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Big ouchies

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Magnus felt his heart squeeze watching as his Alexander was getting ready to go out on a hunt. He knew it had been two weeks since the accident but he felt like it was still too early. It was always too early. 

He squeezed his eyes shut at the memory, feeling the shadow of the pain he had experienced on that day wash over him in a suffocating wave. He looked down at his polished hands remembering how they were clad in his lover’s sticky blood, how his fingers trembled seeing that the wound was refusing to close. 

“Daddy,” a small ball of energy disrupted Alec from pulling on his shirt as a blue child collided with his legs.

Magnus flinched at his son's sudden movement.

“Blueberry!” Alec picked up their son and swirled him around in a circle, eliciting a joyous cry from the boy, before settling Max on his hip.

But Magnus was blind to the scene in front of him, instead, he remembered how lifeless was his lover’s body in his arms and how pale was the face that now held a soft smile and shining eyes.

Max and Rafael didn't know what happened that night. They could look at their Dad with admiration and not see dead eyes staring back at them, they could touch his bow in wonder and not curse the weapon for failing to protect Alexander.

Their sons didn’t have the memory seared into their brains and repeating every day in a horrendous loop. That was probably the only good thing that had come out of that night. The ridiculous coincidence that they’d let their boys spend the night with their grandmother and in turn spared them from the sight of their Dad bleeding out on the couch and their Papa having a mental breakdown.

“You go?” their son asked with big innocent eyes.

“Daddy has work to do,” Alec delivered a soft kiss to the tip of Max’s small round nose.

Max made a scandalized look, which on his boyish face looked almost comic, “Sick people stay home!”

“I’m not sick, Blueberry,” Alec huffed, throwing a hurt glance at Magnus. Only then did the warlock realized he’d let out a mocking snort. “Papa made my ouchies go away.”

“Papa is a wizard!” Max laughed in his bright innocence but Magnus only felt his chest constrict at the thought of not having that same easy-going attitude.

“Your jacket is in the hallway closet,” he tried to sound nonchalant but it came out more like a growl. Alec gave him the same hurt gaze, but Magnus was in too much pain to feel guilty about it. Instead, he instructed, “Put Max to bed before going.”

He left the bedroom, trying to ignore his blueberry's confused question at why Papa looked angry. It hurt. Everything hurt.

The night was promising to be horrible so he made a b-line for the drinks cart and poured himself a whiskey, cursing the way his hands trembled putting down the decanter. He heard the echoes of that night’s cries and pleas ring in his ears and downed the first glass to banish them.

He remembered how Jace and Isabelle had been pleading him to save their brother. He remembered the pressure of having all their hopes rest on his shoulders, of having the beacon of his life rest beneath his hands almost lifeless.

He poured the second glass and emptied it in one go.

He remembered the spell he used to save his lover’s life. His last-ditch effort to gather and fix the shambles of his life. The words of the spell were haunting him whenever he laid his eyes upon his family. Echoing in his ears, making fun of him, torturing him.

He still hadn’t told them. Hadn’t told anyone.

He poured the third glass, bringing it to his lips when a palm sneaked in between him and the rim of the glass.

“Don’t,” were Alec soft words against his ear and Magnus wanted to hate the man. He wanted to scream and shout, and beg. He wanted to break free of the man’s hold but he knew he never could and never would be able to. The level of how important a single human being could be to him was frightening. The man had managed to weave his way into his existence and stitch together his life like no one else before could. He was the single most important element in Magnus’ existence and as a four-hundred-year-old warlock, it was terrifying to be so dependent. Alexander had given him so much - love, home, family, purpose, and life. They both had given everything to each other. Magnus sometimes failed to see where one ended and the other began. It would be heaven to experience a love so genuine and pure if not for the constant shadow of death looming over every shadowhunter’s life. And his Alexander was a Shadowhunter.

“Come home,” he swallowed the bittersweet thoughts and instead choose to answer with as much simplicity as possible.

He didn’t have the strength to say more. He didn’t have anything to offer at the moment. If he said anything else he would break. He would break and beg his love to stay home, to be safe and sound surrounded in Magnus’ wards and enveloped in his arms, allowing Magnus to hear a heartbeat that had stopped for two whole terrible minutes the last time he went out on a hunt.

Sometimes he hated himself for falling in love with the shadowhunter called Alexander Gideon Lightwood. He fell in love with the bravery and strength that came with that title, he fell in love with the honor and duty they carried on their shoulders, he fell in love with Alexander’s open heart and the need to help others.

He couldn’t rob Alexander of that. If he did that, Magnus would end up robbing himself of his lover and everything that made his lover so uniquely Alexander.

“I will,” his shadowhunter pecked his cheek and his hold tightened around Magnus’ waist for a brief moment before he stepped back.

“I love you,” Magnus managed to get it past his lips without the sob that was about to follow those words. He couldn’t not say them. Just in case.

The dark-haired man turned around with the quiver on his back and the bow on his hand. He had a look of pure adoration and love written in his still unguarded features. Magnus knew that the moment he left the safety of their home his face would harden and his soft eyes would gain a guarded, stubborn glint they possessed whenever he had a goal set in his mind.

“I love you too.”

Magnus closed his eyes feeling the words reach his ears like soft music carried in the spring’s gentle breeze.

He felt the hesitation radiate from Alec and Magnus shushed the part in his brain which told him there was still time to convince the other to stay and gifted Alec with a fond smile.

“Go save the world, darling!” he crossed the room to peck him on the lips and felt the hesitation seep out of his shadowhunter’s shoulders.

As Alec opened the door and threw the last reassuring glance back, Magnus wanted to scream at himself for being so selfless. For reassuring Alec when all he wanted was to be reassured himself.

For now, he’ll settle on praying that the love of his life would come home. That the black pit in his stomach filled with dread was because he was traumatized from the last time.

Alec was good at what he did, he was outstanding. He rarely came home with more than few scratches and bruises. There was no imminent threat at their doorstep. Alec would return to his normal routine and the terror in Magnus’ gut would subside to a simple worry about Alexander’s well-being.

He just had to force himself to believe it.


Rafael couldn’t sleep. He just couldn’t get comfortable. It sometimes happened. Rafael wasn’t upset instead he took his teddy bear and made his way to his brother’s room. Max always liked sleeping together so he wouldn’t mind. Just as he stepped outside into the hallway Rafael heard a weird sound. He looked around, pulling the teddy closer to his chest before peeking in his brother’s room. He saw a blue head under a fluffy blanket. Max was asleep. Rafael smirked seeing how many plush toys he had managed to fill his bed with.

