegiance, she hadn’t expected to end up the person running it. Most of the time she loved it, but occasionally it drove her nuts that she didn’t get all the information she would have if she’d been on the field.

[Phone chimes - Text message sound]

She grabbed her phone from the desk and scrolled through the notifications. There was an older one from Alec - I’ll be around next weekend, usual place, usual time - and a new one from Lydia.

She took a deep breath, hoping it wasn’t bad news. If any Shadowhunter was in the most immediate danger, it was Lydia. She currently worked in the Archives in Idris, and was spying on the Clave and their contra-Allegiance efforts. Many members, including Alec and Magnus, owed their lives to her advance warnings of raids. 

From: Lydia Branwell
Cartraven and Owlgreen confirmed dead by Clave Administration. Noreen the Seelie was broken out of a holding cell by Pinewright and Oskar Birchstone. Birchstone didn’t make it, but I got Noreen and Sadie out of there in time. They should pass through the Lithuanian Safehouse.

From: Lydia Branwell
No other confirmed deaths or other MIA’s. Should be able to make our next appointment.

Lydia was always short and to the point in her messages, never leaving room for anything personal. At first, that had rubbed Izzy the wrong way. They had nearly ended up as sisters in law, Izzy figured they had enough history for some familiarity at least. But after a while, Izzy had understood. If almost all news you reported was bad news, it helped to be a little distant, just to keep functioning.

Besides, Izzy learned to read between the lines. Lydia had known Sadie Pinewright, or she wouldn’t have slipped and used her first name. She would have to keep an eye out and see if any news about Sadie came down the grapevine.

To: Lydia Branwell
Upcoming Thursday, usual time, usual codeword. I’m sorry about Sadie, I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything about her.

Izzy put down her phone and started updating her notes with Lydia’s information.

[Phone Chimes Repeatedly] 

From: Lydia Branwell
Thanks Izz, appreciate it.

Nobody ever called her Izz, and Izzy wouldn’t have expected Lydia to use nicknames at all. 

From: Lydia Branwell
I went through training with her. I’m pretty sure she joined the Allegiance because she recognized my voice.

From: Lydia Branwell
What if she gets hurt? It’ll all be my fault.

Izzy arched her brow. Lydia wasn’t prone to emotional outbursts, so it was a surprise to see her letting her guard down. She wasn’t sure why Izzy was the one Lydia chose to confide in, Alec had always been more her type of person, but here she was, seeking emotional support from Izzy.

So Izzy wouldn’t let her down. She started typing her reply and forgot all about the Allegiance and the Rebel Radio for a while.

 

[...so while the law stipulates that all Downworlders are beings with souls, and thus entitled to Shadowhunter protection, it also stipulates that Downworlders who aren’t affiliated with any of the official Downworld associates, do not fall under this protection.

This sets the unfortunate precedent that mundanes caught in the crosswire of Shadow World affairs, lose their entitled protection the moment they turn. In the last two years, several cases were reported of mundanes being left in serious peril once turned to Vampires or Werewolves.

Remember Sylvia Vincent, ravished by an age crazed vampire, who wasn’t only let down when the Shadowhunters failed to protect her, but again when she was killed without trial after unknowingly failing the Accords.

Remember Octavio Ramos, innocent bystander in a Werewolf/Vampire dispute, in which Shadowhunters chose not to interfere, and who was left to die once it turned out he was likely to become a Werewolf.

These are only two examples of 14 mundane/Downworlder casualties that happened in the last 6 months before the Rebellion started. Remember them, and wonder how many more went unreported. How many more went unnoticed?

The Law is The Law, and it’s unjust.]

 


 

Lydia spoke the spellword Magnus had taught her, and shut the connection with Izzy’s radio booth. Normally she’d listen to the rest of the show, but she was tired of hearing the names of the missing. She’d provided or confirmed almost the entire list and almost knew it by heart. She was tired of hearing Izzy’s voice through the Radio Anonyzer. She wanted to hear the real thing.  

It had been weeks since Lydia had talked with someone who knew her, someone who knew where her true allegiance lay. Before all this, she would never have called Izzy a friend; they were very different in everything, but nowadays Izzy was often her only connection with the outside world. They’d been exchanging the occasional messages, which had lately increased in frequency, and Lydia… Lydia needed the connection.

Like all Allegiance members, Lydia’s phone was protected against infiltration, so she wasn’t worried about calling Izzy. She was apprehensive about whether or not Izzy would answer. Though they had been talking a lot by text, there was a sense of anonymity and safety in text. It gave them a certain amount of distance, but lately that distance felt too big. She was lonely.

[Phone going over]

“Lydia?”

Lydia constantly underestimated how important human contact was. She was doing important things for the Allegiance, but spying on the Clave was a lonely job. Just like Izzy’s. Perhaps that was why they had taken to talking so much. “Izzy.”

