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Keeping the Peace

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“Ugh, give me a break,” Izzy groaned, shoving at Alec’s middle. “My sweat is sweating.”

“Just admit that I win and I’ll stop,” Alec grinned, pushing his dripping hair back from his face.

Izzy glared at him. “Never.” She ducked out of the way of Alec’s blunted angel blade and grabbed her towel, patting at her neck and forehead.

“Gotta wear you out, Iz, otherwise you’ll be awake all night worrying about Mom.” Alec spun his sword between his fingers, watching Izzy as they circled around the room.

“Ooooh, bringing up Mom to try to throw me off my game? That tactic wore out like ten years ago, Alec,” Izzy sneered, and Alec laughed.

“So you’re totally fine with her coming to visit?” He asked as Izzy ran forward to slash at him, effortlessly dodging it.

Izzy tossed her hair over her shoulder and kicked off Alec’s thigh, flipping over the top of him to jab at his butt.

“Hey!” He yelped, his hand flying down to his backside. The point of the sword might be blunted, but it was gonna leave a bruise for sure.

“Sorry, forgot only Magnus was allowed to poke you there.” Izzy taunted, and Alec laughed in outrage, going to kick her legs out from under her only to overbalance and end up on his stomach with a well-timed kick from Izzy. She put her foot on his back triumphantly. “Now who’s the one who’s easily distracted?”

Alec rolled his eyes. “Alright, alright. Uncle. Let me up.”

Izzy smirked and took her foot off him, letting him roll over and jump back up to his feet. “And no, I am not fine with her coming to visit. When she finds out that she’s literally God’s gift to humanity, she’s going to revert back to her holier than thou self and you know it.”

“We don’t know that,” Alec shrugged, “she’s been pretty great lately. She texted Magnus the other day. Out of nowhere. Asked for a cocktail recipe.”

“Okay, that’s…Pretty cute,” Izzy admitted, her eyes scrunching up with her smile. “I don’t know, I just… Everything has been so good the past three months, now that Valentine’s been locked down, and… Don’t you get the feeling that something terrible is about to happen?”

“Jesus, Iz,” Alec chuckled, tossing his towel away. “No, I don’t. We have control of OUR Institute, we’re both in loving, healthy relationships, the downworld is safe, relations are better than ever… I’m enjoying the moment.” He slung his arm around her shoulder. “You should too.”

Izzy nodded slowly, her lips pursed. “I know. Pessimist in me, I guess.”

“Well, tell the pessimist to be quiet. Enjoy the peace.”

Izzy looked up at Alec, letting him steer her out of the training room. “You’re right, big brother. Thank you.”

Alec went to drop a kiss to the top of her head, but recoiled, but nose screwing up. “Man, you really need to shower.”

Izzy shoved him so hard he banged his elbow on the doorframe.

“Ow!”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I can’t believe you’re up to 30 already,” Maia laughed as she stepped out into the sun, glancing over her shoulder at Clary, who was chugging a protein shake.

Clary shrugged one shoulder, smacking the sports cap down on her bottle. “You know I don’t do anything by half.”

Maia leaned against the wall of the gym, glancing up and down the street to check for a bus. “Yeah, but… I swear it was only last week you put it up to 25.”

“It was three weeks ago, babe.” Clary snorted.

“Three weeks?!” It sounded way too long; the summer was slipping away so fast. Maia had volunteered to be Clary’s gym buddy when she mentioned offhandedly in the Hunter’s Moon that the Institute didn’t have a treadmill, and she and Maia’s training regime had escalated to include strength as well as cardio.

“Yep,” Clary confirmed, “and honestly I don’t know how I’m standing right now. My legs feel like jelly.”

“Hope you don’t have patrol in the morning,” Maia smirked.

“Nah, an iratze when I get home’ll sort it out.” Clary assured her, “Alec’s a bitch, he won’t give me a day off for gym pain.”

“You ever been to the gym with Alec? He’s a fucking machine. His legs literally gave out once and he still kept on going. Dude’s a masochist.”

“And a sadist,” Clary huffed, which made Maia laugh. “But we love him.”

“We do,” Maia agreed. “You know, I heard of this new boxing club for women they’re opening here, and I considered asking you and Izzy to come, and then I remembered that you’re both basically ninjas, so…”

“Yeah, better give that one a miss,” Clary laughed. “But if you see any yoga classes let me know, because Izzy seriously needs to relax.”

Maia quirked her eyebrow. “Oh?”

“She keeps talking about how she has a bad feeling, like something terrible’s going to happen. She checks that Valentine is still in his cell every day at the crack of dawn, still calls all the downworld leaders in for meetings every week like we’re on the brink of war… I don’t know,” Clary sighed, “she just can’t let war-mode go.”

“I mean, she was raised to fight in wars. It must be hard having that taken away.” Maia pointed out, “but if I see any yoga classes advertised, you guys will be the first people I call.”

Clary smiled. “Thanks, Maia, I appreciate it.”

Maia looked at her warmly, and for a few long moments they held eye contact.

“I should get back, Izzy’s probably making the decision to cook and…”

“Eugh, yes, go,” Maia groaned, “I gotta get to work anyway. See you Wednesday?”

With a nod, Clary hitched her gym bag higher on her shoulder and headed back to the Institute, only a few blocks away. She’d been spending a lot of time with Maia lately, between their trips to the gym everyday and the two of them hanging out with Izzy at the Hunter’s Moon a couple of times a week. She’d grown really fond of the other woman, and she knew that Izzy felt the same way. The two of them had become fierce friends once more through the downworld cabinet, working together on a campaign to have Valentine executed. Izzy and Clary were still toying with the idea of asking Maia to join their relationship, but a sense of uncertainty held Clary back. How would it work? What if one person started to feel neglected by the other two? What if someone wanted to back out but felt too worried to say anything?

Clary liked Maia, a lot. She just wasn’t sure if she was capable of loving Maia as hard as she loved Izzy, at the same time as loving Izzy. Wouldn’t her heart just burst?

~~~~~~~~~~

“Oh, you made it,” Cat breathed as she opened the door to see Magnus. “Come in, come in. Dot’s in bed.”

Madzie peeked out from Dot and Cat’s bedroom, smiling tentatively at Magnus as he approached. She didn’t say anything, but she did laugh as Magnus swept her up into his arms.

“How’s my little sweetpea doing, hmm?” He fussed, and she shrugged, her skinny arms tightening around his neck. Magnus hummed, and carried her into the bedroom.

Dot was sitting up in bed, and rolled her eyes when she saw that Catarina had called Magnus all the way over. “I’m fine,” she insisted, “just a little run down.”

“Well, it’s about time to administer the potion again, so that makes sense.” Magnus assured her, “how’s your sleep?”

“Both she and Madzie are having trouble,” Cat answered as Dot opened her mouth to speak. “They both have PTSD.”

“I do not have PTSD,” Dot insisted, “I’m fine. I’m just tired.”

Magnus glanced between the two women and the tense way they looked at each other. “Well, with all that you and Madzie went through with Valentine, it would make sense if-”

“What’s PTSD?” Madzie demanded, tugging on Magnus’ neck to get his attention.

“Well…” Magnus groaned as he set her down on the bed. She was getting heavy now that she was getting three square meals a day, thank goodness. “You know how, when you fall, you get a scrape on your hand?”

Madzie nodded, listening intently.

“Well PTSD is when you have a really, really bad time, when something really bad happens to you, and your feelings and your heart gets a bit of a scrape. You know what I mean? It’s a hurt in here,” he patted his chest, “it’s a bit harder, right, because you can’t put a band-aid on your heart, huh?”

“Valentine hurt me and Dot so now we’ve got pain inside?” Madzie tilted her head to the side, considering it. “Yes. You’re right.”

Magnus smiled reassuringly, even though all he wanted to do was cuddle her and blast Valentine to smithereens. “But it’s alright, because me and Cat are gonna be your bandaids.”

“You mean Mommy.” Madzie insisted, looking up at Cat and holding out her hand to her. “Catarina is Mommy now… Right?”

“Right,” Cat agreed, her voice thick as she squeezed Madzie’s hand. “I’m Mommy now.”

Madzie smiled up at Cat, before crawling up the bed to sit next to Dot. “You have a scrape on your heart too.” She kissed her fingers and pressed them to Dot’s chest. “Magnus and Mommy have to fix it. I’ll help too.”

Dot couldn’t say no to her. “Okay,” she whispered, her eyes shimmering with tears. “Okay, kid, you’re right.”

Magnus and Cat glanced at each other, relieved and reassured that Madzie and Dot were going to be okay.

~~~~~~~~~~

Alec was only told about Inquisitor Herondale’s arrival ten minutes before her portal was due. He’d been stressed enough trying to make the Institute’s quarterly budget make sense, when Raj burst into his office and warned him that the Clave’s most uncompromising Inquisitor was headed to his Institute on ‘official business’. He just about had enough time to run back to his room and change into a dress shirt and tie, glad he wore slacks and not skinny jeans that morning. If he was a little out of breath when she came through the portal, she didn’t comment, and to Alec’s surprise, she shook his hand in greeting.

“Alexander. I trust everything is running smoothly here.” She said, her assessing eyes wandering around the ops centre.

“Yes, of course. Completely smoothly.” Alec assured her. “What brings you all the way to New York, Inquisitor?”

Inquisitor Herondale apparently finished her appraisal of the ops centre, looking Alec up and down swiftly. “I’m here to interrogate Valentine. It’s a shame that your team wasn’t able to extract the location of the mortal cup from him, but then he was trained, just like you and I, to stand up to questioning.”

“Your run of the mill interrogation protocols don’t work when it comes to Valentine,” Alec agreed, leading her to the elevator. “Have you given any more thought to the possibility of using the soul sword?”

“The risk of allowing Valentine access to the sword is too great. And besides, it’s still being examined by the Iron Sisters,” Herondale answered, “we need to verify that it wasn’t activated on accident.”

Alec glanced sideways at her when they stood in the elevator. “Still not convinced I’m not the chosen one?”

“I am perfectly convinced, Mr Lightwood, I’ve seen the footage. But your… Status is new to the majority of the Clave, particularly the Consul, so there are questions of your honesty. Though I have tried my best to persuade them of your virtue.”

“Oh.” That surprised Alec. He’d presumed that Inquisitor Herondale’s kindness to him had begun and ended with his appointment to Head of the Institute. “Thank you.”

“Stephen Junior is thriving because of you and Professor Fell,” the Inquisitor smiled, and Alec marvelled at it. He didn’t think she was capable of anything other than a severe glare. “I owe you his happiness.”

Alec shook his head. “No, it was all Ragnor, really.”

“Take the credit, Alec,” Herondale insisted, “you need friends in the Clave going forward. Between your… Situation, your relationship with the High Warlock, your sister’s relationship with Valentine’s daughter…”

“Alright, you have a point,” Alec huffed, shaking his head. “I appreciate your allyship.”

He showed her to the security detail stationed outside, and once he was sure that she had everything she needed, he excused himself. As he was heading back to his office, he ran into Luke, who was looking better than Alec had seen him look in weeks. He smiled and shook Luke’s hand firmly, clapping him on the shoulder.

“Got a minute?” He asked, and Alec nodded, leading him into his office.

“What can I do for you?”

Luke pulled out his cellphone, and placed it on Alec’s desk. “Last night I was called out to a mundane restaurant. We had forty-three mundanes dead, and… I’m sorry, Alec, but two shadowhunters were found dead at the scene, too.”

“Forty-five victims?!” Alec looked down at the pictures, confused. They were all slumped in their seats, as if they’d fallen asleep. “That’s no ordinary demon.”

“I’ve kept the crime scene for you, but the morgue is kicking my ass to move the bodies, so I’m gonna need a team from you in the next hour.” He explained.

“I’ll get Izzy.”

“My car’s outside, I’ll meet you there once I fetch Clary.” Luke answered, heading for the door. He gasped audibly, and Alec glanced up from where he was putting on his jacket to see his Mom standing in the doorway of his office with wide eyes. She and Luke were looking at each other like they were seeing a ghost.

“Hey, Mom,” Alec said pointedly, his eyebrow arching.

“Hi, sweetie,” Maryse replied, a little breathless when she stepped past Luke to give him a hug.

Luke had dashed out the door at the earliest possible opportunity, and Alec wondered what on Earth he was missing. Maryse seemed to have gotten over whatever shock she had seeing Luke by the time she pulled back, toying with Alec’s hair fondly.

“I’m sorry, I’d love to catch up, but there’s a crime scene I need to get to. We’ll have lunch, yeah? Catch up before the big test.”

“Of course, baby, go and do your job,” Maryse nodded, smoothing down her dress.

Raj ran up to Alec right as he and Izzy were reaching the front entrance of the Institute, catching Alec’s elbow. “Hey. I finished clearing out that demon nest last night. You have a new assignment for me?”

“Yes,” Alec answered, “I’m off to a suspected greater demon attack, I could use someone to canvas the area around the crime scene, check for any downworlders that might have seen through glamours. I’ll text you the address when I’m in the car.”

“Got it, I can do that. Any idea which greater demon we’re dealing with?” Raj asked, and Alec shrugged, walking backwards out the door that Izzy was holding for him. “Alright, man, see you later.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“This is definitely a greater demon,” Izzy announced, tilting her head to examine one of the mundane victims more closely. “A regular demon couldn’t have hit this many targets at once with any kind of venom, and there’s no sign of outward trauma. My guess?” She straightened up, her eyebrows creased in the middle. “He broke their necks with kinetic magic or he fried their brain stems. Either way… He’s powerful.”

Alec didn’t like the sound of that.

“The only victim that even moved from their seat is this guy,” Luke pointed out, standing over said body, “one of the two shadowhunters.”

“He hadn’t even reached for his seraph blade, it’s sheathed,” Clary noted, crouching next to the body. “And I don’t recognise him.”

“Me neither,” Alec hummed, scratching his forehead. “He must be one of the shadowhunters who was meant to tell us about the Inquisitor’s visit. Usually Inquisitors send security agents ahead to scout that the Institute is appropriate for the Inquisitor to visit. I thought it was weird that she didn’t send anybody.”

“Turns out she did.” Luke said grimly. “So the greater demon may have been going for the Inquisitor?”

“Luke?” A mundane stepped over the body on the floor, almost trodding on Clary’s toe, and Luke glanced up, his face sheepish. “Who are you talking to?” She was about Izzy’s height, with curious eyes and an efficient brunette ponytail. Alec noted the badge on her belt, and assumed that she was a cop, like Luke. Thank God they’d thought to use glamours.

“Oh, just making voice notes,” Luke shrugged, waving his phone half-heartedly.

As Luke and the mundane discussed apps, Alec, Clary and Izzy focussed their attention on the shadowhunter victims.

“Look at this, there’s some kind of dust on his face.” Clary noticed, poking Izzy.

Izzy took a sample, holding up the grey dust between two gloved fingers to look at it more closely. “I’ll need to analyse this at the lab, I’ve never seen anything like this in a demon attack.”

“Can you take a sample for Magnus, too?” Alec asked, and Izzy nodded. “He loves his history, so hopefully he’ll know something about this guy’s mythology.”

Luke managed to get rid of the mundane, and sighed at the smirk Clary was shooting at him. “No way. First of all, she’s a mundane, second, she’s a lesbian, and third, she’s my partner. My pain-in-the-ass, nosy partner.”

“Alright, alright,” Clary chuckled, “I’m just saying, though, you should at least try to meet somebody. I hate seeing you lonely.”

“I think Luke already has his eye on somebody,” Alec commented casually, and Luke blushed. Alec grinned as he took the little baggie of dust that Izzy was holding out for him. “I knew it.”

“That was surprise, nothing more,” Luke insisted.

“What was?” Izzy asked, looking between Alec and Luke.

“Luke fancies Mom.”

“What?!” Clary and Izzy both shrieked at the same time.

“I do not fancy your Mom!”

“Are you calling her ugly?” Izzy demanded, pretending to be offended.

“No! Of course not!” Luke insisted, folding his arms, his shoulders by his ears.

“So you do like her?” Clary pressed, and Luke groaned, throwing his hands up in the air.

“I am done talking about this. Get outta here, I’ve had enough nosy kids up in my business for today.” Luke grumbled, and the three shadowhunters packed up, smirking and cajoling him all the way.

Almost the moment they’d cleared out, Maia marched onto the crime scene. She looked worried, which immediately put Luke on edge. It took a lot to phase Maia. Luke didn’t say a word, just put his hands on her shoulders and steered her to his car. The moment they were situated, him in the driving seat and her in the passenger seat, Maia turned to look at him.

“Russell’s gone. He took Emery and Tito with him too. They’re…” Maia swallowed hard. “They’re talking about changing those mundanes, starting a new pack.”

“Are they crazy?!”

Maia shrugged. “They said they didn’t like your exclusive attitude. Translates to ‘we want to be in a weird furry pack and you won’t let us have orgies in the Jade Wolf.’ They’re really serious about this, Luke. There was even a suggestion that they’d start hunting other mundanes, bulk up their numbers.”

Luke massaged his forehead with his fingers. “If they start turning mundanes, the Clave will be on our asses.”

“I tried telling them that, but they said Alec would understand.” Maia rolled her eyes. “Like Alec would be just fine with the local furry community turning into actual wolves. He’s nice enough, but we both know that if they start moving against mundanes-”

“Alec will be forced to prosecute them, or worse.” Luke nodded. He let out a long sigh. “Where are they?”

“A warehouse a few blocks up the docks from the Jade Wolf.”

Luke texted Ollie to let her know that he was happy to release the crime scene, and that he was headed home to go over his findings. “Alright,” he said, tossing his phone into the glove box. “Let’s go sort these furries out.”

~~~~~~~~~~

The only downworlder that Raj had been able to find within three miles of the demon attack was a vampire from Raphael’s clan who had just been passing through on her way back to the Hotel DuMort, and she hadn’t seen anything happen at the restaurant. Raj had nothing to show for four hours’ work.

He was about to give up and go back to the Institute when his seraph blade started to glow. Glancing around the alley he was standing in, he felt a chill go up his spine, and slowly reached for his sword. He yanked it out right as a force grabbed his shoulder and swivelled him around, shoving him against the wall.

For a moment, Raj wondered if he was a warlock; he wore the same kind of sharp suit that a lot of warlocks preferred, but the utter lack of fear in the stranger’s face made Raj realise that this was no downworlder. It was the greater demon. No warlock would put their hands on a shadowhunter and look so unafraid of the consequences.

“Where is the mortal cup?” The demon demanded, and Raj swung his sword up with the intent to cut the damn thing’s arm off. The demon was faster than him, though, and burst into a flurry of black butterflies, reforming a few feet away. “Where is the mortal cup?!” It repeated, its eyes glinting black.

“Even if I knew I wouldn’t tell you.” Raj scoffed, planting his feet ready for an attack.

The demon narrowed its eyes. “Then you’re useless to me.” It lashed out with a burnt orange spell, and Raj tried to tumble out of its way, but the demon anticipated it, and the demonic magic caught him on the leg, tearing into the flesh of his calf. He cried out in pain, swinging his sword to keep the demon at bay as he backed up against the wall, trying to pull himself upright, but it felt like his left leg was on fire. Raj managed to cut through a second wave of magic, dissipating it with the angelic energy from his sword.

“You have more fight that those two shadowhunters I met last night, I’ll give you that. You’ve almost been fun to play with…” The demon murmured, flexing his fingers. “But enough of that, now.”

Raj started to choke, his eyes bulging, his hands coming up to claw at the invisible force crushing his windpipe. He sank back down the wall, hoping that Alec or Izzy would spring out of the darkness. He was seeing spots in his vision when a blurred figure leapt over the demon’s head with a glint of a blade, and then he passed out.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’d be able to concentrate a lot better if you’d quit staring at me like that,” Izzy murmured as she peered through her microscope, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up with the weight of Clary’s gaze.

“I can’t help it, you’re so beautiful.” Clary answered, and Izzy huffed. “It’s true!”

Izzy glanced sideways at her. “I know,” she said matter-of-factly, “but you’re still distracting me.”

“Sorry,” Clary didn’t sound sorry at all. “What are you thinking in that big sexy brain of yours?”

“It’s from one of the dimensions of hell. I’m not an expert on greater demons, but this one definitely escaped from one of the large ones. My guess? It’s one that was shackled for a long time. A lot of this dust has accumulated in the recesses of the demon’s magic; it hadn’t left its home in… Centuries.”

Clary grimaced. “So he’s a big bad, then? Like, a really big bad?”

Izzy nodded, pulling the tie out of her hair and letting it fall back around her shoulders. “Magnus will hopefully be able to tell us more, but yes, this is a very powerful greater demon.”

“What’s the difference between a greater demon and your regular ones we get normally? They just more powerful?” Clary asked as she took Izzy’s labcoat from her and went to hang it up.

“Well, greater demons are the original ones. They’re the fallen angels that created all the other demons. They have magic, evil angelic powers, names, personalities, history.” Izzy explained, holding out her hand for Clary to take as they headed up to give Alec Izzy’s report.

“So like Lucifer?”

“Yes, but this isn’t Lucifer, don’t worry.” Izzy assured her.

Clary nodded. “How do you know?”

“Because if Lucifer ever escaped his cage, we’d all be dead.” Izzy shrugged, “the shadowhunters would be killed by the angels and brought up to Heaven to help them defeat Lucifer. Or so the story goes.”

“Wow. Well… Let’s hope that Lucifer never escapes then.”

Izzy laughed. “He’s been stuck for five thousand years or more. I don’t think we have to worry too much about him, let’s just worry about the one we’ve got in our backyard.”

“Any idea which one we’re working with?” Alec asked, looking up from his paperwork as Izzy and Clary walked into the office. Inquisitor Herondale was sitting at his desk, looking self-important, and Alec was on the couch, leaning forward to look at where his work was spread out on the coffee table.

“No, not specifically,” Izzy admitted, “but we know that this demon is one that has been shackled in one of the deeper dimensions of hell for centuries.”

“Magnus will be able to identify them, I’m sure.” Alec got up, glancing at Inquisitor Herondale as she tutted.

“You cannot simply trust a warlock to feed you all your intelligence,” she insisted, lifting her chin. “Warlocks are close to greater demons, most of them are fathered by these beings. Perhaps you should consider that before-”

“Magnus would never work with a greater demon, I trust his word and his expertise. Could you identify this demon just by looking at some grey dust, Madame Inquisitor?” Alec asked patiently.

The Inquisitor narrowed her eyes. “I am simply reminding you that he does not work for you, Mr Lightwood.”

“No, he doesn’t, but getting this demon out of his city is just as much in his interests as it is in ours,” Alec replied. “This is my Institute. You said yourself that I have a handle on it and an efficient relationship with the local downworld. I get results. And you want results, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Inquisitor Herondale responded reluctantly. “Very well. Go and ask your warlock friend for advice.”

Alec nodded obligingly, and led Izzy and Clary from the office, closing the door behind them.

“Like you need permission,” Clary scoffed.

“The more I co-operate with her, the quicker she’ll clear out of here and let me run this place the way I know it works.” Alec muttered, “let’s just grab Mom and go, Magnus can do the blood tests while we’re there.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus wasn’t dreading Maryse’s visit as much as he thought he would. She’d texted him a few times since Alec’s surgery, never long enough to chat, really, but they’d exchanged practical messages. She’d asked his advice on cocktails, and he’d asked her what Alec’s favourite childhood birthday cake had been so he could recreate it for the 10th anniversary of Alec going on testosterone. Alec had loved it, even more so when he found out that his Mom had helped pick out the triple layered chocolate cake.

So the two of them had declared a truce. They weren’t exactly friendly, but Magnus didn’t think she hated him anymore, and he’d certainly gotten over his hatred of her.

Despite their progress, though, Maryse still looked uncomfortable when he opened the door to her, Alec and Izzy. Alec leaned in for a hello kiss, and Magnus willed himself not to blush at the feeling of Maryse watching them kiss. He hadn’t felt the disapproving glance of a mother for a very long time, and it still left him a little flustered. He tried not to examine what that meant.

“I’ve looked at the dust you dropped off,” Magnus told the three of them as he led them through to the apothecary, “and… Well, it’s not good news.”

“A greater demon is never good news,” Izzy sighed.

“Well, no, but… We’re dealing with Azazel. I’m afraid the news couldn’t be much worse.”

“The…” Alec rubbed his forehead. “The fallen angel. The one who taught humanity warfare.”

Magnus nodded. “And witchcraft, yes. His magic is amongst the most powerful in existence. It won’t be easy to catch or banish him.”

“Presumably he’s here to destroy the mortal instruments,” Maryse murmured, folding her arms, “or Valentine.”

“Probably both,” Magnus agreed.

Alec shrugged. “I’ll take that intel back to the Institute, see if any of our scholars have any ideas. In the meantime… We need to figure out who that prophecy was about.”

“I can’t see how it can be about me,” Maryse chuckled, “I don’t even know any downworlders aside from you, Magnus.”

“You know Luke…” Izzy muttered, which made Maryse’s eyebrow arch.

“We’ll soon find out!” Magnus said brightly. “Maryse, if you could roll up your sleeve. This is just like a mundane blood test.”

“Bold of you to think Mom’s ever had one of those,” Alec teased, and Maryse smiled, ducking her head.

“Actually, I’ve had my experiences with mundane medicine,” she admitted, rolling up her sleeve and offering her arm to Magnus, who conjured a needle and syringe.

Alec and Izzy exchanged a confused look, and Maryse shrugged, a little embarrassed.

“I had a pregnancy scare before your father and I met.”

“Mom!?” Izzy gasped, delighted. “You didn’t!”

Maryse sniffed, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “It was the eighties.”

“It was,” Magnus chuckled, shaking his head. “I remember them well.”

Alec should have probably been more weirded out by the fact that Magnus was partying at the same time as his Mom was, but he was mostly curious about what exactly his mother had been up to in her youth. Was that why she was always so hard on Izzy?

“There we go,” Magnus held the vial of Maryse’s blood between his forefinger and thumb, and with his other hand made a pinching motion, his eyes focussed on the scarlet liquid. His eyebrows scrunched in the middle, and he tried again, attempting to coax the angelic energy from the blood. “Well… It seems you aren’t the subject of the prophecy either, Maryse.”

“So it must be Izzy,” Alec pointed out.

“It can’t be me,” Izzy scoffed, “I’ve been cursing the angels for months. There’s no way.”

Magnus shrugged, conjuring another needle and syringe. “Can’t hurt to test you though, can it?”

“I guess not,” Izzy replied. She shrugged out of her jacket, leaving her in a sleeveless blouse, and held out her hand for Magnus to take. “Who else could it be, Mom, if it’s not…”

“There we are,” Magnus set aside the needle, holding up the vial of Izzy’s blood. As soon as his hand came up towards it, a thick, silver slither of magic tumbled out into Magnus’ hand, which made his mouth pop open into a little ‘o’.

“I-I…”

“Iz, it’s you. I knew it!” Alec grinned, feeling more elated than ever. If the angels considered Izzy the eldest Lightwood woman, then they definitely considered him a man, and that was the best feeling in the world.

“It can’t be,” Izzy laughed, shaking her head. “This has to be a trick.”

“No trick,” Magnus promised, holding the silvery thread between his fingers. “Your angelic power is stronger than Clary’s, even. You were no doubt born with this gift.”

“That explains why the birth was so easy,” Maryse chuckled, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye and squeezing Izzy’s hand with her other. “I’m so proud of you.”

Izzy still had her eyes on the angelic energy in Magnus’ hand. “This makes no sense.”

“It makes perfect sense,” Alec insisted, “you were the one who immediately discounted yourself because you were too humble to think for a second that it could be you. Of course it was you that the angels blessed.”

“He is right, Isabelle,” Magnus agreed, letting the angelic energy go and watching in awe as it fluttered right back towards Izzy, sinking into her skin.

Izzy didn’t know what to say. “What does this mean?”

“Well…” Magnus scratched the back of his head. “Clary has the ability to draw new runes at will. There’s no telling what gifts you have. Presumably they’ll manifest in a life-threatening situation.”

“But she’s been in life-threatening situations plenty of times,” Maryse pointed out, “why didn’t her gift save her from Valentine?”

Magnus held up his hands. “I don’t have all the answers. For obvious reasons, I’m no expert on angel blood.”

“Maybe I’m just here for the soul sword,” Izzy suggested, “I’m guessing you’d need a lot of angelic power to charge it, maybe that’s why I had more energy in me than Clary.”

“I can’t say for sure,” Magnus answered, “but I have a feeling that the answer will become evident sooner rather than later.”

“Oh shit! Raj!” Alec hissed, pulling out his phone. “I sent him on a mission hours ago and he hasn’t called in!” He dialled Raj’s number and pressed his phone to his ear, walking out to the balcony in the hopes of a better signal. It rang and rang and rang, eventually going to Raj’s voicemail.

“You’ve reached Raj Palani, I’m probably either sleeping or making sweet, sweet love to my right hand. Leave a message.”

“Oh my God,” Alec scoffed, hanging up and stuffing his phone back into his pocket. “If the Inquisitor calls him…” He shook his head, making a mental note to kick Raj’s ass when he found him.

When he walked back into the apothecary, Izzy and Maryse seemed to be having a moment, talking quietly together in Spanish, so Alec gestured with his head for Magnus to follow him out of the room. Magnus seemed all too happy to get away, and Alec led him to the bedroom.

“Raj isn’t answering his phone, I haven’t heard from him in hours.”

“What was he doing before you lost contact?” Magnus asked.

Alec grimaced. “He was canvassing the area around Azazel’s attack for downworlder witnesses.”

Magnus was clearly questioning Alec’s decision to send Raj alone on that particular mission, but he had the good grace not to say anything. The guilt was already building in the pit of Alec’s gut. “Okay, let’s go and check it out.”

“You don’t have to come, we’ve already taken up one of your appointments today…”

“Alexander,” Magnus squeezed his shoulder. “I know how important Raj is to you. Besides, I don’t want you wandering around alone when Azazel is skulking around the city.”

Alec couldn’t argue with that. “Alright, let’s go.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey, Magnus?” Alec muttered as he scrutinised the walls of the alley, checking for signs of an angel blade.

Magnus hummed like a question, his magic glowing softly at his fingertips.

“So Clary and Izzy both have angel blood… Do you think that means they’re soulmates?” He asked, feeling a little childish for even entertaining the notion.

“It’s not clear whether or not soulmates are real, but… The chances are that their angel blood made them more attracted to each other.”

Alec nodded, examining a suspicious gouge in the brickwork. “So you don’t believe in soulmates?”

Magnus hesitated. “If soulmates exist… Well… It’s not a particularly pleasant thought for me.”

“Why not?”

Magnus shrugged, reaching out with his magic to check for signs of Raj’s presence. “If I only have one soulmate, and that soulmate is mortal, then… I have to lose them one day.”

“I guess…” Alec wrinkled his nose, “but isn’t it better to have had some time with the love of your life, than to never have experienced them?”

“I suppose there’s an argument for that,” Magnus allowed, feeling a little warm in the face, “but I…” His voice lowered, “I hate endings.”

Alec looked over at him, and their eyes met for a moment before flicking away. He wasn’t sure what to say to that, but then he noticed the telltale glint of a stele poking out from underneath a garbage bag, and he snatched it up. “Raj’s stele.”

“His stele?” Magnus crossed the alley to stand next to him. His magic tingled, and he bent down, his heart sinking when he saw a small puddle of blood a few feet away from Raj’s stele. “Alexander…” With a quick flick of his magic, he confirmed that it was shadowhunter blood. “I think he was hurt.”

“But not dead,” Alec pointed out, “there’s no body, and Azazel wouldn’t bother to move the body, why would he?”

Magnus hummed in agreement. “Yes, he must have been kidnapped. I dread to think what Azazel wants with him. Does Raj have access to the soul sword?”

“No, none of us do.” Alec replied, running his hand through his hair. “Alright. Alright, I’m gonna head back to the Institute, see if I can get some people tracking Raj. If Azazel’s a fallen angel, he can use a stele, but Raj’s is here, so we should be good.”

“I’ll see if I can track down any warlocks who are descended from Azazel. Maybe they can tell us what he’d want with a shadowhunter.” Magnus offered.

“Thank you. I’ll see you when I get off work.” Alec gave Magnus a hug, smiling when Magnus kissed him on the cheek.

“I love you, be safe.” Magnus said softly, rubbing Alec’s back.

Alec hummed, squeezing Magnus tightly. “I love you too.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Why would Azazel take Raj?” Izzy asked, an hour later. Alec shrugged.

“He killed the two shadowhunters with access to the Inquisitor.” Alec pointed out, “I don’t know, maybe he knows that I was planning to make Raj the Head of Intelligence, somehow. I haven’t told anybody, though, not even Raj. I don’t know how he’d know that.”

“I’m not getting Head of Intelligence?” Izzy gasped jokingly.

Alec smirked. “You’re getting Weapons Master.”

“What am I getting?” Clary asked, her eyes lighting up.

“Uhh…”

Izzy snorted, smacking Alec’s arm.

“It’s nothing personal,” Alec assured the redhead, who was pretending to be offended, “but you’re not even technically a shadowhunter.”

“So who’s getting Head of Security?” Izzy wondered, “don’t tell me you’re going to give it to Lydia.”

“Fuck no!” Alec scoffed, the very thought of that making him shudder. Lydia had stuck around the New York Institute, but Alec had put her on missions that kept her far, far away from downworlders. “I was going to ask Aline Penhallow.”

Izzy’s whole face lit up in delight, and Clary’s eyebrow arched.

“Who’s that?”

“She was Alec’s best friend at the academy, she’s amazing. She’s a lesbian, totally amazing at dual wield and two-handed fighting styles… She’s so, so good, Alec if we could get her it would be like the dream team! The gay dream team! Wait, is Raj gay?”

“I don’t know,” Alec said pointedly, “but he is missing. In the grasp of a greater demon. Remember?”

Clary laughed. “Izzy can’t help it, whenever a gay girl is mentioned, she just-”

“You’ll get it when you meet her,” Izzy insisted, but turned her attention to Alec. “You’re right. What’s the plan?”

“Well…” Clary clasped her hands together in her lap. “We have to assume he wants Valentine, right? Valentine killed a lot of demons, and he also knows where the mortal cup is. So…”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Alec agreed, “that’s gotta be what he’s after.”

“We can’t just hand over Valentine, though,” Izzy pointed out, “the downworlders would be in danger.”

“Remember when we first met Magnus, and we made that circle to hold the memory demon?”

“And I got outed, let go of Magnus’ hand and almost got killed?” Alec reminded her, scratching his forehead. “How could I forget?”

“Do you think it would be possible for him to do that with Azazel? Summon and hold him in a pentagram?” Clary asked.

Alec looked at her with disbelief. “You remember how much he struggled to hold that memory demon.”

“After you broke the circle. If you, Magnus and Izzy held the circle, I could use my sunlight rune to blast him back to hell.”

“That doesn’t get Raj back,” Izzy pointed out.

Clary glanced around to make sure no-one was within earshot. “We bring Valentine out of the cell, all Hannibal-Lecter-ed up on a wheel thingie, and promise Azazel that he can have Valentine if he gives us back Raj. And when he does, I come out with my rune and smoke him.”

“Hannibal Lecter? You want to put Valentine on… Wheels?” Alec repeated.

“It’ll work!”

“And what, the Inquisitor’s just going to let us bring Valentine out to use in a dangerous deal with a greater demon?”

Clary frowned, shrugging one shoulder.

“I could hack the cameras in the cells, loop them for… I don’t know, fifteen minutes, max?”

“That would be enough.” Clary insisted, but Alec wasn’t convinced.

Izzy wrapped her arms around herself. “I don’t know how else we’re going to get Raj back, Alec.”

After a moment to consider it, Alec decided that she was probably right, and ran his hand down his face. “Alright. Okay. Let’s get to work.”

~~~~~~~~~~

When Raj woke, his whole body felt numb. He didn’t open his eyes straight away, letting out a soft groan as the strange, empty-but-tingling feeling registered. When his eyes fluttered open, the first thing he saw was a cream-coloured ceiling, and lemon walls. He was not in the Institute. He tried to sit up, but a firm hand on his stomach stopped him.

“Be careful,” a soft voice murmured, “you’ve had quite the fight.”

Raj glanced at the man sitting on the edge of the bed, his eyebrows furrowing. “Who-?”

“I’m Sebastian Verlac,” he answered, taking his hand back. “You were injured in a fight with Azazel, a greater demon. I brought you back to my place to patch you up. You’re still weak, so don’t move too much.”

It was difficult to focus. Raj’s head was swimming, confused, but he could make out runes on Sebastian’s arms and neck. So he was a shadowhunter. “I’ve never seen you before.”

Sebastian smiled wryly. “No, you haven’t. I’m from the London Institute.”

Now that Raj thought about it, it was obvious that Sebastian was British from that adorable English accent. “Oh. Are we in London?”

“No,” Sebastian laughed, his fingers checking Raj’s temperature, brushing against his forehead. “I’m… Well, I’m AWOL. Don’t tell anybody.”

Raj blinked a few more times. “Kay.”

“You should sleep, darling, you’re still hurt.”

Raj couldn’t argue with that. “Mmmm… Kay.”

The next time Raj woke up, his body ached, and his head was clearer. He sat up a little, spotted Sebastian through the open doorway. His back was turned, and he was cooking something. Raj got himself situated, looking around the room. It was strange. It was… Mundane. Cosy, even. Clearly Sebastian had gotten accustomed to life away from the Institute.

“You’re awake!” Sebastian noticed when he turned around. “You want a drink?”

“Yeah, actually, “Raj croaked, rubbing his throat. “How long was I out?”

“A day, just about.” Sebastian answered. He fussed about making tea, and Raj took stock of his body.

His leg still hurt, though it was more of a throbbing ache than a burn now. The rest of his body just felt tired, like it had been through a meat grinder. “Why didn’t you draw an iratze on me?”

“Oh, erm…” Sebastian brought in a tray with a teapot and two cups, as well as super and a little jug of milk, “I don’t have a stele. And you didn’t have one on you, either.”

Raj frowned. “What kind of shadowhunter doesn’t have a stele?”

“I told you, I’m AWOL. I ran away from the Institute in London, I couldn’t be there anymore.”

“Why not?” Raj asked, rubbing his leg.

Sebastian kept his eyes on the tea he was pouring. “I developed a yin fen addiction. Being in London, around the shadowhunters and downworlders there, it was bad for me. So… I legged it. Found myself here, in New York. And then I saw you getting your arse handed to you by Azazel…”

“So, what? You fought him off? With no stele?” Raj huffed out a laugh, taking the cup that Sebastian handed him.

“Well, yes.” Sebastian admitted, a little shy. “I had my sword, thank goodness. I studied greater demons when I was young, they’re my speciality. So… I got lucky, I suppose.”

Raj gaped at him. “Did you kill it?”

“Heavens, no,” Sebastian chuckled, “I just sort of… Shooed him away.”

Raj chuckled. “You shooed a greater demon?”

Sebastian shrugged one shoulder, and Raj sighed, really taking the other man in. He was slim, with nice hands. Long, slender, clever fingers. He was blond, which wasn’t usually Raj’s thing, but maybe it was the knowledge that Sebastian scared off a greater demon with no stele. He seemed nervous, which was cute, considering he was the one who fought a greater demon and got away without a mark on him.

“What time is it? You look tired.” Raj observed, and Sebastian glanced at his watch.

“Oh, it’s later than I thought.”

“I think you need some sleep, too.”

Sebastian nodded, and got up, bringing his tea with him. “Are you comfortable?”

“Where are you going?” Raj asked, fluffing up the pillow next to him. “This is your bed, right?”

“Well, yes, but… You’re in it.” Sebastian pointed out, his cheeks a bit pink.

Raj bit his lip. “I’m way off base, huh? You’re…” He chuckled, running his hand in his hair. “You’re straight.”

“No!” Sebastian exclaimed, a little too quickly. “I’m… Well… I suppose I never really thought about it.”

“Well… This is a pretty big bed.” Raj pointed out, “plenty of room for both of us. If you wanted to figure it out.”

Sebastian smiled, his eyes lighting up. “Mind if I take off my shirt? It’s a little warm in here, isn’t it?”

“Please do.” Raj answered, which made Sebastian laugh, peeing his henley over his head.

Raj was used to seeing six-packs. It was basically the norm for shadowhunters, but he had to admit, Sebastian’s skinny, lean figure was… Nice, to say the least. He might have licked his lips.

Sebastian seemed to enjoy the attention, and climbed into bed next to Raj. “You sure you’re comfortable?”

“I’m very comfortable.” Raj answered, shuffling down so he was flat on his back. “You?”

“Very,” Sebastian assured him, turning over onto his side. “I… I never asked your name.”

“Rajesh Palani,” he answered, his voice soft.

Sebastian hummed. “Raj for short?”

“Yeah.”

“Cute name,” Sebastian told him tentatively, and Raj smiled.

“Goodnight, Sebastian.”

“Goodnight, Rajesh.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It was surprisingly easy for Alec to convince Valentine to put on the mask and let Alec tie him to a step with wheels. Alec just had to promise to let Valentine talk to Clary for ten minutes once the Azazel business was dealt with. The harder part of the operation was getting Izzy unfettered access to the cameras. Alec had assumed that it would be easy with his Head of the Institute logins, but the Inquisitor had overriden them, much to Izzy’s chagrin. Eventually, though, Izzy managed to get past the new logins and looped the cameras, allowing Alec access to Valentine’s cell and enough time to get him out and, hopefully, get Raj back from Azazel.

“You got everything you need?” Alec asked Magnus as he wheeled Valentine out into the courtyard.

“Yes, I think so. We have to be quick convincing Azazel to return Raj, because I’ll only be able to hold him for ten minutes, tops.” Magnus told him.

Alec nodded, setting Valentine next to the pentagram Clary had drawn on the tarmac of the courtyard. Izzy jogged out to join them as Clary took her position behind a stone pillar. She’d burst out and blast Azazel once Raj was safe. “Ready?”

Izzy stood on one of the points of the pentagram, and held out her hand to Magnus, who took it and Alec’s hand. The moment Izzy and Alec joined hands, there was a low boom, and all three of them felt the thrum of a magical current running through their bodies. Magnus began the incantation, and it struck Alec how much Magnus must have been playing it up the first time they did this, all those months ago.

Back then, Magnus had been swaying his hips a little, teasing, purring out the incantations like he was seducing someone rather than summoning them. Now, he was all business, his voice powerful and authoritative as he spoke in a demonic tongue. Alec found him just as hot like this as he had in that first summoning. Perhaps even hotter.

He didn’t dwell on his libido, though, because as Azazel started to materialise in the pentagram, it suddenly became a lot harder to keep hold of Magnus and Izzy’s hands.The power difference between Azazel and the memory demon was obvious; Izzy’s nails were biting into Alec’s hand with the grip she had to keep on him.

“Magnus Bane,” Azazel drawled, his eyebrow quirking in surprise. “Wait until I tell your father that-”

“We want to offer you a deal!” Magnus interrupted, “Raj Palani for Valentine Morganstern.”

Azazel glanced around, his eyes settling on Valentine. “I don’t know a Raj, but if you’re willing to give up Valentine…”

“We know you have Raj! We found his blood in the alley!” Alec insisted.

“What use would I have for a shadowhunter? No, I left your Raj to die in that alley.” Azazel insisted.

It didn’t make sense, but they didn’t have time to argue.

“I can’t hold him much longer!” Magnus warned, and Clary marched out from her hiding place, drawing the rune into her hand. She thrust out her palm towards Azazel, but nothing happened. Alec craned his neck to look at her as she tried again, but again, the rune didn’t take.

Azazel smirked, turning to face Magnus. “You thought you could hold me?!” He threw out his arms, and what felt like a train hit Alec in the chest, sending him flying backwards along with Magnus and Izzy.

Izzy landed hard on the ground, but rather than drawing an iratze, something inside her flared, and her instincts led her to activate her anti-possession rune, instead. She shook her head to clear it, and as she looked up she heard Alec, Clary, Magnus and Valentine start to scream. It was difficult to force herself to her feet, dizzy from where she’d hit her head on the ground, but she pulled out her seraph blade and headed towards Azazel, who was leaning over Valentine.

As she raised her blade, Azazel turned and looked at her over his shoulder. He looked vaguely surprised, but as she swung her blade down, he evaporated into a swarm of black butterflies, which flew up into the nights sky. Alec, Clary and Magnus stopped screaming, sitting up slowly. Magnus, especially, looked pale.

“Are you okay?” She asked, crouching down next to him as Alec and Clary heaved Valentine back up to his feet.

Magnus was looking at his hands with something like horror on his face, and Izzy rubbed his shoulder.

“You’re okay, he’s gone. It wasn’t your fault, he was more powerful than we thought.” She assured him.

“It was my fault,” Clary insisted, “I have no idea why my rune didn’t work.”

Alec crossed over to Magnus’ side when he saw how freaked out his boyfriend looked, cupping his face. “Hey, look at me.”

 

Magnus cleared his throat, and straightened up. “I’m fine.”

Valentine was struggling against his bonds, his eyes wide and terrified. Clary smirked a little.

“Don’t like greater demons much, huh? Is that what monsters like you have nightmares about?” She spat.

“We should get him back down to the cells, the cameras will right themselves soon.” Izzy pointed out.

“You gonna be okay if I take Valentine back down?” Alec checked, his thumb brushing Magnus’ cheek.

Magnus cleared his throat. “Yes… I’ll be fine. I think I should go home. My… Magic is low.”

Alec nodded. “I don’t know if I’ll come over tonight, we still don’t know where Raj is.”

“Of course.” Magnus answered, walking off towards the exit without a backwards glance. Alec tilted his head to the side a little in confusion. Something looked off. Were his pants too tight, or something? Magnus wasn’t walking like he usually did.

“Hurry up, Alec,” Izzy urged, and Alec dismissed his worries about Magnus for a moment, turning his attention back to Valentine.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Are you sure you two will be alright with him? I need to go and update the Inquisitor and cover our asses for the last half hour.” Alec muttered.

“Yeah, go,” Clary insisted, pulling out her seraph blade as Alec set Valentine in the middle of the cell. “I’ve got it covered.”

“We’ll keep the sword on him while he untie him,” Izzy assured her brother. Alec nodded, and headed upstairs, his mind reeling trying to think of an alibi for the three of them.

Clary’s face was full of simmering hatred, boring holes into Valentine as Izzy worked to untie him. “So what happened at Magnus’?” She asked. Izzy paused for a moment, having forgotten about the revelation in all the chaos.

“Oh, it turns out… The prophecy is about me.” Izzy shrugged, her fingers unbuckling the various straps across Valentine’s body. “Hold still,” she snapped at Valentine, who was struggling and groaning like he was dying. He had yet to calm down from Azazel’s attack, his eyes wide and terrified.

“I knew it,” Clary breathed, reaching out to run her hand down Izzy’s arm. “See? The angels recognise Alec as the man that he is, and you as the warrior princess you are.”

Izzy smiled a little despite herself. “We don’t know what exactly it all means, but…”

“Well I know you’re a warrior princess.” Clary insisted.

“You would think that,” Izzy giggled, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she undid the mask covering Valentine’s face as he stepped shakily off the step he’d been on.

“Thank goodness,” Valentine panted, clutching Izzy’s shoulders the moment she pulled off the mask. Clary stepped forward, pointing her seraph blade at Valentine’s throat.

“Step away from her,” Clary snarled.

“No, no,” Valentine stepped back, his hands flying up above his head. “You don’t understand. I’m not Valentine! It’s me, Magnus!”

Clary and Izzy looked at each other, confusion clear on both their faces.

“Sure,” Clary drawled, tugging Izzy back towards the cell door, “and I’m Raphael Santiago.”

“No, no, Biscuit, please, you have to believe me. Azazel-” The cell door swung shut, and Valentine pressed himself against the glass, his mouth moving frantically, though the cell was soundproof, so neither Clary or Izzy could hear him.

“When’s he gonna give it up?” Izzy sighed, folding her arms. “Can’t he just accept that he lost?”

Chapter Text

Magnus didn’t know what to do.

He’d been in the cell for what seemed like forever. At least seven meals had been delivered, so it must have been three days, at least. No-one listened to him, and he wondered if the security footage was even being watched. The only human contact he had was with Inquisitor Herondale and her security detail.

They only came to torture him.

He’d be dragged into the chair, strapped down, and he’d beg and scream and cry, but they’d ignore him. A rune would be etched into his hand and he’d plunge, hysterical, into the deepest, darkest memories of his past.

His mother. His stepfather. Fire. Water.

They’d leave him there after they were done, trembling and sobbing. None of them batted an eye at his suffering. After a while, they stopped asking him where the mortal cup was.

“Please,” Magnus gasped, rubbing the raised lines of the torture rune with shaking fingers, “please, let me see Alexander. Please. He’ll put this ri-”

The cell door slammed shut, and Magnus was alone again.

He put his head in his hands and cried.

~~~~~~~~~~

Alec had no idea what he’d done to make Magnus mad at him.

He did know, though, that showing up with flowers and non-alcoholic wine in a new shirt was definitely going to soften his boyfriend up. He’d spent an hour in the winery across town picking the right bottle, and the flowers were from Magnus’ go-to florist. This was definitely going to work.

The excitement he felt when he knocked Magnus’ door was so overwhelming that he bounced on the balls of his feet a little; he couldn’t wait to see Magnus’ reaction. He’d give Magnus a sweet kiss on the cheek, apologise for upsetting him, and then they could talk about it and get back to being totally smitten with each other.

When he opened the door, Magnus didn’t look happy. He looked like he was annoyed, and Alec’s heart sank.

“What are you doing here?” Magnus asked, and Alec’s arms slowly lowered, the flowers drooping down towards the ground. “I told you I wanted time alone.”

“It’s been three days, baby, and you haven’t answered my texts. Can’t we talk about this? I just want to make things right.” Alec said quietly, his eyes beseeching.

Magnus closed the door in his face.

He was not going to cry, Alec told himself. He would not cry on Magnus’ doorstep.

“What happened, Magnus? Are you sick? Is it the alcohol? I won’t be mad if you’re drinking again, please, I just want to be with you.” Alec insisted, making his voice loud enough that he knew Magnus could hear him. “I’m worried about you. I don’t want to have to call Ragnor but-”

The door opened. Magnus’ face was guarded.

“Don’t call Ragnor Fell. I’m fine.”

Alec swallowed hard. “Please just talk to me.”

He seemed to consider it, for a moment, looking Alec up and down. “Everything is totally fine. I’ve been busy. I don’t have time for…” He hesitated, “sodomy.”

“Huh?” Alec’s eyebrows furrowed. “What, you think I’m going to force you?”

“No!” Magnus insisted, his nose wrinkling. He forced a smile, and it was so obvious that it was forced that Alec felt his throat close. “I’m tired. I’m sorry for neglecting you, Alec.” He slowly went in for a hug, and it just felt wrong. Everything about Magnus’ body was tense, but Alec was powerless to turn down a hug.

Magnus smelled different. His cheek didn’t smell of limes, like it usually did. So he’d changed his skincare routine?

When Alec pulled back, he noticed that Magnus’ eyeliner was wrong. It looked shaky, and he wasn’t wearing foundation. He cupped Magnus’ cheek, frowning.

“Magnus, what’s going on? Talk to me, please. Help me fix this.”

“I’ve… Been feeling under the weather, since Azazel. Perhaps he gave me warlock flu.” He coughed hollowly.

Alec didn’t buy it for a second, but Magnus clearly wasn’t ready to talk. “Okay,” he whispered, nodding slowly. “Okay. I’ll um… Here. I’ll just go.”

Magnus looked relieved. “Thank you, Alec.”

“I love you.” Alec tried, but Magnus was already closing the door, flowers and wine in hand.

~~~~~~~~~~

“You’re doing a terrible job of being Magnus Bane,” Azazel observed, having helped himself to some whiskey while Valentine tried and failed to smooth things over with Magnus’ shadowhunter boyfriend.

