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A Royal Affair

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Magnus adjusts the cuff of his blazer and waits beside his childhood friend Ragnor. He’s not sure how Ragnor convinced him of coming along to his work party or how he lost the argument when he proposed they skip the party for a round of whiskey and cigars and some much needed catching up. But he’s here now and he finds himself dreading the recognition that is sure to come. The dumbfounded faces and praises. The idle chit chat of someone trying their hardest to be in his good graces.

“Why did I let you drag me here?” Magnus asks rather petulantly and his tone is not lost to Ragnor who simply rolls his eyes.

“Because I gave my word that I would be here tonight prior to your little unannounced visit. And as much as I love to be graced by your presence, Your Royal Highness ”—Magnus groans loudly at the formality because Ragnor knows how much he hates it when he uses it between them—“a little notice would be nice next time. Then you wouldn’t have to tag along to my mundane office parties.”

“Yeah, well, I wanted it to be a surprise. So much for the fun in that.”

The heavy wooden door opens and they’re greeted by a man with curling blonde hair whose smile makes it seem as if there is nothing in the world he would rather be doing than greeting them. “Ragnor! So glad you could make it. Come in.”

He steps aside and grants them entry into the foyer.

“You brought a guest,” the man adds before extending a hand out to Magnus. “Steve Underhill.”

Magnus is shocked for a moment but he takes the man’s hand and shakes it instead of saying anything. Not being recognized is a good thing. He relaxes a little and gives the man a smile. “Magnus Bane.”

His go-to pseudonym for rare occasions like these.

“You look very familiar, Magnus, do you work in Celtic studies as well?”

Ragnor chuckles under his breath, it sounds more like a snort than anything, and Magnus resists the urge to elbow him.

“Celtic studies?” he asks instead.

“Yes, Underhill’s focus is in Celtology.”

“Oh. Okay, sorry, I don’t know why I just assumed you all had the same focus. Stupid of me really. But, no, I don’t work in Celtic studies.”

Underhill smiles at him and tics his head to the side. “You seem so familiar. I’m sure we’ve met.”

Magnus flashes him a quick flick of his brow. “I just have one of those faces.”

“I’ll think of it before the end of the night,” Underhill says with promise and then motions for them to follow him further into the home.

The ‘office party’ as Ragnor so generously called it is, in fact, more like a small gathering of friends. There’s Ragnor, Underhill, himself and in the corner of the room is a small cluster of people talking beside the refreshments table; beside the fireplace with their backs to them, stands a tall man and a short blond woman.

“Make yourselves at home. We have drinks over there”—Underhill points—“and hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen.”

The blonde man walks away and Ragnor steps in front of Magnus, a curious brow lifted at him.

“You’re shocked.”

“I’m not shocked.”

“Yes, you are.”

Magnus rolls his eyes. “Well, maybe a little but you have to admit, this isn’t something that normally happens.”

Ragnor shrugs a shoulder.

“How do they not know?”

How can they not know who I am?” Ragnor mocks him and Magnus hates how accurate it is. He sounds like a self-centered ass right now.

“I don’t mean it like that and you know it.”

He really doesn’t.

Magnus is so used to being recognized everywhere he goes that it’s odd—not in a bad way—when he can walk into a party and go unnoticed. He was considered the world’s most photographed man in an issue of PEOPLE magazine just last month. He did well to convince Raphael and his ever present security guards to remain behind outside so long as they promised to stay out of view. They agreed, albeit reluctantly, and only because Magnus assured them that he would leave immediately if anyone seemed to be one of those fans.

Ragnor nudges him with his elbow. “I’m just having a laugh. And they probably don’t recognize you because you’re probably the last person they would ever expect to see at their office party. And I’ve never told anyone that my childhood friend is the Crown Prince of Edom, you know.”

“Ashamed of me?”

Ragnor starts to walk them towards the refreshment table, sending him a quick smirk over his shoulder. “Absolutely.”

They mingle very minimally with two other rather old gentlemen who, Magnus is not surprised at all, don’t recognize him either. Magnus sips at his whiskey and checks his watch. Ragnor promised they would only stay for an hour at most and only twenty minutes have passed much to Magnus’ dismay.

He groans. “At least the whiskey is good. If not, I would have to demand that we lea—”

Magnus can say with certainty that his breath has only ever been taken away twice by the sight of something beautiful. Those two things were: The Salar de Uyuni during the wet season on a particularly cloudy day when it looked as if he were walking in the clouds and the turquoise waters of the Plitvice Lakes. But here, in Ragnor’s boring office party, his breath has been stolen from him for the third time in his life by the tall man standing by the fireplace. The blond woman he is speaking to must have said something particularly funny because his laughter was what caused Magnus to look up in the first place. His smile is wide and the happiness it emits takes over his face. It rounds his cheeks and creases at the corner of his eyes. It shakes his shoulders and the ball of his Adam’s apple moves up and down with the sound. He’s exquisite.

Magnus can hear Ragnor talking to him but he can’t pull his eyes away from the man. He wants to meet him. Has to meet him.

“You haven’t introduced me to all of your colleagues yet, old friend, and that’s incredibly rude,” Magnus interrupts whatever it is Ragnor was saying and he can see the shock cross Ragnor’s face slightly before his brows pinch in curiosity.

“Oh no.” Ragnor stiffens. “I know that look. What, rather, whom have you seen?”

“What look? I don’t have a look. I just think it’s rude that we’re standing to ourselves not enjoying everything this wonderful office party has to offer.” Magnus shrugs nonchalantly and Ragnor’s face hardens on him.

“It’s Lightwood, isn’t it?”

“Who?” Magnus asks innocently.

Ragnor doesn’t bother to turn around or even look over his shoulder. “Tall, dark unruly hair, handsome, and exactly your type.”

“I don’t have a type. But this man sure does sound tantalizing and I demand that you point him out and offer an introduction.”

“You’re a horrible liar. You do know that, right? And I’m guessing that’s what you find so interesting over my shoulder.”

Magnus nods, looking over Ragnor’s shoulder at the man in question. “Honestly, how have you never mentioned him before?”

“I have. All the time. That’s Alec. He’s our forensic anthropologist which means we work closer together than the others in this group.”

“Mhm. Interesting. So, he’s a professor?”

Ragnor does a quick look around the room. “We’re all professors. What did you think I meant by office party?”

Magnus waves him off. “Are you going to introduce me?”

“Are you serious?” Ragnor is interrupted when a tall Indian man joins them, giving Magnus a quick glance and introduction before turning his focus back on Ragnor and thereby distracting him from the very important request Magnus has made.

Magnus resists the urge to release the groan he can feel building up in him. He can tell Ragnor is just as annoyed as he is, seems there’s no love lost between Ragnor and this man; and now that Magnus actually listens to what the man is saying, he can hear that he’s talking about his own recent achievements. The man gives Ragnor a condescending pat on the shoulder before walking away with his ostentatious champagne flute in hand.

“One day I’m really going to lose every ounce of my self control around that man and finally tell him how much of a prick he is.”

“Who the hell invited Raj?”

Magnus and Ragnor both stiffen in surprise when Alec, Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome by the Fireplace, swoops in to join their conversation. He’s leaning in close to Ragnor and hasn’t spotted Magnus yet, which is okay because Magnus isn’t sure he has the breath in him to actually speak.

“Perhaps you should ask our host. Who is supposed to be our friend. That traitor,” Ragnor grumbles.

Alec chuckles and the sound is beautiful. “Steve is too nice to exclude anyone. Even the university pariah.” He glances up, brows lifted creating an adorable curious expression that doesn’t help with Magnus’ newfound mission: trying to figure out how to breathe again; and his eyes land on him. They’re a beautiful honey color tinged with a ring of green hidden behind tortoiseshell frames and his lips are full and sinfully pink when they part into a small ‘o’, the sound accompanying it breathy and shiver inducing.

“We haven’t been formally introduced.” Magnus is surprised that the words are flowing so easily but he’s not one to question good things and right now he needs to introduce himself because he needs to know this man. “I’m Magnus Bane.”

Alec’s lips pull up into a crooked smile and he lingers there with this dopey but absolutely endearing look on his face for a moment before he finally speaks, “I’m—uh—Alec. Alec Lightwood.”

Ragnor smirks from over the rim of his whiskey glass and then turns to Alec. “I’m sorry, I’m being terribly rude. Magnus here is an old childhood friend of mine.” He turns to Magnus now. “Alec here is my favorite colleague.”

Alec huffs out a small laugh and then pulls his eyes away from Magnus and he looks…reluctant to do so? Magnus’ stomach flips at this and he wishes he could banish Ragnor to another realm right now because he really, really wants to have all of Alec’s attention for himself.

“I never knew you had other friends,” Alec teases and that makes Magnus like him so much more.

“Well, I don’t get to see Magnus very much. He’s always too royally busy to ever pay me a visit.”

Ragnor looks all too pleased with himself. Magnus shoots him a quick glare letting him know he doesn’t appreciate it, and then puts on his smile when Alec’s beautiful hazel eyes find him again.

“What is it you do?” Alec’s curiosity is completely genuine and Magnus realizes that it’s been so long since he hasn’t been recognized that he has no idea what to even say to such a simple question.

Ragnor eyes him suspiciously. Surely waiting to see what it is that Magnus comes up with.

“I—I work with my father,” Magnus stutters out. “In government.”

Alec nods. “Oh. Doing what?”

Magnus feels as if he might start sweating because why can’t there be better things to talk about when you’re meeting someone for the first time? He’s about to bring up the weather instead. The dull gray skies outside are more interesting a topic at this point simply because Magnus hates lying, but that’s always been what he’s had to do if he wanted to fly under the radar.

“We’re representatives.” Magnus chooses to stick as close to the truth as possible. “Well, my father is. I’m sort of learning the trade. Attend fancy dinner parties, meet important people, you know…”

Ragnor takes a large gulp of his whiskey, probably to stop himself from laughing.

“Sounds…important,” Alec finally says with a smile. “So, are you working towards having your father’s position one day?”

“That’s the plan. First born or in my case, only son, heir to the family throne and all.”

Magnus doesn’t know why he’s saying this, except that he likes that Alec seems to have no idea who he is. Why he’s being coy by dropping these little hints while also being cryptic is beyond him though. There’s something in the air between them that Magnus can’t quite put his finger on. He’s used to being in the limelight, watched and his every word and action picked apart for some hidden meaning that isn’t there. He’s always had to watch what he says and even his body language. Here though, under Alec’s watchful gaze, he feels something else entirely. He feels seen. And that makes him feel as if he could tell Alec right now that he’s the heir to a country who had to force his bodyguards to leave his side just so he could feel normal and blend in for one night, and that Alec would take it all in stride. Perhaps raise his dark brows and offer a crooked smile before continuing on with their conversation.

He doesn’t want Alec to know who he is but at the same time, he desperately wants to tell him because he wants to get to know Alec and how can he if he’s keeping this from him? But…Magnus looks around at their peaceful party and quiet life of academia. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but Magnus knows the truth is that it’s better if he doesn’t drag Alec into his world.

Alec raises his glass to him and tips his head understandingly which only makes Magnus want to tell him even more. “First born here. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, right?”

Ragnor’s brows jump and Magnus can feel his smile falter because damn, if Alec didn’t just nail it right on the head.

“Absolutely right.” Magnus decides to take this opportunity to turn the tables a little. Things will be best if he can direct the attention away from himself. “I take it you followed in your father or mother’s footsteps?”

Alec swallows his sip of whiskey and shrugs a shoulder. “Not exactly. They’ve always been big supporters of academics so that’s the direction they pushed me in. Getting a PhD in Anthropology and following that course to study Forensic Anthropology was my choice, as well as becoming a professor. But the pressure to be some sort of success was always there, no less.”

He looks like he’s about to say more when a ring comes from the phone in his pocket. He pulls it out and reads the screen. “Excuse me one moment.”

“So?” Ragnor whispers, blocking Alec and his conversation with his body.

Magnus looks away from Alec and sighs wistfully. “He’s perfect and I want to marry him and have him rule by my side.”

Ragnor shakes his head and throws back the rest of his drink. “Why are you this way and why do I continue to hang out with you? And no, you’re not allowed to take my favorite colleague away. I forbid it.”

“Clearly Alec was meant to be a king so why would you deprive him of his greatness?”

Alec steps in with one hand covering the mouth of his phone. “I’m so sorry, I have to run.” He finds Magnus and his smile is small and apologetic. He sways a bit between stepping in closer and leaving. “It was really great to meet you, Magnus. Maybe I’ll see you around?”

Magnus only has the time to nod and mutter out a quick, “It was nice meeting you too,” before Alec is walking away in hurried steps towards the front door, only a napkin falling to the floor behind him from the whiskey glass he left on a table nearby.

Magnus stands there, mouth gaping, staring at the closed door Alec disappeared through. “Did he just pull a Cinderella on me?”

Ragnor’s hand lands with a heavy thud on his shoulder and then gently squeezes. “You are the prince who just got left at the ball, Mate.”

Magnus groans and this time he doesn’t keep it in, throwing back the rest of his whiskey in one gulp before picking up the fallen napkin and examining it. He’s not really sure what he’s expecting to find on a piece of trash though. “Couldn’t he have left behind something useful, you know… like a shoe or I don’t know… a business card with his cell number scribbled on the back for me.”

Ragnor’s brows curve. “How would his shoe be useful?”

“Well, he’d want to get it back, so there’s that opportunity. I just”—Magnus sighs—“Tell me it wouldn’t have worked anyway and I should not dwell on this. Tell me not to get hung up on a man I met once and spoke to for five minutes.”

Ragnor sighs. His eyes are genuinely sad now when they meet Magnus’. They’ve been down this road before, more times than Magnus would like to remember. He’s started keeping love at arms’ length, never allowing himself to get too close because in his position, he never knew when it was real. He knew his own heart, but twice already he’s had to find out that he never knew his lovers’ hearts the way he thought he did. And he knows better now than to give his heart away.

Too many people pursue him for his position; for the wealth, status, and power. And as much of a romantic as he is, he’s done well to close himself off from getting his heart used and broken again. Meeting Alec tonight sparked something to life in him and the hopeless romantic part of him he keeps locked deep inside wants to open.

“Let’s go back to my place. You got those cigars?”

Magnus sets down his whiskey glass and nods, following behind Ragnor as he says his goodbyes.

- One Year Later-

 

“How long will you be in town?” Ragnor asks, entering the room.

Magnus finishes hanging the golden bell ornament on the tree and then reaches for the tinsel. “I figured I would stay through the new year.”

“Your father doesn’t require you back home?”

Magnus shrugs a shoulder. “He’s not in the holiday spirit. He said it would be best for me to get away. Take an unbothered vacation while I still can… ”

Ragnor hums thoughtfully. He’s aware of Asmodeus’ failing health and the pressures Magnus will soon face. His face changes to a smile. “Good.”

“Good?”

“Yes. It’s been too long since we’ve spent a Christmas together and who knows when we’ll get the chance again.” Ragnor collects his portfolio and takes a bite of his apple. “I have to go to the office for a quick meeting with a student before my break officially begins. I’ll be back soon.”

Magnus smiles at him. He misses spending time with Ragnor like this. This brotherly bond they’ve always had that is severely lacking in his everyday life so he’s going to enjoy every minute of their break together. “I’ll be here…  finishing the tree.”

.

Ragnor groans when he enters the apartment later that afternoon.

“What’s the matter? Your meeting go poorly?”

“The train is the bane of my existence.” Ragnor groans again.

“Did someone sit too close to my grumpy little cabbage?” Magnus kicks his feet up onto the coffee table and settles in more comfortably on the sofa.

“And to top it all off, he was a mouth breather.”

Magnus squirms. “Ugh.”

Ragnor tosses his portfolio onto the coffee table. “Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, I got you a blind date.”

Magnus’ body tenses at attention. “With the mouth breather from the train?!”

Ragnor chuckles. “What kind of friend do you think I am? It’s not the train mouth breather and it’s tonight.”

“Tonight?!” Magnus sits up fully now, swinging his legs off the table. “When did you plan on telling me? Two minutes before?” He waves Ragnor away. “Doesn’t matter. Cancel it. I’m not going.”

He’s about to prove his point by kicking off his shoes and truly getting comfortable for a night in when Ragnor clicks his tongue. “You’re going.”

“No, I’m not,” Magnus counters. “What makes you think I even want to go on a date right now? And must I remind you of my track record? My love life hasn’t really been anything to write home about.”

Ragnor returns from the kitchen with a beer in hand and drops into the seat across from Magnus. “It’s about time you find someone to settle down with. After all, isn’t that something that’s bound to happen soon enough? Don’t you think it should be now when you still have a say in it all?”

Magnus’ face hardens and he crosses his arms. He hates that Ragnor is right. Ragnor is always right. He still has the freedom to choose in love, but when the inevitable happens and he takes his father’s place, the terms will shift and he will be guided and coached from every direction other than his heart’s. “This isn’t really how I imagined meeting someone.”

Ragnor sighs. “Well, in your circumstance, bumping into someone at the local market and experiencing love at first sight is hardly in your favor. I assure you, though, this will be an organic meeting. Your date doesn’t know who they will be going on a date with either.”

“And they already said yes to your crazy idea?”

“It took some convincing. They too seem to be in favor of letting love find its way but I think, in this situation, love needed a little guidance.”

“Mhm,” Magnus hums. His disbelief and doubt must be obvious on his face because Ragnor rolls his eyes at him.

“When have I let you down or led you astray?” Ragnor challenges him with a flick of his brow. He knows he’s got a point and he knows Magnus has no solid reason to distrust him on this.

“Fine,” Magnus grounds out through clenched teeth. “I’ll go on your little blind date.”

Ragnor grins—wide and devilish. “I promise you won’t regret this, mate.”

.

He better not regret this, Magnus thinks as he steps inside the restaurant.

He can see from the entrance that the place is empty and the lights are kept at a low dim, curtains closed and covering every window. Ragnor really did think about it all, but this makes him wonder what his date thinks at having to meet someone under such private conditions. If Magnus were in his position he would probably be concerned that Ragnor had set him up to murder him. A blind date murder.

“Your table is ready.” The hostess smiles warmly at him and he holds in the chuckle at the thought of how he’s going to explain this arrangement if his date asks.

She guides him down a hallway to what appears to be another, more private dining room at the back of the building. The suspicious date setting continues, he thinks to himself.

Magnus isn’t usually one to feel nervous but right now, he’s nervous. Especially when he thinks about how his date must be feeling. Dates are nerve-racking as it is. Throw the blind date aspect on top of that and then sprinkle it all off with a super private and isolated setting and the whole thing is just downright panic inducing. Magnus still can’t quite get over the shock that he is actually on a blind date right now, set up by Ragnor no less. For starters, Ragnor is incredibly picky and oftentimes surly when it comes to Magnus dating someone he hardly knows; secondly, blind dates for people in his position aren’t normally done. There is usually a whole lot of technicalities and security that has to be taken into consideration for a normal date to occur, but it seems that Ragnor has taken everything into consideration for this date. From the empty restaurant and the guarantee that his date has no idea who to expect means there will be no cameras and no articles in tomorrow’s papers with rumors of a scandalous tryst or an upcoming marriage.

Magnus takes in a deep breath and the thought of all of this actually happening away from the public’s eye helps calm him. He’s so used to the performance that he can’t remember the last time or if he has ever even had a date that wasn’t watched and critiqued. Tonight he can be himself.

The hostess stops at the entryway of the dining room and lets Magnus find his own way to the table. He can see the broad back of a man with dark hair seated already. The room is empty except for them.

The nerves in his stomach begin to flutter in excitement  and they increase rapidly when he finally makes it to the table and sees that it’s him . It’s Alec . Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome by the Fireplace from the Christmas party last year.

Alec’s hazel eyes brighten instantly, and they’re even more beautiful than Magnus remembered.

“Magnus,” Alec says and the breathy sound of it runs a shiver up Magnus’ spine.

“Alec.”

Alec stands and presses a kiss to Magnus’ cheek in greeting. His lips are soft in contrast to the stubble of his beard and Magnus’ entire body tingles from the touch. He’s so used to the formalities that come when he’s around others that he’s not even sure how to react. The rules that the people are not allowed to touch him don’t apply here, he realizes, and he smiles back at Alec, letting himself enjoy the lingering scratch of Alec’s kiss against him.

He takes a seat and watches as Alec resumes his place at the table, crossing his long legs to the side.

Of all people, Magnus never expected his blind date to be with Alec. Although he did talk about the man for a few months after they first met a year ago, he didn’t think Ragnor had been truly listening. Ragnor was always one to watch after Magnus’ heart more than he did himself. And because of this, he was always wary of who he encouraged to Magnus. His silence on Alec had always made Magnus believe that he didn’t approve of Magnus’ desires to get to know the young professor.

“When we last said goodbye, I honestly didn’t expect a year to pass before I’d see you again. Ragnor was always vague whenever I’d ask about you that I just assumed it was his nice way of letting me know you weren’t interested and that I should stop bugging him.” Alec blushes, the rose color spreading across the bridge of his nose and tinting the apples of his cheeks. “And I probably just came off way too strong on our first date.”

Magnus laughs. “No, not at all. Life got really busy right after that party and I was not in a place to pursue anything except work. I’m guessing Ragnor was trying to save us both the heartache until the right time.”

“And is it? The right time, I mean.”

“Just so... And not to come off too strong but since you already did”—Magnus winks at Alec to let him know he’s only joking—“I think it’s safe for me to say, I was interested. Am interested.”

Alec smiles again and Magnus had forgotten how breathtakingly beautiful it is. How could he have forgotten?

“I’m happy to hear that,” he says quietly.

“Did you really hound Ragnor about me?” Magnus leans forward on his elbows.

Alec chuckles. “I may have asked about you once or twice or seventeen-thousand times.”

“I can’t believe he managed to keep that from me.” Magnus laughs. “Especially considering I had been asking about you.”

“You did?” Alec’s eyes widen in what Magnus can tell is genuine shock. How Alec can expect someone to not be interested is beyond him.

“For months.”

A waiter brings them a bottle of red wine, pours them each a glass and then leaves, giving them time to look over their menus. Magnus sets his menu aside, picking the first thing that catches his eye because he honestly couldn't care less about what he eats. All he wants is to talk to Alec. Get to know Alec. Stare at Alec and observe the way his brows furrow in extreme concentration just reading a menu. He can imagine how beautiful he is at work, teaching a class from behind a podium, reading textbooks, and conducting research.

Alec seems to settle on something and he folds his menu aside, finally looking up and smiling crookedly when he finds Magnus again.