“Is everything alright?” Izzy asked.

Lydia should have known that an impromptu phone call would cause panic. “I’m fine. I didn’t mean to worry you.”

[Izzy laughs]“You wouldn’t be the first. I keep telling Alec that he’s going to give me a heart attack one of these days,” Izzy said.

“You wouldn’t be the first. I keep telling Alec that he’s going to give me a heart attack one of these days,” Izzy said.

Smiling, Lydia sank down into her chair, drawing her legs up to her chest. She was quiet for a bit, something about Izzy left her tongue-tied and she didn’t know what to do about it.

“So why did you call?” Izzy asked.

Lydia looked at the radio next to her. “I hear your voice every night and realized that I haven’t heard the real thing for months.”

[Soft sound of surprise by Izzy]

“I think about that sometimes.” Izzy said. “So many people listen to me, but I worry they don’t actually hear me, you know?”

“I think they do.” Lydia was positive that Izzy’s messages were getting through; nobody outside of the Allegiance knew that Izzy was at the helm; that would put her in too much danger. The subjects she chose to address were important and informative, two things the Allegiance and wider Shadow World needed to know if they were going to be successful. “You’re doing an amazing job, Izzy.”

[Small pauze] “So are you.”

[Lydia hums.] Lydia knew she was doing important work, that her information saved lives, but she still wished that she could be doing more. It always felt like not enough . “There are so many to save.”

“I know,” Izzy said. [Another pause.] “We’re doing good, Lydia. No matter what, remember that.”

“I will,” Lydia promised.

Lydia gripped her phone tighter. Having someone to talk to, to worry with, made all the difference. She hadn’t realised how frayed she was, how uncertain about the future she was becoming. Talking with Izzy wasn’t a cure, but it was definitely helping.

Lydia curled up tighter on the chair. “So, how is … wherever you are right now?”

“This shack?” Izzy said [affronted]. “I keep telling Alec that Magnus needs to come and decorate, because it’s shocking. If Magnus could see where Alec’s shoved me, I’m sure he would --”

Lydia let Izzy’s voice wash over her as she tipped her head back against the couch.

 


  

[...if you’re in the San Gabriel Valley, please evacuate immediately. Raids have taken place in Baldwin Park, Irwindale, and El Monte. If you’re occupying a safehouse, Allegiance Warlocks will be arriving to transport you outside of the State. No transmissions within the San Gabriel Valley should be made without the necessary precautions.

[Rustling - Izzy sighs]

[Look, I know it may all seem grim and hopeless right now -- the Clave is not going to change or bend overnight, we always knew that -- but now is not the time for despair. It’s been a long couple of months, I’m the first to admit that. We’ve lost loved ones, family, friends. Many of us are currently on the run from the Clave, and if we’re caught we’ll face an unfair trial and prompt execution.

We’ve accomplished a lot in the last few months. More and more people are joining the protest each day. Never have Shadowhunters and Downworlders worked together so well, so long, without payment or favors involved.

We’ve come too far to give up now. So tonight, I’d like to end my broadcast with a message of hope.

Yesterday I got a report that a Peruvian Werewolf Pack, having already had to evacuate twice due to Clave raids in which they lost four of their Pack members, welcomed twins into their family. They were being sheltered by the local Vampire clan, who provided the birthing mother with everything she desired, including, or so I’ve heard, three raw steaks with guacamole. The mother and both kids are doing fine.

Nothing like this could ever have happened a year ago.

So take care of each other, and if all seems dire, think of those werewolf kids..]

 

[Long sigh]

Izzy closed off the radio broadcast, pulling off her headset, and dropping her head onto the table. She wished she could believe her own words. There was a weariness in her bones that she never felt back when she was still Shadowhunting in New York, not even on weeks where she only slept three hours in five days because they were understaffed and being overrun by swarms of Elapid demons.

This was a different kind of exhaustion, one that came from reading lists upon lists of missing people, from reading about entire families being driven from their homes. She was tired of moving people from the MIA list to the KIA list. She was tired of never having good news to share that lasted.

She was tired of this blasted shack, with it’s shitty shower and terrible heating. She was tired of only having herself to look at in the mirror. She was tired of hearing only her own voice. She missed people. The weekly calls with Alec and Lydia weren’t enough anymore. She wanted to actually touch someone again. Just to be held, for a second, in peace.

[Phone chimes with Text Message]

[Izzy groans]

Izzy was too tired to pick up her phone. She didn’t want more bad news. She was on strike and would just stay here with her head on this nice desk forever.

[Phone keeps beeping with reminder messages ]

“Argh” [Izzy groans in frustration]

It wasn’t bad news, but a message from Lydia.