The sound sounded again and Rafael frowned again. He made his way through the dimly lit hallway. Papa always kept a small light in the hallway in case he or Max woke up. Papa said it’s easy to fall in the dark.

Rafael heard the sound again and this time he recognized it. Max sounded the same when he tripped chasing him in the loft. Did Papa fall and got hurt?

He made his way to Papa’s and Daddy’s room. He knew Daddy went to work sometimes. He was sick a long time so Rafael was happy to have Daddy’s attention and play lots of games but he also liked how cool and strong Dad looked with Aunt Izzy and Uncle Jace. He knew Daddy protected him from bad monsters.

His parent’s room was slightly open and this time Rafael was sure he heard someone cry. Rafael also knew that it was a big cry. You get big cries when you get big ouchies and Rafael didn’t like big ouchies. He didn’t want Papa hurting.

He made his way inside the dark room very upset, “Papa?”

His Papa was sleeping in the bed and he looked very small. Rafael sometimes slept like that when he cried. He didn’t cry often. He was five. Big boys don’t cry. But when he did, he pulled his knees close to his chest and hugged them very tight. Papa was sleeping the same, but he was shaking.

No. Rafael wouldn’t cry. He had to help Papa.

“Rafe?” His Papa turned to him as Rafael managed to climb on the bed.

“Papa, I can kiss you ouchie!” He left his teddy aside and touched Papa’s wet cheeks. They were very wet. “Where is ouchie?”

“Oh, Rafael!” His Papa cried. Rafael didn’t want him to cry more.

“Papa, I’ll make the ouchie go away!” He insisted as Papa pulled him into a hug. “Where is ouchie?”

He tried to look if Papa was hurt but his Papa was hugging him a lot.

“Papa’s ouchie is here,” Papa showed at his chest and Rafael frowned.

“Tummy hurts?” Rafael knew that a lot of candies can hurt your tummy. Maybe Papa ate a lot of sweet things.

“No, Rafael, Papa’s heart is hurting,” his Papa was smiling at him but it was a very sad smile. Rafael didn’t like it.

“Can I kiss it better?” He asked and his Papa laughed a bit.

“Will you make Papa’s ouchie go away?”

“Yes,” Rafael pulled away and pressed a kiss to where Papa had shown, “Ouchie, ouchie, go away!”

Before he could see if ouchie was gone Papa pulled him close again.

“Is ouchie gone?” he asked because Papa’s cheeks were still wet.

“It’s gone. Thank you, sweetheart,” Papa pressed a kiss to his cheek and Rafael held on tight to Papa’s neck.

“Can I sleep here?” He asked.

“Of course, honey,” Papa kissed him again and Rafael felt better. Papa seemed a bit better.

He allowed his Papa to pull him under the covers and hugged his teddy bear when Papa handed it to him but he put the toy down next to him.

“You don’t want to hug your teddy?” Papa asked and Rafael shook his head smiling.

“I wanna hug Papa,” he answered burying his face in Papa’s chest to make sure the ouchie didn’t come back. He liked how warm and safe he was in Papa’s arms.

Papa hugged him back and they settled to sleep. Papa’s and Daddy’s bed was big and soft.

“Papa loves you very much, Rafael,” he heard Papa whisper and smiled.

“I love Papa too,” he loved Papa very much, but Rafael was sad that Papa was hurting. His Daddy always made Papa’s ouchies go away. Papa was always happy when Daddy was home. “Good Night, Papa,” he whispered feeling very sleepy.

“Good Night, my sweet Rafael.”

Chapter Text

Alec felt the adrenaline pumping through his veins, his quiver was half empty, his muscles were throbbing and his mood was soaring from the successful mission. He saw the first rays of sun break through the night and smiled. He had missed the feeling of being free and being dangerous.

“You, good?” Jace asked, clapping him on the back and Alec groaned.

“I will, when you two will finally stop to mother-hen me,” he groaned, throwing a look back at his sister who was drawing Iratzes on Clary. She had managed to get nicked with her own blade when a demon had forced her to lose her footing.

“It will pass,” his brother laughed. “Magnus may as well do all the mothering for all three of us.”

“Speaking of,” he pulled out his phone. “I should probably text him.”

“Won’t he be asleep?” Jace eyed the rising sun, but Alec frowned at his contact’s picture where Magnus was smiling happily at the camera while he was lying asleep on the bed next to him.

Now that he thought about it, it’s been a while since he’s seen that carefree smile adorning Magnus’ lips and that twinkling in his eyes.

He remembered Magnus’ forced smile before the mission and shook his head, “He’s been worrying.”

We did good. Only one hurt is Clary

but she was clumsy. I love you.

Don’t worry so much, please!

                                                            Sent – 04:58

It wasn’t long before he got a reply. It was as Alec had feared - Magnus had stayed awake.

Thank you, darling. I love you so much.

Will you be back in the evening?

P.s. I always worry.

                                                     Received - 04:59

Alec frowned. He had planned on doing some reports in the Institute before going home for lunch. He was still technically on easy-duty. However, something about Magnus’ text felt off. Why would he go home so late? Normally Magnus would get him home as soon as possible.

“All good, big brother?” Izzy approached him with Clary as they started to make their way towards the Institute. He was still making a grimace at his phone.

“I’m worried about Magnus,” he confessed, pocketing his phone with a heavy heart.

“Is something wrong?” Izzy immediately took him by the elbow, matching his stride.

“I don’t know,” he sighed. “He seems…distant. I know he worries and this is the first patrol I’ve been since the accident, but-”

“Alec,” his sister interrupted. “I’d say Magnus is a bit more than worried. It wasn’t just any accident. You died, brother.”

Alec diverted his gaze at the pain in his sister’s voice but still listened. He understood with a sharp awareness that it was the first time he heard somebody talk about the experience of the night he doesn’t remember much.

“We were all exhausted. We couldn’t even offer him our strength and you...died in his arms,” he squeezed his sister’s hand on his elbow at hearing her breath hitch. “He and Jace felt you slipping away. The way he...begged, screamed even, feeling that he couldn’t hold on to you.”

Alec stopped, noticing a shine of tears in his sister’s eyes and faced her. “It was horrible for me. I can’t even imagine what it was like for them,” her gaze shifted to Jace’s disappearing back. “I don’t know how or what Magnus did to bring you back, but your heart started beating after two minutes of silence and it was like the world had finally started to move again," she gave him a watery smile. "I was just thankful that Magnus hadn’t stopped fighting for you.”