Valentine jumped out of his skin at the sound of Azazel’s voice, amber magic crackling instinctively in Magnus Bane’s hands. Valentine looked disgusted by it, and glared at his hands. Azazel chuckled, and took a sip of his whiskey. “You did this.”

“Yes I did,” Azazel gloated, crossing one leg over the other. “As punishment for your crimes against my children.”

“It’s been three days, demon, you made your point. Put me back in the right body.” Valentine snarled.

Azazel arched his eyebrow. “Or what?”

“Or…”

“You,” Azazel pointed at Valentine’s chest, “will give me the mortal cup, and in exchange I will put you back in your body, and set you free.”

Valentine narrowed his eyes. “You’ll have to get me my body back first. The cup is hidden in a place that will not allow demon-blooded creatures to enter.”

“I’ve been watching you for decades, Valentine,” Azazel drawled, swirling his whiskey around the glass, “you’re creative. Think of something. Or you’ll die, as you say, a filthy warlock.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It was rare that Clary woke up first, but she came to quickly, in a cold sweat, so she must have had a nightmare. Izzy hummed at the sound of Clary grunting awake, and patted her face, muttering soothingly in her sleep. Clary huffed out a laugh, immediately forgetting what the dream had been about, and lay back down next to Izzy. Izzy’s hand was still in her face, and she gently moved it back down so it was around her waist.

“Morning, princess,” Clary whispered, kissing Izzy’s nose.

“We got a mission?” Izzy grumbled, her eyes still shut.

“No, no rush,” Clary assured her. Izzy smiled, and turned over, making herself the little spoon. “Sleep well?”

“Mmmmm… You were kicking.”

“Sorry. I think I had a bad dream,” Clary mumbled, her lips against Izzy’s shoulder.

Izzy made a sympathetic noise, bringing Clary’s hand up to her mouth to kiss. “What was it about?”

Clary thought about it for a moment, but she couldn’t remember. “I don’t know, it’s gone now.”

“Mmmmm. Good.”

“I hate nightmares. I used to have them all the time as a kid. I had this recurring one where I was stuck in a house that was on fire. It was horrible, I always woke up sweating and freaking out.” Clary shuddered at the memory.

Izzy smiled slightly. “My childhood nightmare was me in a car, and then all this tiny demons would just start rising up out of the floor and they’d fill up the car and suffocate me. I always had it when I was lying on my front, because my face was in the pillow.”

“Ew, that’s horrible.” Clary laughed, “that sounds traumatic as hell.”

“It was, but lying on my front was really comfy when I was a kid, so…”

Clary grinned. “Did you have stuffed toys?”

“Alec was more into the stuffed toys. I liked reading more, so there was usually a book in my bed somewhere.” Izzy explained.

“Should’ve known you were a little nerd kid,” Clary teased, squeezing Izzy lightly.

Izzy smirked. “At least I wasn’t the horror of Brooklyn.”

“Shut up, I only got in like… two dozen fights.”

“A year,” Izzy muttered, and squealed as Clary started tickling her stomach. “Stop!”

Clary laughed menacingly, climbing on top of Izzy to dig her fingers into the other woman’s armpits. Izzy thrashed, hoarse laughter forced out of her mouth, her eyes squeezed shut. “Who’s the menace now, huh?”

“Still you!” Izzy insisted through peals of laughter, her hair all in her face.

“Don’t see you complaining about my scrappiness when it’s saving your fine ass.”

Izzy squirmed out from under Clary and caught her hands, stopping her from any further tickling as she caught her breath. “I love it when you save my fine ass,” she panted, kissing Clary’s palms.

Clary’s smile softened, and she leaned in for a kiss. “I love you.”

“I love you too, scrappy.” Izzy teased.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Morning!” Izzy and Clary walked into the ops centre hand in hand. Alec was already sitting there waiting for them, nursing a double espresso. He pushed a couple of takeaway coffee cups towards the two women and went back to glaring down into the black liquid on the table in front of him.

Izzy guessed that Alec’s idea to win over Magnus last night hadn’t gone well, so she gave his shoulder a little squeeze. “You’ll figure it out,” she murmured, and Alec hummed thoughtfully.

“I don’t know. He’s… Different. I’ve never seen him like this.” Alec said, scratching behind his ear. “Anyway, my relationship troubles is the least of our worries now. Azazel’s still at large.” He flicked the table display around so Clary could see it, slowly getting to his feet. “With Luke’s help we’ve been using facial recognition technology to track Azazel’s whereabouts. He’s mostly been visiting bars and nightclubs. He was seen with a mundane woman, and Catarina is co-ordinating with her to make sure she’s safe, and to give her the care she wants if she’s fallen pregnant.”

“You think he’s trying to father some warlocks?” Clary asked.

“He’s clearly not here for Valentine or the mortal cup, otherwise he would’ve taken him. Of course, we still haven’t located Raj either. His tracking rune is being blocked, but his runes are still active somewhere, so we know he’s still alive. He must be a priority, too.”

“Raj must be being held by someone. He wouldn’t just disappear like this.” Izzy insisted, “he wouldn’t just go AWOL.”

Alec hesitated. It was possible that something had happened with Raj’s sister, and he ran off to help her, but then why leave his stele? Why was he bleeding in that alley? “Azazel said that he left Raj to die there. I think someone who doesn’t trust the Clave must have rescued him. To what end, I don’t know.”

“Morning, everyone,” Inquisitor Herondale said briskly, casting disapproving looks at the coffee cups in everyone’s hands. “I trust we’re all awake and ready to hunt Azazel.”

“We’ve established that Azazel is not here for Valentine, Inquisitor, so your-”

“By offering Valentine in an unsanctioned deal, on Institute property. Yes, Mr Lightwood, I am aware that Azazel is uninterested in Valentine. But given your… Interesting approach, I think it’s best that I supervise this operation.”

Izzy cast a sideways glance at Alec, whose face was frozen in a forced smile, but she could see the concealed irritation in the glint of his eyes. He didn’t like this at all.

“Of course, Inquisitor,” Alec nodded, “your experience will be helpful in banishing Azazel.”

Inquisitor Herondale looked satisfied with his response, and turned her attention to the monitor. “So where was Azazel last sighted?”

~~~~~~~~~~

Raj woke up slowly, stretching with his eyes shut, testing his body. It was sore, but better than yesterday. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was Sebastian, sleeping soundly next to him, his lips a little pursed. The thought of cuddling closer wasn’t lost on Raj, but he didn’t know if Sebastian would want that, so he resisted. He sat up, mindful of jostling himself too much, and winced when Sebastian stirred.

“Sorry,” he whispered, “go back to sleep, I’m fine.”

Sebastian hummed, rubbing his eyes. “No, it’s perfectly alright. Need help to the bathroom?”

“No,” Raj assured him. “I feel good.”

“Good,” Sebastian sat up, scratching his shoulder. His hair was perfectly askew, and he looked adorably sleepy. Raj wondered if Alec’s softness had rubbed off on him, and hurried into the bathroom. It was so pathetic, how he’d developed a crush on the man who’d heroically swept in and saved him from a demon. Usually he was the one sweeping in. It was strange, being the damsel in distress, but it was also sort of nice, having a cute guy doting on him.

By the time Raj came back into the bedroom, Sebastian was up and dressed, and fussing around the kitchen. Raj smiled when he saw that Sebastian had set out fresh clothes for him, and carefully got changed. His leg felt a lot better; he still had a bit of a limp, but he could get back to the Institute on it, for sure. Once he got there, he’d get a stele and sort himself out.

“Hey,” he murmured as he walked into the living area, feeling sheepish. “I was thinking… I should get back today. My friend Alec, my commander, he’s probably worried sick about me.”

Sebastian turned, nodding, and Raj felt a little elated to see a bit of disappointment in his face. “I get it. You have a life to get back to.”

“You should come with me,” Raj replied tentatively, and Sebastian turned away. “Listen…” He walked around the kitchen island so Sebastian was facing him. “You’re doing great, Sebastian, and you have a life to get back to, too. My Institute has absolutely no yin fen connections, and we could always use help. You were amazing against that demon-”

“Azazel,” Sebastian supplied, flipping a pancake and stubbornly not looking at Raj, “it was Azazel.”

“See? You know who he is, Alec needs you.”

Sebastian sighed. “I don’t know, Rajesh. I don’t know if I’m ready.”

Raj reached out to touch him, his thumb skating over the back of Sebastian’s hand. “You are. I believe in you.”

Though he didn’t say anything, Sebastian met his eyes, and smiled a little.

“Please?”

“Alright,” Sebastian murmured, “alright.”

~~~~~~~~~~

In hindsight, Raj should have seen Alec’s rage coming.

“Where the fucking hell have you been?! Why the fuck didn’t you call?! What is WRONG with you?!”

Raj held up his hands to placate him, but Alec hugged him hard. “I’m sorry.”

“Damn right you are!” Alec growled, putting his hands on his hips as he pulled away. “We were worried sick!”

“Sebastian dropped my phone when he was carrying me back to his place, and he lives off the grid,” Raj explained, and Alec quirked his eyebrow.

Sebastian had been hovering a couple of steps behind Raj, wringing his hands together. As he was mentioned, he stepped forward and offered his hand to Alec. “Sebastian Verlac,” he explained, “from the London Institute.”

“I’ve never heard of you,” Alec sounded suspicious. “What are you doing in New York?”

“He needed a break,” Raj answered, “mental health stuff. You get that, you know you do. He’s one of us, Alec. He saved me from Azazel.”

Alec shook Sebastian’s hand, though his face was still guarded. “How do you know that we’re dealing with Azazel?”

“I studied greater demons, they’re my speciality.” Sebastian informed him. “And… I think you know my cousin. Aline Penhallow?”

“Aline’s your cousin?” Alec relaxed just a little at that news. “I went to the academy with her. I don’t remember you there, though.”

“No, my family don’t have a place there. My father is a mundane, so…”

Alec nodded slowly. “Right. Okay. So where did you study greater demons?”

“Alec, he’s not our enemy.” Raj interjected, “why are you interrogating him like one?”

“It’s alright, Rajesh.” Sebastian insisted. “I was educated through travel. I worked with Lorenzo Rey in Madrid, who tracks the status of the greater demons.”

Alec knew he’d heard the name Lorenzo Rey before. He’d ask Magnus, and ask Aline a little about her cousin, too. “Alright,” Alec allowed, “what do you know about Azazel?”

“May I?” Sebastian stepped around him, pointing towards the ops centre. Though it went against all his instincts, Alec relented, and allowed Sebastian to lead him and Raj towards the ops centre, where Clary and Izzy were waiting.

“Why are you being an asshole to him? He saved my life.” Raj hissed to Alec as they followed Sebastian.

“And kept you away for days without letting you get in touch,” Alec grumbled, “something’s off with him, I can smell it.”

Raj scoffed. “You’re paranoid.”

“We’ll see.”

When Raj and Alec caught up to him, Sebastian was shaking Clary’s hand. “Clary Fray? That must make you-”

“Valentine’s daughter, yeah,” Clary sighed, a wry smile on her face. “Don’t hold it against me.”

“And I’m the sister of that grumpy lump over there.” Izzy told him, shaking his hand once he let go of Clary’s. “Izzy Lightwood.”

“Wait, Lightwood?” Sebastian gaped at her, and pointed at Alec. “So that makes you Alexander Lightwood.”

Alec shrugged one shoulder, and Raj scoffed, elbowing him in the ribs.

“Yeah, that’s him. The guy who stabbed Valentine.”

Sebastian chuckled, shaking his head. “Alright, well, if I wasn’t scared of you before, I am now.”

Alec snorted. “So. What do you know about Azazel?” He pressed.

“Azazel, right.” Sebastian nodded, looking to Raj for reassurance. Raj gave him an encouraging smile, and with one sneaky glance at Clary, Sebastian launched into his explanation. “He can’t be killed. He’s a fallen angel, so he can only be killed by another angel. He can, however, be banished… In theory.”

“In theory?” Izzy asked, quirking her eyebrow.

“To banish Azazel back to his hell dimension, you have to pierce his demonic core with adamas.” Sebastian told them. “His is the size of a pea, between the T8 and T9 vertebrae.”

“Alright, get me close enough and I’ll cut the bastard up,” Clary enthused, eager to prove herself after her rune malfunction.

Sebastian grimaced, shaking his head. “You wouldn’t be able to get the velocity you’d need to puncture it. You’d need a javelin, or-”

“An arrow,” Alec nodded, folding his arms. “Noted. Thank you for the intel, we’ll take it from here.”

“Come on, Alec,” Clary sighed. “We’re going to need all the help we can get.”

Alec looked between Clary, Izzy and Raj. “He doesn’t have clearance.”

“Mr Verlac!” Inquisitor Herondale called, smiling at the sight of the Brit. “Just the man we’ve been waiting for!”

The fact that the Inquisitor seemed to be a friend of Sebastian’s did not bode well for Alec’s feelings about him. Alec didn’t like the way that Raj’s clear crush on Sebastian quite as clearly wasn’t reciprocated. Sebastian had used Raj for something, and Alec had a nasty feeling it was to gain access to the Institute.

He’d talk to Aline, try and straighten it out. Aline, Alec knew he could trust. They’d known each other since childhood, had come out to each other at the same time. Aline wouldn’t bullshit him.

“Inquisitor Herondale,” Alec surprised himself just as much as anyone else, calling out for her attention.

“Yes, Mr Lightwood?”

“If it’s all the same to you, I think it would be wise to enlist the help of the warlocks in tracking Azazel. After all, his magic is similar to theirs; they may have the edge in tracking him.” It was a tenuous link, but the Inquisitor took the opportunity to get rid of him, approving his lead and effectively dismissing him.

Perhaps the flowers would have softened Magnus up by now.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m hardly going to find a solution with you breathing down my neck!” Valentine snapped, straightening up from where he’d been bent over examining a spellbook.

Azazel sighed, and sauntered over to the sofa, sitting down as casually as you like. “I’m growing impatient, shadowhunter.”

“That makes two of us,” Valentine muttered, his mind racing. He had absolutely no contingency plan for this. How could he have foreseen this? There was no plan. It had been years since he’d had no plan. Decades.

A knock at the door had both of them looking round, and Azazel’s lip curled. “It’s Bane’s shadowhunter boy toy. Get rid of him.”

“Again?” Valentine hissed. Didn’t the boy take a hint? He checked himself in the mirror, lifted his chin in the arrogant way that the warlock often did, and opened the door.

“Magnus,” Alec sighed, “I have had the worst day. Can I come in?” He didn’t wait for Magnus’ answer; he’d given the other man enough space now, and he just wanted to talk.

“Alec, that isn’t-”

Alec’s heart stopped when he spotted the polished black shoes where his eyes fell on the ground, following them up to the unmistakable form of Azazel. As he reached for his bow, Azazel swept out his hand, knocking him backwards, but a moving target was no issue for Alec. He aimed and let an arrow fly, hitting the ground hard a moment after the arrow released.

He got his bearings back just in time to see Azazel explode, and he chuckled, letting his head fall back against the floor.

He did it.

“No, no… No, no, no…” Magnus was muttering, kneeling next to the pile of ashes where Azazel had stood just moments before. Alec crawled over to him, going up on his knees to give Magnus a cuddle.

“It’s okay, he’s gone.” Alec soothed, kissing the top of Magnus’ head. “Is that why you’ve been acting so weird? Was he here the whole time? What did he want?”

Magnus felt tense in his arms, but Alec couldn’t say he blamed him, given what he’d been through. “I… Yes. Yes, that’s why I’ve been off with you. He wanted me to help him break the Institute wards.” He explained, squirming out of Alec’s arms and getting to his feet.

“He wanted to get into the Institute? But he was already inside…”

“That’s what he said. He… He was trying to blackmail me. He said he’d hurt you if I didn’t.” Magnus sounded scared to tell him, and Alec’s heart squeezed.

“Baby,” Alec sighed, cupping Magnus’ face in both his hands. “I’m so sorry I was pressing you. It all makes sense now, I thought you hated me or something.”

Magnus shrugged, not quite meeting his eyes. “It’s over now. I… If it’s alright, I think I need some rest.”

“You want me to run you a bath?”

“No!”

Alec’s eyebrow quirked at the sharpness of Magnus’ voice, but Magnus patted his shoulder apologetically.

“I just mean I’d rather just be alone. To recharge. My magic is low, from… Resisting his possession magic.” Magnus explained. Alec nodded slowly, folding his arms.

“Okay,” he said, though he still felt weird. “You sure there isn’t anything else you need to tell me?”

Magnus took his hands, squeezing them gently. “I’ll talk about it when I’m ready, Alec.”

Alec? Magnus never called him Alec.

“Right, yeah. I’ll go then.” Alec replied, confused at the way Magnus seemed to brighten up as he said it. What on Earth had Azazel done to his boyfriend?

~~~~~~~~~~

When Alec brought back the news that Azazel had been banished, everyone could breathe a little easier at the Institute. Clary turned her attention back to training, working towards passing her trials to become an official shadowhunter. Izzy and Raj had been helping her, but since Sebastian had shown up Raj seemed to be constantly busy, so it was just Izzy and Clary, today.

They’d been trying to figure out which weapons suited Clary’s fighting style best. Today she and Izzy were working with blunted dual wield daggers, swirling around each other at close quarters, clashing again and again with a metallic twang.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Clary gritted out as she ended up on her ass again, and Izzy laughed, offering her girlfriend her hand.

“You know you’d be enjoying it just as much if you could get one over on me.”

Clary hummed, raising her blades again. She was determined to beat Izzy, just for one round.

“Miss Fray, Miss Lightwood!”

The two of them paused at the sound of the Inquisitor’s voice, lowering their defensive postures. The Inquisitor waved them over, looking stiff and out of place in the easy chaos of the training centre. Izzy tangled her fingers with Clary’s as they walked across the room just to make the Inquisitor’s eye twitch, and Clary shot her girlfriend a sideways smirk.

“While I am here, the Clave has requested that I write a report on your so-called angelic powers.”

“So-called? Clary can create brand new runes.” Izzy pointed out.

“Magnus proved that both of us have pure angel blood.” Clary added.

The Inquisitor looked unperturbed. “Yes, well, the Clave would like an official file to be compiled on the two of you. Will you consent to taking part in some assessments?”

“No way,” Izzy chuckled, but Clary hesitated. “The last thing we need is the Clave poking into our lives.”

“Maybe,” Clary allowed, “but I still don’t know why my runes failed against Azazel. I don’t know anything about my powers, maybe these tests could shed some light on what it all means for me. For us.” She looked at the Inquisitor, tucking her hair behind her ears. “I want to do it.”

Izzy bit the inside of her cheek. She had no idea where Clary had suddenly come up with the idea that the Clave could be trusted, but she wasn’t about to let Clary walk into the lion’s den alone. “Alright,” she said, “we’re in.”

“Excellent, we’ll start right away.” The Inquisitor was actually smiling, which did precisely nothing to assuage Izzy’s nerves.

“Actually, we have plans tonight,” Clary pulled her phone out of her back pocket to check the time. “And we need to be getting ready.”

“Oh, I-”

“See you tomorrow, Inquisitor Herondale,” Clary said sweetly, leading Izzy by the hand out of the training centre towards the barracks. “There’s no way I’m postponing our night out again.”

“Yeah, I don’t wanna cancel on Maia again, I felt bad enough the last time.” Izzy agreed, “we’ll get ready in your room, yeah?”

Clary nodded, giving Izzy a quick kiss on the cheek before ducking into her room to shower.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Do you guys want another drink?” Maia asked, getting up and grabbing her empty glass. She looked good, relaxed. The bar they were in was for queer women and non binary people only, and the atmosphere was just what the three women needed. Not too loud, reasonably priced drinks, a chilled out dance floor, no men… Perfect.

“Do they do virgin cocktails here?” Izzy wondered out loud, picking up the cocktail menu.

Maia shrugged one shoulder. “I think so. Are you driving or what? Usually you’re on your third beer by now,” she teased.

Izzy and Clary glanced at each other, Izzy’s cheeks going a little pink. “No, but me and Clary are trying to take it easy tonight.” She explained tentatively.

“Got work early tomorrow?”

“No…”

“We have something important to talk to you about so we didn’t want to get sloppy,” Clary stated, which made Izzy’s blush deepen and Maia’s mouth drop open.

“Oh…” Maia sat back down, her brown eyes round and curious as she looked between Clary and Izzy. “What is it?”

Izzy looked at Clary with beseeching eyes, and Clary smiled. “Go get the drinks first, it’s good news, I promise.”

Maia still looked a little suspicious, but markedly more pleased. “Alright…” She said slowly, “what did you want, Clary? My round.”

“I’ll just have some tap water, I’m okay.”

Maia nodded, eyes lingering on Izzy for a moment before turning away to go and order their drinks.

“Thanks,” Izzy mumbled, twisting her hair between her fingers. “I’m nervous. I have no idea why, but-”

“I mean, telling someone you’re in love with them like a year after you stopped sleeping together while you’re dating someone else… It’s sort of reasonable to be nervous.” Clary teased, skating her fingers down Izzy’s bare arm.

Izzy huffed out a laugh, shifting closer to Clary. “I love you.”

“I love you too. And Maia will too, so you don’t need to worry.”

“You think so?”

Clary quirked her eyebrow, resting her elbow on the table and her jaw on her hand. “Have you met you? You’re the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. Smart, perceptive, strong, fierce, loving and, oh also, forgot to mention, the most beautiful woman in New York. Why would Maia be anything other than madly in love with you, hmm?”

“I’m not the MOST beautiful,” Izzy mumbled, batting her eyelashes, which made Clary laugh. She honestly couldn’t remember being happier, here, with Clary, Maia a few feet away waiting to hear a love confession. It was a good call not to drink more than the one beer, because if she were tipsy she knew for a fact that she’d be tearing up.

“Alright, what’s up?” Maia asked, sliding three glasses onto the table. She pushed the water towards Clary and the pink mocktail towards Izzy, hopping back up on the bar stool as she took a sip of her own beer.

Izzy took a deep breath. They’d rehearsed this, she and Clary, on the subway over here. “So you know how there was that prophecy about the Lightwoods and everyone assumed it was about Alec?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, it was obviously not about Alec…”

Maia smiled, her eyes darting to Clary. “Right….”

“It was about me, apparently. Magnus tested my blood a couple of days ago.” Izzy told her.

“Oh. So you’re like, a literal angel.” Maia was confused as to what this had to do with her, especially with the way Clary and Izzy were looking at her.

Izzy shrugged one shoulder.

“The only person it came a surprise to was her,” Clary teased, her thumb skating along the inside of Izzy’s wrist.

“Anyway,” Izzy stressed, “you were there when Clary and I had that vision from Ithuriel. You remember… Why we thought it was Alec.”

“Yeah, the person in the vision was in deep mourning for a-” Maia recited, stopping suddenly in the middle of the sentence. Her eyebrows raised slowly, and her eyes locked with Izzy’s. “A downworlder that the person loved.”

Izzy licked her lips. “Right.”

“So… You…?”

Clary watched the two women nervously stare each other down, a smile growing on her face. She was so tempted to just say it, put it out there, but she knew that she had to give them this.

“You have feelings for me?” Maia pressed, her eyes darting to Clary, relaxing a little at the smile on her face.

“Yes,” Izzy admitted, her teeth sinking into her lower lip. “I do.”

“Do you have feelings for her?” Clary blurted out, bouncing her leg.

Maia cleared her throat, looking between the two other women. “Look, I don’t want to make this complicated. I know that shadowhunters are all about the monogamy-”

“When have we ever been typical shadowhunters?” Izzy pointed out meekly.

Maia’s smile grew slowly. “So you… You’d be okay with being…?”

“The three of us, dating. If you want.” Izzy clarified, and Maia nodded slowly, taking a long sip of her beer.

Clary and Izzy glanced at each other, waiting with bated breath for Maia’s answer.

“I mean, I’m game.” Maia said, after licking the foam from her mouth. “You’ve talked about this?”

“For like, months.” Clary told her, which made Maia laugh.

“Really? I had no idea!”

“Literally from the first time we all had lunch and you mentioned polyamory, Clary was gunning for it.” Izzy insisted, which had Clary blushing and Maia laughing loudly.

“You’re making me sound desperate!”

“You were desperate,” Izzy teased, patting Clary’s knee.

“I was majorly dropping hints, I’m not gonna lie,” Maia admitted, and Izzy and Clary grinned at each other.

“So… Now that we’ve established that we all like each other…” Clary jumped down from her bar stool, “champagne?”

“Sure, if it’s on you,” Izzy was back to her teasing, confident self now that the nerve-wracking part of the evening had passed, and Clary gave her a kiss on the top of her head before heading to the bar. There was a bit of a huddle there, so while she waited for the people to clear a little, she watched Izzy and Maia.

The two of them shuffled their chairs a little closer together, chatting away like nothing had changed, though Maia’s eyes strayed to Izzy’s mouth more often, now. Clary still wasn’t one hundred percent sure how, logistically, this was going to work, but watching Izzy and Maia enjoy each other’s company made Clary happy, and she was more excited than nervous about the whole thing, seeing them giggling together. Izzy looked up to check on her, meeting Clary’s eyes, and smiled radiantly. Clary’s heart squeezed, and she shot her girlfriend a wink before turning back to the bar.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m home!” Dot called, hanging up her scarf and coat on the hooks by the door.

“We’re in the living room!” Cat replied, and Dot followed the sound of her voice to see Cat and Madzie tucked up under a blanket, a bowl of popcorn between them, Incredibles 2 playing on the TV. “Mind if I pause it, Madz?”

Madzie shook her head, looking inquisitively up at Dot.

“How was Magnus?” Cat had thought it was strange that Magnus had asked for Dot’s help rather than hers, but he’d been off for a few days, according to Alec, so she hadn’t pushed it.

Dot’s eyebrows scrunched briefly. “He was… Weird. Alec was right, he’s definitely got something going on.”

“What do you mean?”

Dot sat down on Madzie’s other side, climbing under the blanket and smiling as Madzie snuggled into her. “I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it. He’s been having some trouble accessing his magic, apparently. Azazel must have done a real number on him. He couldn’t even make a portal.”

“What?” Cat scoffed, “no, he must have been kidding. He literally invented portals.”

“That’s what he said, and he seemed really freaked out, too. I didn’t dare ask about Alec. He didn’t smell of alcohol at all, and his liquor cabinet was untouched. It was so bizarre. It… It didn’t feel like Magnus, at all.” Dot explained.

Madzie sat up a little straighter. “Maybe Magnus has PTSD.” She said wisely. She’d been reading a book that Mommy gave her about PTSD, which had squirrels in it. It had said that sometimes when people act strangely, it’s because they have PTSD, which was a hurt on the heart. “Because Azazel was mean to him.”

Cat hummed. “Maybe… I’ll go and see him tomorrow. We’ve gotta make sure Uncle Magnus is okay, don’t we?”

Madzie nodded her head quickly. She liked Uncle Magnus. He’d saved her from Valentine and brought her to Mommy. He was very kind.

~~~~~~~~~~

The worst thing for Alec about the Inquisitor being back was the fact that he was excused from his Head of the Institute duties, which meant that he had to take up the Head of Security duties, which meant watching the security footage from the cells. It was the most mind-numbingly boring job in the whole Institute.

At least it had been until Valentine.

Valentine was standing in the middle of his cell, having what looked like a panic attack. He’d already thrown one of his shoes at the camera, and was gearing up to throw the second, tears streaming down his face. Alec had no idea what he was saying; the audio was turned off, but it looked like he was talking a mile a minute.

The second shoe hit the camera, and Alec glanced around to check that no-one was watching, before reaching for the headphones plugged into the monitor to listen to Valentine’s ravings.

“Just get Alexander, please! Please, he’ll put it all right! I’m not Valentine, you have the wrong man, please! Please, Alexander, please, you have to believe me!”

Alec froze, his eyes wide. Valentine was barely pausing for breath.

“You have the wrong man! I don’t deserve this! Please!”

After another furtive glance around, Alec put the headphones back, grabbed a seraph dagger and headed down to the cells. Upon seeing him round the corner, Valentine’s panic seemed to melt away, and he threw himself against the glass, pure relief on his face. Alec couldn’t hear him until he opened the door and slipped inside.

Valentine fell into his arms, pushing his face into Alec’s shoulder. “Alexander, you came, I knew you’d come,” he sobbed, grasping at Alec’s lapels. “Please, get me out of here.”

“You’ve lost it,” Alec said shakily, pushing Valentine off him. “This isn’t going to work. You’re fucking sick in the head. What is wrong with you?!”

Valentine shook his head, his eyes round and beseeching. “No, Alexander, listen to me. Azazel switched me and Valentine. It’s me, Magnus. Valentine is in my body and he’s in mine.”

“You’re insane,” Alec laughed, shaking his head. “Stop talking like that.”

 

“But I’m telling the truth!” Valentine ran his hands down Alec’s chest, just like Magnus did right before kissing him, and the hairs on the back of Alec’s neck stood on end. “Our first date we went to that Spanish restaurant, and you told me that you learned your romantic streak from Nicholas Sparks movies. A-and we went to Tokyo, and we did that photobooth, and you couldn’t stop smiling-”

 

“Shut up. Shut up.” Alec snapped.

“And the night before you had top surgery, it was the first time I touche-”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Alec snarled, shoving Valentine against the wall. “You are not Magnus.”

Valentine looked shocked, shaking his head a little. “Alexander, please.”

“How do you know all this? Have you had us followed? Is Magnus in danger? Tell me!” Alec shouted.

“No,” Valentine whispered, looking into Alec’s eyes. “No, Alexander, please. Please, look at me. I’m Magnus. It’s me. Please, please believe me. Azazel used a curse, unum ad unum, to switch our bodies. They’ve been torturing me for days, Alexander, please. Please, I need you to help me, nobody else is listening.”

Alec shook his head, backing away. Valentine took a step towards him, his arm outstretched, but Alec brandished his seraph blade, keeping Valentine an arms length away. “Don’t touch me. Don’t try and manipulate me into setting you free. Hodge used my sexuality against me, I’ll be damned if I let you do the same thing.”

He backed out of the cell, leaving Valentine staring, shocked, at him as he locked it behind him.

~~~~~~~~~~

Alec was still shaking when he reached his room. He locked the door and stood against it before he dialled Magnus’ number.

No answer. He typed out a text message.

-I need to talk to you. Now. It’s about Valentine.

The phone rang after a moment, and Alec snatched it up to his face.

“Hello?” Magnus asked.

Alec swallowed hard at the sound of his voice, eyes slipping shut. “Magnus. I… Something weird just happened, with Valentine.”

There was a pause. “What happened?”

“Well…” Alec scratched his face. “He said that he was you. That… That Azazel had switched your bodies.”

Magnus was quiet for a moment, and then he let out a soft laugh. “Well, that’s ridiculous. You can’t switch people’s bodies. He must be playing some kind of- of sick game. You know what he’s like.”

“You can’t switch people’s bodies? He said Azazel used the unum ad unum spell.” Alec explained, “is that a real spell?”

“Alec, don’t you think that I’d have had you switch bodies with a man if it was possible?” Magnus said pointedly.

Alec was stunned into silence for a long moment. “What?”

“Well, I’d hardly force you to be in that body if I could help it, would I?”

“You…” Alec sat down on the bed. “You said you liked my body the way it was.”

Another pause. Alec felt his throat close.

“Well, of course I do, dear. You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course…” Alec hoped he didn’t sound as heartbroken as he felt. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.”

“See you tomorrow, Alec.”

Magnus hung up, and Alec’s eyes unfocussed as he put his phone down beside him on the bed. He got under the covers, pulled them up over his head, and prayed that his mind would go blank.

~~~~~~~~~~

The idea of performing like a circus animal for Inquisitor Herondale had Izzy dragging her feet the next morning, and she was glad that she had the memories of the night before to keep her going. She took a long time to brush her hair, but Clary was taking forever in the shower, so it didn’t matter too much. Neither of them were going to lose sleep if they kept the Inquisitor waiting for a few minutes.

“Nice of the two of you to join me,” she said when Clary and Izzy made it to the training centre, ten minutes late. “Please select the weapon you’re strongest with.”

 

Clary hesitated at the weapons table.

“Dual wield,” Izzy whispered to her, grabbing a staff. Clary smiled at her and chose two light daggers before joining Izzy on the mat.

“I want to see the two of you in combat. Take your positions.”

It was familiar, moving towards Clary, looking for an opening. She’d gotten a lot better to keeping her guard up since they started training, Izzy was proud to see, so she waited for Clary to make the first move. Clary, as usual, was more interested in undressing Izzy with her eyes than she was actually fighting, and Izzy smirked, dropping the eye contact to keep her gaze on Clary’s hands.

Clary lunged forwards, and Izzy clipped her on the shoulder with a parry, but it wasn’t enough to stop Clary from getting closer. She was only an inch from Izzy’s midriff when Izzy stepped backwards, smacking the dagger away with her staff. Clary grunted and circled around her, blowing a strand of hair out of her face.

“Feeling frustrated, scrappy?” Izzy grinned, stepping forward into a light swat at Clary’s head.

“I’ll get you on your back today, I swear.” Clary grumbled, ducking and rolling under Izzy’s attack.

“That a threat or a promise?” Izzy purred, wiggling her eyebrows, which made Clary giggle and drop her defense for a moment, letting Izzy get in a hit to her leg.

“Please keep homosexual flirtation to a minimum, this is official Clave business!” Inquisitor Herondale barked at them, and Izzy rolled her eyes as Clary hit the ground.

Clary hummed, only half surprised to find herself on the ground. Izzy held out her hand to help Clary up, and as she hauled her girlfriend up to her feet, swung her staff around to cage Clary in her ams. They’d been together long enough to be on the same wavelength now, and Clary leaned in to kiss Izzy hotly, her hands reaching back to hold Izzy’s staff. They heard the Inquisitor huff, and giggled into the kiss, rubbing their noses together. Clary shoved herself backwards, yanking the staff out of Izzy’s hands with her body weight, and swung it under Izzy’s calves, sending her sprawling to the ground.

Izzy laughed when she registered that she was on her ass, looking up at Clary with admiration.

“That’s my girl.”

Inquisitor Herondale was clearly not as impressed as Izzy was. “That’s enough!” She marched over to them as Izzy stood, handing Clary a stele. “Show me your sunlight rune.”

Clary did as she was told, mostly because she was curious to see if it still worked. She hadn’t dare try since Azazel. The shape of the rune was instinctive; Clary wasn’t sure it ever looked exactly the same twice. She etched it into her palm and pursed her lips when the rune failed to take.

“Try again,” Izzy urged, her eyes on Clary’s hand.

“I think Azazel did something to me,” Clary murmured, drawing the rune again and again being disappointed; the lines drawn by the stele faded almost as soon as she’d traced them.

“Or this new rune never existed in the first place,” Inquisitor Herondale replied.

“Why would I make up that I can draw new runes? I don’t want you breathing down my neck any more than you want to breathe down my neck.” Clary retorted, folding her arms. “Why can’t you just leave us alone? There has to be a messier Institute than ours, Alec is doing an amazing job.”

Izzy raised her eyebrow and wandered away, tangling her fingers together behind her back. She loved hearing Clary chew out bigots, but there was no hope of her suppressing her laughter if she kept listening to her girlfriend’s sass.

“Perhaps you’re trying to avert attention from your father’s crimes,” Inquisitor Herondale said smoothly.

Clary scoffed. “You’re one to talk about averting attention from problematic family members, Inquisitor.”

“Be careful, Miss Fray,” the Inquisitor warned, her eyes flashing with anger.

“Are we done here?” Clary asked.

Inquisitor Herondale nodded stiffly, moving aside for Clary to go and join Izzy at the door.

~~~~~~~~~~

“That sounds totally insane, Alec.” Clary insisted, spearing some chicken on her fork.

Alec ran his hand through his hair. “I know. It can’t be true, can it?”

“Valentine always has a plan. This must be, like, plan K.” Izzy assured her brother. She squeezed his hand. “You should eat. Forget about Valentine.”

 

“It’s not just that,” Alec mumbled, glancing around to check that the dining room was empty. “Magnus has been acting strangely ever since Azazel. He said something last night…”

Clary and Izzy glanced at each other, frowning. “What did he say?” Clary asked.

Alec shrugged, stirring his noodles with his fork.

“What did he say?” Izzy pressed, trying to keep the protective anger out of her voice.

“He said that if it was possible to switch people’s bodies around, he’d have…” Alec bit the inside of his cheek, his eyes darting to the tense set of Izzy’s jaw.

“He’d have what?” Izzy gritted out.

Alec sighed, leaning back in his chair. “He said he’d switch my body with a man’s body.”

Izzy didn’t say anything, but she did pull her phone out of her pocket. Alec lunged to grab it off her.

“Don’t.”

“I’m going to kick his ass.”

“Izzy!” Alec protested, “he said he didn’t mean it like that. It was a slip of the tongue.”

 

“That doesn’t sound like something Magnus would say.” Clary added, “he’s been nothing but respectful of you since day one.”

“I’ll get to the bottom of it.” Izzy snatched her phone back from Alec.

Alec shook his head, grabbing her elbow. “Please don’t.”

Izzy held eye contact with Alec for a long moment, taking in the full force of his pleading gaze. “Fine,” she said eventually, “but until he apologises, he’s in the dog house with me. That is unacceptable, Alec. You shouldn’t have to put up with that.”

“It just seems weird. Maybe…” Clary sighed, “maybe Valentine is telling the truth. Maybe they really have switched bodies.”

“But if Magnus was really Valentine, he would have killed me.” Alec pointed out. “And Azazel was at Magnus’ loft. He might have done something to Magnus. And he did say that there was something wrong, but he wasn’t ready to talk about it.”

Clary nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. Valentine wouldn’t waste time, he’d be killing us all and trying to get the soul sword back.”

Izzy was still too angry to contribute to the conversation, eating her lunch in stony silence. Alec put his hand on her shoulder, squeezing it lightly.

“Please don’t be mad.” He said softly, and Izzy softened just a little.

“I’m not mad at you.”

“I know, but… I don’t like it when you’re mad at Magnus, either. He’s going through some stuff, that’s all.” Alec insisted.

Izzy pursed her lips. “It’s a red flag, Alec. The honeymoon period is over. You have to admit it.”

Alec scratched his forehead, wishing he hadn’t said anything. Izzy opened her mouth to say more, but Clary cleared her throat, shaking her head a little.

The silence in the dining room was deafening.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was all Alec could think about all day. He didn’t text Magnus, he tried to focus on sorting the patrol reports from the night before, but the moment his shift was over he headed straight to the library. There weren’t many spell books there, it was mostly shadowhunter history, but he managed to find a fairly extensive spell book. His stomach was flipping as he set it down on the table.

He wanted Valentine to be Magnus, he realised. He wanted Magnus to not be Magnus right now. The thought that his Magnus, the real Magnus, didn’t really think of Alec as a man, that Magnus had just been humouring him, made him feel ill.

 

As he flicked through the book, Alec’s leg bounced, his thumb rubbing the knuckle of his middle finger. His mind chanted ‘please’, and when he found a page on body transformation, his heart was in his throat.

Unum ad unum, he read, his heart racing, a difficult spell, only available to the most powerful magical beings. It separates the consciousness from the body and allows the warlock to replace one consciousness with another. Easily reversible with a restorative potion.

“Oh my God,” Alec breathed, jumping up from his seat and darting down towards the cells.

~~~~~~~~~~

For the first time in over a century, Magnus honestly felt suicidal.

His last hope had been Alec. He’d been so sure that Alec would see him. That Alec would listen, believe him.

Instead, Alec had threatened him with a knife.

He shuddered at the memory, curled up on the thin, hard mattress in the corner of his cell.

Valentine’s cell, he told himself. It wasn’t for him.

“You look pitiful.”

Magnus sat up straight. That was his voice. His real voice.

Seeing his own body smirking at him was the strangest thing Magnus had ever experienced. He rushed to the glass, where Valentine was holding down the intercom button.

“You fool, you’ll be caught,” Magnus warned him, though he couldn’t deny that he hoped Valentine would be apprehended in his body. Perhaps then they could straighten this mess out.

“I’ve put an invisibility charm on myself,” Valentine said smugly, “I’ve learned to use your magic, courtesy of our dear Dorothea.”

Magnus scoffed, shaking his head. “My magic won’t work in here, Valentine. They can see you.”

“Nonsense, nothing can sto-”

“I’m good.” Magnus sneered, the rage welling in him. “I designed these anti-magic wards myself. There’s no getting past them, not even for me.”

Sure enough, the lift behind Valentine slid open, and Inquisitor Herondale walked out, flanked by her security guards. Valentine let go of the intercom button and held up his hands as Magnus started pounding on the glass and pointing at Valentine.

“He’s right there! That’s Valentine! You have the wrong man!” Magnus shouted, but the glass was soundproof, and the Inquisitor barely glanced at him.

“What are you doing down here, Mister Bane?” Inquisitor Herondale demanded.

“I am… Checking the wards. Azazel’s presence in the Institute may have corrupted them.” Valentine replied, moving his hands around in slow circles.

The Inquisitor glanced at one of her guards and nodded. The guard started to walk towards Valentine, grabbing his elbow. “Your security services are no longer required, Mr Bane.”

Valentine didn’t argue, which made Magnus mad. Surely the shadowhunters would know that Magnus, the real Magnus would protest.

As the guard dragged Valentine to the elevator to see him out of the Institute, the Inquisitor walked towards the cell. Her gaze was menacing, and Magnus shuddered. He didn’t know how much more torture he could take.

“Keytower,” she said, not taking her eyes off Magnus. “Go and watch the entrance.”

As Keytower walked away, the Inquisitor drew a seraph blade, and opened the door to the cell. Magnus took a step back, holding up his hands.

“Inquisitor, I’m begging you. Listen to me. I am not Valentine. I’m Magnus Bane! You just let Valentine go, why else would he not argue when he was fired?!”

“Be quiet!” Inquisitor Herondale shouted. “You are never going to tell us where the mortal cup is, are you?”

Magnus swallowed hard. “I don’t know where it is. I’d give it to you if I knew!”

“Then who does know where it is?”

 

“Valentine!”

The Inquisitor shook her head, her eyes filled with hate. “For God’s sake, Valentine, drop the act. It’s over. The Clave would keep you here, but you took my son from me. You made my grandson an orphan, and you’re going to pay.”

“You have the wrong man,” Magnus insisted, his back hitting the wall. The Inquisitor was still closing on him.

“Stop! Stop!” Alec thundered into the room, Keytower on his tail. “That’s not Valentine!”

Inquisitor Herondale scoffed. “Don’t tell me you’ve been fooled by his rambling.”

“No, Inquisitor, Magnus told me which spell Azazel used to switch his mind with Valentine’s. It’s in the spellbook in the library, I can show you!” Alec explained, and Magnus closed his eyes, thanking God for Alexander Lightwood.

“He’s right, Inquisitor, Azazel used unum ad unum. Valentine wouldn’t know that. Ask him. Ask the person who looks like Magnus, who just left, what the body switching spell is. He won’t be able to tell you.”

The Inquisitor shook her head. “This is a trick.”

Alec rushed forwards, into the cell. “I thought so too, but that’s Magnu-”

“Keytower, take Mr Lightwood out of here.”

“What? No. No! You’re about to kill an innocent man!” Alec punched Keytower in the face, sending him sprawling to the ground. “Let him go!”

The Inquisitor turned to face Alec, still brandishing the seraph blade. “You will leave me, Mr Lightwood, or you’ll die alongside Valentine.”

 

“You’ll have to kill me before I let you near Magnus.” Alec rushed to stand between the Inquisitor and Magnus. It was strange, hearing Valentine’s voice whisper an anguished thank you in his ear, but Alec was sure. It was Magnus.

“Stand aside, Mr Lightwood!”

 

Alec reached back and Magnus slipped his hand into Alec’s hold. “Never.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Junior?!” Ragnor leapt out of his portal, his coat half on. “What’s the emergency?!”

Valentine was hiding around the door, and fired a burst of numbing magic at the other warlock. He only had one chance; if he missed, Ragnor Fell was sure to overpower him. He counted his lucky stars when he heard Ragnor fall to the ground, and rushed around to cuff him with some magical restraints that Valentine had found under Magnus’ bed. He refused to think about exactly why the warlock owned magic-proof restraints, and why they were hidden under the bed, but he was thankful for them for the moment.

He levitated Ragnor up and checked in a spellbook on the table for the holographic projection spell. He may not be able to portal into the Institute cells, but he could project an image of himself down there.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Inquisitor was clearly torn; it was one thing, killing Valentine. That would get her a demotion, of course, but killing the Head of the Institute…

“You don’t have to do this. Bring in Valentine, in Magnus’ body. If you question him, it’ll become obvious that he knows nothing about magic.” Alec implored.

“And what if Valentine is in league with Azazel, and had Mr Bane’s mind scrambled?” Inquisitor Herondale spat, and Alec swallowed hard.

“That’s a risk we have to take. This Magnus, in Valentine’s body, knows things that Valentine couldn’t.” Alec insisted.

“He’s right, Inquisitor.”

Alec looked past the Inquisitor as she whirled around to see Magnus Bane, or the shape of him projected into the hallway, anyway. Next to him was an image of Ragnor, passed out and wearing thick, black handcuffs.

“You are Valentine?!” Inquisitor Herondale demanded.

“I am,” the image of Magnus said. “I can’t tell you what a relief it is to say. Pretending to be this filthy warlock for the last few days has been exhausting.”

Magnus, in Valentine’s body, sighed in relief. At least this meant he wasn’t getting executed.

“Why are you revealing yourself now? You’re free.” Inquisitor Herondale demanded.

“He’d rather die than be a warlock,” Alec growled, clenching his fist.

Valentine smirked, and Alec hated seeing that smugness on Magnus’ face. “Ever so bright aren’t you, princess?”

 

“Be careful, Valentine, you remember what happened to you last time you misgendered me,” Alec warned, stalking out of the cell to approach the projections.

“Oh, be quiet. My business is not with you, but the Inquisitor.” Valentine fixed his eyes on her. “I want my body back. You will release it, bring it to Magnus Bane’s lair, and allow me to escape to safety.”

Inquisitor Herondale huffed. “And what on Earth would possess me to do that?”

“I have Ragnor Fell. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the only thing standing between your dear grandson and lifetime of psychosis, is he not?”

“I could find another warlock,” Inquisitor Herondale replied steadily, though everyone in the room knew that there wasn’t a warlock who could treat Stephen Jr as effectively as Ragnor.

Valentine just folded his arms. He and the Inquisitor stared each other down for several long, agonising moments.

“Those are my terms.” Valentine announced. “You have one hour to send my body to me, alone, or I kill Ragnor and any chance your precious grandson has at a normal life.”

The projection faded.

“I can slow him down,” Magnus insisted, “if I go in first, I can stretch the ritual out for about ten minutes. We station shadowhunters outside the door and the minute that Valentine is back in his magic-less body, they grab him.”

“That’s too risky,” the Inquisitor said, shaking her head. “Valentine will no doubt create a portal with your magic before you switch back.”

“Magnus, could you banish the portal quickly?” Alec asked, and Magnus rubbed his forehead.

“I… I’m not sure. I’ve been without my magic for days, I-I can’t quite remember what it feels like.”

Inquisitor Herondale and Alec exchanged a worried look.

“But…” Magnus raised his head, “I do have another idea…”

~~~~~~~~~~

Despite the circumstances, Magnus was glad to be home. He’d started to wonder if he’d ever be allowed to leave those cells, so walking through the corridor outside his front door felt good. The door swung open right as he reached it, and he couldn’t keep his lip from curling at the sight of his body in Valentine’s possession.

For starters, he was dressed awfully. Dark grey pants with a navy blazer, and a white shirt. It made Magnus mad to see himself dressed so badly. It was one thing for Valentine to parade around in his body, appropriating his life, but it was another to do it so badly. Magnus wanted to throw a punch, but he cleared his throat delicately.

“Which spell have you chosen?” He asked, noting the spellbook on the table.

“This one.” Valentine swivelled the book around for Magnus to read.

Magnus shook his head. “That’s not a reliable spell. I know a better one. Let me-” He went to turn to go to his apothecary, but Valentine grabbed his shoulder.

“We use this spell, or I kill your friend.” Valentine gritted out, turning Magnus to look at Ragnor sprawled on the floor near the balcony doors.

“If you insist,” Magnus replied. He cast his eyes down at the ingredients that Valentine had gathered and put on the coffee table. “This is the wrong type of bark.”

Valentine narrowed his eyes. “The spell said birch.”

“Yes, birch, but look at it. It’s dead. Do you want our spell to have notes of death in it?”

“Do you keep live bark in your apothecary?” Valentine asked impatiently.

Magnus tilted his head to the side, his eyes narrowing and looking up at the ceiling.

“Don’t play with me, warlock!”

“I’m thinking!”

Valentine grabbed Magnus’ elbow and pulled him towards the apothecary. “You’d better hope that you have live birch bark, because if you’re stalling, Ragnor Fell is dead.”

Magnus knew that he did have live birch bark, and he also knew that he could ‘notice’ that Valentine had selected the wrong newt for the spell, but the man was unstable, and Magnus had no idea how long his patience would hold out. He just hoped that Clary could get through the wards in time.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I can’t do it!” Clary growled, trying to draw her rune for the fourth time.

“Come on, Clary,” Alec urged, “you can do this. Just take a breath.”

 

Sebastian pushed past Alec to grab Clary’s shoulders. The first thing Alec thought to do was to shove him off her, but Sebastian refused to let go, looking Alec in the eye. “I know what she needs, let me try. Magnus needs her.”

 

Alec wasn’t about to argue with that, so he stayed quiet while Sebastian’s piercing blue eyes met Clary’s.

“Tell me what it feels like to have your entire family ripped away from you.” Sebastian told her firmly, his hands squeezing her shoulders so tightly that his knuckles turned white.

“Now hold on a minu-” Alec tried, but Sebastian ignored him.

“You mother is never coming back.”

“Don’t,” Clary spat, the angry set of her eyebrows faltering.

“Your father will never, ever love you. He only wanted you to use you.”

Clary’s lower lip wobbled, and as badly as she wanted to tear her eyes away, she couldn’t. There was a fierceness in Sebastian’s gaze that resonated in the rage and grief she felt simmering inside.

“And that eats you up inside, doesn’t it? That numb, aching emptiness inside you, eating away at you day after day after day without fail. That will never go away, Clary.”

“Stop it,” Clary choked, pushing her hands against his chest. “Stop.”

 

“No, Clary, feel it. You have to feel it. We need you. We all need you. Magnus needs you. So take that pain, gather it up,” he tugged at her hand, holding her stele in front of her eyes, “and use it.”

Clary heard his words, and felt the wave of unstoppable, ugly emotions inside her crest and flow into her stele as she turned to scrawl the rune on the surface of Magnus’ wards. The shape glowed bright orange, and the wards fell. Alec shoved past the both of them and threw open the door just in time to see Magnus and Valentine both crumple to the ground. Alec hesitated, unsure which body Magnus was in.

Magnus sat up quickly, his golden eyes fixed on the portal. Clary had grabbed Valentine, and they dragged each other through the portal and disappeared. As it closed, Magnus flopped back down onto his back and raised his hands over his head, gazing up at them. He turned them over a few times, and touched his face as Alec dropped to his knees next to him.

“You’re back?” He asked, and Magnus’ eyes darted to his face.

“I’m back,” Magnus assured him.

“I’ll, erm,” Sebastian piped up, and the two men looked around at him where he hovered awkwardly next to where the portal had disappeared. “I’ll go and check that Clary got through safely.”

Alec nodded at him, before turning back to Magnus, who had his arms thrown over his face. “Magnus… I am so, so sorry. I…” He shook his head. “I don’t know what to say.”

The moment seemed to drag on forever, Magnus’ chest rising and falling slowly, like he was trying to control his breathing. Alec gently touched Magnus’ elbow, his thumb brushing the fabric of his jacket. “I…” Magnus’ voice sounded hoarse, and it scared Alec. He sounded like he’d been screaming for days. Like he was exhausted. “I’m not angry with you, Alexander, but… I… I can’t…”

“Do you need me to go, or do you need me to stay?” Alec asked, trying to sound calmer than he felt. His heart was thundering in his chest.

Magnus bit down on his lower lip, his arms still covering his eyes. “I don’t know. I…” He sighed shakily, slowly lowering his arms. He sat up, his eyes averted from Alec’s gaze. “That agony rune…” He shuddered at the memory.

“I’m sorry,” Alec whispered, his eyes stinging.

“I know. I just…”

Alec fought the urge to apologise again, biting the inside of his cheek.

“I need to… Process. Decompress.” Magnus said, eventually, his eyes on his knees.

Alec nodded, dropping his hand where it had been stroking Magnus’ arm. “I get it. I’ll go. Call me whenever you’re ready, okay? Don’t be afraid to reach out, I’ll come over here at 3am if you need me.” He promised.

Magnus tried to force a smile. “Thank you, Alec.”

Alec got up, pressing his lips to Magnus’ hair. “I love you, so much. So, so much,” he murmured, clearing his throat as he straightened up.

“I love you too,” Magnus assured him, glancing up at him and hurriedly looking away.

It broke Alec’s heart to leave him like this, but he could feel that Magnus needed to cry, and that he didn’t want Alec around to see it. He’d call Cat when he got back to the Institute and ask her to check on him tomorrow.