From: Lydia Branwell
Hey! 
That was a really nice closing message. I needed that today.
Magnus shared his gossip with you? That man loves his babies.

[Izzy snorts]

While that was true -- despite the Rebellion, she expected Alec and Magnus to start collecting babies soon -- Magnus had been banned from Peru for years, and Izzy was pretty sure Lydia knew that.

To: Lydia Branwell
Nope.
Luke told me.
Apparently one of his wolves is a cousin twice removed, who wanted Luke to check with Raphael if the Peruvian vampires had good intentions. 

From: Lydia Branwell
Ah. I take it they did?

To: Lydia Branwell
Yes, and they were insulted that the American Vampires butted in. Luke nearly caused an international Vampire-Werewolf-Vampire incident. He felt bad, so this was his way of making amends.

From: Lydia Branwell
Alec told me that the Gomez kids apparently ran away to join the Rebellion. An old Warlock found them in the jungle near Lima and dropped them safely back at the Institute, since they’re 5, 8, and 9 respectively. Between dealing with their kids and fending of the Clave inquiry into why the kids ran away in the first place, they’ll be busy for a while.

To: Lydia Branwell.
See, think of the kids.

 From: Lydia Branwell.
Are you okay? You didn’t sound entirely like yourself. Normally you’re annoyingly perky. 

To: Lydia Branwell.
I’m pretty sure you’re the annoying one. 

Izzy hesitated for a split second, and then wrote a follow-up text.

To: Lydia Branwell
Besides, the only thing that’s perky about me are my breasts.

Izzy watched the ellipsis blink on her phone for a while. Either Lydia was typing the longest message in the history of texts, or she didn’t know what to say. [Izzy taps the table with her finger impatiently] Izzy wasn’t sure if they were those kinds of friends. She hadn’t even considered them friends before all of this, but things were changing.

[Phone chimes]

Izzy nearly dropped her phone.

From: Lydia Branwell.
You’re deflecting. Are you all right?

To: Lydia Branwell
Yeah, I’m fine. The loneliness is getting a bit to me today, that’s all. I think I need a hug.

From: Lydia Branwell
If I were there, I’d give you a hug.

To: Lydia Branwell
Kinda wish you were.

From: Lydia Branwell
Yeah. Me too.
Call tomorrow?

To: Lydia Branwell
Why not now?

From: Lydia Branwell
Can’t really talk where I am. 

To: Lydia Branwell
Where are you?

From: Lydia Branwell
Can’t tell you, sorry. Don’t want you mixed up in this one.
Call tomorrow, the usual time?

Izzy knew that arguing through text about what Lydia deemed confidential was no use. She was always easier to convince in person.

To: Lydia Branwell
Okay. Tomorrow it is.

But the next day, Lydia didn’t call.

Izzy sent her a couple of text messages asking where she was, if she could help, but there was no response. Izzy was worried, but there was nothing new there; there was nothing else for her to do in the sorry excuse for a shack except worry and think and worry some more. Usually those feelings were reserved for Alec and Max and the rest of her friends, but Lydia didn’t make promises she didn’t keep.

To distract herself from thinking about what might be keeping Lydia from contacting her, Izzy made an early start on composing her radio show for that night. One of the Vampires in Raphael’s Clan had a knack for programming and had set up a system that correlated all of the information the Allegiance received from various sightings and tip-offs. She watched the screen flicker through names and reports for a beat, then grabbed a pen.

 

[..... It seems we’re making further headway in undermining the Clave. Despite the raids, despite the threats and public executions, progress is happening. More and more Shadowhunters are defecting or refusing their orders. It’s a sign that people recognise that things must change. We’re staying strong and I have every faith that we can get through this.

Today’s list of missing is short. As always, if you have a family member or friend missing and you want to know their whereabouts, either contact your safehouse Allegiance liaison, or contact the nearest High Warlock. 

[Rustle of paper]

Alahan, San Diego Warlock - confirmed
Azira, Kai - Shadowhunter - unconfirmed.
Woodheron, Lisa - Miami Werewolf - confirmed
Bellan - Seelie - confirmed
Branwell, Lydia- 

[Izzy gives a sharp intake of breath]

Branwell, Lydia-] 

[Izzy clears her throat]

Izzy stared down at the name on the list. She needed to continue the broadcast, but the names were starting to blur together. Clenching her hands into fists, Izzy swallowed thickly, focusing on the part of her she hadn’t needed since leaving her parents behind all that time ago.

[Branwell, Lydia - Shadowhunter - unconfirmed
Deean - Texan Vampire Clan - confirmed
Laila - Georgian Vampire Clan - unconfirmed
Maplecross, Yara - Shadowhunter - unconfirmed
Penstair, Terrance and Flora - Shadowhunters - confirmed
Waterwose, Una, Rose and Lily - Shadowhunters - unconfirmed 

Any further news will be passed on as soon as I receive it.