“So we could have had our first date a year ago and been well into this for a year by now,” Alec says casually—certain.

“A year into it? That’s mighty confident of you, Alec Lightwood,” Magnus teases and he honestly can’t help himself because he truly loves the shade of pink Alec’s cheeks bloom into when he’s flushed.

Alec wipes a hand down his face and shakes his head, chuckling at himself. “I am really coming off as a presumptuous asshole tonight. Let me”—he clears his throat—“let me start over. I was left wanting to know you after we first met last year and I had hoped that one day we would be able to go on a date, and now I know I will be thanking Ragnor for the next ten years for setting this up.”

“Now we’ve moved up to ten years,” Magnus says cheekily. “My, my, our relationship is quite the epic love story. Timeless before it’s even began.”

Alec covers his eyes and laughs. “I’m obviously too nervous to say something remotely normal. So why don’t you start?”  

Magnus laughs. “It’s okay, darling, truly. It’s always best to start something and see the future instead of dwelling on its possible end.”

“That’s a good way to look at it,” Alec says, his smile never leaving his face. “So tell me, what’s new since we last spoke? Still doing important diplomatic duties?”

Magnus nods. “Yep. But I’m off for the next few weeks for a Christmas break and I intend to enjoy them by not thinking about work at all. You? How’s the professor life treating you?”

“Fair enough,” Alec says with a nod. “As for me, I’m still teaching. Still researching. Still consulting.”

“Tell me, what is it exactly that you do when you consult?”

Alec’s eyes seem to light up at the topic of his career which Magnus can tell is more than that; it’s his passion.

“You sure you want to talk about my work? We’re not talking about yours so we can do the same and find something else?”

Magnus shakes his head. “I would love to hear about your work. My job is confidential and the details I can share are boring so, please, tell me about yours.”

“Okay.” Alec goes on to tell Magnus a little bit about his work which somehow steers the topic to his family. Alec tells him stories of his sister and her attempts at styling him and Magnus is laughing more than he ever has on any date before and even though he has only known Alec for one five minute conversation a year ago and now one dinner, he finds himself dangerously envisioning a future that includes Alec.

“Your sister is a costume designer?” Magnus asks, sipping at his red wine and pushing his dish aside.

Alec nods. “Her name is Isabelle.”

Magnus swallows his gulp of red wine, coughing into his hand. “Wait a minute. Your sister is Isabelle Lightwood?”

Alec nods.

“Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design Isabelle Lightwood? That Isabelle Lightwood?”

“Yeah, you know her?”

Magnus shakes his head. “Sadly I have not had the pleasure of meeting your lovely sister but I’m a big fan of her work. She did the costume design for the film Downworld , one of my favorite movies.”

Alec beams. A proud big brother. “She’s really great at what she does.”

“She’s brilliant and The Academy agrees,” Magnus insists. “What do your other siblings do?”

Alec sets down his glass of wine. “My brother Jace is a video game composer and my youngest brother is still in school with dreams of being a screenwriter but… enough about me. You’ve had me talking about myself all night and I want to know more about you.”

“What would you like to know?”

“Everything,” Alec answers without hesitation, leaning forward and his gaze is so intense that Magnus feels as if he’s peering into his soul, reading every hidden truth about him. “Or whatever it is you feel comfortable sharing. You choose.”

“I’m an only child,” Magnus begins. He thinks for a moment and then draws in a deep breath that he lets out when he begins to speak again. “Although Ragnor has been around almost my entire life and so he is pretty much like a brother to me. Which is why I’m spending my holidays here with him.”

Alec’s smile doesn’t fall but there’s a twitch at the corner that gives away his concern. “So, you’re only here for the holidays?”

Magnus holds in his sigh, because the hesitation Alec has is justified, but he tries to think of Ragnor and his level-headed thinking. He wouldn’t have set this all up if there wasn’t some chance to make this work. Magnus doesn’t live here but he knows he would find a way to make it work. “Yeah, I just flew in yesterday. I’ll be here until the New Year.”

Alec nods and Magnus waits for the smile to drop. For the reality of their situation to cause a change of mind for him. But Alec only leans in closer, resting his chin in the palm of his hand. “Where are you from that’s not here?”

“Edom.”

Please. Please. Please don’t recognize me, Magnus wants to beg. He wants this night to continue in its perfection and if Alec figures out who he is, it could ruin everything. But… everything has been perfect so far and if Magnus wants this to have any chance at all, he’s going to have to tell him sooner or later.

His thoughts are suddenly interrupted by Alec’s excited “Oh!”

“Have you been?” Magnus asks.

Alec’s head shakes quickly. “No, but I’ve always wanted to visit. I hear the countryside is beautiful.”

“It is!” Magnus exclaims and the image of Alec enjoying the sight of Edom’s rolling green hills is enough to make him want to make a call to his pilot to have them flying there for the weekend. He should probably let this date end first before he proposes a trip to his home country followed quickly by a marriage and a monarchy.

“Maybe one day you can show me,” Alec says with a shrug, catching Magnus off guard, yet again.

“I’d love that.”

Christmas Eve

“Where do you think you’re going?” Ragnor shouts from his bedroom when Magnus passes by, throwing on his winter coat.

“Out.”

“It’s Christmas Eve.” Ragnor is standing in the doorway now, arms crossed and his expression cross as well.

“I’m meeting up with Alec.”� Magnus winds a scarf around his neck and smirks when he sees Ragnor’s satisfied grin.

“Things are going well, I take it?”

“The only reason I haven’t  proposed already is because of societal expectations. People expect there to be more than two dates and a couple hundred text messages before one can seriously consider marriage.”

“How unreasonable.” Ragnor chuckles and then stops, his jaw slackening. “Did you say a couple hundred text messages? Lightwood never texts. His responses in the department group chat consist of ‘K’ and ‘understood’.

“What can I say?” Magnus shrugs. “I’m actually interesting. Unlike you lot.”

Ragnor smiles. “I suppose you’ll be getting me a rather grand Christmas present for setting this up then, right?”

Magnus stops with his hand on the door knob. He’s already bought Ragnor a gorgeous, vintage Rolex but he figures a little teasing is always fun. “I’m not getting you anything because you let me ask about him for months and think that there was no chance.”

“Hey now, I didn’t expect to set this up. I was only looking out for you.”

“What changed?” Magnus holds the door open with his foot. He’d been meaning to ask this because he had yet to figure out what had changed in the past year that would make Ragnor change his mind about Magnus beginning a relationship with Alec.

Ragnor pushes himself off the door and steps in closer. “The timing felt right.”

Magnus shakes his head. He doesn’t understand. Nothing has changed.

“Your father,” Ragnor says simply. “He told you to spend your holidays here with me. It just… made me realize that time is not on our side and you… deserve to find someone who will make you happy.”

“Oh.” Magnus leans against the doorpost. He’d not let himself dwell too much on the why s of his being allowed to spend the holidays wherever he wanted. He knew the answer deep down. This is perhaps his last chance at spending a Christmas season as a prince who is relatively free enough to do what he pleases. But once he’s king…

“Lightwood asked about you for months. I know him, I’ve worked with him for years… he isn’t one to mess around with people’s hearts. I figured if you can get one last chance at love, and this boy is interested enough to ask me five hundred different ways about you, then I wouldn’t be able to pick anyone better.”

Magnus smiles. He’s never heard Ragnor speak this way about anyone, and the fact that he’s doing so about Alec gives him hope that this can actually be it for him. He knows he needs to take a step back and not jump in head first but he’s never been one to deprive himself of what he really wants and what he really wants, is for this relationship to work. “I think you’re right.”

Ragnor smiles and gestures at the door with a tip of his head. “Go on now. Go to him.”

.

It’s been one week since Alec had his blind date with Magnus. One week of Alec’s stomach flipping every time his phone chimes, his heart racing when the phone rings; one week of that floating in the clouds feeling of getting to know someone and finding that you love absolutely everything about them.

His leg is shaking something fierce and he has to force himself to stop because the rattle of the table it causes in the empty coffee shop is stressing him out even more. He’s only been waiting four minutes and it’s only been fifteen since he last heard from Magnus when he sent the address of the cafe they were to meet at.

His phone chimes and he scrambles to pick it up.

Izzy:

Stop freaking out. Love you.

He rolls his eyes and lets out a small laugh at himself. She’s right. He doesn’t know if he loves or hates the fact that she knew exactly how he would be feeling at this exact moment. Especially considering their conversation a few days ago had been brief—much to her dismay—and he only had the chance to tell her he had met someone, what his name was, and that he was apparently a big fan of her work.

Alec powers off his screen and looks up to see Magnus walking towards him. The air is suddenly too thick to breathe in and the room feels considerably warmer now.

“Hey,” Alec says and he’s thankful that his voice appears to sounds relatively normal.

Magnus smiles at him and Alec isn’t sure how much longer he’s going to be able to pull off ‘normal’ if he keeps doing that.

“Alexander,” Magnus says in lieu of a greeting and Alec’s heart stutters.

Alec stands and brings an arm around Magnus, giving him a kiss on the cheek. It feels natural to do this. He did it that night of their first date, even though Alec is not a hug and kiss on the cheek type of greeter. But apparently, for Magnus, he is.

Magnus makes a soft hum when Alec pulls away and his entire face is lit up with that smile of his.

“Merry Christmas,” Alec says, his arm still wrapped around Magnus’ waist not yet willing to part completely.

“Merry Christmas.” Magnus rubs his hand up-and-down against the small of Alec’s back that sends a fresh surge of flutters in the pit of his stomach.

“I got you something,” Alec blurts out.

“Oh yeah?” Magnus shifts slightly but doesn’t make any move to part himself from Alec. Which is fine by Alec, he can stand here like this for the rest of the holiday season.

Alec uses his free arm to grab the gift bag from the table. Magnus smiles and lifts his left arm, a gift bag dangling from his fingers. “Got you something too.”

They unwind their arms from each other at the same time. All good things must come to an end. They take a seat and open their gifts at the same time. Alec had been nervous his gift wouldn’t be enough for Magnus but he had felt pretty confident when making his decision and so he is happy to see that the smile that spreads on Magnus’ face cannot be mistaken as anything but genuine.

“Alexander, you didn’t,” Magnus gasps. He holds up the cat’s eye stone pendant and examines it closely from all angles. “I’ve seen replicas but none as good as this. This looks exactly like the one from the movie.”

“Well, that’s because it is.”

Magnus gasps again and this time his jaw drops as he looks at Alec wide-eyed. “No.”

“Yes,” Alec says with a chuckle. “I called in a favor and Izzy pulled through. It’s the exact copy worn in the movie.”

“This is too much. I couldn’t possibly accept it.”

“Of course you can.”

Magnus presses the pendant to his chest. “I love it,” he says. “Now I feel like your gift is going to pale in comparison but I guess you can open it.”

Alec laughs. “Oh, stop it.” He opens the small box inside the gift bag. There’s a golden nibbed fountain pen encased in satin, a small inkwell nestled beside it. The case of the pen is a solid black etched with elegant carvings and the cap has A. Lightwood engraved in gold. It feels heavy but comfortable in his grip when he takes it out. “Magnus, this is beautiful.”

“Ragnor told me that you prefer to do your notes by hand, so I figured a good fountain pen would maybe make the task a little more enjoyable. I hope it’s okay?”

Alec catches the way Magnus’ voice rises at the end and he looks up to find him studying Alec’s reaction carefully, still holding the pendant to his chest.

“It’s more than okay.” Alec tucks the pen securely back in its case. “I’ve always wanted a fountain pen but I just never got around to treating myself to one.”

It’s the truth. Alec had humored the idea before, searched online for one, saw the prices and then quickly backed out because what he had seen had definitely been way out of his professor’s budget. He’s too scared to ask Magnus how much this pen had cost him, especially considering he’d had it engraved and the solid feel of it makes him believe it could only be crafted from the finest materials.

Magnus tuts at him but doesn’t reveal anything more that could possibly give away whether or not he’d spent a lot on this particular pen.

“Thank you,” Alec says, remembering that he hadn’t yet thanked Magnus for the gift.

“You’re very welcome, and thank you.” Magnus holds the pendant in his palm and smiles down at it. “I don’t know if any gift will ever top this one.”

“You say that now,” Alec teases with a wink, gesturing for Magnus to sit as he too takes a seat. “But Izzy still has most of the wardrobe worn by the High Warlock.”

“Shut up!” Magnus covers his mouth with his hands and then lowers them to whisper. “Does she really?”

Alec nods. “That’s what she made it sound like when I was spoke to her about this gift.”

“Does she have the red jacket?” Magnus leans forward on his elbows, lips pulled into a soft, awed smile that Alec desperately wants to kiss but he shrugs instead.

“I don’t know. I’ll ask her though.”

Magnus waves his hands. “Oh, no. Don’t pester her with my crazy fanboy questions.”

“Izzy loves what she does so she would gladly answer any and all questions you might have. I’d offer to take you to meet her but she’s in Los Angeles until February. I have a key to her place here in the city which is how I got your pendant.”

Magnus seems to tense at this and Alec worries that the mention of meeting the siblings might be too soon for them, and he really needs to chill out if he doesn’t want to scare Magnus away for good.

“Next time,” Magnus says with a sweet smile. He straightens up and gestures at the cafe counter over his shoulder. “Did you want to get a cup of coffee?”

Alec looks up at the empty counter. There’s only one employee and she smiles nervously at them when Magnus looks over his shoulder at her. He’d almost forgotten they were even in a public place. The cafe is oddly dead for eleven o’clock on a Monday but it is Christmas Eve so Alec figures that must be the reason.

“Uh, yeah, I’ll take a latte.”

“Be right back.” Magnus stands and walks over to the counter. The cashier rushes to meet him at the register, her face is bright red and she’s smiling eagerly at everything Magnus has to say— which doesn’t seem to be anything but their order, but Alec can relate to her all the same. She tries to reject his payment but Magnus insists, laying it on the counter and pushing it towards her. She bows her head at him and Alec purses his lips to keep himself from laughing when Magnus turns with an exasperated look in his eye as he walks back to their table.

“Wow. Someone has quite the effect on young baristas.” Alec wiggles his brows at Magnus which causes Magnus to roll his eyes.

“She means well,” Magnus says with a sigh.

Alec waits for the barista to have her back to them and he bows dramatically when Magnus has a seat. “Your Highness.”

Magnus seems frozen in place when Alec looks up at him.

“I’m joking,” Alec rushes out and Magnus lets out a breathy laugh.

“Can’t say I’ve ever been bowed to when ordering coffee.” Alec cants his head to the side. “Can’t say I’ve ever been bowed to, period.”

“That… was… something.” Magnus shakes his head softly as if trying to shake off the awkward encounter.

Alec can’t imagine how uncomfortable it might be to be bowed to for absolutely no reason but he suspects the barista is probably internally kicking herself over ever bowing in the first place. Seems like something Alec would do in the presence of a cute boy. He’s honestly impressed he hasn’t found himself bowing to Magnus for no reason as well.

“Actually, my siblings and I used to play as kings and queens.”

Magnus raises his eyebrows at this, the look alone prompting Alec to continue.

“Yeah, I was always the king. Jace was my knight. Isabelle insisted on being the queen, of her own kingdom, of course.” Magnus smiles fondly, listening to the story until the barista calls out that their order is ready and he leaves their table to get their drinks.

They spend the next hour talking about Alec’s childhood and how it was growing up the eldest of four. Magnus seems content to let Alec talk, which is not something Alec is used to. He’s the one that’s used to doing the listening, always choosing to let others tell him about their lives instead of it being the other way around. But Magnus always seems to want to sit out the conversations of family and childhood, excluding crazy stories that involve him and Ragnor and apparently getting banned from Peru for a couple of years. A story that Alec is definitely going to ask Ragnor about once they’re back at the office.

Alec follows Magnus out of the cafe, stopping on the empty corner. “Did you want to maybe go for a walk?”

Magnus takes his hand, slotting their fingers together, sending a shock through Alec from the simple touch.

“I promised Ragnor I’d be back soon,” he says, regrettably, bottom lip tucking in between his teeth.

“Oh.” Alec presses their palms together, enjoying the feeling of Magnus’ hand in his before having to let go. “Maybe some other time.”

“Tomorrow?”

“It’s Christmas tomorrow,” Alec says and he feels stupid the moment the reminder leaves his mouth because Magnus shakes his head and rolls his eyes at himself.

“You’re right. Sorry, I shouldn’t assume you’d be free to spend your Christmas—”

“No! No, I’d love to spend my Christmas with you. Or go on a walk with you on my Christmas,” Alec stammers out in a rush. “I just wanted to remind you, in case you’d forgotten and that sounds stupid when I say it out loud because of course you haven’t forgotten the whole reason you’re even in this country right now.”

Magnus draws Alec in against him with a tug on his hand. “You’re cute when you ramble.”

Magnus traces the line of Alec’s jaw with his other hand, his brown eyes flick down to his lips and then back up to his eyes, causing Alec’s heart to hammer in his chest.

“Tomorrow,” Alec says and Magnus exhales; the scent of vanilla on his breath is warm and inviting,

“Meet me at Central Park. The Vanderbilt Gate? Three o’clock?”

“I’ll be there.” He leans down and presses a kiss on Magnus’ cheek. As much as he wants to kiss him, on this street corner doesn’t feel like the right place to do it. Magnus sucks in a breath when Alec’s lips leave their place against him.

“I’ll text you when I get home.” Magnus takes a step back and after a moment’s hesitation, lets go of Alec’s hand. “See you tomorrow, Alexander.”

 

Christmas Day

 

Magnus wonders if the sight of Alec will ever not take his breath away. He doubts the possibility because somehow Magnus has found himself without words yet again while watching Alec walk through the empty conservatory gardens surrounded in the blinding white snow. His dark hair has loose strands poking out from under his beanie and his rose colored cheeks poke out over his scarf. His smile is brighter than everything around them when he laughs. His lips are red, darker and chapped around the edges from the cold which makes him constantly run his tongue over them in an effort to soothe them. He throws his head back, eyes crinkling shut, laughing at something Magnus says and the sound dances in Magnus’ chest, fueling his heart until he’s not sure it can beat any harder than it already is.

Alec runs his thumb up and down Magnus’ forefinger while he talks about his Christmas morning spent with his family. “My stepdad Luke is really big into Christmas. You should see their apartment. It’s this whole production and good luck finding a spot to stand in that doesn’t have mistletoe hanging over you.” Alec laughs softly, a fond smile curving his mouth. “What about you? How have you spent your Christmases?”

Magnus pictures the halls of the palace lined in fresh garland, the tree that touches the ceiling of the palace’s throne room,  the snow covered replica of Edom’s capital on the table in the ‘sitting room’; everywhere you look there is something green or red. Magnus smiles at the memories of growing up there as a child and how magical it all was. “It’s quite the production in my home too. My mother always loved Christmas and even though my father never cared for it, he kept up her traditions after she passed.”

Alec’s hand squeezes gently, pulling Magnus’ attention to him. His hazel eyes hold so much sympathy that the pain of his mother’s passing comes to the forefront and Magnus quickly smiles at him to try and chase the feeling away. “It’s been a long time,” Magnus offers up as an explanation.

Alec tucks himself in closer to Magnus’ side. “How come you’re not celebrating Christmas with your father?”

Magnus lays his head on Alec’s shoulder as they walk. “My father’s health isn’t doing so well.”

“Oh,” Alec says quietly. “Then shouldn’t you be—”

Magnus shakes his head against him. “My father’s position is very demanding, even over the holidays. He’s the one who suggested I visit Ragnor for this Christmas season. I suppose it’s his way of making sure I have one more Christmas to truly enjoy for myself before… ”

“I’m sorry.” Alec places a kiss on the top of Magnus’ head that causes Magnus to close his eyes to enjoy it while he lets Alec guide them through the park.

“It was the best gift he could have given me,” Magnus eventually says. “If he hadn’t, who knows if we would have ever had our blind date.”

Alec stops and turns his body towards Magnus. His fingers are as cold as ice when he touches the tip of Magnus’ chin to lift his head slightly up to meet him. “I’d like to think we would have found our way to each other regardless.”

Magnus smiles and leans in to the warmth of Alec’s breath. He can’t say for certain if things would have worked out as perfectly as they did if he had not come on this visit. But the idea, that perhaps there is a destiny written in the stars for them to meet no matter the circumstances, is something he will gladly entertain. He likes the thought that no matter what, they would eventually find themselves, here - in Central Park - holding hands and falling in love.

And Magnus can’t deny that that’s exactly what is going on in his heart at this very moment. He knows he should be more careful, that it’s ridiculous to even humor the notion of falling in love with someone he’s been dating for a week. And he knows there’s a high possibility that Alec is not making the same rushing mistake as he is but there’s something in Alec’s brown-green gaze that tells Magnus that he’s right there with him—inexplicably and against all better judgement—falling in love.  

For the first time, in a long time, Magnus isn’t scared. He’s excited, so much so he feels as if he’s bursting with it. “I would have made sure of it,” he says instead.

“Ragnor never stood a chance. The two of us attacking him on both fronts. I’m gonna be honest, I may have taken a two week break from my badgering him about you but I was never going to quit. Not until he told me you were married or flat out told me you weren’t interested.”

“Which would have never happened. I assure you.”

“But I will say”—Alec dips his head down, hovering his lips just above Magnus’— “this is the best Christmas present I could have ever received.”

Magnus’ eyes flutter to a close when Alec finally presses their lips together. Magnus parts his mouth, welcoming the heat of Alec’s tongue that slides softly with his. The tip of Alec’s nose is cold against his cheek and his mouth tastes of cinnamon and butter. He can feel Alec’s heart hammering against their chests that are pressed together, and he loses himself to the beat of it and the heady breaths of Alec breathing him in, his hand now framing Magnus’ jaw.

Magnus has kissed and has been kissed but he has never been kissed like this. Like the world and all of time is standing still for them—Alec’s hand glides down his neck—like he’s an altar to be worshipped at. It’s an all consuming feeling of enrapturement that threatens to bring him to his knees right here in the middle of this park.

And all too soon, Alec breaks apart, breaths falling heavily against the wet of Magnus’ lips.

“Magnus,” he mutters, stopping himself short of what Magnus suspects would have come next had he continued.

“I know,” Magnus whispers. Because he does. He knows that a flame between them has sparked in this moment, one that will burn with the passion of a thousand suns, and he is more than ready to let it consume him.

.

Magnus rests back on the chaise, mug of hot chocolate in hand, while Ragnor reads aloud from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s an old tradition they’ve had since childhood and one they haven’t partaken in in many years and it’s nice to lose himself in the deep cadence of Ragnor’s voice.