~~~~~~~~~~

Raj was a little freaked out by the way Inquisitor Herondale was looking at Valentine through the glass of his cell. He’d never seen her smile, and if that expression was on anybody else he might call it a smile, but there was something unsettling about the slight curve of her lips. He tried not to think too hard about what the Inquisitor had in store for Valentine.

Couldn’t they just kill him and be done with it?

“Hey,” Sebastian whispered, appearing next to him. “All went according to plan, then?”

“Yeah, the two of them came through here no problem. You should’ve seen the look on his face when he realised that he was back in his cell.”

Sebastian huffed out a laugh. “Shame you didn’t get a picture.”

“Mmmm. Should’ve thought of that.” He commented, glancing at Sebastian out of the corner of his eye. “You hungry?”

“Yeah, haven’t eaten in hours.”

 

Raj hummed, putting his hands on his hips. “You wanna… Go out for dinner?”

Sebastian’s back straightened ever so slightly, and he didn’t meet Raj’s eyes. “I should probably write my report while the events of tonight are still fresh in my head.”

“Right. Yeah, probably.” Raj nodded, sucking his lower lip into his mouth. “I get it. I’ll, uh… I’ll go get started on mine, actually.”

“Yeah, man, see you tomorrow.” Sebastian murmured, his eyes drifting to Clary, who was standing near the far wall, silently watching Valentine meditate. Raj left without another word, and Sebastian headed over to Clary.

He stood next to her for a long moment before she acknowledged him.

“He was walking around in Magnus’ body for days and we didn’t even know.” Clary said quietly, and Sebastian nodded.

“Worrying, isn’t it?”

“He needs to die.” Clary murmured.

Sebastian watched her watch Valentine. “Clary, I know we don’t know each other too well, but… Would you like to get dinner tonight?”

Clary looked up at him, drawing her eyebrows together. “Are you asking me out?”

“Yes… I think so.”

Clary shrugged one shoulder. “I’m flattered, but I’m a lesbian. With two girlfriends.”

“Oh.” Sebastian looked genuinely surprised, and Clary fought to keep her face neutral.

When would men grasp that there were lesbians with long hair?

“Of course, my apologies.” Sebastian continued, “of course you have partner...s. You’re beautiful.”

“So are Izzy and Maia,” Clary said pointedly, taking a step away from him. “My girlfriends.”

“Right. Right, sorry.” Sebastian nodded. “I’ll just…”

“Yeah,” Clary agreed, her arms tightly folded. She relaxed a little when Sebastian walked away, but something about the exchange left her unsettled. Sebastian seemed familiar with her, though they barely knew each other. He seemed invested in her, and it made her uncomfortable.

As helpful as his strange, tough-love pep talk was, looking back it was bizarre.

Who on Earth did he think he was?

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy was just coming back from lunch with Maia when Alec fell into step next to her, his face drawn and dry. She faltered, looking up at him as they slowed. He looked devastated, and she stopped, putting her arm across his body to stop him, too.

“What happened?” She asked, her eyes searching his face.

Alec licked his lips, putting his hands on his hips. “It was Magnus. In Valentine’s body. I… I left him to be tortured, for days. He was suffering for days and I didn’t do a damn thing about it.”

“What?!”

“We just swapped them back, and Magnus… I-I’ve never seen him so withdrawn and hurt. He couldn’t even look at me, Iz.” He told her, shaking his head. “I feel sick. I didn’t believe him. How could I not have believed him?!”

“Hey,” Izzy squeezed his arm. “It’s not like you put him in Valentine’s body. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It was totally reasonable to think that it was Valentine playing tricks. I’m sure Magnus will feel the same way once he’s had some time.” Alec still didn’t look convinced, so Izzy sighed and tugged him towards the Hunter’s Moon. “Come on. Let’s get a drink. You don’t need to be at the Institute like this.”

Alec didn’t have the energy to argue with her. He just kept thinking of Magnus lying there on the ground, hiding his face.

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus didn’t get up off his living room floor for what felt like hours.

When he did, he moved to his wardrobe, and dressed quickly in the first three-piece suit he put his hand on. The only thought he allowed into his mind was a decision on which cravat he was going to wear, and then he cast a portal.

He came out in the bathroom of the Panorama Club in Berlin, briefly checked his reflection in the mirror, and walked out into the pulsing, writhing room.

The crowd parted for him, subconsciously, and he slotted himself snugly between two mundanes at the bar. The bartender make eye contact with him, and Magnus held out his credit card.

“A bottle of Grey Goose. On ice.”

Chapter Text

Clary was keeping a very close eye on Izzy.

They’d managed to grab a large table in the Hunter’s Moon, which was a miracle in itself for a Saturday night. Izzy had arrived early, since she’d had the whole day off, and made herself comfortable with a cocktail.

By the time Clary and Raj got there, Izzy was… Tipsy.

“Maia was working! She was testing out new cocktails!” Izzy had explained, in that breathless, delighted tone that told Clary she was well on her way to being smashed.

It was cute, Izzy giggling and making a fuss of Clary. If they’d been alone, Clary would have revelled in the attention, but Raj was with them, and Izzy was terrible for asking inappropriate questions when she was drunk.

So Clary was keeping an eye on her, ready to change the subject if she started grilling Raj on what exactly his deal was. Clary knew that Izzy was curious about who Raj was attracted to, but he hadn’t talked about it, so presumably it was something he didn’t want to talk about.

Currently, they were on the safe topic of Magnus and Alec. It was one of Izzy’s favourite topics, so she was happy.

“I think we should take bets,” Izzy insisted, slamming her hand down on the table.

“I mean, if you want to give me your money that’s fine,” Raj laughed, well on his way to being merry. “Alec is definitely gonna propose first.”

“No way,” Izzy replied, “Alec overthinks everything. He’s gonna wait until Magnus makes the first move.”

“I don’t know, Iz, Alec is pretty full speed ahead.” Clary shrugged.

Izzy gave the two of them mock-evil-eyes. “I’ve known Alec since I was born, okay? He has way too much anxiety to put himself out there like that.”

“I still can’t believe how fucking lucky he is,” Raj sighed, sliding down in his chair to get more comfortable. “His first boyfriend and it’s, like, Magnus Bane. What the fuck? He never had to suffer through terrible Tinder dates like the rest of us. It’s bullshit.”

“Right?! He’ll never know the pain of seducing the hottest person in the club and then finding out the hard way that they’re terrible in bed,” Clary groaned.

“He’ll never know the pain of New York City Grindr.” Raj tutted, taking a sip of his beer. “Asshole.”

“So you’re gay, then?” Izzy blurted out, eyes alight with curiosity, and Clary elbowed her in the ribs.

Raj shrugged one shoulder, taking the opportunity to have a long drink.

Izzy batted her eyelashes at him patiently, and Clary put her face in her hands.

“I’m pansexual.”

“What’s that?” Izzy asked, her eyebrows scrunching.

“Iz!” Clary scolded.

Raj snorted, and scratched the back of his neck. “It’s fine. It means that I like who I like regardless of gender.”

Izzy nodded, resting her chin on her hands. “So do you have a crush on Alec?”

“Isabelle!” Clary yelped, her eyes going wide.

“What? No!” Raj insisted. “No way. I just like him as a friend.”

“I am so sorry for her,” Clary muttered.

Raj laughed, ducking his head. “It’s fine. It’s nice to have someone to talk to about this stuff. Most people assume I’m straight, and I don’t really have the guts to correct them most of the time.”

“You can be gay with us,” Izzy said sincerely, squeezing his hand.

“Thanks Iz,” Raj smiled. “Actually, I… Kinda like someone. But I’m not sure if he’s into guys.”

Clary quirked her eyebrow. “Who is it?”

Raj checked around them, his eyes sweeping the crowd by the bar and over the rest of the tables. Satisfied that the coast was clear, he leaned forward so he was closer to the two women. “It’s Sebastian. The British guy, the one who saved me from Azazel. I can’t stop thinking about him.”

“Him?” Clary couldn’t keep her lip from curling. “He’s kind of a creep, Raj.”

“He is?”

“He hit on Clary,” Izzy told him, patting his hand. “After the thing with Valentine and Magnus?”

Raj wrinkled his nose. “Really? Ugh, that’s gross. Even knowing you’re with Izzy and Maia?”

“Well, no,” Clary allowed, “he didn’t know I was with Maia and Izzy. But… I don’t know. He seems… Off.”

“Oh.” Raj bit the inside of his cheek. “What do you mean off?”

Clary shook her head. “I can’t put my finger on it. It’s like… It’s like he knows me, but I don’t know him. But he can’t know me, can he? I don’t know, maybe it’s just my heterophobia coming out,” she joked, which made Raj smile.

“I don’t know that he’s straight. When I stayed with him, we slept next to each other. He seemed to like my attention, so…”

“Oh, really?” Clary said, shrugging one shoulder. “Then maybe I misjudged him.”

“If he’s into guys, I’m sure he likes you back, Raj,” Izzy insisted, “you’re the sweetest guy ever. And handsome as hell.”

“Yeah, if you like him you should ask him out. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Raj grimaced. “I already kinda did. The night that we swapped Valentine and Magnus back. He excused himself and then went to talk to you, and I’m guessing that’s when he asked you out.” He rubbed his forehead thoughtfully. “Talk about mixed signals.”

Izzy frowned, tapping her foot on the ground. “That’s weird.”

“What’s weird?”

The three of them looked up to see Alec and Magnus walking towards them hand in hand, both of them carrying martinis.

Raj shook his head at Izzy, who blithely smiled up at the two men.

“Raj has a thing for Sebastian.” She told them, and Raj groaned, putting his face in his hands as Clary rubbed his back.

“Sebastian? The British one?” Magnus asked, sitting down in the chair Alec pulled out for him.

“Yeah, the cute British one,” Izzy amended, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Yeah, I guess he is cute,” Magnus said thoughtfully. “In a heterosexual kind of way.”

“I don’t think he’s straight,” Raj protested, his cheeks warm. “We sort of cuddled a bit when I was injured.”

Alec didn’t add anything to the conversation as Magnus, Raj and Izzy started to compare notes on what Sebastian’s sexuality might be. He had a weird itching feeling about Sebastian. He’d done nothing to warrant Alec’s suspicion, not really, but the coincidence of Sebastian just swooping in to save Raj out of nowhere just didn’t ring true to him. Raj seemed flustered by him, which was nice, but Alec couldn’t shake the feeling that his friend was going to end up hurt.

Eventually the conversation turned to Alec’s plans for the Institute’s senior management, and he was more than happy to butt in on that particular subject.

“Alec’s putting together a gay dream team, and now we know for sure that you’re pansexual, we definitely will have an all gay team!” Izzy enthused, gulping down the glass of water that Clary had tactfully put in front of her.

“Wait… What team?” Raj asked self-consciously.

“Senior management,” Alec said, shooting a dark look at his loose-lipped sister, who just grinned at him. “The plan is to have you as Head of Intelligence, Izzy as Weapons Master and Aline Penhallow as Head of Security.”

 

Raj looked touched. “You wanna make me Head of Intelligence?”

“You’ve more than earned it, Raj,” Magnus pointed out.

“Yeah, you’ve saved our asses loads of times in the last year.” Alec shrugged. “You’re the obvious choice.”

“Wow,” Raj looked down into his beer. “I didn’t expect that at all.”

Alec smiled, reaching over to squeeze his shoulder. “Congratulations. If we ever get rid of the Inquisitor.”

“This calls for another round!” Magnus got up, holding his empty glass.

“I’m still working on mine,” Clary shrugged, lifting up her glass of lemonade. She hated being the only underage one of the group.

“Yeah, me too, but thanks, man.” Raj added.

Alec looked at his own glass, which was still about a third full, and back up at Magnus. “If you wait a couple of minutes-”

“I’ll be right back!” Magnus announced, slipping through the crowd towards the bar. Alec watched him go, pressing his lips together to hold back a sigh.

“So he’s drinking again?” Clary asked tentatively.

“Yeah. A lot.” Alec answered, turning back to the table. “Ever since the Valentine thing, he’s been… Breezy. Too breezy.”

“He seems pretty chilled,” Raj agreed, “maybe he just bounced back fast.”

“Maybe,” Alec muttered, but he didn’t believe it. He knew Magnus was hurting. He knew from the way Magnus avoided cuddling in the mornings, the way he’d started locking the bathroom door when he was showering, the way he poured an extra shot of whiskey in his glass when he thought Alec wasn’t looking.

Magnus was hurting, but Alec had no idea how to fix it. Every time he tried to talk to Magnus, he’d just insist he was fine.

“I saw that they started selling this new champagne,” Magnus announced, putting a bottle down in the middle of the table and conjuring four flutes as he set down his fresh martini. “Couldn’t resist.”

Alec smiled tightly at him, his fingertips running up Magnus’ arm. “Thanks, babe.”

The eye contact they made said more than either of them had dared say in a week.

I’m not ready to tell you yet.

I understand, but I’m worried about you.

It hurts.

I know. Please let me in.

Not yet.

~~~~~~~~~~

By the time Maia showed up an hour later, Izzy had sobered up, but was getting a bit sleepy. She held out her arms for Maia to give her a cuddle, and pulled Maia to sit on her lap while Magnus got them another round of drinks.

“I think I’m gonna make this the last one for me,” Raj said as Magnus placed the tray of drinks down, “I have morning shift.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty tired too. Sorry Maia, you came all this way.” Clary added.

Maia shrugged one shoulder, kissing the top of Izzy’s head. “It’s fine, I wanted to check on Iz anyway. She was pretty worse for wear when I left earlier.”

“I’m good,” Izzy insisted, smiling indulgently up at Maia. She could barely keep her eyes open.

“What do you think, Alexander?” Magnus asked, his hand warm on Alec’s thigh. “Are we going home too, or do you want to move on to Pandemonium?” It was said with a little squeeze and a thumb stroking ever so gently up the inside of his leg, and Alec felt his face flush.

“Uhh… Home is good,” he answered, clearing his throat a little as Magnus gave him a toothy smile. Sex was off the table for them tonight; Magnus had had six drinks since they’d been here, and he’d already had at least one martini before they’d even left the loft. Still… Maybe Magnus’ tongue would be loose enough tonight to finally tell Alec how he was feeling.

“Hey, I love you,” Magnus murmured, his eyes tender.

Alec leaned over to kiss him, his hand coming up to cup Magnus’ face. He tasted of vodka, but the shape of his mouth told Alec he was smiling into the kiss. Magnus sighed happily, shifting a little closer, his fingers curling in Alec’s shirt.

“Get a room!” Raj crowed, throwing a peanut at Alec’s face. It hit him right on the eyebrow, and Alec took his hand off Magnus’ face to give him the finger.

“I second that,” Izzy added with a hum from Maia, and then all four of them were throwing peanuts at Magnus and Alec, which made the two of them laugh and break apart.

“Okay, okay, we get it,” Magnus huffed, snuggling into Alec’s side. “You hate happiness.”

“I hate being reminded how painfully single I am,” Raj grumbled. Apparently he hadn’t realised he said it out loud, because he sunk down in his seat when he noticed that everyone was looking at him. “What?!”

“You need to ask Sebastian if he’s interested in you,” Magnus insisted, shifting to sit in Alec’s lap, “because the kicked puppy thing is cute and all, but it’ll get old real fast.”

“Wait, who’s Sebastian?” Maia asked. Izzy patted her leg and she shifted to get up so Izzy could stretch out her legs.

“The British blond guy who saved Raj’s ass from Azazel.” Clary told her, uncrossing her legs so Izzy could sit on her lap. Maia quirked her eyebrow as she sat down in the seat that Izzy had just vacated.

“No idea. But I agree, it’s always best to tell someone you like them.”

“He’s not that cute,” Alec sniffed, tightening his arms around Magnus’ waist. “He’s just… Pointy.”

“Tell me you didn’t look at those hands and think ‘prostate massage.’ Tell me,” Raj demanded, which had Izzy choking on her water and Clary, Maia and Magnus cackling.

Alec blinked, his mouth agape. “I-”

“For the record-” Magnus started, but Izzy dived across the table and put her hand over his mouth.

“Please don’t tell me about my big brother’s sex life.” She begged, which only made Clary and Maia laugh harder, the two of them almost in tears.

Magnus winked at her, and Izzy grinned and burst into giggles, leaning over to give him a kiss on the cheek.

“I do adore you, Isabelle,” Magnus told her, and Alec looked between his boyfriend and his sister with honest-to-god hearts in his eyes.

“Love you too, bigger brother.” Izzy replied.

“Bless,” Maia cooed, “you Lightwood-Banes are so cute.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It took another half hour for the six of them to pile out of the Hunter’s Moon. Magnus offered to portal them all home, but they’d all watched him drink enough to be wary of jumping through any portals he was casting tonight. Clary was on Raj’s back, having taken off her high heels while they were in the bar. Alec was in charge of waving down three taxis, and was just pinning down the third when Izzy yelped and threw out her hand into his solar plexus.

“What is that?!” She pointed into the alley next to them, and all of them turned to look at a strange, jagged piece of what looked like…

“Is that flesh?!” Raj demanded.

“I smell blood,” Maia said grimly, and Magnus cast a sobering spell on himself quickly.

Clary tapped Raj on the shoulder and he let her down gently, handing her her shoes. “Anyone have their weapons?”

“Yes,” Alec and Izzy answered in tandem, and Magnus and Maia rolled their eyes at each other.

“Shadowhunters really don’t have an off switch, do they?” Maia muttered.

“Alright, what am I supposed to tell these cab drivers?” Alec asked, scratching his forehead.

“I’ll deal with the cabbies, you go be the Head of the Institute,” Magnus patted him on the shoulder.

“Guys…” Clary said slowly, “is that a rune?”

Raj crouched down to get a closer look. “It’s deflect.” He said grimly, looking up at Alec, eyes darting to the rune on his neck.

“Alright, me and Izzy in front, Maia and Ra-”

Maia just marched into the alley, and the others followed behind as Magnus explained that something had come up to the cabbies. As the shadowhunters rounded the corner, they saw Maia kneeling down next to a body, her lip curled.

The shadowhunter was clearly dead, and Alec swallowed hard as he walked close enough to see their face. His stomach dropped when he realised that he recognised the lifeless, staring expression. Rosewood had been one of the guards stationed at Valentine’s cell, and now here he was.

“His runes have been cut out,” Izzy gasped. She’d seen a lot of dead bodies, in the time that she’d been running the pathology department at the Institute, but she’d never seen a body so purposefully mutilated.

“There are werewolf claw marks,” Maia said quietly. She looked up at Clary and Raj, who were standing a few feet away. “A werewolf did this.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Report, Mr Lightwood,” Inquisitor Herondale commanded as the gang, minus Maia and Magnus, walked into the Institute pushing a gurney.

Alec had been dreading this conversation since he called the Institute for an ambulance vehicle to move the body. Inquisitor Herondale’s attitude towards downworlders was bad at the best of times, and this wasn’t exactly going to soften her views. “We found a piece of flesh with a rune on it in the alleyway next to the Hunter’s Moon,” Alec explained, “and followed the trail of blood. We found Rosewood, dead, with his runes cut out.”

“His runes?” The Inquisitor looked genuinely shocked. “Bleeding was the cause of death?”

 

“It’s hard to say at this point,” Izzy interjected, “but Maia Roberts, the pack beta, was with us. She identified werewolf claw marks on the body, so cause of death may be mauling. I’ll carry out a full autopsy right away.”

The Inquisitor’s face was severe, clearly upset but not surprised in the slightest. “We should have expected this. The werewolves have been campaigning for Valentine’s execution.”

“Luke had nothing to do with this,” Alec insisted, “he would never condone violence like this. If his pack was the culprit, why did Maia lead us to the body? It was her who said she smelled blood.” He bit his lower lip. “Maia mentioned that a few members of the pack have recently broken away to form a new pack because they felt that Luke’s leadership was too soft. It’s possible that they are responsible. They said they wanted to make new wolves.”

“But why kill a shadowhunter?” Raj asked, and Alec shrugged.

“I don’t know.”

“This kind of attack was meant to instill fear in us,” Inquisitor Herondale pointed out. No-one could argue with her. “Please conduct a full autopsy, Miss Lightwood, and I would like reports from all of you on my desk by 0900 hours tomorrow morning. I will call Miss Roberts and ask for her statement over the phone.”

“Magnus was there, as well,” Clary told her, and the Inquisitor nodded, her eyes darting to Alec.

“Then I’ll be sure to call him, as well. Write your reports and get some rest. We’ll discuss our next moves tomorrow morning once I’ve consulted with the Clave. Dismissed.”

Clary helped Izzy wheel the gurney holding the body bag towards the elevators, and Alec and Raj left the ops centre to head towards the barracks. Alec wondered if he’d done the right thing by implicating Russell’s new pack, but he couldn’t deny that it made sense, and there was no way that Luke was involved in any way.

“Some night, huh?” Raj murmured, and Alec hummed.

“Tomorrow’s going to be awful,” Alec agreed, clapping Raj on the back. “Get some rest.”

Raj nodded as Alec let himself into his own room, and headed down the corridor to his own bed. After the drinking, and the emotional upheaval of finding Rosewood dead like that, he was about ready to collapse and lose consciousness for the next 12 hours. He was surprised to see Sebastian waiting for him in his room, his eyebrow quirking.

“I heard what happened,” Sebastian said, his arms folded. “Are you alright? I know you’re squeamish.”

A slight smile appeared on Raj’s face, and Magnus’ words came back to him. Tell him how you feel. “Yeah, I’m fine. It… It didn’t really look real, you know what I mean? It was…”

“Awful,” Sebastian guessed, and Raj sighed.

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Sebastian nodded, tentatively reaching out to brush up and down Raj’s arm. “I, erm… In true English fashion,” he said, wheeling away to stand next to the bedside table, “I made tea.”

“Of course you did,” Raj chuckled, “tea solves everything, right?”

“Right,” Sebastian smiled, pouring them each a cup from the teapot.

Raj stepped forward to add milk and sugar, wondering what exactly all this meant, if anything. “So…”

“So…” Sebastian echoed, cradling his own teacup in his hands.

Do you like me? Raj wanted so badly to know, to ask, but the words were stuck in his throat. After the embarrassment of Sebastian turning him down to go after Clary, he just couldn’t face putting himself out there again. “Good patrol?”

Sebastian seemed relieved to hear the question. “Yes, actually. No trouble whatsoever. All the excitement was going on halfway across the city, it seems.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I think I’d have rather been with you.” Raj chuckled. He only realised the implication of what he said when Sebastian met his eyes, his gaze softer and less guarded than before.

The moment passed when Sebastian cleared his throat and finished the rest of his tea, putting the cup down next to the teapot. “I should go. I imagine the Inquisitor is going to have all hands on deck tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Raj nodded, sitting down on his bed. “Thanks for coming to check on me.”

“Anytime,” Sebastian assured him as he slipped out the door.

Raj watched the door for a moment, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Talk about mixed signals,” he muttered, putting the teacup aside to take off his shirt.

~~~~~~~~~~

It wasn’t surprising to anyone that Inquisitor Herondale called Luke in for questioning the next morning. Alec tried to tell her, again, that Russell was the more likely suspect, but since Russell’s pack wasn’t recognised as separate by the Clave, it was Luke’s ass on the line. He arrived early, eager to get in and out as soon as possible. He knew that none of his pack would have killed a shadowhunter, so he wasn’t nervous.

That soon changed when he walked into the Institute and spotted Maryse Lightwood ushering her youngest son off towards the training centre. His stomach turned over at the sight of her, in a way that he’d been sure he’d never feel again. Try as he might, he couldn’t tear his gaze away from her as she turned to go about her own duties, and their eyes met. Her eyes widened a little, but she smiled slightly and gave him a nod.

“Hi,” he murmured as they passed each other, pausing for the shortest moment.

“Nice to see you again, Lucian,” Maryse replied, and she looked like she meant it, her eyes flitting up and down his body.

Luke half-smiled, and carried on towards the office.

His good mood soon evaporated when Inquisitor Herondale’s security detail intercepted him in the corridor, their hands closing around his elbows.

“I’m here of my own free will, fellas. I want this killer caught as much as anybody else,” Luke insisted, but they acted like they hadn’t heard him. He just sighed and let them lead him to Inquisitor Herondale’s office, preparing himself for an unfair interview.

“Mr Greymark,” the Inquisitor looked angry, and she didn’t dismiss the security detail. Luke glanced at them and sat down opposite her. “Another body was found less than an hour ago.”

Luke leaned forward in his seat. “Another werewolf attack?”

“No,” Inquisitor Herondale admitted, “this seems to have been done by a vampire.”

“I see.” Luke said coolly. “So why am I still here?”

“You have ties to the New York clan.”

Luke scoffed. “You think Simon and I teamed up to kill two shadowhunters? Why would we do that? We also have close ties to the shadowhunters.”

“You are the alpha of the New York pack, are you not?” Inquisitor Herondale responded. “When I speak of ‘you’ I speak of your pack. You are responsible for the wolves under your authority. So tell me, Mr Greymark, who was absent from the Jade Wolf last night?”

“Part of my pack recently broke away to form their own pack. I have no idea what they’ve been up to in the last two weeks. Am I to be held responsible for them?”

“They haven’t registered themselves as a pack in their own right, so yes, Mr Greymark, you are still responsible for their actions.” Inquisitor Herondale confirmed, and Luke shook his head. “That is the burden of being pack alpha.”

Luke bit back a sigh. “What other evidence was on the body besides the claw marks? Any forensic traces?”

“Miss Lightwood was able to find traces of saliva on the victim’s face,” Inquisitor Herondale admitted.

“Then take a sample of my DNA and test it. The rest of the wolves under my command will supply a sample as well, and you can rule my pack out of your investigation.” Luke challenged, folding his arms.

“And if one of your packmates is the killer that we’re looking for?”

Luke raised his chin. “Then I’ll kill them myself.”

The Inquisitor looked impressed at his decisiveness. “Very well. Report down to the morgue, and Isabelle will take a sample of your DNA and make arrangements to do the same to your pack.”

“Always a pleasure, Inquisitor,” Luke nodded, getting up and allowing her security detail to take his elbows once more.

“Make sure that you verify that Miss Lightwood doesn’t… Accidentally mix up Mr Greymark’s sample.” Inquisitor Herondale told the guards as they started to steer Luke out of the office.

Izzy, at least, was happy to see him. When he came around the corner, she looked up and gave him a big smile, pushing her protective goggles up her forehead. She didn’t look best pleased to see the two guards escorting him, but she ignored them to give him a hug. “What are you doing down here?”

“I told Inquisitor Herondale that she could compare my DNA to the DNA found on the victim’s body.” Luke shrugged, “easiest way to rule out myself and the rest of the pack.”

“And she wants me to take the sample?”

Luke nodded, and Izzy sighed, hopping off her work-stool to retrieve some DNA testing kits from the cabinet on the other side of the lab. “Any leads from the autopsies?”

Izzy shrugged. “It’s funny, the MO is exactly the same aside from the cause of death. In the first victim, the COD was a puncture wound to the lung from werewolf claws. In the second, it was exsanguination, presumably from a vampire. But the weird thing is the common thread, the removal of runes. It’s exactly the same on both victims, it’s even the same weapon being used. So, I would say we’re looking for a werewolf/vampire couple. But…”

“There are no werewolf/vampire couples. The pack hates the clan, and the clan hates us.”

“Exactly,” Izzy stressed, unscrewing the cotton bud from its plastic protector. “Open up.”

Luke opened his mouth, leaning towards her a little.

“It makes no sense. The only explanation I can think of is that this couple aren’t from New York; maybe they’ve travelled to New York because there’s a high concentration of shadowhunters here.” Izzy told him as she rubbed the cotton bud along the inside of his mouth. “The Inquisitor wants an open and shut case, but it’s not going to be as simple as that.”

Luke hummed in agreement, closing his mouth as Izzy took the cotton bud from his mouth and screwed it back into its holder. “These things never are. Chances are this couple are going to strike again. The focus needs to be on keeping the shadowhunters safe, with a curfew, or making sure that you go out in pairs after dark.”

“That would be too sensible for the Clave,” Izzy tutted.

Luke snorted. “Yeah, you’re right. God forbid they deal with any situation with any kind of common sense.”

Izzy smirked, glancing at the security detail that had accompanied Luke. “You happy that I have the sample?”

“I’ll tell the Inquisitor,” Keytower assured her, happy that Izzy had followed protocol. He left along with his partner without a backwards glance at Luke.

The moment they were gone, Luke tilted his head to the side, quirking his eyebrow when Izzy noticed him looking at her. She blushed, realising why he looked so inquisitive.

“Maia told you, huh?”

Luke smiled, shrugging one shoulder. “Well, when she floated in half-drunk and giddy more than three times in the last week, I figured she was seeing somebody. And I mean, the three-way relationship thing sounds mad to me, but… I can’t deny that Maia seems happier than she has in a long time.”

“So you’re okay with it?” Izzy asked tentatively.

“Clary and Maia are the two most important people in my life. It didn’t surprise me in the slightest that they got along so well, and… You’ve proven several times over that you’re an impressive young woman. And you make both of them float like little clouds, so yes, Isabelle, I’m fine with it. Happy for you, actually.” Luke explained, squeezing her shoulder.

Izzy sighed. “Good. Clary’s been dreading telling you. She’s still freaked out that you know what a furry is.”

“I’m freaked out that SHE knows what a furry is,” Luke replied, which made Izzy laugh. He chuckled along with her, shaking his head. “Seems like just yesterday she was learning to walk.”

“She sounds like she was a nightmare as a kid,” Izzy hummed.

“Oh, she was. Always in trouble. She got kicked out of kindergarten for biting one of the boys when he tried to hug her.” Luke sighed, nostalgia warming his heart. “I said to Jocelyn, she-” His voice died in his throat, and he swallowed the words he was going to say. Izzy squeezed his hand. “I should get going, you’re busy.”

Izzy nodded slowly. She wished she could say that it wasn’t true, that she had time to talk, but she really was busy with the latest victim, and now Luke’s DNA to test. “Take care of yourself, Luke.”

“Yeah, you too, Iz,” Luke smiled briefly, heading for the door. He tried his best not to think of that memory he’d unearthed as he walked back towards the exit, but the image of Jocelyn laughing over a glass of wine with him was too tempting to resist.

“She’s a born shadowhunter, Jocelyn,” he’d told her, “there’s no denying it.”

“That she is,” Jocelyn had agreed, smiling and shaking her head, “and I feel sorry for any boy who ever tries to cross her.”

They’d been more amused by Clary’s fierceness than worried, back then. As she grew, and that fierceness grew with her, Jocelyn had become more and more protective. Luke wondered what would have happened if they’d told Clary the truth, if she’d gone to the academy.

Ultimately, he knew Jocelyn had made the right call. If she’d gone to the academy, Clary would have been taught the same prejudices as they had. She wouldn’t be as independent, as headstrong. She’d have been taught to obey the Clave. She wouldn’t be Clary. Luke, not for the first time, thanked Jocelyn, deep in his heart, for raising the girl they both loved so much.

When the elevator doors slid open, Luke’s eyes fell on another gurney, and another body bag perched on top of it. Alec was wheeling it towards him, his face grim.

“Another body? Werewolf?” Luke asked, stepping aside to let Alec onto the elevator.

“Warlock,” Alec said quietly. “Inquisitor Herondale has ordered us to collect DNA samples from as many downworlders as possible. To rule them out of the investigation.”

“What, they’re going to start a database of downworlder DNA?” Luke put his hands on his hips. “That sounds like the top of a very slippery slope.”

Alec scratched his head. “I agree. As soon as these killers are caught I’ll campaign to have the database destroyed. But right now, I just don’t want you or Magnus caught up in this mess.”

“Wish me luck selling this idea to the pack,” Luke said ruefully, clapping Alec on the shoulder as he passed him. Alec nodded, pushing the gurney into the elevator and texting Izzy to let her know there was another body on the way down.

He was due for a lunch date with Magnus.

~~~~~~~~~~

For the first time since their first date, Magnus was very nervous for Alec to turn up. Things had been a little wobbly since the Valentine incident; Alec wanted Magnus to open up, and Magnus wasn’t ready to talk about it. It meant that Alec was anxious, and that just put more pressure on Magnus, which made him tense, which made Alec more anxious, and so on.

Their night out with the others yesterday was meant to loosen them up, so they could come home and talk and make love, but then they’d found that body. In the light of day, without the martinis to keep him laid back, the thought of telling Alec about his time in Valentine’s body was downright terrifying. If he had a drink on a lunch date, Alec would definitely call him on it, so Magnus resorted to his other coping mechanism.

He dyed his hair by hand, because he needed the distraction from the butterflies. The silver highlights looked great with the shirt he’d picked out, he was glad to see as he blow dried his hair, teasing it into the tall hairstyle he’d come to favour in recent years. It took less time than Magnus thought it would to do his make-up, which meant that despite his best efforts he was stuck with nothing to do for half an hour.

A couple of times he gravitated towards his liquor cabinet, but he steered himself towards his apothecary, shutting the door like that would put the promise of a stiff martini out of his mind. He sat at his desk, organising and reorganising the small bottles and boxes, his foot tapping with agitation.

Alec, being the angel that he was, showed up early as usual, and Magnus jumped to his feet when he felt him coming through his wards. He walked to the door to wait, a little excited now to see Alec’s reaction to his fresh look. One of the best things about Alec being inexperienced was how he never tried to hide his reactions to Magnus’ words or outfits; he wasn’t subtle, and Magnus loved that

He let Alec knock the door before swinging it open, smirking as Alec’s face slackened in awe.

“Wow. You look…”

“I was bored,” Magnus shrugged, brushing his hair like a bird preening its feathers, “wanted a change.”

Alec nodded, his eyes greedily roaming all over Magnus’ body. It made him prickle pleasantly, and whatever anxiety he’d felt about seeing Alec melted away. Alec stepped closer for a kiss and Magnus hummed into it, gently pressing him back as Alec tried to deepen it.

“You should’ve called me for a portal,” Magnus scolded, smoothing his hands down Alec’s chest. “There’s a serial killer on the loose. You shouldn’t be walking alone.”

“But I’m not alone,” Alec flirted, his fingers running up and down Magnus’ arms, “I’m with you,” his finger pressed to the centre of Magnus’ chest, “the High Warlock of Brooklyn.”

Magnus smiled, slipping his arms around Alec’s waist. “I don’t know, Alexander, it’s still pretty dangerous. Maybe we should just…” His hands strayed down to Alec’s ass, and Alec’s smile heated a little, his eyes intent. “Stay in.”

For a moment, Magnus was sure he had Alec on the hook. He looked ravenous, and not for lunch. Then he seemed to remember something, and slowly, reluctantly dragged himself away from his boyfriend.

“Before we have our date… I need to talk to you about something.” Alec admitted, scratching the back of his head. “There are new orders, from Inquisitor Herondale.”

Magnus sighed, folding his arms. “No doubt they’re heinous.”

“Luke had the idea to give the Inquisitor a DNA sample to rule him out of the investigation. So now we’ve been ordered to collect DNA from as many downworlders as possible.” Alec explained, reaching into his back pocket to pull out an envelope.

“Why am I under suspicion?” Magnus asked. His eyes dropped to the envelope between Alec’s fingers, and his eyebrow arched. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“I know that, Magnus, of course I do.” Alec insisted, “but if you just give me a hair, we can rule you out of the investigation. You won’t have to be dragged in for questioning or whatever.”

Magnus lifted his chin. “Since when are you okay with racial profiling?”

“It’s just a hair, Magnus, it’s not personal.” Alec sighed, raking his free hand through his hair. “Let’s not be dramatic.”

“Dramatic?” Magnus repeated, looking away from his boyfriend as a disproportionately overwhelming tide of anger threatened to drag him under. He clenched his teeth together, tamping down on it, and plucked a hair from his head, eyes lifting to Alec’s. “Well, I wouldn’t want to be dramatic.”

Alec bit his lip, taking the hair and putting it in the envelope. “I didn’t mean-”

“Sometimes I forget that you’re a shadowhunter.” Magnus said quietly, his eyes on the ground.

“I just don’t want you to get dragged back to those cells,” Alec murmured, “you don’t deserve to be down there.” He reached out to take Magnus’ hips in his hands. “I’m just trying to protect you.”

Magnus pulled away. “Get out.”

“Magnus…”

The front door swung open behind them.

“Out.”

Alec looked at him beseechingly for a moment, but Magnus just walked off towards his apothecary, slamming the door shut behind him. Alec sighed out loud and headed for the door, running his fingers through his hair.

In the apothecary, Magnus sat down heavily in his chair and closed his eyes. It wasn’t like him to lose his temper, especially not with Alec, but he’d put so much pressure on himself to put Alec at ease today, to get them back on the right page, and Alec had brought his shadowhunter bullshit to his door.

He brought his hand down on the desk, his jaw clenched. How could Alec think for a second that it was acceptable to treat Magnus like a murder suspect? What was he thinking?! Magnus had gotten all dressed up for him, intent on making things right, on opening up. How dare he?!

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary wasn’t sure exactly how Simon ended up staying in the boathouse by the Jade Wolf. When he’d mentioned it on the phone, and she’d asked how that happened, he’d avoided the question. After a few minutes of stuttering and muttering, Simon had just told her it was a long story and left it at that. She hoped that he’d be more open to talking about it in person.

“Hey,” Simon greeted her with a hug at the door, letting her lead him into his new little flat in the boathouse.

It was surprisingly homey in there; Simon had brought all his stuff from home, including his nerdy posters. He must have been working on some music, because his amp was all set up and making a low hum. Clary gave a low whistle as she looked around, her hands on her hips.

“This is a sweet deal, huh?”

“Yeah,” Simon smiled, “now that Russell’s gone, it’s perfect. I’d offer you a drink, but I’ve only got A positive.”

Clary laughed, sitting down on the beaten leather couch in the corner. “No worries, Si.”

“So what brought you all the way down here? Alec finally cutting you some slack?” He asked. Without even thinking about it, he gravitated towards his guitar, slinging the strap over his shoulder.

“Never,” Clary teased, “but technically he’s not my boss right now. There’s this stuffy Inquisitor from the Clave running the place. She has us all on strict orders, with this downworlder gang killing shadowhunters.”

“Yeah, Luke mentioned that they might want our DNA or something.” Simon nodded, his eyes on his guitar. “Is that why you’re here?”

Clary sighed. “It’s just to rule you out. I know that you haven’t done anything, but…”

“You know my Bubbie Helen? The one who used to bake cookies every Monday to cheer us up after school?” Simon asked, looking down at the pedals at his feet, fiddling around with some sound levels.

“Of course, she was the best.”

“When she was little, her family owned a bakery in Poland. One day, these soldiers came in and asked to put a star in the window. No big deal,” he shrugged, “for their records. Then they had to wear white armbands. And they couldn’t ride the train. Then… Then they were forced to ride the train.” Simon looked up to meet Clary’s gaze, swallowing hard. “My Bubbie Helen was the only one in her family to survive, Clary.”

Clary bit the inside of her cheek. “You never told me that before.”

Simon shrugged, smiling wryly. “I don’t like to think about her that way. She never talked about it, except once. Right before my Bar Mitzvah, I was worried about inviting our friends from school. I… You know, I was the only Jewish kid in our group. I didn’t want them to think I was weird or that our family was old-fashioned. So she told me how she survived, told me that I had no right to be ashamed after what our people went through just to survive. She was right.”

“And your Bar Mitzvah was the best night ever,” Clary remembered, “everyone was there.”

Simon nodded. He’d struggled a lot when he was younger, trying to find balance between his faith and not standing out too much. But that Bar Mitzvah had been a turning point. His friends had loved being a part of his faith, and it had given him confidence he badly needed.

“So you know why I can’t give you my DNA.” He pressed, and Clary smiled at him.

“Yeah. I get it.”

The two of them smiled at each other for a moment.

“So, uh… What are you working on?” Clary asked tentatively.

Simon immediately brightened up, his infectious enthusiasm firmly back in place. “I have a gig at the Hunter’s Moon tomorrow night. I’m working on my set as a soloist. It’s a lot easier than I thought now that I have these,” he told her, pointing at the pedals with his feet.

“How’d you get the gig there?” Clary asked, and Simon sighed, shrugging one shoulder.

“By popular demand.”

“Oh?” Clary beamed, “look at you!”

“It’s not what you think. The vamps think I’m, like… Jesus.” He grimaced, “it’s weird.”

Clary tilted her head to the side. “Because of the daylighter thing? Is that why you’re here?”

“Yeah,” Simon admitted, “they were all gunning for me to take over Raphael’s job and neither me or Raphael wanted that, so it’s whatever. I kinda like it here. It’s quieter, and it’s been nice being so close to Luke.”

“I haven’t been around enough,” Clary mumbled, “it’s been easier just throwing myself into this shadowhunter thing.”

“Well, makes sense, since you’re like shadowhunter Jesus.” Simon teased, putting his guitar back on its stand.

Clary laughed. “No, that’s Izzy.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s it,” he smiled, sitting down next to her. “From here it looks like you’re having the time of your life. Kicking ass, dating two gorgeous women…”

“It has its moments, but moments like this, where I’m sent to ask a friend to compromise his beliefs… That’s not so great.”

Simon hummed, nodding.

“Speaking of girlfriends, though, how’s your love life going?” She elbowed him in the ribs.

“Me and Maureen were hooking up a bit, but she got sick of me hiding something from her. I couldn’t exactly tell her about the vampire thing, could I?” Simon shrugged, “so right now I’m riding solo. There was a cute shadowhunter at the party at Magnus’ the other day, though. We didn’t really get a chance to exchange numbers, between the dancing and then all that drama with the warlocks.”

“Oh, right, Raj. He is cute. He’s kinda into somebody else, now, though.” Clary told him grimly.

“Yeah, sounds about right,” Simon snorted, rolling his eyes. “Just my luck.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Simon, you really didn’t have to call.” Clary laughed as she answered the phone, looking around as she wandered down the pier back towards the subway. “I’ll be on the subway in a sec.”

“Of course I had to call, there’s a gang of serial killers on the loose!” Simon insisted, “I’m gonna keep talking to you all the way home.”

Clary rolled her eyes but Simon’s concern did warm her heart. “Thank you, Simon.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to just walk you home?”

“I’m sure,” Clary promised him, tucking her hand into the pocket of her leather jacket to keep it warm.

One minute, Clary was walking the same route she’d walked dozens of times, down a quiet, well-lit pier, and the next she was on her back. Her head hit the floor hard and her vision swam. Her hand scrabbled against the concrete for the seraph blade she’d been carrying, but a suffocating weight swung down on top of her, and she found her hands pinned. Blinking, she tried to clear her vision enough to see her attacker, but the person’s face was shrouded.

“Valentine’s daughter,” the attacker said with relish, “I hit the jackpot.”

The scratch of a needle dug into Clary’s neck, and a seductive darkness dragged her down.

~~~~~~~~~~

“She’s finally asleep,” Dot chuckled as she let herself into the bedroom, stretching her arms over her head. “It wasn’t easy, but the story of Uncle Raphael’s trip to a beach resort got her to drift off in the end.”

Cat laughed, putting down her glass of wine as Dot climbed into bed. “Yeah, I can’t blame her. Pretty sure I lost five years of my life listening to that one.” She put her arm around Dot’s shoulders, giving her a kiss on the temple. “You’re wonderful with her.”

“You’re wonderful full stop,” Dot murmured, turning her face to give her girlfriend a chaste kiss. “You work so hard.”

“Mmmm… Every month I tell myself I’m gonna take on less hours, but they really struggle as it is at the hospital.”

“You’re doing great, baby,” Dot assured her, rubbing her leg.

Cat smiled, leaning in for another kiss. “So are you.” She sighed out loud, which made Dot giggle.

Just as they were shuffling down under the covers, Dot’s phone started to ring, and her eyebrows furrowed when she saw it was Magnus.

“Mag? You okay?” Dot asked, glancing at the worried look on Cat’s face.

“I’m great!” Magnus insisted, “I’m heading to Pandemonium and I realised it’s been almost a decade since we had a dance. Can you believe that?! A decade, Dorothea! It’s a crime!”

Dot grimaced, mouthing the word ‘drunk’ at Cat, who tutted. “Yeah, it has been a while.”

“We should fix it. You should come with me! Have some drinks, a dance. We could paint the town red!”

“That sounds great, Mag, but I just put Madzie to bed. We’re all set for the night.”

There was a pause. “Oh. Right. I… Jesus, I forgot about Madzie, I’m sorry. It’s been a long day.”

“It’s okay, babe. I’ll come see you tomorrow, okay?”

“Yeah… Yeah, alright, I’ll see you tomorrow. Give Cat and Madz a kiss.” He hung up, and Dot sighed, putting her phone on the bedside table.

“He’s not coping, is he?” Dot mumbled, running her hand through her hair.

Cat shook her head. “He was already having a wobble with Camille, then this Valentine body swap bullshit, and the argument he had with Alec… I get it, I do, but it breaks my heart to see him reverting back to his old ways.”

“How do we snap him out of it?”

Cat shrugged one shoulder, pressing her lips to Dot’s head. “Usually, he tires himself out after a couple of weeks and realises he’s being irrational and unsafe, but… I mean, Alec will for sure step in before that. Alec can touch him in a way that I haven’t seen anybody else do.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s a good thing you were on the phone with her,” Alec murmured, taking Clary from Simon. The way her head sagged as he took her in his arms worried him, but the other victims hadn’t been poisoned, so Alec thought it was safe to assume she’d just been sedated.

“Did you see the attacker?” Inquisitor Herondale cut in, not giving Alec or Clary a second glance.

Simon’s lip curled at the sight of her. He remembered what Clary had told him before the attack, that the Inquisitor had ordered the mass collection of downworlder DNA. “I was too busy saving my best friend.”

The Inquisitor tutted, and marched off. Alec gave Simon an apologetic look, and led him to Clary’s room. The medic, Lockheart, was already waiting for them, and as she checked Clary over, Alec went to stand next to Simon.

“I can’t believe she almost died,” Simon whispered, his eyes fixed on Clary’s unconscious face.

“You saved her,” Alec told him, clapping his back. “Clary was there to get your DNA, presumably?”

Simon nodded. “Yeah, we hung out for a bit. I wanted to walk her back to the subway but she insisted she’d be fine.”

“And she is,” Alec pointed out. “Did she drop your sample, or?”

“I didn’t give her one,” Simon answered. “I’m Jewish, Alec, I’m not about to hand my DNA to the nazis.”

Alec didn’t know what to say to that. He couldn’t even begin to argue with that. Maybe Magnus hadn’t been being dramatic, at all. He stood there in silence, and so did Simon, the both of them watching as Lockheart fussed around Clary and eventually straightened up.

“She’ll be fine, she just needs to sleep off the sedative,” Lockheart told Alec, who nodded.

Just as Lockheart was leaving, the Inquisitor marched into the room accompanied by her security guards. Simon wasn’t bothered by her presence, going to sit in the chair next to Clary’s bed.

“The Institute is on lockdown until further notice. No downworlders are permitted.” She told Simon, who just clenched his jaw.

“I’m not leaving her.”

“I must insist, Mr Lewis.” The Inquisitor said.

Simon didn’t even look at her. “I am not going anywhere.”

“Inquisitor, Simon is clearly not involved with this gang, he saved Clary’s life.” Alec pointed out, “he’s not a danger to any of us.”

“We cannot have one rule for one and another for the rest, Alec.”

Simon got to his feet and turned to square up to the Inquisitor. “If you want me to leave then you’re going to have to have your goons drag me out, because I am never, ever going to leave Clary’s side willingly.”

“That can be arranged.” Inquisitor Herondale responded, her face impassive. “Take him down to the cells,” she ordered her guards.

“Now wait a minute, this is unnecessary,” Alec argued, but the guard were already grabbing Simon. He didn’t resist, just raised his chin as they pulled him from the room. “You’re just going to sow further discord, acting like this. If we criminalise the downworlders who stand with us-”

“You cannot allow a downworlder to challenge your authority,” she told him, and it was at that moment that Alec realised that he’d been delusional to think that he could play both sides.

He pushed past her and walked right out of the door. He needed to talk to Magnus.

“Inquisitor,” Lydia said urgently, marching into the room, “they found Hillwater, down by the pier where Clary was attacked.”

Inquisitor Herondale pursed her lips. “That makes six.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Then we have no choice,” Inquisitor Herondale murmured, leading Lydia towards the ops centre, “we’ll have to resort to emergency protocol. Send a fire message to Alicante, order a dozen chipping machines and four hundred microchips. To be portalled over immediately.”

Lydia nodded. “Consider it done, Inquisitor.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Thanks for this,” Izzy said, tucking the protected cotton swab away in her pocket, “it’ll just mean that the Clave can’t frame you for these murders.”

Maia shrugged. “I don’t like it, but I get it. I’m not giving those assholes any reason to suspect me.”

They were in the Hunter’s Moon, Maia behind the bar, as usual. She’d just started her shift when Izzy swung by, wondering if one of these days Izzy was going to come along to her actual house. It struck her that Izzy hadn’t seen her new place, and she was just working up the nerve to ask her and Clary over for a movie night when she spotted a stiff-looking shadowhunter march through the door.

A few of the wolves hanging around seemed to recognise her, eyeing her suspiciously, which immediately put Maia on her guard. The shadowhunter looked around, pulling what looked like a large pen out of her pocket.

“Check out Little Miss Country Club,” Maia muttered, and Izzy turned to look.

“Oh, fuck.” Izzy hissed, “what’s she doing here?”

Maia looked at the shadowhunter again. “Am I supposed to know who she is?”

“Lydia Branwell, the girl who almost married Alec.”

“The bigot who ran the Institute before Aldertree?” Maia checked, and Izzy nodded. “What the fuck does she want with us?”

Lydia spotted Izzy, and gave a grim nod. Izzy hopped down off her bar stool and approached, her eyes dropping to the device in Lydia’s hand. “I don’t want any trouble, Isabelle, I’m just here to carry out some orders.”

“What kind of orders?” Izzy demanded.

“We’re up to six victims now,” Lydia explained, shrugging off her nerves. She was in the right, here. She was following a directive from an Inquisitor; Izzy wouldn’t show her up this time. “The Inquisitor has decreed that we need to be able to track downworlders like we track shadowhunters through their runes.”

Izzy’s eyebrows furrowed. “What the hell are you talking about?!”

“The Clave have used these electronic implants in problem areas before,” Lydia replied, holding up the device in her hand. “They’ve been a huge success.”

“Are you-” Izzy put her hands on her hips. “Are you seriously thinking about microchipping downworlders? Like dogs?!”

“It’s a painless, quick injection-”

Izzy curled her lip. “Tell me you’re joking.”