Stay safe.]

 

As soon as Izzy shut off the broadcast, she reached for her phone. The fastest way to reach Alec had always been by text.

To: Alec Lightwood
What happened to Lydia?

There was no reply. Izzy stared at her phone as if the power of suggestion alone could make Alec answer. She was never told anything beyond what Alec, Luke and Magnus wanted her to broadcast. Her equipment only showed her the aftermath of events, never the planning. She understood the logic behind that, but sometimes their lack of communication was borne out of Alec’s need to protect her, despite her being more than capable of taking care of herself.

To: Magnus Bane
Are you and Alec busy?

Unlike her brother, Magnus was clearly with his phone.

From: Magnus Bane
Not so busy I can’t talk to my favourite female Lightwood

In her current mood, the joke fell flat. Izzy loved Magnus and thought he was the best thing that had ever happened to her brother, but now was not the time for his jokes.

To: Magnus Bane
Tell me what happened to Lydia

There was a delay this time and Izzy felt her anger rise. Lydia wouldn’t break off contact with her unless something had happened. Alec, Magnus and Luke were the only people who could know where Lydia was. Maybe she should call Luke and ask him. 

From: Magnus Bane
Isabelle, you know I would tell you if I could

To: Magnus Bane
Bullshit.

Tossing her phone on the table, Izzy pulled the headphones off and stormed out of the shack. The surroundings were mostly wooded, her only company the animals and birds that called this place home. The shack was protected by wards of Magnus’ own making, though those very same wards prevented her from leaving. If she left, the wards would break, and she wouldn’t be able to come back.

For the first time, despite the good she was doing, she resented being stuck out here.

Izzy and Lydia were friends. She cared about Lydia, but the worry she felt over Lydia’s name ending up on that list wasn’t the same worry she had for Clary or Simon being out in danger. It wasn’t even the same worry she had for Magnus. This was something different, and Izzy didn’t understand why.

What made Lydia so special?

Sitting on the porch step, Izzy pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. From inside the shack she could hear her phone ringing, and the part of her that knew it would be Magnus or Alec wanted to stay out on the porch. The small part that hoped it was Lydia made her run back inside, fumbling for the phone.

As predicted, Alec was calling. Ignoring it and shutting off the sound, Izzy dropped back onto her bed, legs hanging off the edge. She stared at the cracked, dirty ceiling. She hoped the view was better for Lydia, wherever she was. Her phone vibrated once more under her fingers and Izzy glanced down only long enough to read Alec before cutting him off.

To: Alec Lightwood
If you’re only calling to tell me that it needs to be secret, don’t bother

She shoved her phone back under her hip, fingering the edge of the case as she counted the amount of times the roof beams had cracked and broken. It was like a spiderweb of decay; not unlike the Clave right now, she thought viciously.

There was a sound from the outside the shack, and Izzy’s wrist burned where her whip was coiled around it. She approached the door carefully; nobody should be able to get through the wards. 

Whitelaw ” The voice was unmistakably Magnus’ and Izzy relaxed a fraction. She wrenched open the door, prepared to bring down her fury at her brother. But it had been so long since she’d seen them, since she’d seen anyone , that the instant Alec’s foot landed on the first step of the porch, she was pulling him into a hug.

Startled, he rocked back, but righted himself enough to hug her back. “Hey, Izzy.”

Izzy buried her face in Alec’s chest, letting all of the tension and worry bleed out of her shoulders. When she pulled back, she could see the soft smile on his face and the worry that he was desperately trying to hide in his eyes.

Magnus was leaning against the rail, giving them privacy, staring off into the forest.

“Magnus,” Izzy said, hopping down the step to draw him into a hug. His grip was tight, as though he had been afraid for her. She understood the sentiment, but she was probably the most heavily warded person in the Allegiance, and that included Alec, who she was sure Magnus would entomb on an island somewhere nobody could reach him, if given the chance.

Magnus and Alec shared a look, before Magnus said, “We wanted to see you.”

Izzy rolled her eyes, leading the way into the shack. “You mean yell at me in person about why I can’t know what’s happened to Lydia?”

Alec folded his arms across his chest. “You know that could jeopardize her mission.”

“How? I’m not going to shout it across the airwaves, Alec. This is me asking about a friend.”

Alec’s shoulders sagged. “We don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?” [Izzy shouts] “She’s on a mission for you! You should know where your people are!” Izzy pushed her index finger into Alec’s chest.

“It wasn’t exactly a mission. Rita Clawdust got hold of a bunch of safehouse locations, Lydia managed to give us a heads up, and then she sent a text that she was going to intercept the report. We’re currently confirming whether any safehouses were compromised, but we haven’t heard from her. We actually came because we thought you might’ve.”