Alec didn’t know what to say so he just whipped his sister’s tears away.

“Why hasn't anybody told me this?” he didn’t mean to sound hurt but Izzy gave him an apologetic look anyway.

“The last two weeks haven’t been about us. It was about you, healing. Our problems could wait,” she gave a chocked out laugh, trying to brush her tears away and stop crying.

“Your problems are my problems,” he shook his head.

“And that’s why we couldn’t say anything,” she sniffled. “By the Angel, I’ve ruined what’s left of my make-up,” she groaned.

“I have to talk to him,” he decided but Izzy grabbed at his elbow.

“Not now. You have to calm down,” she smiled. “You can’t rush home overwhelmed with what I told you and push Magnus into a corner. He spent the last two weeks healing you. I think it’s time you do the same for him.”

“I shouldn’t have come tonight,” he groaned in frustration.

“I was surprised Magnus didn’t put up more of a fight,” Izzy agreed as they resumed walking.

“I have a feeling he wanted to.”


 

Alec stopped to look at the black wooden door before entering his home. He had forced himself to keep busy in the Institute for a couple of hours. He didn’t want to wake the boys and Magnus by coming home at the crack of dawn ad he also tried to give his emotions time to settle down. As he closed the loft’s door behind him he allowed his chest to expand as the overwhelming sense of safety and peace flooded his senses. He quietly padded to his sons’ rooms to check up on them. It had become a ritual every time he came home from a hunt. Their innocent, peaceful little faces and bright smiles where the reason he led his life filled with battle, gore, and danger.

Sneaking a peek in Max’s room he smiled at the small form huddled together with dozens of toys in the bed, a blissful smile adoring his chubby face. He expected to see a similar sight in the room opposite his youngest’s so he frowned when he found the bed empty. There were not many places Rafe could have gone to and he was willing to bet he would find his oldest son in his and Magnus’ room.

When he walked in on the sight of Magnus and Rafael cuddled in their big bed his heart squeezed with love. Magnus was curled around their son and the tanned boy had his face buried in his Papa’s chest

Alec noticed Rafe’s favorite teddy bear laying on the ground and quietly went to it pick up and lay on the bed when he noticed the slight redness to his lover’s eyes. As well as the pained expression on his sleeping face.

If he had felt bad for leaving before, then now Alec wanted to strangle himself for putting that expression on Magnus’ face.

He went to lean and brush a hand against Magnus’ hair when the sound of small feet shuffling reached his ears and he escaped the room to find Max in the hallway with his blue bunny dragging behind him.

“Daddy?” he rubbed at his eyes as Alec kneeled down and opened his arms for a hug.

“Good morning, Blueberry,” he picked his son up and delivered a kiss to the top of his head as the boy gave him a wide smile.

“Rafe gone,” he whined only half awake.

“I know. Rafe’s with Papa,” Alec smiled at his son, carrying him to the kitchen and setting him down on the counter. “Do you want to help Daddy make pancakes for your brother and Papa?”

Max’s small blue face brightened in delight and he nodded in excitement, “With blueberry!”

“Of course,” Alec grinned already looking for bowls and ingredients.  “But we have to be quiet!” he whispered in exaggeration. “It’s going to be a surprise!”

“Surprise! Surprise!” Max whispered with wide happy eyes and Alec delivered another kiss to the blue curls before setting to work.

Both he and Max where early risers whereas Rafael and Magnus were known to love lazing in bed and starting the date as late as possible. That’s why he hadn’t expected to be barely finished when the door opened and a bleary-eyed Rafael strutted into the room. The dark skinned boy looked around in confusion before noticing him and making a b-line for him.

“Good morning, Rafael,” he greeted with a smile which quickly turned into a frown when he saw Rafael’s angry pout.

“What’s wrong?” he kneeled and tried to usher the boy into his arms, but Rafael was having none of that. He stepped back, shaking his head and looked at Alec with innocent confusion.

“Are you going away?”

“What?” the question caught him off guard and he threw a worried look behind him to see Max listening as well. His happy expression was slowly turning into a frown. Alec had to resolve this as soon as possible before they both got the wrong impression. “Of course not. Why do you think that?” he took his oldest son’s hand, but though Rafael clutched his hand, he didn’t move in for a hug.

“Papa was crying. He had bad dreams,” Rafael explained with a frown. “He talks when there’s bad dream.”

“What did Papa say?” Alec got out despite feeling like his heart was breaking with every word slipping past his son’s lips.

“Papa said ‘don’t go’. He called you, Daddy!” Rafael’s lips trembled as he looked at him and Alec couldn’t bear the sight anymore. He pulled his son to his chest and enveloped him in a warm hug. “Why didn’t you come, Daddy?” Rafael asked against his chest. “Papa has big ouchies.”

“I will take care of Papa, okay?” he promised against his son’s dark brown curls before pulling back and looking in the brown eyes. “I promise.”

“Promise?”

“Yes, Rafael. I’m not going anywhere,” he insisted. “I love you, Max, and Papa so much!”

Rafael nodded to himself and Alec brushed a hand over his face as he stood up again. He had screwed up. To have his five-year-old son look at him with disappointment and hurt was tearing on what was left of his heart. He needed to fix whatever he had broken with Magnus and no matter how much he wanted to spend time with his two little angels he felt he had to do it without interruptions. He couldn’t imagine what Magnus had felt the last night, but the fact that Rafe had gone to make his Papa feel better made his soul swell with pride.

“You know what boys?” he turned to his sons. Max was in the middle of explaining his part in pancake making but they both turned to face him. “How about we have breakfast and then Grandma will come and take you to the ice cream shop?”

“Yes!” Max’s eyes lit up in excitement but Alec noticed Rafael’s frown.

“Rafe, it’s okay. You took good care if Papa. I promise to make his ouchies go away,” he took his son’s shoulders and gave him a reassuring squeeze. “I have an important mission for you, okay?”

That peeked his son’s interest and he looked up with eagerness, “What is it?”

“I want you to bring Papa his favorite ice cream, okay?” he explained, relieved to see a smile bloom in his son’s face.

“Yes,” he nodded in enthusiasm and Alec delivered a kiss to Rafael’s forehead.

“But breakfast first!” he announced motioning to the pile of pancakes on the counter and boys scrambled to get into their seats.

