The day Maryse and Robert Lightwood announced to their eldest son they were looking for a suitable woman to marry him to was the day he stood up for himself for the first time of his life. He looked at his parents dead in the eyes and told them he was gay, and that he would never marry a woman.
One week later, Maryse and Robert Lightwood announced to their eldest son they were looking for a suitable man to marry him to. He was too dumbfounded to protest.
In the Shadow World, first sons and daughters were essentially married off for the sake of carrying on the family name. No good Shadowhunter family would have married their first heir into an unfertile marriage, and there was no way the Lightwood would settle for a second or third child. Fortunately for them, there were other people who had trouble finding good matches for fertility reasons.
Alexander Lightwood knew before they told him that they would find him a Downworlder husband. Not a werewolf, because they could have offsprings with Shadowhunters, and quite powerful ones too. Now warlocks and vampires, that was another story. They would jump on the occasion to marry so high into one of the most powerful Shadowhunter families. His parents just had to pick up the one they wanted the most on their side.
Of course, Alec had said what he had said because he didn't want to get married at all. Not like this anyway. His sister made fun of his romantic side – she had been married to a Fairy representative for a little more than a year now, and she was perfectly fine with this now. But as silly as it sounded to her, Alec believed in love. The thing was he was too much or a coward to pursue it like their brother had. Jace had fallen in love with the daughter of a Shadowhunter family in disgrace, and when their parents had opposed to the union, he had run away with her. They didn't know where he was and they never talked about him anymore. Alec envied him.
"You know you won't get away from it this time," Catarina said, and Magnus sighed, because yes, he knew.
"This" was the terrible news he had received the day before from the High Warlock Council. To hear from them at all was already a bad sign, so he had been ready for a very unpleasant request when he had opened their message.
But not that unpleasant.
"All the previous opportunity were of little consequences, but this one, there is no way they'll let you ruin it."
Magnus was a rarity among warlocks – he had never been married. Despite numerous urges, both sentimental and political, he had always resisted it. He claimed he was too much of a free spirit to be tied down in such a way, even if with a mortal and for a short time, but he – and Catarina – knew better. He had this stupid idea in mind he had never been able to get rid of – marriage was forever. It was once in a lifetime. Granted, for a man so fleeting and unattached this conception of the institution was exceptionally naive and out of character. He himself didn't really know where it came from – he didn't have that many good examples of successful marriages of love in mind. And yet.
"The eldest Lightwood son, to be married to a male party. There was no way they weren't going to send you."
"There are other warlocks available. This is retribution.”
"Why of course it is Magnus. Did you really think you could escape this forever?"
"How old is he anyway, nineteen? Those Shadowhunters, don't they think of anything else?"
"He’s twenty-three and well, they die pretty young. They don't have time to waste. At least it won't last for long."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better about this? That I'll be a widow soon enough and able to go back to my life after the conducting of that short contract?"
"It's a solid partnership."
"That's so hot."
He was to propose to the Lightwood boy the next day. They would agree – the High Warlock of their area, there was no better party for them. Raphael could have rivaled, maybe, but he had been smart enough to marry an immortal. He wouldn't be bothered with this nonsense for a very long time.
"When did this absurdity become the focus of our world?" he asked with a disgusted voice.
"When we ran out of demons to fight and reasons to hate each other."
"I miss the time when they despised us so much they stayed as far away as they could."
"I bet you do."
He could refuse of course, as he had always done, but it wouldn't do this time. The Council could make his life pretty hard, strip him of his status for a start, and he liked his status very much. He liked the privileges, the connections, and the possibility to do anything he wanted.
Anything but refuse an arranged marriage.
“I’ll come with you to the Institute,” Catarina offered with a kind smile. He nodded gratefully, even if it wouldn’t make this whole thing much better.
“Alec, come on, wake up.”
“Leave me here to die.”
“Stop being so dramatic. Come on.”
Alec smothered a loud grunt into his pillow before finally getting up, cursing his sister and her cheery attitude so early in the morning. He didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to leave his room. He wanted to sleep for a hundred years, but what good would it do? His intended husband would still be alive in a hundred years.
“Enough with the depressive thoughts. Hurry up, mom will have your head if you’re late.”