He smiles to himself when he remembers his kiss in the park with Alec. His fingers brush against his lower lip when he thinks of how Alec tasted like a Christmas morning.

“Magnus, are you even listening?”

Magnus drops his hand and looks at his friend. “Yes, sorry. I was just remembering something from earlier.”

Ragnor closes the book around his finger to hold his place. “You’ve looked as if you’ve been walking in the clouds since you returned from your afternoon stroll with Lightwood.”

“That’s because”—Magnus grins—“I feel as if I’m walking in the clouds.”

Ragnor’s eyes narrow in on him, curious with only the slightest tint of worry lingering there. “Go on.”

“I have experienced my first knee buckling, earth shattering kiss,” Magnus says with a sigh.

Ragnor’s gaze softens and he grins. “Attaboy, Lightwood.”

Magnus laughs at the teasing glimmer in Ragnor’s eyes. “You’re going to take credit for this forever, aren’t you?”

Ragnor shrugs, blasé. “If it weren’t for me…”

“Uh-uh.” Magnus points at him and leans in, trying his best to be intimidating. Not that it would ever work on Ragnor. “You weren't even going to introduce me to him at the office party. I had to practically beg and, even then, it only happened because of that rude co-worker of yours. So, maybe I should be thanking him .”

Ragnor scoffs angrily. “Why I’ve never been more insulted in all my life.”

Magnus shrugs cheekily.

Ragnor’s offense doesn’t last long and he’s quickly sitting forward, elbows on knees, eyes focused on Magnus. “So now what?”

“‘Now what’ what?”

“Are you going to tell him?”

Magnus stills, all his fluttering excitement seeping out of him. Telling Alec would change everything and Magnus doesn’t know if he’s ready for that. “I don’t think I should tell him just yet.”

Ragnor’s brows crinkle in disapproval. “Don’t you think you ought to get that out of the way now? The more you drag this on, the bigger the chance is of him falling in love with you before he’s even able to make a choice so serious.”

“I hate that loving me has to be a life choice someone has to seriously consider. For once, I want someone to fall in love with me and choose me,” Magnus says, an anger in his tone that isn’t completely directed at his friend but more at life itself.

Ragnor shakes his head and sets the book aside, their reading forgotten for now. “That’s not what I’m saying, Magnus. But you owe it to him to let him know what a future with you will entail.”

Magnus knows he’s speaking the truth and he hates it.

“You’re going to be the king of a country, my friend. The press and media follow you around like hawks. Lightwood is a traditional man and he lives a practical, simple life. He deserves to know now because not everyone is cut out for that life.”

Magnus rises to his feet, fists by his side. “And you don’t think he is? Why would you set this all up if you thought for one second that he might be opposed to the idea?!”

“I’m not saying he’ll be opposed. I honestly don’t know how he’ll feel about it all but I saw his face light up whenever he asked about you and he never stopped asking about you so I figured I owed it to you to at least give you this chance.”

Magnus’ anger is clearly misplaced and he takes in a breath to let it calm. “I want to give him the chance to fall in love with me...not with...what I represent.”

“Do you honestly think he is capable of using you like that?” Ragnor scoffs. “Do you think after everything—after Camille and Imasu—that I would set you up for that kind of heartbreak?”

Magnus closes his eyes and shakes his head. Ragnor had been there, nursing his broken heart after Camille and Imasu had chewed it up and spit it back out again. He wouldn’t let Magnus endure that again.

“Now, whether or not he’s cut out to run a monarchy, I can’t say, but I do know that he won’t do to you what the others did,” Ragnor says, soothingly and reassuringly.

“I’ll tell him,” Magnus finally says and he hears Ragnor hum in approval. “But I just want a little more time to make sure this is real.”

“How long do you honestly think you can keep this up? How long before someone finds out?”

“I don’t know,” Magnus rushes out. “Just a few weeks.” He puts his hands on the back of his head and pulls in a deep breath. “I just need a few weeks and then I’ll tell him.”

Ragnor’s shoulders fall but he nods because, the truth is, he doesn’t know the position Magnus is in. He can’t possibly understand what it feels like to only reveal parts of yourself in the hopes that the person you’re falling in love with is actually falling in love with you . He doesn’t know the fear that comes when you sit them down and tell them you’re the heir to a throne. He doesn’t know how it feels to have the person you love pretend to love you more than they do your throne. He can’t possibly know that pain. Magnus hates that he knows that pain so well. He hates that he has to keep this from Alec and not share every part of himself. He only hopes that Alec can understand when the day comes. That he will still look at Magnus with those hazel eyes and see Magnus.


 

 

“I’m sorry, he’s taking you where?”

“Botswana,” Alec says, elongating every syllable to make it clear the third time he’s repeating this information to his sister.

“And you’ve been dating how long?” she asks, not even trying to mask her suspicion.

Alec rolls his eyes and settles in on the subway seat. “We’ve been dating two months.”

“When do I get to meet Mr. Mystery Man?” Her voice is teasing now.

Alec wipes his hand across his eyes. He’s tired from the travel and a long day at work. “Uh–Magnus should be in town at the end of next month; maybe we can get together then?’

Someone sits down quickly beside him and Alec has to move over to give the guy more room.

“What’s his last name again? Jace was asking and I couldn’t remember.”

“Bane. Magnus Bane.” Alec tucks his arm in over his chest as the guy next to him situates himself, still too close for Alec’s comfort.

“But he doesn’t live in the area, right? So how do you two...date?”

“Well, I just got back from Mexico last night–”

“Mexico?!”

Alec chuckles. “Yeah, he got us a secluded beach in Acapulco for the weekend.”

“Aren’t you lucky...and now he’s taking you to—”

“Botswana. Yes. Next week.” Alec wishes Isabelle was capable of having a conversation that wasn’t an interrogation.

“Send me a pic of him. I need to put a face to the handsome name. Or else I’ll never believe my brother actually found himself a guy who whisks him off on romantic getaways,” she says with a chuckle.

“I actually don’t have a picture of him,” Alec lies. He does but Magnus has asked that he not send them or show them to anyone just yet. A matter of security that Alec doesn’t think extends to his sister but he doesn’t want to take the risk of putting it out there, so to speak.

Isabelle hums. “You don’t have a single picture of your boyfriend. That’s odd.”

“Is it?”

“Yeah, Alec. People who date for months usually have pictures of each other. They change their wallpapers to them, add them on social media, you know...normal couple things.”

“Yeah, well Magnus has a pretty important job in government. He doesn’t do social media or things that can leak and potentially ruin the image of what he represents.”

He can hear Isabelle sigh and he’s sure there’s an eye-roll to accompany the sound. “Well you’re his boyfriend, it’s not like you’re going to leak his photos to the press.”

“Well I gave him my word... I’m sure once things settle we’ll have a million pictures to flood your Instagram with.”

“So he’s going to stop working in government for you or is this just your way of pacifying me because you know this all sounds ridiculously unreasonable?”

Alec shifts in his seat to lean forward. He can feel himself getting irritated and as much as he loves that his sister is strong and opinionated, he wishes she weren’t—just this once. “Is it unreasonable to respect his job?”

She groans. “I just want you to have a normal, healthy relationship. That’s all.”

“So just because we don’t post pictures of us making out on social media, it makes us an unhealthy couple?” Alec scoffs. “You know what, Izzy? You’re really one to talk. You live in a world where everything everyone does is scrutinized and you can’t understand Magnus for wanting to be careful with his image?”

“What is so scandalous about your relationship?” She presses on and the frustration in her tone is crystal clear. This is how it always is between them. This back-and-forth, neither one wanting to relent to the other.

“Nothing is scandalous about our relationship. He just can’t have his private life on display, that’s all.” The passenger next to him is still hot against his side and Alec really wishes he would have found somewhere else to sit. “I don’t want to talk about Magnus anymore.”

“Alec, don’t be that way. You can’t be mad at me for expressing concern when I found out that you’re all of a sudden dating some guy who flies you out on expensive trips but refuses to let you reveal who he is, even to your family. I’m sorry but that just seems…”  She sighs. “ I’m just concerned and I want you to be careful.”

“There’s nothing to be concerned about. I promise Magnus is just a regular guy, but I’ll be careful.” He shakes his head even though she can’t see him through the phone and he wishes the subway would leave already. “What’s new with you?”

Isabelle remains silent and just before Alec is about to say something else to break the ice, she speaks, “I met someone.”

The conductor makes an announcement that the train is delayed but will depart in a few minutes.

“Really?” Alec asks once the announcement ends.

“Well, I’d already met him before but we were reintroduced and”— she wistfully hums— “I have a good feeling about him.”

“Who is it?”

“His name is Simon Lewis.”

“Why does that name sound familiar?” Alec can vaguely remember her mentioning that name before.

“He’s a film composer. He was nominated for an Academy Award last year for his work on the film ‘DuMort’.”

Alec nods. Her clue doesn’t actually spark a memory for him but he goes along as if he remembers. “Right.”

“Yeah, we’ve been on a few dates. We’re keeping things under wraps for now. He’s being considered for the film I’m working on and we don’t want to jeopardize his chances because we’re in a relationship.”

Alec wants to laugh at the double standards. He wants to point out her hypocrisy because he honestly can’t believe that she could act the way she was acting moments ago about his relationship with Magnus and then turn around and say this in the next breath. “Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t look so good that he just so happens to be cozying up to Oscar winner Isabelle Lightwood who just so happens to be working on the film he wants to join. People might get the wrong idea.”

“Alec.” Her voice is low and threatening and he can tell he struck a nerve with that comment.

“Next time, before you act so high and mighty about my relationship with Magnus, you’ll take a look in the mirror at your own and see that it’s not so different. We’re both just trying to protect something until the moment is right. My train’s about to leave so I’m going to lose signal. I’ll talk to you later.” He hangs up before she has a chance to respond and shoves his phone in his coat pocket.

The train is silent for the most part while everybody waits for it to move again. There’s school aged children sitting together on one end, holding their backpacks in their laps laughing at something they see on one of their phones. The person in front of him is reading a gossip magazine the words ‘America’s favorite Fresh Prince spotted in Bel Air’ plastered on the front in hot pink letters. It reminds him that Magnus said he would be in California for the next couple of days and that he promised to call him when he was finished with his work.

The train moves and Alec lays his head back against the glass, thankful that he only has to go through three stops today.

The man sitting next to him leans in closer. “I’m sorry to have eavesdropped,” he begins. “But I can’t help but notice that you were on the phone with the Isabelle Lightwood. I’m a huge fan of her work.”

Alec forces his mouth back into a tight lipped smile, the only acknowledgement he wants to give the man but the stranger holds his hand out and his mouth spreads into a grin. “Lorenzo Rey. A pleasure.”

“Alec.” He shakes the man’s hand once and then pulls his hand back in to himself.

“Lightwood, I presume?” the man asks with a jovial laugh that seems so forced and fake that it makes Alec uncomfortable.

“Needless to say,” Alec deadpans.

“Botswana is lovely this time of year,” Lorenzo continues, completely oblivious to the fact that Alec doesn’t want to speak to him. “Your boyfriend is taking you, right?”

Alec isn’t sure he’s controlling the shock on his face as he stares at this man who so blatantly listened in on his conversation and seems to be unashamed about it. “Uh—yeah.”

Lorenzo finally picks up on the cue and he places his hand against his own chest. “My apologies, I really do have the bad habit of listening in on people’s lives.”

The apology is faker than the watch he’s wearing but Alec keeps that to himself. This man obviously enjoys getting in other people’s business and that fact alone makes Alec hate the guy.

“The national parks there are exquisite, and you must go on safari while you’re there. As a matter of fact they have amazing safari resorts, you must have your boyfriend look into the one by the Okavango Delta, they have some of the most beautiful sunsets in that area, if I do say so myself. ”

Alec has to force himself to not roll his eyes when he looks back at Lorenzo and gives him a curt nod. He knows they’re staying at a safari resort and he’s pretty sure Magnus mentioned the Okavango Delta but he’s not going to say any of that to this man.

Lorenzo’s face lights up. “Excellent!”

Alec takes his phone out again, angling his body away from Lorenzo so he can pretend to be doing something important enough to not engage in anymore conversation. His plan works and Lorenzo doesn’t ask anymore questions as the train makes its next two stops.

Alec rises to stand in anticipation of his upcoming stop, and Lorenzo stands up shortly after, wide grin back on his face that is unsettling the more Alec looks at it. “Looks like we have the same stop.”

Alec gives him an acknowledging nod. “Have a good one, Lorenzo.”

He steps through the doors as soon as they open and hurries to the exit. He wants to get home and have enough time to change and settle in for the night before his call with Magnus. His phone chimes in his pocket and he checks it as he exits the subway station and joins the rest of the world on the sidewalks.

Izzy:

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been such a judgy bitch about you and Magnus. Coffee date with me when I’m back in town? I’ll buy.

Alec:

Two months from now? Fine. But I’m getting breakfast too.

Izzy:

Haha! Deal ;)

He tucks the phone back in and stands at the crosswalk waiting for the cars to pass.


 

Magnus rolls his eyes as he listens to Raphael drone on about the importance of his security. He’s been sitting through this lecture for the past ten minutes when Magnus got Raphael’s point loud and clear within the first two.

“When I enlisted I promised to put your safety above all else and I don’t feel comfortable with all these little trips while you have us hang back.” Raphael crosses his arms. “It ends now.”

“Your speech? Thank God because I was about to die of boredom,” Magnus quips because there are few things he loves to do more than tease Raphael.

Raphael’s glare hardens. “Your Highness, I’m serious. If the King knew that we’ve been letting you out of our sight...”

Magnus sighs. “I know. I got it. Okay.”

“You’re agreeing?” Raphael narrows his eyes on him.

“Yes. No more hidden bodyguards,” Magnus says and the relief relaxes Raphael’s shoulders almost instantly. “On one condition,” Magnus throws in and Raphael’s shoulders tighten once again.

“No more titles. Just call me Magnus.”

Raphael’s jaw clenches and Magnus knows he’s biting back a scathing response.

“No ‘Your Royal Highness’ or ‘Your Highness’. Not when Alexander is around, got it?” Magnus leans over to look at Meliorn and Dot who stand behind Raphael. “We clear?”

“Perfectly, Your—Magnus,” Raphael has to force the name through gritted teeth. It goes against everything he was taught on how to treat the members of the royal family but hearing him say it brightens Magnus’ day just a bit more. He hates all the formal titles when it’s just them and they’ve been his guards for years now. They know more about him than even his own father, Magnus talks to them—mainly Raphael—when he’s lonely or needs a friend. In all honesty, he’s come to view Raphael as a friend and he thinks that on some level, Raphael feels the same way, so it is high time that Raphael starts calling him by his name.

“Thank you, Raph.” Magnus smiles at him, hoping it will settle some of the awkwardness he’s sure Raphael feels at this new familiarity. Raphael’s mouth pulls back and he bows before turning to leave.

“No bowing either!” Magnus yells after him and he hears Raphael mutter under his breath when he steps out of the plane.

Cat, his assistant and one of his best friends, slides into the seat across from him chuckling while she taps away on her tablet. “You can’t make their job easy, can you?”

“What? Is working for me hard?”

She looks up from her tablet, left eyebrow quirked and Magnus meets her with his own teasing smile and shrugs. She lets out a laugh and shakes her head as she gets back to whatever she was typing in on her tablet.

Your boyfriend ,” she draws the words out with a smile, “should be here any minute now,” she comments and taps one last time on her screen—sending off probably some important memo having to do with his life. He knows the argument that’s coming before she even opens her mouth but he lets her continue on because he knows she’s right and he needs to hear it even though he doesn’t intend on taking her advice. “It’s been three months. Are you going to tell him?”

“I’ve considered it,” he admits and she raises her brows, shocked. “But I’m not going to. Not yet.”

She scoffs, not in a mean way but in a tired way; she’s just as tired as Magnus is at having to pick up the broken pieces of his heart. “Why are you dragging this out, Magnus?”

Magnus pinches at the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes as he lets out a sigh he can feel deep down in his bones. He takes in a deep breath and looks at his friend who meets him with all the empathy her tender heart can carry. “Because I’m not ready for it to end, Cat.”

“Oh Magnus,” she sighs, her expression falling. “You can’t possibly know how he’s going to respond. He’s not like the others.”

“I know,” he says. Magnus knows he’s not, he knows Alec would have stayed with him—had Magnus told him from the beginning but he didn’t, and now here they are, going into month four of their relationship and the deceit has gone on for much longer than Magnus ever wanted it to.

“Tell him. In Greece, surrounded by the Mediterranean.” She smiles. “How romantic would that be?”

Magnus lets out a single, loud, “Ha!” and shakes his head. “So he can what? Feel trapped because he’s on a trip with me in my plane? No. If I tell him”—he stops himself—“ when I tell him, it needs to be on his turf. Home field advantage and all that.”

“I hope you know what you’re doing, friend,” she says, pushing herself up to stand from her seat.

“I don’t.”

His reply stops her midway from rising and then she drops back down into the seat. “We’ll figure it out. No matter what happens, okay?”

“For better and for worse?” he says. It’s what they’ve said to each other since the day she interviewed with him. Catarina started her career as a royal assistant earlier than most, freshly graduated with a degree in public relations and eager to dive right in. Magnus had insisted on having someone closer to his age for the position. He’d met with countless applicants, the ones chosen for him that were considered optimal for what he needed and to protect his image, but Magnus explained to his father that this assistant was going to be the person he spent the most time with—apart from his guards—and he needed to be the one to choose them. He’d gotten his father to listen to reason and younger applicants were brought in. Cat had been the second one and his search had ended there.

“How long do you plan on staying with this career, Ms. Loss?” he’d asked to which she jokingly responded with, “Til death do us part” which then prompted him to say, “For better and for worse?”

She’d nodded and they’d laughed and she had won him over.  

“Til death do us part,” she replies, her smile warm and settling. Cat cants her ear towards the door. “He’s here,” she says with a wink.

And Magnus can clearly hear Raphael mutter disapprovingly. “I’m afraid it’s protocol, Dr. Lightwood.”

“Oh, okay. Yeah, sure,” he hears Alec stammer out.

Magnus jumps up from his seat and heads towards the plane’s exit. “Alexander! Raphael, let him in.”

Raphael’s eyes harden on Magnus from over Alec’s shoulder as he continues patting down Alec’s waist and down his legs. Magnus rolls his eyes at the exorbitant security measures and sends Alec an apologetic shrug that Alec accepts with a chuckle.

“He’s clear,” Raphael states and steps out of the way so that Alec can finally board the plane properly.

Alec’s face is red and there’s laughter in his eyes as he approaches Magnus. “Mr. Big Shot with your fancy security detail.”

Magnus covers his face with his hand and shakes his head. “I’m sorry about that.”

Alec takes Magnus’ hand away from his face and hooks their fingers together, dipping his head down to greet Magnus with a kiss. “Don’t be. If it keeps you safe, I will gladly succumb to a pat down just to be with you.”

Alec says this so offhandedly and simply that Magnus can’t grasp how it makes his heart hammer in his chest the way it does. But it does and Magnus has come to associate the fluttering chest and the excited twist in his gut as the A lexander Lightwood effect.

Alec takes a seat in the leather chair Catarina had just occupied but seems to have disappeared from.

“It doesn’t freak you out?” Magnus cocks his head at the vehement shake Alec gives him in return.

“Should I be freaked out?” he asks, burying his hips comfortably into the leather seat. For someone so unused to the limelight and the lifestyle of the rich and the famous, Alec takes to it with ease. A natural for it.

“Well, no, but…”

“It was unexpected considering they’ve never been around before but it makes perfect sense. Is this something new for work? How come you’ve never had them before?”

Magnus’ mouth pulls back in a flinch. Dipping his toes in the start of him sharing the truth with Alec.  “I have? I’ve just kinda made them keep their distance but apparently that’s out of the question. Or so Raphael says.”
Alec hitches his thumb over his shoulder in Raphael’s direction in question and Magnus nods. He seems completely unfazed by Magnus admitting to having a security team he’s kept from him over the entire course of their relationship. Magnus doesn’t want this to give him hope that Alec will understand his keeping everything a secret but it kind of does. “He’s right. You shouldn’t compromise your safety just cause I’m around.”

“So you don’t care that we’ll have an entourage everywhere we go?” Magnus asks and he tells himself that he’s not completely terrified of what Alec’s response will be.

Alec taps on his chin and then drops the act. “Do I have to hold Raphael’s hand?”

Raphael snorts out a laugh from his position at the front of the plane, the plane’s small size making it to where everyone can hear everyone’s conversation, and Alec beams at the response he managed to get from the stoic bodyguard.

“Of course not,” Magnus laughs.

“Then I’m okay with you having an entourage everywhere we go. It’s normal for people with your type of job,” Alec says with a casual shrug followed by a wide close-lipped smile. And Magnus cannot comprehend how he’s been so lucky as to find someone like him. And stupid for not telling him sooner because he dreads the day that cavalier curve of his lips will turn to a straight line of apprehension because the life Magnus offers is anything but normal.

“Magnus is exaggerating. They’re only an entourage in public places and events. I assure you they’ll be more lax while on vacation,” Catarina says, carrying a tray of drinks that she sets down on the table between them.

Alec’s eyes widen at the sudden appearance of yet another person he hasn’t met and Magnus hates that this is all going to come crashing down on the sweet man. Alec deserves better than to have a boyfriend who keeps a major part of his life a secret from him. Alec has opened himself up wholly to Magnus, he’s been honest and has shared things that he’s admitted to never telling anyone before. Yet Magnus continues to hold this from him, and all too soon, this dream he’s living in will shatter, and Magnus only has himself to blame for that.

“Alexander, this is Cat. My friend and assistant that I’ve told you about.”

Alec’s face brightens and he extends his hand to her. “Yes! Cat, I’ve heard so much about you. I’m glad we finally get to meet.”

Cat smiles and shakes it firmly. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Dr. Lightwood.”

“Please, just call me Alec. Only my students and apparently Raphael call me Dr. Lightwood.”

“Alec,” Cat repeats. “Let me know if you two need anything at all. I’ll be just back here.”

“Thanks, Cat,” Magnus says sweetly.

Alec watches Cat leave and then widens his eyes on Magnus. “Wow. Things really went from zero to the royal treatment since our last trip.” He laughs and that mixture of fear and guilt pangs in Magnus’ stomach.

Magnus can see the way Raphael stands at attention at this, ready to intervene if needed, and he doesn’t have to look at Cat to sense her held breath and worry. “It’s not all that,” Magnus chuckles out nervously.