“The orders come from the Clave,” Lydia told her, “so if you would help me organise these-”

“You think I’m going to help you microchip innocent people?!” Izzy shouted, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end as everyone in the bar turned to look. “You’re fucking delusional.”

A couple of werewolves stood up from their seats, and Lydia swallowed nervously, raising her chin.

“This will be easier on all of us if you just line up ready-”

Izzy brought her fist back and punched her square in the jaw, breathing hard as Lydia hit the floor. Maia ran around the bar to stand next to Izzy, staring down at Lydia in amazement.

“You just punched her in the face,” Maia breathed, turning her awe-struck eyes to Izzy’s face.

“The Lightwood siblings are fucking metal!” A werewolf yelled, and Izzy huffed out a laugh, relaxing a little.

Lydia staggered up to her feet, her jaw clenched, and grabbed Maia’s shoulder. “Hold still,” she growled, stabbing the microchipper into her neck.

Maia was too shocked to react at first, yelping in pain as the microchip was shot under her skin, elbowing Lydia in the nose. “What the fuck?!”

“You see?!” Lydia panted, holding her bleeding nose, “it’s nothing! Just a little scratch.”

The Hunter’s Moon erupted into chaos, the wolves and Izzy scrambling over each other to grab for Lydia, who quickly realised she was outnumbered and ran for the door. A few wolves pursued her out into the night, but Izzy stopped in her tracks, realising that Maia wasn’t with her. She looked back to see Maia clutching her neck, a grimace on her face.

“You okay?” Izzy asked, “let me see.”

Maia lowered her hand to let Izzy take a look. The site of the microchip was bleeding a tiny bit, and it looked like it was going to bruise. Izzy felt awful looking at it, and sighed. She and Maia made eye contact for a moment, and Maia’s gaze hardened. Izzy nodded.

“You see what happens when the shadowhunters get half a chance?!” Maia yelled, climbing up on the bar. “They’d see us chipped and collared like pets! Are we going to stand for it?!”

The remaining wolves cheered and snarled, whipping themselves up into a frenzy.

Izzy stood in the middle of it, pushing aside every moment of her training to clap alongside with the wolves, the fury rising and spilling over inside of her. The Clave had gone too far this time.

They had to be stopped.

~~~~~~~~~~

The first thing Clary did when she came round was call out for Simon, her hands scrabbling along the mattress looking for a weapon. Her last memory was of a shadow looming over her, and pain in her skull.

“Hey, hey, you’re okay,” Raj murmured, putting his hand out to calm her, “you’re back at the Institute.”

Clary sat up, rubbing at her forehead. “What happened?”

“You were attacked, but Simon got there before they could hurt you. You were just knocked out, and you had a concussion, but an iratze took care of that,” he assured her, gesturing to the new rune on the inside of her arm.

“Simon?” Clary glanced around, “where is he? Where’s Izzy? Alec?”

Raj shook his head. “They tried to make Simon leave the Institute but he refused. He’s… He’s in the cells.”

“What?!” Clary threw her legs over the edge of the bed.

“The Inquisitor’s gone full crazy,” Raj told her, handing her a stele. “Sent Lydia and some of the others out to start microchipping downworlders.”

“WHAT?!”

“Izzy and Alec disappeared,” Raj added, “so I’m guessing they’re out there fucking shit up.”

Clary nodded. “You wanna come with me to see Simon?”

“Oh, uh, I need to let the Inquisitor know that you’re awake,” Raj insisted, clearing his throat. “She’ll probably want to question you.”

“Right, yeah,” Clary replied. She remembered Simon mentioning his crush on Raj and wondered if there was something there, after all. “See you later.”

Clary didn’t encounter any trouble until she reached the door of the basement, where the cells were located. Duncan was on duty, and Clary was surprised when he stopped her with one of his thick, muscular arms. She looked up at him in outrage, and he shrugged one shoulder.

“Your clearance has been revoked,” he told her, “the Inquisitor herself told me. You, Izzy and Alec aren’t to see the prisoner.”

“The prisoner is an innocent vampire who saved my life, Duncan. He’s not dangerous, he’s a friend.” Clary insisted, but he shook his head.

“Sorry, Clary. It’s nothing personal. I can’t afford to get demoted.”

Clenching her jaw, Clary turned her back on him and headed back upstairs, taking the steps two at a time. She stormed through the halls of the Institute, shadowhunters parting for her in the corridors. They’d learned by now not to get in her way when her face was set. Her anger only grew when, as she rounded the corner, she saw Izzy and Maia being escorted through the ops centre in handcuffs.

“Are you fucking kidding me with this?!” Clary demanded, grabbing the Inquisitor’s elbow.

“Miss Fray, you are suffering with a concussion,” Inquisitor Herondale said pointedly, yanking her arm out of Clary’s hold. “I would suggest total rest.”

“They chipped Maia,” Izzy told Clary, her eyes ablaze in the same way that Clary’s were. Clary’s eyes darted to Maia, who nodded.

“She punched Lydia,” Maia added.

“That she did,” the Inquisitor gritted out, “and assisted this wolf in inciting rebellion. So they’ll be heading down to join your vampire friend in the cells. And if you, Miss Fray, start shouting and swearing, as is your habit, I won’t hesitate to throw you in with them.”

Clary narrowed her eyes, but Izzy shook her head.

“No? Nothing to say?” Inquisitor Herondale pressed.

“No, Madame Inquisitor,” Clary gritted out. Someone had to tell Alec what was going on, and organise the downworlders.

Inquisitor Herondale smiled slightly, nodding at Clary and then at the guards holding Izzy and Maia. As they passed, Clary tried to give Izzy a kiss, but they yanked her past too quickly.

“Warn the vampires and warlocks!” Izzy urged, and Clary nodded.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Why don’t you just magic your hangover away?” Dot asked, watching Magnus trudge around his kitchen. His make-up from the night before was smudged, he was wearing his loosest, comfiest boxers with an ancient NYU t-shirt from when he did his last degree in the 1970s, and his hair was flat and a little greasy from all the product he’d put in it the day before. He looked just about as terrible as Dot had ever seen him.

“Because I used it all portalling last night,” Magnus muttered, “everything kept reminding me of Alexander, so I ended up hopping from city to city all night trying to get away from it.”

Dot hummed. “How’d that work out for you?”

“I finally had a semi-good time in Budapest,” he answered, spreading some honey on two slices of toast. “I don’t speak Hungarian so none of the songs made me sad. Wore myself out dancing then used the last of my magic to portal back here. And now I’m suffering.”

“Have you talked to Alec?”

Magnus shot her a dirty look.

“Oh, come on, Magnus. You know you want to.” Dot insisted, swiping an apple from his fruit bowl. “You know he’ll make you feel better.”

“He treated me like a murder suspect!” Magnus pointed out, “I can’t just forget that.”

Dot shrugged, chewing on her mouthful of apple. “I’m not saying you should, Mag, but you look fucking miserable, and a little shadowhunter lovin’ will clear that right up and you know it.”

“Maybe I’ll call him once my head stops feeling like there’s a seelie with a hammer carving pain runes into the inside of my skull.”

“That’s all I’m asking.” Dot conceded.

Magnus’ back straightened and his mouth pop open when he felt Alec’s presence cross his wards. “Dot! He’s here!”

“Aw, it’s like he sensed that you needed him,” Dot cooed, “that’s adorable.”

“No, he can’t see me like this! Look at me!”

“What are you gonna do, climb out the window?” Dot teased, sipping her coffee.

Magnus huffed. “No, of course not. I’m a grown man. I’m gonna hide in my office.”

He hurried past Dot to his apothecary before she could argue, and closed the door behind him. Just as she was getting up to follow him, the door opened with a tentative knock, and Alec stuck his head into the loft.

“Magnus?” He called, his eyebrows furrowing when he spotted Dot coming out of the kitchen. “Is he here?”

“Uhh…” Dot glanced at the door of the apothecary. “No, he’s got clients today. Sorry.”

Alec looked Dot up and down, confusion evident on his face. “Then… Why are you here?”

“I’m his client,” Dot lied quickly, taking a sip of coffee to give herself a moment to think. “He’s picking up ingredients for the soothing potion he’s making for me and Madzie.”

“Oh, right,” Alec nodded, rubbing his arms. “You mind if I wait with you? I really need to apologise to him.”

Dot sucked her lower lip into her mouth. She could not, for the life of her, think of a reason why she’d say no. “Sure,” she was forced to answer, “you want tea? Coffee?”

“Uhh… I feel kinda weird drinking Magnus’ coffee while we’re fighting.” Alec admitted, though he did follow her into the kitchen.

“Oh, you guys are fighting?” Dot asked innocently, hiding her hand behind her back to do a simple voice-diversion spell, making sure Magnus could hear what she and Alec were saying.

Alec sighed. “Well, I’m not mad at him. He’s mad at me, for good reason. I screwed up, putting my orders before the good of him and the rest of the downworld. The Inquisitor ordered us to get a DNA sample of our downworlder acquaintances and I asked Magnus for one even though I know and everyone else knows that he had nothing to do with these murders. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but then I talked to Simon and I realised that I’m not interrogating the Clave’s motivations as much as I should be. I let him down.” He mumbled, looking down at his hands where they rested on the countertop. “I feel awful.”

Dot reached over to squeeze his hand. “Everyone makes mistakes, Alec. What matters is how you make up for it.”

“Yeah,” Alec nodded, reaching into his back pocket. In between his fingers was a little envelope. “I didn’t hand in his DNA. I’m gonna give it back to him when he gets home.”

“That’s very sweet.”

“I hope so,” Alec admitted, “I hate it when he’s mad at me. I can’t take it.”

“If it helps with your investigation,” Dot volunteered, wandering over to the sink to rinse out her empty mug, “there’s no way that a warlock would kill shadowhunters the way that this killer is.”

Alec’s eyebrows folded together. “What do you mean? Two of the victims were killed with magic.”

“Before the Accords, shadowhunters hunted downworlders of all kinds. When they killed a warlock, they’d take that warlock’s mark from the body as a trophy. Like, they’d have taken Ragnor’s horns, or Magnus’ eyes.” Dot explained, “and we all swore that we would never cross that line. We’d fight shadowhunters if necessary, but we’d never sink to their level of terrorism.”

“So… If a warlock didn’t use magic to kill those people… It must have been a Seelie emulating warlock magic, right?”

Dot dropped her mug into the sink at the same time that the apothecary door burst open and Magnus came running into the room.

“Meliorn!” They both shouted.

Alec couldn’t believe his eyes. “I thought…” He looked Magnus up and down, taking in his ring-less hands, his thick thighs, and his cute panda eye make-up. “I thought you were out.”

“Alec, focus,” Magnus urged, “the killer is Meliorn.”

“What? How could you possibly know that?” Alec asked, looking between Magnus and Dot.

“Meliorn lost a lover to a shadowhunter hunting party, two centuries ago, right after the signing of the Accords. At his funeral, Meliorn said that the only way the shadowhunters would ever respect downworlders is if we sunk to their level and started taking their runes as trophies.” Dot explained, rubbing her forehead.

“He must be using magic to make his kills look like he’s got vampire, werewolf and warlock accomplices.” Magnus added, looking at his hands. He snapped his fingers and conjured a small blue flame, and sighed in relief. “Okay, my magic’s back.”

“Okay, wait, wait,” Alec insisted, catching Magnus’ wrist as he headed towards the bedroom. “What do you mean your magic’s back?”

Magnus swallowed hard. “Just got a little burnt out last night,” he answered, “we have a killer to catch.”

“Right,” Alec murmured, letting him go to change. He glanced at Dot out of the corner of his eye. “Out getting ingredients, huh?”

“He was hiding under his desk.” Dot shrugged.

Alec sighed, his lips twitching into a smile. “Of course he was.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m so goddamn tired of sitting in a cell,” Izzy groaned, letting her head fall onto Maia’s shoulder.

“It’s my first time being arrested,” Simon admitted. He knew that he’d been right to stand up against the Inquisitor, but he couldn’t shake the anxiety that his Mom would be mad at him for getting himself locked up. He could almost hear her voice in his head.

“Get used to it, Lewis,” Maia sighed, “the shadowhunters are only gonna get stricter the longer this killer’s running around.”

Simon got up, his arms folded. “Do you think they’ll give me blood if I ask for it?”

“You thirsty?” Izzy asked, and Simon shrugged one shoulder.

“Not yet, but I will be in a few hours, and your blood…” He shuddered at the thought. “Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised when Clary told me you had angel blood.”

Maia shifted, putting her legs between Izzy and Simon. “You’ll be fine, Simon. Just don’t think about it. They’ll feed us all soon.”

“Mom?!” Izzy got to her feet, having spotted Maryse sneaking along the wall on the other side of the room. She met Izzy’s eyes and smiled a little, using her stele to open the cell door. “What are you doing here?!”

“Letting you out,” Maryse answered breathlessly, her eyes alight with adrenaline. “It feels good to break the rules, doesn’t it?”

Izzy giggled and rushed to give her a hug. “You went from 0-100 real fast, Mama.”

“I’m not having you sitting in a cell anymore, baby.” Maryse insisted, looking over Izzy’s shoulder at Maia and Simon. “You two as well, come on, let’s go.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“So are you gonna tell me why you were hiding from me?” Alec asked casually as he and Magnus made their way down the docks. He had his bow in his hands, an arrow ready to go.

Magnus peeked at him out of the corner of his eyes. “I wasn’t exactly looking my best.”

Alec smiled slightly. “I don’t care what you look like, Magnus. I just wanted to say I was sorry.”

“I know,” Magnus replied, “I heard everything you said to Dot.”

“So…?” Alec tried, nerves fluttering in his stomach.

Magnus shrugged one shoulder. “I’m glad you came to your senses. And…” He looked around, anywhere but at Alec. “I’m drinking again. Quite… Quite heavily.”

“Babe,” Alec stopped, dropping his hands. His arrow clattered to the floor. “I know. And it’s okay.”

“It is?”

Alec huffed out a laugh, reaching out to cup Magnus’ face. “I love you. All of you. Even the bits that aren’t perfect. That’s never going to change.”

Magnus melted, his hand touching Alec’s waist. “I love you too, Alexander.”

“Good. Now let’s go catch a serial killer.” Alec insisted, giving Magnus a soft kiss before bending down to pick up the arrow he’d dropped. Magnus smiled for the first time in days, and fell into step next to his boyfriend as he headed down the dock.

Now that he was happy that he and Magnus had reconciled, Alec focussed back on the task at hand, lifting his bow once more. Magnus turned his attention to the smock in his hands, concentrating on tracking Meliorn’s presence.

“Just… Just for transparency’s sake, Meliorn left this at mine a few years ago after we…”

“Yeah, I guessed as much,” Alec replied, a smirk on his face. “You have a thing for dark haired cake boys, huh?”

Magnus laughed, shrugging one shoulder. “Maybe.”

“What’s a cake boy?”

The two men whirled around, Alec with his bow primed and Magnus with burning magic in his hands, to see Max standing behind them looking very pleased with himself. He was holding Alec’s comb.

“What are you doing here?!” Alec hissed, his cheeks burning from the knowledge that his little brother had heard him flirting with Magnus.

“I told Mom that I was ready for a mission, but she said I was too young. So I followed you, to prove to her that I could. You didn’t even know I was there,” Max explained smugly, folding his arms.

“This mission is very dangerous,” Magnus told him, and Alec nodded.

“You shouldn’t be here, you’re not ready. We’re tracking a serial killer, Max!”

Max folded his arms. “I can help.”

Alec groaned, his hands on his hips. “Max-”

“You’re right!” Magnus insisted, patting Alec’s chest, “what we really need is someone to watch our backs, considering you snuck up on us so easily.”

Alec looked at Magnus, who nodded with wide, expressive eyes, and Alec figured out what he was getting at. “Oh, yeah, definitely. We need a lookout.” He glanced around, and spotted a small gap in between some shipping containers. “Hide in there and make sure no-one sneaks onto the dock behind us. If they do, send me a fire message. Alright?”

Max looked excited to be involved, and nodded. “Yes, Sir!” He saluted, and ran off to the hiding place Alec had pointed to.

“That was a stroke of genius,” Alec chuckled.

Magnus shrugged. “I raised Raphael. I could handle just about any kid you throw at me.”

Alec hummed, and they continued on, Magnus stopping in his tracks a few dozen paces later. He nudged his head in the direction of a nearby alley, and Alec swallowed hard, following behind him with his bow primed. They spotted a sprawling figure on the ground, and a person leaning over it. Sure enough, when they got close enough and their eyes adjusted to the low light in the alley, they saw that it was Meliorn.

“Stand up slowly, Meliorn,” Alec commanded, aiming an arrow at Meliorn’s hand, just in case he tried anything.

“The body was already cold when I found it,” Meliorn insisted, and Magnus sighed.

“Then why are you here?” Magnus pressed.

“I’ve been tracking the killer. I have reason to believe it is a seelie.” He answered, and Alec and Magnus exchanged a suspicious look. “I did not kill this man, or any of the others,” Meliorn emphasised, and Alec lowered his bow. Seelies couldn’t lie, after all.

“How long since death?” Alec asked, and Meliorn pursed his lips.

“Around half an hour, I would assume,” he answered, and Alec backed up a step.

“Then the killer can’t have gone far, we need to go and get Max. Have you got the magic for a portal?” Alec directed the question at Magnus, who nodded. “Alright, let’s grab Max and then we’ll go after the killer.”

The three men hurried back to Max’s hiding place, and Alec’s stomach dropped when they came around the corner to see that Max wasn’t where they’d left him. Alec broke into a run, Magnus and Meliorn on his tail, snatching up the stele that lay on the ground where they’d left Max. He spun around to look at Magnus, his eyes wide and fearful.

“We have to find the killer NOW.” Magnus insisted, and Meliorn hummed in agreement, turning his attention back to his tracking magic and jogged towards the killer’s lair.

Magnus wanted to reach out and grab Alec’s hand, squeeze it, offer some reassurance, but Alec was clearly in shadowhunter mode, his face set with intent. Instead, he kept quiet and focussed on centering his magic ready for a fight. It didn’t take long to reach an old warehouse, and from the moment Alec led them inside it was evident that they had the right place. There were dozens of jars of werewolf claws and vampire fangs on shelves lining the long room, and as the three of them snuck down into the basement, they caught sight of Max tied down to a metal operating table.

It took every scrap of self-control Alec had not to race in there and save his little brother, but they had to wait for the killer. They had to catch them. Alec waited, an arrow ready, Magnus and Meliorn poised at his flanks.

“This’ll get the Clave gnashing their teeth,” a voice murmured, and Magnus grasped at the back of Alec’s shirt as the killer stepped into the light. “And then the downworlders will rise up and overthrow the Clave once and for all.”

“My brother saved the downworlders,” Max croaked, struggling against his bonds.

“And he can fight with us or die,” the killer said. They threw off their hood to reveal themselves, and Meliorn strained forward at the sight of her. It was Kaelie, a Seelie Knight under his command, and Alec held out his arm to keep Meliorn from lunging forwards. “We’ll see how strong his allyship is when he finds his darling little brother murdered by warlock magic.” Kaelie laughed, holding a crystal in her hand. Her green magic turned amber as she raised her hand, and Alec fired off his arrow, hitting her in the shoulder and sending her reeling backwards.

As Kaelie recovered, her eyes flitting up to where Magnus, Alec and Meliorn were hiding, Magnus fired off some numbing magic and Alec jumped into action. He stayed low as Magnus and Kaelie exchanged blasts of magic, making his way to the operating table to untie Max. He got hit in the hand with some numbing magic and hissed, shaking out the hand as he tried to untie his brother with his good hand.

“I knew you’d come,” Max whispered, helping Alec to untie his ankles once his hands were free.

“Run for the door,” Alec ordered, “we’ll get Kaelie.”

By the time Alec was straightening up, Meliorn and Kaelie were fighting, though Kaelie was flagging, her body overwhelmed by Magnus’ numbing magic.

“Magnus! Get Max out of here!” Alec yelled, and Magnus grabbed Max as he came running up the stairs, opening a portal to the Institute. Alec turned his attention to Kaelie.

“Stand down, Kaelie, this doesn’t have to end in bloodshed,” Meliorn was telling her, clearly pulling his punches.

Kaelie’s eyes were alight with rage. “Why are you fighting for the shadowhunters?!”

“I’m not fighting for the shadowhunters, I’m fighting for the safety of our people. People will die if we go to war, Kaelie!” Meliorn pointed out.

She ignored him, grunting as she fought harder, narrowly missing Meliorn’s throat with her dagger. Alec tutted, seeing no other option, and fired an arrow at her stomach. As it sank in, Kaelie staggered backwards, and Meliorn watched with sorrow as she collapsed to the ground.

“I’m sorry, Meliorn, but she would have killed you,” Alec murmured, coming to stand next to the seelie.

Meliorn knelt down next to Kaelie, looking into her gasping face. He put his hand over her face and pulled his arm back sharply, and Kaelie moved no more. He bowed his head, and swept her eyes shut. “May you find peace in the next plane,” he whispered, before straightening up.

“I’m sorry,” Alec repeated, and Meliorn nodded, holding out his hand for Alec to help him to his feet.

“It was necessary.” He agreed, “she was beyond reason.”

Alec sighed, looking down at Kaelie’s body. “I just hope that we can mend whatever is broken between our people.”

“I need to report to the Queen,” Meliorn told him, “I trust that you will allow me to take her body?”

Though he knew the Inquisitor would give him hell for it, Alec nodded. “Go and bury her. I’ll take responsibility.”

“Thank you, Alec,” Meliorn murmured, shaking his hand. “Perhaps there is some hope of peace, if you take your place as leader of the shadowhunters.”

Alec smiled slightly. “We can only hope.”

~~~~~~~~~~

When Alec got back to the Institute, Magnus was waiting outside the main doors, leaning against the wall having a cigarette. He hastily put it out and came down the stairs to meet Alec, taking the hand he’d accidentally hit with his magic and giving it a kiss.

“Sorry,” he murmured, his thumb rubbing across the back of Alec’s hand.

Alec shrugged, “it’s fine. You were trying to save Max. Why are you waiting out here?”

“The Inquisitor wouldn’t believe me and Max that we got the killer. And there’s still a ban on downworlders until the killer is caught.” He explained, and Alec rolled his eyes.

“Come on,” Alec encouraged, taking Magnus’ hand and pulling him along as he entered the Institute. He was surprised to see that Inquisitor Herondale wasn’t in the ops centre, but he ignored Lydia’s attempt to get his attention and pushed onto the office.

“Mr Lightwood. I trust you didn’t misunderstand me when I said that downworlders were prohibited from entering the Institute for the foreseeable future,” she said pointedly, her eyes resting on Magnus.

“There is no need for that protocol now, Ma’am. The serial murderer has been caught and dealt with,” Alec told her. “It was a Seelie Knight by the name of Kaelie. We caught her red-handed trying to kill my younger brother Max, and heard her confession. Magnus, Meliorn, Max and I will all give the same account under questioning.”

Inquisitor Herondale stood up. “And you’re positive she was working alone?”

“Yes, she had vampire fangs, werewolf claws and magic crystals designed to change seelie magic into warlock magic. She confessed it all before I was forced to kill her.”

“It seems that you have saved the day once again, Mr Lightwood,” she smiled, coming around the desk to shake his hand. “Well done.”

“I couldn’t have done it without the co-operation of Meliorn, or the insight provided by Magnus and Dorothea Rollins.” Alec insisted, but of course, she didn’t seem interested in that.

“Well,” Inquisitor Herondale said, looking a little sheepish, “I regret to inform you that some of your friends are currently in the cells. Of course,” she continued, raising her chin, “now that you’ve reclaimed your title as Head of the New York Institute, I’m sure you’ll get around to pardoning them sooner rather than later.”

“You’re giving me back the Institute?!” Alec could barely believe his ears.

“Twice now you’ve prevented war with the downworld, Alec,” she told him, her eyes darting to Magnus and back, “the Clave owes you a great debt. I may not approve of your methods, but no-one can argue with your results. The Institute is in safe hands with you.”

With another shake of their hands, Inquisitor Herondale collected her blazer from the chair behind the desk and left, with a curt nod at Magnus. The moment she left, Magnus and Alec turned to each other with big grins on their faces.

“Congratulations, Alexander,” Magnus sighed, cupping his cheek.

“Couldn’t have done it without you,” Alec replied, “and I’m so thankful I have you to keep me on the straight and narrow.”

Magnus nodded, bringing their foreheads together. “You always get there in the end, love. I just… Lovingly encourage you, every now and again.”

“Lovingly encourage,” Alec chuckled fondly, “sure.”

Magnus huffed, giving him a quick kiss. “Come on, let’s go and see who exactly is locked up down there.”

~~~~~~~~~~

When Alec saw that the cells were empty, his first reaction was to panic. Had they been moved to Alicante? They couldn’t have been released, the Inquisitor had said they were here-

“Alec,” Maryse called from behind him, and both he and Magnus turned around to look at her. “They’re at the Hunter’s Moon.”

“But the Inquisitor said-”

Maryse sighed, folding her arms. There was a look of quiet pride on her face. “I wasn’t about to see Izzy behind bars again. And Simon and Maia did nothing wrong, either.”

“You let them go?” Magnus asked, “you?”

“I can’t possibly admit to that, Magnus,” Maryse answered with a little wink, and Magnus laughed, delighted.

Alec walked across the room to give her a hug, rubbing her back. “I know it was huge for you to go against the Inquisitor. Thank you.” He’d been a little skeptical that Maryse’s change of heart would stick, but now he knew that she was serious about supporting him and Izzy. “And you don’t have to worry, the Inquisitor’s gone.” He pulled back to smile at her. “She left me in charge.”

“You’re the Head of the Institute?!” Maryse gasped, her eyes filling with tears of pride.

Alec nodded, and she clutched him close once more, squeezing her eyes shut.

“Estoy tan orgulloso de ti,” Maryse told him softly.

Magnus couldn’t keep from smiling at the warm interaction between mother and son, and though he was over the moon that Alec had managed to mend his relationship with Maryse, a part of him ached for his own mother. He’d been thinking of her often, since the agony rune reopened that wound, and he felt himself getting emotional. For a moment he considered slipping away, but then they broke apart, and Alec smiled at Magnus like everything was right in the world.

At the sight of it, something loosened in Magnus’ chest, and he took the hand that Alec offered him.

“I have to go and announce it to the Institute,” Alec murmured as the three of them walked back towards the stairs, “you can stay or go home, it’s up to you. I’ll try and get away as fast as I can.”

Magnus smiled slightly. “How about I go and meet Izzy, Simon and Maia at the Hunter’s Moon and you join us afterwards for a celebratory dinner? I think Simon’s supposed to be playing a gig there, later.” He looked around Alec to nod at Maryse. “The invitation is open for you, too.”

“I have to get back to Idris, Max is still there getting checked over.” Maryse replied, “but next time,” she promised with a nod.

“I’ll see you later then, love,” Alec told him, squeezing his fingers gently. “I’ll bring Clary, too.”

They parted in the corridor, and Maryse walked with Alec towards the ops centre. Alec used the computer there to call a briefing, and nerves started to grow as the shadowhunters trickled in gradually. Maryse gave him another hug before he took his place up on the platform, and he squared his shoulders. He wished Izzy was here.

“I know that it’s been difficult,” Alec started, “going back and forth, from leader to leader. But I’m happy to announce that Inquisitor Herondale has confirmed that I am to be the Head of the New York Institute going forward. I’ve been training for this responsibility for my whole life and I do not take it lightly. I’ve already decided who will be taking two of the three permanent positions in senior management. Mr Rajesh Palani,” Alec glanced around the room, smiling when his eyes landed on his friend, “will be taking up the position of Head of Intelligence, and Isabelle Lightwood will be the Weapons Master. The position of Head of Security will be finalised in the coming weeks. Anyone interested in the position, see me in my office tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll be in the Hunter’s Moon tonight if anyone wants to talk in a more informal setting. Thank you for listening.”

A scattered round of applause rang out in the ops centre, though half of the assembled shadowhunters did not look happy with the news that Alec was going to be in charge. It wasn’t a surprise to him, and he stepped down from the platform to speak to Raj.

“I can’t believe you actually made me Head of Intelligence,” he chuckled, pulling Alec into a hug. “I’ll do my best.”

“I know you will,” Alec shrugged, “that’s why I chose you. You gonna come to the Hunter’s Moon tonight?”

Raj nodded, checking his watch. “Yeah, I have a couple more hours left of my shift, but I’ll head over later.”

“See you then,” Alec replied. There was a mischievous glint in his eye, his lips twitching. “Dress nice, Simon’s gonna be there.”

Raj rolled his eyes and dug his elbow into Alec’s ribs, making him yelp as he jogged away to his room. “Asshole,” he muttered, smirking to himself as he turned to head back to his post. His breath died in his throat when he almost walked into Sebastian, his eyes going wide. “Oh, hi.”

“Hi,” Sebastian answered, his arms folded tightly. “How are you?”

“Good, yeah, just got promoted, so…”

“Yeah, congratulations. You deserve it.” Sebastian told him, “absolutely.”

Raj shrugged one shoulder. “Thanks.”

“So you’re going to the Hunter’s Moon?”

“Yeah, you?”

“Yeah,” Sebastian nodded, “I was going to ask if you wanted to go with me, but, erm-”

“I could go with you,” Raj blurted out, clearing his throat a little. “Like… As a date?”

Sebastian laughed nervously, “yes, Rajesh. Like a date.”

Raj bit the inside of his cheek, fighting the grin he could feel threatening to overwhelm him. “Okay. I was gonna leave at Sevenish?”

“Sevenish. Alright, I’ll see you then,” Sebastian agreed, and Raj hurried away before Sebastian could change his mind. He wondered what made Sebastian change his mind, chuckling at the thought that maybe he wanted in with his new boss.

~~~~~~~~~~

“To Alec!”

“And to Izzy and Raj!” Alec insisted, pushing his glass into everyone else’s.

“And,” Maia added, “to downworlders and shadowhunters working together.”

“Hear, hear!” Magnus agreed.

They were all drinking non-alcoholic drinks in solidarity with Magnus. Though he’d tried to tell them that it didn’t matter, Clary, Izzy, Maia, Raj, Sebastian and Alec had insisted. It was a little strange, clinking glasses of soda like they were teenagers, but he couldn’t deny that it touched his heart. Alec leaned into his side as everyone took a sip of their respective drinks, and Magnus gave his hair a kiss. He’d missed Alec so much. They’d been fighting for less than a day, and it had been awful.

Alec shifted to look up at Magnus as the other started chatting about how Kaelie had always been suspicious, and smiled. It was funny, Magnus mused, how they could be in the middle of a crowded bar and yet, the moment Alec met his eyes, it all melted away. Alec’s hand lifted to cup the side of Magnus’ neck and pull him down into a proper kiss, his fingers scritching at the shaved hair at the nape of Magnus’ neck.

“I love you,” Alec said softly, like it was a secret.

Magnus smiled. “I love you too.”

It was a little awkward for Raj and Sebastian, really, having their first date with the most loved-up couple in the world sitting opposite them. Maia took an interest in the new person in the group, asking Sebastian about his study of greater demons.

“It’s not often I meet a shadowhunter who studied,” she smiled, shuffling her seat closer to his. “These lot basically graduated from the academy and started work.”

Sebastian chuckled, glancing at Raj for reassurance before answering. “Yeah, I wasn’t really much of a soldier. I prefer the academic side of it all, really.”

“You say that but you did fight off Azazel,” Raj pointed out, amused. “I think you’re better than you think you are.”

“I just told him that I knew how to banish him and he flew away,” Sebastian insisted, “it was nothing.”

Raj hummed, crossing his leg over his knee. “Saved my sorry ass, though.”

“Well, yes,” Sebastian allowed, “I am rather proud of that part.”

“You guys are so cute,” Izzy cooed, stealing a fry from Raj’s plate.

“Cute, but I’ll bite your fingers off if you try stealing anymore of my food,” Raj threatened, which made Izzy and Clary laugh.

“Do any of you think you’d have liked to go to college if you could?” Maia asked the table.

“I’ve got three doctorates,” Magnus answered, “but I might go back again if the mood strikes me.”

“Wait, you’re Doctor Magnus Bane?!” Clary demanded, eyes wide.

“Before I was High Warlock, life was honestly pretty boring. What else was I supposed to do?” Magnus shrugged.

“I never put it together that you’re technically Doctor Bane,” Alec smirked, and Magnus’ eyebrow twitched into an arch at the glint in his boyfriend’s eye.

Magnus grinned at him, kissing his forehead. “Down, boy.”

“I think I’d study like, forensic psychology or something,” Raj volunteered.

“But you almost vomited when we were doing that autopsy,” Clary laughed, “you can’t handle blood.”

Raj shrugged, “I mean, yeah, but I’d get used to it.”

“To be fair,” Alec reminded them, “he did decapitate a guy for me.”

“That’s friendship, right there,” Raj added, holding his fist up. Alec bumped it, and Sebastian chuckled.

“You guys are so cute. You guys and Izzy are gonna be a good team running that Institute,” Clary said, and Maia hummed in agreement.

“Oh… I hate to ruin the moment, but I still have a chip in my shoulder. Literally.” Maia pointed out, and Alec, Izzy and Clary all gasped.

“Oh my God, I forget the dechipper,” Alec smacked his forehead.

“I can get it out,” Magnus assured them, “show me where it is?” He got up and walked around to stand behind Maia, his fingers prodding the spot that Maia pointed to. A blue glow appeared between Magnus’ fingers, and when it faded, the tiny microchip was resting on Magnus’ thumb. He crushed it between his fingers, and magicked the pieces into the nearest bin. “There.”

“Thank God,” Maia grumbled, rubbing her neck. “Please tell me you’re getting rid of Lydia.”

Alec nodded. “I’m going to do my best, but her family is a little more powerful than ours. I might have to allow her to stay, but I’ll make sure to keep her as far away from downworlders as possible.”

“They’re still milking the fact that they ‘invented’ the portal.” Magnus scoffed, shaking his head. “When I did all the work.”

“Sounds about right,” Raj agreed, folding his arms. “Being a bigoted parasite runs in the family.”

“I still can’t believe you almost married her,” Clary snorted, and Alec shuddered visibly, which made everyone laugh.

“But I thought you were…” Sebastian trailed off.

“Gay? Yeah. Huge gay. But I thought I had to do it for my family’s sake,” Alec explained, shrugging one shoulder. “But then she tried having Izzy deruned, so I dumped her.”

“Your finest hour, if you ask me,” Magnus smirked.

“Oh, I don’t know, that time he stabbed Valentine was a contender, too,” Clary grinned, shooting Alec a wink.

“Guys, it looks like Simon’s ready to go,” Raj pointed out, his eyes on the stage. Simon was standing at the mic looking nervous, and Clary stood up to whoop him. The others joined in, and the tables surrounding them followed in clapping him, and so on until the whole room was cheering and clapping for him. “I’m gonna go and get another drink before he really gets going,” Raj said, and Sebastian volunteered to go with him.

“So how do you know Simon?” Sebastian asked as the bartender went to get their sodas.

Raj smiled wryly. “I don’t know him, really. We hooked up at a party a couple of months ago.”

“Oh,” Sebastian nodded, glancing back at the stage.

“I mean, I say hooked up, but it was just kissing on the dancefloor.”

“I see,” Sebastian turned back to him. “And what do I have to do, to get kisses on the dancefloor?”

Of all the things he expected Sebastian to say, that was not one of them. “You’d have to ask,” Raj answered, his mouth working without his permission. His eyes widened a little, a small smile on his face when Sebastian stepped into his space.

“Will you kiss me?” He asked, “here on the dancefloor?”

Raj pulled him in by the waist and pressed their lips together, eyes fluttering shut. It was kinda obvious that it was the first time Sebastian was kissing a man, because he hesitated with his hands, unsure of where to put them. It made Raj smile into the kiss and press deeper, and Sebastian made a soft, shocked sound when their tongues touched, pulling away.

“Sorry,” Raj whispered, sucking his lower lip into his mouth, “too much?”

Sebastian cleared his throat quietly. “No, I just, erm… It was… Overwhelming. In a good way.”

“Good, yeah,” Raj nodded, his hand dropping from Sebastian’s waist to hold his hand, instead.

~~~~~~~~~~

A few hours later, Alec and Magnus stepped through a portal into Magnus’ bedroom. As Alec turned to take off his jacket, Magnus grabbed him and spun him around, sliding his arms up and around Alec’s neck.

“I missed you,” Magnus whispered, raking his fingers through Alec’s hair.

Alec hummed, “I missed you too,” his hands dropping to cup his butt. “So much.”

“You wanna top?” Magnus asked, stepping back towards the bed, but Alec sighed and pulled away.

“We’ve got things to talk about, first.”

Magnus had been expecting that. “I know,” he murmured, taking Alec’s hands to kiss his knuckles. “But please, Alexander, can’t you just hold me for tonight? We’ll talk, I promise. But tonight was wonderful, and I don’t want to ruin it with all that sadness.”

Alec arched his eyebrow at him, and Magnus tilted his head to the side, trying to look as cute as possible. “Fine,” he grumbled, “against my better judgement, I’ll let you off the hook tonight,” he toed off his shoes, “but tomorrow morning…”

“Tomorrow morning,” Magnus agreed, kissing Alec on the cheek. “For now… Cuddles, please.”

Alec smiled, hugging Magnus close. “Like I’d ever say no to that.”

Chapter Text

When Alec awoke the next morning, the first thing he did was stretch out his arm looking for Magnus. The bed was huge, almost ridiculously so, and sometimes Magnus rolled out of reach in the night. Alec frowned when he felt that Magnus’ side of the bed was cool, and prised his eyes open. He’d never woken up in Magnus’ bed alone before; even when Magnus had an early client, he usually woke Alec up for a couple of kisses and a cuddle.

It occured to Alec that maybe Magnus was making breakfast, so he reached over the edge of the bed for his t-shirt and pulled it on as he sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Magnus was nowhere to be found, not in the kitchen, apothecary or the bathroom. Alec stopped in the middle of the living room, arms folded.

“Oh, it had better be an emergency,” Alec muttered, wrinkling his nose. He headed into the kitchen to make some coffee and saw a purple post-it note stuck to the coffee machine.

Azazel’s mundane victim in crisis. Have to go (it’s 4am.) We’ll talk later, I promise. I love you. Magnus x

Alec felt a little better knowing that Magnus hadn’t ducked out on their conversation for no reason, but a childish part of him was slightly grumpy that Magnus hadn’t woken him up for a kiss. Realistically he knew that he’d have also been grumpy at being woken up at 4am, but…

It was early, and he hadn’t had coffee yet.

He heard his phone start ringing in the bedroom, and quickly poured himself a cup of coffee before hurrying back to the bedroom. The phone stopped ringing the moment he crossed the threshold, and he picked it up to see that it had been Aline that had been calling. She picked up on the first ring when he called her back.

“Good morning, Mr Head of the New York Institute!” Aline enthused, and Alec smiled, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

“Hey, did you forget the time difference or something?” Alec snorted, glancing at the clock. “It’s like 6.30 here.”

“Oh shit, I did!” She whispered, “sorry, babe. Did I wake you?”

Alec looked at the empty bed. “No, I was already up. Just having my first cup of coffee.”

“Getting up bright and early for your first day living the dream?”

“Actually I woke up because the bed was cold. Magnus had a warlock thing.”

“Damn those warlock things,” Aline teased.

“I’m glad you called, actually. I’m looking at you for Head of Security. I know we talked about it when we were kids, but-”

“I was wondering if you’d remember that,” Aline sounded like she was smiling. “I mean, I’m happy to interview for the job but if there are other candidates I wanna earn it fair and square.”

Alec nodded. “None of the shadowhunters already working here have put themselves forward. Mix of not wanting to work with me and not wanting the extra responsibility.”

“What’s their damage? You caught Valentine and that seelie serial killer.”

“Oh, you know, the classics. My dick is silicone, my boyfriend’s a warlock…”

Aline laughed. “Well, that’s their loss. And my gain, apparently. When do you want me to come?”

“I’ll check my schedule when I get to the office, but I think I’m free tomorrow. Is that good for you?” Alec asked between sips of his coffee.

“Mmmmm, yeah, I think so. Will Magnus be able to do a portal or should I ask one of the warlocks here?”

“Uhhh… Yeah, maybe ask one of the warlocks there. Magnus is… Figuring some things out.”

“Oh? You guys okay?” She checked.

Alec sighed, getting up to rummage in his ‘Alec Drawer’ in Magnus’ dresser for a pair of socks. “I think so. He’s just… I don’t know, he’s closing off a little bit. There’s something bringing him down that he doesn’t want to talk about, and I want to give him space but I also want him to know I’m here for him, you know? I can’t find that balance, it feels like I’m always on at him and I don’t want to push him away.”

“I think Magnus is probably mature enough to know that you’re asking because you care.” Aline assured him, “isn’t he like two hundred?”

“Four hundred,” Alec corrected her with a wry smile.

“Then you see my point.”

Alec laughed. “Yeah, I guess I do. I just hope that he’s going to talk to me later. We were supposed to this morning, but-”

“Warlock things.”

 

“Yeah.”

Aline sighed. “I’m sure he’ll get back to you as soon as he can, Alec. In the meantime, enjoy the new job. You worked your ass off for it.”

“Yeah, yeah, I will,” Alec promised, tilting his head to hold the phone between his ear and his shoulder to pull up his pants. “See you tomorrow, yeah?”

“Yeah, see you then.”

~~~~~~~~~~

There were dozens of memos on Alec’s desk when he arrived at the Institute, with a lot of the New York shadowhunters taking advantage of the change in power to air their grievances or make requests for transfers or promotions. It was no less than Alec had been expecting. Most of them were an easy yes or no, which he marked ready for him to write a response later, and the others he sorted into a ‘home’ pile to take away and mull over after his shift. He’d watched his father do the exact same thing plenty of times, so he wasn’t phased by the numerous slips of paper littered across his desk.

There was one, however, that had obviously come through as a fire message, a slip of parchment with its edges burned. It was from the Seelie Queen, and upon reading it, Alec sent Izzy a text asking for her presence and went back to work sorting the rest of the memos.

“You asked to see me, Sir?” Izzy said jokingly as she let herself into the office, and Alec looked up to smile at her.

“I know you’re the weapons master now, but I have a mission for you and Clary. The Seelie Queen has sent for the two of you to discuss Kaelie’s actions.” He told her, “there’s a possibility that the Queen condoned Kaelie’s crimes, and I need you and Clary to figure out whether or not that’s the case.”

Izzy arched her eyebrow. “She sent for Clary and I specifically?”

“Yes. Presumably she’s interested in your angel blood. It works to our advantage, though. You’re used to being around seelies so hopefully you can figure out if she’s bullshitting us.”

“You’re really good at this, you know,” Izzy told him, fondness in her voice, and Alec smiled.

“Only been training for it my whole life, if I wasn’t good at it then I’ve wasted 26 years.” He shrugged. “Any questions about the mission?”

“Nope. Go to the seelie realm, figure out if the Queen was working with Kaelie, keep things civil. Yes?”

“Exactly,” Alec nodded, “if the Queen is looking at starting a downworlder uprising, you and Clary need to be on your best behaviour.”

Izzy nodded. “I hear you. Clary and I will leave straight away.”

 

“Thanks, Iz. Be careful.”

After a quick half-sitting half-standing hug, Izzy was gone, and Alec turned his attention back to the memos. There was a second fire message, this one from Luke.

“As much as I think you’ll be a good HOTI, I won’t be taking part in the downworlder cabinet anymore. The Clave has ignored my multiple requests for Valentine’s execution and the soul sword’s destruction, and if they are unwilling to compromise, I don’t see the point in the cabinet,” Alec read out loud, tutting. He quickly sorted the rest of the memos before grabbing his jacket.

If Luke didn’t take part in the council, then it was in danger of falling apart. He had to convince Luke to come back, and the only way he could do that was in person.

~~~~~~~~~~

“You didn’t have to come all the way down here, Alec,” Luke sighed when he met Alec at the doors of the Jade Wolf, “I know how busy you must be, first day on the job.”

“This is important,” Alec insisted, following Luke to one of the tables. “I understand the frustration with the Clave’s silence, but the answer is to repeat the request through an official cabinet, not to retreat away from politics.”

Luke pursed his lips. “Look, running a pack and trying to convince a second pack to register their sorry asses so I don’t have to be responsible for them is stressful enough. The Clave aren’t compromising, we both know that. You can make as many councils as you want, but they’re never going to have Valentine killed and they’re never going to destroy the soul sword.”

“Maybe we can find a compromise if we work together,” Alec pointed out, “we may not be able to convince the Clave to destroy the sword but perhaps in time we can convince them to allow warlocks and seelies to maintain protections on it so it cannot be used as a weapon. We have options, Luke. This isn’t an all or nothing situation.”

“I just can’t see the Clave giving in to us. Especially now I’ve seen what their emergency protocols look like. They had Maia microchipped, Alec.”

“I know,” Alec acknowledged, “and you know that I will never implement policies like that now that the Institute is under my control.”

Luke shook his head, rubbing between his eyes. “Alright. Alright… I’ll come to the meetings. Alright.”

Alec smiled. “It’s the right thing to do, Luke. The first one is going to be at the Institute tomorrow night. We’ll alternate meeting places so everyone gets sessions on their home turf.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Luke agreed reluctantly as Alec stood up, shaking the offered hand. “I’ll see you then.”

“You won’t regret this!” Alec promised him as he headed towards the door.

~~~~~~~~~~

Maia was glad to see that she’d beat Izzy and Clary to the bridge. The two of them had texted their group chat to let her know that they’d be missing lunch with her, and Maia had a day off, so Maia figured she may as well tag along with the two of them on their mission. She’d never been to the seelie realm but she’d heard about it from the seelie patrons of the Hunter’s Moon, so she knew exactly where to meet her two girlfriends.

The both of them looked surprised to see her, Clary a little more enthusiastic, perhaps. Izzy was smiling, but her arms were folded as she approached the bridge, where Clary and Maia were hugging.

“This is an official mission, Maia, we can’t take you with us.” Izzy pointed out, “the Seelie Queen only asked for the two of us.”

“But think how good your shadowhunter asses will look bringing a downworlder friend to the meeting. Don’t you think that you could use all the help you can get convincing the Queen that you’re not bigots?” Maia wheedled, taking hold of Izzy’s hips to pull her into a cuddle.

Izzy tutted, but hugged Maia back. “It could be dangerous.”

 

“Maia can take it,” Clary insisted, “come on, the worst that can happen is the Queen sends Maia away and she comes back out.”

With the both of them giving her puppy dog eyes, Izzy was powerless to say no, so she slung her arm around Maia’s shoulder and kissed her temple, Clary taking her other hand.

“So how do we get to the Seelie Realm? Is there like a door in one of those trees?” Clary asked, pointing at the trees across the stream.

Izzy and Maia gave each other a smirk. “Actually it’s in the water,” Maia told her, looking over the edge of the bridge. “Right down there.”

 

“Are you joking? That’s a twenty foot drop!”

“Seelie magic will catch you,” Izzy assured her, zipping up her coat. “You want me to go first?”

Clary nodded, watching as Izzy climbed over the railing and dropped off the edge of the bridge, disappearing as soon as her feet hit the water. She sighed in relief, and glanced at Maia for the go-ahead.

“Go on, I’m right behind you, babe,” Maia promised.

There weren’t many things in the world that Clary was scared of, with her shiny new shadowhunter powers, but heights made her nervous. She sat on the edge of the bridge, her fingers gripping tightly to the rail. “Okay, I’m going,” she told herself, squeezing her eyes shut and scooching off to let herself drop.

She felt a rush of cold air and then soft ground, and as she opened her eyes she recognised the warm hum of magic in the air. Izzy was standing a couple of feet away, waiting for her and Maia. The Seelie Realm looked like it had been ripped from the pages of a fairytale, and Clary supposed that actually, the pages of fairytales had been ripped right from the Seelie Realm. There was a strange blue glow at the edges of everything she saw, and the air shimmered like the inside of a snow globe.

“Don’t touch anything,” Izzy told her, noticing that Clary was gravitating towards a tree on the edge of the path, “this is a dangerous plane.”

“I hear the trees can rip your arms right out of their sockets,” Maia said as she landed next to the two of them, brushing herself off as she got to her feet.

“Gross,” Clary muttered, looking at the trees with disgust.”

 

“Nothing is as it seems in the Seelie Realm,” Izzy agreed, taking hold of Maia and Clary’s hands. “Let’s go, and stay together.”

After the revelation about the trees, Clary was all too happy to stick close to her girlfriends, and they made their way up the hill towards the court carefully. Even the bugs, Alec had told them, were the Queen’s citizens, and shouldn’t be disturbed.

“The first time I came here, Meliorn had to throw me over his shoulder and carry me,” Izzy remembered with a smile, “I was too curious about everything, he was a nervous wreck.”

“I can’t imagine Meliorn being nervous about anything,” Maia smirked. She only really knew Meliorn from when he occasionally brought dates to the Hunter’s Moon, but he’d always seemed calm and collected. “I’ve seen him get drinks thrown over him and not even blink.”

 

Izzy laughed, “you can’t see it when he’s nervous, but it’s there.”

“It creeps me out how zen he is. It’s like he’d just stab you in the throat and calmly wipe off his sword.” Clary shuddered. “I don’t wanna assume that all seelies are like that, but-”

 

“Oh, they are. They’re all ancient,” Maia explained, “they’re masters of control. Only a handful of seelies have been born in the last century, most of them have been here for millenia.”

“Meliorn doesn’t remember how old he is,” Izzy added, shaking her head. “The Queen is considered very young in seelie terms, and she’s older than Magnus.”

“Whoa,” Clary mumbled. “I can’t even imagine that amount of time.”

Izzy hummed, squeezing Clary and Maia’s hands. “The Queen isn’t what you’d expect. Be on your guard, but be as polite as you can.”

The moment that the three women stepped into the court, they were approached by a dozen seelies, who greeted them with absent smiles and soft touches to their faces, shoulders, arms and backs. Most of their attention was focussed on Izzy and Clary, and as they melted away Maia noticed that the seraph dagger in Clary’s thigh holster was gone.

“They took our weapons,” Clary muttered, glancing nervously at Izzy, who nodded.

“Just relax. We won’t need them here as long as we stay calm,” Izzy promised, scanning the room for the Seelie Queen.

“You are all perfectly safe in my court, Clary Fairchild,” the Queen assured her, appearing from behind a couple of Seelie Knights stationed close to the throne. Though her voice was even calmer and wiser than even Meliorn’s, the Seelie Queen appeared to them as a girl no more than twelve years of age. There was something unsettling about her; despite the fact that she looked like a child, the way that she held herself exuded quiet, restrained power, and Clary thought that the Seelie Queen was probably the scariest creature she’d met in the shadow world so far, though she couldn’t put her finger on what exactly was scaring her.

Izzy bowed, nudging Clary and Maia to do the same. “Thank you for your invitation, Your Majesty. We were honoured to receive it.”

“I did not invite this beta wolf,” the Seelie Queen observed, and Maia cleared her throat.

“I come as a friend, Your Majesty, to show that the shadowhunters mean the downworld well.” Maia answered.

The Seelie Queen merely hummed in response and turned her attention back to Clary and Izzy. “Rise, then, my children of the angel. We have much to discuss.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It had been a long day for Magnus. He’d been called to Arden’s house almost 14 hours ago, and only now did he feel able to leave her. Over the years, he’d helped dozens of mundane women who’d been abused by demons. Most of them jumped at the chance to stay with either himself, Cat or Ragnor, but Arden was determined to keep her life as normal as possible, and had insisted on staying in her condo. Warlock pregnancies were hard, though, and Magnus was determined to be there whenever she needed him.

He kicked off his shoes, magicking them back to his closet, and pulled out his phone as he threw himself onto the couch. Surprisingly, he didn’t have any missed calls from Alec, though he did have a picture message of Alec’s lunch with a heart eyes emoji attached. He chuckled at the sight of it and called Alec, pressing his phone to his ear.