“As if he was going to be on time.”
She only laughed. She surely was better than him at taking the most out of a situation. He knew she hadn’t been happy at first, with the marriage, but she had decided to deal with it. They got along well, Meliorn was a good enough person – or so she said, Alec couldn’t stand him. Their marriage wasn’t out of love but it wasn’t loveless either.
He wanted to believe it could happen to him, he really did. But he couldn’t. Izzy was lovable, who in their right mind wouldn’t fall for her? Whereas him on the other hand…
He exited his bedroom, shutting the door with way more force than necessary.
“Such a catch,” Izzy said with a wink, eyeing his outfit. Gone were his usual practical clothes – he was dressed to impress, at his parents’ request. She liked it, they did too. He didn’t. But none of this was about him, was it? His choice, his taste, his will, none of it mattered.
He wanted to cry.
He didn’t though. He wasn’t the first one to get through this and surely wouldn’t be the last. All the Shadowhunters of his generation had to suck it and get into that stupid game of alliances, which had broken families and separated true lovers, and he would too.
Izzy stopped him from walking to the main room with a hand on his arm. She took his face in her hands. She was smiling, but she seemed sad too, something she rarely allowed herself to be.
"It's going to be fine Alec. I promise. I know it isn’t what you had in mind for your life but... it's not that bad. We’re young. Other things will happen to us, we'll meet other people, things will change. It's not as finale as you think it is. It's not a death sentence.”
"No, just a life one.”
"What could be so bad Alec?"
There was too much to answer to that. He said nothing again. He was good at that. She sighed.
"Okay, let's go."
"Is Max here?"
She quickened her pace.
"He's in his room. He's... upset."
"Because I'm getting married?"
"He thinks you'll leave the Institute. Like me. And ..."
For their younger brother Max, this marriage thing was even worse. It had taken two of his siblings already, Jace on the run who knew where, Izzy to the Faerie realm where she lived most of the time. Surely the High Warlock of Brooklyn would want to take his husband to whatever lair he had set up in the city. It was hard to reassure the boy when they didn’t know what would come of this exactly.
"He'll get over it. It's not like you’re moving on the other side of the country"
"Who knows? Maybe Magnus Bane is a traveler."
"Alec!" she stopped him again, annoyed and angry. He didn’t care. He was to. "Don’t make it more difficult than it is!"
"Really, Izzy? You sound like Mom!"
"What happened to the “arranged marriage are unfair” rhetoric? You used to be against that crap as much as any of us! Why is it so fun and game to you now? What happened to changing this? To making it better?"
"What can we do? I’m married now, I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not risking angering the council!"
"What risk would you take? Why are you so..."
The confession rung loudly in the silence of the corridor – thanks the Angels they were alone. Her eyes and mouth widened. She hadn’t meant to let it slip.
"Izzy, that’s… that’s..."
"Don’t say it. I haven’t' decided what it is yet."
Her eyes were starting to shine so she leaned in to rest her forehead on his chest, to hide in his embrace. He put both hands on her shoulders. In those moments he remembered how small she was, how light and lithe, and he wished holding her was enough to hide her from the world, shelter her entire form so she would be out of sight, out of trouble.
"At least that's an issue you won't have to deal with," she said weakly, her voice shaking with an aborted laugh and a strangled sob.
Alec wrapped his sister in a strong hug, wishing they could just be happy about that news, not dreadful.
"We'll talk about it later okay? We'll get through this, I swear. It'll be fine, Izzy."
"I’m the one who's supposed to tell you that."
"Why? Do you think I'm pregnant?"
Finally she smiled and he could breathe a little more easily. She linked their arm together and resumed walking. They had to face the beast now.
"We're not that late."
"We were supposed to be there forty minutes ago Magnus."
"Yeah, well we're here now."
Catarina rolled her eyes but followed him into the Institute without another word – it would be pointless anyway. He was determined to make this as difficult as possible and that made her fear for the poor boy he was destined to, because Magnus could be the most obnoxious thing in the world.