Alec’s eyes search over the cabin of the plane, taking in the details, his expression holding a small smile, widened hazel eyes, and a bit of wonder. Magnus wonders if Alec is aware of the way his thumbs continuously rub over the pebbled leather arm rests or how his knee bounces, his heel tapping against the floor excitedly. He’s impressed and excited but in the next breath, he’s looking at Magnus and leaning forward, taking Magnus’ ringed hand in his.

“You know you don’t have to do this, right? I would just as happily visit you at your home. It doesn’t all have to be private trips in remote areas.”

But it does, Magnus thinks, and he brings up his free hand to cup Alec’s cheek in his palm, brushing against the grain of his beard with his thumb. If they want this type of privacy, if they want to keep what they have without ruining it, it has to be like this. “We’ll have plenty of time for boring nights in at our places one day, I’m sure.”

Alec turns his mouth in and whispers a kiss against Magnus’ wrist. “Is this your way of telling me that you’re staying at my place when you visit next month?”

His eyes are a clear green today, matching the green floral button up shirt he’s wearing, and his pupils are blown wide when he looks at Magnus. His gaze is intent and never wavering, making it clear to anyone that his sole focus in that moment is Magnus—something Magnus has never experienced with any lover before. No matter how many times or how many people he’s had bow to him, Magnus has never felt this type of reverence. Like he’s the object of someone’s worship.

“If you’ll have me,” he says and the words come out so soft and hesitant that he thinks for a moment he hasn’t spoken at all. But Alec is quick to soothe his worry when he leans in and kisses Magnus. And Magnus can feel himself, with every kiss, getting pulled deeper and deeper in love with this man. The kiss is slow and gentle, their tongues barely brushing between softly parted lips, and everything Magnus needs in this moment.

Alec finishes off their kiss with a soft peck and a flick of his nose against Magnus’, drawing a giggle out that Magnus didn’t even know he was capable of. He would be embarrassed at the sound but the way it makes Alec smile makes it completely worth it.

“What kind of boyfriend would I be if I said no?” Alec’s voice is doing the low husky thing it does when he’s just been thoroughly kissed, and Magnus’ skin prickles in response the way it always does when he hears it. “Besides, I’ll take any opportunity to have you all to myself. Well”—he stops abruptly—“I guess not all to myself. I gotta make space for Raphael.”

Magnus takes his hand from Alec’s face and softly pushes Alec back, a teasing grimace on his face. “Ugh. You mood killer.”

Alec throws his head back with a laugh. “I’m joking. Yes, you can stay with me. I can’t believe you would even think that I wouldn’t want you to stay with me.”

“A man must not make assumptions, Alexander.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wait. Why am I—” Alec looks around as if suddenly coming to some sort of revelation and then, in the next moment, he’s dropping into the seat beside Magnus, lifting the arm rest out of the way and laying his head on Magnus’ shoulder. “Much better,” he mumbles.

They buckle in, resume their position with Alec’s head on Magnus’ shoulder, hold hands and sit in silence as the plane takes off.

Magnus rests his head atop Alec’s and sighs in content. Alec imitates the sound, and settles in closer to Magnus, unwinding their hands to playfully tickle his fingers against Magnus’ palm. This is exactly how Magnus would want life to be forever, if it were up to him. He wants to capture this moment and this feeling of perfect happiness: the quiet chatters of Raphael, Dot, and Meliorn from the front of the plane; Cat’s gentle breathing as she naps because plane rides make her sleepy; and Alec—his soft humming and restless hands against Magnus’, the citrus smell of his shampoo lingering on his hair. No duty, no status, nothing but Alexander and this love that fills him whenever he’s around.

Magnus buries his nose in Alec’s hair and breathes him in. He presses a kiss there and closes his eyes. “I love you,” he says, the words quiet in the strands of Alec’s hair. He wasn’t planning on doing it like this, or even telling Alec today, but he can’t keep it in anymore. He wants to say it as often as he can. He wants to be able to say it every chance that he gets.

Alec’s fingers stop against his palm. “Did you just…” Alec’s voice is quiet and trails off at the end.

Magnus nods, his lips still resting against the top of Alec’s head. “I did. It’s okay if you—”

“I love you too.” Alec’s statement is firm in its conviction, not a quiet confession but bold and proud. He sits up and turns in his seat to look at Magnus, cradling Magnus’ hands in his. “I love you, Magnus.” His mouth breaks into a smile. “I have been waiting to say that for a while now but I didn’t want to rush you and—”

Magnus cuts him off, throwing himself in Alec’s arms, crashing their lips together, causing them to fall back against the window of the plane. He pretends he doesn’t hear Raphael jump in his seat from the sound, because he doesn’t want to think about any of that. Right now, he’s kissing his boyfriend and he’s in love and his boyfriend is in love with him. And right now, with Alec’s chuckles and lips against his, their words hanging in the air around them, nothing else matters.


 

 

Alec rushes up the subway stairs, checking the time on his watch because he’s running late for the first time in his life, his phone is nothing but a dead weight in his pocket and he’s supposed to be meeting Isabelle in two minutes and he still has five blocks to walk.

He does a quick check down the one-way street for any passing cars and then runs across. He can’t truly bring himself to be regretful for spending most of his morning on a FaceTime call with Magnus because he cherishes the small slices of time they get for each other during what would normally be an average work day. The two students Alec was supposed to meet with had cancelled on him, another thing he can’t bother to be riffed about because it’s what gave him the opening in his schedule to call Magnus before he went to bed. It’s late in Tokyo where Magnus has been the past week, finishing up his work so that he can take a week or two to visit Alec this month, and so their available times to call each other haven’t quite lined up as well as they had hoped.

So, no, Alec doesn’t regret for one second that he drained every ounce of his battery so that he could spend his morning talking to a sleepy, curled up in bed, half-naked Magnus. He just hopes Isabelle will understand why he hasn’t texted her to let her know that he’s running late.

He can see her, sitting with her back to him at a table outside, checking her phone. He picks up the pace, breaking out into a very brisk walk that’s going to leave him a sweaty mess for his afternoon class.

“I’m here! I’m here!” he calls and she turns to glare at him over her shoulder. He winds his way around the fenced in seating area and leans down to kiss her head once he reaches her table. “I’m sorry. My phone died and I had no way of letting you know.”

“I was this close to calling a search party on your ass,” she says, pinching her fingers together, leaving barely any space between them to prove her point. “What had you, Mr. Punctuality, running so late?”

He takes a large sip of the water she’d had waiting for him and then catches his breath. “I was on the phone with Magnus.”

She narrows her eyes on him and Alec throws his hands up. “I know, I know, but he’s in Japan and this is one of the only chances we would have had to talk.” He drops his hands to the table and pouts his lip out. “Forgive me?”

She rolls her eyes and smiles. “I guess so. Do you have any pictures of him now?” She wiggles her brows at him.

“Actually, I do!” Alec reaches for his phone and stops. “And my phone is dead. Right.”

Isabelle slaps his arm. “Are you kidding me?! I could have seen his picture and you just so conveniently have a dead phone!?”

“I’m sorry, I swear I was planning on showing you. I figured I can’t send his pictures but if it’s done in person and just with you… no harm, no foul.”

Isabelle nods. “Mhm. No harm, no foul. Except you couldn’t even remember to keep your phone charged.” She groans and then levels her eyes on him. “So describe him to me.”

Alec rests back in his chair. “What do you want to know?”

“What he looks like, what he’s like, how serious are you two?” She shrugs her hand in his direction. “Go.”

Alec thinks for minute on how he can begin to describe Magnus without sounding like a complete and utter sap. “I guess I’ll go in order. He is, without a doubt, the most stunning man I have ever seen in my life.”

Isabelle’s eyes beam. “Better than Leonardo DiCaprio?”

Alec laughs at Isabelle’s use of his number one celebrity crush. “Yes.”

She gasps. “No way. What color eyes does he have? Does he have a nice smile? Go on, tell me everything.”

“He has black hair, brown eyes, and his smile is—gosh—it’s—” he sighs and he can feel the heat forming in his cheeks.

“Aw,” Isabelle simpers. “That good?”

Alec nods. “He wears this eye make up and it just really makes his eyes stand out and his hair is always styled perfectly but I have to say I love the way it looks in the mornings when it’s all messed up. Makes me feel like I’m sorta on his level but I know I’m not.”

Isabelle is grinning so wide now she tries and fails at hiding it behind her hands. “Oh hush up, you’re a handsome man and I guarantee Magnus gushes about you like this to his friends.”

Alec shrugs. “You’re probably right. He’s nice like that. And I’m not just talking like...normal politeness. He’s genuinely kind. I’ve never met someone with such a big heart. You’re going to love him.”

“Well, if this smile on your face is the effect he’s going to have on you, then I already do.” She puts her hand on top of his and pats it. “He sounds amazing.”

“He’s the one, Iz.”

Isabelle’s hand stills and her smile grows, a soft and careful but proud sign of her happiness for him. “Alec, that’s amazing.”

Alec’s told Magnus he loves him more times than he can count but he’s never quite said the extent of his feelings out loud before this. He didn’t expect to say it to his sister but now that he has, he knows it was the last step he needed before telling Magnus. “I’m so in love with him,” he says.

She holds his hand in hers. “I’m so happy for you.”

“You don’t think I’m being crazy? I mean, we haven’t even been together six months. But I know what I feel and being with Magnus, feels right. I’ve actually never been more sure of anything else in my life.”

She tips her head and smirks. “Sounds like you answered your own question there, but I’ll give you my answer too. No, I don’t think you’re crazy. You’re not one to give your heart away to just anybody and for you to be feeling like this about someone. It’s real. Doesn’t matter if it took you four years or ten days to get there. I can tell just by looking at you that you are hopelessly in love with the guy.”

Alec laughs and runs a hand over his face.

“You’ve got a serious case of heart eyes, brother. You’re basically a living embodiment of that emoji.” She chuckles and crosses her arms on the table. “I can’t wait to meet the man who has turned my oh-so-serious brother into a big ‘ol pile of mush.”

The server arrives at their table, carrying a tray with their food that Isabelle had apparently ordered for them because he had been running late. But they had been to this spot so many times that she knew exactly what to get him. Alec listens while Isabelle talks about the new movie she’s working for, the costumes she’s designing and how it’s predicted to be an Oscar worthy film.

There’s a sound of a camera shutter that makes Alec turn his head. There’s a young photographer aiming his camera at them and Alec looks away, cowering his head down slightly. “I think you have paparazzi fans. Twelve ‘o clock.”

Isabelle’s brows lower, confused and she leans a little to see past Alec. “What the hell?” She rolls her eyes and then musses her hair some. “I wish they wouldn’t pick while we’re eating to take their pictures.”

Alec snorts. “You act as if this is even a thing you have to deal with. No one wants your pictures for real.”

Isabelle glares at him. “Excuse you. I’m an Academy Award winning—”

“Oh, get over yourself,” Alec teases before taking a sip of his drink.

Isabelle laughs loudly. “It’s so weird how the media works. That poor kid probably thinks he has something but no one is going to want to buy those pictures. Maybe I should tell him he’s wasting his time?”

Alec glances over his shoulder and the guy snaps another picture of them, not even trying to hide the fact that he’s doing so, looks at his camera and then leaves. Alec looks back at his sister and shrugs. “He’ll find out the hard way.”

Isabelle hums in agreement and goes back to her food.

“What about your boyfriend? He got the job?” Alec asks before taking a bite of food and not missing the way his sister smiles around the straw she’s sipping through.

“He did and I had nothing to do with it.”

Alec chuckles. “You don’t have to convince me. You got any pictures?”

She takes her phone from the table and flips through her images. “Yes, and I’m going to show you but it isn’t fair that you get to see my boyfriend and I don’t get to see yours.”

Alec rolls his eyes and takes the phone she has offered out to him. The man in the picture has brown hair and glasses, nothing out of the ordinary or what people would expect of his sister but he’s got a nice smile and he’s laughing in the picture and that alone is enough to give Alec a good feeling about him. “He’s cute.”

She glares at him.

“He’s got a hot nerd vibe going for him,” Alec accentuates because she clearly wanted to hear more than ‘he’s cute’ about her boyfriend.

She grins widely now. “He does. I think I’m going to have him meet the family at Christmas.”

“Christmas? You’re really going to make his first family experience one where he’s subjected to Luke’s drunken carol singing?” Alec laughs. “Poor guy.”

Isabelle laughs, covering her mouth full of food. “Luke is just the first trial. If he can’t make it past that then this would never work out.”

Alec stabs his fork into a fry. “Very true.”

“What about Magnus? When is he going to meet the family?” She flicks her brows suggestively.

“I was thinking about asking him to visit for my birthday and then I can use that as an excuse to get the family together. What do you think?”

“I think your birthday would be reason enough to get your family together but sure, I think that’s a good idea,” she says through a mouth full of food. “Have you told Mom about Magnus?”

“Yeah but I haven’t told her how serious it is. I kind of wanted to do that in person and I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to go over there and properly tell her and Luke.”

Isabelle’s brows flick up as she looks down at her plate.

“What’s that face for?”

“Nothing.” She shrugs, cutting into her asparagus. “I just hope Mom doesn’t find out through someone else. She’ll be pissed.”

“Who’s going to tell her, you?”

“No. But you never know, one of her friends might see you while you’re out and about. You know the Blackthorns are nosey and well traveled.”

“I think the odds of that happening are slim to none and not to sound braggy but we usually go to pretty remote places.” He pushes his plate away and smirks at the slack-jawed look of disbelief she gives him. “Don’t worry. I’ve got this handled.”

“Whatever you say, bro.” She rolls her eyes and takes the napkin from her lap and discards it on the table. “What are you doing after this?”

“I’ve got a class this afternoon.”

“Boo, you suck.” Isabelle stands and waits for Alec to join her. She wraps her arms around him and squeezes. “Can we get together this weekend? I’ve missed you and Jace and I need to make up lost time.”

Alec squeezes her back. “Yeah, is Jace going to be in town?”

“Supposedly.” She reaches up and brushes the hair away from Alec’s brow. “I’ll text you later and we’ll make plans.”

“Sounds good. Hey—uh—how soon would you say is too soon to look at rings?”

Isabelle’s jaw drops, her eyes widening comically. “Alec, don’t play around with my feelings, are you serious?”

He chuckles and shrugs. “It’s just a thought.”

“Just a thought?” she asks, not convinced.

“A serious thought that I keep telling myself is crazy.”

She shakes her head. “Not crazy. Romantic. If you feel ready then it’s not too soon.”

“You just want to plan a wedding,” he says.

“I want you to be happy,” she clarifies and there’s not an ounce of insincerity in her gaze.

Isabelle holds him at arm’s length and her red lips tip up in the corners before exposing her teeth in a grin. He’s seen a smile like this on her before, the day he came out to his mom by kissing Isabelle’s ‘prom date’ –who just so happened to be his boyfriend at the time– goodnight when they got dropped off for the night. The revelation had gone over better than he expected, his mother was hurt that they had gone through such a scheme to keep it hidden from her but she’d hugged Alec and told him she loved him. Isabelle had waited for everyone to go to bed before she crept into his room and smiled at him, just like this, and told him how proud she was of him.

Her smile has a way of making Alec feel infinitely better about the choices he makes in life. Like when he is seriously considering proposing to the man he’s fallen in love with and has only been dating for five months. She’s always there by his side, ready and willing to give him support however she can. They disagree on a lot but they love and support each other through it all, and nothing has ever been able to get in the way of that.


 

 

Alec’s phone rings just as he’s sliding through the open door of his class room. It’s Izzy. He answers it, closing the door to the classroom behind him.

“I can’t talk right now, I’m in class.”

“Alec—”

“I’ll call you in an hour, okay?”

“I just—”

He hangs up and immediately opens his text thread with her.

So sorry. My class is waiting on me. I’ll call you as soon as I’m finished.

He puts the phone in his bag and sets it on his desk. The students’ chatter quiets down, there’s whispers, rustling of papers, the scraping of chairs along the floor and then silence. Alec grabs his notes and moves to stand in front of his desk, resting back against it.

“Today we’re going to continue our discussion on—” Alec stops when he sees a student sitting quietly with a hand raised in the air.

“Yes, Heidi?”

The blonde girl gives a nervous glance at the students around her and then her mouth quirks into a smirk. “Did you have a good week, Dr. Lightwood?”

Alec is not sure there will ever come a day in his career that a student will not surprise him. Normally his classes are pretty straight-forward. He enters, there’s quiet, he lectures, they listen, they discuss, and class dismisses. There’s rarely interaction on his personal life but Heidi’s a nice enough girl and so Alec crosses his arms, putting his lecture notes aside. “I did. How about you?”

She smiles wider. “It was okay. Did you do anything fun? Go anywhere special?”

The girl beside her giggles and he sees the blonde girl tell her friend to hush before putting her attention back on Alec.

“I did go on a trip. That’s why the last lecture was cancelled and I had you guys do independent study, which I’m sorry about springing that on you guys like that.”

Heidi giggles now, her cheeks round and pink. “Oh, I wouldn’t be sorry, if I were you. I mean, the Prince. Hell, I don’t know if I would even bother teaching anymore.”

The rest of the class erupts into quiet chuckles, some girls giggle behind their hands and Alec is officially confused. “I’m sorry...I don’t think I follow you, Heidi. The prince?”

She shakes her head, golden curls bouncing. “Oh, Dr. Lightwood, you don’t have to be embarrassed about it. We think it’s pretty cool and honestly, we’re all super jealous.”

“How did you two meet?” a girl, Gretel, asks from beside Heidi.

Alec pushes away from the desk and moves in closer to his students, scratching at his head. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Would you care to explain?”

Heidi moves aside her notebook and retrieves a magazine hidden beneath it. Her smile isn’t quite there anymore when she holds it out to him. “It’s on the cover. We assumed you knew.”

Alec moves forward, takes the magazine from her, and adjusts his glasses. In a fraction of a second, his mind goes from confusion, to shock, back to confusion, and then ultimately settles on panic. There’s no denying what he sees or why his students are suddenly overly interested in his personal life. The magazine she gives him is one of those celebrity gossip magazines, the ones he’s never given a second glance at except when in the checkout aisle at the grocery store, and on the cover —as clear as day—is a picture of Alec.

Heidi releases her hold on the magazine easily and either his students have been stunned silent or he’s in such a state of panic that all sound has been sucked out of the room. He doesn’t know. He just knows that he’s staring at a picture of himself, bag slung over his shoulder, walking home from work. He glances to the strip of pictures on the side and the panic is suddenly a sickness in his stomach, pushing at the back of his throat. There’s pictures of him and Magnus, kissing. A private moment between them and he can’t possibly understand how these photos made it to the cover of a magazine. He doesn’t even have photos like these of the two of them.

malec exposed

 

“Dr. Lightwood?” Heidi’s concerned voice breaks through the silence and he swallows roughly before looking up at her.

“Where did you get this?” His voice is choked and quiet.

She glances at her friend and then back at him. “We picked it up from a stand on the way to class. Are you okay, Dr. Lightwood? You don’t look so good.”

Alec looks at the magazine and his fingers find their way to his hair, rubbing roughly at the hairline.  “I’m—”

“Is your relationship with Prince Asmodeus a secret?”

Prince Asmodeus? He looks back at her. “What?” The question comes out breathless and confused. He realizes how ridiculous he sounds, how oblivious. “What are you talking about?”

Heidi looks ashamed. She slinks back in her chair, the humored smirk she’d just had erased. “I’m sorry,” she mutters.

Alec wipes his hand down his face and takes in a deep breath. He needs to get control of himself, and try to make sense of this all and he can’t do that here. He can’t have a come apart in front of his students.

“Class is dismissed,” he says, doing his best to settle the quaver in his voice. He steps back to his desk, gossip magazine still in hand, and sits back.

The sounds of the class gathering their things floods the room and he really wishes he couldn’t hear their quiet gossip as they make their way out.

Holy shit. Did you see the look on his face? - Do you think he didn’t know? - Do you think they’ll get married? - They’ll probably break up now.

He’s still staring at the magazine cover when he realizes Heidi is standing in front of him, talking to him.

“Anyway, I’m sorry, I didn’t know. You can keep the magazine,” she says, her tone gentle and apologetic.

He nods at her and he wants to tell her he’ll pay her back but he can’t bring himself to care enough about anything. He just wants to find out what is happening. He waits for the class to empty and then flips through the magazine to find the spread on the inside.

 

malec spread

 

The sick feeling in his stomach turns his skin cold the more he reads. Words standing out that he can barely process are associated with him.

Prince. Throne-digging. American Prince. Royal Wedding.

The photos inside are from their trips. They’re close and personal, showing moments between them not meant for the public like this. An invasion of privacy so astounding he’s not even sure where to begin or what his next step should even be.

His mind jumps to Magnus. That should be his next step. He should call Magnus and get the truth from him, have him explain everything  because for some reason, after all their conversations, their nights spent in bed together, their mornings tangled in the sheets, Magnus has kept this from him. Whatever this is because Alec is still having trouble accepting the fact that his boyfriend, the man he’s fallen in love with, is apparently the Crown Prince of Edom.  

He really should call Magnus.

Alec glances down and sees the picture of them kissing. It’s a strange thing, seeing a picture of yourself - eyes closed tightly, kissing the man you’ve fallen madly in love with, all the while not knowing that your picture was being taken to be sold to the highest bidder in the media. Alec who prides himself on keeping his personal life separate from his work life, never involving his students in anything that remotely comes close to his private life. Not because he’s ashamed but because the two are separate and he feels they are meant to be that way. And now, his students have pictures of him making out with his boyfriend, having drinks while on a date, lists of the places he’s visited in amazing detail down to the very rooms they occupied.

Alec moves to collect his things, he takes his phone out of his bag and sees messages from Isabelle.

-Call me back. It’s important.

-Please step away from class and call me!

Alec doesn’t need two guesses to know what it is she was calling to tell him earlier. He clears out of her messages and finds his way to his office. He shuts the door behind him and closes the blinds. He drops into his chair and hangs his head in his hands, trying to collect himself before making this call. He doesn’t want to be angry, and he’s not, he’s shocked - confused - he just doesn’t understand.

He finds Magnus’ name on his recently called log and taps on his name to connect the call. It’s night time for Magnus but he should be awake. He has no idea how to start this conversation or how to even go into it without feeling like he’s been sucker punched.

“Alexander!” Magnus’ voice is cheerful and everything Alec loves but it brings with it a feeling of betrayal that he doesn’t want to feel when it comes to Magnus.

