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Nothing but Shadows

Cassandra Clare

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  I knew nothing but shadows, and I thought them to be real.

  --Oscar Wilde

  Shadowhunter Academy, 2008

  The afternoon sunlight was streaming warm through the arrow-slit windows of their classroom, painting the gray stone walls yellow. The elites and the dregs alike were sleepy from a long morning of training with Scarsbury, and Catarina Loss was giving them a history lesson. History applied to both the elites and the dregs, so they could all learn of the glory of the Shadowhunters and aspire to be a part of that glory. In this class, Simon thought, none of them seemed that different from each other--not that they were all united in aspiring to glory, but they were all equally glazed with boredom.

  Until Marisol answered a question correctly, and Jon Cartwright kicked the back of her chair.

  "Awesome," Simon hissed behind his book. "That's really cool behavior. Congratulations, Jon. Every time a mundie answers a question wrong, you say it's because they can't rise to the level of Shadowhunters. And every time one of us answers a question right, you punish them. I have to admire your consistency."

  George Lovelace leaned back in his chair and grinned, feeding Simon his next line. "I don't see how that's consistent, Si."

  "Well, he's consistently a jackass," Simon explained.

  "I can think of a few other words for him," George remarked. "But some of them cannot be used around ladies, and some of them are Gaelic and cannot be understood by you mad foreigners."

  Jon looked upset. Possibly he was upset that their chairs were too far away to kick.

  "I just think she shouldn't speak out of turn," he said.

  "It's true that if you mundies listened to us Shadowhunters," said Julie, "you might learn something."

  "If you Shadowhunters ever listened," said Sunil, a mundie boy who lived down the (slimy) hall from George and Simon, "you might learn a few things yourself."

  Voices were rising. Catarina was beginning to look very annoyed. Simon gestured to Marisol and Jon to be quiet, but they both ignored him. Simon felt the same way as when he and Clary had set a fire in his kitchen by trying to toast grapes and create raisins when they were six: amazed and appalled that things had gone wrong so fast.

  Then he realized that was a new memory. He grinned at the thought of Clary with exploded grape in her red hair, and let the classroom situation escalate.

  "I'll teach you some lessons down in the training grounds," Jon snapped. "I could challenge you to a duel. Watch your mouth."

  "That's not a bad idea," remarked Marisol.

  "Oh, hey now," said Beatriz. "Duels with fourteen-year-olds are a bad idea."

  Everyone looked with scorn upon Beatriz, the voice of reason.

  Marisol sniffed. "Not a duel. A challenge. If the elites beat us in a challenge, then they get to speak out first in class for a week. If we beat them, then they hold their tongues."

  "I'll do it, and you'll be sorry you ever suggested it, mundie. What's the challenge?" Jon asked. "Staff, sword, bow, dagger work, a horse race, a boxing match? I'm ready!"

  Marisol smiled sweetly. "Baseball."

  Cue mass puzzlement and panicked looks among the Shadowhunters.

  "I'm not ready," George whispered. "I'm not American and I don't play baseball. Is it like cricket, Si? Or more like hurling?"

  "You have a sport called hurling in Scotland?" Simon whispered back. "What do you hurl? Potatoes? Small children? Weird."

  "I'll explain later," said George.

  "I'll explain baseball," said Marisol with a glint in her eye.

  Simon had the feeling Marisol was going to be a terrifying, tiny expert on baseball, the same way she was at fencing. He also had the feeling the elite stream was in for a surprise.

  "And I will explain how a demonic plague almost wiped out the Shadowhunters," said Catarina loudly from the front of the class. "Or I would, if my students would stop bickering and listen for one minute!"

  Everybody went very quiet, and listened meekly about the plague. It was only when the lesson ended that everyone started talking about the baseball game again. Simon had at least played before, so he was hurrying to put away his books and go outside when Catarina said: "Daylighter. Wait."

  "Really, 'Simon' would be fine," Simon told her.

  "The elite kids are trying to replicate the school they have heard about from their parents," Catarina said. "Mundie students are meant to be seen and not heard, to soak up the privilege of being among Shadowhunters and prepare for their Ascension or death in a spirit of humility. Except you really have been stirring up trouble among them."

  Simon blinked. "Are you telling me not to be so hard on the Shadowhunters, because it's just the way they were raised?"

  "Be as hard on the smug little idiots as you like," said Catarina. "It's good for them. I'm just telling you so you realize what an effect you're having--and what an effect you could have. You're in an almost unique position, Daylighter. I only know of one other student who dropped from the elites to the dregs--not counting Lovelace, who would have been in the dregs from the beginning if the Nephilim didn't make smug assumptions. But then, smug assumptions are their favorite thing."

  That had the effect Catarina must have known it would. Simon stopped trying to fit his copy of The Shadowhunter's Codex into his bag and sat down. The rest of the class would take some time to prepare before they actually had the baseball game. Simon could spare a little while.

  "Was he a mundane too?"

  "No, he was a Shadowhunter," Catarina said. "He went to the Academy more than a century ago. His name was James Herondale."