“You let her intercept a report? She’ll get caught! She was only ever supposed to spy, not tamper with anything! How could you?!”

Alec had his stubborn face on, which meant he was about to yell back at her. Izzy was ready for it. She was brimming for a fight. Magnus stepped forward and put his hand on Alec’s arm.

“My dearest Isabelle, you know as well as I do, that’s there’s no letting Lydia anything. When she decides something, she goes for it, and there’s no stopping her. It’s why we love her.”

‘Yeah,’ Izzy thought. And then, ‘fuck’.

“We’ll keep an eye out, ask around,” Alec said. “But we’ve gotta go. There’s not enough Warlocks in the compromised sector to transport everyone at once, and standing portals are too risky. We really need to go help.”

“At least let me receive the information calls,” Izzy said.

Alec immediately shook his head. “We can’t risk that, Izzy, not with you broadcasting. Someone might spill important information while you’re on air. You agreed it’s too risky.”

Izzy frowned. “Fine, but I don’t like this. I’m sick of being in this shack, alone, doing nothing.”

[Manly sigh by Alec]. “I know,” was all Alec said, and kissed her on her cheek.

Magnus patted her on the shoulder, and with a snap of his fingers, the both of them were gone.

Izzy slowly went inside to stare at her screens, hoping for the familiar name to pop up.

Three hours later she got a message from Luke.

From: Luke Garroway
We think Lydia had been taken into custody, but there are signs of a fight by the Idris border, and it looks like they’re trying to track someone. We don’t think they have her.

“Screw this,” Izzy said and went for the radio.

 

[Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill is cut off to switch the radio channel]

[Good evening, and welcome to this special broadcast of Rebel Radio.

Normally, this is where Envoy Bronte would join us for our weekly feature The Law is The Law, but unfortunately, Envoy Bronte, also known as Lydia Branwell, has been MIA for two days. Instead, I’m going to tell you about her.

In the first week of our acquaintance, during the Valentine and Mortal Cup fiasco, she arrested me for aiding and abetting, a Seelie Knight. The Seelie Knight was innocent, and so was I, except for helping him escape his unlawful detainment. Which is why Lydia put me on trial. 

She did it because she was ordered to, and because she believed it was the way to the Cup. She believed the Law was on her side. Above all else, Lydia believes in doing your duty as a Shadowhunter to uphold the Law and protect mundanes, even if that means arresting the sister of your fiancee.

In the end, she dropped all charges. Not necessarily because she believed I was innocent, but because it wasn’t the way to the Cup. The Seelie Knight’s arrest had been unfounded, and thus my trial was a pretense as well. She made an emotional speech about family and loyalty, and I thought that was it. Later I started thinking that it had more to do with her belief in the Law. .

I think that opened her eyes that the Law wasn’t fair to all, that justice was only just for Shadowhunters. I think that moment is when Lydia Branwell, Shadowhunter paragon, Envoy of the Clave, became Lydia Branwell, fiercest defender of the Law as it should be.

The Law was written to keep the Shadow World hidden, avoid unnecessary conflict between Downworlders, and protect people from Demons. By Law, every being with a soul is due Shadowhunter protection. At its core, that’s what the law is about. That’s what Lydia was fighting for.

[Izzy makes a noise in her throat] That’s what she is fighting for.

Lydia Branwell went MIA while trying to destroy information about the location and population of 17 safehouses. Evacuation is currently ongoing, and if you haven’t heard from your Warlock liason, your location is still safe. It’s always wise to be prepared and on guard.

Please keep an eye out for Lydia. She’s medium height, long blonde hair, rune on her collarbone, and forever the fire of the righteous in her eyes, even when she’s being a pain in the ass.

[Izzy’s voice breaks]

If anyone has any news, please get in touch through the usual channels.

Stay safe people, and take care of one another]

 

Izzy put down her headset, and started crying.

Her phone rang. It wasn’t the usual tone. When she grabbed it, it wasn’t her phone that was ringing. It was a flashy glittery blue one, with a post-it attached.

Dearest Izzy, gave you a line to our hotline. After six rings it goes through to Raphael’s people, so you don’t have to worry about broadcasting. Love, M

Izzy really loved Magnus. The phone rang for the fifth time. She hurried to pick it up.

“Hello?” Izzy said hesitantly.

“Yes, miss Lightwood. I have information about that missing girl of yours,” a heavily accented voice said on the other end.

Izzy’s legs sagged with relief. “She’s not mine,” was all she managed. The woman on the other line snorted.

“As you say.” [Pause] “She is safe.”

Izzy sank down on the edge of the bed, fisting the covers in one hand. “Where is she?”

“She is curious girl.” The woman ignored her question. “Why not have your Warlock friends come fetch her, if she is so precious to you?”