As they had breakfast, Alec sent a text to his mother who seemed delighted at seeing her grandsons. Though they tried to keep quiet throughout the breakfast as not to wake Magnus they were still little boys and made quite a noise. Alec was still surprised that Magnus managed to sleep through the boys’ banter. 

After they finished eating he stayed behind to do the dishes as the boys went to get dressed. Rafael lately seemed to insist on getting ready himself while Max just refused to wear the clothes Alec always chose for him. It was more productive to let Rafael help his brother when Magnus wasn’t around to indulge Max’s passion for clothes. Max definitely didn’t inherit that trait from his Daddy!

When the boys were finally ready Alec checked if they actually dressed appropriately for the weather before passing them on to his mother. Alec wasn’t blind to the worried look his mom gave him but he reassured her with a smile and watched as the boys pulled their grandma down the hallway.

He took a deep breath before heading back into the loft, his heart in his throat as he opened the door to their bedroom. To his surprise, Magnus was wide awake and staring at the ceiling with a tired stare.

“Magnus,” he breathed out.

He turned to face him with a slightly forced smile, “Was that your mother I heard?”

“Yeah,” Alec came to sit on the edge of their bed but hesitated in touching his lover. “They’re going out to get ice-cream.”

“Why?” Magnus asked and Alec winced at how empty his voice sounded. It was like Magnus was doing everything in his power to hide what he was really feeling.

“Because I screwed up,” he gasped out, his fingers sneaking closer to Magnus’ before finally taking hold them. Something eased out in his heart at finally touching the other man.

“The mission?” Magnus frowned, worry seeping into his brow. “You said it went well.”

“Not the mission, Magnus,” he shook his head before shuffling into the bed and kneeling next to Magnus’ lying form. “I screwed up with you,” he choked out and before he could stop it, the words fumbled past his lips in an emotional mess. “I didn’t pay attention to you. You didn’t want me to go and I still went. I didn’t consider your feelings and then Izzy told me how you saved my life and Rafael was angry at me for hurting you and leaving and…” He took a deep breath to stop his voice from shaking, “… oh, Angel, I’m sorry, Magnus! I should have stayed home. You were so scared and angry but you still allowed me to go. Rafael told me about the nightmares and you have clearly been crying and it's all my fault.”

When Magnus didn't bother to correct him the last piece of his broken heart shattered.

“I’m so sorry, Magnus,” he sobbed, only then noticing the wetness on his own cheeks, his eyes focused where both of his hands were clutching Magnus’ fingers. “Please forgive me!”

When Magnus didn’t answer he chanced a look upward, his breath dying in his throat at similar tear tracks on Magnus’ face.

“You died,” Magnus whimpered and Alec physically couldn’t stand the distance between them anymore. He threw himself at Magnus, wrapping his arms around the shaking body and burying his face in the older man’s neck as he kept hearing Magnus’ repeat those two words.

“I’m alive, Magnus,” he spoke against the caramel skin. “Please, Magnus, I’m alive.”

“You’re here,” vulnerable words ghosted against Alec’s ear and he pressed Magnus closer to himself.

“I’m here.”

“You’re safe.”

“I’m safe,” Alec repeated again.

They stayed like that. Enveloped in each other until their wet cheeks dried and their panicked breaths evened out, till the rush of blood in their own ears were drowned out by the other’s steady heartbeat against their chests. They stayed tangled until Alec’s arm started to lose feeling where it was trapped underneath Magnus’ body and Magnus’ hand released the painful hold on Alec’s nape and instead started drawing calming circles against his back. They stayed pressed against each other until the blindness of emotions wore off and they could pull back to look into each other’s eyes.

“You are my life, Alexander,” Magnus spoke in a voice rough from emotions and crying. “I love you.”

Alec stared at the golden orbs in front of him, overwhelmed by the raw emotions and completely under their control.

“I love you too, Magnus,” he leaned closer and whispered against Magnus’ lips.

The kiss was both an apology and forgiveness. It was slow and unhurried but filled with passion and pain that came with loving somebody so deeply they felt like a part of your existence. It was a well-practiced dance with trembling and slightly chapped lips where they passed the love between them like they passed the warmth from one to the other.

“I’m sorry for hurting you,” Alec whispered as they parted for air.

“Don’t,” Magnus sighed, not moving away and allowing their lips brush as they spelled out the words. “You’re a shadowhunter. It’s not my place to keep you from what you the best.”

“I am also a father and a lover,” Alec argued. “My main responsibility is to you and our sons.”

He had meant it as a simple explanation, but when Magnus tensed under his touch he eyed Magnus’ pained expression.

“Magnus, what is it?” he asked in confusion. When the warlock shook his head, the worry only doubled. “Magnus?”

His lover felt frozen against him, but he did open his eyes to look at him with hurt in his golden cat-eyes. Alec couldn't stop the shiver of dread rolling over his shoulders and he squeezed Magnus in what he hoped to be a reassurance. 

“I have to tell you something,” he whispered and sagged in defeat.

Cold terror washed over Alec at his lover’s resigned state, “Magnus, you’re scaring me.”

“I’m scaring myself,” Magnus let out a humorless laugh.

“Magnus, please, what’s going on?” Alec didn’t want to hear jokes. He felt too exhausted emotionally to spend extra time running over possible answers in his head. The warlock took in a slightly trembling breath before looking at him with watery apologetic eyes and a resigned press of his lips.

“I lost it.”

“Lost what?” Alec asked against the pounding of his own heart, looking at Magnus’ pained dejected smile.

“My immortality.”

Chapter Text

Alec must have heard it wrong. He must have. There was no other option. It didn’t make sense what Magnus was saying.

“What?” he finally got out after a moment of choking silence, his voice hoarse and barely louder than a whisper.

“I’m mortal,” Magnus said. And it still didn’t make sense to Alec. Because Magnus was a warlock and warlocks were immortal. That was just how their world worked.

“You can’t be,” he tried again. To convince Magnus that he’s wrong.

Magnus let out a humorless laugh and pulled back as if he needed the space to gather his thoughts. Alec couldn’t disagree, the warmth of their bodies pressing against each other was a stark contrast to the cold dread in his bones. He felt lost, floating in the room like there was nothing tethering him to the physical world.

Alec watched as Magnus sat up, resting his back against the bed’s headboard and shifted so that he’s straight in front of him. He grabbed the hold of Magnus’ hands, he needed the contact, but he didn’t lean in, didn’t close the distance that was suddenly between them. He needed space to think. To breath. But he always needed Magnus.