“Hey,” he answers, voice flatter than he intended..

He can hear that Magnus is in the middle of something because the background noise of shuffling paper stops immediately. “What’s wrong?”

Alec should find a way to word this so that it doesn’t sound as accusatory as it feels in his mouth, but he’s past the point of tactful thinking. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” There’s a hesitance, a held breath.

“About you,” Alec clarifies. “I had to find out from a student in class today. Apparently I’m on the cover of some trash magazine, and I’m trying to understand and figure out why you would keep this from me but I can’t and I don’t need to come up with reasons for you, I need the truth.”

“Dammit,” Magnus mutters with a sigh, “ this isn’t how I wanted you to find out. I wanted to be the one to tell you—”

“Then why haven’t you?” Alec bites out, more anger pouring out than he wants. “You’ve had plenty of chances.”

“I know but I wanted the moment to be perfect and the timing never felt right and then the longer I put it off, the more it felt like a lie and I just… I didn’t know how to tell you after that point. I’m sorry.”

“You could have told me when we first met. Our first date? Our first kiss? How about the time we first made love? Would have been nice to know then. Or when you told me you loved me. You don’t think that might be something you could have said then?”

So many chances now that Alec thinks about it. Yet Magnus still chose to keep this from him. Now that betrayal is feeling a bit like anger and he doesn’t want it. He wants to give Magnus the benefit of the doubt that he had a good reason, maybe he wasn’t allowed to say anything. Maybe it had to be kept secret for security purposes, something.

“I know, I could have— I should have—but I was afraid.”

“Afraid of what, Magnus?”

“I was afraid of losing you!” Magnus’ breaths fall heavy in the speaker, he sounds desperate and on the verge of tears. “I didn’t want to lose you,” he confesses quietly.

The honesty of it hurts. It hurts that Magnus would think that Alec would dismiss him just because of his name and his bloodline. But what hurts the most is that Magnus didn’t trust Alec with this. After everything Alec has shared with him, he couldn’t find it in him to trust that Alec would still love him no matter what. “So you thought the best way to keep me would be to lie to me?”

“Not lie. I was going to tell you but I wanted to wait. I wanted to know that this was real.”

“So you let me fall in love with you? That’s what you were waiting on? You didn’t care that I might want to know all of the person that I’m falling in love with?”

“Would you still have given me a shot if you knew who I was before this all began? Would you have honestly been okay with me telling you I was a Prince?”

“Yes, Magnus, I would have because I’m interested in you!’ Alec sighs. “I don’t give a fuck about your title.”

“Alexan—”

“You kept this from me. You’re my boyfriend and we’re supposed to be in this together but you left me out. And now my face is plastered all over a gossip magazine and my privacy has been completely invaded.” Alec buries his fingers under his glasses to rub at his eyes to push back the headache he can feel beginning there. ‘I was blindsided in class today by my students. I had no idea what they were talking about and then they showed me photos of you and me kissing on the terrace in Botswana. You could have prepared me for that and you didn’t.”

A silence lingers and Alec can faintly make out the sound of Magnus’ breathing. He wants Magnus to say something but at the same time, he’s not sure there’s anything Magnus can say to fix this right now.

“Alexander, please let me explain,” Magnus says, his voice fractured and pleading. “ I’ll fly out there tonight. Just let me talk to you in person, not on the phone, not like this.”

“No.” The response is so sudden, Alec didn’t even expect it himself. But he knows it’s right, it’s what he needs. “I need some time and I have classes to give. I can’t keep putting my life on hold, it’s going to make my students’ studies suffer.” He sighs, heavy and tired. “You should have told me.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” Magnus sniffles. “What does this mean for us? Does it mean we’re...”

Alec rubs at his eyes and keeps his fingers pinched on the bridge of his nose. He’s glad Magnus doesn’t finish his sentence. He loves Magnus so much and the very idea that they could be through is too painful and absolutely not something he even wants to put out there between them. He shakes his head. “I—just need some time to think. A break, okay?”

He can hear the soft sounds of Magnus crying. It’s muffled and hidden and he can imagine Magnus sitting there with his mouth buried in his hands to drown out the sound. It’s almost enough to break his resolve, to say fuck it and pretend it never happened. But it did happen and the magazine with his face on it stares up at him and he knows that he really needs to take this time. It’s the right thing to do. He can’t continue with anything without thinking it through.

“Okay,” Magnus finally says, voice small and defeated.

“Okay.” Alec presses the phone close to his face, drinking in the sounds of Magnus’ presence on the other line. He holds onto it a little longer, memorizes the hitching sound when Magnus breathes in deeply, not sure if things will ever be the same again.

“I love you, Alexander,” Magnus whispers and the words clench around Alec’s heart.

He feels deceived and like he’s been made a fool of, but the way his heart is shattering in his chest right now, he knows he’s still hopelessly in love with the man on the other line. He doesn’t want to do this but he needs to. “I love you too. Bye, Magnus.”

Alec drops his head in his hand and combs his fingers back into his hair, tears stinging at his eyes. He breathes in and out, counting his breaths until he’s calm enough to not cry. He picks up his phone again and dials Isabelle, which she unsurprisingly answers on the first ring. He needs to talk through this as much as he can. If not, he will spiral into a pit of overthinking.

“Alec, thank God you called me back.”

“I saw,” he mutters.

“What the hell, Alec? You didn’t tell me you were dating Prince Asmodeus.” She doesn’t sound angry or upset in any way, just shocked.

He takes in a breath and steadies himself. “Well, I would have told you. Had I known.”

The line stills, he can hear the faint sound of a television running in the background.

“You didn’t know?” she asks.

He lets out a mocking chuckle, nothing else he can do at this point. “I didn’t know.”

“I guess this solves the whole no pictures and privacy thing.” He can tell she’s trying to keep things light. “What are you going to do? Have you spoken with him?”

“Yeah, I just got off the phone with him.” She sucks in a breath as if this confirmation from Alec was more evidence than the fucking photo album that was posted for the world to see.

“Did he offer any explanation as to why he kept this from you?”

“He wants to see me, says he should explain it in person, but it ultimately boils down to fear. He was afraid of how I might react.”

She hums and clicks her tongue. He can tell she’s trying to see this from all points of view. Something she has always been good at, playing Devil’s advocate.  

“Anyway, I told him not to come.”

“What?” She gasps. This time she does sound surprised and confused.

“I told him I need a break.”

She gasps again. “What?!”

“I don’t know what else to do, Iz! I don’t know how to process this. I don’t… It’s all happening so fast.”

“So you break up with him?”

“I didn’t break up with him. I just need time to think.”

“Something you should have done before calling Magnus,” she quips and then sighs. “Okay, we can figure this out. You’re not alone. Jace and I will help you through this.”

“Look, I’m going to cancel my office hours for the day. I don’t think my students are even going to be in the right mindset, not when their professor’s private life is there for them to read.” He opens his emails on the computer and starts working on cancelling his other two lectures for the week. “I’ll call you later.”

“Okay.” She sighs and then her voice is back to being the strong, resolved Isabelle who has the answers to everything. Which is, honestly, exactly what he needs right now. “ Go home, take the day, and just be. Don’t try to solve everything right now, okay?”

He nods. “Okay.”

“I love you,” she says, dragging out the word love and he can tell she’s giving him a smile from over the phone.

“I love you too.”

He finishes sending his emails, doing his best to assign some work from home so that they are still learning something in his absence. The work distraction is helping but he knows it would be futile to try and actually meet with students today. He needs to go home and grade papers or something. Or think, like he told Magnus he would. There’s a knock on his door and he calls out to let whoever it is know they can pass and then Ragnor is there, sliding in and closing the door behind him. His face is twisted in concern, the same way his hands twist together as he approaches Alec’s desk.

Alec grits his teeth at the sight of his colleague, his friend, who could have prevented this all in the first place by just being honest with him.

“You should have told me,” Alec says and Ragnor nods. He knows and he has the decency to look sorry for his actions.

“Magnus has been my friend since childhood. He deserves to have someone fall in love with him.”

Alec nods, crossing his arms in front of him, leaning back in his chair. “Yeah, he does, and I did. Doesn’t negate the fact that I should have been told.”

“You’re right.” Ragnor sighs. “What are you going to do?”

Alec shrugs. “What am I supposed to do? Was there a step B to this plan of yours?”

“There was no plan.” Ragnor straightens, hands in his pockets. “But it seems like you have a choice to make now.”

“Right. I can break up with the man I love or what? Become the—what did they call it?”—Alec flips open the magazine to the folded page—“the American Prince. How very Disney of me.”

“Have you at least spoken with Magnus?”

“Yeah.” Alec stuffs the magazine in his bag. “I told him I need time to think.”

Ragnor’s shoulders fall in disappointment.

“What else am I supposed to do, Ragnor?” He stands and throws his bag over his shoulder. He really needs to get out of here and be alone. “I just found out my boyfriend is the Prince of his own country. And I found out through the tabloids. I think asking for a little time to think about my future is understandable in this situation.”

Ragnor crosses his arms. “How did you see your future before all of this?”

He looks protective and Alec can see that he’s here on Magnus’ behalf, because he wants to protect Magnus from Alec hurting him. As if Alec is the one who got them in this situation.

“I saw a future with him. And now… I just need to think. Is that asking for too much?”

Ragnor sighs and there’s understanding in his eyes when he looks up at Alec again. “I hope you’ll make the right choice, mate.”

Alec shakes his head and pushes past him. “I don’t even know what that is right now.”


 

The news about his relationship with Alec has spread faster than a wildfire. It’s everywhere Magnus looks, every time he turns on the TV he hears his name, the internet is flooded with articles and tweets. A hashtag, #AmericanPrince, the nickname they’ve seemed to have given Alec is trending worldwide, closely followed by #RoyalWedding . Americans and their obsession with royal families feasting on the news like hungry piranhas, because they don’t have a royal family of their own and here Alec is, unwillingly giving them exactly what they want. His face is everywhere, pictures of him being sold to the media like hot cakes. It makes Magnus sick to think about how uncomfortable Alec must be at this very moment. He wants nothing more than to pick up the phone and find out but Alec asked for time—a break—and after everything, Magnus can give him at least that. He owes it to him.

Cat sits, knees curled under her, on the sofa in his sitting room. She has magazines fanned out around her. She’s been on the phone since day break, sending emails and making phone calls, trying to get a hold on this before it gets even more out of hand. Her voice is brusque and cold with every call she makes. She’s being given the runaround. No one wants to have this goldmine taken away from them so they’re dodging her like a fox does a hound.

“This is a clear invasion of his privacy and you know it!” she barks out. Her nostrils flare as she listens to whatever it is the person on the other line is saying. “No, I’m not his lawyer.”

She scoffs and drops the phone on the stack of magazines in front of her. “These vultures are not going to give this up. Alec is going to have to get himself his own lawyer because they’re stopping me at every turn, Magnus,” she sighs. “I’m sorry I can’t do more.”

Magnus shushes her and goes around behind her to massage at her tense shoulders. She drops her head back and groans as he kneads into the muscles. “You’ve done all you could. Don’t apologize. This is my mistake...if I had just told him sooner, then we could have revealed this on our own terms.”

“Hey.” She knocks her head against his forearm and peers up at him. “It’s not going to do us or Alec any good to sit here and point fingers. We have a situation and now we will just...deal with it as best as we can.”

Magnus chuckles at her sudden ease with the whole thing. “I don’t pay you enough, my dear.”

“Nope,” she says, before jumping up from her seat. She does a few yoga sequences where she stands and turns to him when she’s done.

He shrugs. “What am I supposed to do if he doesn’t call me back?”

She hardens her eyes on him. “He’s going to call you back.”

“Okay. But what if he doesn’t?”

“Then I will fly to America and drag him here so he can reject you in person.” She rolls her eyes.

“Ouch. That’s harsh.” Magnus winces.

She chuckles and then takes up her tablet. “I don’t know him as well as you do but something tells me that he’s not the type to ghost on someone. Especially not someone he’s said ‘I love you’ to.”

Magnus closes his eyes at the thought of Alec telling him he loves him. How his heart sings whenever he hears the words. How his heart broke the last time he heard them. He can feel the heat from Cat’s hand before it touches his cheek and he keeps his eyes closed because he can feel the tears beginning to burn at the edges and he doesn’t have it in him to cry in front of her right now.

“Alec fell in love with you , Magnus. Not your crown, not your money, he will call you. Give him this time.”

Magnus nods and then he hears Raphael clear his throat from behind him. “If I may, Your Highness—Magnus.”

Magnus turns to look at his bodyguard who has taken a few steps away from his watch at the door to give Magnus a kind smile. “I know you don’t like to hear this but to become involved with someone from the royal family is a lot to consider. To find out you’ve fallen in love with the future king… I can imagine what possibilities that’s put in his mind. The questions he might have of where that will lead and what will be expected of him. The fact that he’s taking the time to think speaks for itself. If he didn’t want anything to do with you, he could have told you that from the beginning. He’s a smart man, he’ll come around.”

Magnus stares, stunned. It makes perfect sense. It’s completely reasonable to follow this line of thinking. He’d let himself get so swept up in the idea of having a traditional relationship, a normal one where choices like these don’t have to be made that he forgot to think about all the circumstances surrounding their relationship, and appreciate the importance Alec’s actions show.

“That is quite possibly the most I’ve ever heard you say at one time, Raph.” Magnus gives his friend a smile. “And you should honestly do it more because… you’re absolutely right. Thank you.”

Raphael tips his chin down in acknowledgement and then takes two steps back to the door. Catarina is smiling down at her tablet, probably pleased to have had Raphael chime in with his solid reasoning. Magnus drops onto the sofa and picks up the magazine with Alec on the cover.

“I hate to say this at a time like this but, damn, he was made for the cover.”

“Magnus,” Catarina chastises, shooting him a pointed glare that she can’t hold for long before she’s smirking in response. “He does look like a cover model. And it seems you have competition with the students. ‘I always had the hots for Dr. Lightwood ’,” she quotes from the magazine cover that she’s read more times than Magnus. She has not stopped, since the moment the news broke, looking for any and every mention of Alec in the media so that she can do her best to diffuse whatever is thrown at them. And luckily, so far, the press has only had good things to say about Alec. Although Magnus knows all too well how quickly those tides can turn.

He flips to the page of a student interview and he can’t help but smile. He’s not in the least bit surprised that Alec’s students have nothing but amazing things to say about their professor. He’s read the magazine cover to cover alongside Cat, for every mention of Alec, and the student interviews were probably his favorite part. There are plenty of ridiculous quotes of students complimenting Alec’s looks, of course, swooning over him and who can blame them? But peppered throughout are compliments on his teaching, students mentioning how much they enjoy his courses and how he’s given them a passion for the subject. Magnus hopes that in light of everything, Alec can maybe see the good he’s done in these students’ lives. Perhaps even find some humor in the outlandish things these magazines have to say. Although a large part of Magnus’ brain is telling him that Alec is absolutely not finding this funny. Not in the least bit. And, oh, how he misses that grumpy pout of his and what wouldn’t he give to see it right now and to assure him that this will pass soon and to not give up on them.

He sighs and clutches the magazine to his chest. “I miss him. It’s only been a week and I miss him so much.”

Catarina purses her lips into a pitying smile. “I know.”

“I just hope he knows how sorry I am. I tried telling him but I don’t know how much he was actually listening to me.”

She reaches over and softly puts her hand on his knee. There’s not much more she can say, Magnus knows. He’s aware of how much he’s completely screwed this up and that it’s all up to Alec at this point, and that there’s not much he can do but wait. Wait and hope that Alec is willing to give Magnus one more shot.

 

alec

alec2

 

“This is fucking fantastic,” Alec spits out, throwing the newest issue with his face on the cover down onto the coffee table.

Isabelle quickly scoops it up and shrugs. “There are worse things than being a heartthrob.”

He shoots her a glare. “This isn’t funny, Iz.”

“I know! I’m just saying…” She flips through the magazine and lets out a quiet giggle.

“What?” He crosses his arms and waits for her to compose herself.

“These student interviews. Did you even read them?”

Alec shakes his head.

“Who knew you’re the hot professor all the students have a crush on?” She wiggles her brows at him and continues to read. “ ‘My friend took his intro to Forensic Anthropology course. My major is completely unrelated but let’s just say I was enrolled the following semester and then I failed. Worth it’.

Isabelle laughs again and Alec rolls his eyes. “I’m glad you’re having fun with this.”

“Aw, this one’s sweet,” she continues on, blatantly ignoring him. “ ‘Dr. Lightwood is an amazing teacher. His course and his career inspired me to pursue forensic anthropology. I hope he’ll agree to be my advisor. I heard he’s amazing.’ ” She puts her hand on her heart and coos.

This particular quote manages to pull  a smile out of him. He admits he didn’t make it that far in the article once he got to the ridiculous quotes they had gathered from the students but this one makes his pride swell a little. Inspiring a student to pursue his field is part of the reason why he chose to teach. He loves his career and his field of study, his teaching and his work is what he wants his students to know him for, not his looks. At least one student out of who knows how many they interviewed, got this right. His slight moment of pride is thoroughly ruined the minute Isabelle starts reading again, this time in an overly dramatic swooning voice.

‘Don’t let his good looks lure you into taking his class. It’s a hard course to take. Both because he’s a pretty intense professor and because he’s so attractive you forget to pay attention and end up daydreaming instead. Unless you’re interested in the field, of course, then there’s no better professor you could ask for.’ Complimenting your beauty and your brains.”  Isabelle chuckles and then continues on, “ ‘Dr. Lightwood’s eyes are so intense. It’s like he’s looking into your soul whenever he makes eye contact with you. He asked me to turn off the lights once and I think I got lost in his eyes. Truly - a religious experience’. ” Isabelle barely gets the words out before she’s barking out a laugh so loud that Alec steps away, groaning as he goes.

“They’re just saying this shit so they can be featured in a magazine,” he grumbles. He hopes he’s right about that. The last thing he wants to worry about when teaching is whether or not he’s somehow staring into a student’s soul when he asks them a simple question. He’ll just avoid eye contact from here on out. Problem solved.

‘I have always been jealous of Prince Asmodeus, but never did I think I would be jealous because he gets to date my Anthro professor and I don’t.’ ” Isabelle wipes her eyes, tears spilling from her fits of laughter. “Oh my God, this next one. Listen”—she clears her throat—“When asked about her professor’s newly revealed relationship status, this one broken hearted student didn’t have much more to say, ‘ No comment. I’m still mourning the fact that the love of my life, Dr. Lightwood, is gay.’

Isabelle’s laughs sound more like heaving, raspy breaths. “These are so good, I can’t stop.”

Alec walks the length of the room to get a beer out of the refrigerator. The sharp cold taste feels good in light of this embarrassing show his sister is putting him through and seems to have no intention of stopping any time soon. She rises to her knees and leans forward against the back of the couch to face him where he stands in his open kitchen at the island that separates the two rooms.

‘Just putting this out there: Dr. Lightwood, if it doesn’t work out with the Prince. You know where to find me. Seth, Lecture Hall F’.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Can they not put their information out there in a national magazine? That’s really just...not safe.” He shakes his head and takes a swig of his beer.

Isabelle chuckles quietly to herself, ignoring him and continues reading. “Oh, brother, these are golden. I hope you keep this article forever.”

“I’m sure if I don’t, you will.”

She grins at him. “I’ll have it framed, don’t you worry.”

“Of course you will,” he mumbles under his breath.

The front door opens and Jace comes sweeping in, luggage in tow that he lets fall in the entryway. He prowls up to Alec, giving him a ridiculous wolfish grin. “I never thought I’d see the day my brother becomes an international heart throb. The press loves you, man.”

“What a joy,” Alec deadpans. Jace blatantly ignores his tone because he’s laughing and crushing Alec in a hug that Alec wants to hate but finds himself easing into it nonetheless because he’s missed his loud and obnoxious brother.

“So, Izzy tells me you’ve been boning a prince and had no idea.”

Alec grits his teeth. “I’ve been in a relationship with a Prince and had no idea,” he clarifies.

“Jace, don’t be so crass,” Isabelle complains from her spot on the couch. She gives Jace an acknowledging pat on the shoulder when he leans down to kiss her forehead. The two of them see each other more often given that they both spend most of their time in L.A. so for them this isn’t as special of a reunion as it is for Alec.

Jace helps himself to a beer from Alec’s fridge and cracks it open, drains half the bottle and then hisses with a smile. “It feels good to be home. What’s the plan? What are you going to do about all this? Does Mom know yet?”

Alec sighs. “I don’t know, I don’t know, and I really hope not.”

Isabelle lowers the magazine to look at Jace. “Alec is taking his time to think about everything.”

Jace nods thoughtfully with a hum. “What’s there to think about?” he asks, taking another sip of his beer, genuine curiosity looking back at Alec in the form of blue-brown eyes.

Everything ?” Alec says, stressing the word as much as possible. “My boyfriend lied to me for almost six months. I had no idea that the man I fell in love with is the future King of Edom. I wanted to propose to him—”

Jace chokes on his beer and coughs, pounding on his chest with his fist. “You were going to propose?!”

Isabelle smiles softly and rests her chin on the back of the couch. “Romantic, isn’t it?”

“Can a non-royal person propose to a royal person? Is that a thing that’s allowed now?” Jace looks at Alec and Alec shrugs.

“How the fuck should I know? I was dating a Prince — a pretty popular Prince for that matter— and had no idea. So I think I’m the last person you should ask when it comes to any of that royal stuff.”

Jace cringes and then laughs. “Yeah, you’re an idiot, let’s not ask you.”

Alec wants to be annoyed but he can’t, instead he finds himself laughing and complaining loudly. “God. I am a real idiot, aren’t I?

“A dumbass,” Jace interjects.

Alec shakes his head. “A fucking fool.”

“Such a dipshit,” Jace says with a snort and Isabelle laughs.

Alec runs his hand back through his hair and sighs. “Who the hell dates a prince and has no idea?”

Isabelle chuckles. “I’m not surprised in the least that you are this person.”

“How did you two even meet? You like...never leave campus or your apartment.” Jace finishes off his beer and tosses it in the trash can.

“Blind date,” Alec says. “My coworker is apparently his childhood friend. I first met him at a Christmas party, not this past Christmas but the last, for like five minutes and then Izzy here interrupted with her drunken Christmas tree dilemma.”

“Ah yes, the Christmas tree fiasco,” Jace says with a laugh.

“Oops,” Isabelle says, smiling innocently with a sweet shrug.

“A year later, he sets us up on a blind date, and now… here we are.”