“Hey,” Alec sounded a little tired, and Magnus’ eyes slipped shut at the sound of his voice. “Missed you this morning.”

“Not as much as I missed you,” Magnus insisted, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to give you a good luck kiss on your first day.”

Alec hummed. “I was very grumpy with you. You’re going to have to be extra nice to me tonight.”

“Oh, I’m sure you were,” Magnus chuckled fondly, “you’re not exactly a morning person.”

“I have no idea what you mean, I’m a delight in the morning.”

Magnus grinned, turning over to lie on his side, his phone resting under his head. “How did your first official day on the job go?”

“Good, I think. Productive. I responded to most of the memos that were on my desk this morning. Prepped for the cabinet tonight-”

 

“Oh, is that tonight?” Magnus asked rubbing his forehead. “I forgot.”

“Yeah, it’s the first one I’m leading. Izzy’s on a mission in the Seelie Realm.” Alec answered, “you’re coming, right?”

 

“Of course I am,” Magnus assured him, “I wouldn’t miss it. In an hour, isn’t it?” He verified, glancing up at the clock.

“Yeah, yeah. Um, Magnus, I need you to be there as the High Warlock tonight, rather than my boyfriend. I can’t be seen to have biases-”

 

“I know, Alexander, never fear,” Magnus smiled, stretching his arm over his head. “I’ll be totally professional, cross my heart.”

Alec sounded like he was smiling. “Thank you. I miss you.”

“I miss you too,” Magnus murmured, “I was hoping that you’d come home with me after the cabinet. We can talk…”

“Yeah, please. I’d love that,” Alec sighed, which warmed Magnus’ heart. “I have to go get some dinner. I’ll see you later?”

“Yes you will,” Magnus promised, “love you.”

“Love you too, Magnus,” Alec answered before hanging up.

Magnus turned over onto his back and groaned, running his hands down his face. He was exhausted, and had been counting on a night in with Alec, but now he had to put his shoes back on and argue for two hours. There was only one option.

Espresso martini.

~~~~~~~~~~

Right as Alec hung up the phone, his Mom let herself into the office, beaming from ear to ear. She took a moment to commit the image of Alec as Head of the Institute to memory, sitting behind Robert’s old desk in a lovely forest green shirt, neat piles of paper in front of him and a pen in his hand. He looked right at home, and it made Maryse’s heart sing. She spoke in Spanish to him, as they always did when they were alone.

“How’s your first official day been?”

Alec looked at his desk and his outbox, and nodded. “Yeah, good, I think. I only have five requests to mull over tonight and I managed to keep all the downworld leaders at the cabinet meeting in Izzy’s absence.”

“A little bird told me that tomorrow is going to see a lot of requests for staff transfers in. Alicante is processing them as we speak.” Maryse told him.

“Well, that’s lucky, because ten shadowhunters requested a transfer out of here just today,” Alec answered ruefully, scratching his jaw. “Unfortunately Lydia was not one of them.”

Maryse chuckled. “Put her on ichor duty for a couple of weeks, she’ll be out of here.”

Alec smirked, the mental image of Lydia scrubbing swords all too tempting. “That’s up to Izzy, not me.”

Maryse walked over to perch on the edge of his desk. “I thought you’d be more nervous than this,” she admitted, fixing his hair.

“I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember, been training for it. It feels as easy as breathing.” Alec replied.

“I still remember you sneaking in here while your father was in a meeting and writing your own memos in crayon,” she smiled nostalgically. “And you insisted he took them seriously, as well.”

“I had concerns,” Alec laughed, putting the cap back on his pen and dropping it back into the glass holding all his stationary. “Dad didn’t appreciate a seven year old trying to tell him that his filing system was inefficient.”

Maryse shook her head, running her hand through her hair. “He sure didn’t,” she giggled.

Alec checked the clock hanging over the door. “I need to get something to eat before the downworld cabinet. You want to join me?”

“I’d love to, sweetie, but I need to sort out Max. He’s been slacking on his written work.”

“Mmmm, he’s very eager to get out into the field. He sure bounced back fast from Kaelie’s attack, though.” Alec was sure that his brother was going to be a fierce shadowhunter; he was more of a fighter than Alec and Izzy, who were a lot more interested in management and science at his age. He just hoped that he’d grow out of his fear of downworlders, because a warrior who was scared of downworlders did not bode well.

“A little too fast if you ask me,” Maryse tutted, walking out with Alec. “Good luck with the cabinet meeting tonight, baby. I’m sure it’ll be a great success.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek before heading down to the junior quarters to deal with her youngest son.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m glad that we had this talk, Russell,” Luke murmured, holding the door open for the other alpha. “There’s no reason why our packs can’t share this city.”

Russell nodded, holding his hand out for a shake. “I’ll work on the Clave paperwork and let you know when we’re officially recognised.”

“That’s all I ask, man,” Luke assured him, clapping him on the shoulder as Russell headed off to his car. As he pulled away, Luke sighed in relief, rubbing his forehead. That was, at least, one less thing to worry about. Now, though, he had the downworld meeting. He grabbed his jacket and checked himself in the mirror without really thinking about it.

“What are you doing?” He muttered to himself, feeling sheepish. He didn’t have time to care about what he looked like, he was running late. He didn’t have time to care about Maryse Lightwood, either, he told himself for the hundredth time.

As he walked to his car, a fire message erupted in the air in front of him, and he snatched it out of the air. It told him to look West, and as he did, he heard a ringtone coming from the dumpster. There was a burner phone taped to the dumpster, and with some trepidation, Luke ripped it off and put it to his ear.

“I hear that you want Valentine dead,” came the auto-tuned words, and Luke looked around to see if anyone was watching. He didn’t recognise the voice through the modulator, but his curiosity was piqued.

“And?”

“I can give you a window at the downworlder cabinet tonight. Five minutes in the cell with Valentine with the cameras off.”

Luke couldn’t lie, he was tempted. But Alec had promised him a chance of negotiation, and if he got caught…

“What is your answer?” The anonymous caller pressed.

“I’ll call you back with my answer.” Luke responded, before hanging up. He’d hear Alec out, see what their options were. He’d try and do this the right way, for the good of the pack.

“Your obsession with Chinese food is seriously impressive.”

Luke sighed to himself when he heard Ollie’s words, and tucked the burner phone in his pocket as he turned around. “What are you doing here, Ollie?”

Ollie raised her chin, leaning against her car. “Same as you. I was hungry.”

“Why are you following me? Don’t you have a wife to get home to?” Luke asked, unlocking his car. Ollie walked over and put her hand on the car door, stopping Luke from getting in.

“You’re dressed up. Got a date?”

“Yes, actually,” Luke gritted out, “and I’m late. So could you…?”

Ollie raised her eyebrows. “Oh. I suppose I’ll see you at work, then.”

 

“Yep, see you tomorrow,” Luke nodded, sliding into the driver’s seat with a sigh of relief. He really needed to do something to stop Ollie from investigating him, but whatever he said just made her more suspicious. He needed an alibi.

At this point the only thing he could think of was somehow convincing one of the women in the pack to pretend to be his girlfriend. He wracked his brains for another option as he drove to the Institute, but he couldn’t think of a more convincing alibi than a girlfriend, and it wasn’t like he could tell her the truth. He cursed the fact that he got partnered with the nosiest cop in the NYPD, and parked around the corner from the Institute. He checked himself in the window once he got out, straightening his collar a little.

It was for his professional impression, he told himself, trying not to wonder if Maryse would be there to support her son.

~~~~~~~~~~

Of all of Alec’s duties as the Head of the Institute, this was the one that he was a little nervous of. Izzy was the better diplomat; Alec got caught up in practicality a little too much. He lacked Izzy’s vision, sometimes. She was also better at juggling her personal ties with professionalism; Alec was terrified of looking like he had bias. Well, he did have bias. He adored Magnus. He couldn’t say the same of Raphael.

And, just because the universe hated him, Raphael was the one who turned up first. Alec steeled himself, drawing from the calm he felt from Izzy’s half of the parabatai bond, and stepped forward to greet the vampire.

“Nice to see you again, Raphael.” He nodded, holding out his hand.

Raphael more or less crushed it with his grip, and Alec had to try really hard not to let his face scrunch. “Pleasure to be here, Alec.”

“How are things at the Hotel DuMort?” He asked cordially, bringing his hand back to massage it with his other.

“Things are…” Raphael paused, his eyes glancing around as if searching for the right word, “hectic. Your friend Simon Lewis is making my life a little more complicated than I’d like.”

“Oh?” Alec was under the impression that Simon hadn’t been at the Hotel DuMort for quite some time. “I thought he was staying with the wolves.”

“He is, but his daylighter powers are raising questions that I don’t know how to answer. I wonder if you know anything about how he came to walk in the sun?” Raphael asked.

Alec had been clued in to Izzy’s theory; Izzy had angel blood, and Simon had drunk from her. Angel blood was a powerful substance, and it was the only difference between Simon and the other vampires. “No, no idea. You’re welcome to use the Institute’s library to research, of course, but there isn’t much information about downworlder biology in there, I’m afraid.”

If Raphael suspected that Alec was lying, he didn’t show it. “That would be very helpful, thank you.”

“No problem. I’m happy to share our resources with you and the rest of the downworld.”

 

That seemed to please Raphael, and he actually cracked a smile. “Thank you, Alec. I look forward to working with you going forward.”

Alec nodded, and Raphael walked away to allow Meliorn to step up to shake his hand. “Meliorn. Glad you could make it.”

“Of course. I hear Isabelle and her new beaus are in the Queen’s realm.”

“Ah, yes, well,” Alec cleared his throat, “the Queen requested their presence.”

Meliorn hummed, nodding his head once. “I’m sure, as always, Isabelle will charm her way through any difficulties.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Alec chuckled. “Either way, glad you could make it.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Luke was waiting somewhat impatiently to say hello to Alec when Magnus breezed in, almost walking right past him. Luke put his hand out to stop him, and Magnus smiled.

“Luke,” he murmured, glancing over at Alec. “Waiting for his attention?”

“He’s been talking to Meliorn for a while. He’s doing great.”

 

Magnus had pride in his gaze. “Of course he is. He’s made for this.”

Luke hummed. “So it’s going well with him?”

“Better than I ever dared to hope,” he confessed, his eyes crinkling in a way Luke had never seen them do.

Luke clapped him on the shoulder. “I’m happy for you.”

“Thank you, Luke. How about you? Any special ladies in your life?”

Like a ridiculous romantic comedy, the moment the word ‘special’ left Magnus’ mouth, Maryse came around the corner smoothing down her dress. Luke felt his face warm, and cleared his throat, looking down at the floor as her eyes swept the corridor where everyone was gathered. Magnus’ eyebrow arched, and he turned around to see who’d gotten Luke so bashful. His eyes widened when he saw Maryse, and he smacked Luke on the arm.

“Ow!”

 

“Maryse Lightwood?!” He hissed, “really?!”

“Keep your voice down!”

“You’re about to be my father-in-law!”

“Gentlemen,” Maryse greeted them, her hands behind her back. “How are we this evening?”

Magnus couldn’t help but notice the way Maryse’s eyes grew warmer when she met Luke’s, and shook his head a little. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Alec was now alone, watching the three of them with trepidation. “Oh, Alexander is free, excuse me.”

“I’m good,” Luke answered once Magnus had dashed off to talk to Alec, putting his hands in the back pockets of his trousers. “Great.”

Maryse smiled. “This cabinet means a lot to Alec and Izzy. I’m so glad that you were able to make it.”

Luke nodded, unsure of what else to say. This was the most they’d spoken since the night before Luke had been turned, and-

“I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it to Jocelyn’s Rite of Passing,” Maryse continued, and Luke just blinked, taken aback. “She was the bravest person I’ve ever met. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

 

“Oh, erm… Thank you, Maryse. I appreciate it.” He replied, biting the inside of his cheek. “I’m sorry about Robert. You deserved better.”

 

Maryse’s eyes widened. “You heard about that.”

“Clary and Izzy were ranting about him to me,” he admitted.

“I see,” Maryse nodded, rubbing her arm.

“You deserved better,” Luke said, and then remembered that he’d already said that.

Maryse smiled slightly, nodding. “Thank you, Lucian.”

“I should… Go and greet Alec.”

“Yes, you all have a lot of work to do, I’m keeping you.” Maryse said softly, stepping away to give Alec and the downworlders the space they needed. This wasn’t her moment, after all. It was her son’s.

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus shook off the bizarre interaction he’d just witnessed and cleared his throat as he approached Alec, remembering his boyfriend’s request to keep it strictly professional tonight. They could gossip about Luke and Maryse later. He took the hand Alec offered him and shook it firmly, smirking a little as his eyes met Alec’s.

“Lovely to see you, Mr Lightwood,” he murmured, and Alec huffed out a laugh.

“And you, Mr Bane. Thank you for taking the time to attend our cabinet.” Alec purred.

Magnus winked at him. “My pleasure.”

Luke cleared his throat just behind Magnus, his hands on his hips. Alec fixed his attention on Luke and shook his hand. “I thought you two would at least be on first name terms by now.”

 

Both Alec and Magnus chuckled.

“Shall we?” Alec asked, holding out his hand towards the conference room, and Luke and Magnus nodded.

“I’m just waiting for Simon,” Raphael insisted as everyone took their seats. “He’s late. I apologise for him.”

“I wasn’t aware we were supposed to be bringing seconds tonight.” Luke said, though he hadn’t seen Maia all day.

Raphael sighed. “The other vamps insisted that he be present. He won’t be voting on any motions.”

“Well,” Alec checked his watch, “how about the five of us get started and we’ll catch Simon up when he arrives?”

“I suppose we don’t have a choice,” Raphael tutted, looking hopefully at the door, but Simon was nowhere to be seen. “Let’s begin.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It was ten minutes before Simon darted into the corridor, scaring the shit out of Raj, who was keeping Sebastian company on his security shift. Simon chuckled as Raj doubled over, clutching his heart.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” Simon said breathlessly, sweeping his hair back. “I’m late.”

“Yes, you are,” Sebastian murmured, arching his eyebrow. “They’ve started without you.”

Simon straightened his shirt. “Oh. Is it like a movie theatre kinda deal or can I go in?”

“A movie theatre?” Sebastian repeated.

“You know, where you go see movies.” Raj interjected, “they don’t let you in if you arrive after a certain time.”

“Yeah, like the other day, I was gonna go and see Aquaman, but-”

“Oh, don’t bother. The best thing about it was Jason Momoa’s abs.” Raj scoffed.

Simon smirked. “That is reason enough.”

Raj laughed, and Sebastian looked at the two of them with a set jaw.

“You can go right in,” Sebastian pointed out, opening the door.

“Oh,” Simon nodded, scratching the back of his head as he glanced at Raj. “Okay, I guess I’ll head in, then.”

Once Simon had gone in, and the doors closed behind him, Raj turned to Sebastian, a smug smirk on his face. Sebastian didn’t meet his eyes, clearing his throat as his gaze swept across the corridor.

“You’re jealous of Simon.”

Sebastian snorted.

Raj sidled up to him, leaning against the wall. “You are. Look at you. You’re blushing.”

“I am not blushing,” Sebastian insisted, smiling a little as he looked at Raj out of the corner of his eyes. “And I’m not jealous.”

“Mmmm… Sure,” Raj shrugged, “I believe you.”

 

Sebastian licked his lips. “Alright, maybe a little,” he allowed.

Raj grinned. “I knew it.” He leaned a little closer, fiddling with Sebastian’s collar. “You have nothing to worry about.”

Though he didn’t reply, Sebastian looked at him with something like surprise in his eyes, and Raj glanced around to check no-one was looking before giving him a quick kiss.

~~~~~~~~~~

The food at the Seelie Court was delicious, though Clary was feeling more suspicious by the moment. It was hard to know how long they’d been in the seelie realm, but the Queen hadn’t said a word since they sat down to eat. Instead, she’d watched Clary, Izzy and Maia interact. Maia had commented about how nice the food was right after they’d started eating and the three of them had been carefully chatting to fill the silence since, but Clary was getting nervous at the way the Queen was looking at them.

“I wish to see your angelic powers,” the Queen announced suddenly, and the sound of her voice after such a length silence made Maia and Clary jump.

Izzy, however, didn’t bat an eye. “We would love to give you a demonstration, Your Majesty, but Clary and I are still figuring out the mechanics of our abilities.” She explained.

“Such a shame,” the Queen replied, her voice as steady as ever. “I have not seen a shadowhunter blessed with angel blood in the time of my rule. There are not many things that I have not seen.”

“It must freak you out a little, right?” Clary guessed.

The Queen smiled. “It is mere curiosity.”

“Are shadowhunters with pure angel blood really that rare?” Maia asked, leaning forward.

“They were very common, once upon a time. But blood loses its power over time, with breeding. My predecessor was very familiar with pure-blooded shadowhunters, but Clary and Isabelle are the first ones I have encountered.” The Queen explained, getting up from the table. “We have much to discuss, Isabelle.”

Izzy glanced at Clary and Maia. “But Clary is the one whose powers have already manifested.”

The Queen raised her chin, looking down her nose at Clary. “Clary is the result of Valentine’s experiments. You, on the other hand, were blessed by the angels themselves.”

Clary couldn’t argue with that, and inclined her head towards the Queen when Izzy looked at her.

“Come along, Isabelle. We must talk in private.” The Queen pressed, and Izzy got up from the table, smoothing her dress down.

She had absolutely no idea what the Queen wanted with her, but you didn’t say no the Seelie Queen. Izzy gave Clary and Maia reassuring smiles and followed the Queen out of the dining room and out into the arboretum. The Queen led her through the otherwordly, deadly looking flowers, and didn’t speak for a few long minutes.

“You’ve been quite interesting for a good many years now, Isabelle,” the Queen said eventually, just as Izzy was about to make small talk about the plants. “It is not often that a shadowhunter delights in seelie company.”

“You’re talking about Meliorn.” Izzy guessed.

The Queen hummed. “My Knights have no secrets from me.”

“Meliorn and I were good friends,” Izzy confirmed, wondering what exactly the Queen was getting at.

“I believe he gave you a volume from the seelie archives, did he not?”

Izzy nodded, her eyebrows furrowing. “Yes, a book about shadowhunters who lived in the Seelie Realm.”

“My darling defectors,” the Queen said, and Izzy swore there was a note of fondness in her voice. “Meliorn recognised in you the possibility that one day you might join us.”

Oh. That was what she wanted, Izzy realised. “I considered it briefly,” she admitted. “The Clave’s ideals do not align with my own.”

“Yet you’ve stepped into the role of weapons master at the New York Institute,” the Queen observed, “a position where you design weapons to murder downworlders.”

“That is not the role that I’ve accepted,” Izzy insisted, “the weapons I design will be meant to stun problem downworlders and shadowhunters alike. At the moment I’m designing a weapon to track Circle members.”

The Queen nodded. “Your talents are wasted in the service of the Clave. You know as well as I that the Clave do not care about ending the Circle.”

Izzy swallowed hard. “Perhaps. But Alec-”

 

“Has good intentions, I have no doubt. But his powers are limited.”

“We’re trying our best, Your Majesty.” Izzy pointed out.

“You must know that you could accomplish more if you were to leave the service of the Clave to join me.” The Queen stated, “here you would have a longer lifespan, and all the resources you’d need to track and kill the remaining Circle members.”

Izzy sighed. “It is a generous offer, Your Majesty, but I have ties in the New York shadow world that I cannot simply sever.”

“You refer to your brother and your girlfriends.”

“Among others, yes.”

“Polyamory is a common thing in my realm.” The Queen mused, “so I understand the temptation. But are you absolutely certain that Clary and Maia are not just using you as a bridge to grow closer?”

Izzy frowned. “I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.”

“Clary and Maia would not have met were it not for you. They would have passed each other like ships in the night. Are you sure that your girlfriends’ feelings are evenly distributed?”

Izzy scoffed, shaking her head. “You could have just asked me to join you without trying to manipulate me away from the people I love.”

“If I wanted to manipulate you, Isabelle, you wouldn’t have seen it coming.” The Seelie Queen pointed out.

“Your Majesty, we just want to know if Kaelie acted alone. It was a lot of work for one person.”

The Queen raised her chin. “There was an accomplice. But I dealt with him.”

 

“When you say dealt with him,” Izzy pressed.

“Dead, dead, dead.” She answered coolly, and Izzy nodded.

“Right. Thank you for the information, Your Majesty. We should be getting back to the Institute.” Izzy curtseyed, backing up the path towards the Court.

The Queen assented, sweeping past Izzy to lead the way back to where Clary and Maia were waiting for them. It wasn’t surprising to Izzy when she saw Clary pacing and Maia loitering near the door. She must have been gone for what would have felt like a long time.

“Ready to go?” Izzy said briskly, taking Maia’s arm as she passed.

“Wait,” the Queen insisted, and a couple of Seelie Knights stepped in front of the exit, holding their javelins in a cross. “I sense that one of my subjects has been lost.”

Clary grimaced, wringing her hands together. “I forgot that the bugs-”

“And the bees, all serve me.” The Queen finished. “You swatted one of my most loyal subjects. Reparations must be made. A life for a life.”

“Wait, are you talking about killing Clary because she swatted a bug?” Maia demanded.

“No, not Clary,” the Queen snapped her fingers, and a thick thatch of vines erupted up out of the floor and whipped around Izzy and Maia, encasing them in thorny green ropes.

“What are you doing?! Let them go!” Clary shouted, whirling around to face the Queen.

“Let’s play a game,” the Queen suggested, as if absolutely nothing out of the ordinary was happening, and Clary clenched her jaw. “The kiss you most desire will set them free.”

Izzy and Maia both had their hands and legs totally bound now, and the more they struggled the faster that vines grew. “Just stay still,” Izzy urged, “they’ll only kill us quicker if we fight it.”

“Quicker?!” Maia repeated, looking to Clary.

“If you don’t kiss one, both will surely die,” the Seelie Queen smirked, and Clary’s first instinct was to punch her, but she stomped over to where Izzy and Maia were restrained, looking between the two women. The kiss she most desired?

Clary stepped up to kiss Izzy, careful to avoid the thorny vines snaking around her neck. With an insistent press of her lips, the vines loosened and fell away, and Clary turned to Maia to kiss her, too. Clary realised a moment too late that it was the first time she was kissing Maia, and as the vines slackened, Clary’s hands came up to hold her face, deepening the kiss just enough to make it memorable before pulling away.

The three women joined hands, and turned to look at the Seelie Queen. She looked vaguely surprised, her eyebrows raised, but not disappointed, exactly. Izzy thought it best that they didn’t give her enough time to think of another reason to kill one of them, and more or less dragged Clary and Maia past the shocked Seelie Knights towards their portal.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Everyone on this council is in agreement that Valentine needs to die. There’s no reason to keep him alive, he’ll never give up the mortal cup.” Luke insisted.

Alec clasped his hands together on the table. “The six of us are in agreement, yes, but this cabinet is in its infancy. We cannot begin by asking the impossible, we have to start smaller. The Clave’s priority is the mortal cup, unfortunately.”

“Why do they want the mortal cup back so badly?” Raphael demanded, “they did just fine without it for twenty years.”

“The mortal instruments represent their egos, Raphael, you know that,” Magnus sighed, shaking his head, “they’ll never accept that they’ve lost the cup again.”

“The mortal instruments are sacred objects to many inside the Clave,” Alec reminded them, “they’re objects given directly from the angels.”

“But not you?” Meliorn asked doubtfully, his eyebrow quirked.

Alec cleared his throat. “Personally I’m not as religious as the average member of the Clave.”

“Religious artefact or not,” Luke stressed, “Valentine is never, ever going to give it up. He’s been interrogated for weeks now. No doubt you’ve been using the agony rune constantly. He will not break.”

Magnus reached for his glass of water at the mention of the agony rune, gulping down the cool liquid as Alec glanced at him. “I have to agree. If the Clave’s torture techniques haven’t worked up until now, then they never will.”

“What do you know about the Clave’s torture techniques?” Raphael sounded genuinely curious.

Alec and Magnus made eye contact. “This cabinet is about transparency,” Alec murmured, and Magnus nodded.

“When Azazel was here in New York, he switched my consciousness with Valentine’s. For a few days, I was stuck in Valentine’s body, experiencing that torture. And I can attest…” He cleared his throat, straightening up in his chair, “if Valentine has withstood it this long, he will never break.”

“Hold,” Meliorn said, standing up. “Valentine was walking around in Magnus’ body?! For how long?”

“Just a couple of days,” Alec assured him, “we had it under control.”

 

“You know how much damage Valentine could have done in Magnus’ body?!” Luke pointed out, shaking his head. “You should have warned us.”

“Agreed,” Meliorn said, sinking back down into his seat.

Luke clenched his jaw. “This is why Valentine needs to die! He’s already escaped once!”

“And you know I share that opinion, personally,” Alec reminded him, holding up his hand in a placating gesture. “But as I’ve said, we need to manage our expectations.”

 

“Screw your expectations,” Luke growled, getting up from the table and storming out of the room.

“He’s going through some stuff,” Simon said in the silence that followed, and Raphael shot him a dirty look.

“Let’s take a break to clear our heads,” Alec suggested, rubbing his forehead.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m in,” Luke muttered into the phone, heading towards the elevator. “When’s my window?”

“You will have five minutes from the moment I hang up this phone.” The voice said, and Luke checked his watch. It would be tight, but he could do it.

“Alright.” He hung up the phone, and picked up the pace, jogging lightly down the corridor.

Maryse came out of one of the offices ahead of him, and Luke stopped in his tracks. She smiled, though there was confusion in her face. “You looking for me?” She asked tentatively.

“No,” Luke answered, a little too quickly. “Just… Had to get out of there for a moment.”

“Alec say something you didn’t like?” Maryse guessed, tilting her head to the side. Luke grumbled, which made her huff out a laugh.

“He’s a good kid, but… This situation…”

“Valentine took more from you than anyone else,” Maryse nodded, looking down at their feet. “I can understand why you want him dead. Hell, I have days where I just want to march down there and…” She trailed off with a sigh. “But we have to be better than him.”

Luke swallowed hard.

“I have to do better than I’ve done before,” Maryse continued quietly, reaching out to squeeze his hand. “I’m trying to make things right with the people I wronged. You’re one of those people.”

“Listen, Maryse,” Luke gently pulled his hand back, “I’d love to talk about this, but I have to update the pack. Alec is waiting.”

Maryse nodded, tucking her hair behind her ear. Luke suddenly had a flashback of Maryse, 30 years younger, asking him if he wanted to spar. “Another time, then.”

“Another time,” Luke promised, patting her on the shoulder as he passed and got on the elevator. He hoped she wouldn’t notice that it was heading down instead of up.

There was a seraph blade left standing next to the door leading to the cells, and Luke glanced around before taking it. He hoped that his anonymous accomplice had kept his word and turned off the cameras, or he would be in a lot of trouble. He refused to think about it, and pressed on, letting himself into the cells.

Valentine was already looking at the door, like he knew what was coming. Luke didn’t shy away from the eye contact, and when Valentine smirked Luke had to take a few deep breaths so his anger wouldn’t pull him under. If he killed Valentine in wolf form, it would be obvious who did it. He had to face him, and kill him, as a man. The seraph blade felt familiar in his hand; though it had been a long time since he’d wielded one, the muscle memory of his youth couldn’t be erased.

“Lucian,” Valentine purred as Luke unlocked the door to his cell and stepped inside, “you’ve taken longer than I expected to come and take your revenge.”

“Better late than never,” Luke retorted, raising the sword.

Valentine grabbed the tin tray that his food had been delivered on, edging his way around the outside of the room. “You’ve taken everything from me and now you’ve come to finally take my life. Poetic, really.”

“I’ve taken everything from YOU?!” Luke hissed, shaking his head. “You destroyed my life, over and over and over again. You took my family, you took my friends, and then you took Jocelyn.”

“We both lost Jocelyn,” Valentine spat, his smugness replaced with fury in an instant.

“You didn’t lose her, you shoved her away and killed her. You did that.”

Valentine scoffed, brandishing the tray like a shield. “You poisoned her against me.”

Luke swung the sword, letting it clang off the tray, a warning shot. “I did nothing but support her because my parabatai and her husband was losing his goddamn mind! You know that back then it wasn’t romantic between Jocelyn and I. I was still hurting from-”

“You didn’t like that I told Maryse that she could do better and stole my wife in revenge.” Valentine snarled.

“Not everything is about you!” Luke shouted, feinting to the left before lunging.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Alec,” Maryse caught her son’s attention when he passed her in the corridor. “Have you seen Luke?”

Alec shook his head, eyeing her suspiciously. “Mom… You know you said you had a pregnancy scare, when you were young-”

 

“We can talk about that later,” Maryse urged, “I think Luke is trying to get to Valentine. He got in the elevator earlier and he hasn’t come back. He said he was calling the pack, but he hung up the phone before he got in the elevator.”

“Oh, fuck,” Alec breathed, pulling out his phone to look at the security footage. He couldn’t see Luke outside the Institute, but the cameras in the cells didn’t show him either. With a closer look, though, it seemed strange how Valentine was scratching his nose over and over again, every five seconds. The cameras must have been looped. “Thanks for letting me know, Mom.”

 

“You have to stop him before he does something he regrets.” Maryse insisted, and Alec nodded, jogging back towards the conference room to grab Sebastian.

When they got down to the cells, Luke and Valentine were fist-fighting, a seraph blade on the floor at their feet, and Alec and Sebastian broke into a run. Alec grabbed Valentine while Sebastian grabbed Luke, pulling the two men apart. Alec kicked the seraph blade away and nodded at Sebastian to drag Luke out of the cell. Alec shoved Valentine into the bed and snatched up the seraph blade, pointing it at him as he backed out of the cell.

“I’ll be glad to have Lucian as my neighbour,” Valentine chuckled breathlessly as Alec shut the door.

Alec’s lip curled, and he marched across to the cell where Sebastian was handcuffing Luke, shaking his head. “What the hell were you thinking?!”

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus found his way up to the roof to smoke. He thought it best to give Alec space to be the Head of the Institute, and he felt strangely torn standing there with Raphael, Simon and Meliorn. On one hand, he wanted to protect Alec from the downworld’s anger, because it wasn’t exactly his fault, personally. On the other, he could see where the downworld was coming from, felt their pain and passion. Magnus wondered if he was doing the right thing, putting himself in this position. Perhaps he should have sent Catarina in his stead.

“I haven’t seen you smoke in years,” Raphael observed, coming to stand next to Magnus at the wall.

Magnus nodded, blowing the smoke up into the cold night air. “Desperate times.”

“I thought you made up with Alec.”

“I did,” Magnus assured him, “but… It’s strange, having to deal with him as the Head of the Institute.”

“Must be strange, having your lover as your enemy.” Raphael murmured, leaning against the wall to look out over the city.

“The shadowhunters aren’t our enemies, Raphael.”

Raphael looked at Magnus, melancholy in his face. “That’s not what you used to say.”

“This generation is different, Raphael. Ragnor taught them our humanity, and their own errors.” Magnus reminded him, putting out his cigarette.

“If you believe that’s true, why can I smell alcohol in your blood?”

Magnus folded his arms. “Cat and Ragnor got to you too, then.” Raphael looked concerned, so he sighed and straightened up. “There are things that I am struggling with, that have nothing to do with Alexander. You’ve known me long enough to know I don’t weather storms well.”

 

“You weather storms just fine, Magnus. I’m just…” Raphael cleared his throat, “concerned. Usually you keep your head clear in meetings like this.”

“My head is perfectly clear, Raphael. I may have had a martini when I got home, but-”

“You need to start going to meetings again.”

“When exactly do I have the time?” Magnus snapped, his jaw clenching.

Raphael rolled his eyes. “Make the time. Soon.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I was thinking that the Clave was never going to give the downworld the justice we deserve and somebody had to step up and do what needed to be done,” Luke answered, sitting down heavily on the hard mattress. Alec folded his arms, his eyes narrowed. “Someone got in touch with me, via a burner phone. Said they could give me five minutes off the cameras.”

Alec glanced at Sebastian, who looked horrified. “So we have a mole inside the Institute?” Alec asked, turning his attention back to Luke.

“I’ll look into it right away,” Sebastian murmured, letting himself out of the cell and jogging towards the elevator.

“I’d appreciate it if you could let me say goodbye to Clary, Simon and Maia before you send me to the Gard,” Luke said quietly, looking at his feet.

Alec sighed, rubbing his forehead and pinching the bridge of his nose. “You really have no idea who your accomplice was?”

“None. They used a voice modulator. I couldn’t even give you a gender. But they had access to your security feeds, the cells and the armory. They left me that seraph blade.” Luke explained.

“Right. That doesn’t narrow our options much. There’s two dozen shadowhunters with access to the cells.” Alec turned around on the spot, tilting his head back. “You have any idea what position you’ve put me in here?” He pulled out his stele, and unlocked Luke’s handcuffs.

“You’re letting me go?” Luke asked, amazed.

“I’m trying to prove to the downworld that there’s hope for peace. I’m trying to prove that I am not their enemy. If I throw you in the Gard for moving on Valentine, I’d be proving the opposite.” Alec shook his head. “But if the Clave gets wind of this I will lose my runes, so-”

 

“This stays between us.” Luke agreed, getting to his feet. “I won’t forget this, Alec.”

Alec shook his hand firmly. “Please, work with me. Don’t go behind my back.”

Luke nodded. “I will. Thank you.”

“I think,” Alec groaned, stretching out his back, “we’ve all had enough diplomacy for one night, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I can’t say I disagree,” Luke chuckled. He could barely believe that Alec was letting him go; he wasn’t sure he would have made the same decision in Alec’s place, putting his life on the line to save the neck of someone who’d just betrayed him. “Thanks again.”

“Don’t mention it,” Alec smirked faintly, and Luke laughed, clapping him on the back as they headed back to the elevator.

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy, Maia and Clary all hugged each other when they arrived back in Central Park, relieved that the Seelie Queen had at least kept her word and let all three of them go. Clary was the first to pull back, checking over her two girlfriends for injuries and kissing Maia’s cheek where a thorn had scratched her skin, along with Izzy’s hand, which was bleeding a little from the thorns sticking in her. Both of them had little rips in their clothes, but looked otherwise unscathed, and Clary hugged them again.

“What was that?” Maia asked, rubbing Clary’s back. “What was the point?”

 

“She thought that Clary would choose you,” Izzy explained, “she wanted me to defect, join her. I think she thought that Clary would choose you in the game and then she’d sweep in and save my life, and I’d abandon the two of you.”

Clary scoffed. “Then she clearly doesn’t read people as well as she thinks she does.”

“I can’t believe we had to have our first kiss in front of a crowd of Seelies,” Maia snorted, shaking her head as the three of them headed back towards the Jade Wolf. “Though I’m just glad she didn’t, like, dose us all with sex pollen.”

 

“Sex pollen?” Izzy repeated, her eyebrows rising up her forehead.

“It’s a comic thing,” Clary laughed, “tell you about it later.”

 

“You read comics?” Maia asked.

Clary hummed. “I’ve read a couple, but I mostly know about sex pollen from Simon telling me about his porn adventures.”

 

“Ew, gross. You guys share way too much,” Maia insisted, and Izzy nodded in agreement.

“Maybe I should be more grateful that Alec is too shy to tell me about the details of his personal life.”

“You definitely should,” Clary agreed, shaking her head at the memories. “Sometimes I think Simon is a little too comfortable around me. Like the time he was about to have sex for the first time, he locked himself in the bathroom and called me asking me to remind him exactly where the clit was.”

“Oh my God, no!” Izzy cackled, hiding her face in Clary’s shoulder. “What did you say?!”

“Well I told him,” Clary shrugged, “I owe it to my fellow woman. I couldn’t send him into some poor girl’s pants being hopeless.”

“Ugh, you’re doing a public service,” Maia teased.

“Speaking of getting into a poor girl’s pants…” Izzy segued, and Clary and Maia glanced at each other with raised eyebrows. “Which one of us has the bigger bed?”

Maia smirked. “Probably me.”

Clary grinned, looping her arm around Izzy’s neck. “To Maia’s?”

“To Maia’s,” Izzy confirmed, excited and content in the knowledge that the three of them would have each others’ backs for a long time to come.

Chapter Text

It had been Magnus’ intention to sneak back into bed before Alec woke up. He hadn’t been able to sleep, knowing that Alec was expecting them to talk the next morning, and had finally given up and made a pot of tea at 4 o’clock. The thoughts of his mother, the memories of his stepfather, plagued him as he sat at the table, and he realised that his tea had gone cold in his hands because he’d been caught up in his thoughts for so long. In fact, the only thing that brought him back to reality was Alec’s soft, sleepy voice, floating out from behind him. Blinking fast, Magnus put his teacup down, and turned to face his boyfriend.

“Good morning,” he said, unable to remember what Alec had been saying before.

Alec’s eyebrows were furrowed, and his hair was soft and messy, and Magnus felt comforted just by the sight of him. “I’m tired of waking up to an empty bed,” he murmured, “how long have you been awake?”

“I had trouble sleeping,” Magnus admitted, stepping forward to take Alec’s hips in his hands. “I’m sorry you woke up alone, I meant to come and cuddle when the sun came up.”

“Why couldn’t you sleep?” Alec asked. His hands dipped under Magnus’ robe to rub up his chest and to his shoulders, a concerned look on his face.

Magnus smiled slightly. “Well, I was laying there for quite a while listening to your adorable little snores, and-”

“Hey,” Alec pouted, “I don’t snore.”

“You do snore, my angel, and it’s unbearably cute.” Magnus insisted, closing his eyes and doing an impression of Alec’s huffy, grumbly snores.

Alec chuckled, scritching his fingers through the hair at the back of Magnus’ head. “Really, though. Are you ready to talk?”

After a moment of hesitation, Magnus nodded and sat down on the couch, pulling Alec down next to him to cuddle. Alec was patient while Magnus got his thoughts together, and made sure to squeeze Magnus tightly, as if to reassure him that whatever came out of his mouth, Alec would be here.

“The agony rune is designed to torment a person using their own weaknesses, isn’t it?” Magnus began, and Alec hummed.

“Yes. It should never be used lightly. You should never have been exposed to it.” Alec said quietly, his hand running up and down Magnus’ arm.

“I know. You’ve already apologised for that, and it wasn’t your fault, anyway. But for me, the agony rune manifested as a means to remind me of the darkest moments of my life. I suppose…” Magnus took a deep breath, pressing his cheek to Alec’s shoulder. “I suppose my weakness is that I’ve never really accepted my past, or faced up to it. I’ve just been running, trying to forget about it, all these years.”

Alec dropped a kiss into Magnus’ hair. “So you’ve been having flashbacks?”

“Yes,” Magnus answered, “it’s why I haven’t been sleeping well, and numbing it with alcohol more often than I should. I’ve said before, there are things that I’ve done in the past that I’m not proud of. Bad things.”

“And… You’re reliving these moments that you want to forget?”

Magnus nodded. “It’s been horrible.”

“Why didn’t you say something before?” Alec asked softly, “I would have understood.”

Magnus was just opening his mouth to apologise when Alec’s phone started ringing in the other room. He sighed and went to stand, but Alec held him fast.

“It can wait,” Alec insisted.

“It might be the Clave calling about Valentine’s transfer,” Magnus pointed out, moving over to Alec could get up. “Go.”

Alec knew he was right, so he reluctantly got up from the couch and went to the bedroom to grab his phone. He was too late to pick up the call but he saw that it was the Institute phoning and dialled them back straight away, smiling apologetically at Magnus through the open door. Raj picked up the phone.

“Alec, you need to get over here. Inquisitor Herondale wants to video call with you, it’s about Valentine.”

“Right. Yes. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Alec sighed, walking over to Magnus’ dresser to grab his spare pair of boxers. He hung up the phone and tossed it on the bed. “Babe, I am so sorry, but-”

“Never fear!” Magnus beamed, gliding into the room to give Alec a kiss on the cheek. “We have all the time in the world. Don’t worry about me, we can talk another time.”

Alec caught his hand as he headed to the bathroom. “Hey. I want to talk about this. I want to be here for you, and I will be as soon as I’ve dealt with whatever it is that the Clave wants, okay?”

Magnus nodded, lifting Alec’s hand to kiss his knuckles. “I know, angel. I’ll see you later.”

“Have a good day,” Alec murmured, letting Magnus go so he could get dressed.

~~~~~~~~~~

“The Clave has approved your request to move Valentine to the Gard,” Inquisitor Herondale told Alec after the necessary niceties were out of the way, “we’ll make preparations immediately with a view to receive him by the end of the week. Who is your Head of Security? I need to put my man in touch with him.”

“I have yet to confirm, but Aline Penhallow is arriving today to discuss the position with me.” Alec answered, “if she decides to take the job I’ll have her get in touch straight away.”

Inquisitor Herondale looked impressed. “I can see how Miss Penhallow would be a good fit for your Institute. She is very good friends with the half-Seelie shadowhunter, Miss Blackthorn.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Alec nodded, amused by the fact that Imogen hadn’t realised that Aline and Helen were a lot more than friends. It was the worst kept secret in Alicante. “In the meantime, my Head of Intelligence, Raj Palani, will be in touch.”

“Understood. I’ll check in with you in a couple of days.” The Inquisitor told him before hanging up.

Alec paged Raj and Izzy to meet him in the ops centre and looked up at the clock. Aline’s interview was scheduled for an hour’s time. That gave him plenty of time to hatch a plan of action with Raj and Izzy. He got up to put on his jacket and headed to the ops centre, glancing at his phone to see a picture text from Magnus. It was of the front of a limousine, and Alec wondered why Magnus had sent it for a moment before noticing the license plate. It was a personalised one, M6GNU5 100, and Magnus had put the 100 emoji on the car’s windshield. Alec chuckled and sent back a laughing face emoji before shoving his phone in his pocket.

“What’s got you smiling? Finally got news that Valentine’s worm food?” Raj asked as Alec walked into the ops centre.

“No, just Magnus being cute,” he shrugged, “but I do have news about Valentine. Where’s Izzy?”

“Right here,” Izzy answered, plaiting her damp hair as she walked into the room. She quickly tied it off and looked between Alec and Raj quizzically. “So what’s the news?”

“The Clave’s decided that Valentine belongs in the Gard. I haven’t officially appointed Aline yet, so I’m putting the two of you in charge in the meantime.” Alec explained, “we need to come up with a plan of action on the safest way to transport Valentine.”

“It’s gotta be a portal,” Raj shrugged, “it’s quicker and safer than a plane.”

“Agreed, but we have to make sure that we pick the right people to escort.” Izzy insisted.

Alec glanced up at the sound of conversation on the other side of the room, and spotted Aline chatting to a couple of people. “You’re good to screen personnel?” He checked with Raj, who nodded.

Aline gave Alec a big hug when she spotted him walking towards her, squeezing him tightly. “Oh, now I can hug you properly without worrying about crushing the pecs.”

“What do you think?” Alec asked teasingly, stepping back and pulling his shirt down to show off his flat chest.

“If I was into men I’d be into you, hot stuff,” she winked, which made Alec laugh. “How was recovery? Sorry I couldn’t come and visit.”

“I was mostly doped up on mundane medications,” Alec shrugged, “I’m sure Izzy will show you all the videos.”

Aline smirked. “Like she hasn’t already sent them to me.”

“Of course she has,” Alec groaned. “You want the grand tour?”

“Later, maybe. I heard my cousin’s transferred here, is he on duty?” She asked, glancing around the ops centre looking for Sebastian.

“Mmmm, I don’t think so. Pretty sure this is his day off, so he might be at his apartment.” Alec replied, “he’s been very helpful.”

“Bet he has. He knows everything there is to know about demons. Crap in a fight, but we love him anyway,” Aline shrugged. Alec quirked his eyebrow.

“He’s not too bad. At least, he’s held his own pretty well so far. No problems out in the field whatsoever,” Alec assured her, “he’s been working security.”

Aline raised her eyebrows. “Damn. Guess he must have been practising while he was AWOL.”

“Must have been,” Alec hummed. “He’s also been dating my Head of Intelligence, Raj. Do you remember him from the Academy?” He pointed to Raj, who was still discussing personnel with Izzy.

“Wait… What?”

“What?” Alec asked, growing a little worried at the shocked look on Aline’s face.

“He never mentioned that he was into guys. He always dated girls before.” Aline smirked, shaking her head. “I can’t believe that sneaky little bastard.”

Alec shrugged. “He and Raj bonded when Sebastian saved him from Azazel.”

“That’s sweet. I can’t wait to interrogate him about it later.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Once Izzy was done comparing notes with Raj, she headed back to her room to wake Clary up. They’d gotten in from Maia’s early this morning, ready for their shifts, but it turned out someone had volunteered to take Clary’s patrol shift downtown, so she’d headed back to bed. Since Izzy had left, Clary had made herself into a blanket burrito, the thin sheet knotted tightly around her whole body, though one foot stuck out of the bottom. Izzy smiled at the sight and sat down on the edge of the bed, leaning down to run her fingers through Clary’s hair.

“Time to get up, Scrappy,” she said softly, and Clary batted her hand away and turned over.

“No,” Clary answered, tugging the blanket up over her cheeks so that only her eyebrows could be seen.

Izzy threw herself over her girlfriend, putting her full weight over Clary’s middle. “Come on, I have to tell you something. Wake up!”

“It’s my day off, leave me alone,” Clary groaned, her eyebrows scrunching.

“It’s about Valentine,” Izzy sighed, gently pulling the blanket down from Clary’s eyes.

Clary sighed loudly, and her eyes squinted open. “What about him?”

“He’s being moved to Idris.”

“Thank God,” Clary huffed, rubbing her eyes. “Is that all?”

“I’m on the team moving him. And I think you should help us.” Izzy explained, “it would give you closure.”

“Closure’s overrated, I don’t wanna be anywhere near him,” Clary grumbled. She pushed the blankets off herself and sat up, looking so cute that Izzy just had to kiss her cheek. “Do I have to be involved?”

Izzy tilted her head to the side. “I’m not going to force you, babe, but once he’s in the Gard, that’s it. They don’t allow visitors. You’ll never see him again. Can you honestly say that you don’t have any questions you want him to answer, or that you might want him to answer in the future?”

Clary pouted. “Why are you always right?”

“It’s my job to always be right, I’m your girlfriend,” Izzy reminded her with a quiet giggle, kissing Clary on the lips as she leaned forward.

~~~~~~~~~~

One of Magnus’ favourite parts of his job as High Warlock was guiding the young warlocks in his borough. Though warlock children came into the world in the most awful of circumstances nine times out of ten, Magnus loved to take care of them. He didn’t dare consider adopting one himself, not with the emotional damage surrounding his own parents, but he prided himself on being a good uncle.

There was a twelve year old warlock boy, Elliot, living with Amelie, his vampire foster mother, just around the corner of the Hotel DuMort. Since Elliot’s Mom wasn’t a warlock, he often turned to Magnus for help with his powers. He hadn’t heard from Elliot for quite a few months, so Magnus was excited to head over and see how Elliot had been progressing. The boy had quite the flair for transformation magic, though he struggled with kinetic magic.

Never one to come empty-handed, Magnus made sure he had Elliot’s favourite chocolate from Belgium before he knocked the door of Amelie’s basement apartment. Unsurprisingly since it was daytime, Elliot answered the door and sighed in relief when he saw that it was Magnus, putting up his hand for one of those odd half-handshake-half-hugs that young lads did nowadays. Magnus patted him on the back before stepping back, offering Elliot the chocolate.

“You didn’t have to get me anything, Uncle M,” Elliot insisted, though he opened the chocolate right there and then, snapping off a piece and offering it to Magnus.

“Of course I do,” Magnus insisted, shaking his head at the offer of chocolate, “I rarely get the chance to spoil you.”

Elliot smiled and led Magnus into the apartment, closing the door behind them. “Mom’s asleep. I was practising my summoning, and, uh… Well… Maybe I should just show you.” He mumbled, scratching his cheek.

“Lead the way, little man.” Magnus encouraged, and Elliot glared at him.

“I’m not a kid anymore!”

“Yes, yes, my mistake, Elliot,” Magnus admitted, holding up his hands. “It seems like just yesterday I was baking you your first birthday cake.”

Elliot shrugged his shoulders, showing Magnus to the kitchen. “I was trying to summon waffles from that diner down the street, and uh…” He pointed to a spot on the wall, and Magnus hummed when he spotted the problem.

A plate of waffles was lodged in the wall, half of the plate sticking out along with a corner of syrup-slathered waffles. Magnus tilted his head to the side.

“I see.”

“Yeah…”

“This is easily fixed,” Magnus assured him, patting the younger warlock on the shoulder. “You’re great at transformation magic, so you can use transformation magic to fix this.”

Elliot looked up at him. “How?”

“Well, when you transform something into something else, you have to feel the shape of the thing with your magic, right?”

“Right,” Elliot nodded, following as Magnus stepped a little closer to the waffles in the wall.

“So reach out to the waffles and feel the shape of them. Then just squash them a little bit, and pull them forward.” Magnus instructed.

Elliot sighed. “But I’m not good at moving stuff.”

“Then this’ll be good practise,” Magnus said patiently, “come on, you can do this.”

Elliot didn’t look convinced, but he held up his hands, his eyebrows furrowing. Sure enough, the waffles flew out of the wall, but they didn’t stop, and Magnus ducked to avoid the plate before it crashed into the opposite wall and broke. “Shit.”

“Language,” Magnus chided. “And you succeeded in getting the waffles out of the wall.”

“Yeah, and smashing the plate.”

“That’s alright,” Magnus shrugged, putting his hands on Elliot’s shoulders. “You’re great at transformation magic. Just transform the broken pieces into a plate.”

Elliot looked up at him, frowning. “But the waffles have been on the floor now.”

“If you fix this plate I’ll conjure you waffles,” Magnus bargained, and Elliot sighed, turning his attention to the shards of china. “Come on, show me how it’s done.”

Sure enough, the pieces swirled up into the air and came together to form the original plate, and Magnus grinned, clapping him on the back. Elliot was clearly proud of himself, turning to face Magnus with the new plate in hand.

“Look,” he said, holding it out for Magnus to look at, “put a pattern on it and everything.” The plate had a pattern of strawberries printed on it, and Magnus hummed in approval.

“That’s lovely, Elliot. Great work. I told you, you’re great at transformation magic. And hey, you got the plate out of the wall.”

Elliot shrugged one shoulder. “I needed two different spells to get it out. You just-”

“Hey,” Magnus bent down so he was eye level with the young warlock. “It doesn’t matter how you did it or what spells you use. What matters is that you fixed the problem. Everyone is good at some spells and not as good with others. The trick is to think of a way to use your strengths to solve a problem.”

“What spells are you bad at?” Elliot demanded.

Magnus pretended to look around to check that no-one was watching. “Between you and me, I have always been awful at cleaning spells. Terrible. I always end up wrecking the paint job of whatever I’m trying to clean.”

“Really? But cleaning spells are easy, Uncle M…”

“For you, maybe, but I have to use kinetic magic to lift off all the dirt manually. So you see…”

“You used spells you were good at to cover up how bad you are at cleaning spells,” Elliot finished, and Magnus nodded. “But… You’re the High Warlock.”

Magnus laughed. “Even the High Warlock doesn’t know everything, little man.”

Elliot sighed, and Magnus bit his lip.

“Sorry. I meant Elliot.”

“It’s okay…” Elliot muttered, “I guess I could be a little taller.”

Magnus chuckled, and straightened up. “Is there anything else you need help with? Did you get your Mom a card for Mother’s Day yet?”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it. I never forget Mother’s Day or birthdays. I write them all on my calendar.”

“Hmmm… Excellent at transformation magic and good at time-keeping… You might give me a run for my money as High Warlock someday.” Magnus teased, and Elliot’s eyes lit up.

“Really? You think so?” He asked, and Magnus nodded. “My Mom always says that, but I figured she just says it cus she’s my Mom.”

“Well, Moms love us in ways that no-one else ever will.”

Elliot nodded, biting his lip. “Is your downworld Mom still alive?”

Magnus didn’t expect the question, but he shouldn’t have been surprised. Elliot and all his warlock friends had downworlder adoptive parents. It was the norm, now. No warlock was raised by their blood parents, nowadays. “I never had a downworld Mom,” Magnus answered, “just a regular Mom.”

“Oh,” Elliot said quietly. “I guess she died a long time ago, huh…”

“Mmmm,” Magnus said softly, “a very long time ago.” It stung, still, in his heart.

“Does it still hurt?”

Magnus smiled sadly. “It hurts less. But, yes, Elliot, I can’t lie to you. It still hurts.” He tilted his head to the side. “You worried about Mel?” Melanie was Elliot’s mundane half-sister; they’d been raised together until Amelie adopted Elliot three years ago, and they stayed in touch.

Elliot shrugged. “Maybe a little. I miss her and she’s not even dead yet.”

“Have you talked to your Mom about it? Maybe she can organise a visit soon, hmm?”

“Yeah, I guess. Feel weird asking Mom if I can visit my mundane family, because she takes really good care of me and I don’t want her to think-”

“Amelie had a mundane family too, Elliot, she’ll understand.” Magnus assured him. Elliot hummed.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he agreed. “I’ll ask her.”

“It’s good to talk about these things,” Magnus told him, “everything feels easier when you share it with someone you love.”

It struck him, then.

He was dying to talk to Alec. About his Mom, about his stepfather, his childhood. He wanted to share it with Alec, he craved the gentle touch to his face that Alec was sure to give. He wanted to tell Alec everything.

“Uncle M?”

Magnus shook his head a little to clear himself of his reverie, and focussed back on Elliot. “Mmm?”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, but, erm…” Magnus smiled at Elliot. “I think I have somewhere I need to be. You all set here?”

Elliot held up his plate. “You forgot to get me waffles.”

“Ah,” Magnus chuckled, flicking his fingers to make a stack of syrupy waffles appear. “Better?”

“Better.” Elliot confirmed.