  "A Herondale? Another Herondale?" Simon asked. "Herondales without cease. Do you ever get the feeling you are being chased around by Herondales?"

  "Not really," Catarina said. "Not that I'd mind. Magnus says they tend to be a good-looking lot. Of course, Magnus also says they tend to be strange in the head. James Herondale was a bit of a special case."

  "Let me guess," Simon said. "He was blond, smug, and adored by the populace."

  Catarina's ivory eyebrows rose. "No, I recall Ragnor mentioning he had dark hair and spectacles. There was another boy at school, Matthew Fairchild, who did answer to that description. They did not get along particularly well."

  "Really?" said Simon, and reconsidered. "Well then, Team James Herondale. I bet that Matthew guy was a jackass."

  "Oh, I don't know," said Catarina. "I always thought he was a charmer, myself. Most people did. Everybody liked Matthew."

  This Matthew guy must have been a charmer, Simon thought. Catarina rarely spoke about any Shadowhunters with anything like approval, but here she was smiling fondly over a boy from a hundred years ago.

  "Everybody except James Herondale?" Simon asked. "The Shadowhunter who got thrown out of the Shadowhunter course. Did Matthew Fairchild have anything to do with that?"

  Catarina stepped out from behind her teacher's desk and went to the arrow-slit window. The rays of the dying sun struck through her hair in brilliant white lines, almost giving her a halo. But not quite.

  "James Herondale was the son of angels and demons," she said softly. "He was always fated to walk a difficult and painful path, to drink bitter water with sweet, to tread where there were thorns as well as flowers. Nobody could save him from that. People did try."

  Shadowhunter Academy, 1

  James Herondale told himself that he was feeling sick only because of the jolting of the carriage. He was really very excited to be going to school.

  Father had borrowed Uncle Gabriel's new carriage so he could take James from Alicante to the Academy, just the two of them.

  Father had not asked if he could borrow Uncle Gabriel's carriage.

  "Don't look so serious, Jamie," Father said, murmuring a Welsh word to the horses that made them trot faster. "Gabriel would want us to have the carriage. It's all between family."

  "Uncle Gabriel mentioned last night that he had recently had the carriage painted. Many times. And he has threatened to summon the constabulary and have you arrested," said James. "Many times."

  "Gabriel will stop fussing about it in a few years." Father winked one blue eye at James. "Because we will all be driving automobiles by then."

  "Mother says you can never drive an automobile," said James. "She made me and Lucie promise that if you ever did, we would not climb into it."

  "Your mother was just joking."

  James shook his head. "She made us swear on the Angel."

  He grinned up at his father. Father shook his head at Jamie, the wind catching at his black hair. Mother said Father and Jamie had the same hair, but Jamie knew his own hair was always untidy. He had heard people call his father's hair unruly, which meant being untidy with charisma.

  The first day of school was not a good day for James to be thinking about how very different he was from his father.

  During their drive from Alicante, several people stopped them on the road, calling out the usual exclamation: "Oh, Mr. Herondale!"

  Shadowhunter ladies of many ages said that to his father: three words that were both sigh and summons. Other fathers were called "Mister" without the "Oh" prefix.

  With such a remarkable father, people tended to look for a son who would be perhaps a lesser star to Will Herondale's blazing sun, but still someone shining. They were always subtly but unmistakably disappointed to find James, who was not very remarkable at all.

  James remembered one incident that made the difference between him and his father starkly apparent. It was always the tiniest moments that came back to James in the middle of the night and mortified him the very most, like it was always the almost invisible cuts that kept stinging.

  A mundane lady had wandered up to them at Hatchards bookshop in London. Hatchards was the nicest bookshop in the city, James thought, with its dark wood and glass front, which made the whole shop look solemn and special, and its secret nooks and hidey-holes inside where one could curl up with a book and be quite quiet. James's family often went to Hatchards all together, but when James and his father went alone ladies quite often found a reason to wander over to them and strike up a conversation.

  Father told the lady that he spent his days hunting evil and rare first editions. Father could always find something to say to people, could always make them laugh. It seemed a strange, wondrous power to James, as impossible to achieve as it would be for him to shape-shift like a werewolf.

  James did not worry about the ladies approaching Father. Father never once looked at any woman the way he looked at Mother, with joy and thanksgiving, as if she was a living wish, granted past all hope.

  James did not know many people, but he was good at being quiet and noticing. He knew that what lay between his parents was something rare and precious.

  He worried only because the ladies approaching Father were strangers James would have to talk to.

  The lady in the bookshop had leaned down and asked: "And what do you like to do, little man?"

  "I like--books," James had said. While standing in the bookshop, with a parcel of books under his arm. The lady had given him a pitying look. "I read--erm--rather a lot," James went on, dreary master of the obvious. King of the obvious. Emperor of the obvious.

  The lady was so unimpressed that she wandered off without another word.

  James never knew what to say to people. He never knew how to make them laugh. He had lived thirteen years of his life, mainly at the Institute in London, with his parents and his little sister, Lucie, and a great many books. He had never had a friend who was a boy.