Magnus looked at him as if he expected Alec to understand everything, but he didn’t. Nothing made sense to him and he didn’t know how to respond to his lover’s expectant look.

His brain was a jumble of emotions and scrambled information, trying to put everything in order, trying to make sense of the senseless. He thought back. Back to the time when he was sure the world was round and he was a Shadowhunter the same like Magnus was a warlock.

There’s an event that stood out and it both eased his mind and shattered his soul, because he may be finally starting to understand things, but he didn’t like where his conscience was heading.

“The accident,” he rasped. His eyes locking with Magnus’ gold ones. He noticed the fear and uncertainty in them and it made his next words all the more painful. More earth-shattering. “Was it my fault?”

Magnus came alive at those words. He lurched forward, his hands breaking free of Alec’s clutches and towards his cheeks. Grasping his head, Magnus caged in his body with his own.

“No!” Magnus almost shouted. Golden eyes boring into his own hazel ones and Alec felt stinging in his eyes that usually preceded tears.

“It was,” he breathed out, letting his lungs fill with panic. “You saved me. You sacrificed your own immortality to save me.”

Magnus’ shoulders sagged and before Alec’s shocked brain and pained soul could register, Magnus was moving and this time it’s he who was enveloped in a hug so desperate it felt like the world would come down crashing if he broke free of it.

“I saved you because I can’t live without you, Alexander,” Magnus whispered in his ear. “You are my life, you’re a father of our children and a brother, a parabatai, a son. I saved you because it was too early for you to leave.”

“But Magnus,” he croaked, protested against the intense feeling of self-sacrifice he heard in his lover’s voice. “It’s who you are. Your immortality. It’s a part of you.” And then it overwhelmed Alec. He froze at his next thought and struggled out of Magnus’s hold as if it burned him deep into his soul.

Before he spoke, he only had a fraction of a moment to register the raw pain in Magnus’ eyes and the hurt in the way his arms were still held out. Empty.

“I stole from you,” he gasped. “Your immortality, your future. Dear Angel, I stole your future,” he doubled over at the last word. He couldn’t breathe and he heard a strange sound from somewhere close. It took him a moment to recognize it as his own sobs. Ugly, loud and painful sobs.

“I…I’m…so…sorry,” he cried, barely able to hear his own words over the thudding in his ears. He tried to clutch his head, clamp over his ears to quiet it down, but it didn’t work. He felt blackness creeping at the edge of his consciousness and he knew he had to take in a breath, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t. And maybe a part of him didn’t want to. He’s the reason Magnus was going to die. He killed the love of his life. Maybe…maybe…

“ALEXANDER!!!”

He heard the panic, the fear in the scream and his Shadowhunter-self kicked in, Alec allowed the soldier to take over as he snapped his head upward. He held his breath, frozen in the moment as he took in the panicked look of Magnus. His eyes wide, scared, but his mouth pressed together in a barely contained fury.

The furry which had never before been directed at him. Alec felt like shattering all over. He felt himself trembling like a leaf about to disintegrate that he didn’t notice Magnus’ hands slowly reaching towards him till they were only an inch away from his face. Enough to feel the warmth of them, but not yet touching.

“I am not sorry for what I did,” Magnus said when Alec’s gaze finally landed on him. “I should be, but I’m not,” the older man explained as he touched his cheek without ever breaking the eye contact.

Alec’s lungs burned where he still had failed to provide them with oxygen but all he cared about was the steadfast resolve in Magnus’ eyes. A flash passed in Alec’s head to when he had found Magnus lying in bed with a blank gaze. It seemed like a lifetime ago.

“Breathe in, Alexander,” Magnus ordered and only then Alec noticed how he’s almost convulsing from the lack of air. He watched as Magnus took in a slow deep breath and Alec tried to follow the example, he wanted to fix what he broke. To make sure Magnus’ would forgive him.

The inhale came out as rushed and too big and he coughed at the gulp of it. He squeezed his eyes shut, leaning forward, barely noticing Magnus shift until there was a warm palm pressed against his spine, between his shoulder blades, and Magnus spoke again.

“Slowly, love,” he felt his own hand being led till it was pressed against a warm chest and he felt the heartbeat under it. “Breathe with me, together,” Magnus said, taking a deep breath and Alec tried to do as he’s told.

He had no idea how much time passed till his breaths finally matched Magnus’ in length and depth but when his head finally cleared, he registered that there’s a hand on his nape, thumb caressing the short hairs there, and his forehead was pressed against Magnus’ shoulder.

“It’s all good, everything is good,” Magnus kept murmuring in his ear and Alec couldn’t help but sag in his lover’s hold, drawing his arms around Magnus’ waist.

They laid there for what could have been forever and Alec couldn’t care less. He used the comfort of his lover’s hold to calm his pounding heart and slow his panicked thoughts until all that was left was the stuffed fuzzy feeling of the safety and love, following a scare, he felt deep in his bones he would never recover from.

When he finally stopped feeling like flinching every time Magnus’ words echoed in his memory, he allowed himself to run over everything that had just happened. It hadn’t made the sense the first time and it didn’t make much sense this time as well, but despite the pain and despair he was feeling at the bottom of his heart, his tired mind still returned to that one sentence Magnus had said while he was shutting down.

When minutes passed by and Magnus’ caresses became more absentminded than purposeful he finally gathered what was left of his emotional state to ask.

“You said…you should feel sorry,” he croaked out, wincing at how broken his voice sounded. “But you don’t.”

The hand on the small of his back froze mid-movement and Alec feared he had said something he wasn’t supposed to, but Magnus pulled him closer before those doubts could corrupt his mind again.

“Yeah,” Magnus sighed against his ear. “I did.”

Alec frowned. He had expected a more comprehensive response, “Why?”

“Because I was selfish,” Magnus sighed after a pause. “When I saw you…laying there…without no heartbeat,” Alec felt his lover swallow heavily and tried to reassure him with a squeeze.

“I didn’t think,” Magnus choked out. “I allowed the spell to take whatever it needed. I gave it whatever was necessary to bring you back. I didn’t even think of the after.”

“After?”

“What’s going to happen when you’re back,” Magnus pulled back slightly and cold dread ran over Alec’s spine at seeing the sharp pain in the warlock’s features. “Alexander, I didn’t think of our blueberry!” Magnus wailed, his golden eyes so harrowing Alec felt like he could feel the pain echo in his own soul.