~~~~~~~~~~

There wasn’t much that Maia loved more in life than her Monday daytime shift at the Hunter’s Moon. It was always quiet, and easy, and usually she ended up doing her homework behind the bar as a couple of her fellow werewolf students sat dotted around using the WiFi. While Maia sometimes found mundane homeless people sleeping on the stoop when she arrived to work and invited them into the bar for a hot meal, she had never once found a vampire curled up there.

Simon was hugging himself, leaning against the front door, snoring lightly. Maia gave him a little nudge with her foot as she checked her watch. It was just past 12. He woke slowly, turning over to squint up at her. “Maia?”

“Yep,” she answered, peering down at him. “What are you doing here?”

“Uhhh…” He got to his feet, rubbing his eyes. “I don’t remember. I went out with a couple of vamps from the Hotel, and they gave me plasma, and-”

“Ah,” Maia chuckled, unlocking the door as Simon stepped out of her way, “figures. That stuff is strong.”

Simon sighed. “Yeah, you’re telling me. Haven’t had a hangover like this since my first week of college.”

“Best thing to do is go home and sleep it off. Hair of the dog isn’t gonna help you this time,” she told him, switching on the lights. “Though maybe some B neg would help?”

“Are you offering?” Simon asked, his eyes narrowed against the light.

Maia shrugged, dumping her bag in the staff room before heading behind the bar. “I’m feeling charitable.”

“Thanks,” Simon missed the bar stool on his first try hopping up, which made Maia laugh. “Fuck, I’m a mess.”

“Yeah, kinda,” Maia teased, squeezing out some of the blood from the fridge into a glass for him. “Hopefully that’ll sort you out.”

Simon gulped the blood down in a matter of seconds, and put the glass back down on the bar. “Alright,” he gasped, wiping his mouth. “Thank you for that. I’ll get out of your hair.”

“No worries.” The till hadn’t been cashed up last night, and Maia made a mental note to talk to Kristy for the third time about the end-of-night routine. “Sorry, I have a lot to do.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll leave you to it. See you around, Maia.”

She didn’t look around to say goodbye, but she did feel a breeze ruffle her hair right before the bell above the door chimed. Maia groaned out loud and rubbed her eyes, resigning herself to twenty minutes of fiddling with the tills.

~~~~~~~~~~

“The first thing we need to do if we’re going to move Valentine is remove his circle rune,” Raj explained to Clary, “and Valentine has promised to co-operate if you are the one to remove the rune.”

“Of course he has,” Clary sighed, tying her hair up. The three of them were standing in Izzy’s weapons laboratory, next to the armory. It was a big space with a massive workbench in the middle, the walls lined with weapons. Izzy had stuck a couple of pictures of Clary and Maia up next to the window, underneath some broadswords. “Now?”

“If you’re ready for it,” Izzy assured her, “we can do it tomorrow if you need time to-”

“I’d rather just get it over with, honestly.”

Izzy nodded, reaching for what looked like one of those handheld scanners that supermarket clerks use. “A deruning machine. You move this part,” she pointed to the widest part of the device, “over the rune, while pressing the big red button on top.”

“That easy?” Clary asked, taking it in her hands to examine it. “I’m guessing someone’s going to restrain Valentine while I do this? I don’t fancy getting my neck snapped.”

Raj snorted. “Of course. We’ll be using the same chair we used for the agony rune.”

“Okay, good,” Clary sighed, taking Izzy’s hand. “Let’s go, then.” She didn’t feel nervous, exactly, but she was definitely dreading coming face to face with her father again. It was the last time, she told herself. She could do this one last time, and then he’d go away forever. Izzy kept squeezing her hand every few seconds, and Clary could tell that Izzy was feeling nervous enough for the both of them. She had, after all, spent more time with Valentine than Clary had, and knew that both he and Clary shared the same fiery temperament.

“Don’t let him get under your skin,” Izzy murmured as they approached the cell. A couple of shadowhunters had already gotten Valentine strapped down in the chair.

“I won’t,” Clary promised, “he’s just a man tied to a chair. He doesn’t scare me.”

After one last reassuring smile, Izzy let Clary go. Raj opened the cell door and led Clary inside, giving her a pat on the back as she made eye contact with Valentine.

He looked smug, as usual, and Clary’s eyes narrowed looking at him. “Clarissa. You haven’t come to visit me.”

“I had better things to do,” Clary told him, eyeing his circle rune, “like watch paint dry.”

Valentine huffed out a laugh. “No matter our differences, Clarissa, I am still your father. The only family you have.”

“I don’t know who told you that Luke had died,” Clary gritted out, putting the deruning device to his neck, “but I think you’ll find that he is the only family I have left.”

The laugh that Valentine tried to force out escaped as more of a hiss as the deruning device lit up and started to burn away his circle rune. Clary’s eyes hardened, her jaw set as Valentine squirmed in his bonds. “Aren’t you… Aren’t you curious?”

“About what? Your delusional fascism? Your fucked up experiments? My dead demonic big brother? Not even a little.” Clary answered, finishing up the rune. “I’ve done just fine without you.”

“Perhaps,” Valentine panted, his face twisted with pain.

“Why Ithuriel?” Clary demanded. “You chose the angel to summon. Why did you choose Ithuriel?”

Valentine smirked. “Because Ithuriel is the artist of the angels. He designed the shapes of the runes we all use, and he designs new runes for you and plants them in your mind.”

“Do you know which angel Izzy was blessed by?”

“Yes,” Valentine answered, “don’t you?”

Clary held the deruning device to Valentine’s angel rune, and Raj stepped forward to stop her. “Tell me.”

Valentine started to laugh, and Raj pulled Clary away from him before she could start to remove his rune. He dragged her out by her elbow and gave her a sharp look once they were clear of the cells.

“You promised you wouldn’t let him get under your skin,” Izzy muttered.

“Yeah, well…” Clary huffed, not giving any of them a backwards glance as she headed back up the stairs towards her room.

~~~~~~~~~~

By the time Luke swung in for a late lunch at three, Maia’s mood had improved considerably; there’d only been two customers all afternoon, so she’d had plenty of time to catch up on the homework she’d neglected the night before. She was still going through her last pop quiz when Luke tapped on the bar for service, and looked up to see him perusing the menu, despite the fact that the menu hadn’t changed in over a year.

“Let me guess, pulled pork dirty fries?” She asked, and Luke hummed.

“To assume makes an ass out of you and me,” Luke told her.

Maia rolled her eyes, a grin on her face. “You and I both know you’re gonna order the fries.”

“Maybe I’m going vegetarian.”

“You’d rather die.”

Luke smirked. “You got me there.”

“So dirty fries?” Maia checked, turning to the till.

“Yeah, what the hell. I’m a creature of habit.” Luke shrugged, setting his elbows on the bar. “Hey, were there any vampires in here last night?”

“I don’t know, I wasn’t working,” Maia told him, “but there was only a couple of orders of blood through the till, so maybe one or two. Why?”

“We found a mundane girl this morning, just around the corner. Drained.” Luke explained, “it was a long shot that they’d have been here but worth a try.”

Maia hummed. “Pretty sure there’s a bleeder den somewhere around here. We get the occasional vamp venom addict wandering in here asking where the den is.”

“Right, right.” Luke nodded, rubbing his forehead. “I hate dealing with bleeder dens, it always gets messy.”

“Oh, Simon might have seen something,” Maia remembered. “He went out last night with some vamp friends, I found him asleep outside. Guess he might have been at that den.”

Luke frowned, tilting his head to the side. “Simon? Lewis?”

“Yeah… Why?”

“Simon doesn’t party. His idea of a wild night is a game of Dungeons and Dragons.”

Maia laughed. “Well, I’m telling you. He’s at home right now with a killer hangover.”

“I’ll swing by and check in on him,” Luke decided, “see if he saw anything.” He put his badge on the bar to keep it from digging into his hip, and drummed his fingers against it. “Don’t know how the NYPD would solve anything without me.”

“Let’s just get rid of them,” Maia huffed, half-teasing. “By the way, Russell called me last night.”

“Trying to recruit you?” Luke guessed, and Maia nodded.

“He said they’re expecting a lot of new members,” she informed him, “I got the feeling he didn’t just mean wolves from other packs.”

Luke arched his eyebrow. “You think he’s considering turning mundanes?”

“He’s already consensually turned a bunch of his furry friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started turning other mundanes.”

“Alec let me know that Russell’s put the paperwork in to register as a separate pack. We won’t be held responsible for any mundanes he turns, but…” He scratched his fingers through his hair. “We’ll have to keep an eye out.”

Maia heard the kitchen bell ding, and went over to the heat pad to grab Luke’s fries. “There’s no way for us to know which mundanes Russell is targeting.”

“Do you think we should tell the shadowhunters?”

“As much as I love Clary and Izzy, I think it’s best that we sort this out between ourselves. If the shadowhunters get involved then wolves are going to die.” Maia reminded him, “and as much of an asshole as Russell is…”

“I hear you,” Luke nodded. “For now, we’ll keep this between us. Get the other wolves to keep an ear out. Presumably he’s going to target young people, so maybe the college will be a good place to station-” His phone started to ring, and he straightened up when he saw that it was his partner, Ollie. “Hey, what have you got?”

“Fingerprints on the victim belong to a Simon Lewis, 20 year old enrolled in NYU. He hasn’t been to class in months. His mother lives in…”

As Ollie continued to rattle off details about Simon and his family, Luke’s ears started ringing. He looked down at his fries and felt his stomach turn over.

“I have to go, Ollie. Check in later.” He murmured before hanging up. “Here, you have these,” Luke told Maia, pushing the bowl of fries towards her and digging in his wallet for a $10 bill.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s going on?”

“Simon’s in trouble,” Luke answered grimly, “big trouble.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“So,” Alec smiled, shuffling the interview papers around his desk and organising them into the right order. “Do you have any questions about the job?”

Aline bit the inside of her cheek. “I have one condition for taking this job.”

“Let me guess…” Alec sighed, stapling the papers together. “You want Helen Blackthorn transferred here?”

“She’s miserable in Rome.”

Alec hummed. “I can see Helen fitting in here. I’ll put in a request. We’ve been having more and more dealings with the Seelie Queen, so I have plenty of reason for it.”

Aline beamed, rushing around the desk to give him a hug. “Thank you, Alec.”

“Anything for my first and only girlfriend,” Alec chuckled, patting her back.

“Oh my God, I thought you’d forgotten about that,” Aline perched on the desk when she pulled away. The two of them had joined forces when they were 19 to pretend to be straight; Alec was struggling to be taken seriously in Alicante, and Aline was being pressured to look for a husband. They’d come out to each other as gay and Aline had come up with the idea to pretend to be together. Both sets of parents were thrilled. All they had to do was hold hands and dance at a few Clave functions, and everyone got off their back for two years.

“I’d never forget the look on Izzy’s face when we walked into the ballroom together,” Alec grinned.

Aline clapped her hands together, bringing them up to cover her face. “She was so fucking confused, we really should’ve let her in on it.”

“Yeah, she thumped me so hard when I told her,” he admitted.

“I bet she did.”

“So it’s going well with Helen, huh?” Alec asked, grabbing his iPad to take Aline’s signature for her transfer.

Aline tilted her head to the side, a soft smile on her face. “It’s perfect. She’s the one. Like, one hundred percent. We’re never breaking up.”

“Oh? That serious, huh?”

“Not serious at all,” Aline corrected him. “It’s easy, and fun, and absolutely effortless. And she’s the one. I know it in my bones.”

Alec looked forward to the day when he and Magnus got back to being easy. Once Magnus and him talked, once they got everything out into the open, Alec was confident that they’d go back to being as comfortable together as they had been when they first started dating. Perhaps, in future, Alec wouldn’t push him so hard. His anxiety about Magnus’ depression hadn’t exactly helped anything.

“I’m happy for you,” Alec told her when he realised he’d been thinking and not speaking. “I can’t wait to meet her. I’ll put in a personnel request tomorrow.”

Aline looked sheepish. “Actually, she already sent in a transfer request. I figured you hadn’t gotten around to-”

“Right! Inbound transfer requests! I knew there was something I’d forgotten!” Alec gasped, jotting it down on his ‘to-do’ list. “Thanks.”

“Pretty sure every queer shadowhunter in the world is trying to get a place in this Institute,” Aline told him. “You know you’re the first openly gay shadowhunter to be officially named the head of an institute, right?”

Alec’s eyebrow arched. “Really? I guess I hadn’t thought about it.”

“And you’re the first openly transgender shadowhunter to qualify for field duty, never mind a leadership position. The second is a girl in this year’s graduating class. No doubt she’ll be requesting to serve here, too.”

“I had no idea about any of that,” Alec admitted, a little overwhelmed at the thought of being the first of anything like that. “How’s the girl doing?”

“I’m not sure, I don’t know the details. I try and stay as plugged in as possible, but not many people wanna talk about this stuff.” Aline explained, “but if I were you I’d get to those personnel requests sooner rather than later. Bet there’ll be some interesting people wanting to work for you.”

The thought that he, Alec, might have made any kind of impression on shadowhunter history, with all his uncertainty and mistakes, was almost unbelievable. “Wait, doesn’t this mean that you’re the first lesbian head of security?”

Aline grinned. “Damn straight it does. Though if I want in on the history books, I should probably come out to my Mom at some point.”

“I’m pretty sure she already knows. You and Helen are, like-”

“Gal pals,” Aline said pointedly, which made Alec laugh. “It’s amazing what straight people can pass off as female friendship, honestly.”

“Sorry, Alec…” The two looked up to see Raj poking his head around the door. “Sorry to interrupt, but I thought you’d want to know that we’ve chosen the guards for the Valentine transfer.”

“No worries, come in.” Alec encouraged, getting up from his chair. “You remember Aline Penhallow from the Academy.”

“Sure, sure, you literally haven’t changed at all,” Raj chuckled, shaking Aline’s hand.

“You say that like it’s compliment but it’s a ballache having to give ID whenever I order a beer,” Aline groaned. “Great to see you again, Raj.”

“Raj is the Head of Intelligence, and he’s been organising Valentine’s transfer to Idris since we didn’t have a Head of Security until now.” Alec explained.

“Yeah, but of course, now you’re here, I’ll defer to you.”

Aline hummed, patting both Raj and Alec’s shoulders. “Then I guess it’s time for me to get to work.”

There was a knock on the door, and both Raj and Aline lit up at the sight of Sebastian, who looked like a deer in headlights as his cousin barrelled into him to give him a hug, the report in his hand fluttering to the floor as he hugged Aline back. She pulled back and glared at him, making Sebastian recoil.

“Where the hell have you been?!”

“Uhhh…” Sebastian looked genuinely terrified, and Alec chuckled.

“He had some stuff to work out,” Raj told Aline, “private stuff.”

“You didn’t even say goodbye, Sebastian! The whole family was distraught, we thought you were dead until we got word from Alec that you’d turned up here!” Aline pressed, her hands on her hips. “I could strangle you!”

“I was addicted to yin fen,” Sebastian confessed, avoiding Aline’s gaze. “I couldn’t cope in London.”

“But… That doesn’t make any sense, you were a stickler for the rules. You always came to work on time, always followed orders, never stepped a toe out of line…”

“It was all an act,” Sebastian declared. “I had a steady supply, and then the vampire in question was arrested by the Clave, and-”

Aline put her hand to her mouth. “Anthony Black was supplying you, wasn’t he?”

Sebastian swallowed hard, and shrugged.

“I took him down, I led that team, why didn’t you ever ask me for help?!”

Sebastian didn’t say anything, his cheeks flaming red.

“He was ashamed,” Raj answered, reaching out to squeeze Sebastian’s hand, “but he’s doing great now.”

Aline relaxed a little at that. “You are?”

“Yes,” Sebastian confirmed, tentatively meeting her eyes. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”

Raj smiled at that news, warmth blooming in his heart, and Aline sighed, squeezing Sebastian’s shoulder.

“Then I suppose that’s all that matters. Come here,” she murmured, pulling him into another hug.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a relief to Clary that Izzy was too busy to come and talk to her about her behaviour in the cells, because she wasn’t sure she knew how to even begin to talk about it. She had absolutely no idea how Valentine got under her skin so easily; she and Izzy had been threatened by him dozens of times. But this time, she had him had her mercy. She was the one with the power.

Maybe it had gone to her head.

She looked up when she heard the familiar cadence of Luke knocking at her bedroom door. One, pause, two-three, pause, four. It had been the same for as long as she remembered, and it put her at ease.

“Come in, Luke,” she called, getting up to put away the clothes that had piled up on her desk chair over the past few days.

Luke let himself into the room and huffed out a laugh at the sight of Clary hastily putting her clothes away. It was like no time had passed at all. “Hey, kiddo. Have you seen Simon today?”

“Simon? No, I haven’t seen him in a couple of days,” she answered, “but we were going to hang out at the Hunter’s Moon this weekend.”

“I think he’s in trouble,” Luke said quietly. “There’s a mundane girl, she was killed by a vampire last night, and…” He put out his hand to stop Clary where she was hanging up jackets. “The body had Simon’s fingerprints on it.”

Clary froze. “You think…?”

“Maia saw him this morning, nursing a hangover. He’d been drinking plasma with some of his DuMort buddies. It makes vampires kinda drunk, kinda high. If he wasn’t in his right mind…”

“This can’t be happening, Simon would never hurt anybody,” Clary insisted, shaking her head. “He couldn’t.”

“Accidents happen,” Luke reminded her, “he probably didn’t mean to hurt her. Things get out of hand. We have to find him before the NYPD do or before the Clave gets wind of this. If I can’t find Simon myself I’ll have no choice but to report this girl’s death to Alec.”

“Any idea where he is?”

Luke shook his head. “He must have gotten wind that the police are looking for him, because I went to the boathouse and both him and his bloody supply was gone.”

“Let me text him, see if I can get him to meet us,” Clary decided, pulling out her phone.

“I tried tracking his phone, it’s off,” Luke sighed, “come on, Clary. Think. If you were Simon, where would you go?”

Clary pursed her lips, wracking her brain. “Can vampire step into churches and synagogues?”

“Yes, they can,” Luke snapped his fingers. “The synagogue!”

“Let’s go,” Clary urged, snatching her jacket from her wardrobe.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Izzy put up her hands as she walked into the room, looking between Luke and Clary with confusion. “What’s going on?”

“Simon’s in trouble, we think he may have accidentally killed a mundane,” Clary surmised, and Izzy’s eyes widened. “We have to go and find him.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“You don’t have to-” Clary started.

“Of course I do, it’s Simon. I’ll text Aline and tell her I can’t make it to her briefing, she’ll understand. I’ll get the details later.” Izzy shrugged, taking one of Clary’s other jackets for herself. “I’m with you, always,” she insisted.

Clary smiled, relieved that Izzy wasn’t mad about her outburst with Valentine, and nodded at Luke.

“Alright, let’s go, my car’s outside.” Luke felt dread curl in his stomach when he saw that Ollie was calling him, and answered the phone as he, Clary and Izzy rushed through the halls of the Institute. “What’s going on, Ollie?” He asked her, praying that she hadn’t-

“I’ve got Simon Lewis, just caught him at the crime scene,” she sounded suspicious, and Luke prayed that Simon hadn’t said anything about the downworld.

“Where are you now?”

“I’m heading back to the precinct to get this weirdo booked in,” Ollie replied, “you there now?”

“No, wait there. I’ll come and meet you.” Luke told her, and she scoffed.

“The kid’s handcuffed in the back of my car, I got it. He’s just some pervy nerd kid.”

“Ollie, you don’t understand-”

“What the fuck?!” Ollie shrieked, and Luke heard the squeal of brakes. There was the sound of a car door opening, and Luke started to run towards his car, Clary and Izzy hot on his heels.

“What’s happening? Did they catch Simon?!” Clary demanded.

“He’s gone!” Ollie declared, “Luke, are you there? I repeat, Simon Lewis is in the wind. He disappeared out of nowhere!”

Luke got into the car and passed the phone to Izzy, who’d slid into the front seat. “We’ll be right there, send me your location.”

It didn’t take long to reach Ollie’s location with the help of the blue flashing lights on top of Luke’s car. She was radioing the precinct when they got there, and looked utterly confused when two tattooed young women jumped out of Luke’s car and walked next to him like they were part of the team. Luke wondered how the hell he was going to explain his way out of this one, but Clary was quick to jump in.

“Hi, I’m Clary, Luke’s adopted daughter. You must be Ollie.” She said, holding out her hand to Ollie.

“Oh, I had no idea Luke had a daughter, that explains so much!”

“Yeah, this is my girlfriend Izzy. We’re in the police program at NYU, so we come out with Luke sometimes on calls.” Clary explained, and Ollie nodded.

“Right, well, maybe your young minds can figure this one out. One minute the kid was fine, sitting in the back of the car. He even confessed, he was kinda freaking out about it, having some kind of identity crisis. I mentioned the fact that the girl bled out through her feet and suddenly he started saying he didn’t do it. And the next thing I know, the car door’s open and he’s gone. Just disappeared, as I blinked. No idea how he did it.”

“Simon hates feet,” Clary frowned, looking at Luke for confirmation, who nodded.

“He must have run because he knows he’s not the killer, and went after whoever is the killer,” Izzy murmured, “there’s been a couple of mundane deaths over the years, with foot wounds. There’s a rumoured Bleeder Den a couple of blocks away from here, where was the crime scene?”

Luke cleared his throat, shaking his head at Clary and Izzy as Ollie stared open-mouthed at Izzy. “It’s, um, two blocks South of the Hunter’s Moon.”

“Yep, the den’s supposed to be right around there.” Izzy confirmed, hands on her hips. “Bet you he’s gone there looking for the real killer.”

“What are you talking about?! Bleeder dens?” Ollie blurted out.

“Luke, we need to go,” Clary reminded him.

“You two go, I’ll…” Luke tilted his head towards Ollie, and Clary nodded, pulling Izzy along towards the Hunter’s Moon.

Ollie turned to Luke, her eyebrows somewhere near her hairline. “Bleeder den?! Mundane deaths?! What the hell are they talking about?!”

“Must be some weird youth culture,” Luke mused, scratching his chin. “Like Fight Club.”

“Fight Club?” Ollie repeated, and Luke hoped that the earth would just swallow him up, already.

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus went straight to the Institute from Elliot’s place, not wanting to give himself time to psych himself out of talking to Alec. It was still a little strange, to walk through the Institute freely, with some of the shadowhunters even waving hello to him as he passed. Change was coming, slowly, and Alexander was riding the wave of it, pushing it forward. He couldn’t be prouder of his boyfriend if he tried.

He found the door of Alec’s office open, and when he rapped his knuckles against it a couple of times, Alec looked up and smiled. “Hey, you busy?”

“Always,” Alec sighed, pushing back from his desk, “but never too busy for you.”

Magnus chuckled, and shut the door behind him as he came into the room. “That’s good to hear.”

“You’re early, Aline and Raj won’t be ready for another hour yet.” Alec told him, looking from Magnus to the clock on the wall.

“I know, I just wanted a couple of minutes alone with you,” Magnus explained, sitting on the couch. “I wanted to finish what we started this morning.”

Alec hummed, his eyebrows arching. He knew how big of a deal it was that Magnus was going out of his way to open up. “Alright…” He walked over to sit next to his boyfriend, putting his arm around Magnus’ shoulder. “So you said you were having flashbacks.”

“Yes.” Magnus nodded, swivelling in place to face Alec. “Nowadays, when a demon impregnates a mundane, warlocks find out about it and look after the mundane and, when the time comes, find a home in the downworld for the baby. But when I was young, the downworld wasn’t as united as it is today. Warlock kids were left with the mundane woman who gave birth to them.”

“So you had mundane parents?”

“For the first few years of my life, it was wonderful. My mother thought that my eyes were a sign that I was a holy man, a psychic, a man of God. My stepfather was a little suspicious, because he was Dutch, and my skin wasn’t as light as the other half-Indonesian and half-Dutch children… He often said that he doubted that he was my father, but my mother insisted that there’d been no-one else. When I was eight or nine, my powers started to manifest, and my parents started to fear me.” Magnus explained, wringing his hands together.

Alec frowned. “So you’re reliving your parents’ fear?”

“Worse,” Magnus whispered, swallowing hard. “My mother… She realised that I was demonic, and I don’t know, maybe she realised that my father had been a demon in disguise, I don’t know. What I do know is that it got to be too much for her, and…”

“I’m here,” Alec murmured, kissing Magnus’ hair.

Magnus leaned into Alec’s touch, closing his eyes. “She killed herself. Stabbed herself through the heart with a dagger, and I was the one who found her. My stepfather blamed me, he said she killed herself because of me, because of the evil in me. He was right.”

“No,” Alec insisted, “there’s no part of you that’s evil. I don’t believe that for a second.”

“Alexander,” Magnus chuckled sadly, looking down at his hands in his lap. “I proved him right. He was shouting, calling me the bane of my mother’s life. And I lashed out. I threw all the magic I had at him… I burned him from the inside out.”

“You were just a boy, you didn’t know what you were doing.”

“No, I did,” Magnus insisted, sniffing. “I knew exactly what I was doing. I murdered my stepfather and ran away. From that day onwards, my name was Magnus Bane. I didn’t return to my village for hundreds of years. To this day, they have the legend of the demon boy who burned his parents and got himself snatched up by Satan himself. It’s a warning story, told to naughty children.” He breathed out slowly, fear clutching around his heart at the silence from Alec. “I tried to shrug it off, I didn’t want to tell you. I didn’t want you to see this ugly side of me.”

“Hey,” Alec said softly, his hand cupping Magnus’ jaw to guide his face to look into Alec’s. “There is nothing ugly about you.”

Magnus felt his face crumple. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Alec insisted, kissing Magnus’ forehead. “Nothing about your past will ever change that.”

~~~~~~~~~~

When Izzy and Clary arrived at the Bleeder Den, they found Simon banging on the door, demanding to be let in. When he saw the two women he tried to make a break for it, but Clary darted forwards with her speed rune and grabbed his arm.

“We know you didn’t kill her,” she told him, and Simon sighed in relief. “The killer’s inside?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Simon said breathlessly, “but they won’t open the door.”

“It opens at sunset,” Izzy reminded him, “they won’t open the door until the sun sets.”

“Then we’ll just have to open it ourselves, won’t we?” Clary growled, taking out her stele. She burned an unlock rune into the door and it burst open, sunlight flooding into the hallway and making the vampires working security scatter further into the club. “Come on, who are we looking for?”

Simon narrowed his eyes, striding into the den. “Quinn. He was with me last night.” He stopped in his tracks when they walked into the main room, his eyes locked on a vampire who was feeding. The mundane girl was lying on the bar, her feet in Quinn’s hands. Simon marched over to him and shoved his shoulder. “You killed that girl!”

Clary stepped forward to help him, but Izzy put her hand on Clary’s waist.

“Let him do this himself,” Izzy murmured. “Some things need to be settled downworlder to downworlder. We’ll step in if he needs us.”

Though she hated to admit it, Clary knew Izzy was right. “Alright,” she murmured, hanging back with Izzy at the edge of the room.

At the bar, Quinn and Simon were muttering to each other in hushed voices, fury in both faces.

“Keep your mouth shut, Lewis,” Quinn snarled, “accidents happen, Heidi knew the risks.”

“You killed her and just shoved her in a dumpster, you didn’t care about her at all!”

“She’s not the first and she won’t be the last,” Quinn snorted, rolling his eyes. “Stop being so sentimental."

Simon shook his head, narrowing his eyes. “You’re a murderer, and I’m going to make sure Alec locks you up so you can’t hurt anybody else!”

“I hope by Alec you don’t mean the Head of the Institute, for your sake,” Quinn muttered, gripping the edge of the bar so hard that he broke a piece off in his hand.

Unperturbed by Quinn’s makeshift stake, Simon stood his ground. “You can’t just kill people and get away with it.”

Quinn tutted, slowly rising from the bar stool he’d been perched on. “If that’s the way you feel…” He raised the stake, and Simon stumbled backwards, grabbing a nearby broom to defend himself. Clary tried to rush in once again, but Izzy stopped her.

“Give him a chance,” Izzy urged her.

It seemed that the hundreds of hours of action movies had been somewhat of a help to Simon, because he managed to hold off Quinn’s attacks with his brandished broomstick. As Quinn got angrier, though, the hits got harder, until the broomstick snapped in Simon’s hands, leaving him with two short sticks. Clary looked at Izzy again, and she nodded.

The two shadowhunters burst into action, Izzy with her staff and Clary with her dual wield daggers. Upon seeing the two nephilim, though, Quinn’s friends also rose from their seats and ran across to engage them. Clary kept one eye on Simon as she fought the vampire, careful to only slash at him, and not stab. The last thing they needed was to accidentally kill one of the vampires and break the Accords.

The vampire that was fighting Izzy seemed to be older than the others, and was a much better fighter. Izzy found herself sweating while fighting him, barely dodging his attacks with the broken glass bottles he was using. She ducked and rolled, and struggled to get a hit in, considering she couldn’t just skewer him with her staff. As she fought him, she got a sense of deja vu, like she’d fought this battle before, and started to anticipate his moves, catching up and getting ahead of them until she finally managed to flip over his head and knock him out with a swift swing of her staff. The vampire crumpled to the floor and Izzy straightened up to see Simon grappling with Quinn.

Luke ran into the room, skidding to a halt next to Izzy, who watched with amazement as Simon broke the stalemate and rammed his broken broomstick into Quinn’s chest. Clary gasped, running over to Simon as Quinn burst into orange sparks. Simon stood there for a moment, his blood-specked face staring at the space that Quinn had just occupied. He turned to look at Clary as she hugged him from the side, his face horrified.

“It’s alright, Simon,” Clary assured him as he slowly hugged her back, “he was a murderer.”

“He would have faced execution at the Gard anyway, Simon,” Luke agreed, looking around the room to see that all the vampires present were looking at Simon with amazement. “We should get out of here.”

“Yeah, Clary, we shouldn’t be here,” Izzy reminded her, glancing at the vampire she’d knocked out, who was slowly stirring on the floor. “We need to go.”

“I can’t leave him,” Clary insisted.

“You have to,” Luke pressed, taking her elbow. “I’ll bring Simon back to the Jade Wolf in a moment. Once he’s…”

“The Daylighter has grown powerful!” One of the assembled vampires shouted, “and wise!”

“Bring him back to the DuMort!”

“He should fight Raphael!”

Simon looked around with surprise, swallowing hard. “I-I don’t wanna fight anybody, you guys.”

“You should be the clan leader, not Raphael!”

“Clary, we need to go,” Izzy said more urgently, “we can’t interfere with downworlder leadership struggles.”

Clary reluctantly let Izzy pull her from the den, putting her faith in Luke to make sure Simon was safe.

Simon made his way closer to Luke, carefully ducking away from the vampires who were flocking towards him. “I feel like we need to get out of here, too.”

“You need to tell them once and for all, that you don’t want to be clan leader, otherwise they could try and kill Raphael and start a turf war,” Luke urged him, “I’ve seen these kinds of tensions before. Shut it down now, Simon.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Simon nodded, and climbed up on the nearest table. “Everyone! Listen to me! I might be a Daylighter, but I’m not a leader. I just want to make music, and chill. Raphael has been a great leader to all of us, and he was right to kick me out of the Hotel DuMort. My closest friends are shadowhunters and werewolves. You deserve a leader who’s loyal to you, and only you. And I can’t be that guy.”

“But you’re a Daylighter…” One of the vampires piped up.

“By pure luck,” Simon insisted, “not by virtue or talent or any of that shit. Just luck. I’m not special.”

“He’s so humble!”

Simon sighed, rubbing his forehead, and Luke tugged him down from the table.

“Alright, I think it’s time to go,” Luke said, and Simon nodded his agreement, hastily following as Luke headed for the door. “By the way,” he murmured, “do you know how to glamour people yet?”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Are we ready for the transfer?” Alec demanded as he and Magnus walked into the cell room.

Aline nodded where she was standing next to the cell door. She was holding the chains ready to restrain Valentine, and Magnus walked over to the longest wall to prepare to cast an extra-secure portal. As the team got ready, Alec double-checked the selections for the personnel, making sure that none of them had any problematic history with Valentine in their families or service records. Everyone seemed clean, so Alec clapped Raj on the shoulder.

“Good job.”

“These are just about the only people who don’t want Valentine dead in the whole Institute,” Raj smirked, “everything should go about as smoothly as possible.”

“It’d better,” Aline scoffed as she led Valentine out of his cells by the chains, “or my ass is toast.”

Valentine didn’t say anything, though he was looking around at the assembled shadowhunters.

“Looking for one of your little circle buddies?” Alec said scathingly. “You’re not gonna find any here.”

“The portal’s ready,” Magnus told them, going to stand next to Alec.

“Shadowhunters, take your positions,” Aline ordered, handing Valentine’s chains to Mayweather and going to stand right in front of the portal. “Raj, could you bring up the rear?”

Raj nodded, and the other shadowhunters fell into position, Valentine exactly in the middle of the procession. Raj wondered where Sebastian was; he’d qualified for the relocation team but had squirmed out of it, something about not wanting too much responsibility. It wasn’t like Sebastian at all, but Raj couldn’t exactly order him to do something like that.

Aline disappeared through the portal, followed by two guards and then Valentine, with Mayweather holding his shoulder to make sure Valentine couldn’t redirect the portal. The rest of the guards moved forwards and stepped through, and Raj followed closely behind, closing his eyes as he passed through the wall of Magnus’ magic.

When he opened them, he was in Alicante, and Aline was staring at him, her eyes wide. He furrowed his eyebrows, and his eyes darted around.

“They took him already?”

Aline shook her head. “No… Everyone else has come through, except Valentine and Mayweather.”

Raj whirled round to see the portal close.

“Oh, fuck.”

Chapter Text

Alec didn’t expect Aline and the rest of the security detail for a couple of hours, so when a portal opened right as he and Magnus turned to leave, he could barely believe his eyes. Raj and Aline came through with horror in their faces, looking around the room desperately.

“Where’s Valentine?!” Aline demanded, running her hand through her hair.

“He’s…” Alec swallowed hard. “He’s in Alicante, with you. Isn’t he?”

Raj shook his head, and for a moment the four of them stood in shocked silence, staring at each other. The reality of the situation crashed over them. Valentine was gone, missing. Their plan had been hijacked. Valentine was gone. Valentine was free.

“I have to get to the warlocks,” Magnus said quickly, swirling his arms to make a portal.

Alec nodded, tugging out his phone to set off an alarm to call all the shadowhunters back to the Institute for an emergency briefing.

But what the hell was he going to tell them?

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary and Izzy had swung by to see Maia when they came out of the Bleeder Den. Neither of them were due back on duty until the next morning, so they figured they’d wait for her shift to be over and then head home for a movie night. They’d just ordered some food when both of their phones started vibrating with Alec’s alert.

“We have to go,” Izzy said, standing up so quickly that her chair fell over. “Something must have happened when they were transferring Valentine.”

“I’ll go tell Maia,” Clary murmured. She rushed over to the bar and waved to get Maia’s attention. There must have been something urgent in her face, because Maia came over right away. “Something happened with Valentine’s transfer. We’re being called in, you’d better get the wolves back to the Jade Wolf.”

“Fucking hell,” Maia whispered, wiping her hands on the dishcloth over her shoulder and climbing up on the bar. “Listen up! The Hunter’s Moon is closed. Everyone needs to get out right now and go straight home. The shadowhunters are declaring a state of emergency.”

Several wolves made a beeline for Clary and Izzy, who were hurriedly putting on their jackets.

“What’s going on?”

“Is it Valentine?”

“Has he escaped?!”

“We don’t know anything yet,” Izzy told them, tugging Clary through the crowd, “we’re going to the briefing now, I promise my brother will let everyone know what is going on as soon as possible, but be careful!”

Maia was talking to as many of the wolves as possible, trying to keep them calm. Izzy briefly made eye contact with her and waved goodbye, hoping to God that Alec had just butt-dialled the emergency channel.

~~~~~~~~~~

Once Magnus had rounded up the warlocks of New York to his loft, magically stretching it to fit everyone in, he headed to the Hotel DuMort for an emergency meeting of the downworld cabinet, this time sans-Alec. In theory it was meant to be just between the downworlders, but everyone knew that Magnus would fill Alec in later. Unsurprisingly, the Seelie Queen had skipped the meeting and sent Meliorn in her place.

“Well?” Raphael asked urgently, meeting Magnus at the door. “Is it true that the shadowhunters declared a state of emergency?”

“It is,” Magnus confirmed, sweeping into the room to address Luke and Meliorn, as well. “Valentine has escaped.”

“How?!” Luke demanded, “how could Alec let this happen?!”

“He took all the precautions possible, triple checked the staff… I didn’t stay long enough to hear their theories, but I can only assume that Mayweather, the man who was in charge of steering Valentine through the portal, hijacked it and took him elsewhere.” Magnus explained, taking his seat at the round table. “But it doesn’t matter how it happened, what matters is what we do now. I’m currently shielding the warlocks at my loft, I would suggest locking down the other sections of the downworld in a similar way.”

“I’ll recall the vampires here,” Raphael nodded, “God knows what Valentine will do now that he’s free.”

“At least he doesn’t have the soul sword,” Luke pointed out.

“I must speak to the Queen,” Meliorn said, rising from the table. “I’ll update the three of you as best I can once I know what the Queen plans to do. But it is evident that the Lightwood boy cannot be trusted.”

“Alec had nothing to do with Valentine’s escape,” Magnus insisted.

“Be that as it may, the boy is clearly incompetent.” Meliorn replied, his eyes narrowing.

Magnus ground his teeth together, but said nothing more as Meliorn marched from the room.

Luke sighed, rubbing his forehead. “This is a mess.”

“It is,” Magnus allowed. “I should go.”

“Be safe, both of you.” Raphael murmured, getting up to escort Luke and Magnus safely from the Hotel.

~~~~~~~~~~

“The working theory is that someone got to Duncan Mayweather and blackmailed him into freeing Valentine,” Alec announced, looking into the pensieve faces of his staff. “His family went on holiday suddenly around four days ago, and when a member of the Clave went to check on them in the last hour, they found all of them, including his two young children, slaughtered. Presumably, the Circle were holding them captive and executed them to tie up any loose ends. Mayweather’s runes have disappeared from the scanning system, leading us to believe that he, too, is dead.”

A low murmur went around the room, and Alec stood up a little straighter. “I’ve just been in touch with Magnus Bane, who tells me that he believes that the hijacked portal came out somewhere in Idris. I’m sending teams to several key locations in Idris. See me for your assignments. Dismissed.”

Izzy rushed over so she was the first to reach Alec’s side. “What’s the plan?”

“You need to start working on those tracking weapons, Iz, just in case these leads don’t pan out.” Alec told her, “the Clave are sending an envoy again, we need to be all hands on deck, by the book.”

“Right, got it,” Izzy nodded, giving his hand a squeeze before heading out to her workshop.

Alec stayed in the ops centre handing out orders until everyone knew what they were doing, and headed to his office to get in touch with the downworld leaders, rubbing his forehead. Just as he was starting to think that he had the Head of the Institute position all figured out, this happened. Granted, there was no way that he, Raj or Aline could have known that Mayweather’s family had been kidnapped, but Alec couldn’t help but feel like he’d failed.

Those feelings weren’t exactly soothed when he walked into his office to see his father sitting at his desk.

“I’m the Clave Envoy,” Robert told him, barely meeting Alec’s eyes. “I’m here to help you clean up this mess.”

Alec hadn’t seen his father since being threatened by him, and his childish fear of the man rendered him silent for a few long moments, but he pushed through it and demanded, “have you come to take back the Institute?”

“No,” Robert answered, “I convinced Imogen that you know New York City better than anyone. For now, you keep your position. But you have to find Valentine and his accomplices fast.”

“Why?” Alec blurted out, folding his arms. “Last time you were here you made it pretty clear that you didn’t care whether I lived or died, let alone whether my career took off.”

Robert finally looked at him, his face tight with tension. “I am not doing it for you. I’m doing it to preserve our family position. I have worked too damn hard to let this Institute fall into the hands of the Palanis or the Penhallows.”

It didn’t hurt as much as Alec thought it might. “Right. Well. Now you’ve told me that, you can leave.”

“Aren’t you going to thank me, son?”

Alec’s eyebrows slowly lifted up his forehead. “Thank you? I got this Institute from my own hard work, not yours. I’m glad you called in a favour with your mistress to let me keep my position, but-”

“Imogen is not my mistress,” Robert insisted.

“I don’t give a fuck who your mistress is,” Alec spat, eyes alight with anger. “But we both know the only reason you still have any sway in the Clave is because you’re fucking someone powerful.”

“Watch your mouth!”

“You betrayed Mom for a leg up the ladder. You disgust me.”

“Says the High Warlock’s bitch!” Robert snarled, getting to his feet.

Alec scoffed, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand my relationship with Magnus, you’ve never loved anyone in your life.”

“That is not true!” Robert insisted, “I love my family!”

“You have a strange way of showing it,” Alec huffed, shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. Mom’s already moving on, with someone who adores her.”

Robert looked like his head was about to explode. “But the divorce isn’t final!”

“When did that ever matter to you?!” Alec shouted, slamming his hand down on the desk. “Don’t you dare sit there and act like her happiness is a betrayal when you’ve been fucking around behind her back for nearly a damn decade! I can’t wait for her to finally divorce your sorry ass so she can be with someone who actually deserves her!”

“And who is that?” Robert sneered, “seems like just yesterday you were snivelling to me to protect you from her and now suddenly she’s the damn innocent in all this?!”

“The difference is she was here when it mattered,” Alec told him, eyes hardening. “She took steps to fix our relationship, she worked hard to earn back mine and Izzy’s trust and most importantly she took accountability for her actions, but I haven’t heard from you in months. You don’t fucking care, Dad, that’s the difference! Now…” Alec looked around, the situation with Valentine slipping back into his mind, “get the fuck out of my office, and don’t you dare step foot in my Institute again without my permission.”

Robert got up from the chair and shoved Alec with his shoulder when he passed, father and son sharing a scathing look. “You’ll come crawling back when you fail again,” Robert muttered, and Alec clenched his jaw.

Well, now he had to get Valentine back just to spite his father.

~~~~~~~~~~

After hours of running around, rounding up members of his pack, Luke finally arrived back at the Jade Wolf, secure in the knowledge that all the wolves under his authority were safe. It was crowded in the small restaurant, but all things considered the pack was in relatively good spirits. With all of them gathered together, there was a sense of camaraderie and security that couldn’t be found in any other circumstances. The tables were all full, the kitchen was bursting, and even the flat upstairs had been unlocked for the occasion.

“What do you think Valentine’s gonna do?” Maia asked, her arms tightly folded where she stood next to him surveying the room.

“God knows,” Luke murmured, “but we’ll be ready for whatever it is.”

“Do you think the Clave will fire Alec?”

Luke sighed. “Probably. With any luck they’ll put Raj in charge.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Maia leaned back against the wall. “Though we haven’t been overly lucky up until now.”

“That’s true,” Luke chuckled, but his train of thought was interrupted by a fire message crackling in the air a few inches from his face, and he plucked it out of the air, shaking the flames out. “It’s from the Seelie Queen,” Luke grumbled, his eyebrows furrowing.

“What does she want?” Maia asked, going up on her tiptoes to try and read the note over Luke’s shoulder.

“She wants to offer the werewolves protection in her realm, in exchange for a favour ‘to be decided at a later date’.”

“Well that doesn’t sound dodgy at all,” Maia huffed, “she has to be kidding.”

Luke looked at the parchment for a long moment. “I wonder if she knows something we don’t.”

“Like what?” Maia asked, arching her eyebrow.

“I don’t know,” Luke shook his head. “Never mind.” He crumpled up the parchment, and made a mental note to reply to her later, tell her that he wasn’t interested.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was clear to Clary which leads on Valentine Alec was taking more seriously; he’d put both Aline and Raj on a team with her to a cabin in Idris that Valentine and her mother had stayed in on their honeymoon. Rumour had it that Valentine used it as a safehouse to train her brother, Jonathan, years ago. The fact that Alec had given Clary both of his senior shadowhunters to go and investigate it gave Clary the idea that Alec knew something she didn’t.

“My mother gave me this particular piece of intel,” he admitted when Raj asked him, “she visited Valentine there once, and she suspected that he was doing some experiment or other there. It may still have some of his old equipment or clothes, something we can use to track him.”

“This section of the forest is dangerous,” Aline murmured, her eyebrows pinched, “there’s a pack of feral werewolves that consider this part their territory, and Lake Lyn isn’t too far from there, either.”

“Is Magnus here yet?” Raj asked Alec, glancing around, “we can’t afford to wait for the helicopters.”

Alec shook his head. “I’m trying to secure a warlock to provide portals, but Magnus has declared a lockdown. It’s going to take some time, he has to make sure his people are safe before he comes here.” He checked his watch, rubbing his forehead. “Speaking of which, the first helicopters should be arriving now, I have to go and co-ordinate the other teams. I’ll send Magnus down to you as soon as he gets here.” He promised as he hurried out of the room.

Clary was looking at the map with Aline. It seemed to be old, hand-drawn. She could appreciate the artistry, though the landmarks meant next to nothing to her. As she studied the pencil lines, they stood out more and more until Clary started to notice a twirling, gold pattern in the grey strokes. “Wait… I think I can get us there.”

“Where? Idris?” Aline asked doubtfully.

Clary nodded, copying the new rune onto her hands and twisting her wrist.

Raj let out a low whistle as a gold disc grew in the air in front of them, spinning until it formed a portal. “Those angel powers are no joke, huh.”

“Come on, before it closes!” Clary dragged both Raj and Aline through her portal right as it began to close, thinking of the landmarks she’d seen in the map.

It felt different, coming out of her portal. When Clary opened her eyes and gulped, she realised she’d come out of the portal underwater, and immediately started kicking, looking around for the light and swimming up towards it. She broke the surface right as her lungs started to burn, and spotted Raj and Aline standing at the edge of the lake, looking worried.

“I’m okay!” Clary shouted, making her way over to them. “I’m alright.”

“Thank God,” Aline helped her out of the water, her face concerned. “You’d better give yourself a warmth rune, you’re shivering.”

Clary nodded, patting down her pockets. “Shit, my stele must have floated out while I was underwater,” she cursed, looking at Raj. “Lend me yours?”

“I didn’t bring mine, it’s on the desk back in the Institute library,” he sighed, “we left in a bit of a hurry.”

“I don’t have mine either,” Aline admitted, “I’ve just got this,” she gestured to the seraph blade on her hip.

“I’ll be fine,” Clary assured them, tying her soaking wet hair up out of her face. “Let’s just go to the cabin. Maybe there’ll be a blanket or a spare stele there.”

“Good shout, let’s go.” Aline agreed, shrugging off her jacket. “Here you go, put this on.”

Clary smiled gratefully at her as the three of them started to hike up towards the cabin, Raj hovering close to her like he was ready to catch her if she stumbled. “I’m really okay,” she assured him.

Raj shrugged. “Izzy would kill me if I let you twist your ankle as well as almost drown.”

“Oh, right, you’re the one who’s dating Izzy,” Aline snapped her fingers, “I knew the name sounded familiar. Clary Fray.”

“She’s also Valentine’s daughter,” Raj pointed out dryly, which made Clary giggle.

Aline rolled her eyes. “Yeah, but who cares about that? Not me.”

