The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3)(9)

by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

Tamara looked as if she might explode with rage. “How dare you!” she said. “No one was playing! We were just standing here in the room when the chandelier came down. It nearly crushed us. If Aaron hadn’t done what he did, Call and I would be dead! Nothing’s happened to your precious Collegium! It’s fine!”

“What did you do to make the chandelier come down?” demanded Master Taisuke, one of the Masters at the Magisterium. “It’s been hanging here for a hundred years. You three wander into the room and it comes crashing down?”

“That’s enough!” It was Tamara’s father. The Rajavis had levitated themselves over the wreckage to reach their daughter. On the other side of the room, Call could see Kimiya and Alex standing together, both watching the scene in wide-eyed horror. Tamara’s mother dashed toward her daughter, pulling her away from Call, stroking Tamara’s hair and looking at her worriedly. She dabbed at the cut on Tamara’s cheek, blotting the blood with a handkerchief. And then Alastair was pushing through the crowd toward Call. He looked pale, much paler than Call would have expected. He didn’t even bother levitating himself, just kicked a path through the smashed crystals and twisted metal and grabbed Call, pulling him into his arms.

“Callum,” he said roughly. Over his shoulder, Call could see Aaron, still leaning against the wall. There was no one there to blot his cuts or put their arms around him. He was looking down at his hand, the one he’d used to unleash chaos, with a strange expression on his face.

“My daughter is not a troublemaker,” snapped Mr. Rajavi. “In case you’ve forgotten, we’re all here tonight to honor her heroism —”

“And the heroism of several other students,” added Master North, who had shooed the onlookers back toward the walls so he and Master Rufus could examine the chandelier wreckage.

“I was against the awards ceremony from the start,” said Taisuke. “Children shouldn’t be rewarded for disobedience, even if the end result turns out positively.”

Mentally, Call filed Master Taisuke into the category of Not a Fan of Mine. It was a growing file.

“Makars, especially, should be controlled,” continued Taisuke. “As we saw from Constantine Madden, a young Makar who doesn’t know his own power is the most dangerous thing in the world.”

“So are you saying young Makars should be killed, as is the custom in other countries?” asked Master Rufus. He didn’t speak loudly, but his voice was clear, powerful, and carrying. “Because someone’s tried. The chandelier collapsed because the chain was tampered with. Someone was attempting to assassinate the Makars.”

“Assassinate?” Master Sukarno said, deflating slightly.

Another teacher at the Collegium made a sharp gesture in the air and said an unfamiliar word.

A sudden, deafening roar went through the room. Alastair tightened his grip on Call, Tamara’s parents grabbed her, and Master Rufus reached for Aaron. Some kind of alarm system seemed to have gone off — a path lit up suddenly in front of them, and Call could see doors that had been previously invisible illuminated in the walls. He, Aaron, and Tamara were hustled through one of the doors, down a corridor, and into a dimly lit, windowless room full of couches and chairs. Collegium staff raced around, securing the area.

Someone brought them blankets and mugs of sugary tea that seemed to be an apology on the part of Master Sukarno for accusing them of being careless delinquents. Anastasia Tarquin appeared with an energy bar and presented it to Aaron, telling him that using that much chaos magic, even with a counterweight, was likely to make him pretty tired.

For a moment, Call thought that meant that maybe the adults would leave them alone. Tamara was huddled on a couch with her parents, and Aaron was curled in an armchair looking miserable and exhausted. But of course, none of that mattered. The moment the staff bustled away, Master Rufus, Master North, Anastasia, and Graves all started asking endless awkward questions.

Why had Call come into the Trophy Room? Had anyone threatened him at the party? Did he know Aaron would follow him in?

There was no point embarrassing himself in front of the teaching staff of the Magisterium and the Collegium, never mind the Assembly, so Call lied. Nope, no one knew he was going to the Trophy Room. Nope, no one knew that Aaron would be with him. He just hated dancing and had been wandering around, checking out all the old stuff. He had totally not been stood up on a maybe date. He was definitely not a loser whose friends had almost been crushed under a chandelier of loserdom.

Then Celia and Jasper were allowed in with their parents trailing behind them. Celia’s two mothers, Jasper’s mom and dad. Mr. DeWinter gave Jasper a little shove and a stern look, as though warning him against doing anything potentially humiliating to their family name.

Call sighed, prepared for the worst. It had been bad enough when he’d imagined Celia explaining why she’d decided not to meet him, but explaining it in front of everyone was like an extra scoop of humiliation piled on top of his already overfull sundae of embarrassment. He wondered if it was bad to wish the chandelier had crushed him.

“You’re friends with these three,” Master North said to Celia and Jasper, indicating Call, Tamara, and Aaron. Celia looked pleased to hear this. Jasper looked as if he’d been accused of something. “Did you notice anything tonight, anyone behaving strangely toward them?”

“Jennifer Matsui was talking to Call,” said Jasper. “Which is weird, because she’s pretty and popular, and Call is hideous and unpopular.” Jasper caught Alastair glaring at him, and flushed. “Just kidding. But I didn’t think they knew each other.”

“They do a little,” said Tamara. “Jennifer’s friends with my sister.”

“She’s not friends with Call, though,” said Celia. She turned to Call. “Why would you be talking to Jennifer?”

Call had had it. “She was giving me the note,” he said. “Your note.”

“What note?” Celia looked totally baffled. “I didn’t write you a note.”

Call pulled the paper out of his pocket. “So what’s this?”

Celia frowned at it. “But this isn’t my handwriting. And it doesn’t have my signature or anything — just my name written out. Did she say it was from me?” Then, she reread the words and flushed, her neck going red. “You thought you were meeting me? That’s why you were in the Trophy Room?”