“I didn’t think of our immortal son! He’s going to be left alone. Everybody around him is going to die! And it’s all my fault! He will never forgive me! I will have ruined his life,” Magnus moved out of their safe space and sat up, his movements as rapid as his words.

“More than anything in the world, I didn’t want my son to experience the daunting loneliness I had, Alexander,” Magnus cried out, his eyes feverish with self-blame before he looked away, dropping his head in shame. “I didn’t want him to end up like me.”

“Hey, hey,” Alec reached out where Magnus’ rigid and vulnerable form suddenly seemed to radiate all the loneliness the world had to offer. Alec repositioned himself so that his chest was plastered to Magnus’ back and he wove his arms around the warlock’s middle where his own arms were hugging him. “You can’t think that. You-”

“It’s true, Alexander,” Magnus growled. “I have doomed our son to a life of loneliness and pain.”

“No, you haven’t,” Alec argues, tightening his hold when Magnus seemed to physically struggle hearing those words. “He’s still small. He has two loving fathers and a lot of crazy aunts and uncles-”

“But they’re all mortal!” Magnus voiced his distress. “I was supposed to stay when you di…left.”

“Catharina isn’t. The same with Madzie and our vampire friends,” he pressed a calming kiss to Magnus’ nape.

“Ale-”

“You can’t tell the future,” Alec continued before he could finish. “That’s what you told me after our first kiss.”

“That’s not the same,” his lover still insisted.

“It’s not?” he delivered another kiss to the golden skin of Magnus’ neck.

“I…I don’t want to talk about this,” Magnus instead answered.

Alec couldn’t help the sigh of disappointment, “We can’t just…let it hover over our heads. You were always the one insisting on communicating.”

“Well, I’ve had enough,” Magnus said, turning in his arms and Alec knew his lover well enough to know that he would not get anything out of him when he got that determined shine in his eyes.

“It’s still not okay,” Alec held him by his shoulders as they sagged at his words.

“Later, okay?” The older man tried for a reassuring smile, but only a wince formed. “I’m tired after barely sleeping the whole night and you just had a panic attack. Neither of us is in the right emotional state to continue.”

“But we’ll talk later?”

“Definitely,” this time the smile slightly resembled reassurance. “Let’s just rest, okay? Hold each other.”

Alec could live with that. He would come up with a plan how to settle the issue after his thoughts cleared and the pain from the last hour or so dulled. There was no way he could force the conversation to go on anyway.

What he could do was lie back on the pillows and open his arm for his lover so settle in with his head on his chest. He listened as Magnus’ breaths got deeper and drifted to sleep himself.


 

Magnus woke up dull and emotionally exhausted. He felt the arms around him and the rhythmic puff of air at the top of his head, smiling at the thought of his Alexander sleeping so calmly in his arms. He must have been as exhausted by their talk as Magnus was. He couldn’t see much with his face pressed against Alec’s shoulder, but his arm was going dead where it was pressed underneath Alec.

As slowly as possible he rolled onto his back and sneaked his arm out, jostling his sleeping lover slightly. A kiss on the forehead and a caress over his hair were enough to settle him though.

“Shh, sleep, my love,” he whispered before getting out of bed and making his way to the bathroom.

He had expected to be less than pleased with his complexion but what he saw in the mirror made him freeze. His eyes had dark bags under them and they were slightly red from all the crying. His skin looked dull and his hair had lost its shine and softness, looking more like a birds nest on his head than his own hair.

He winced thinking that this was what he had looked like in front of Alec. He knew Alexander wasn’t a man so shallow to be bothered by it, but Magnus always liked to put in an effort for him.

He didn’t hesitate walking over to the shower and stepping under the warm spray.  The steam of the hot water filled his nose and warmed up his insides, allowing the water to ease out his tight muscles and wash away the emotional exhaustion. He took his time to enjoy it. The relief that was brought on by such a simple action made him feel like he was miles away from the darkness that lately seemed to follow him around.

When he finally stepped out all clean and fresh, the bathroom had fogged up. He didn’t feel like over exaggerating with his makeup, not when he had finally let Alexander in on his thoughts and they were in the middle of working things through. Instead, he only put on his traditional eyeliner before heading to their wardrobe and stealing one of Alec’s sweaters to pull over his tight dark blue pants. It was still his style, but it was also comfortable and homey.

Alexander was still sleeping, his brows furrowed in a frown, so he pressed a soft, fleeting kiss to his temples before leaving the bedroom. Stepping into the living room, it seemed like ages since he had last been there and he was startled by how far he had allowed himself to slip. He looked over the loft, eyeing toys left lying around and Alec’s jacket strewn over one of the chairs. The clock said it was barely past noon, but it was uncharacteristically silent and Magnus found himself missing his boys. He had been so wrapped up in his head that he hadn’t even said ‘good morning’ to them, hadn’t given them each a big exaggerated kiss and then laughed at the faces they usually made.

He made his way into the kitchen, noticing a stack of pancakes on the counter and couldn’t help the smile it brought to his face. He knew Alec sometimes liked to spoil them with pancakes and every time it happened it was always a special occasion in their household. It meant that Alec didn’t have to be at the Institute till noon and Magnus got to wake up next to his lover, Rafe and Max got to watch cartoons with their daddy after breakfast and they would sometimes accompany Alec to the Institute when it was time for him to get to work.

Magnus was in the middle of making himself a cup of tea when he heard the front door rattle and he smiled at the two small voices arguing before a familiar female voice called them out. He made his way into the hallway, his tea forgotten on the counter, and smiled at the scene in front of him. Both his sons were holding a tube of ice cream and seemed to be arguing about who does something first all the while Maryse was trying to get them out of their jackets and shoes.

“Ah,” he exclaimed as he came face to face with his boys. “My favorite boys have returned,” he laughed as the children startled. Their faces bright and happy as they saw him.

“Papa,” Magnus was slightly unprepared for the shout which accompanied Rafael as he launched himself into his arms. He barely managed to kneel in time to reciprocate the hug.

“Well, hello to you too!” he laughed as Rafael tried to awkwardly hug him with one hand still holding the ice-cream. “What’s that?” he motioned to the container.

Rafael’s face bloomed in delight as he thrust the tube forward, “Ice cream for Papa.”

“For me?” Magnus blinked in surprise, taking the treat.

“Papa’s favorite,” Rafael nodded and the joy in his face alone was enough for tears to gather in Magnus’ eyes.

“Thank you so much, baby!” he hugged the boy closer, before delivering a kiss to both his cheeks.

