The Fiery Trial (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy #8)(5) by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson

Simon was midreach for another scone. He drew back his arm.

“Definitely,” he said. “Me too. But why couldn’t they just send us a letter?”

Magnus paused for a moment and looked at Catarina, then turned to Simon with a wink.

“Why send a letter when you can send something truly magnificent?”

It was a very Magnus thing to say, but it rang a little hollow. Something about Magnus seemed a little hollow. His voice, maybe.

“The ceremony will be performed in the Silent City tomorrow,” Jem said. “We have already arranged permission for you to attend.”

“Tomorrow?” Clary said. “And we’re just being asked now?”

Magnus shrugged elegantly, indicating that sometimes things like this just happened.

“What do we have to do?” Simon asked. “Is it complicated?”

“Not at all,” Jem said. “The position of the witness is largely symbolic, much like a wedding. You have nothing you have to say. It’s just a matter of standing with them. Emma chose Clary—”

“I can understand that,” Simon said. “But Julian wouldn’t choose me. We hardly know each other. Why not Jace?”

“Because Julian isn’t particularly close to him either,” said Jem, “and Emma made the suggestion that you and Clary, as best friends, would be meaningful witnesses for them. Julian agreed.”

Simon nodded as if he understood, though he wasn’t sure he did, really. He remembered having spoken to Julian at Helen and Aline’s wedding, not long ago. He remembered thinking what a weight he had on his slight shoulders, and how much he seemed to hold contained, hidden and within. Perhaps it was simply that there was no one else Julian cared for enough to stand as his witness? No one he looked up to? That was incredibly sad, if so.

“In any case,” said Magnus. “You are to stand with them as they go through the Fiery Trial.”

“The what?” Simon asked.

“That is the true name of the ceremony,” Jem said. “The two parabatai stand inside rings of fire.”

“Tea’s ready,” Magnus said suddenly. “Never let it sit for more than five minutes. Time to drink up.”

He poured two cups from the small pot.

“There’s only two cups,” Clary said. “What about you?”

“The pot is small. I’ll make another one. These are for the two of you. Drink up.”

The two cups were presented. Clary shrugged and sipped. Simon did the same. It was, to be fair, exceptional tea. Maybe this was why English people got so excited about it. There was a wonderful clarity to the flavor. It warmed his body as it went down. The room was no longer cold.

“This really is good,” Simon said. “I don’t really do tea, but I like this. I mean, they give us tea here but one time I had a cup that had a bone in it, and that was one of the best cups I had.”

Clary laughed. “So what are we supposed to wear?” she said. “As witnesses, I mean.”

“For the ceremony, formal gear. For the dinner afterward, regular clothing. Something nice.”

“Wedding stuff,” Catarina finally said. “It’s a lot like a wedding but . . .”

“. . . without the romance and flowers.”

That was Jem.

Magnus was now eying them intently, his cat eyes glistening in the dark. The room had gotten very dark indeed. Simon gave Clary a look that was supposed to mean: This is weird. She responded with a very clear look of response that said: Superweird.

Simon drank his tea down in a few large gulps and returned the cup to the table.

“It’s funny,” he said. “There was just another parabatai announcement at dinner. Two students from the elite track.”

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