“Romantic, right?” Isabelle interrupts with a wistful sigh.

“Pretty fucking romantic.” Jace grins.

Alec wants to agree with them. He does agree with them. Everything about his and Magnus’ relationship since that first meeting to their first date and up until a week ago have felt like a fairytale. He figures in some twisted, soap opera kind of  way, it still kind of does.

“So what are you doing? You’re in love with the guy, you wanted to marry him, why are you sitting here moping in your kitchen?”

Isabelle shoots Jace a warning glare. The one she’s had to use on him since childhood, and just like in childhood, doesn’t even faze him.

“There are seriously worst things than finding out your boyfriend is a prince,” Jace continues on matter-of-factly and Alec can’t believe that he actually agrees with him. Except it isn’t the fact that Magnus is a prince, that’s not a problem for Alec, not really. The problem is in the lie or rather, the omission of truth.

“Yeah well, prince or not, it was totally uncool of Magnus to keep the truth from you,” Isabelle cuts in quickly in Alec’s defence. She stands up and crosses over to Alec and raises her arm to try and put an elbow on his shoulder as she leans on him.

Jace puts both hands up in a shrug. “Oh, I agree. That wasn’t cool at all… ”

“But?” Alec knows there’s something more Jace wants to say.

“But I think you should only let this wallowing last maybe another week—tops— and then you should get your boyfriend back.”

Isabelle nods. “Yeah, you really don’t need to let this drag out longer than necessary.”

Alec drinks from his beer, thinking, and then shakes his head. “I don’t know how to face him. I feel like everything is going to be different.”

“It is,” Jace says and then throws in a face that screams duh and makes Alec want to knock him out. “He’s a prince and now he won’t have to hide it from you.”

“He never had to hide it from me. That’s the point. He didn’t trust me. I would have been fine with it from the very beginning.”

“He didn’t know that. He was protecting himself. I can actually see his side of things,” Jace argues, always the neutral tide when it comes to any situation that isn’t his own.

“I guess,” Alec mumbles. “But it doesn’t change the fact that because he didn’t tell me, my life has become this”—he swirls his hand in Isabelle’s direction where she’s still holding the tabloid magazine—“media shitstorm.” He sighs tiredly and rubs at his eyes. “Now my students are involved, my job, Clary—”

“Clary?” Jace stands at attention. “How’s she involved?”

Alec always forgets about Jace’s little crush on his colleague, and he’s surprised that he’s let it go on this long without making some sort of move. “There’s pictures of her in the magazine too. She texted me earlier a bit freaked out about it all but of course, ever the romantic, she quickly jumped down my throat over not telling her about Magnus in the first place and then forgot all about the pictures of herself.”

Isabelle hands Jace the magazine and he looks at the pictures of Clary, his mouth turning up into a dopey grin. It’s sickeningly sweet enough to convince Alec to finally introduce them once this has all blown over. If it ever blows over. He’s not sure how this works or how long he will be able to hold the press’ attention, but he really hopes it won’t be for long.

He’s not sure why he’s even taking so long to call Magnus back. He loves him, he wants to be with him and there’s nothing else to think about in that regard, but then… there’s the annoying reminder that the world Magnus lives in is not like his. Alec isn’t sure he has what it takes to live up to that sort of status and regality. He doesn’t even know if Magnus is allowed to choose someone like him. He keeps asking himself, how long did Magnus intend for this to last? Is Alec a forever for him or is he an ‘until I have to get married to someone in higher standing’ placeholder?

If Alec is being honest, and he won’t be - not yet and out loud at least - that’s what scares him the most. He’s scared of what he means to Magnus. He’s scared of jumping in head first only to find that Magnus never meant for things to go quite so far. Magnus has a country to rule, and Alec is… Alec is just Alec. He’s not some royal blue blood with titles and land who can offer Magnus anything more than his 401K, the money in his pocket, and student loan debt. That’s all Alec has to offer and it’s not very impressive, even he can admit that. At the end of the day, after the buzz and love induced haze have cleared away, he’s afraid he won’t be enough for someone like Magnus.



Alec3

 

“And now the press hates me.” Alec throws the magazine away from him, which Isabelle quickly picks up to look at disdainfully. Two weeks later, a sweaty picture of him on another cover, and a nice dose of defamation; Alec sits in his living room with Isabelle and seriously considers crawling into his bedroom and hiding there until the entire world forgets he exists. “And for the record, I only waved at that person because they called me ‘Dr. Lightwood’ and I thought it was a former student of mine!”

“Where do they get off on accusing us of a sibling rivalry?” Isabelle sneers, her face is twisted in anger as she flips through the magazine and its latest gossip this journalist pulled out of his ass. “I love how they don’t even realize that you’re the one who went with me to the Oscars last year and not once did you even step into a photo or try to take the spotlight. People actually thought you were my security guard most of the night.”

“Oh, they probably know. It will probably be on the front page next week with the words ‘Coattail riding Alec Lightwood was at the Oscars last year, already trying to steal his sister’s thunder’ slapped across my forehead.”

“That’s too long of a title for a magazine cover but A for effort.” Isabelle chuckles and then points at the pictures of the two of them on the cover. “I love how the little worms went on my Instagram for these pics of us.”

She rolls her eyes but doesn’t stop reading over the magazine, flipping to the articles on the inside that spread more of their rumors.

‘Rumors have it that Alec Lightwood and Prince Asmodeus have not been in contact for the past few weeks. An insider source states that Alec has rejected a proposal from the Prince. We’ve reached out for confirmation from Prince Asmodeus’ assistant and have not heard back. Maybe Dr. Lightwood never cared about anything but the popularity. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.’ God, they are so full of shit!” Isabelle huffs and then slams the magazine down. “Who’s this ‘insider’?”

“They have to be making shit up for the drama.” Alec slumps back on the sofa and rakes his hands over his face, rubbing at his temple. “What if Magnus reads this?”

Isabelle frowns. “They reached out to his assistant. I’m sure he already has.”

“He probably fucking hates me now.” Alec sighs. “I hate me for dragging this out so long.”

Isabelle shakes her head and moves over to sit beside him. “You’re taking a couple of weeks before making an incredibly big decision. You let Magnus know that too. I’m sure he doesn’t hate you. He probably wishes you would hurry up though,” she says the last bit with a teasing smirk and pokes Alec in the ribs. “Besides, Magnus is...pretty popular. The press is obsessed with him, he knows how they twist shit and make shit up. I promise, you’re putting more thought into these articles than he is.”

“Yeah…maybe.”

Isabelle wraps an arm around his shoulder. “What’s holding you up though? Are you having second thoughts about Magnus?”

What ?” Alec shakes his head.

“It’s okay if you are. If your heart’s changed, you don’t have to stay with him. You don’t owe anyone anything, Alec.”

“That’s not it. My heart… and what I want hasn’t changed. Not even close.” Alec leans forward and rubs his thumb into his palm, trying to push out the tension he can feel building up throughout his entire body that even his hands ache. “It’s killing me. Not talking to him, you know?”

She nods and rubs against his shoulder with her hand.

“I want to call him and tell him I’m still in love with him and that I don’t care that he’s a prince because to me, he’s still just Magnus, the same beautiful loser I fell in love with and who’s obsessed with Downworld.”

Isabelle giggles.

Alec smiles at the memory of Magnus watching that movie one night while they were in Mexico, and again when it came on while they were in Greece. “I want to hold him and kiss him again. But…”

Isabelle quiets and waits for him.

“I’m afraid I won’t be enough,” he admits. “I don’t know anything about the world Magnus lives in and I’m just… me. And when he sees that, he’s going to see that just Alec isn’t enough. I’m scared that when he sees me mixed in his world that he’s going to realize he’s made a mistake and that I can’t give him what he needs. I can’t talk to important people like kings and queens, I don’t know the first thing about being in a monarchy. I’ve never even been to his country.  I can’t”—Alec sighs—“I can’t give him an heir. I’m not cut out for royalty, Izzy.”

There. He’s said it—what’s been holding him back these past few weeks—and he doesn’t feel any better. The fear is still there, the uncertainty is still eating away at his stomach. But now he’s shared it with his sister, who he hopes will help carry the weight with him.

“That’s why I haven’t called him. I’m not ready to lose him,” he says and the words are so small and afraid to even be spoken into existence that they come out as whisper.

Isabelle lets out a small breath. “Well, by not speaking to him, you’re going to lose him for sure, Alec.”

“I know. I feel like no matter what, I’m going to lose him.”

She frowns at that. “I don’t think that’s true. Magnus’ whole life has been royalty. I don’t think he would have stayed with you for as long as he did if he thought there was truly no chance for a future with you.”

“Six months and he didn’t tell me the truth. For all I know, he never planned on it. I could have just been something fun to pass the time until real life came calling. Which is about to be any day now by the way.  I Googled him…”

His sister’s brows raise at this and she sits up at attention.

“I stayed up all night reading everything I could find and there’s - so - much. You know, his coronation is happening in two months. He’s going to be the King of Edom.”

Her eyes widen even more. “That’s…”

“Crazy? Completely out of my league? Yeah, I know.”

“I was going to say amazing but I guess...crazy kind of sums up everything right now.” She hugs him close. “But you have to stop overthinking things. You’re just going to drive yourself crazy and possibly miss out on something great. You told me you thought he was the one.”

“He is. I know he is.”

“Okay, so are you really going to let that get away because of some ‘what if’s? You should take a chance. You never know, you might be surprised.”

“Right. Because possibly getting dumped by what has turned out to be the love of your life is not a scary risk to take.”

Isabelle tips her head. “I never said it isn’t scary. It’s downright terrifying. But you’re brave and I’m saying you’ve found something real and I think you should go for it. Mom agrees,” she finishes with a casual shrug.

“You told Mom?!”

“No. Gosh! magazine told mom. She called me first though because she didn’t want to freak you out. I kinda gave her a summarized run down of what’s going on. She’s thrilled.”

“She’s thrilled that my boyfriend lied to me and now I’m the villain on trash magazines?”

“She’s thrilled you’ve fallen in love,” Isabelle stretches this out with a beaming smile. “She says to tell you that he’s ‘devastatingly handsome’ and she ‘approves but you still have to call every once in a while and visit for Christmas even when you’re a prince.’”

Alec laughs at that and shakes his head. “Wow. Leave it to Mom to see the bright side and plan an entire future.”

Isabelle chuckles. “I won’t even tell you what Luke said.”

“I’m sure I don’t want to know.” He watches the humored smile on her face grow. “What’d he say?”

“That he always knew you didn’t have a pretty face for nothing and then he asked if you will be able to Knight him.”

Alec laughs. “Of course he did.”

Isabelle laughs along with him and then once their laughter dies down, they sit in silence. He’d said so much more than he ever intended to and he knows Isabelle’s mind is probably racing through endless things she could say to try and cheer him up. But he also knows she’s not saying any of them because there’s not much more she can say. It’s not like this is a situation one ever expects to end up in and it’s definitely not one you learn how to handle by reading dating articles and guides online. Sadly, it’s something he’s going to have to navigate on his own, but she takes his hand in hers and she lays her head on his shoulder while Planet Earth plays on the TV, and he knows that no matter what it feels like, he’s not truly on his own.

 

alec4

 

“That’s it.” Magnus slams the magazine down and the sound is loud enough to make Catarina jump in her seat. “I want to meet with Mr. Rey. It’s about time we put an end to this. They’ve known about Alec a whole four weeks and now they’re trying to twist him into being some gold-digging asshole! Well, not on my fucking watch.”

Catarina crosses her arms. “And what are you going to say to him?”

Magnus shrugs. “I don’t know. Threaten him, pay him off, whatever it takes to make him leave Alec alone.”

Catarina sighs tiredly. “Yeah, as much as I love the idea of you defending your man’s honor. I can’t say this is a good idea. You really can’t be seen bribing or threatening people, Magnus.”

Magnus clenches his hand into a fist so tight, his knuckles pop. “Well, I can’t just sit here and let this happen or let Alec feel like he’s alone in this.”

“I agree but you have to find another way to let him know that. With everything going on with your father and your upcoming coronation, your country needs you right now. You can’t afford to involve yourself in any more media drama.”

“Alexander isn’t just some media drama, Cat,” Magnus bites out and he can see the regret on her face the moment he finishes.

She shakes her head. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant,” she pauses to collect herself, “we have to be careful with your image right now. You’re about to be King, Magnus. And I know you hate it but it is my job to manage all of this as much as I can. So as much as I would love for you to go after Lorenzo Rey, it’s just not in your best interest or in the best interest of the country right now. We have to let this play out, the media will tire eventually with Alec stonewalling them.”

And this is why he hasn’t heard from Alec in four weeks. This bullshit that surrounds Magnus that he’s not surprised at all a normal person would want no part of. He can’t even defend the man he loves because he has to think about the image of his country first. It’s no wonder his father became the man he did—tired, worn down, a shell of the man he once was when Magnus’ mother was still alive, because of the constant pressure put on him.

He doesn’t blame Alec at all for his hesitance.

Magnus runs a finger along the smooth cover over Alec’s face. He looks unhappy sitting at that bar, forced smile on his face in the next picture because he’s sure Alec’s friends forced him to go out that night. Magnus’ heart clenches painfully. Alec never deserved any of this. The scrutiny and gossip.

“You know that’s all bullshit, right?” Catarina says.

Magnus looks at the picture of Alec sitting beside the man with blonde hair at the bar. “I know but this is what he could have. He could date his cute blonde colleague and then he wouldn’t have to deal with all of this shit that comes with dating me.”

He tosses the magazine away from himself which Catarina immediately scoops up and examines. “He looks miserable,” she comments sadly.

“Thanks to yours truly,” Magnus says, taking a sip of his whiskey and pointing at himself.

“You’re right. I think he is miserable without you.” She tosses the magazine back between them.

“Do you think this means he’s made up his mind? That his silence for the past four weeks means he’s breaking up with me?”

He sees her open her mouth but she stops herself and shrugs instead. “Maybe he’s afraid? Why don’t you try reaching out to him?”

Magnus shakes his head. “No. He asked me to give him time. I don’t want to disrespect his one request in all of this by calling him.”

Catarina sighs. “What about Ragnor? Has he given you anything? He works with Alec. Maybe he knows something.”

Magnus finishes his whiskey and puts the glass back down onto the coffee table in front of them. “Ragnor, ever the traitor to me but loyal friend to Alec so I can’t really be mad at him, has said that he’s staying out of it. It’s put a strain on his friendship with Alec. So I kinda get him wanting to stay out of it all.”

She nods thoughtfully and then holds out a leaflet of papers to him. “Want to go over your acceptance speech for the keys to the city of Alicante? It may be a good distraction?”

Thinking about work and his duties is quite possibly the last thing he wants to do right now. But, he reminds himself, no matter the outcome with Alec, his duty will never go away. He can’t run and he can’t hide. This is what is expected of him. Magnus takes the papers from her and begins to read.


 

“You wanted to see me, Father?” Magnus knocks softly on the bedroom door and enters when he sees his father raise his ringed hand and gesture him in weakly.

“Come sit with me.” His voice is older than his years. Older than his body.

Magnus has a seat on the edge of the bed and his father takes his hand in his.

“A lot has been on your mind lately,” his father states. “Could it have anything to do with that American professor?” His father’s mouth turns up at one corner, a smile, a rare sight in these days filled with illness and pain.

Magnus chuckles and rolls his eyes. “I promise I’m not too distracted to do what you’ve asked of me. Cat and I have been working hard—”

“Stop.”

Magnus pauses, letting the list of tasks he’s been working on die on his tongue.

“I didn’t call you in here to talk to you as the King of Edom, my son. I want to talk to you as your father.” His weak grip on Magnus’ hand clenches a fraction more. Enough for Magnus to know that it must have taken a great effort to offer him that small comfort so he holds his father’s hand tighter for the both of them. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“I’m sure you’ve seen the magazines or Azazel has informed you of it all.”

“Hm. I want to hear what you have to say. The truth. Those magazines are never right. Unless you did actually run off and join a sex cult in the hills of Ireland that one summer I thought you were at university.”

Magnus laughs loudly, the first real burst of laughter he’s had in the past four weeks and it feels good to finally have that again, even if it’s for just this small fraction of time. “You saw that one.”

His father smiles again. “I did. I’ve seen almost all of them.”

Magnus uses his free hand to scratch at the back of his head. “You must be reconsidering going through with this coronation then.”

“Ha, and leave our kingdom to Azazel? Why I’ll stay alive if it’s the last thing I do before I let that happen.”

“Father,” Magnus chuckles and shakes his head. “That’s a dark joke, even for you.”

“I’ve made my peace with death, Magnus. I know I’m leaving this country in good hands and it will be prosperous and last for many generations to come.”

Magnus nods and lowers his chin. “I suppose this is where you tell me that I need to marry and secure some heirs as soon as possible?”

His father’s brows lower. “Have you met some princess I’m not aware of?”

Magnus snorts. “No.”

“That’s what I thought. But you have met someone, correct?”

“Yes. His name’s Alexander Lightwood.”

His father’s smile grows wider. “The professor. A doctor, right?”

Magnus nods.

“Why haven’t I met him?"

“Because I was stupid and didn’t tell him I was a prince for the six months we were together.”

His father’s face tightens and he winces. “That was incredibly stupid of you, Son.”

Magnus laughs. “Yeah, I’m aware.”

“Tell me what’s happening.”

His father watches him with patient eyes that for the first time in a long time, are completely present between them. And Magnus finds himself wanting to share this with his father. There’s always been so much left unsaid between them. Duty and life getting in the way. But now, now that they know his days are numbered, he doesn’t want to hide anymore. He wants to have the relationship they once had back again, if only for a little while.

So Magnus moves to sit beside his father, back against the headboard of the grand four-poster bed, and he tells his father everything. He starts at the beginning and onto their first blind date, the trips, the love confessions, the secret being revealed. He talks and he talks and he doesn’t keep anything to himself and when he finishes, his chest feels lighter. His mind clear enough to finally think again.

His father clears his throat with a soft, quiet cough. “I married your mother because I loved her. She wasn’t my father’s first choice in nobility but I chose her anyway and the twelve years we had together were the best years of my life. They gave me happiness, they gave me you…” He swallows and takes in a deep breath. This much conversation is wearing on him but the soft smile that appeared once Magnus walked into the room hasn’t left his face and Magnus selfishly doesn’t want their time together to end just yet. “I want that for you.”

“But he hasn’t called me. What if he’s made his decision. What if what we had is already forgotten?”

“Then remind him. Don’t give up on him just yet. He’ll let you know if he wants to end this, but I think the next step shouldn’t be up to him.”

He’s right. Magnus is the one who screwed up. Not Alec. If anyone should be doing any sort of reaching out and crossing bridges, it should be him.

“Okay.”

“That’s the spirit,” his father exclaims in a tired rasp. “This kingdom could use two good men running things.”

Magnus chuckles. “What about your heir? The future of the kingdom?”

This has always been his concern. Ever since he came out when he was sixteen. The future of the kingdom, his bloodline, his heirs. He could end an entire dynasty by choosing to follow his heart.

“There is a thing called modern technology, Magnus. It’s amazing what they can do for families around the world,” his father says with a chuckle and a tired flutter of his eyes that Magnus recognizes as an eyeroll. “No more excuses.”

“You’re—you’re serious?” Magnus stammers. He always hoped, deep down he’d always let himself have this hope.

“I married for love,” he says, “you deserve the same. Here… ” His father reaches over and slides the sapphire and gold ring from his finger. It was fashioned from the stones in his mother’s ring and his father has worn it since she passed, but he’s holding it out to Magnus now. “Take it.”

“Father, I can’t—”

His father presses the ring in his palm.  He fixes his eyes on Magnus and leans into the grip as much as he can. “I want you to have it and I want you to give it to the person you love and choose to have by your side. Now go, and find a way to make this all right.”

Magnus looks down at the ring in his hand, he slips it onto his finger for safekeeping. He has his father’s blessing, which is more than he ever expected, and he won’t let him down. He will find a way to make things right with Alec. But right now…

He crosses his arms and settles back against the pillows. “It’s the middle of the night for Alexander right now so I can’t do anything about this just yet. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to stay… talk some more?”

His father chuckles and nods once. “I won’t say no to that.”

His father tells him more about his mother, stories he’s never heard before. A love story that reminds him why he’s always been the romantic that he is. Magnus tells him about his hopes for the future, and about mistakes from his past. They make up for years of silence. They’re not a King and Prince right now, they’re just father and son. They talk and laugh until the late hours and soon enough they’re both falling asleep.

“Thank you, Father,” Magnus says, standing beside his father’s bedside now.

“I love you,” his father responds and closes his eyes to sleep.

Magnus turns off the lamp beside him. “I love you too.”

 


 

 

“He’s in the sitting room, Your Highness.” Raphael bows his head minutely, keeping his words low so as to not be overheard.

“Thank you, Raphael. And Cat?”

Raphael’s lips twitch at the corner. “I made sure she would be preoccupied with something. Don’t worry.”

Magnus straightens his vest and nods at Raphael before turning on his heels, parting both doors at once and letting Raphael close them behind him.

Lorenzo is seated on the sofa, teacup in hand that he quickly sets down when he rushes to stand and bow.

“Lorenzo Rey.” The name rolls off Magnus’ tongue with a venomous hiss.

“Your Highness, I wasn’t expecting you. I was told I would be meeting with Ms. Loss.”

Magnus moves round to stand in front of him, making it clear he won’t be taking a seat because he wants this vermin out of his home as quickly as possible. He lets the silence stretch almost uncomfortably so, figuring out immediately that he enjoys the nervousness on Lorenzo’s face. The way he holds his hands behind him and swallows roughly, watching Magnus closely.

“You’ve been busy,” Magnus states.

Lorenzo chuckles nervously, eyes squinting, smile wide and infuriating. “It is my career. The news waits for no one.”

“News?” Magnus’ brows jump and he wants to laugh in this pathetic man’s face and his sad excuse of a career that he’s built on following Magnus’ every move. “I wasn’t aware that defamation of character, stalking, trespassing, and invasion of privacy - to name a few- was considered a career.”

“Now, I have never—”

Magnus steps forward and Lorenzo halts, taking a step back. “Lorenzo, you’re a citizen of Edom, are you not?”

“Well, yes,” Lorenzo stutters out.

“Your family is of noble blood as well, am I correct?”

Lorenzo swallows hard and gives another nervous smile and bow of his head. “Yes, Your Highness. We are loyal to the Crown.”