The fact that he was to marry none other than the Lightwood eldest only made matters worse. There was no lost love between Maryse and Robert Lightwood and the Downworlders, warlocks in particular, and in particular particular Magnus himself. They were really desperate for a good union then. The boy was lucky they didn't just marry him off to a woman at least – although it wasn't necessary to be put in their favor. They could force their offspring to marry but not to have children anyway, and there were rules to this game after all, it would be ill-received to ignore his preferences. They were all about fair game.
Despite their lateness, they were made to wait in the lobby, because of course Shadowhunters had to have the last word. She suddenly worried for Magnus. It was one thing not to be in love with your husband, it was another entirely to hate him on sight and be hated in return. She had heard only positive things about the Lightwood boy, who had the good taste of not taking much after his parents, but for it to work Magnus had to give him a chance, and that was clearly not his plan for now.
They were greeted by Maryse, which was never a pleasant thing to experience as a Downworlder. As a Shadowhunter either, she was sure. The woman was just colder than death, and her husband was no better, just different, more in a totally amorphous style.
Catarina tried not to be too terse, but even she had a hard time dealing with them and their attitude. Magnus in his Judgmental Bitch state of mind couldn't possibly deal with them.
Here was to hoping it would be different with the boy
Alec Lightwood was beautiful, and looked like he wanted to be anywhere in the universe but here and now. That was at least two things they had in common. A bit thin for a relationship, but hey, everything could happen.
Well, apart from him getting along with a Shadowhunter.
"Behave, Magnus. You know I'm reporting this back to the council,” Cat whispered close to his ear.
"You could always lie."
“Yeah, but they surely won't, so don't count on it,” she countered, pointing at the Lightwood party. “Just be nice."
"Warlock Bane, this is our son Alexander. Alexander, meet warlock Bane."
"I even have a real name, if you could believe it. I’m Magnus, maybe you could use it, seeing that we're going to be married and all."
Maryse looked already close to a nervous breakdown – for her to have to kiss a warlock's ass was probably the worst thing possible. The boy just rolled his eyes.
“Then please call me Alec, like only the people who give a damn about me do.”
That earned him the same murderous gaze from Maryse, and Magnus found himself smiling against all odds. Alec caught his gaze and smiled briefly too.
Well, he could probably add “enjoy annoying Maryse” to the list of their common point.
“Let’s get it over with,” Maryse said curtly, raising an expectant eyebrow at Magnus. He just rolled his eyes but complied – he was as eager as her to get out of the Institute. He produced a ring box out of his coat pocket and went to stand in front of Alec Lightwood.
Now for those forced things, there was no need of course to be traditional. It usually looked more like a business transaction than a marriage proposal. It was strange that they even hold on to the principle of the proposal. They could have done this over the phone just as well. But since they insisted on being a little formal, Magnus wouldn’t pass the occasion to be way more than that.
He dropped to one knee. Alec looked mildly horrified, staring at Magnus like he had grown a second head. Magnus tried not to laugh.
“Alexander Alec Lightwood, those seven minutes we have spent together have been the most magical times of my long life. I can’t imagine us being apart now, and I hope you’ll agree. Alexander Alec Lightwood, would you make your parents and my superiors the happiest people in existence and accept to marry me?”
The boy rolled his eyes but he was clearly amused too. The others weren’t – his parents looked ready to burst and Catarina was shaking her head with a resigned expression. The Lightwood girl looked entertained at least. He winked at her and she stifled a laugh – that was a small win.
He locked gaze with the boy. He looked resigned too, and angry, but not at Magnus in particular. Maybe they could find an arrangement then. They would have to anyway. He sighed deeply and waited enough time for it to be awfully awkward and for Magnus’s knee to hurt.
“If I must,” he finally breathed out.
The collective sigh of relief told Magnus that he hadn’t been the only one they expected to ruin it all. He jumped back to his feet with the widest smile possible and turned to the Lightwood parents.
“He said yes!” he exclaimed with a fake delighted tone. Maryse and Robert didn’t dignify this with an answer.
“We’ll be in touch for the preparatives,” the woman said. A curt nod and she was gone, her mute husband trailing off behind her.
“A pleasure to do business with you, Alexander,” Magnus said with a sly smile, extending a hand. The boy shook it slowly.
“Likewise, warlock Bane.”
If they could only agree to be against this, it would be a win in Magnus’s book.