  Now he was going to Shadowhunter Academy, to learn to be as great a warrior as his father, and the warrior bit was not half as worrying as the fact he was going to have to talk to people.

  There were going to be a lot of people.

  There was going to be a lot of talking.

  James wondered why the wheels did not fall right off Uncle Gabriel's carriage. He wondered why the world was so cruel.

  "I know that you are nervous about going to school," Father said at length. "Your mother and I were not sure about sending you."

  James bit his lip. "Did you think I would be a disaster?"

  "What?" Father said. "Of course not! Your mother was simply worried about sending away the only other person in the house who has any sense."

  James smiled.

  "We've been very happy, having our little family all together," Father said. "I never thought I could be so happy. But perhaps we have kept you too isolated in London. It would be nice for you to find some friends your own age. Who knows, you might meet your future parabatai at the Academy."

  Father could say what he liked about it being his and Mother's fault for keeping them isolated; James knew it was not true. Lucie had gone to France with Mother and met Cordelia Carstairs, and in two weeks they had become what Lucie described as bosom companions. They sent each other letters every week, reams and reams of paper crossed out and containing sketches. Lucie was as isolated as James was. James had gone on visits too, and never made a bosom companion. The only person who liked him was a girl, and nobody could know about Grace. Perhaps even Grace would not like him, if she knew any other people.

  It was not his parents' fault that he had no friends. It was some flaw within James himself.

  "Perhaps," Father went on casually, "you and Alastair Carstairs will take a liking to each other."

  "He's older than me!" James protested. "He won't have any time for a new boy."

  Father smiled a wry little smile. "Who knows? That is the wonderful thing about making changes and meeting strangers, Jamie. You never know when, and you never know who, but someday a stranger will burst through the door of your life and transform it utterly. The world will be turned upside down, and you will be happier for it."

  Father had been so happy when Lucie befriended Cordelia Carstairs. Father's parabatai had once been called James Carstairs, though his official name now that he belonged to the Silent Brothers--the order of blind, runed monks that aided the Shadowhunters in the darkness--was Brother Zachariah. Father had told James a thousand times about meeting Uncle Jem, how for years Uncle Jem had been the only one who believed in him, who saw his true self. Until Mother came.

  "I have spoken to you often of your mother and your uncle Jem and all they did for me. They made me a new person. They saved my soul," Father said, serious as he rarely was. "You do not know what it is, to be saved and transformed. But you will. As your parents, we must give you opportunities to be challenged and changed. That was why we agreed to send you to school. Even though we will miss you terribly."

  "Terribly?" James asked, shyly.

  "Your mother says she will be brave and keep a stiff upper lip," said Father. "Americans are heartless. I will cry into my pillow every night."

  James laughed. He knew he did not laugh often, and Father looked particularly pleased whenever he could make James do it. James was, at thirteen, a little old for such displays, but since it would be months and months until he saw Father again and he was a little frightened to be going to school, he nestled up against Father and took his hand. Father held the reins in one hand and put his own and James's linked hands into the deep pocket of his driving coat. James rested with his cheek against Father's shoulder, not minding the jolting of the carriage as they went down the country roads of Idris.

sp; He did want a parabatai. He wanted one badly.

  A parabatai was a friend who had chosen you to be their best friend, who had made their friendship permanent. They were that sure about how much they liked you, that sure they would never want to take it back. Finding a parabatai seemed to James the key to everything, the essential first step to a life where he could be as happy as his father was, be as brilliant a Shadowhunter as his father was, find a love as great as the love his father had found.

  Not that James had any particular girl in mind, James told himself, and crushed all thoughts of Grace, the secret girl; Grace, who needed to be rescued.

  He wanted a parabatai, and that made the Academy a thousand times more terrifying.

  James was safe for this little time, resting against his father, but all too soon they reached the valley where the school rested.

  The Academy was magnificent, a gray building that shone among the gathered trees like a pearl. It reminded James of the Gothic buildings from books like The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Castle of Otranto. Set in the gray face of the building was a huge stained-glass window shining with a dozen brilliant colors, showing an angel wielding a blade.

  The angel was looking down on a courtyard teeming with students, all talking and laughing, all there to become the best Shadowhunters they could possibly be. If James could not find a friend here, he knew, he would not be able to find a friend in all the world.


  Uncle Gabriel was already in the courtyard. His face had turned an alarming shade of puce. He was shouting something about thieving Herondales.

  Father turned to the dean, a lady who was unquestionably fifty years old, and smiled. She blushed.

  "Dean Ashdown, would you be so very kind as to give me a tour of the Academy? I was raised in the London Institute with just one other pupil." Father's voice softened, as it always did when he spoke of Uncle Jem. "I never had the privilege of attending myself."

  "Oh, Mr. Herondale!" said Dean Ashdown. "Very well."

  "Thank you," said Father. "Come on, Jamie."

  "Oh no," said James. "I'll--I'll stay here."

  He felt uneasy as soon as Father was out of his sight, sailing off with the dean on his arm and a wicked smile at Uncle Gabriel, but James knew he had to be brave, and this was the perfect opportunity. Among the crowd of students in the courtyard, James had seen two boys he knew.