“Loyal,” Magnus scoffs out a laugh. “I’m aware of what you’ve done. I know you’ve made it your career to follow and report on my every move, and I’ve let you get away with it. But you’ve gone too far. You’ve stalked my loved ones, taken unauthorized photographs, breached the private property of Alec Lightwood’s university to buy information from the students, and it stops now. You will leave Alec and his family alone. From here on out, they are under the protection of the Crown. If you publish one more unauthorized photograph, one more word that hurts his character, I will have you expatriated for crimes against the Crown.”

Magnus can spot clearly the minute fear washes over Lorenzo’s face, blanching his skin until he’s left stumbling out a quiet, “Yes, Your Highness.”

Magnus turns and leaves the room. “Get him out of here,” he growls out at Raphael who is all too eager to take the trash out.

His heels click against the marbled floors as he winds the halls to his study. He doesn’t know if Alec will ever want anything to do with him but he can give him this, and he doesn’t care if Catarina gets mad at him for it. If it helps Alec, if it brings peace back to his life then it’s worth it. Magnus just wants Alec to be happy. With or without him –although preferably, with him– but he knows that decision has always been out of his hands. He was foolish and wrong to try and think that he could even take that decision away from Alec.  Which is what, despite his intentions, he ended up doing. He’d taken away Alec’s chance to decide for himself if this life was even one he wanted to get involved in, and because of that, Alec’s life had been turned upside down. All because of Magnus’ selfishness and fear.

And fear, Magnus realizes now, is fruitless. There’s always a risk with falling in love. It’s dangerous and often reckless but to try and live without it is even more so. There’s never a guarantee that when you offer your heart to someone that they won’t take the offering presented to them and throw it away. But when you finally listen and learn what it is that your heart wants, there’s no other choice but to try. And Magnus knows what his heart wants, and that’s Alec, so he owes it to himself and to Alec to put his fears behind him and take the first steps.


 

 

Alec glances up from his notes at the soft knock on his office door followed by, “Dr. Lightwood?”

He finds his PhD student, Bat, standing in the entryway of his office, holding a vase of pale lavender roses so big that he can barely see Bat’s face.

“Uh…”

Things have quieted down the past week. A magazine came out that didn’t have Alec’s or even Magnus’ face on it and while he’s still being followed and shouted at while walking to work some mornings, the gossip in his classrooms has died down. He guesses people are fickle like that. But once this entire mess started, Alec has received small gifts from ‘secret admirers’ and some not so secret gifts given to him by a handful of students. Now his stomach drops dangerously because… not Bat… of all students, he doesn’t want the student he’s advising and mentoring throughout his PhD to have a crush on him.

“Bat,” he says cautiously. “What do you have there?”

Bat pokes his head out from behind the bouquet and grins a grin that is all teeth. “Flowers.”

“I can see that they’re flowers but… why?”

Bat shrugs and places the vase gently on Alec’s desk before Alec can properly protest. “Because they were delivered and Maia stopped me on my way in and asked me to bring them to you. She seemed kind of busy.”

“Right.” Alec thumbs through the soft petals and pulls out a card that frustratingly only has the word ‘I’m’ written on it when he turns it over, more than once, to be sure. “And you’re sure they were meant for me?”

Bat shrugs again. “Sterling roses and seeded eucalyptus. That looks to be about three dozen. Someone spent a pretty penny on those.” Bat walks over to the couch where he oftentime sets up to work on his papers.

“Sterling roses?” Alec adjusts the vase off to the side. He has to admit, they’re beautiful and he’s never seen roses in this shade before.

Bat nods while he sets up his laptop. “They’re a rare hybrid breed. A thornless rose, used to express someone’s love and intentions.”

Alec nods and pulls a flower out of the vase, turning the thornless stem in his fingers. “Why do you know so much about this?”

Bat grins. “My parents are florists. I worked as a delivery boy every summer. You learn these kinds of things.”

Alec snaps a picture of the flowers and sends it to Izzy and Jace.

Izzy:

Wow! Those are beautiful!

Jace:

Who are they from?

Alec glances at the card again, just to be sure he didn’t miss anything and then types out his answer, I don’t know. Card just says ‘I’m’.

Izzy:

I’m?

Maybe it’s a secret admirer that made a mistake when typing in what he wants the note to say?

Jace:

Or Magnus? You know… the person who is still technically your boyfriend?

Alec:

Magnus wouldn’t screw something up as important as the card. Besides, I haven’t heard from him in almost six weeks.

Jace:

That’s your fault.

Alec pushes his phone aside and scoffs. He doesn’t have time for Jace’s almost daily reminder that Alec’s continued silence with Magnus is an enormous fuck up. He’s quite aware and he hates himself for it. Things have been busy to say the least, with the tabloids, his students being distracted because of said tabloids; he really hasn’t had time to sit down and plan a time for him to actually call Magnus and say everything he wants to say. Today is a day of much needed catch-up work at the office, he has this colloquium to prepare and he can’t afford to let himself get thrown off by some roses and the hopes that Magnus could possibly be behind them even though Alec’s dead silence hasn’t really given him a reason to. Alec sighs and lifts his glasses to rub at his eyes.

“Need me to help with anything?” Bat offers.

Alec adjusts his glasses and then gets back to work. “Maybe in a bit. You need to work on that paper.”

An hour passes in silence, only the sound of keystrokes and the soft ambient sounds of rainfall Bat plays on his computer. It’s interrupted by a knock on the door and Maia, the University’s secretary in this department, steps in.

“Delivery,” she announces, holding another bouquet of the sterling roses.

“What the hell?” Alec mutters under his breath.

She sets them on Alec’s desk and then turns the vase slightly, clapping her hands together when she’s pleased with the result. “Someone is being showered with love today,” she comments, wiggling her brows at him.

“Who are these coming from?” Alec fishes out the card that, yet again, only has one word on it. And his heart lurches in his chest when he sees the next word printed clearly in the black ink. Sorry.

Alec lets out a breath. It’s Magnus.

Maia leans over the desk to look at the almost empty card. “Apology flowers,” she comments and then smirks. “The boy knows what he’s doing.”

It’s the first time she’s mentioned anything since the news of his relationship broke out. Almost everyone he knows has had something to say but Maia only smiled at him the next day, like she always does, and went on about her business.

Bat stands up from his spot on the couch and walks over to look at the card. “Are they from Prince Asmodeus?”

Maia’s eyes widen at Bat for a second as if she’s shocked that he’s brave enough to bring up the topic so easily and then she purses her lips to hold back a chuckle. “Enjoy the flowers,” she says and then turns to leave.

“It makes sense,” Bat says, setting the card back in the bouquet.

“What does?”

“The sterling roses. They’re a symbol of love. More specifically, enchantment and love at first sight—I may have looked into this a bit more before starting on my paper,” he throws in with a helpless shrug. “And they’re from your boyfriend who just so happens to be a prince and purple is the color of royalty. He put a lot of thought into this. He’s good.”

Alec takes a rose out of the vase and smells it, trying to supress the smile he can feel overtaking his face.  He’s not surprised that Magnus would put so much thought into a simple rose.

Bat’s smiling when he goes back to his computer and Alec considers for a second on texting Jace and Izzy again but decides against it for now, choosing instead to focus on his work.

Four hours later and he’s sitting in an office with six bouquets of the lavender roses. One bouquet, every hour on the hour. Maia quit bringing them in after the second one, letting the delivery boys do the work for her. There’s a vase on every open surface and Alec watches the clock tick from 1:59 to 2:00, not at all surprised when there’s another knock on his door.

“Come in,” he calls.

It’s a different delivery boy this time who grins at the other arrangements when he walks in. He sets what makes the seventh bouquet on the only open space on Alec’s desk directly in front of him and walks out.

“How long is this going to go on?” Alec laughs, taking the newest bouquet and moving it to the empty wooden chair against the wall.

“I guess as long as it takes for his message to be complete,” Bat comments, leaning back and stretching. “What’s it say?”

Alec opens the card. “Ass.”

He lets out a loud laugh and lines it up with the other cards.

I’m - sorry - I’ve - been- a royal - ass.

This time he takes a picture for Izzy and Jace because the abundance of flowers in his small office is comical. Izzy added their mom and Luke to the chat and it’s become an all out gushing fest over Magnus’ romantic gesture. Alec smiles at his mother’s over use of heart emojis and the big ‘ CALL HIM’ she sends. He wants to stop everything he’s doing and call Magnus but that small yet potent feeling of fear grips him, stopping him every time he picks up his phone.

He catches Bat grinning at him.

“Your paper’s not gonna write itself,” Alec says and he’s sure the grin on his face stops the comment from coming out with any authority whatsoever.

Two hours later and two more bouquets, Bat has cleared his laptop from the table and has moved his working station to the couch to make room for the flowers. He’s helping Alec arrange the cards out, although they both have them memorized by now.

I’m sorry. I’ve been a royal ass. Forgive me?” Bat reads out loud. “Oh, come on, you have to forgive him! I mean… I don’t know what he did but this, this is some next level romantic shit. And he’s funny!”

“He’s… ” Perfect, Alec wants to say. And of course he’s already forgiven Magnus. He did a long time ago. Now he’s just too much of a coward to take the leap he so desperately wants to take.

He pulls his phone out and Bat jumps back excitedly.

“Oh shit are you going to call him right now?” he all but shouts and then he straightens up and wipes the smile from his face as best as he can. “Pretend I’m not even here. I’ll just be… arranging your flowers…. “ Bat trails off.

Alec snorts out a laugh. “No, there’s still two hours left in the work day and I need to start figuring out what I’m going to do with all these flowers.”

Bat looks around the room, his hands planted on his hips. “I can call my parents. See if they can drive them to your place in the delivery van?”

“That’d be great, actually. Thanks.”

Bat nods and steps away to call his parents.

Alec has a seat at his desk and updates his family on Magnus’ message. There’s more talk about how he better be calling Magnus and threats on disowning him if he doesn’t. The usual family banter mixed in with Luke’s benevolent advice on taking all the time he needs but also mentioning how he hopes all the time he needs are the next ten minutes because apparently Alec’s mother is dying at their house over every update.

He spends the next hour seriously trying to focus on his work. He needs to feel like he’s accomplished something today other than falling more in love with his boyfriend that he’s currently not speaking to. Because he needs to not think about the fact that they haven’t spoken in almost six weeks.

Another knock, another bouquet.

P.S. I love you

Alec hides his face in his hands and sits there, smiling so hard his cheeks hurt and he can feel his face flush red, overcome with how much he wants to say those words to Magnus; how much he misses them on his lips. And Bat is being decent enough to let Alec swoon in peace. He sits with his back to him and works on his research paper.

Thirty minutes pass and there’s another knock that catches them both by surprise. The delivery boy is one from earlier, it seems they had started taking shifts, Alec can imagine that whatever florist Magnus had used had had their work cut out for them today.

P.P.S. I can do this all day

“You have, you idiot,” Alec says out loud with a laugh after he reads the card. He’s going to call him. He’s terrified and the fear is strong but he realizes when his thumb hovers over Magnus’ name in his contact list that his love for Magnus is stronger than any fear or doubts he has. And he’s tired of not talking to Magnus, not sharing his life with him.

He swallows and exhales, looking up at Bat who is finishing gathering up his things. “I’m going to call him. Do you mind—”

“Oh, yes, of course. I’ll just wait out front for my parents.” Bat grabs his laptop and stuffs it into his bag, rushing out of the office before he’s even finished zipping up the bag.

Alec takes in one last breath and taps on the screen.

“Alexander….”

“Hey Magnus.”

The line is silent except for the staggering breaths Magnus lets out in response.

“Magnus, are you alright?”

“I’m so happy you called and I’d love to talk to you, darling. I’ve missed you so much but I can’t right now.” Magnus’ voice cracks at the end and Alec stands up, gathering his things as fast as he can.

“What’s wrong? Is it…”

“My father,” Magnus chokes out. “He just passed. And I have to go—I have to handle some last minute things. Can I call you later?”

Alec freezes by his door, heart aching at the sound of Magnus’ broken voice. “Yes,” he says. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be here… when you need me, okay?”

Magnus sniffles and Alec can hear the rustle of Magnus wiping his face with something. “Thank you. I’ll talk to you soon.”

The line ends and Alec knows what he needs to do and where he needs to be. He is out of his office, running through the halls towards the exit. He’s about to run past Bat who’s waiting outside like he told him he would.

“Dr. Lightwood, are you okay?”

Alec shakes his head. “I have to go. I have to…”

Bat nods and his eyes widen in attention, sensing the urgency. “Okay. What do you need me to do?”

Alec rubs at his hairline. He has papers to grade, an office full of roses and he has Magnus- grieving and going through it alone. He needs to get to him. “I have to go out of town, and I have the roses and the papers—”

Bat cuts him off by placing a firm grip around his bicep. “I’ll handle the roses and I’ll grade the papers. Go do whatever it is you have to do.”

“My sister”—Alec swallows and catches his breath to steady himself—“she can help you get into my apartment. I’ll send you her number.”

Bat pats his arm. “I’ll take care of everything, Dr. Lightwood.”

“Thank you, Bat.”

Alec takes the cab ride as an opportunity to text his family and inform them of his plans. He has enough time to stop by his apartment to grab his passport and a change of clothes that he throws in a backpack while the cab waits for him outside. He’s lucky when he gets to the airport and finds a flight going to Edom that leaves in two hours, has only one stop, and has availability. The flights are a long nineteen hours spent without much sleep and when he lands in Edom it’s late at night the following day. He gets a coffee to help keep himself awake while he tries to find his way through the city and he hopes asking the taxi driver to take him to the palace is enough information to go on to find Magnus. He’ll just have to figure out his next move once he gets there.

He sips at the strong and bitter coffee and spots an all too familiar magazine on the newsstand.

 

magnus

 

He’s disgusted by how quickly they are to cash in on Magnus’ grief and how cruel they are to continue to ride on his and Alec’s relationship or what they think they know of it.

“He’s not alone, you fucking morons,” he hisses, shoving the magazine back onto the stand before marching his way out to the unfamiliar streets.

He finds a cab driver who looks at him strangely but doesn’t hesitate too long to drive Alec to the palace despite the late hour. The ride is a lot longer than he suspected or at least it feels that way with nothing to do to distract himself. His phone is dead, he forgot to bring his charger and then forgot to buy one at the airport, that magazine distracting him. He has no way of letting Magnus know he’s in the same country, sitting in the back of a taxi listening to the old taxi driver sing along quietly to the radio in a language Alec doesn’t know, on his way to the palace where he will have no idea what to do next.

.

They pull up to the ornate gates in the center of the city. The palace is beautiful. Alec pays the driver with his card on the small machine attached to the divider and he’s thankful that there’s some things that countries across the ocean from each other share in common. He grabs his backpack and gets out of the cab. There’s guards lining the walls every fifteen or so feet with two standing at what appears to be the main entrance.

He takes in a deep breath. “Here goes nothing,” he says under his breath, walking up to the soldiers.

“Excuse me.” The guard lowers his eyes to him and doesn’t respond. “This is going to sound ridiculous but I promise I’m not some crazy stalker or anything—” Alec curses himself for opening up this way. Now they’re definitely going to think he’s crazy. “Is there any way you can let Magn—Prince Asmodeus know that there’s someone here to see him? I would call but my phone died.”

“Please get back, Sir,” the guard says, tightening his hold on the sword he holds by his side.

Alec steps back. “If you could just make a call or something. I know the prince personally, please.”

“Step back,” he orders again and Alec obeys, holding his hands up in what he hopes shows that he’s really not here to pose as any threat.

“I just need to speak to him, please,” Alec begs. “Call Raphael! He’ll know who I am. Tell him Alec is here to see Magnus.”  

The other two guards within earshot now give Alec their full attention and the guard directly in front of him takes a brisk step forward. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave now or have you arrested.”

He should have known it wouldn’t be easy. Magnus is about to be king, they’re not going to let any random person who staggers up to their gates speak to their Sovereign. But they have earpieces in their ears and he knows they can all communicate, if they would just let someone inside know that he’s here then maybe this could get cleared up.

“He might need me,” Alec sighs, dropping his arms by his side. “I just want him to know that I’m here for him. Please, that’s all I ask. Just give him the message. Tell him Alec was here and that I love him.”

The guards brows lower. Alec can’t tell if it’s out of suspicion or if perhaps he’s seen the latest celebrity gossip and is maybe finally putting the pieces together. Or he could be deciding to go through on his threat and have Alec arrested. Either way, Alec walks back to the street and has a seat on a bench that lines the sidewalk. He can feel the exhaustion and jet lag catching up to him quickly. He rakes his fingers through his hair and lets his head hang in his hand. He feels completely weighed down with exhaustion and if he can’t get in to see Magnus tonight then he needs to think of a game plan for tomorrow. Maybe by then he can find a charger and just call Magnus himself.

“Dr. Lightwood?”

Alec whips his head around at the familiar voice and rushes to stand when he sees Raphael approaching him, brows curved in question. “Raphael.”

“What are you doing sitting out here?” Raphael asks.

Alec lets out a breath and shrugs. “I came to see Magnus but my phone died and I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Raphael purses his lips, he looks like he’s about to laugh but just as quick as the look is there, it’s gone and replaced with his ever-serious expression. “His Majesty wasn’t expecting you?”

The formality of the title catches Alec off guard for a moment. Hearing that is going to take some getting used to but maybe not too much, it’s fitting for Magnus. Alec shakes his head. “I may have booked a flight and flew across the ocean with just a few clothes and forgot to let him know.”

Raphael huffs out a laugh. “Doesn’t seem like a very bright idea.”

Alec chuckles and shakes his head. “I think coming to be with Magnus was a great idea. Although the execution could have definitely used some more finesse.”

Raphael nods. “I’d say.”

“If it’s too late, I can find a place to stay or if it’s not the right time and he doesn’t want to see me, I can go.”

Raphael gestures with his head for Alec to follow him. “Are you kidding? I might lose my job if I turn you away and I can’t have that.”

Alec grabs his backpack and follows after Raphael through the parted gates with the guards from earlier watching him cautiously. “Well if he’s asleep, I can sleep on the couch or something until the morning.”

Raphael laughs, loud and unrestricted. “Dr. Lightwood, I think you missed the part where I said I value my job.”

He opens the door and steps aside to let Alec enter, which he does and is immediately taken aback by the grandiosity of the foyer. The shining black and gold marbled floors so smooth Alec worries he might slip on his tired feet. There are mirrors encased in gold molding lining the walls up to the ceiling and Alec catches his reflection as he passes by them following after Raphael. He looks a disheveled mess with his elbow-patched sports coat thrown over his arm, the top two buttons of his shirt undone, his hair greasy with sweat and mopped at the front. He’s sure he must smell like a combination of body odor and mildewed airport seats, his breath like stale coffee and lack of sleep. He pauses in front of the mirror and quickly combs his fingers through his hair to try and make at least something presentable about himself. He pushes his glasses up and rubs at his tired eyes. Raphael pauses and waits for him. He must notice the tremble of Alec’s hands or maybe the sweat that rings under his arms when he assesses Alec one more time.

His mouth curves up ever so slightly, understanding.  “Don’t worry. He’ll be happy to see you.”

Alec lets out a pent up breath and hesitates, nodding once, popping his knuckles and meeting Raphael’s eyes in the reflection. “Okay. I’m ready.”


 

“Your Majesty... ”

Magnus turns over and opens his eyes. “Raphael?” he asks, sitting up instantly. “Has something happened?”

Magnus’ stomach sinks out of fear of what could have possibly happened in the few hours he had slept. It hits him again that his father has already passed, the worst has come this week, so whatever news Raphael brings him now cannot possibly be that bad.

“No, Your Majesty, but there is someone here to see you. In the sitting room.”

Magnus looks from where Raphael stands with his hands behind his back and over at the clock on the mantle above his fireplace. “At this hour?”

He stands and grabs his black silk robe, tying it around his waist before rubbing his fingers under his eyes to try and wipe the sleep away. “Who is it?”

He’s met with silence and he looks over his shoulder, shocked to see Raphael has left the room. Which is completely unlike him because he never leaves unless he’s dismissed. Magnus heads towards his private sitting room which is only down the hall from his sleeping quarters. The palace is eerily quiet, it’s always quiet but somehow at night, it is even more so and soon he will be moved to the King’s quarters which is even more secluded than his own. He asked for them to wait before moving him there, it’s still too soon. The memory of his father in that room, too fresh. He couldn’t possibly make it his own just yet.

It’s bad enough his world feels like it’s floating in some sort of limbo, unbalanced, and spinning out of control. He doesn’t need to inhabit his father’s rooms when he already feels bad enough for inhabiting his throne.

He pushes open the door to the sitting room, bracing himself for whichever dignitary he’s going to find waiting for him. He freezes when instead of stuffy men in royal suits waiting for him, he finds instead, messy hair and familiar hazel eyes.

“Alexander,” he breathes out.

He wonders if he’s dreaming, if his mind is playing some cruel trick on him but then he sees Alec bow his head at him and mutter out a reverent, “Your Majesty,” which is an image his brain would never supply because it’s not something he wants. That’s how he knows this is real, that his Alexander is really here and that has Magnus rushing forward, throwing himself in Alec’s arms. He folds himself into Alec’s embrace and buries his face in the skin of his neck, sticky with sweat. He breathes in the warm amber and honey scent that is wholly Alec. He feels Alec’s arms tighten around him, a hand cupping around the back of his head, pulling him in until there’s no space left between them; and suddenly Magnus’ world falls into place.

“I can’t believe it’s really you. You’re actually here.”

“I wasn’t going to let you go through this alone,” Alec whispers. His nose brushes against the shell of Magnus’ ear and sends a prickle of goosebumps across Magnus’ skin.

Magnus lets the weight of his body, his loss, his problems, go in Alec’s arms. His breath rushes out of him in choking tears. He tangles his fingers into the fabric of Alec’s shirt and lets Alec hold him up. He cries for what he almost lost and for what he has. He cries in joy and in grief.

He thinks of his father. His laughter at the message Magnus decided to send Alec through flowers. How he’s the one who gave Magnus the idea to send more than one until they eventually decided that Magnus should send one bouquet for every hour of Alec’s work day. He cries at the beloved memory he now has with his father, a moment spent together he will cherish always but will never have again.

He remembers the look of pride on his father’s face when he finished placing the order. He remembers how tired he looked but how he still managed to reassure Magnus that everything would be okay. He remembers what his father said about the pure love of an apology and how they should never be taken for granted.

He swallows back the lump and cry lodged in his throat because he needs to say this. “I’m sorry,” he breathes out, tightening his hold. “I’m so sorry.”