Rafael laughed at the kisses but didn’t protest. Magnus remembered the way he had crawled into his bed last night and it only brought a fond feeling to his chest. Rafael must have been worried about him.

“Me too,” a small voice interrupted him from squeezing the life out of his son as he peered around Rafael to see Max standing there with his own tube of ice cream in his stretched out little arms and an uncertain look on his face.

Maryse ushered Rafael away so that Magnus’ lap was once again free and he opened his arms to welcome the blue warlock. Unlike his brother, Max didn’t catapult into his arms and Magnus couldn’t help but worry why Max was so uncharacteristically shy and quiet. Especially at home.

“Thank you, blueberry,” he took the ice cream once Max was close enough and set it aside in favor of scooping the little boy into his arms.  “You and your brother will make Papa fat,” he tried to laugh but he noticed Max grabbing at his shoulders a little too desperately and pulled back to see his son on the verge of tears.

His stomach plummeted.

“Max? Blueberry? What’s wrong, honey?” he asked, stroking the dark blue curls and slightly swaying back and forth to calm the clearly distressed boy.

“Is Papa mad?” he murmured into his shoulder and if Magnus wasn’t too alarmed before then he definitely was now.

“Of course not,” he tried to raise his son’s head, but Max stubbornly kept hiding it in his shoulder. “Max, I love you very, very much. Okay?”

“Papa don’t smile,” Max whined and to his own horror, Magnus saw tears slipping down his sons round cheeks.

“Papa was sad and worried, blueberry,” he tried again to explain while trying to ease out his son’s cries with gentle strokes on the back.

“On me?” Max hiccupped and Magnus had to squeeze his eyes shut against the pain in his heart.

“No, blueberry,” he argued, trying to understand where it was all coming from. To his own shock, it wasn’t long before he found the reason.

Ever since he found out about losing his immortality he had had trouble looking at Max without feeling like he had betrayed him. He hadn’t been able to watch his son laugh and play without remembering what immortality could do to a person if they were alone. Was that it? Did Max see it as a coldness towards him and thought his Papa didn’t love him?

The pain that followed that revelation threatened to bring forward his own tears, but Magnus couldn’t. He had to be a father, he had to own his mistakes and make sure he never repeated them. So he took a deep breath and allowed the scent of his son and feel of his warmth calm him before he tried to fix what he broke.

“I’m sorry, Max,” he spoke, trying to hide the tremble in his voice. “I’m not angry at you, okay? I love you, blueberry. Do you understand?”

He waited till Max nodded before speaking. He couldn’t tell Max what was happening yet. He was too young and too innocent to understand, but he would one day. For now, Magnus decided to make sure his son felt loved and cherished.

“I was worried about Daddy,” he decided on what was a genuine truth. Maybe not all of it, but just enough for Max to understand. “Daddy was sick and I was sad and worried about him.”

“But Daddy not sick,” Max finally pulled away to show Magnus his adorable pout. A face only a three-year-old could pull off.

“I know. But Papa is still worried,” he smiled, brushing a strand away from his son’s face. “I’m sorry I didn’t play with you.”

Max regarded him with his big blue eyes and it felt to Magnus like waiting for a verdict. Finally, Max nodded in approval.

“Papa loves Daddy too,” he smiled in understanding and Magnus almost wanted to cry as the vice that seemed to have been gripping his heart finally let go.

“I love all of you,” he ruffled Max’s hair and with the relief overwhelming his system he grinned at his son. “You know what, Max?”

“What?” he looked up confused and Magnus’ grin only grew wider.

“I should show you how much I love you,” he said and saw the exact moment Max understood what he meant. It wasn’t the first time he’d said it after all.

“No,” he laughed in mock-protest before Magnus reached the boy’s sides and the protests turned into a squeal.

Magnus watched in delight as his son squirmed and tried to get away, Max’s face showing such unfiltered happiness it felt like the best reward in the world to him.

“Rafe, help!” Max shouted under assault and Rafael didn’t hesitate to appear.

Rafael in return attacked Magnus’ ribs and though sometimes it felt more like jabs than tickles Magnus didn’t have to fake his laughter as he feigned his defeat and succumbed to the mercy of his sons.

He didn’t know how much time passed with him engaged in a tickle war with Rafe and Max in the hallway but, at some point, a deep laugh echoed above them and, with another squeal, Max was lifted into the air.

“No!” Rafe shouted at having lost his partner in crime and there was nothing preventing Magnus from capturing Rafael in a hug.

“Thank you, darling,” he looked up at Alec who was looking down at him with mirth dancing in his eyes.

“I could never abandon you to the mercy of these little monsters,” he laughed giving a light tickle to Max before setting him on the ground. “Why don’t you and your brother go choose a cartoon? Papa and I have to talk to your grandma.”

“Any cartoon?” Rafael looked up with suspicion and Magnus already knew what he meant.

“Yes, Rafe. We can watch Ninja Turtles,” Alec sighed defeat. Unfortunately, the four green turtles were frequent visitors to their home. Rafael was obsessed with them. And Max usually was desperate to like whatever it was that his big brother did.

“When did you get up?” Magnus asked as Alec offered a hand to help him up and they watched their sons run off.

“I heard you when you left the room,” the shadowhunter shrugged.

“You looked like you needed some sleep,” he offered in half-apology before reaching up for a kiss.

He hummed as their lips met and for a moment he could almost imagine like the accident never happened. He was just kissing the love of his life and it was all he ever wanted to do.

“You too,” Alec whispered, pulling back.

“I’m good,” he offered before turning to head back inside the loft. “I should probably say ‘hi’ to your mother.”

Magnus did not expect to see Alec flinch at his simple statement and stopped.

“What?”

“I’m sorry, Magnus,” Alec’s shoulders sagged. Magnus could only frown at that reaction. “She wanted to speak to me as to why Max seemed so down on their trip and why he thought you didn’t love him.”

Magnus had a feeling he knew where this was going.

“And she’s my mother so of course she noticed that I knew the reason,” Alec pleaded with his eyes, desperate for forgiveness. “I’m sorry. I had to tell her. We didn’t even discuss it fully ourselves, but she was so worried and I-”

“Alexander, it’s okay,” Magnus finally sighted, placing his hands on his lover’s shoulders. “It’s nothing to hide. I just wanted to tell you first. That’s it. Besides…Maryse is family.”

“It’s okay?” Alec gasped.

“It is,” he answered before sealing the promise with a brief kiss.