“That is very refreshing to hear,” Clary admitted, and Aline gave her a reassuring smile.

~~~~~~~~~~

After a bit of deliberation with the rest of the pack, Luke and Maia headed out to check on Russell and the furry pack. They had no way of knowing whether the Clave had told them that Valentine was at large once again, and as annoying as Russell was, Luke didn’t want to see him or his pack get hurt. So, they got in Luke’s car and headed to the warehouse in the meat-packing district where the furry pack had made their home.

“What do you think this means for me and Magnus?” Maia asked after a few minutes stuck in traffic, gazing out of the window and up at the dark sky.

“What do you mean?” Luke glanced over at her. “You mean as in your relationships?”

Maia sighed. “This is going to make the shadowhunters clamp down again, let’s be honest. Alec is going to be forced to do things he’d rather not, and Izzy and Clary will have to follow him.”

“I don’t know, I’ve never known Alec to be forced to do anything he didn’t want to do. And Izzy was just about ready to lead the downworlder rebellion when the Inquisitor was in charge.” Luke shrugged, leaning his elbow on the car door. “I didn’t trust them when I first met them; Lightwoods aren’t exactly known for their loyalty, but they’ve proved me wrong. They’ve saved both our sorry asses more than once. You saw Alec stand up against Valentine that day in the Institute. Neither of them are going to buckle.”

“I hope you’re right,” Maia said quietly, “but I can’t see it being easy.”

“Well no, nothing ever is,” Luke replied, pulling the car forward to keep up with traffic. “But just focus on the catastrophe we know for sure is happening, don’t start imagining new ones.”

Maia smiled wryly. “Yeah, you’re right. You got any idea where to start looking for the son of a bitch?”

“Not a clue,” Luke admitted, relieved to see that the traffic was beginning to ease. “He could be anywhere. Presumably he’s going to try to get the soul sword back, so with any luck the Iron Sisters will slice him up.”

“Are they those shadowhunter nuns?”

“Shadowhunter nuns,” Luke huffed, “I guess they are. Except they’re all highly skilled with blades.”

“So ninja nuns,” Maia surmised, which made Luke laugh a little louder.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I don’t want to go!”

It wasn’t in Madzie’s nature to throw tantrums; it wasn’t really in her nature to talk, honestly, but since Cat had explained that she and Dot had to go and stay in the Seelie Realm for a couple of weeks, she had not been a happy bunny.

“Sweetie, I know you’re scared, but the Seelie Realm is gonna be fun!” Dot enthused, “there’ll be lots of other warlock kids for you to play with, and the Seelies can teach you some cool nature magic-”

“But I want to stay with Mommy!” Madzie shouted, her big brown eyes filled with tears.

“I’m gonna come and stay with you as much as I can, sweet girl, but I have to help Magnus. We have to catch Valentine, you know that.” Cat explained slowly, rubbing up and down Madzie’s arms.

“But I don’t want…” Madzie’s voice wavered, her lower lip wobbling, “don’t want Valentine to hurt you, Mommy.”

Dot felt her throat close, and she had to look away as Madzie started to cry, throwing her arms around Cat’s neck. She hated to see Madzie so upset, but there wasn’t anything they could do to convince her that Valentine wasn’t dangerous; Madzie had seen it for herself.

“Valentine isn’t going to hurt me, sweet girl, because I have a plan.” Cat promised her, wiping away her tears. “You wanna know what my plan is?”

Madzie nodded, sniffing.

“Me and Uncle Magnus are going to find him, and we’re gonna get some big sticks, and smack his bottom with them.” Cat told her, wrinkling her nose, which made Madzie giggle despite herself.

“You promise?”

“I swear,” Cat emphasised, holding out her pinkie finger. “And me and Uncle Magnus can only do that if we know you’re safe with the Seelies and Dot.”

Madzie curled her own little finger around Cat’s, and kissed her hand. “Okay,” she agreed, looking up at Dot and taking her hand. “Be careful, Mommy.”

“I’m always careful,” Cat assured her, straightening up to give Dot a kiss. “You got this?”

“Yeah, we’ve got this,” Dot nodded, squeezing Cat’s hand briefly. “Come on, then, beansprout, let’s go.”

Cat waved at the two of them until the portal closed behind them, relieved when Magnus’ portal opened just moments later. She wouldn’t have welcomed the quiet time alone to worry about Madzie in the Seelie Realm. The Seelie Queen wasn’t a generous being; Cat knew that the warlocks would have to pay some kind of price for her protection now.

“Madzie go off alright?” Magnus asked, and Cat sighed.

“She didn’t like it, but she went with Dot in the end. I just hope that Elliot and the others let her play with them.”

“They will. I saw Elliot yesterday, he’s a good boy. He’ll look out for her. Amelie’s gone with him, much to Raphael’s annoyance. He doesn’t want the vampires depending on the Queen.” Magnus told her.

“I don’t like it much either, honestly, but the warlock leader’s a bit of a hard-ass. No arguing with him,” Cat teased, elbowing Magnus in the ribs as they headed to the elevator. The building that Cat and Dot had been living in was forty floors, so the rooftop garden provided a good base to look for Valentine. Their magic could spread further, and there was less chance of mundanes spotting them.

Magnus snorted, rubbing his ribs where Cat’s pointy elbow had stuck him as they got in the elevator. “We don’t know what Valentine is planning. His last plan was genocide, and I can’t imagine he’s going to downgrade. And the shadowhunters have no idea what he’s up to, so…”

“I get your rationale, Magnus, I just… I don’t trust the Seelie Queen.”

“Oh, me neither, but I know that it’s in her best interests to protect our people. She wants them as her subjects, so she won’t let anything happen to them. For now, that’s good enough for me.” Magnus murmured.

Cat nodded. “Let’s just catch him sooner rather than later; I hate the idea of Madzie not being at home.”

“We can agree on that,” Magnus nodded, rubbing his hands together as the elevator doors slid open to reveal the roof. “Now let’s get to work.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary didn’t seem to be getting any warmer. She was stubborn enough to keep moving despite the shivering, but her face felt strange, numb and heavy. They weren’t too far from the cabin when she finally staggered into Aline, apologising and shaking her head, trying to clear her blurring vision. Aline took hold of her elbows and helped her to sit down, peering into her face.

“You look really pale, Clary.”

“Yeah, maybe we should go back and look for your stele; they’re designed to float, it would’ve come to the surface by now.” Raj said, looking back down the hill towards Lake Lyn.

Clary nodded, blinking rapidly. “I need an iratze, I feel weird.”

“Can you walk? We can’t just leave you here out in the open,” Aline pointed out, checking the temperature of Clary’s forehead with the back of her hand. “You don’t feel too cold or too hot…”

“I think I’ll be fine if I lean on Raj,” Clary assured her, letting Raj help her up.

“I’ve got you, Fray, let’s take it nice and slow.” Raj murmured, “let’s go.”

Aline led the way back down the hill, and Clary clung onto Raj, her arm around his shoulders. It was embarrassing, really, that she’d had a fainting spell like this, but she really did feel awful. When they reached the shore of Lake Lyn, Raj let Clary sit down while he and Aline looked around for the stele.

Clary must have fallen asleep at some point, because when she jolted awake neither Raj or Aline were anywhere to be seen. She sat up a little straighter, looking around, but the Lake seemed deserted. Why would Raj and Aline leave her? As she staggered to her feet, Clary heard a scream that she recognised as Raj’s, and yanked her seraph blade out of its holster as she scrambled up the hill.

~~~~~~~~~~

The biggest issue that Izzy was facing as the Weapons Master so far was trying to decide which of her three ideas was the most likely to pan out. She had to get to work on a prototype, but she’d been agonising between the three plans for almost an hour, now. Everytime she thought she’d come to a conclusion, she thought of another strength for one of the other designs. In the end, she’d just closed her eyes, shuffled them around and pointed at a drawing.

She could see now why the Iron Sisters worked in teams. It was difficult trying to make executive decisions without another person’s input. Even so, now that she’d decided on the blood-tracking option, she was all in. Eventually she’d have to consult Magnus, ask him to help her with a charmed crystal, but for now she focussed on building the sensors and the mainframe.

“Looks like you’ve settled into your new position.”

Izzy didn’t look up from her workbench at the sound of her father’s voice, her eyebrows furrowing. “I’m busy.”

“Oh, so you hate me too, then.” Robert hummed, walking over to stand across the table from her.

“I have no time for cheaters,” Izzy responded, her eyes stubbornly remaining on the soldering iron in her hand.

“Aren’t you sleeping with two women at the moment?”

Izzy slammed the soldering iron down on the table so hard that Robert jumped. “What do you want?”

“I want to make things right with you and Alec,” Robert insisted. “Like your mother did.”

“And you’re going to do that by coming into my space and insulting my relationships by comparing them to your dishonesty and disloyalty?”

“I’m just asking you to get some perspective. Why is it okay for you to love two people but when I do it, it’s wrong?” Robert demanded, “it just seems hypocritical.”

“There’s a very simple reason why our situations are different, Dad,” Izzy pointed out, saying each word slowly like he was a young child, “Clary and Maia know about each other. Mom didn’t know about this other woman of yours and she certainly didn’t consent to your relationship with her. That’s the difference.”

Robert snorted. “You really think your mother didn’t know about it?”

Izzy shook her head. “I can’t believe I ever loved you.”

“Come on, Isabelle, I’m still the same man that I was when I brought you all those-”

“And that just makes this all the worse,” Izzy insisted, eyes hard. “I must have been on some serious internalised misogyny bullshit to ever sympathise with you. Mom is worth ten of you. At least she always spoke up for what she believed in, tried her best to help us understand her point of view. But you, you were a snake, from day one. You’d make me and Alec believe that you were on our side and then stab us in the back. Always made Mom out to be the bad guy when really, you were the bigoted one. You were the one who abandoned Alec when he needed you most.”

“Alec pushed me away.” Robert argued.

“You threatened to have him killed!” Izzy shouted, storming around the table. “God help me you had better get the fuck out of my workshop before I give you a taste of your own damn medicine!”

“Isabelle!”

“GET OUT!”

Robert took a step back. “I am the only reason Alec still has this Institute.”

“I swear to God, Dad-”

“Fine!” Robert yelled, his lip curling. “If that’s the way you want it.”

Izzy glared at him as he retreated out of the room, and hopefully out of the Institute. It was only a matter of seconds before Alec turned up looking smug.

“You told him, huh?”

Izzy huffed out a laugh. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“He came by to my office too, looking for a thank you,” Alec shook his head, “he’s delusional.”

“How does he still have the sway to make calls like that? I thought Mom said that the gossip was spreading.”

Alec wrinkled his nose. “Presumably his mistress is high up. He didn’t deny it when I suggested it.”

“So he’s sleeping his way up the ladder?” Izzy asked, putting her hands on her hips, “but he had enough to say when I was seeing Meliorn.”

“He’s an asshole,” Alec shrugged, walking past her to look at what she’d been working on. “How’s it coming?”

“We’re a few days away from a working device, and I’ll need Magnus to consult tomorrow.” Izzy explained, “it’s designed to read the blood’s genetic code and pinpoint DNA matches. Hopefully we can use Clary’s blood to find Valentine.”

“That sounds great,” Alec smiled, looking up at the clock. “But you’ve been working for hours, you should go and get some sleep.”

Izzy shrugged. “I will when you do.”

“Oh, I’m heading out,” Alec told her, “I’ve done all I can for today. It seems Valentine hasn’t reached out to the Circle yet, there’s been no movement in those gangs at all. So, for tonight at least, we can be more or less sure that he’s trying to figure out his next move.”

“You staying here or going to Magnus’?”

“Magnus’. I’m only a portal away if anything happens.” Alec assured her. “You should go and see Maia, check in on the wolves while you’re at it.”

Izzy sighed, looking at the pieces of her device. She couldn’t really do too much more before knowing how big the crystal Magnus needed for the spell, so she supposed she could get away with a night off. “Alright, yeah, I’ll go see Maia.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It seemed fitting that Alec brought over the non-alcoholic wine that he’d bought for Valentine-Magnus. It had been sitting in his room for a couple of weeks now, and he definitely wasn’t about to drink it by himself in his quarters. Alec even picked up a bouquet of flowers similar to the ones he’d brought that day, and put on one of the nice button-down shirts that he’d bought in Rome on a date night with Magnus last week. It felt amazing to be able to wear them without the suffocation of a binder, so all in all, Alec was in a good mood considering his career had almost gotten flushed down the toilet not 24 hours before.

“Look at you,” Magnus marvelled when he opened the door, smiling fondly as Alec presented him with the flowers. “What’s the occasion?”

“I figure you could use some distracting from…”

Magnus gave him a kiss, keeping the rest of the sentence from escaping. “You already know me so well. And non-alcoholic wine. I can honestly say that’ll be a first for me.”

“The guy in the shop promised that it tastes like the real thing,” Alec assured him, catching Magnus’ free hand in his own and bringing it up to his mouth to kiss his knuckles. “You doing okay?”

“I’m alright. A little stressed from all the running around, but alright. The warlocks are safely in the Seelie Realm where Valentine can’t reach them, and though Cat and I weren’t able to find Valentine today, we ruled out half the city, so…”

“A productive day,” Alec finished.

Magnus nodded, pulling Alec to sit down with him on the couch. “Exactly. Though I’m not really feeling up to portalling tonight, can we stay in?”

“Sounds perfect,” Alec said softly, climbing into Magnus’ lap.

“Someone feeling needy?”

Alec shrugged one shoulder. “I missed you. It feels better now that we talked. I was feeling so anxious and worried about you, and now I feel like I can relax again, you know what I mean?”

“I know what you mean,” Magnus confirmed, running his hand through the shadowhunter’s hair, “I missed the intimacy. It was awful keeping a secret from you.”

“No more secrets, it’s too stressful,” Alec mumbled, pushing his face into Magnus’ neck. “I had a breakout and everything.”

“You look perfect to me,” Magnus replied, “as always.”

Alec hummed, his eyes slipping closed. “There’s a reason for that, I dug out all my fancy spot treatments from when I first started T.”

Magnus chuckled. “I’m imagining you wearing a face mask.”

“It was green, I looked like Shrek.”

“Oh, very nice,” Magnus murmured, his arms tightening around Alec’s back. “I’m hurt that you didn’t send a picture.”

“Hmmm, we’re not at the ugly selfie level yet, give it another couple of weeks.” Alec insisted, stroking his hands over Magnus’ shoulders, relishing in the firm curves of his muscles through his shirt.

Magnus scoffed. “We’ve said I love you but I can’t get an ugly selfie?”

“I’m glad you’re being so understanding about this,” Alec deadpanned, giggling when Magnus’ fingers dug into his waist. “No! I’ll knee you in the balls on accident!”

“I’ll cast a balls of steel spell,” Magnus growled, lifting Alec off his lap and pressing his back into the sofa.

“No such spell!” Alec yelped, catching Magnus’ wrists in his hands.

“I’ll invent one,” Magnus retorted, a big grin taking over his face when Alec met his eyes, looking exhilarated and sheepish and unbearably cute. They just smiled at each other for a long moment, and Alec’s hands slipped from Magnus’ wrists up to the back of his neck to pull him down for a kiss.

“Bedroom?” Alec was still a little breathless from all the laughing, and the sound of his voice made Magnus shiver.

“No,” Magnus answered, straightening up to take off his shirt. “You’re not going anywhere.”

Alec looked confused for a moment, but then a slow smirk came over his face and he squirmed, trying to get comfortable. “Yeah?”

“Yep,” Magnus confirmed, running his hands down Alec’s torso. “That okay?”

“Hmmm, let me think about that,” Alec teased, opening up Magnus’ pants.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I like this apartment, it suits you.” Izzy remarked, making herself comfortable on Maia’s sofa. “Beats that room above the Jade Wolf.”

“Anything would beat that hovel,” Maia snorted. She was rifling through one of the drawers in the kitchenette, digging out all the takeout menus that had accumulated in there from 6 months of junk mail. “What are you hungry for?”

Izzy hummed, shifting up a little for Maia to sit down. “I kinda want a burger.”

“Mmmmm, good call,” Maia replied, “I’m guessing you don’t have Uber Eats on that thing, huh?” She smirked, nodding towards Izzy’s Clave-issue cellphone.

“I got a formal warning when I downloaded Tinder on it,” Izzy admitted, which made Maia laugh.

“No fun allowed at the Clave, huh?”

“Not even a little bit of fun,” Izzy agreed, “though I have to be honest, I do like my new job. Everyone just leaves me alone to tinker all day, no nonsense.”

“Seen much of Alec? His head must be exploding right now.” Maia speculated, running her fingers through Izzy’s hair as she scrolled through Uber Eats trying to find a reputable burger joint.

Izzy leaned into Maia’s touch. “He’s got teams running down leads but there’s only so much he can personally do, which is frustrating him after so long of being a field agent, I think. Clary’s at Lake Lyn with Raj and Aline going to an old cabin that Valentine owns; they reckon they’ll find some of Valentine’s belongings there. We might be able to track him, then.”

“Surely he’s using a blocking rune, though.”

“Warlock tracking can’t be stopped by runes,” Izzy reminded her, “Magnus will have him in a matter of seconds if we can find something that Valentine has an emotional connection to.”

Maia huffed, shaking her head. “Does the guy even have emotions?”

“That’s the trouble,” Izzy sighed, her eyes on Maia’s phone screen. She chose a regular cheeseburger and onion rings, and cuddled back into Maia’s side. “We don’t know if there’s anything he is emotionally attached to. So I’m working on a device that’ll use Clary’s blood to track his DNA.”

“Powered by warlock magic?” Maia asked, sending their order.

“Exactly. I’m gonna have Magnus put a spell in a powering crystal to make it work. Then all we’ll need is a sample of Clary’s blood and it’ll lead us to Valentine.”

Maia smiled, her eyes sparkling with admiration. “That’s genius, Iz.”

“I still have to figure out how to boost its range; it would probably only be able to search 10 blocks at a time.” Izzy shrugged.

“Oh, only 10 blocks at a time,” Maia teased, rolling her eyes. “You,” she cooed, kissing Izzy’s nose, “are a genius.”

Izzy’s cheeks heated up, and she flicked her hair over her shoulder. Maia just had to kiss her cheeks, and Izzy giggled at the kissy noises, clinging to Maia’s shoulders. “I forgot how soppy you are.”

“You didn’t have any complaints about it back then,” Maia reminded her.

“And I don’t have any complaints now,” Izzy assured her quickly, shrugging one shoulder. “It’s nice.”

Maia hummed, running her fingers through Izzy’s hair. “You’re nice.”

“Not as nice as you.”

“Oh, we’re not doing that,” Maia giggled, leaning backwards until she was lying down on the couch. “Wanna cuddle and watch something while we wait for the food?”

“Mmmm, sounds perfect,” Izzy agreed, wriggling into the space between Maia and the back of the couch.

“How much longer do you think Clary’s gonna be on her mission? Think we should’ve ordered more food?”

“She won’t be back until tomorrow, she hadn’t even reached the cabin when I left the Institute. We hadn’t heard for them for hours,” Izzy shrugged, “she’s probably there now. Depending on how much stuff is there…”

Maia nodded, wrinkling her nose. “So she’s gotta spend the night in the creepy cabin in the woods possibly haunted by the bad vibes of her psychopathic father?”

“Yeah, basically,” Izzy sighed, tightening her arm around Maia’s waist. “Maybe we should call her.”

“Yeah, I feel like she’d probably be glad to hear from us.” Maia slipped her phone out of her pocket and called Clary, putting it on speaker as the phone rang.

“Hey, this is Clary, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!”

Izzy groaned. “Signal in Idris is terrible. I hope Raj and Aline are at least keeping her mind off it all.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“She couldn’t have gone far! She could barely walk!” Raj panted, activating his night vision rune.

He and Aline had found Clary’s stele floating a couple of metres from shore, but when they turned around to give it to her she’d disappeared into thin air. They’d spent a while shouting for her, trying to follow her footprints, but the pebbled coast made it too difficult to track her.

“I don’t get it, why would she walk off? We told her about the wolves, right?!” Aline replied, pushing her wet hair out of her face.

Raj put his hands on his hips. “She is known for getting herself into trouble.”

“Well we can’t split up, we’ll lose each other as well. It’s getting dark.” Aline pointed out, “we should call for backup.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll call Izzy,” Raj agreed. He patted down his pockets, hastily yanking his phone out of his parka pocket.

Izzy picked up on the second ring, as always. “Hey Raj, how’s the mission going?”

“Uhh… Not good,” Raj answered, making a face at Aline, who snorted. “We’ve… Lost Clary. Not as in dead! As in… Lost.”

“How did you lose her?!”

“I have no idea, she ended up in Lake Lyn and she caught a chill, but we didn’t have a stele so we couldn’t heal her so we came back to the lake, and while me and Aline were getting the stele she just wandered off! And now-”

Izzy groaned. “Lake Lyn has hallucinogenic properties. She must be seeing things. Have you got anything to track her with?”

“No, she used her angel powers to get us here so it was sort of sudden, none of us brought anything except ourselves,” Aline explained, “can you get a portal here and bring something of Clary’s?”

There was a pause. “I can, but I’m not at the Institute and it’s Magnus and Alec’s date night so it might take a while. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” A voice in the background piped up, and Izzy could be heard talking to them, her words muffled like she was covering the receiver.

“Are you still there?” Raj asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m here, I’ll be sooner than I thought, I actually have something of Clary’s here. I just have to call Magnus.”

“Okay, should we stay here? We’re right next to Lake Lyn,” Aline told her.

“Yeah, I won’t have anything to track you and Raj, stay there. I’ll ask for the portal to open on the shore of Lake Lyn. Be there in a few minutes. Bye.”

Raj sat down on the edge of the lake, shaking his head. “You know, it might’ve been worth mentioning that Lake Lyn is a big old wet magic mushroom in our briefing.”

“Alec might not know,” Aline reminded him. “You know what Izzy’s like, she knows everything.”

“True,” Raj allowed, “I don’t remember Alec being particularly interested in Geography.”

Aline snorted. “He just liked bossing people around.”

“Still does,” Raj joked, rubbing his arms and looking around. They hadn’t heard any howls, but nevertheless, he hoped Clary was hiding somewhere.

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary was still stalking around looking for Aline when a light appeared between the trees above her, streaking down and knocking her back on her ass. As she blinked against the brightness, the shape of a man shimmered into focus, and she scrabbled backwards, her eyes wide and staring at the figure.

“Peace, child,” the figure said, and the brightness dimmed. He had his hands up to placate her, and she stopped, struggling to recognise him.

“Ithuriel?” She asked. She had no idea how she knew, because he looked nothing like the wizened old man she and Izzy had seen on the rooftop, but something deep in her soul told her she was right.

“I have come to warn you.”

“About my father?”

Ithuriel’s eyebrows pulled down. “Your flesh and blood is returning.”

“What? My flesh and blood are right here.”

“Be wary, Clary Fray. He is close.”

“In the cabin?” Clary demanded, straightening up. “Valentine’s in the cabin?”

Ithuriel didn’t answer, his head snapping to the side. “Be wary. Be safe.” His eyes lifted to the sky and his body started to shine, his skin glowing until he was once again a bright speck of light that streaked up into the sky, and then Ithuriel was gone, leaving Clary shivering alone in the dark.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan could feel the situation spiralling out of his control, and it was making him nervous. He hadn’t thought for a moment that Valentine would express regret. He hadn’t counted on Valentine promising him a family. A part of him knew that his father couldn’t be trusted, that Valentine was only manipulating him like he had done years before. But a bigger part of him wanted so badly to be accepted, and the tiny possibility that he could be with his family once more was overruling Jonathan’s rationality.

“You know that Clary and your little friends at the Institute will turn their backs on you when they find out who you really are,” Valentine told him, still tied to the chair for the moment. “I know you, all of you, I am the only one who loves you in spite of it.”

“You sent me to Edom,” Jonathan growled, pacing back and forth with the soul sword swinging in his grip. “You don’t love me.”

“Jonathan, I sent you to Edom for your own good, you would’ve been hunted by the shadowhunters if I’d let you stay here. You were too powerful.”

“You’re lying,” Jonathan shook his head, “Clary and Raj and the others, they care for demon blooded people, like Magnus, Maia…”

Valentine scoffed. “Those domesticated beasts? They have nothing on you, Jonathan. You are fiercer and more powerful than I could have ever have imagined.”

“You don’t know them,” Jonathan argued, “they hate you.”

“And they’ll hate you too,” Valentine pointed out, “when they find out how many you’ve killed to become their friend. When they find out you released Azazel.”

Jonathan scowled. “That was necessary.”

“If you really believed that you don’t need me, you’d have killed me by now.” Valentine flexed his shoulders, fixing Jonathan with a steady gaze. “I know you won’t hurt me, son.”

Jonathan plunged forwards, the soul sword grazing the delicate, stubbled skin of Valentine’s throat. Valentine’s hands came up to grasp the blade, his dark eyes glittering. “When did you-”

“I could have escaped whenever I wanted,” Valentine insisted, the sword glowing, “but I want to be with you, son. You are my greatest creation, and I am so proud of the warrior that you’ve become. I want you by my side for the battles ahead. I made a mistake sending you to Edom, I should have let you stay.”

“You’re lying,” Jonathan choked, wrinkling his nose.

“I’m holding the soul sword,” Valentine returned, and Jonathan’s eye fell to the magic blade, relief flooding into him. Father and son looked at each other for a long moment, and then heard screams coming from outside the cabin, glancing up at the window. “Come on, son, we need to go.”

Jonathan thought about it for a moment, his heart jumping into his throat when he saw Raj rush to help Clary through the window. How would he explain this to him? Raj would know he killed Mayweather and his family.

Raj would hate him.

“Alright,” Jonathan relented, stepping back with the soul sword. “Let’s go.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It didn’t take long for them to find Clary once Izzy arrived; Aline and Raj didn’t dare ask why exactly Izzy had brought a pair of Clary’s panties of all things, but they did the job. She was only a few metres from the cabin, sitting clutching her seraph blade with her back pressed against a tree, shivering visibly.

“Clary!” Izzy yelled, running up to her.

Clary swung her seraph blade, eyes wide and frightened. “Stay back!” She warned, her voice shaking. “I know you killed Raj!”

“I’m here, Clary,” Raj told her, holding out his arms. “Look, I’m not dead. None of us are going to hurt you.”

“Just try to relax,” Aline added, “you’re seeing things.”

Clary struggled up to her feet, confusion clear in her face. There was no way of knowing what she was seeing, but it clearly wasn’t Izzy, Raj and Aline. “Get away from me,” she growled, brandishing her seraph blade.

“We need to get her restrained so we can apply a healing rune,” Aline said, “there’s no reasoning with her, she can’t hear us.”

Izzy nodded, slowly stepping towards her girlfriend. “Look, I’m not armed. See?” She held up her hands, showing their emptiness to Clary, who eyed her suspiciously. When Izzy got in arm’s reach, she grabbed for Clary’s wrist, and Raj swooped over to catch her other arm as she started to fight back.

“Let go of me! Let go!” Clary screamed, kicking out at Aline as she approached with a stele ready. Aline managed to dodge her feet and put the stele to the arm that Izzy was holding, tracing over an iratze that was already there. The moment it burned into Clary’s skin, she stopped fighting and went limp in Izzy and Raj’s hold, her eyes rolling back in her head.

“Clary?!” Izzy yelped, her free hand cupping Clary’s face. “Come on, Scrappy, look at me. Look at me!”

Clary groaned, squeezing her eyes shut and then opening them, struggling to focus on Izzy. “Iz?”

The other three shadowhunters sighed in relief as Izzy hugged Clary tightly, glad that the healing rune had worked. Raj and Aline hugged it out as Izzy gently told Clary what had happened, etching another healing rune into the other arm. It might have been overkill, but Izzy wasn’t taking any chances.

“You should take Clary back to the Institute,” Raj suggested, “me and Aline can check out the cabin.”

“I think I can portal us,” Clary said softly, though she still didn’t look one hundred percent well.

Izzy shook her head. “I’ll call Magnus. You just sit still for a minute.”

“We’ll wait with you, it’s not safe out here,” Aline insisted, sitting down next to Clary as Izzy stepped away to phone Magnus.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Izzy and Clary just got back,” Robert announced as he strode up to Alec in the hallway. “Izzy sent me to tell you.”

Alec arched his eyebrow. Most likely Izzy told him to fuck off and leave her alone, and Robert decided to come and bug Alec about it. “Didn’t I tell you to get out of my Institute?”

“I am the Clave’s envoy and as such you cannot order me to leave. I will leave when my mission is complete.”

“And what is your mission, exactly?” Alec asked.

Robert glanced around to see if anyone was coming down the corridor. “Come into your office, it’s best we discuss it in private.”

Though he didn’t like it, Alec figured that the quicker he let his father say his piece, the quicker he could go back to Alicante. Alec showed him into his office and went to sit behind his desk. Robert sat down on the couch across the room.

“You were wrong before, about my leverage. While I have fallen in love with someone inside the Clave, she is not responsible for you retaining your position.”

“Good to know,” Alec said dryly, “but somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.”

Robert folded his arms. “I know something that the Clave doesn’t want getting out. And I threatened the Clave with it to keep you here.”

“And you’re going to tell me this information,” Alec guessed.

“I am. I hope this will mean that you start to trust me.” Robert said, “I am not a bad person, Alec.”

Alec resisted the urge to scoff. “What’s the information?”

Robert leaned forward, his face grim. He knew that Alec wasn’t going to like whatever he was about to say, that much was obvious. Alec prepared himself for awful news. “The Clave didn’t retrieve the soul sword from the Institute the day you defeated Valentine. It was lost, they haven’t found it.”

“But…” Of all the things he expected his father to tell him, that didn’t even occur to him. “But all the circle members who were there were captured. The downworlders would have come forward to expose the Clave’s lie if they had it, where the hell did it go?!”

“No-one knows,” Robert said. “The Clave lied and said they took it to the Iron Sisters to keep the downworld from panicking, but they have no idea where it is. They only have a few people out looking for it, because they can’t risk the news leaking.”

Alec swallowed hard. “So the downworlders could be annihilated at any moment and you didn’t think to warn them?!”

“Not at any moment,” Robert argued, “it was never activated by the touch of an angel. Whoever has it would need an angel, and it’s not like they’re easily captured.”

“Valentine managed it.”

“My theory is that the angels took the sword back after seeing such a close shave,” Robert shrugged, and Alec rubbed his forehead.

“But there is a possibility that the downworld is still in danger.” Alec pointed out to him.

“You must keep this information to yourself, Alec, it’s the only leverage you have against the Clave.”

“Why did you tell me?!” Alec hissed, eyes ablaze with anger. “Why didn’t you just keep it to yourself?! Do you have any idea the position you’ve put me in with Magnus?!”

Robert shook his head. “You cannot trust him, Alexander.”

Alec shoved away from his desk, standing up. “I trust Magnus a hundred times more than I trust you. You thought this would make me trust you?! All you’ve done is sabotaged my open, honest trusting dynamic with Magnus because you wanted to score cheap points against the Clave.”

“You need something to bargain with, Alec, no-one there is rooting for you.”

“Is that it?” Alec asked sharply. “Is that all you came here to tell me?”

“Yes, but-”

“Then leave my Institute. Now.” Alec ordered, his jaw clenching. “You’ve done your duty as envoy, now go back to Alicante and leave my family alone.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It wasn’t until Raj and Aline burst into the back room of the cabin that they realised just how close they’d come to capturing Valentine. The rest of the cabin had been dusty, barely touched, but the back room made it obvious that someone had been hiding out here recently. There was a scorch mark on the ground that was still faintly smoking, and a half-eaten tin of beans left on the table that hadn’t gone bad yet. The weirdest part was the chair in the centre of the room, handcuffs on the floor immediately behind it, picked open with a safety pin. Upon checking the cupboards, Raj found Mayweather’s body, and carefully pulled it out to lay it down on the floor.

“You think it was Mayweather Valentine was keeping captive?” He asked Aline, who was checking the body’s wrists.

“No, he’d have had marks. Nothing here, he was killed with a seraph blade. But his is still clean.” She pointed out, getting up to have a look at the scorch mark in the floor next to the chair. “This looks like the remains of a demonic portal.”

Raj frowned. “But why would Valentine be working with a demon?”

“Maybe he wasn’t,” Aline theorised, rubbing her hands together. “Maybe the demon is the one who made Mayweather kidnap Valentine, and Valentine was the one in the chair. A demon wouldn’t need to pick handcuffs, he’d just burn them off.”

“But why would a demon use a seraph blade? And why bring Valentine here?”

Aline shook her head. “I don’t know, there must be a piece of the puzzle that we’re missing. The intelligence said that Valentine used this as a holiday home. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to just take holidays, he must have worked here too. Maybe we can find some evidence of what kinds of experiments he did here.”

“Like journals,” Raj murmured, spotting a book open on the table next to the beans. “Look, listen to this. April 26th, 2008. Jonathan Christopher beat me in our sparring session today. He has grown stronger than me and is showing signs of resentment. He asks constantly of his mother…” Raj’s wide eyes looked up at Aline.

“Read on,” Aline urged.

“If he discovers that Jocelyn is no longer allied with us, it may turn him against me. I must find a way to suppress him, or I fear he will grow too powerful and too angry for me to control.” Raj turned the page. “April 30th, 2008. I have decided to send Jonathan to Edom to live among his own people. I cannot bring myself to kill him but he is too unstable for my purposes. With any luck, Lilith will kill him before he finds a way back to this plane.”

Aline and Raj looked at each other in shock. “This journal was on the table, being read by Valentine’s demon captor…”

“It has to be him.”

Aline nodded, swallowing hard. “Come on, let’s see if we can find the rest of these journals. Clary’s going to want to read them.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus wasn’t as surprised as he could have been when he walked into his kitchen to see Ragnor pottering around making a cup of tea.

“Junior,” he said, “you’re finally out of the shower.”

“I am,” Magnus replied dryly, “any particular reason why you’re here? In my apartment?”

Ragnor huffed at him, stirring cream into his tea. “Well I’d have thought it would be obvious.”

“Give me a hint, at least.”

“Catarina told me you had a relapse.” Ragnor told him, his eyebrow arching.

Magnus groaned. “Come on, Ragnor, I’m not a kid anymore, I don’t need supervising.”

“Not supervising,” Ragnor argued, “companionship.”

“I have Alec here most nights, I have all the companionship I need.” Magnus reminded him, folding his arms.

“And I promise you that I won’t get in the way, you won’t even know I’m here until you need me.”

“Ragnor,” Magnus gritted out, pinching the bridge of his nose, “I can talk to Alec about anything, I just told him about my mother, for Christ’s sake, if I need to talk, he’s here. He’s been wonderful, you know how wonderful he is.”

“If you insist,” Ragnor sniffed, “though you know I’m only a phone call away if things get difficult.”

“I know, Ragnor,” Magnus assured him. He knew that the older warlock only wanted to help, but Ragnor did tend to forget that he was a grown man, now. “I appreciate you coming in to check on me.”

Ragnor hummed, his mother hen instincts clearly a little bruised, but he held out a teacup to Magnus. “If there’s any non-warlock in this world I trust to look after you, it’s Alec Lightwood.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“So our working theory is that Jonathan Morganstern is alive, and he’s escaped from Edom to take revenge on Valentine. We believe that Valentine is still alive, but it’s hard to know what Jonathan is planning.” Raj explained, trying to avoid Clary’s eyes. He’d wanted to talk to Clary privately before the debrief, but she’d insisted that anything he had to tell her, he could tell the rest of the senior staff.

“But Jonathan died in a fire, that’s what my Mom said. The whole house burnt down.” Clary said quietly.

“Demons use fire as portals,” Aline explained, her voice gentle. “Chances are the fire pentagram that you’d need to send a demon to Edom was the source of the fire that burned down the house.”

Clary walked away from the table, and Izzy jogged after her. Alec inhaled sharply, running his hand down his face.

“So do we have any idea how powerful this guy is?” Alec asked Aline and Raj.

“I’ll have a team read the journals,” Raj said, “but if he’s as powerful demonically as Clary is angelically…”

“Then we have a real problem on our hands,” Alec agreed, looking to Aline for any kind of good news.

She didn’t have much for him. “I can’t be sure how he’d interact with the wards. They’re designed to allow angel blood to pass through, and they allow downworlders. He can’t be any more than half demon blood, so…”

“The wards are useless against him. Hell, for all we know he was glamoured to look like Mayweather.” Alec sighed.

Aline nodded. “He could’ve been among us for weeks looking for an in to capture Valentine.”

“Or he could have just manipulated the situation from the outside,” Alec pointed out, leaning against the table and looking down at the journals laid out there. “Alright. Raj, get a team working on reading these journals. I want to know if this guy has any weaknesses, what his strengths are, anything we can use to lure him out of wherever he’s hiding, anything he had special interests in. Maybe we can bargain with him for Valentine.”

“You’re going to try to save Valentine?!” Aline demanded, “why not just let Jonathan take care of him for us?”

“Valentine is a master of manipulation,” Raj muttered, shaking his head. “No way will he just sit there and let Jonathan kill him, he’ll talk his way out of it. He knows Jonathan better than anyone.”

Aline folded her arms. “We need a lead. Who else knew Jonathan as a child?”

“Luke would have known him as a baby,” Alec realised, “possibly my mother, and… If we’re lucky, maybe Jocelyn told Magnus something. I’ll find out. In the meantime, Aline, if you could try and get a hold of Luke?”

“Consider it done,” Aline nodded.

“Alright, report to me by 1800 tomorrow. Dismissed,” he murmured, his eyes not moving from the table even as Raj gathered up the journals.

“You okay?” Raj asked, and Alec smiled half-heartedly.

“Yeah,” he answered, dreading the phone call he was about to make, “I’m fine, Raj.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary didn’t stop walking until she reached the training room. Izzy gave her a little space as she strapped her hands up, hovering near the punchbags. Neither of them spoke as Clary started to spar with the punchbag nearest to Izzy. For a few minutes the only sounds in the room was the pounding of Clary’s fists, and her heavy, shaky breathing. Izzy had no idea what to say; she couldn’t imagine the mix of emotions that Clary was going through.

“Valentine lied,” Clary gritted out when she paused to catch her breath. “He said that he was the only family I had left.”

Izzy swallowed hard. “I don’t think he knew that Jonathan was still alive. He burned that house to the ground for a reason.”

“I hope Jonathan skins him alive,” Clary snarled, going back to the punching bag once more. “It’s what he deserves.”

“Do you really want your big brother to stoop to his level?” Izzy asked carefully, her eyes on Clary’s hardened face. “He might be-”

“He killed Mayweather’s family to help Valentine escape,” Clary pointed out, stepping back from the punch bag for a moment to hold her forearm to her nose. She remembered Ithuriel’s warning. “He’s… He’s…”

“Never been shown love. He was raised by Valentine to kill, Clary. You know how Valentine is.”

Clary took a few deep breaths, dropping her arms back to her sides. “What, you think that underneath the murder and demon blood, he’s a good person?”

“I’m just saying don’t jump to the worst possible conclusion before you know anything about him. Read those journals. Try and find some answers before filling in the gaps.” Izzy urged, “I know how much you miss your Mom. Second chances at family bonds don’t just come along every day. It’s worth exploring, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” Clary answered honestly. “I don’t even know what to think right now, I-” She laughed, throwing her hands up in the air. “What else, huh? What the fuck else, you know what I mean?”

Izzy smiled sadly. “I know, baby. It’s a lot.”

Clary sniffed, looking down at the ground. “There’s only one thing we can do, and that’s find him.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I was wondering when I was going to hear from you,” Magnus murmured, his voice fond, and Alec chuckled nervously, pacing back and forth in his quarters.

“I’m sorry, there’s been a development here and I have to work through the night, probably.”

“What kind of development? Are you close to getting Valentine?” Magnus asked. Alec picked up a pen to fiddle with, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder.

“We’ve figured out that Valentine didn’t escape. He was kidnapped.” Alec explained, “by his son, Jonathan Christopher Morganstern. I was wondering if you ever met him as a child, or if Jocelyn ever said anything-”

“I’m afraid not,” Magnus told him, “Jonathan was dead by the time I met Jocelyn. At least, Jocelyn believed he was dead. Presumably he used his demon blood to escape the fire?”

“That’s what we think, yeah,” Alec confirmed.

Magnus let out a low whistle. “How’s Clary?”

“I’m not sure, she sort of ran off. Izzy’s with her, though.”

“You sound stressed,” Magnus noted, the care in his voice obvious, and Alec hated himself. He knew that he should just tell Magnus the truth about the soul sword, that it was best to be honest and open, but he couldn’t drop a bombshell like that over the phone.

“My father visited today, too.” Alec admitted, “it was pretty rough. Not sure how much I’m gonna sleep tonight, honestly.”

“You sure you don’t want to come and sleep here? I don’t mind if you wake me up later.”

“No, it’s okay. Thank you, though.” Alec hated how formal he sounded. He was pushing Magnus away, whether he meant to or not. What was he thinking?!

“If you’re sure,” Magnus replied. Alec could hear the barest hint of worry in his voice.

“I’m sorry, Magnus, I’m just really overwhelmed with everything going on over here. I don’t mean to be weird with you.”

Magnus chuckled softly. “It’s alright, Alexander. I understand. I love you.”

“I love you too,” Alec said, and he meant it so much he felt like he might cry. How the fuck was he meant to keep secrets from Magnus?

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, definitely,” Alec answered, “goodnight.”

After a few kissy sounds into the phone, Magnus hung up, and Alec tossed his phone onto the bed, groaning so loudly that it hurt his throat.

“We don’t have the soul sword,” Alec confessed into the empty room, the words bursting out of him in a wave of guilt as he rubbed his temples. “I’m sorry.”

Chapter Text

It took about an hour for Magnus to swallow his pride and call Ragnor. Though he was doing a lot better now that he’d shared the burden of his past with Alec, he did feel a little lonely with Alec staying at the Institute, and he knew Ragnor would be glad of the company, too. They’d gone out for sushi, sharing their worries about Valentine, about Dot and Cat and Madzie, about the Seelie Queen, and, surprisingly, about Ragnor’s career as a teacher.

“I can’t possibly go back, Magnus, the Clave are more openly hateful of us than they’ve been in centuries,” Ragnor huffed, puffing on a cigarette as they walked back to Magnus’ loft. Both thought it wise to save as much magic as possible just in case of a Valentine-related catastrophe.

“And that’s exactly why you need to go back. You haven’t met Max, Alec and Izzy’s little brother. He is terrified of downworlders. His generation need downworlder role models. Their parents are a lost cause, we both know that, but look at the change that Alec, Izzy and Raj are making here, because you taught them.” Magnus pointed out. They were walking arm in arm, as had been their habit since God-knows-when, and Magnus realised, two hours too late, that they were wearing matching outfits. How humiliating.

“And Aline and Helen,” Ragnor agreed reluctantly.

Magnus nodded, gesturing with his cigarette. “Exactly. Basically everyone who was in that class is fighting alongside us now.”

“But I hate the Clave,” Ragnor groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Can’t you tell your fancy man to overthrow them so I can retire to Monaco, already?”

“I’ll suggest it at the next downworld cabinet,” Magnus replied dryly, rolling his eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Clary, wake up,” Maia whispered, sitting up to shake Clary’s shoulders gently.

Izzy had been kicked awake a few minutes before, and watched with tired, sympathetic eyes as Clary shifted, whimpering in her sleep. “She’s had nightmares before, but not as bad as this.”

“Do you think she’s dreaming about her brother?”

“Fuck!” Clary yelped, jumping awake. She swept her hair out of her face, looking up at Izzy and Maia with confusion. “It was a dream?”

Izzy nodded, reaching for the towel she kept under the bed for these moments and handed it to her. “Your nightmares are getting worse.”

“Yeah,” Clary whispered, pressing the towel to her face. “I keep dreaming that Valentine and Jonathan are coming for me.”

Maia and Izzy looked at each other with worried expressions. “Maybe you should go to a therapist or something.” Maia suggested, “do they have shadowhunter therapists?”

“Their idea of mental health treatment is a lobotomy,” Izzy muttered, which didn’t make Clary feel much better.

“I’ll be okay once we catch them,” Clary insisted, “and I think my nightmare gave me an idea on how we’re going to do it.” She crawled off the bed and went over to Izzy’s wardrobe, pulling out the first pair of jeans she saw. “Is Alec on duty?”

“It’s like 6am,” Maia reminded her, gesturing to the clock.

“He’s probably in his office.” Izzy shrugged, “he cried last night. I’d bet money that he’s working on no sleep to take his mind off it.”

Maia looked at her with an arched eyebrow. “The parabatai thing is seriously creepy, for the record.”

“I’ll be right back,” Clary said breathlessly, raking her hands through her hair. She didn’t look backwards before leaving the room, and Izzy and Maia glanced at each other, moving to get dressed and follow.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I have a lead on Valentine and Jonathan,” Clary announced as she swept into Alec’s office to find him lying on the couch reading from his iPad. As she closed the door he sat up and set the tablet aside, eyebrows furrowing.

“Oh?”

“The JC box we found in my Mom’s loft the first week I was here. Remember, I thought it was from Jonathan Clarke, my father, but we found baby booties in it?”

“Jonathan Christopher,” Alec murmured. “We could use the booties to track your brother.”

“And that could lead us to Valentine,” Clary nodded, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Is Raj awake yet? What did he learn from the journals?”

“I’m still waiting on his report, but he’s due to start his shift any minute. You could swing by his room when you go and get the box.” Alec answered, “but keep it quiet. The mole who tried to get Luke to kill Valentine is still around here somewhere, and I have a nasty feeling that they were working with Jonathan, if they weren’t Jonathan himself.”

Clary swore softly under her breath. “I hadn’t thought of that. You really think Jonathan wants to kill our father that badly?”

“Well, Valentine did burn him alive,” Alec muttered, shaking his head. “I’d be pretty pissed too.”

“Ready and reporting for duty, Sir!” Max trilled as he marched into the office, and Alec glanced up at the clock.

“You’re fifteen minutes early. Good job.” He smiled at his brother, giving Clary a nod to dismiss her. “But you are gonna have to wait until Izzy’s ready for you.”

“Is she taking me out on my first mission?”

Alec shook his head. “She’s still going to be training you, but I am going to be giving you your first mission by the end of the day. So go and limber up, I’ll have Izzy meet you on the roof.”

“Yes, Sir!” Max saluted. Alec watched him go with fondness, remembering his own excitement on his first day of formal duty. He’d been so sure he was ready for it, and he’d been younger than Max. Had he ever been that small? Alec could barely believe it. Max would still be going to the Academy for six months of the year, but now it would be accompanied by six months of ichor-cleaning shifts, chaperoned patrols and shadowing a chosen member of the senior staff for one afternoon a week. Max had chosen Izzy, hoping to spend as much time as possible testing out new weapons.

Part of Alec worried at the ferocity of his little brother; he hadn’t been lucky enough to have had someone like Helen in his class, or a teacher like Ragnor. The only time Max had ever really spoken to a downworlder was at Magnus’ party, and Alec cringed to remember that. He told himself that at one point, he’d also been like that. Hell, he’d had preconceptions about downworlders that he didn’t shake until he started getting to know Magnus. Max still had time to learn and make things right.

“The box is empty,” Clary said, the irritation clear in her voice. Alec looked up to see her, Raj and Maia standing just inside the door. “Someone must have sneaked into my room and taken everything out of it so we couldn’t track Jonathan.”

“Aline is checking camera feeds,” Raj assured Alec as he opened his mouth to suggest that very thing, “but if it’s the mole that worked with Luke, they’ll have looped the cameras like they did that night.”

“Fuck,” Alec cursed, running his hand down his face. “Maia, any scent?”

“Just baby powder,” Maia sighed, “and I’m pretty sure the guy outgrew that about twenty years ago.”

“Maia, I need you to go to Izzy and tell her that I need a prototype of her tracking device in the next few hours. She won’t have her phone, she’s-”

“Training Max up on the roof,” Maia finished, “we just saw Max drag her up there. After that I need to go and check on the pack.”

“No worries, thanks.” Alec fixed Clary and Raj with a stern look once she’d left, closing the door behind her. He waited for a few long seconds, listening to Maia’s steps fade away before finally speaking. “I have another reason for needing Jonathan found quickly. It turns out that they have the soul sword. The Clave have been lying to us and the downworld.”

“What?!”

“Are you kidding?!” Clary seethed, “they need to prepare if they’re facing-”

“He can’t activate it,” Alec assured them, “the sword was never activated, and the angels clearly didn’t want him to activate it, so there’s no immediate danger, but I need you two to find Jonathan and Valentine and retrieve that sword before I am forced to lie to Magnus, and before you’re forced to lie to Maia.”

“You’re not going to tell him?” Raj asked, surprised.

Alec sighed. “I want to tell him. But my duty tells me that I have to keep it a secret from him, so for my sanity’s sake, please get the damn thing back here before I’m forced to make that decision.”

“Magnus might keep it a secret if you told him,” Clary offered, trying to find some kind of compromise, because realistically all three of them knew that they weren’t getting the soul sword back before Magnus and Alec saw each other next. The two could barely cope being apart for twelve hours at a time.

“He wouldn’t be able to keep it to himself, not with his people in danger. And I wouldn’t want him to hide something like that from them.” Alec growled, scrubbing his hands down his face. “Just… Please, I don’t care how you do it, just get the sword back.”

“I think we also need to start looking at measures to find and protect the mirror, as well,” Raj murmured, and Alec let out a groan. “Listen, I know you don’t have time for the angels, but Valentine is a fanatic and you know that he has two out of three instruments now.”

“What are you two talking about?” Clary demanded, putting her hands on her hips.

Alec squeezed his eyes shut hard, and looked up at the ceiling. “There’s a legend that says that when the three mortal instruments are combined, the angel Raziel will appear and grant you a wish.”

“Like a genie?” Clary asked skeptically.

“Exactly like a genie.”

“Nothing like a genie!” Raj insisted, exasperated. “Raziel literally made the shadowhunters, alright, he’s like God’s right hand. Valentine could wish for the end of the downworld and Raziel could just flick his wrist and wipe them all out, just like that. Valentine has two out of the three mortal instruments and no-one has any idea where the third one is. I’m just saying, he’s going to be looking for it. Maybe we should be, too.”

“The mortal mirror has been lost for centuries,” Alec said, a sharp headache starting to form between his eyes.

“The mortal cup was lost too,” Clary reminded him.

Alec really didn’t want to have to worry about a possible angelic wish being granted on top of the soul sword, Max, and everything else, but Raj and Clary were right. “Alright, put the team that read the journals on the mortal mirror, now that job’s over. What did you learn from the journals, any weaknesses?”

“One physical weakness,” Raj explained, “Jonathan is allergic to electrum. The journals report his skin blistering and burning upon contact.”

“I’m guessing there are a bunch of mental weaknesses, then…” Clary mumbled, hesitant to know.

Raj looked at her with a grim expression. “You don’t have to listen to this.”

“I need to know what I’m dealing with if I’m going to be part of this mission,” Clary insisted, and Alec nodded when Raj looked to him for the go-ahead.

“He has bouts of rage triggered by a variety of things, ranging from mentions of his mother to an escaped kill. Valentine reports that the most effective way to motivate him is to promise him human connection. Apparently…” Raj rubbed his arms, his eyebrows furrowing, “the kid just wants to be loved.”

“That’ll make him easy for Valentine to manipulate,” Alec murmured. His feelings about Jonathan had just gotten a lot more complicated, that’s for sure.

Clary folded her arms. “Are we trying to capture him or kill him? Because…”

“Capture.” Alec answered, “we’ll figure out our next move once he’s in custody.”