The warlock was funny, if anything. Handsome too. None of the quality he would have put first on his list of requirement in the perfect groom, but it didn't hurt either. He seemed nice enough if quite full of himself. At least he was as thrilled as Alec himself about the wedding. It would have been worse if the guy was really into this – that way they wouldn't have to pretend.
He wouldn't concern himself with the preparation. They would want to make a statement, use the occasion to have a large get-together, strengthen political bonds, and parade Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane as a paired couple.
"Oh shit," Alec whispered, realization dawning on him. He was sitting next to Max on the foot of Izzy's bed where she was spread, the three of them engrossed in a thick history book, a worn out manga and the latest issue of a sports magazine, respectively.
"What is it?" Izzy asked, attention quickly driven off the football prognostic.
"I just realized they're going to have to come to an agreement regarding names."
"Oh shit," Max giggled. Alec frowned.
"Don’t talk like this," he scolded lightly, without much heat.
"Well what would be worse, that you lose our good family name or that a warlock earns it," Izzy mused with a faux-serious frown.
"We won’t have any children to pass it onto. But I doubt they'll want me ridden of it anyway."
"You can have both! Some people do that right?" Max suggested.
"Lightwood-Bane have a nice ring to it."
"Well they can fight on that."
They laughed, a welcome lightness in a previously tensed atmosphere.
"Whatever happens, I'm not leaving the family", Alec commented gently, a careful eye on Max. The boy's smile faltered.
"You promise?" he asked without raising his eyes from his book. It was old, one of his favorite he kept reading and reading again. Alec knew he found comfort in it, when he was troubled. He rested an arm on his brother's shoulders. Max leaned willingly against him and Izzy joined them, sitting on the other side of the boy.
"Of course I do. I'm not going anywhere."
"You don't know that. Maybe you'll move very far. Maybe you'll go to some world we don't know where warlocks go and we'll never see you again".
Tears were gathering in his eyes, a sight Alec had never been quite able to bear. Izzy was better than he was at giving comfort – she spoke quietly to their brother, reassuring, soothing words, until he calmed down.
"Everything is going to be okay Max, you'll see."
"I don't ever want to marry."
Alec and Izzy exchanged a sad look – they were afraid the choice wouldn't be his in the end. Not for the first time Alec felt angry at his parents, at his people, at the entire world for their stupid, archaic ways. And he felt angry at himself too, for going along with it, for not doing anything against it.
It would come, he thought. Their parents wouldn't be in charge forever. When he was at their place, he would put an end to these things. Maybe spare Max, and Izzy’s child, the torment.
The marriage was an extravagant affaire. Half the Downworld of New York had turned up it seemed, and Alec had never had to talk to so many people. It was arguably one of the worst days of his life.
A feeling Magnus Bane seemed to share, before and after he had become Magnus Lightwood- Bane – this HAD been a bitter argument indeed - and they had to be the most gloomy couple ever married. It lifted Alec's heart a little to think of their wedding pictures that surely wouldn't be suitable to be displayed anywhere lest people think they were from a funeral. It was a small comfort. One that made Magnus laughed, when he shared it with him.
"I think we did well by the Addams family standard at least," he commented between two round of thank you’s to congratulations offered by strangers. It was telling that the only genuine smiles they had that night were when they were making fun of the people around them.
Izzy’s belly was started to swell and Alec could read the tension on her shoulders, the apprehensions and fears. Just as their marriage, their children weren’t much their own either, tied to political agendas and alliances, and always a source of fierce disagreements when of mixed race, both wanted to raise the child in their own way.
Alec would do everything he could to save her from that.
"Let's be friend, shall we?"
Alec stared at him. He looked amazing, but also distant, sad. Seeing that he was immortal, Alec hadn't given much thought to his own reluctance to this wedding, to what it would cost him. He understood that the warlock had never been married, and seeing how prized they were on the market, there had to be a reason for that. He tried to smile a softer smile and figured that maybe they could tackle this, together. They could use their newfound power and fight, give the next generation, give Max and Izzy something better than this.
He just had the feeling that they could take over the world if they so wished. Purely out of bitterness, out of spite.
“Yeah. Let's do that."
Magnus seemed grateful. Someone took a picture right at that moment. It was the only decent photography they had of the day.