“Uhm, yeah,” Alec nodded to himself before sending another apologetic look. “She wants to talk with you?”

“Me?” Magnus did not expect that. “Not us? Just me?”

“Yeah, she’s waiting in the kitchen.”

“Should I be worried?” he asked, but Alec only shrugged. 

“I don’t think so,” he answered absentmindedly, but Magnus didn't have time to decipher the look. Maryse was not a fan of waiting.

“Then I better go,” Magnus huffed about to turn away but Alec had other plans.

The shadowhunter pressed him against his own body and the next thing Magnus knew Alec had crushed their lips together. This time it wasn’t a brief or chaste kiss like many they had shared that day. No it was all tongue and teeth, and passion which left Magnus slightly startled and overwhelmed. His body thrummed where Alec was clutching at him and he barely managed to reciprocate before Alec pulled back Finishing as suddenly as he had started.

“Alexander!” he gasped with what was probably a scandalized look on his face.

“I love you,” his shadowhunter shrugged with a smirk. “Thought you should know that.”

“And you had to do that with your mother next doors?” he gasped for breath. “A simple ‘I love you’ would have done it.”

“Not the first time something like this has happened,” Alec explained and pressed a kiss to his cheek before turning away. “I’ll be with the boys.”

Magnus couldn’t believe it. He was left there with a racing heart and bruised lips just as he was about to see his lover’s mother.

“Heathen,” he murmured under his breath before trying collect himself for the talk to follow. He touched his still warm and moist lips with a strange fondness when a sudden realization made him look back at where Alec had disappeared.

Last two of weeks had been filled with gentle caresses and soft kisses, them tiptoeing around each other and their kids. Alec had been injured and he had been lost in his own head, guarding his emotional vulnerability. Magnus couldn’t remember the last time Alec had kissed him with such passion, desperation. It was definitely before the accident.

However, no matter how long it had been since the last time, Magnus knew one thing.

He needed more.

“Magnus?” A question startled him out of his thought and only then did he become aware where he was. In the kitchen. With Maryse sitting on one of the high stools with a questioning look. All the while Magnus was dreaming about passionately kissing her son.

Not a good start.

“Hello, Maryse,” he answered, desperately trying to hide what was going through his head. “Alexander told me you wanted to have a word.”

“Yes,” she nodded as Magnus took a seat next to her, eyes landing on the forgotten teacup still on the counter. “Alec told me what happened.”

Magnus waited. Maryse looked slightly confused but there was no anger or malice in her eyes. It hadn’t been there for a long time. It was still confusing trying to figure out when their attitude toward each other changed, but Magnus welcomed the new side to their relationship.

“I wanted to say thank you,” Maryse finally explained. “If you hadn’t done that, Alec wouldn’t be here.”

“You know there’s no need. Besides, you already thanked me after the accident,” Magnus frowned, eying the strong, confident woman before him.

“But now I know the price for saving my son’s life,” she seemed to hesitate slightly before reaching out for one of Magnus’ hands. “You gave up immortality for our Alec.”

Magnus frowned at where his hand was clasped in both of Maryse’s. It brought a strange comfort to him. It seemed slightly motherly and Magnus wasn’t completely sure what to do with it.

“I’m not the one paying the price,” Magnus whispered, somehow finding it easier to explain it to Maryse than it was to Alexander.

“What do you mean?”

“Max is immortal. I was supposed to make sure he never ends up like me,” he swallowed at how hard it was to get the words out. “Alone.”

He didn’t see Maryse’s expression at his words but he did see the way her hands tightened around his.

“You think you’ve ruined your son’s life,” she spoke and Magnus could only marvel at how easy she came to the right conclusion.

“Because I have,” he said, flinching slightly as Maryse pulled her hands away, but soon enough the warrior rough palms found their way to his cheeks and he was forced to look up.

“Magnus, you may be four-hundred years old but I’ve been a parent longer than you so listen to me,” Maryse spoke with a rough certainty though her features were still soft and the smile was almost apologetic. “Because of you both Max and Rafael have Alec in their lives. They have their Dad to teach them how to ride a bike, how to lift a sword, how to ties shoelaces. If you hadn’t done what you did, this would be it. By the time they would be adults they’d remember him only by his photographs and our stories of him. Do you know what would happen to their Papa?”

Magnus shook his head. He didn’t know, but he also didn’t want for Maryse to continue because he didn’t want to know.

“I see how much you love him, Magnus. You look at him like he’s your world. I’ve seen love like that. It’s incredibly rare and incredibly painful. So if you lost him?” Maryse spoke with painful determination and Magnus wanted to be able to stop listening. “Max and Rafael’s childhood would be filled with their Papa grieving the love of his life. Jace or Isabelle would try to help, but they are not their parents. So no matter how long your grief would last, it would be too long.”

“Maryse,” Magnus choked out. Barely being able to believe that he was showing this side of him to the Lightwood woman.

“So you did nothing wrong,” the woman didn’t stop. “You gave your sons countless years with both of their fathers before you’d pass away.”

“But Max-”

“Max would see his parents pass away. Just like any other child. Just like Alec, Isabelle and Jace will see me die one day,” pain flashed in Maryse’s eyes. “That’s just how the world is. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“He’d be all alone,” Magnus argued as the damn tears gathered in his eyes again.

“He wouldn’t,” Maryse argued. “He will have your and Alec’s friends and family. He will have his own friends and people he’ll love.”

“It’s-”

“I know it’s difficult to think about it,” Maryse offered a watery smile before pulling back. “But it’s in the future. You have still the present to live in. We can’t tell the future.”

Magnus laughed, wiping at his eyes. “That’s what I told Alec about my immortality.”

“You’re a smart man, Magnus,” she huffed.

“You give a wonderful advice, Maryse,” he huffed at the woman who looked just as emotionally compromised as he felt.

“Then take it and go spend time with your family, stubborn warlock,” she laughed, before standing and taking a deep breath. “I should head back to the Institute anyway.”

“Thank you,” Magnus uttered in foreign acceptance as the woman passed him and squeezed his shoulder in parting.

He turned back to the counter to gather his thoughts when Maryse spoke again.

“Magnus?”

“Yes?”

“It’s not so bad to grow old and grey with someone like my son,” she shrugged before heading out.

Magnus was left staring again. He had never met a woman like Maryse and he kept finding new similarities between her and her son. He was startled awake by the front door closing and he slowly turned away to look at the counter. His eyes landed on the teacup again and he huffed.

Might as well finally make that tea.