Izzy was barely holding on to her patience. This woman was playing with her. “If we knew where she was, we’d send someone down for her immediately. Can you give me coordinates or a location?”

“I am not certain I am at ease with that,” the woman said.

“What’s your name? Perhaps someone I know will be able to help me find you.” Izzy could only think of Magnus, who seemed to know everyone.

Another pause. “You have friend that is Seelie. They will know where to find me. Tell them to come to Marika.”

It had been a long time since Izzy had spoken to Meliorn, and given what went down between him, Lydia and Alec, she wasn’t so sure that he would want to help. “Thank you for helping.”

“I did not do it for you,” Marika said. “But you are welcome.”

Izzy was grinning as she hung up the phone, already sending a text to Magnus. If anyone was going to be able to get through to Meliorn, it would be Magnus.

To: Magnus Bane
Just got intel on Lydia from a Marika? She says Meliorn should come get her.

From: Magnus Bane
Hmmm never heard of her. But her wanting Meliorn means this stinks of Seelie politics. They’re not all that enthusiastic about the Allegiance. This could be tricky.

To: Magnus Bane
Can we get to her without him? I’m not sure he’ll help.

From: Magnus Bane
No idea. Nobody understands Seelie politics. Sometimes I suspect not even the Seelie. But I’ll ask him. Chin up, Isabelle. We’ll find her!

Izzy hoped so.

 

[..... if anyone can hear this, the Paris Institute is no longer under Allegiance control. The Clave has arrested Dominic and Virginie Starbrook, the younger Starbrooks could evade arrest.

There are Downworlders in surrounding areas who need help. Anyone who has time and the ability to help, please do so. Transport them to safehouses. None have been compromised and all should be safe. Inform your local High Warlock, who will then pass the information to me.

Stay safe, and be alert.]

 

Izzy cut the broadcast. She stared down at the papers in front of her, none of which told her whether Magnus has been successful with getting Meliorn on their side. It would be difficult; Lydia and Alec had done more damage with Meliorn than good.

To: Lydia Branwell
I don’t even know if you can get this, but I just want you to know that I hope you’re safe. 

To: Lydia Branwell
I hope Meliorn is willing to help you. I don’t know what else to do if he can’t.

To: Lydia Branwell
I don’t even know if we have anything of yours to track you with. You’re always so careful to take everything with you when you leave.

To: Lydia Branwell
I know that’s for safety, but maybe when all this is said and done, you can leave something with me so I’ll know you’re safe and can be found.

To: Magnus Bane
I know you’re used to radio silence, but can you at least let me know what’s going on?

Izzy pushed away from the desk, spinning the chair around. The refrigerator looked inviting enough that her stomach rumbled, but she couldn’t bring herself to eat anything. How could she? She was so worried, Lydia was all she could think about; whether she was safe, how she was, if Marika could be trusted.

 


 

Lydia wished her phone battery hadn’t died. Or that she’d lost it. But now she kept grabbing it, only to be reminded that she couldn’t contact anyone. She was all alone, in Seelie territory, and nobody knew where she was.

The Clave wouldn’t care if she died here, only whether their secrets were safe from the  Seelie. John was already dead, so couldn’t care anymore. Alec and Magnus had so many people to care for now, and while they were cordial, and she believed Alec still cared for her like she cared for him, they had never completely moved past the awkwardness of the Wedding, so they would worry but move on.

Izz… She hoped Isabelle would care. She wanted her to.

However,  nobody knew a Seelie had rescued her, only to snatch her away to the Seelie realm. She hadn’t been threatened, or told not to leave, but Lydia understood she was a captive anyway.

The Seelie had no reason to trust her, nor feel kindness towards her.

She wondered if Marika knew Meliorn, and if so, how large the reach was of a Seelie with a grudge.

The place she was in was nice. It was some kind of grotto, decorated with dark and heavy wooden furniture, but there was light everywhere. Marika had left her with water and some kind of bread, and while Lydia had been taught to always be careful about food with Downworlders, she was beyond caring about that.

Truth was, she was tired; tired about the subterfuge with the Clave, tired from months of undercover work. If her aid for the Allegiance wasn’t deemed worthy by the Seelie, whether she ate the food or not wouldn’t make a difference.

So she ate it, and was surprised to find out it was incredibly tasty.

Her dinner was interrupted by Marika returning. The Seelie looked to be of middle age, but with an otherworldly veneer. She could either be 28 or 2800 years old, and you would never be able to tell.

“So, Branwell Lydia. It would seem you have people looking for you. Who would these people be?” The Seelie settled into her chair after posing her question.

Lydia put down her drink. She was a blunt person by nature, but a conversation with the Seelie always required full attention. She didn’t plan to lie, but she would have to be careful not to speak any accidental untruths.

