The Fiery Trial (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy #8)(4) by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson

“Simon,” Jem said. “So good to see you. Please have a seat.”

Simon had only had a few encounters with Jem Carstairs, who was apparently as old as his wife, Tessa Gray. They both looked amazingly fit for 150 years. Tessa even looked pretty hot. (Maybe Jem looked hot too? As Simon had thought once before, he probably wasn’t the greatest judge of male attractiveness.) Was it weird to think people who were twice as old as your grandparents were good-looking?

“I’ll leave you to it,” the dean said, and again there was something missing in her tone. It was like she had just said, “I’ll just give you this dead snake.” She closed the door.

“We’re having tea,” Magnus said. He was measuring out spoonfuls of loose tea leaves into the strainer of a tiny teapot. “One for each cup. One for the pot.”

He set the tiny tea canister aside and picked up one of the large silver pots and poured steaming water through the strainer into the teapot. Catarina was watching him do this with a strange fascination.

Jem looked at ease in a white sweater and dark jeans. His black hair had a single, dramatic streak of silver in it that stood out against his brown skin. “How are you finding the training?” he asked, leaning forward.

“I don’t bruise as much anymore,” Simon said, shrugging.

“That’s excellent,” Jem said. “It means you’re finding your feet and deflecting more blows.”

“Really?” Simon said. “I thought it was because I was dead inside.”

Magnus dropped the lid back onto the tiny tea canister very suddenly, making a loud clanking noise.

“I’m very sorry to interrupt your dinner,” Jem said. He had a formal way of speaking that was the only thing about him that really showed his age.

“Never be sorry about that,” Simon muttered.

“I take it the food in the Academy isn’t its best feature.”

“I’m not sure it has a best feature,” Simon replied.

Jem smiled, his face lighting up. “We have cakes here, and scones. I think these are of a slightly higher quality than you are currently used to.”

He indicated a china plate full of small cakes and scones that looked very edible. Simon didn’t hesitate. He grabbed the closest scone and shoved it into his mouth. It was a bit dry, but it was better than anything he’d had in a while. He knew crumbs were falling out of his mouth and onto his dark T-shirt, but he found himself not caring.

“Okay, Magnus,” Clary said. “You said you would explain why you brought me here when Simon got here. Not that I’m not happy to see you, but you’re making me nervous.”

Simon nodded and chewed to show he agreed and backed Clary up 100 percent, as best friends were supposed to do. At least he hoped he was communicating that.

Magnus pulled himself up. When a very tall warlock with cat eyes pulls himself up to attention, it changes the mood in the room. There was suddenly a real air of purpose, with an undercurrent of strange energy. Catarina sank back into the sofa, dropping into Magnus’s shadow. It wasn’t like Catarina to be so silent. Catarina was the blue-tinted voice of reason and minor rebellion in the hallowed halls of the Academy.

“I’ve been asked to bring you both a message,” Magnus said, twisting one of the many rings that adorned his long fingers. “Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are to become parabatai. The ceremony requires two witnesses, and they have asked for you to be those witnesses.”

Clary raised an eyebrow and looked over to Simon.

“Of course,” she said. “Emma’s a sweetheart. Definitely. I’m in.”

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