Alec’s arms somehow wrap around Magnus even more, enveloping him entirely. “You don’t have to apologize…”

“I do,” Magnus says, taking in enough of a breath to pull back and look up at Alec—really look at him and see if there’s any hesitation in his eyes. He won’t know what he’ll do if he finds it but he needs to tell Alec all the same. “I should have told you from the very beginning. There’s no excuse for that. I hope you can forgive me.”

“I forgive you,” Alec says, firm with conviction, leaving no room for Magnus’ mind to think he could possibly mean otherwise. “I forgave you a long time ago. I was just too scared of what this all might mean for us. I’m sorry if I made you worry. I should have called you.”

“It’s okay,” Magnus whispers, “I would have waited forever if I had to.”

“Magnus…” Alec’s pupils spread slowly, his hazel eyes are a splendid blend of green and brown, shifting when his eyes dance back and forth between Magnus’ own. His mouth parts and expels a soft breath before lifting at one corner when he swipes the pad of his thumb to clear the tears from Magnus’ cheekbone. A touch so delicate and full of the love Magnus can see looking back at him. “In case the message got lost somewhere over the last six weeks… I’m still in love with you and I want to be with you.”

“You don’t care that I’m a pr—” Magnus stops himself, forgetting for a moment the title he has to claim now. “king?”

Alec drops his head down and rests it with a bump against Magnus’ forehead. “Do you care that I’m just a commoner with nothing else to offer you except… well… me?”

Magnus smiles. How he loves the sound of that. “That’s all I want, Alexander. Just you.”

Alec takes Magnus’ hand in his at that and gives it a gentle squeeze. “Just me?”

“Just you, Alexander Lightwood. That’s all I’ll ever need.”

Alec dips his head and takes Magnus’ lips against his. Softly drinking him in at first, deepening only when Magnus pushes himself in closer because he’s missed Alec’s kiss. He’s missed the way he inhales sharply when their lips meet for the first time, like his sole purpose is to live and breathe Magnus’ kiss. And he’s missed the way he tastes after a cup of coffee, sweet and strong, electrifying. How perfectly they shape together as if no time has passed.

Alec breaks apart, breaths heavy as he brushes his nose along Magnus’ cheek. Alec’s eyes are closed, his smile soft and enraptured when Magnus finally opens his eyes to look at him. He leans in again and whispers softly, his breath intoxicating against Magnus’ lips, “I adore you.”

Magnus smiles and pulls Alec in again. His heart pounds in his chest, falling deeper with every glide of Alec’s tongue and every trace his fingers make along his jaw. He parts and then presses another quick kiss. “I love you too.”

 engagement

 

 

Magnus has to cover his mouth to stop the laughter building up inside of him at the sight of Alec rushing to pull his stepdad up from the dramatic kneeling he did upon entering their sitting room.

“Luke, please, you don’t have to kneel,” Alec says in a rush, his tone carrying that slightly higher note it often does when he’s exceptionally embarrassed. “And Mom, you don’t have to curtsy. I’m not even royalty—” He takes her by the elbow and urges her to stand.

“Yet.” She laughs and pinches her son’s cheeks. “We have to get used to it.”

Alec gives a determined shake of his head. “No, you don’t. You’re my family, you never have to do that for me.”

She pats his shoulder and approaches Magnus next, lowering into a perfected curtsy as if she’s been doing this her whole life. She’s beautiful like Alec, dark hair and a fierceness in her eyes that can somehow soften in a second when directed at someone they love, the way they do now when she smiles up at Magnus.

He smiles and then goes to hug her when she stands. “Alexander is right. We’re going to be family. You never have to curtsy for us.”

She squeezes him tightly, resting her chin on his shoulder and tuts in his ear. “We’ll keep that in mind but we will absolutely show our respects at any official royal events.” When she pulls back, she’s beaming proudly, looking Magnus over while holding his face in a gently cupped palm. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

“I have been looking forward to it, Mrs. Greymark,” Magnus says, smiling wide because he absolutely cannot contain the happiness he feels inside of him.

She scrunches her nose at the formality. “Please, call me Maryse or Mom if you want, whatever you’re comfortable with—”

A deep laughter interrupts her and her husband steps forward. A tall man with deep brown eyes and a smile that is meant for the big screen. “Maryse, let the man breathe.”

She lets out an exasperated huff but is smiling all the while, stars in her eyes when she looks at her husband with complete enchantment. A look so open and unguarded that Magnus easily recognizes as the same look Alec gives him. He sneaks a glance at his fiancé and finds him watching their interactions with a pleased smirk tugging up on one side. His eyes shine when they meet Magnus, a clear honied hazel and the absolute love that shines through in the simple look is enough to make Magnus’ stomach flutter.

I love you, Alec mouths silently to him.

I love you too, Magnus mouths back.

“But they’re my boys,” he hears Maryse complain, and he breaks his gaze from Alec’s to see her  stepping off to the side, letting her husband take her place who follows Maryse’s earlier lead and formally bows.

“Apparently kneeling is too dramatic,” Luke comments with a wide grin on his face when he raises back up.

Magnus suppresses his smile and fixes his face with a stern expression. “Did Alexander tell you that? Because he’s misinformed. I actually require kneeling on both knees and bowing.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Alec shoots back with a nervous laugh, widening his eyes at Magnus when Luke looks at Magnus again, as if Magnus had just betrayed him. “Don’t listen to him.”

Luke looks from Magnus to Alec and then back to Magnus, and chuckles.

Magnus rolls his eyes playfully and smirks. “Such a killjoy.”

Alec’s laughter joins Luke’s at the comment and Luke steps in to pull Magnus into a warm hug. “I’m Luke. It’s great to meet you.” When he pulls back, he keeps one arm around Magnus and gestures at him with a tilt of his head. “I like this one.”

Alec huffs out a laugh. “Good. I’m glad you approve. Our engagement was entirely dependent on that. Oh! Magnus, I almost forgot…Luke wants to be knighted.”

Luke’s eyes widen and then narrow on Alec with a sharp glare that melts once he turns to Magnus. “He’s lying, I never said that,” he says, an expression so serious it would be believable if Magnus hadn’t seen the group chat exchange for himself.

Alec hums and tilts his head, pointing over his shoulder. “I could just get my phone, I think there’s a screenshot on there somewhere—”

“Honey,” Luke calls from the side of his mouth to Maryse who stands, grinning behind her hand.

“Yes, Dear?” she manages to say, pursing her lips to clear the humor from her face.

“That photo album from when Alec was in middle school, you brought that, right?”

“Alright, alright,” Alec rushes out. “No need to play dirty.”

The whole room laughs in response. Luke and Alec hug again and Magnus catches a quick that’ll teach you to mess with the big dog being whispered in Alec’s ear.

Alec always speaks so highly of Luke and now Magnus can see why. Luke has been a stepfather to Alec since middle school, stepping in to the hole left behind when their father left. Apparently Robert Lightwood had stayed in the picture but only in the form of checks and the occasional holiday or graduation ceremony. From what Magnus has been told, Luke, alongside Maryse, raised Alec and his siblings and when Alec speaks of his parents, he speaks of Maryse and Luke.

There’s nothing but love and respect in Alec’s voice when he talks about Luke and Magnus can see that the sentiment is definitely well earned. He can see the love Luke has for Alec as a man, and there’s a pride that sparks in his eyes for his son when he pulls back from their hug.

Magnus goes over to join Alec’s side. “Alexander tells me you’ll be staying for Christmas and the new year?”

Alexander, ” Maryse repeats with an impressed flick of her brow in Alec’s direction which Alec is quick to roll his eyes at. She turns her attention to Magnus and nods at him. “Yes. I hope that’s okay. We don’t want to impose.”

Magnus shakes his head. “Oh no, we’re absolutely thrilled to host you here. We were really hoping you would stay for both. I know Jace, Isabelle, and Max should be arriving in a few days with the intentions of staying on throughout both holidays as well.”

“Hosting the entire Lightwood brood, you’re brave a soul,” Luke remarks, earning him an endeared scowl from his wife.

“Well, if they are even a quarter as lovely as Alexander here then I’m sure I’ll be captivated.”

Maryse sighs airily, resting her hand against her chest and Alec pulls Magnus in to his side and plants a quick kiss on his temple. “Flatterer,” Alec mutters against his skin, quickly pulling back and straightening up to face his parents again. “We’ve had your bags taken to the cottage we’ve had prepared for you. Would you like to see it?”

Luke lets out a low whistle. “Damn, you already sound like a King. Has he been going through training?”

Alec flushes. “I didn’t—I was just—”

Magnus twines his arm around Alec’s waist, he can practically feel the nerves coursing through him and he presses himself close to his side, resting his head against his shoulder, and running his hand up and down Alec’s waist. “Isn’t he something? I swear, he was born to be a king.”

“I always knew my little Alexander was a natural born leader,” Maryse says, being pulled into a side hug by her husband. “Lucian and I are so proud of him.”

“We really are. Alec is a great man,” Luke says, tipping his head in Alec’s direction, immediately setting Alec’s body at ease. “We’d love to see the cottage, son.”

Maryse smiles and nods excitedly.

The praise they give Alec is the best music to Magnus’ ears. Alec has been thrumming with a nervous excitement ever since he found out his family was visiting for the holidays. He worked hard to have everything ready, including the cottage that sat unused for the longest time until Alec stepped foot in there and decided it would be the perfect place for his family to stay in on their visits. He’d spent the past month overseeing most of the arrangements and asking Magnus’ opinion every five minutes on different decorating choices. He knew his mother’s style but interior decorating wasn’t really his thing, so he took his options to Magnus and with his guidance, they picked out everything the cottage would need to suit his family.

“We can take the scenic route and give you a small tour on our way? The cottage is on the grounds just past the royal rose garden, which is sadly not much to look at this time of year.” Magnus steps up to Maryse when she gives him a quick nod and offers his arm out to her which she takes happily.

He can hear Luke and Alec follow behind them, chatting in low voices, a conversation that is peppered with laughter. There’s a comfort and familiarity Magnus feels in Luke and Maryse’s presence that soothes him. Even though he’s only just met them, he feels as if they had always been meant to be a part of his life. Maryse chats away with ease, a conversation filled with laughter and warm glances lined with affection and appreciation that Magnus knows can only be felt in a mother’s gaze.

They pass through the gardens, the winter air is cold but not terribly so and they can take their time as they walk together. Luke and Alec continue to talk while Magnus and Maryse walk ahead of them. She’s taking in the grounds, the long yards and gardens, the fountains and smaller estates that line the outskirts of the grounds.

“It’s truly beautiful here.” Maryse turns to look at her husband and her son. They are every bit father and son as they match walking side-by-side, hands in their pockets, both dressed in thick, cable knit sweaters. Luke is staring down at the ground while he listens to Alec recount a story that has him smiling ear to ear, it’s a mannerism Magnus has noticed from Alec and one he must have picked up from Luke.  

“You’ve made Alec so happy,” Maryse comments. She takes Magnus’ hands in hers. The tips of her fingers are cold and her hands feel delicate in his own but they’re strong when she tightens her grasp. “Thank you, for loving my boy.”

 

wedding

 

 

From: Bat Velasquez < batvelasquez@nyu.edu >

Sent: Friday, September 11, 2020 2:57 PM

To: Alec Lightwood < alec.lightwood@nyu.edu >

Subject: Help me, Dr. Lightwood. You’re my only hope.

 

Your Royal Majesty,

 

I can’t find that article about microbial decomposition you told me to read. Help.

 

Your loyal subject,

 

Bat

 

P.S. Happy early birthday!!

 

Alec laughs and shakes his head. He clicks through the saved links he keeps on hand and pulls the article in question to send back to Bat.

 

From: Alec Lightwood < alec.lightwood@nyu.edu >

Sent: Friday, September 11, 2020 04:01 PM

To: Bat Velasquez < batvelasquez@nyu.edu >

Subject: RE: Help me, Dr. Lightwood. You’re my only hope.

 

Stop addressing me like that.

 

Here’s the link: Functional and Structural Succession of Soil Microbial Communities below Decomposing Human Cadavers

 

Dr. Lightwood

 

P.S. Thank you

 

“Working hard?” Magnus asks, coming up behind him to rub at his shoulders before bending down to kiss his cheek.

Alec angles his head and is met with a soft press of Magnus’ lips against his. “Nah. I’m just finishing up a quick email to Bat.”

Magnus hums and wraps his arms around Alec’s  neck. “You’re amazing. Have I told you that before?”

Alec takes his glasses off, setting them on the desk beside his laptop. “Why am I amazing?”

“Because.” Magnus walks around to sit in his lap, straddling a leg on each side, now that Alec’s made it clear he’s finished with his work. “You’re still working with Bat. Despite the time difference and the fact that you’re no longer teaching, you always make time for him. Even at eleven o’clock on a Friday night.”

Alec shrugs and pulls Magnus in by the waist. “I made a promise to be his advisor when he asked me four years ago. I can’t leave him now, especially when he’s so close to finishing.”

“I agree.”

“I already spoke with the department and they’re allowing me to perform his hooding ceremony at graduation even though I won’t technically be a faculty member anymore.”

“I bet that will mean so much to him.” Magnus’ contented smile falls and he clears his throat. His fingers nervously twist the small hairs at the nape of Alec’s neck into a curl. “I’ve been meaning to ask you… you don’t resent having to leave your job because of me, do you?”

The question is hesitant and wrought with a guilt Alec can see clearly in the frown of Magnus’ lips.

“Are you serious? No.” Alec places his finger beneath Magnus’ chin and gently urges him forward. “My life is perfect now with you.” He kisses Magnus, deepening it when he feels the tension held in Magnus’ body melt away.

His hands trail down the soft satin of Magnus’ pajamas, enjoying the way the muscles of his back arch Magnus into him. He hooks his hands underneath Magnus’ thighs and lifts him up when he stands, shocking a giggle out of him that lasts only a brief moment before Magnus clutches his legs around Alec’s waist and kisses him harder. Alec walks them from the office and into their bedroom. He stands at the edge of their bed and pulls back from their kiss, scraping his teeth along Magnus’ bottom lip, reveling in the soft moan it pulls from his husband.

“Now. No more ridiculous thoughts like that because…” Alec glides a hand up the curve of Magnus’ ass. “I think I know how I want to spend the rest of my Friday night.”

“Let me guess…” Magnus fakes thinking over their options and then grins. “You want to watch Downworld with me for the hundredth time.”

Alec laughs and then gently lowers Magnus onto the bed, crawling his way on top of him, settling himself in between his thighs. “I don’t know about Downworld but I would love to watch you while I go down…” He drags his fingers down to the edge of Magnus’ pants and Magnus laughs sharply.

Magnus lifts up slightly to look down at Alec who has settled himself comfortably right where he wants to be. “Whatever the birthday boy wants, the birthday boy gets,” he purrs, bucking his hips up gently in Alec’s face.

Alec holds back the growl that rises out of him and quickly undoes the ties of his silk robe, slipping out of it, and throwing it over his shoulder so that there will be as few layers as possible between them. He lays his palm flat against the hard cut of Magnus’ abdomen that he can feel even through his pajama top, and presses against him to lie him down.

He takes his time undressing Magnus, kissing down his inner thigh and back up again with the occasional slow drag of tongue and teeth. He continues to take his time once he has Magnus in his mouth, taking pleasure in the feel and taste of him. Drinking in the sounds Magnus makes when he has him like this. He’s content to stay where he is but pulls off when he feels the familiar and quick double tug on his hair that tells him Magnus wants him to come up for a kiss—which he is more than willing to oblige him.

They kiss and make love with the slow roll of hips and gentle touches that barely kiss the surface of their skin, making their way over each other’s bodies, following paths they know all too well and that leave each other gasping. They kiss until Alec feels senseless from it and he’s left panting and holding a glistening, sweat coated Magnus in his arms.

“Happy birthday, Alexander,” Magnus utters softly against Alec’s throat, kissing his way up to his lips.

Alec moans in response, raking his fingers up through the dampened strands of Magnus’ hair. “I have one last birthday request.”

Magnus pulls up and smiles down at him. He brushes the fringe up and away from Alec’s brows. “Anything for my king.”

Alec’s heartbeat patters when Magnus leans down and presses a kiss between his brows. He never imagined life could be this perfect; that he would ever meet a man he would willingly choose to give himself to everyday. A man he would love so fiercely that he could feel it rushing through him like the blood in his veins. Someone whose smile could right every wrong and whose laughter would make his life feel complete. But he did, and Alec can see in the deep brown of Magnus’ eyes that Alec means the same for him. That somehow, Alec is all this and more to him.

“I’ll tell you in the morning,” he says.

Magnus narrows his beautiful, dark eyes on him. “If your request is for me to serve you breakfast in bed, I’ll have you know that I’m a king and I serve no one—”

“Oh shut up,” Alec cuts him off by flipping them over. Magnus’ back bounces against the bed and the haughty voice he likes to use when pretending to be a snobby king gets interrupted by a loud fit of laughter.

Alec has never considered himself a man who believes in fate or in destinies written in the stars that could bring two people together, but when he feels Magnus’ breath delicately gust against his lips, he finds himself converted.


 

 

Magnus walks softly against the hardwood floors, being careful with the tray of food he’s carrying. He woke up much earlier than he normally would to be sure he would actually be up before his early-riser of a husband. He sneaks into their room and feels a rush of appreciation run through him when he finds his slumbering husband tangled in their golden sheets, one arm thrown over head and his mouth slightly parted letting out adorable little snores.

He’s close to changing his mind with the whole birthday breakfast in bed thing he had planned in lieu of letting Alec sleep to his heart’s content, but he’s saved from the decision when Alec chokes in a snore that’s a little louder than usual and that stirs him awake. He blinks and flinches at the bright sunlight filtering in through the open window behind Magnus. The moment his eyes land on Magnus, his body melts back into the mattress and a crooked smile graces his face.

“Good morning,” Alec mumbles, voice gritty from sleep.

“Happy birthday to you,” Magnus sings, slowly stepping forward with the plate of towering waffles he cooked himself. “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Alexander.”

Alec chuckles and lets out a tired moan as he sits himself up, golden sheets wafting around his hips that Magnus pins down with the tray he lays over Alec’s lap.

“Happy birthday to you,” he finishes his song by giving Alec a chaste kiss. “Breakfast in bed for the king of my heart.”

“You are incredibly cheesy, did you know that?” Alec says with a laugh before cutting into his waffle.

“Mhm. But you love it.” Magnus has a seat on the edge of the bed and watches Alec close his eyes in delight as he chews.

“I do,” Alec states. “I love it—and you.”

“Good. Because I plan on being cheesy and insufferable all day.”

“Perfectly fine by me. Although I’m sure Jace and Izzy will have their fair share of teases to give us.”

Magnus waves it off. “If they do, I’ll have Raphael scare them into thinking that they have to bow to you any time you look at them.”

Alec laughs around his food and he quickly washes it down with the glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. “They’re already terrified enough of him when we made him tell them that walking on our grass was considered a crime against the Crown.”

“Or like when we had him tell them they shouldn’t have visited while they were sick with their colds because they were breaking the law any time they sneezed in our presence and bringing a virus into our home could be considered an act of bio-terrorism.” Magnus laughs and then sighs, pleased. “That was fun trip.”

“They’re too scared to eat ever since he told them it was breaking the law if they eat before you.”

“Ah, well that one’s true,” Magnus says. “Although I rarely enforce it in private settings.”

“I know but they don’t know that,” Alec laughs.

“Speaking of the little miscreants, when are they arriving?”

Alec glances up at the clock on the mantle. “Raphael is supposed to be picking them up in an hour.”

Magnus stands and leans over to muss Alec’s hair before kissing him on the crown. “In that case, I’m going to go get ready. Enjoy your breakfast.”

.

The day is spent in laughter and ends with a pizza dinner because Alec insisted on a simple affair for his birthday. They decided to let Isabelle and Jace off the hook with their pranks for today, choosing instead to catch up on everything going on back home like the progress of the film Isabelle is working on and the video game Jace is composing music for.

Now they lay in bed and Alec holds Magnus against him, the vibration of his deep voice reverberating through him where Magnus rests his head atop his chest.

“I’m happy you enjoyed your day so much, darling,” Magnus says and Alec brings their joined hands up to his lips.

“Everything was perfect. Thank you.”

Magnus sighs, happy. “You’re very welcome.”

Alec tugs Magnus up when he moves to sit, his back against the headboard. Magnus joins him and laces their fingers again. He lays his head on Alec’s shoulder and breathes in the complete and utter happiness that surrounds them. He’d spent so many years searching for something like this, and he never knew, even throughout all his searching that a love could feel this perfect. He never knew that one could give oneself to someone and know their heart and soul are in good hands. That’s how he feels with Alec. He gave his heart to him all those years ago while on a walk through a snow covered Central Park and after everything, Alec continues to cherish it with his entire being.

Magnus has always been a believer in love and romance, he just never knew it would come for him in such a way as this. But he’s not complaining, he will gladly let his love for this man consume him until his last breath.

“Magnus…” Alec says, his voice a whisper in the room.

“Hm?”

“I hope you know how happy you make me.”

Magnus smiles and sits up, turning in place to face his husband. He reaches out and brushes his fingers across his husband’s stubbled cheek that causes Alec to close his eyes and smile softly at the touch.

God, he loves this man.

Magnus follows the line of his beard up to the shell of Alec’s ear and then fingers the strands of his hair down to the nape of his neck. “Every day when I wake up, I’m the happiest man alive.”

“I honestly don’t know if there’s anything that can make life any more perfect than it already is,” Alec begins, opening his large hazel eyes to look at Magnus. “But I want to try…”

Magnus cocks his head to the side. He’s not exactly sure how they could make anything better than it already is but clearly his husband has something in mind. “What do you mean?”

Alec swallows and lowers Magnus’ hand into his, twining their fingers together. He looks down at their joined hands and follows along the path of Magnus’ knuckles and then over the sapphire ring and the signet ring Magnus wears that is a combination of his name and Alec’s. The symbols of their union and their kingdom. Something he never thought possible but here they are. When Alec looks back up, his eyes of swirling green, brown, and blue sparkle with possibility; and there’s absolutely nothing Magnus wouldn’t do for him. Nothing too impossible. He would move mountains, combine fire and rain, steal all the stars in the sky, give his entire life, anything to keep this smile on his face.

“Let’s start a family, Magnus.”

With that one request and the smile on Alec’s face, Magnus knows they will accomplish the impossible again. They have their fairytale ending, and their already perfect life together is about to become a little more perfect.


 

baby

 


 

And they lived happily ever after.