“That depends on where you got that information. I suspect The Clave will have people looking for me, since I have probably been labeled a traitor. It’s possible the Allegiance are also looking for me, but only if there’s no other crisis going on,” Lydia said.

[Lydia snorts deprecatingly]

“I don’t expect them to look hard or long. I’m only one person, and I can take care of myself.”

The Seelie cocked her head slightly. She had a subtle smirk around her mouth, but otherwise her expression was completely neutral. Lydia wished she could ask her on pointers about poker faces — hers was abysmal.

“You say the Clave will think you a traitor. Then you are part of the Allegiance? ” Marika continued her questioning.

Lydia was sure Marika already knew the answers, but the way the Seelie stressed ‘You say’ made her aware again how deep the differences between them were. Seelies couldn’t lie, and therefor never trusted the truth, especially if it came from people who could lie.

“I’ve been a secret member of the Allegiance since the start. I’d been dismissed from my job as Envoy for the Clave, and given an administrative job at the Archives. Administration isn’t deemed a worthwhile position amongst Shadowhunters, there’s little valor to be won in it. But it was the perfect function to spy for the Allegiance, because all reports filed to the Clave immediately pass through the Archive. So that’s what I did.”

Marika’s face stayed unmoving.

“You say you were dismissed from your previous position, why?”

Lydia’s heart dropped. She knew where this would lead now, and it wasn’t anything good. But maybe she deserved it.

“I aborted my cooperation in the trial of Isabelle Lightwood, who was suspected of aiding a Seelie Knight by the name of Meliorn in his escape from capture, and of betraying confidential information to the Seelie.”

Marika’s eyes gleamed the moment she mentioned Meliorn.

“You were planning to torture Meliorn before Lightwood Isabelle rescued him.”

It wasn’t a question, but Lydia still answered.

“Yes. I believed he might have information regarding the Cup.”

Lydia felt the urge to explain the unexplainable. She didn’t recognize the person she had been then, so desperate to succeed that she was willing to torture people for information. But she had been that person, and she had no intention of not owning up to that.

“I’m not proud of it, and if a similar situation happened now I wouldn’t do it, but at the time it seemed the only way. It was all within the Law, and The Cup was too important. I was desperate.”

“Yes, a weapon of great value, the Cup. It can be used to torture everyone, with only Nephilim protected from that power.”

Lydia swallowed, but didn’t respond. It was the truth; the Cup had been used as a torture device throughout history.

 “Why did you abort the trial of Lightwood Isabelle?”

“Because I no longer believed that the trial was about Isabelle Lightwood’s possible transgressions, but Clary Fairchild and the Cup. Neither Isabelle Lightwood nor Meliorn could help us get to them, so the trial was a waste of time.”

“You did not abort the trial because you thought her innocent?”

Lydia smiled. “Isabelle and I don’t always agree on what is confidential, and who should have our confidence. It’s possible she shared information with Meliorn, it’s possible Meliorn was after the Cup — Seelie don’t like being on the losing side after all.”

Marika smiled. Her teeth were pointy. “True. Your personal relations with the Lightwoods did not affect you?”

“I’m sure they did. I cared for Alec Lightwood, and I wanted to trust his judgement about his sister. That meant trusting her judgement about Meliorn. Izz… Isabelle can be very convincing if she’s passionate about something.”

Lydia shrugged. “None of that matters anymore. What’s done is done.”

“You made your first mistake, Branwell Lydia. It all matters. If this Allegiance wins over the Clave. What will change? Why will these Nephilim be better?”

The change in topic threw Lydia for a second, but the answer came easily. 

“We’ll rewrite the Covenant. No longer should The Law be written by Shadowhunters, with amendments through the Accords. The governing Law of the entire Shadow World should be written by representatives of all Downworlders, and Shadowhunters. Everyone will still have to compromise, but it will be better than it is now, no longer governed by Shadowhunters.”

Marika smiled her pointy smile again, but this time her face changed. She suddenly looked older, more otherworldly, and thoroughly threatening. Lydia reached for her stele instinctively, even though it had been taken from her by Darren Woolbranch, when he’d taken her into custody. She wished Marika had rescued her stele as well, but maybe she hadn’t done so intentionally.

“And will you win, Branwell Lydia. Will your Allegiance get to that utopian moment where we all write the new Law together?”

Lydia swallowed. She felt in her bones that this answer was the one that truly mattered.

“I don’t know. I think we can, if we and all Downworlders manage to keep working together. But the balance is fickle, and only one misinterpreted incident, or intentional crossing can make it all fall down. I think we’re fueled on hope, and it’s a risky undertaking, but we’re close. If we make it, it will have been worth everything.”

Marika didn’t answer. Instead, she looked her in the eye for a long, terrifying minute. Suddenly the threatening glamor dropped and she looked just as when she’d first walked into the room.

She stood up from her chair. “Come with me, I shall take you to Meliorn.”

Lydia quietly followed her. Outside the grotto, Meliorn was waiting, face as impassive as that of Marika. The sun was shining.

“Take her to Isabelle Lightwood and your debt will be paid.”

Marika turned to Lydia. Suddenly her features resembled that of the young Seelie Lydia helped rescue.

“Hereby my I pay my debt to you for saving the life of my granddaughter, Noreen. My clan may yet join the Allegiance, my mind has not been made up, but hereby our personal debts are settled.”

It was a declaration, and Lydia didn’t object. She hadn’t done it to have the Seelie indebted to her, but to help Sadie, who she had known for a long time.

Meliorn drew a portal out of the realm, and she took his hand when he offered it to step through.

It was noticeably colder where they stepped out, cold wind making the trees rustle. Lydia shivered in the shade.

“Isabelle Lightwood is inside. You can go,” Meliorn said, face still unflappable.

He finally looked her in the eyes. “Do not mistake this for friendship, Branwell Lydia. Do not mistake this for forgiveness. Hereby I’ve repaid my blood debt to the Asrai clan. Next time, I won’t be this kind.”

Lydia nodded. She would have to add ‘save Meliorn’ to her to do list.

“Are you coming with? I’m sure Izz would love to see you.”

Meliorn smiled. “Our hearts have moved on.”

Lydia’s stomach swooped. She was sure it was the stress.

Meliorn stepped back through the portal.

Lydia looked at the cottage. It didn’t seem as shabby as Izzy had described.

 


 

From: Alec Lightwood
We’re doing our best, Iz.

To: Alec Lightwood
I know. I just want her safe.

To: Alec Lightwood
I care about her

From: Alec Lightwood
Care about her, care about her?

Izzy rolled her eyes. What was Alec, twelve?

To: Alec Lightwood
So what if I do? 

From Alec Lightwood
Are you serious? As in love?

Izzy paused. It wasn’t like that, was it? Izzy cared about Lydia, wanted her safe. Thinking about the danger Lydia could be in, left a painful tightness in her chest. She loved Lydia’s company, liked talking to her and learning about her and just being with someone who understood Izzy without judgment.

If that was love, then perhaps it was serious.

Before she could answer the text, there was a knock at the door. The only people who knew where Izzy was located were Alec and Magnus - and they were both in the same place. The whip currently curled around her wrist started to uncoil as she approached the door.

“Izzy?”

Immediately, Izzy dropped her whip at the familiar voice. Izzy hardly dared hope as she yanked open the door. Standing on the other side, unharmed and the most beautiful person Izzy had ever seen, was Lydia.

“You’re safe,” Izzy breathed, curling a hand in Lydia’s t-shirt and pulling her into a hug. “I didn’t think I was ever going to see you again.”

Lydia remained stiff for a moment, before she slowly started to relax, letting out a slow breath and wrapping her arms around Izzy’s shoulders. Izzy didn’t know how long they stayed like that; her face pressed into Lydia’s neck, Lydia’s fingers in her hair.

“I’m okay, I’m safe,” Lydia said, finally pulling away. She kept a hand on Izzy’s waist, her face soft and open as she smiled.

Brushing a lock of hair from Lydia’s face, Izzy couldn’t stop staring. “When I read your name during the broadcast, I didn’t know what to think.”

Lydia’s brow furrowed a fraction. “You would have been fine.”

Izzy could let Lydia think that and everything would go back to the way it was; but she knew that she couldn’t handle Lydia’s name turning up on that list again. She didn’t want to forget how Lydia made her feel, or made her want . Resting a hand on Lydia’s chest, Izzy took a breath and then shook her head. “No, I don’t think I would have.”

There was a pause. Izzy could see the moment Lydia realised what Izzy was saying. Cheeks heating a little, Lydia’s fingers twitched against Izzy’s waist. She was smiling, though, her eyes shining. Izzy’s heart was pounding; this was nothing like she imagined. Was this how Alec felt all that time ago at his and Lydia’s failed wedding? When he saw Magnus?

“Lydia,” Izzy said, her voice a mere whisper.

Lydia nodded, hand on Izzy’s cheek. “Izzy, I-”

“Kiss me?” Izzy said, cutting across whatever Lydia might say. There was time enough for that later. “Please?”

Lydia’s grin was blinding. She didn’t say anything, just leaned in, pausing for a beat long enough that Izzy could refuse. As if she ever could. Then their lips met; Izzy’s hands were once more pressed to Lydia’s chest, Lydia’s fingers brushing the hairs at the nape of Izzy’s neck. Lydia kissed like  Lydia. She was calm and collected, bruising and intoxicating. Izzy wanted more, so much more.

For now they were together, and in that moment, it was everything.