That sounded good to Clary. Maybe Izzy was right. Maybe Jonathan could be reasoned with, maybe he could be family to her.

~~~~~~~~~~

Raphael always got a little twitchy in the Seelie Realm. His vampiric powers were useless here, and no doubt it was disconcerting to have that stripped from you, especially when surrounded by people you didn’t trust. Magnus counted himself lucky that his own powers were unaffected; he wouldn’t know what to do without his powers.

The two men were waiting for an audience with the Seelie Queen. Luke had been summoned too, but hadn’t turned up. No doubt that would put the Queen in a bad mood, to start.

“Gentlemen,” the Queen said blithely as she emerged from between the trees, and both Magnus and Raphael bowed. “Where is the Alpha Wolf?”

“Luke is tied up searching for Valentine,” Magnus answered, giving Raphael a sharp look to keep him from dropping Luke in it.

“A shame,” the Queen hummed as she sat herself down on her throne. “I will spare you the empty pleasantries. I fear that this proposed downworld cabinet with the shadowhunters will make it easier for them to manipulate the downworld. Already they have begun to wind themselves into our lives like poison ivy-”

“With all due respect, Your Majesty,” Magnus cut in, “the shadowhunters may be more active in our lives, but we are also more active in theirs.”

The Seelie Queen raised her chin, her eyebrow arched. “And yet you and the wolf failed to prevent the New York Institute from microchipping downworlders.”

“That was when the Institute was under enemy leadership. Alexander is committed to improving relations between the downworld and the shadowhunters. He cares about us.”

“He cares about you,” the Queen corrected him, which had Magnus clearing his throat. “Meliorn tells me that he was formerly engaged to be married to the woman who microchipped Maia Roberts in the Hunter’s Moon.”

Raphael spoke up, this time. “It’s well known that Alec broke his engagement to that shadowhunter precisely because she was bigoted. He and his sister have proven themselves to be good allies to us. The cabinet may be bureaucratic and inefficient, but it is an olive branch that we cannot ignore.”

“The time has passed for olive branches, vampire,” the Queen sniffed. “It is time that the downworld takes decisive action and dismantles the Clave once and for all.”

Magnus narrowed his eyes. “That would lead to bloodshed on both sides.”

“Not as much blood as that which the Clave has shed in the centuries that we’ve allowed them to rule us.”

“I hate the Clave,” Raphael said, “but I am not prepared to go to war against the shadowhunters just because you’re getting bored. All due respect.”

“I don’t believe that war with the shadowhunters is the answer either, Your Majesty. Relations are steadily improving and more sympathetic shadowhunters are rising to positions of power. Besides, the shadowhunters train all their lives to be warriors, and the vast majority of downworlders are just regular people, trying to get on with their lives. They aren’t fighters.” Magnus reminded her, “only a handful of warlocks in New York would be able to-”

“Then we will begin to train them.”

Magnus shook his head. “I will not allow you to turn my people into foot soldiers for your political agenda.”

“Have you forgotten that I am shielding your people against Valentine and his Circle at this very moment, warlock?” The Seelie Queen asked coolly.

“And of course you have my gratitude,” Magnus insisted, bowing again, “but if you intend to turn this realm into a training camp then I will gladly take the warlocks back to New York.”

The Queen and Magnus held eye contact for a long moment, Raphael looking between the two of them, the tension in the room growing.

“It seems that you have forgotten who the enemy is, Magnus Bane.” The Queen said, and Magnus looked away. “You have grown soft because of your attachment to the Lightwood boy.”

“Alec saved us all from Valentine,” Raphael reminded the Queen, “if it wasn’t for him, then-”

“That hardly matters when he is also responsible for Valentine escaping,” the Queen dismissed, her eyes still trained on Magnus. “I urge you to remember your people, and the fact that they need your protection. Your little infatuation is clouding your judgement.”

“Whether I was in love with Alexander or not, Your Majesty, I would still not be in favour of war. I fought in too many wars already. I am not keen to rush into another.”

The Seelie Queen hummed. “I urge you to reconsider that position in the coming weeks.”

“I will reconsider,” Magnus allowed, “but I can promise no change in my attitude.”

“I know mind isn’t going to change,” Raphael murmured, though he knew that the Queen wasn’t really interested in his opinion. Magnus, after all, commanded the warlocks, and they would be the most useful in war.

“Then I suppose for today our meeting is over,” the Queen sighed, looking to her Knights. “I warn you both, keep your eyes open and your hearts guarded.”

Magnus nodded, and both he and Raphael bowed before following the Knights out of the throne room.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I’m already good at tracking,” Max complained, eyeing the pigeons with distaste. “Give me something to fight.”

“You’re not going to be fighting anything for a good while yet,” Izzy hummed, picking up a feather from the bottom of the pigeon hut. “And you can never be too good at tracking.”

Max frowned. “Alec says I’m getting a mission today. A real mission.”

Izzy quirked her eyebrow. “He did?”

“Yeah, I hope I get a patrol, I wanna see some action!” Max enthused, pulling his seraph dagger out of its holster and twirling it around his hand.

Izzy stared at Max for a moment, stunned. What was Alec thinking, sending him out into the field with Valentine running around? Max was only twelve! “I’ll be right back,” she muttered, pushing the pigeon feather into Max’s hand and heading down to Alec’s office growing more irritated with every step she took. Alec had put Izzy in charge of training Max, and here he was just steamrolling over her authority!

She didn’t knock at the door of Alec’s office, and found him on the phone. He held up one finger to her when he met her eyes, his face a little tense at the anger on Izzy’s side of the parabatai bond. He wasn’t sure why he was in trouble, but it was evident from Izzy’s expression that he was, very much, in trouble.

The head of the Rome institute had called him to talk about Helen, asking if she could keep Helen on her staff until Helen finished her outreach mission with a small wolf pack that had made the Coliseum their home.

“Of course, yes, there’s no rush. Helen can move whenever she’s ready.” Alec assured his colleague, who he’d forgotten the name of instantly. He really needed to work on his name retention skills.

“Excellent. I’m sure she’ll be with you within a month, but it depends on whether the wolves decide to move on of their own will or whether we’ll have to remove them by force.”

“I understand. Like I said, no rush. Just let me know when you know an exact date and I’ll make she has quarters ready. Thanks very much, bye now.” He put down the phone, and Izzy launched into her tirade.

“You’re putting Max up for a mission? Now?! He’s barely twelve! What are you thinking?! Valentine is out there and he has a vendetta against our family like six different ways! Have you lost your damn mind?!” She shouted, and Alec held up his hands.

“You and I were younger than him when we went on our first missions,” Alec reminded her.

“That was different, we had each other! Max doesn’t have a parabatai to watch his back!”

“But he will have you or one of the other senior shadowhunters with him to make sure that he’s safe. Besides, you trained him. You know better than anyone how good he is with his blades. He’s ready, Iz, and no matter how we might want to protect him, he’s a shadowhunter, and we’re at war.” Alec pointed out. “I’m not going to give him anything dangerous, he’s just going to go on a few easy downworlder-centred missions so he can learn that he has nothing to be fear from them.”

Izzy deflated a little. “Oh. The way he was talking about it I thought you were sending him out on patrol.”

Alec snorted. “Of course not. He’s going with Bloodthorn to check on a vampire on probation for yin fen distribution.”

“You’re sending him to a drug dealer?!”

“Ex drug dealer,” Alec shrugged, “he hasn’t dealt in over thirty years, his parole is about to be up.”

Izzy pursed her lips. “That’s smart.”

“I like to think so,” Alec smirked, “kid’ll think he’s going on a dangerous mission but all he’s gonna do is learn that downworlders are human just like us.”

“Alright,” she relented, a smile appearing on her face, “you really are good at this.”

Alec shrugged one shoulder. “It was Magnus’ idea, I was just as stressed about Max’s first mission as you are.” He glanced up at the clock. “Luke’s due any minute, so-”

“Oh, just the man I need to speak to!” Izzy’s eyes lit up, and she came over to sit on the couch to wait for Luke.

“What do you want with Luke?”

“His sister is the only Iron Sister who isn’t in the Citadel. I could use some of her expertise.” Izzy explained, straightening up when she heard a knock on the door. “Come in!”

“That’s my line,” Alec muttered, but he gave Luke a smile as he walked into the room, getting to his feet to shake Luke’s hand. “Thanks for coming, Luke.”

Izzy looked at Alec inquisitively, which had him sighing, gesturing for her to ask her question first. “Luke, I don’t suppose there’s any way you could put me in touch with Cleophas, could you? I’m working on some new weapons, and I could really use her knowledge.”

“I haven’t spoken to her much,” Luke admitted, “but I’ll try and get a hold of her.”

“Thank you,” Izzy smiled, getting up from the couch to leave Luke and Alec alone. “I really appreciate it.”

Once Izzy was gone, Luke turned to face Alec, his face apprehensive. He had no idea why Alec had called him in; it could be about Simon, about Russell…

“There’s been some new intelligence,” Alec explained, resting his hands on the desk with his fingers curled together as he sat down.

“Oh?” Luke asked, not willing to give anything away until Alec put his cards on the table.

“We believe that Jonathan Christopher Morganstern is alive,” Alec informed him, “and that he was behind your mystery caller the night of the downworld cabinet.”

“What?!” Luke’s eyes bugged out of his head.

Alec nodded. “We have overwhelming evidence that Jonathan was behind Valentine’s escape, and that he’s been holding Valentine. Unfortunately, given Valentine’s manipulative nature, we can only assume that the two of them will join forces sooner or later.”

“But he died, in a fire.” Luke insisted, “Jocelyn said-”

“She wasn’t lying, she didn’t know differently. Valentine sent Jonathan to Edom with a demonic portal and burned the house down to hide the evidence.”

“Alec, that boy is dangerous, you have no idea. I’ve never seen blood gifts like that before, not even in Clary. Things literally died just by being in proximity to him. His blood came from Lilith herself, you have to stop him.”

“We’re doing everything we can to capture him and Valentine,” Alec assured him, “I was just wondering if you knew anything that could help us. Any other places that Jonathan might take Valentine? Any other places of sentiment?”

Luke shrugged, shaking his head. “Apart from the cabin, the only place I can think of is the Morganstern house, but that burned down. I guess Jonathan might take Valentine there, but it seems unlikely, it’s in an Alicante suburb.”

“Alright, thanks anyway.” Alec sighed, leaning back in his chair. “Anything else you want to discuss ahead of our next cabinet meeting?”

Luke hesitated for a moment.

Alec raised his eyebrow. “What is it?”

“I don’t want to get anybody in trouble, but it might be worth putting extra patrols around Russell’s territory. I heard that he’s recruiting.”

“Mundanes?” Alec asked, voice neutral.

“I’m not sure. He called Maia and some of the other wolves in my pack, and said he’s expecting the pack to grow.” Luke explained, “that could mean anything, but…”

“He’s filed half a dozen writs of consent in the past couple of weeks. He’s already turned quite a few mundanes with consent, I had teams check up on the new wolves and they all seemed happy with being turned.” Alec told Luke, “so presumably he’ll turn any new mundanes with the same process.”

“Oh, he filed the paperwork?”

“Yep,” Alec confirmed, reaching for his iPad to show Luke the scans. “All legit. I wouldn’t worry too much. We’re keeping an eye on him, as we do all new downworld leaders, but he seems to be doing everything by the book. If you get wind of that changing, though, you know where I am.”

Luke exhaled slowly, rubbing his hand down his face. “Thank God. Thanks, Alec.”

“Hey, even if Russell was turning mundanes without consent, you’re not responsible for him anymore. Just focus on your pack, you can’t take the entire weight of the world on your shoulders.”

“Says you,” Luke huffed, which made Alec chuckle.

“Mmmm… Maybe one day I’ll take my own advice, huh.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It was special, having a work space that belonged only to Izzy. Not many people in the Institute got their own space like this, and in the autumn Izzy would be given an apprentice, so she intended on making the most of the peace and quiet in her workshop. She could happily tinker for hours, and had; the tracking device was starting to take shape now. Magnus had sent over the spell crystal this morning, so Izzy had spent the day slotting it into the machine and tuning up the instruments.

She was reluctant to look up when she heard a knock at the door, but she was glad to see Maia standing at the door. When she noticed the polystyrene container in Maia’s hand, her stomach growled to remind her that she was late having lunch.

“Hi,” she said, pushing her goggles up her forehead. “What are you doing here?”

“Bringing you and Clary lunch,” Maia shrugged, “but Clary’s out searching for Jonathan.”

Izzy frowned. “Did they get a lead?”

“By the sounds of it she’s just running around hoping for a miracle,” Maia sighed, putting Izzy’s lunch in front of her. “Mac and cheese with bacon. I put Clary’s in the fridge.”

“This’ll be ready in a couple of hours. With any luck, we’ll be able to use it to narrow down the search for Jonathan. If I know Clary, she’s only going to get more frantic. We need to find Jonathan sooner rather than later.” Izzy murmured, opening the container. There was a plastic fork taped to the inside of the lid, and she ripped it off to begin digging into her lunch.

“I get the idea that Alec is putting a lot of pressure on everyone to find him and Valentine quickly,” Maia commented, “makes me wonder if there’s something I don’t know.”

“I think it’s just classic Alec taking responsibility for everything even if it wasn’t his fault.” Izzy shrugged, offering Maia a bite of the mac and cheese. “You know what he’s like.”

Maia hummed and opened her mouth for Izzy to feed her. “True. I can’t imagine how he must feel, being the one to catch him and then lose him… Ouch.” Her eyes fell on Izzy’s tracking device, and her curiosity was piqued. “So how does this thing work?”

“It’s not quite finished yet, but it works kinda like a microscope. I took one of my old ones to use as the basic mechanics, but I replaced the magnification with a spell crystal from Magnus.” Izzy turned it over to reveal the red crystal slotted into the base. “This will read the DNA sequence of the blood put into the slide at the bottom, and glow if there’s someone with a DNA match, aka someone who’s related to whoever gave the drop of blood. Like that ruby necklace Magnus enchanted for Camille, it throbs faster the closer you get to the person you’re looking for.”

Maia let out a low whistle, looking through the augmented microscope. “Iz, this is amazing. How’d you get the idea to use a microscope?”

“I thought about building a telescope, but I figured that would take a long time, and I don’t really have the space.”

“It’s a great idea. Jonathan and Valentine don’t stand a chance.” Maia grinned, and Izzy sighed, hoping that her girlfriend was right. Everything was riding on it.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Sebastian, where the hell are you?!” Raj hissed into his phone, “I’m two seconds away from running from Den to Den looking for you. If you’re struggling you know I’m here. Come talk to me, please. Don’t hide yourself away, we need you here.” He paused for a moment, trying to find the right words to say. “I need you here. Call me back. Love you.”

As he hung up he realised what he’d just said, and his eyes widened as he stared at his phone in horror.

“Oh my God.”

He shook off the shock of just telling a guy who wasn’t even technically his boyfriend yet that he loved him, dismissed the question of whether or not it was true and went hunting for Aline, hoping that Sebastian had at least gotten in touch with her. She was in the ops centre, checking security camera footage on weapons caches across the city.

“Hey,” Raj whispered, glancing around to check that no-one was listening to them, “have you seen or heard from Sebastian?”

“No,” Aline answered, “why? Have you?”

“Not for a couple of days. I’m worried, he didn’t show up for his shift this afternoon, and that’s not like him at all, he’s usually early.”

Aline swallowed hard. “You don’t think he’s relapsed, do you?”

“I think it might be possible,” Raj said grimly, running his hand through his hair. “I’ll go and ask a friend if he’s heard anything. Keep looking for Valentine, I’ll find Sebastian.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Usually, when Alec saw Magnus after a long day, his whole body felt lighter, and everything melted away.

When Magnus appeared at his office door with a gentle knock this time, Alec’s throat closed, and for a heartbeat he wondered if he could just hide under his desk, if Magnus had seen him again, but then he met Magnus’ smiling eyes and realised that he couldn’t wriggle out of this one. He had no idea what was going to come out of his mouth when he opened it, and he pressed his lips together, hoping that he looked happier than he felt.

“I was waiting for you,” Magnus shrugged, sauntering into the room, “and I figured with how hard you’ve been working, you probably haven’t eaten a decent meal in a couple of days.”

Alec looked at the papers on his desk, hands fiddling with them. “I don’t have time to leave the office, I’m sorry.”

“I thought you’d say that,” Magnus hummed, perching on the edge of his desk and waving his hand, making a candelit dinner appear on the table on the other side of the room. Magnus looked over his shoulder at Alec, obviously pleased with himself. “But I found a loophole.”

“That’s sweet,” Alec chuckled nervously, but Magnus must have mistaken it for bashfulness, because he leaned over to kiss Alec’s cheek.

“You hungry?”

Alec was about to say no, please don’t make me lie to you, please just go home so I can hide from you, until his traitorous stomach growled and made Magnus laugh, wandering over to the table. “I guess I am.”

Magnus hummed, pulling the chair out for Alec with a raised eyebrow.

“You’re in a good mood,” Alec observed, the guilt dropping heavier and heavier in his stomach by the second.

“I just want to spoil you, angel,” Magnus insisted, “you’ve been working too hard.”

Alec sat down, fiddling with the navy napkin in front of him. “Oh, I don’t know about that-”

“I do,” Magnus insisted, dropping a kiss onto the top of Alec’s head and moving to take his own seat. “You’ve brought the downworld, or most of the downworld, together for the first time in centuries. You deserve all this and more.”

Alec swallowed hard. He had to tell him. “Magnus, I-”

“Just today the Seelie Queen was going on and on about picking a fight with the Clave, taking advantage of the crisis, typical of her, and-”

“Magnus-”

Magnus was too caught up in his story to notice Alec getting increasingly more uncomfortable, his eyes on his plate. “Talking about starting a downworlder uprising, in the middle of this mess, could you imagine?” He looked up at Alec, who was smiling tightly.

“That would be a disaster.” Alec said, and Magnus nodded, his eyebrows furrowing at the obvious worry on his boyfriend’s face.

“You don’t need to worry, angel, Raphael and I convinced her that you shadowhunters are trustworthy.” Magnus assured him, “so you can focus on bringing down Valentine and Jonathan.” He blinked a few times, suddenly remembering that Alec had been trying to say something. “I’m sorry, I steamrollered right over you. What-”

“Nothing!” Alec replied hastily, smoothing the napkin over his lap. “Just that… You shouldn’t give me too much credit. The cabinet was Izzy’s idea, after all.”

Magnus smiled, and Alec hated himself.

“True,” he allowed, “but you’re leading the shadowhunters into a new era of peace. You’ll catch the Morgansterns in no time, I’m sure, and everything will settle.”

Alec rubbed his forehead. “Can we talk about something else?” He asked quietly, “I’m… Sick of thinking about work.”

“Apologies,” Magnus replied, eyes sparkling in the candlelight, “I have a new cat on my balcony.”

“Oh?” Alec asked, finally tucking into his meal. He was starving, he realised.

“Mmmm. Don’t worry, I checked that she wasn’t a warlock in disguise this time.” Magnus chuckled, “she’s lovely, a tiny springy little tabby, with the most lovely temperament. You’ll love her.”

Alec huffed out a laugh. “You know I’m more of a dog person.”

“Oh, you can tell me that as many times as you like, but I saw you fussing that black cat out there while I was getting us more guacamole the other night.” Magnus teased.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Alec said, shrugging one shoulder, and Magnus laughed.

Alec hated himself for not telling Magnus about the soul sword, but if the Seelie Queen really was trying to convince the downworld to start a rebellion, Alec couldn’t afford to shatter the fragile trust that the cabinet had already built. He just had to keep his mouth shut until the soul sword was back under Clave control, then he could just forget that any of this ever happened and no-one would have to know.

Still, it took everything in him not to just spill his guts to Magnus as he chatted away about the different balcony cats and their particular personalities.

~~~~~~~~~~

Of all the people Simon expected to be knocking his corrugated iron door at sundown, it was not Raj Palani. He looked nervous, and unbelievably cute with a denim jacket on. Simon hadn’t seen anybody in a few days; he’d only opened the door because he’d been expecting a blood supply from Raphael’s boys.

“Hey,” Raj murmured, “are you busy?”

“No,” Simon answered, fidgeting, “why do you ask?”

Raj looked around, biting the inside of his cheek. “I know you got mixed up in that Bleeder Den stuff, and I’m not judging, don’t worry, but I’m worried about Sebastian.”

“What, was he investigating one or something?” Simon asked.

“No, he’s a venom addict, and I’m worried he’s relapsed. Have you heard anything about a shadowhunter in the Bleeder Dens?”

Simon shook his head. “I’m sorry, man, I’m really not into that scene, it was just one night that got way out of hand, and I’m never stepping in one of those things again after what happened to that girl.”

“Yeah, yeah, I can understand that.” Raj sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Okay, well… Can you keep an ear out? I don’t know any other vampires as well as I know you.”

“You barely know me, we just kissed that one time,” Simon pointed out impulsively, “not that I mind! Sorry, that came out wrong.”

Raj huffed out through his nose. “Yeah, you’re right, you don’t owe me anything. I’m just... Freaking out a little.”

“It’s no trouble, really,” Simon insisted, “I’ll ask around, okay? Sebastian Verlac, right?”

“Yeah, Verlac. Blond, British, skinny, piercing blue eyes. You still have my number?” Raj checked.

“Actually…” Simon scratched the back of his neck. “I lost the cell phone with your number that night in the whole warlock drama… It’s why I didn’t call.”

“Oh.” That was a surprise to Raj, who’d just assumed that Simon wasn’t interested in him. “Well… Do you have a new phone?”

Simon nodded, darting into his room to grab it. “Just type in your number and I’ll do my best not to lose this one.”

Raj quickly typed in his phone number and handed it back to Simon. “Thank you for this. It means a lot.”

“No worries, I’ll let you know if I hear anything.”

“Thanks, Simon.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Will you please sit still? You look like something’s crawling up your ass,” Maia muttered to Luke, passing him a bottle of beer from the cooler behind the bar, “she’s your sister, not a shax demon.”

“I’d rather be having dinner with a shax demon,” Luke grumbled.

“Then why are you doing it?” Maia asked as she worked on making cocktails for a couple of Seelies just down the bar.

Luke shrugged. “Izzy asked for her help.”

“Ah, say no more,” Maia smiled, “no-one can deny Izzy Lightwood anything. Plus with that thing you have going on with her Mom-”

“I don’t have anything going on with her Mom!” Luke insisted hotly.

“Ouch, struck a nerve there, I think.”

“Because that’s all anybody wants to grill me about these days!” Luke replied, “Maryse this, Maryse that, when are you seeing Maryse again? How’s Maryse doing? Did you buy those new shoes to impress Maryse?”

Maia leaned over the bar to look at his shoes, which was, admittedly, fancier than Luke’s usual beaten up boots. “Did you?”

“No!” Luke insisted, exasperation in his voice, “I got a raise at work and I thought I’d treat myself.”

“That’s cute,” Maia offered, “I’m glad you’re looking after yourself.”

Luke shrugged, taking a swig of his beer. “I’m actually sort of feeling human again. Though I don’t know how long that’s gonna last after Cleophas shows up.”

“Speaking of which…” Maia murmured, “she’s here. Look.”

Luke swivelled around on the bar stool to see Cleophas striding purposefully towards him, her hood pulled up and her eyes wide. “Hey-”

“We have to speak. In private.” She whispered, eyes darting around the wolves hanging out in the Hunter’s Moon.

“What is it?” Luke asked as he led her to the back room. He noticed that her hands were trembling as she took down her hood.

“Valentine came to me, he found my safe house.”

“What?!”

“I’m alright,” Cleophas assured him, “obviously, but… Lucian, he has the soul sword. He wanted me to help him activate it.”

Luke shook his head. “No, the Clave have the soul sword. How would Valentine have the soul sword?”

“The Clave lied,” Cleophas hissed, “I’m telling you, he has it. It was lucky that he believed my lie that it was permanently deactivated by the Lightwood boy’s false touch.”

“So... Wait. Valentine has the soul sword and it could be activated again?” Luke said slowly, his mind reeling. Had Clary and the Lightwoods been lying to him all this time?

Cleophas shook her head. “I convinced him that because Alexander Lightwood was not the subject of the prophecy, the angels closed off the sword’s power. But he can still use it to raise the angel, I couldn’t convince him otherwise.”

“Does everyone in the Clave know?”

“I don’t know, Lucian, I haven’t spoken to the Clave since I left the Citadel.”

“I have to go,” Luke announced. He had to tell Magnus and Raphael about this. Magnus.

He stopped short when he realised that Magnus might already know. Would Alec keep something like from him? Had Magnus been lying too? Is that why Magnus had sent the warlocks to the Seelie Realm?

One way or another, Luke was going to find out.

~~~~~~~~~~

By the time Clary got back to the Institute, she was ready for a shower and a twelve hour sleep. Her search had been absolutely useless; the weapons caches were all still in tact, so odds were Jonathan and Valentine weren’t even in New York. They could be anywhere.

She was pleased and worried when she saw Dot sitting on the steps of the Institute, looking down at something on her arm. Dot didn’t notice her until she was a few steps away, and though she smiled when they made eye contact, Clary could tell that something was very wrong.

“What’s going on? Cat and Madzie okay?” Clary checked, giving Dot a hug once she’d gotten to her feet.

Dot nodded. “Yeah, both safe and sound. It’s not about them. It’s about the mortal mirror.”

Clary recognised the name of the third, missing mortal instrument, and waved Dot inside the Institute. “Come on, I’ll take you to Alec.”

“Alec can’t be trusted with this,” Dot insisted, taking Clary’s arm. “We can’t trust the Clave with the third mortal instrument.”

“If we don’t let Alec in on this, Valentine is going to hunt you and he’s not gonna stop until he gets it.” Clary muttered, “Alec doesn’t trust the Clave either, we can use him.”

Dot looked at Clary, doubt clear in her face. Clary squeezed her hands.

“We can trust Alec.” She promised. “Trust me. I trust him.”

“Alright,” Dot relented, letting Clary lead her towards Alec’s office, “but he has to swear to keep the mirror’s location a secret from the Clave.”

“You can talk that out with him,” Clary replied, knocking on Alec’s door.

“Come in!” Alec called. Dot looked nervous, but Clary gave her an encouraging nod.

“This is Magnus’ boyfriend too, you know that. He’s not like the other politicians.”

Dot stepped into the office, giving Alec a small smile as she and Clary went to sit on the chairs in front of Alec’s desk. “I have the location of the mortal mirror,” she told him, and Alec’s eyebrows rose.

“And you’re willing to share it with us?” Alec asked.

“I need to retrieve it and make sure it stays out of Valentine’s hands,” Dot insisted, “Valentine must not get his hands on it.”

Alec nodded. “Agreed.”

“She doesn’t want you to give it to the Clave.” Clary interjected, “we’ll have to keep it here, can you promise that?”

Alec looked between the two women, weighing his options. “I can agree to keeping the mirror here while Valentine is in the wind. But once Valentine is dead or in Clave custody…”

“Okay, I guess that’s fair,” Dot agreed. “Jocelyn tracked down the mortal mirror right after Clary was born, and hid it somewhere in the city. She gave the map to a warlock called James-”

“James, the guy who worked at the shop when I was a kid?” Clary checked, and Dot nodded. “He left to open his own bookshop.”

“He distanced himself to keep us safe,” Dot explained. “Anyway, he had the location of the mirror. And now…” She swallowed hard. “I think something’s happened to him, because the location has passed to me.”

“What do you mean passed to you?” Alec asked, leaning forward in his chair.

Dot rolled up her sleeve to reveal what looked like a tattoo. “This is a map of the ley lines running through the city. The intersections mark different locations, and the mirror is hidden at one of these places.”

“How many possibilities?”

“Three,” Dot answered, looking more closely at the tattoo.

Alec nodded. “What do you need? Maps?”

“I could get them from Magnus, but if you have them…”

“Of course, we have them in our library,” Alec assured her, “we’ll give you all the resources we can, and I’ll restrict access to you and this mission. Last thing we need is someone blabbing to the Clave. I’ll have Raj guard you while you work, and Aline and Clary can go and check on this James. We’ll do everything we can.”

Dot’s face looked grim, and she took Clary’s hand when she went to get up. “If I have the location it means that James is dead. Prepare yourself, Clary.”

Clary nodded, swallowing hard. James hadn’t been around as much after he opened his store when she was nine, but he’d been like an Uncle to her before that. He always had gum and he always had time to listen to her rant about the elementary school drama of the week. “I’ll put him to rest,” she promised.

“Raj and Aline are on their way,” Alec murmured. “I’m sorry for your loss, Dot.”

“Thank you, Alec.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary had tried her best to ready herself for the mission to James’ shop, but nothing could have prepared her to see James’ shop smashed to pieces. The front was completely blown away, and the books were shredded and scattered everywhere. Aline patted her on the back as she stood there looked at it.

“Are you good to do this?” She checked, and Clary nodded.

“Yeah, I owe him and Dot that much.” Clary insisted. Together the two women stepped through the debris into the shop, picking through the paper and glass. Despite knowing that James was dead, she let out a gasp when she saw him sprawled on the floor, blood pooled around him.

Aline crossed to his side and rolled him over, her eyebrows furrowing as she looked into his face. “I’ve seen this before.”

“What happened to him?”

“This is a warlock suicide spell. He did this to himself.” Aline’s eyes raked over James’ body. “Look, he was tied up. And these cuts came from a seraph dagger, the edges are singed.”

Clary swallowed hard. “So he was tortured and killed himself to escape the pain?” She felt like she was going to be sick.

“Looks like,” Aline said quietly. “I’ll call Magnus, we’ll make sure he gets a proper warlock funeral.”

“Valentine tried to get the location of the mirror but James wouldn’t give it up…” Clary folded her arms, looking around at the shop so she didn’t have to look at James’ body. She spotted a pot of flowers that was, strangely, untouched, but the flowers had wilted and shrivelled up. It was like the life had just drained out of them, even the colour faded to a dark grey. It seemed familiar. “Wait…”

“What is it?” Aline asked, her phone to her ear.

Clary shook her head. “My Mom told me about this. This is what happened with my brother, when he walked past them, they died just like this.”

“So you think Jonathan was here?”

“He must have been,” Clary said softly, her thumb brushing the wilted flowers. “We were right. Valentine’s manipulated him.”

“Magnus, hi.” Aline stepped away to speak to him, leaving Clary to wonder exactly how she felt about her older brother, Jonathan.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I think this is going to be the best one,” Dot murmured, spreading the map in her hands across the table in front of her. Raj nodded, his hands tangled together behind his back. “What do you think?”

“Whatever you think is right; I don’t know anything about ley lines.” He admitted, “I’m mostly here to make sure no-one disturbs you.”

“Right,” Dot murmured, looking at the maps. She wished Magnus was here.

At the sound of someone opening the door behind them, Raj swirled around with his seraph blade drawn, barely missing Sebastian’s face as he rushed into the room. When he realised that it was Sebastian and not some rogue shadowhunter, Raj lowered his seraph blade and threw himself into the other man’s arms, squeezing him tightly.

“I was so worried about you,” he hissed, pressing his face into Sebastian’s neck. “Where the hell have you been?!”

Sebastian closed his eyes, relaxing a little in Raj’s hold, and hugged him back. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, his knuckles going white with how hard he clung to the back of Raj’s shirt. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, just…” Raj pulled back, cupping Sebastian’s face. “Are you okay?”

There was a moment of hesitation, Sebastian searching Raj’s eyes. “I don’t know.”

“Is it yin fen?”

Sebastian swallowed hard, his eyes darting to Dot, and nodded. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Raj soothed, running his fingers through Sebastian’s hair. “It’s okay, relapses are a part of recovery. I’m here for you.”

“I’m sorry.” Sebastian said once again, stepping into Raj’s space for another hug.

“Guys!” Clary ran into the room, eyes wide. “We were right. Valentine is manipulating Jonathan. We have to save him.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy watched Max from her perch up on the canoes in Simon’s flat at the pier. He’d let her use it for Max’s latest training lesson, but he couldn’t be there, something about clan politics, so she’d asked Maia to be their target. Max was slowly circling the room, his head tilted to the side to listen carefully for signs of Maia. He was holding a glow in the dark lightsaber instead of a seraph blade to avoid accidents. The boathouse was lit only by its green glow, and Maia was hiding just under where Izzy was perched, breathing as quietly as she could.

“Keep your guard up, Max, she could be anywhere,” Izzy reminded him, and Max raised his back arm, holding it closer to his face.

Maia snuck out from her hiding place and crept around and behind Max, holding her breath as she approached. Max stepped forward, away from Maia, and she pounced. He turned before she could grab him and poked her in the stomach with the lightsaber.

“You don’t know the power of the dark side!” Maia croaked, slowly and dramatically lowering herself to the floor. Max huffed out a laugh as Izzy turned the lights back on. Maia stayed still, playing dead, and Izzy giggled.

“Alright, Meryl, I’ll get you your Oscar, we get it.” She teased, and Maia sat up, her eyes glinting with humour.

“How was that?”

“It was good,” Izzy smiled, looking at Max. “You pretended not to notice her coming behind you and used it to your advantage. Much better.”

Max puffed up with pride. “We gonna go again?”

“No way,” Maia answered, “I’m starving, we need to eat. Give yourself a break, kiddo, you earned it.”

“I guess,” Max shrugged, tossing the lightsaber aside. “Who’s paying?”

Both Maia and Izzy laughed, Izzy putting her arm around Max’s shoulders and pulling him towards the Jade Wolf.

~~~~~~~~~~

After his Skype meeting with the Clave, Alec decided to swing by the library to see if Dot and Raj had had any luck figuring out where the mortal mirror was. When he saw the number of people gathered there he squared his shoulders, annoyance rising in him.

“I only authorised Raj to be in here with Dot,” he gritted out, looking between Clary and Sebastian. “You should be briefing me,” he told Clary, before turning his attention to Sebastian. “And you should be writing a report to explain why exactly you haven’t shown up for shift for the last few days.”

“Aline is on her way to your office, she must have gotten caught up with Magnus,” Clary explained hastily. “Jonathan is being manipulated by Valentine, and we need to help him.”

“And Sebastian had to take a few mental health days,” Raj answered, putting his hands on his hips. “You understand that, don’t you?”

Alec looked at Sebastian, who couldn’t meet Alec’s eyes. “Both of you, out. I’ll give you your orders once I’m done here.”

“The deal was that Clary helps me find the mirror,” Dot reminded him, and Alec sighed.

“Fine, then Sebastian, out.” He amended, looking at Raj as Sebastian filed out of the room.

“Why are you acting like we can’t trust him?” Raj demanded. “He saved me from Azazel!”

“Because this is a highly sensitive matter that only senior staff can know about.” Alec insisted, his tone leaving no room for debate. “It’s not personal.”

Raj didn’t like it, but he didn’t argue. Dot had been holding her breath while the two men argued, but she let it out when Raj backed down. She didn’t know the British guy, and she was glad that Alec was more concerned with her safety than his feelings.

“I’ve got the right map, we’re just working on finding the right intersections. We have the first one. It’s just going to take a little more time to get the other two possibilities.”

~~~~~~~~~~

The banging on the door would have put Magnus on edge if it wasn’t for the fact that he’d sensed Luke coming through his wards moments before. He opened the door with raised eyebrows, and Luke pushed past him into the loft.

“Did you know?” He demanded, hands on his hips.

Magnus looked at him in confusion. “Know…?”

“About the soul sword?”

“What about the soul sword?” Magnus asked, going back towards his apothecary, where he’d been working on a spare spell crystal for Isabelle’s tracking invention.

Luke grabbed Magnus’ arm, his eyebrows furrowed. “The Clave don’t have the soul sword. Did you know?”

“What are you talking about, of course they have the soul sword.” Magnus scoffed. “There’s no way Alexander would keep something like that from me.”

“I talked to Cleophas. Valentine came to her, with the sword, and asked her to activate it.”

Magnus blinked very quickly, his mind reeling. “She must be lying.”

“Why would she lie about that? Come on, Magnus.” Luke scoffed, “you said it yourself, the shadowhunters can’t be trusted.”

“Alec wouldn’t lie to me about this. Just last night…” He felt sick, all of a sudden, and grabbed for his coat. “I have to go and talk to him.”

“What are we going to do, Magnus? He has two of three mortal instruments! He thinks the soul sword’s nuke powers are dead, but-”

“I’m going to see Alexander.” Magnus said flatly, “I’ll be in touch.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“So you’re like Alec?” Max asked, his mouth full of noodles.

Izzy wrinkled her nose. “Don’t talk with your mouth full. And you can’t just ask people things like that.”

“It’s fine,” Maia shrugged, picking a pea out of her fried rice. “Yeah, I’m trans, like your brother.”

Max gulped down his food, holding up his hand, which made Maia laugh. “I’ve never met a trans girl before. Alec is the only trans person in the whole Clave.”

“That we know of,” Izzy reminded him, and Max hummed in agreement.

“Right.”

“Well, there’s a bunch of us in the downworld.” Maia explained, “we’re a family.”

Max nodded thoughtfully. “That’s cool. You should introduce them to Alec, he needs friends. He never goes out. He’s a nerd.”

Izzy giggled, and Maia smirked. “Alec hangs out with Magnus most of the time now.” Maia told him.

“Oh, yeah.” Max looked down into his noodles, his cheek resting on his hand, and his elbow on the table. “I don’t know about Magnus.”

“Why not? He’s awesome,” Izzy replied, her eyebrows furrowed.

“He’s like a God,” Max said quietly, “he could rip Alec’s head off on accident.”

“Max,” Maia chuckled, “Magnus might be powerful, but he’s not THAT powerful. He’s a really sweet guy, and he loves your brother very much. You have nothing to worry about.”

“Yeah, Magnus would never hurt Alec, Max. Just like Maia would never hurt us.” Izzy assured him. “Maybe the five of us should go and play pool sometime. Magnus has loads of cool stories that you’d like. He even knew Will Herondale.”

Max’s eyes grew wide. “And Tessa Gray?”

“Yep,” Izzy confirmed.

“Okay, that’s pretty cool,” Max admitted, glancing at Maia. “But still not as cool as turning into a wolf whenever you want.”

Maia laughed. “Well, yeah, nothing’s as cool as that. Everyone knows werewolves are the coolest downworlders.”

“I wish Alec had dated a werewolf,” Max grumbled, and Maia and Izzy looked at each other. Izzy had a question in her eyes, and Maia shrugged and nodded.

“Well, Alec’s not dating a werewolf, but…” Izzy steeled herself, “I am.”

“Clary’s a werewolf?”

“No,” Izzy murmured, feeling her cheeks heat up a little. “Maia is.”

Max looked between the two women with confusion. “But…”

“Me, Izzy and Clary are all dating each other,” Maia shrugged, “it’s a lot to get your head around, but-”

“You have two girlfriends?” Max’s mouth hung open as he looked at Izzy.

Izzy nodded, shovelling some rice into her mouth to stall. “Yeah,” she answered after she’d chewed and swallowed, “we’re all dating each other.”

“Don’t you get jealous?”

“No, not at all,” Izzy answered, “we all care about each other, and we trust each other to be open and honest.”

Max looked at Maia again, shaking his head a little. “I can’t even get one girlfriend.”

Maia and Izzy burst into giggles, and Max pouted, wrinkling his nose as he went back to eating his noodles.

~~~~~~~~~~

Once she’d seen Max to his quarters and told him the plan for the next day’s training, Izzy walked back to her workshop, hoping to put the finishing touches to her tracking device before turning in. When she walked in, she stepped on something that crunched underfoot, and when she looked down her stomach dropped.

The charmed crystal was in pieces on the ground, and further into the workshop she spotted pieces of metal and glass. Her tracking device was no longer on the table, and Izzy felt the hairs on her arms stand up as she put two and two together.

Someone had smashed her tracking device. Someone in the Institute was helping Valentine. Was it Jonathan?

Izzy hurried to look for Alec, hoping that he hadn’t gone home yet.

~~~~~~~~~~

Alec stayed with Raj, Clary and Dot to help them organise the maps. The faster they got their hands on the mortal mirror, the better, after all. The four of them were crowded around the biggest table in the library, tracing ley lines to the last intersection. When they found it, Clary gasped and did a little hop.

“I know this place! This is the park where Mom used to take me as a kid! We spent loads of time there, she took me there to draw every weekend. This has to be it, she stayed close to this park to make sure no-one had come looking for the mirror!” Clary explained, her finger on the map.

Alec nodded. “Alright, Raj, take Clary and Dot to retrieve the mirror. Dot, can you portal back? It’ll be safer than trying to cross the city with the mortal instrument.” He knew she’d had trouble with her magical stamina since being imprisoned by Valentine.

“Yes, I have enough magic for a few portals, it won’t be a problem.” Dot assured him, putting on her cardigan.

“I’ll make sure that Aline has a vault ready for you when you come back,” Alec promised.

He let the others file out before him, and headed towards the vaults where Aline was working. His office was on the way and he dropped into it to grab his iPad to check his emails. At first he didn’t notice Magnus sitting in his chair, and when he did look up to see Magnus watching him he jumped out of his skin, clutching his chest.

“Oh my God! Magnus,” Alec chuckled, shaking his head. “You scared the crap out of me!” He rummaged around the desk looking for his iPad, and Magnus conjured it into his hands. “Oh, thanks.”

Magnus didn’t say anything, and Alec looked at him again. He’d never seen that look on Magnus’ face before, and he realised with a sick feeling in his stomach that the emotion in Magnus’ eyes was heartbreak. “You lied to me.”

Alec’s throat immediately closed up. “Magnus-”

“How long have you known?” He demanded, his jaw set. “How long have you been lying to me?!” He threw a memo from Robert down onto the desk that urged Alec to use his knowledge of the soul sword to his advantage.

“Only a couple of days.” Alec murmured, looking down at the ground. “I wanted to tell you, but then you started saying all those things about the Seelie Queen wanting to start an uprising, and-”

“Oh, so this is my fault?!”

No!” Alec insisted, shaking his head. “It’s mine, and I know it was wrong. I hated it, I couldn’t sleep. I hated hiding this from you, but I couldn’t risk a downworlder uprising, not now.”

Magnus scoffed. “So you lied to me to maintain your power? That makes it ten times worse, Alec!”

“It wasn’t like that, it was my father’s idea to-”

“You told me that I could tell you anything. You told me, you swore to me that we wouldn’t keep secrets from each other anymore. You looked me in the eye and lied.”

Alec shook his head. “I didn’t want to. I was just following-”

“Orders.” Magnus laughed humourlessly, his eyes dark as flint. “I thought you were different. I thought that I could trust you.”

“You can, you can, don’t say that.” Alec begged, going down to his knees in front of where Magnus was sitting, his hands grasping the arms of the chair. “Please, this was a mistake, but we can fix this.”

Magnus looked away, his jaw clenched against the emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. “You’re just like your parents.” He batted Alec’s hands out of the way and stood, sweeping out of the room before Alec could respond.

Those parting words hit Alec like a sledgehammer to the chest, and he stayed where he knelt on the floor for a few seconds, fighting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm him. He closed his eyes to centre himself. He had a job to do. His heart was crumbling to ash, but Valentine had to be stopped. The mirror had to be protected. Alec clawed past the pain and took a dozen deep breaths, forcing his emotions back and shutting them off.

He got to his feet slowly, rubbing his hand down his face. As he straightened up, he saw Izzy rushing in the door. When he met her eyes, the dam holding back his heartbreak burst, and he brought his hands up to his face.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Izzy rushed around the desk to take Alec’s shoulders in her hands. “What’s wrong?”

“Magnus,” Alec gasped out, “he ended it.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Rajesh!”

Clary and Raj turned around at the sound of Sebastian’s voice to see him jogging down the corridor towards them. They waited for him to catch up and fall into step with them, though Raj knew Alec wouldn’t like it.

“We can’t bring you with us on the mission,” Raj told him after a moment of hesitation.

“I know,” Sebastian assured him, looking at his feet. “I just wanted to say goodbye before you went.”

“We’ll be fine,” Clary promised, “it’s just a retrieval mission.”

Sebastian shrugged. “I’ve barely seen you the last few days. I just wanted to say,” he took Raj’s elbow, “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and I won’t forget it. Both of you.”

Raj smiled, kissing Sebastian softly. “I’ll be fine. I’ll see you in an hour, alright? Stay safe.”

“Yeah, don’t worry, Sebastian, no-one knows where we’re going.” Clary added, “not even you.”

Sebastian nodded. “I know. I don’t know why I’m worried,” he sighed, shaking his head. “See you when you get back.”

Clary gave him a quick hug before they went to catch up with Dot. As she cast the portal, Clary went to tie up her hair, but the tie she kept on her wrist had disappeared. She cursed the cheap dollar store brand she used and just tossed her red hair over her shoulders as the three of them stepped through the portal, Raj and Clary holding onto Dot’s hands.

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus wasn’t sure whether he wanted to throw up, cry or kick something.

Over and over again, the little moments that he and Alec had shared over the past few days played in his mind as he strode through New York City, too worked up to make a portal.

“No more secrets,” Alec’s voice echoed in his mind, his big brown eyes soft and beseeching, “it’s too stressful.”

Magnus scoffed out loud, his eyes stinging. How could he have been so naive? How could he have, for one moment, thought that he could trust a shadowhunter? How had he convinced himself that it was safe to let his guard down for a Lightwood?

By the time he got to the loft, Magnus had steered his hurt into the direction of angry, and he flung the door open with his magic only to see Luke and Ragnor waiting pensively in the hallway. Magnus made eye contact briefly with Ragnor before looking away and snatching up the hat rack by the door, swinging it into the wall so hard that it shattered. He looked around for something to throw, shoulders heaving with outrage, and Ragnor rushed forwards to hold him back.

“Junior,” Ragnor breathed, shaking him a little. “Stop this. It’s no good trashing the place.”

Magnus sniffed, trying to pull away. “Let me go.” The pain was creeping up on him, and he knew if he didn’t get back to breaking things soon, the anger was going to give way to crying.

“Magnus,” Ragnor murmured, holding Magnus’ face in his hands. “Look at me.”

With great hesitation, Magnus met Ragnor’s eyes. “He betrayed me.”

“I know,” Ragnor said quietly, wiping away the tear tracks on Magnus’ face. “I know, darling. But you know what I’m going to say.” When Magnus huffed and looked down, Ragnor moved his hands to Magnus’ shoulders. “It’ll all come out-”

“In the wash,” Magnus recited, his vision starting to blur. Ragnor hugged him, and Magnus clutched at the back of his velvet blazer, burying his face in the shoulder of his oldest friend.

“I don’t like it,” Luke piped up, his hands on his hips, “but I think we all know what we have to do.”

“The Seelie Queen,” Magnus whispered as his hug with Ragnor broke, rubbing his eyes and for once not giving a damn about his eyeliner. “We need her help.”

Luke nodded grimly. “I’m sorry that it went down this way, Magnus.”

Magnus shook his head. “I’m glad you told me, Lucian. I appreciate it.”

“I’m sorry that I suspected that you knew. I just couldn’t believe that Alec would bare faced lie to you like that.” Luke muttered. “I thought you two were-”

“Evidently his status as Head of the Institute is more important to him than our relationship,” Magnus said, his voice rough. “It shouldn’t surprise me. No-one’s ever put me first, I should’ve known better than to-”

“He loves you, Magnus, don’t doubt that for a moment,” Luke insisted, and Ragnor nodded in agreement. “He’s just a stupid kid who made a stupid mistake.”

“A stupid mistake that could put the entire downworld in jeopardy,” Ragnor pointed out, “but yes, I don’t believe he’d do this out of spite.”

“It hardly matters what his intentions or feelings are,” Magnus gritted out, “what matters is finding the bloody soul sword before Valentine manages to use it.”

“Cleophas managed to convince Valentine that he wouldn’t be able to activate it. Something about offending the angels by interpreting the prophecy wrong,” Luke explained, “in order to do anything with it, Valentine believes that he’ll need the mortal mirror. He’s probably going to try to raise the angel.”

“Please don’t tell me that Jocelyn had the mirror,” Ragnor groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Luke grimaced, and Magnus and Ragnor sighed. “She never told me where it was, but a warlock called James was entrusted with its location.”

“I got a fire message right before you got here,” Magnus said quietly, looking at Luke. “A warlock called James was murdered by Valentine. The Institute has his body, they’re holding it for me until I make the arrangements for his funeral.”

“If James is dead, then it would have passed to another warlock,” Luke told them.

“But who?” Ragnor asked.

Magnus thought about it for a moment, and then when he realised, his eyes slipped closed. “Dorothea.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“It must be in this statue,” Dot murmured, checking her arm again.

Clary looked up at the angel statue in wonder, the nostalgia hitting her hard. The statue sat in the middle of a fountain, and every week, without fail, Jocelyn would bring Clary here and let her make a wish in the fountain. She’d say that the angel was watching over Clary, making sure she was well-behaved and worked hard in school.

“How do we get it out?” Raj asked, “I don’t see a mirror anywhere on it.” He put his hands on his hips as he walked around the statue, his eyebrows furrowed. “Do we even know what this thing looks like?”

“I found it,” Clary murmured, climbing into the fountain. When she was a child, before she learned to use the Sight that her shadowhunter blood afforded her, she saw a harp in the angel’s hand. Now she saw a goblet. As she stepped through the water, she saw that the base of the goblet wasn’t made of stone like the rest of the statue, but dark grey metal. A quick unlock rune to the bottom and it came off in her hand.

The mirror was a little dirty, but after a quick swill in the water of the fountain it reflected the light from the lamp posts above them. Raj let out a low whistle.

“Good eyes, Fray.”

“It’s so small,” Dot marvelled, “I expected it to be bigger.”

It was true; the mortal mirror was only the size of a pocket vanity. Clary could only see half her face in it when she turned it towards herself. Dot and Raj helped her step out of the fountain, and Clary shook her legs off the best she could.

“Alright, let’s get back to the Institute.” Clary couldn’t wait to tell Alec and Aline the good news; they’d needed a win, and now they had one.

As they turned to leave, Clary heard a thud, like something blunt hitting something strong, and before she knew what was happening, Raj crumpled to the ground at her feet. She swung around to see a figure with his arm outstretched like he’d thrown something, and her eyes grew wide as she realised she was looking upon her brother, Jonathan.

His skin had been almost entirely seared away; every inch of him looked raw, a deep brownish red. She could only imagine how painful it was for him even to move. He marched towards them with purpose, his eyes flat black, and Clary shoved the mortal mirror into her back pocket.

“Jonathan!” She cried, holding up her hands, trying to reach out to him. “You don’t have to do this, you don’t have to fight with Valentine. Please.”

He clearly didn’t expect her to show him compassion, because he stopped dead two paces away from her, his eyes flitting in a second to a piercing green.

“You’re my brother,” Clary continued, her eyes flooding with unshed tears, “I know you don’t want to hurt me.”

“If I don’t bring him the mortal mirror, he will kill me,” Jonathan reminded her, his hands flexing. “And you aren’t going to give it to me.”

“Come with us,” Clary urged, “we’ll protect you. I promise, we won’t let Valentine hurt you.”

For a moment, Jonathan stood there with his mouth slightly open. His face was hard to read, but his shoulders shifted downwards in such a way that Clary’s heart leapt with hope. He was relaxing.

The next thing she knew she was falling backwards, landing on solid stone. She looked around and saw that she was back at the Institute, Dot sprawled next to her and panting. The portal that Dot had pulled her through closed, and Clary jumped to her feet.

“He was listening to me! We could have saved him!” Clary shouted, tears finally falling. “You should have let me talk to him!”

“We had to make sure the mirror was safe,” Dot insisted, looking up at Aline, who’d been waiting for them by the doors. “The vault ready?”

“It is,” Aline confirmed with a nod.

~~~~~~~~~~

The first thing Raj felt was cold. As he woke up, he curled up a little tighter, his mind scrambling to remember how he came to be lying down in the cold. An angered shout brought him around, and he scrabbled for his seraph blade, only to watch it be kicked away by a shiny, skinless foot. He looked up, blinking a few times to clear the dizziness, to see someone who was unmistakably a demon.

“Jonathan,” Raj whispered, swallowing hard.

“Yes,” he answered, his green eyes unreadable.

Raj shifted backwards, and Jonathan followed him. “Listen, man,” he murmured, raising his hand to the back of his head and feeling one hell of a bump there, “just be quick, yeah?”

“Quick?”

“When you kill me.” Raj choked out, hating himself for the way his voice wavered. “Just be quick about it, like Mayweather.”

“I didn’t want to kill Mayweather,” Jonathan insisted, “but it was necessary.”

Raj frowned. “Is it necessary to kill me?”

“Maybe,” Jonathan admitted, his voice raspy but soft. “But I…” He stepped forward until Raj was pressed against the wall of the fountain. “I have to take the risk.”

“What risk?”

“Goodbye, Rajesh.”

Jonathan threw a ball of dark red magic at him, and Raj’s head flopped backwards against the fountain, eyes fallen closed in sleep. He knelt over the unconscious man, slipped Raj’s phone out of his pocket and kissed the top of Raj’s head like he’d done dozens of times before. “Forgive me,” Jonathan asked quietly, taking off his jacket and lying it over Raj before opening a portal back to the Institute.

Chapter Text

The first place that Clary went once she’d gotten the mirror to Aline and her elite guards was Alec’s office. She burst in to see not Alec but Sebastian sitting in there, his legs crossed casually.

“Have you seen Alec?” Clary demanded, flicking her hair out of her face.

Sebastian blinked at her for a moment, seemingly out of a reverie, and shook his head. “I was just waiting for him myself, actually.”

Right as he said it, both of their phones started buzzing in their pockets. Clary glanced at it and sighed in relief to see the shadowhunter symbol flashing on her screen. “He must have heard that Aline has the mirror.”

“She does?” Sebastian asked, getting up to join Clary in walking to the ops centre.

“Yeah, we just retrieved it. We ran into my brother…” Clary said quietly, her eyebrows pinched.

“What did you make of him?” Sebastian pressed, his voice tight.

Clary sighed, glancing up at him. “I know he’s done terrible things, and that you probably think I’m insane to even think about giving him a chance. But I know how Valentine can get under your skin and turn you into something you’re not. I just… I want to give him a chance. I feel like maybe there’s a hope there, that he could become good.” She scoffed, pushing her hair out of her face.

“I found this on the ground in the corridor,” Sebastian offered, holding out Clary’s favourite hair tie.

“Thanks,” Clary smiled, tying her hair up out of her face. “What do you think? Do you think we should give Jonathan a chance?”

Sebastian exhaled through his teeth. “It isn’t my place, but…” He shrugged one shoulder, his cheeks a little pink. “I think if I had a sister, I’d want her to be as compassionate as you.”

Clary felt it again, that little impulse in the back of her mind, that push back against the familiarity that Sebastian had had with her from day one. Like he knew something about her that she didn’t. It was unsettling, but she had no real reason to be unsettled by such a compliment. “Thanks,” she nodded, glad that they’d reached the ops centre so she had a reason to finish the conversation.

“We are in possession of the mortal mirror,” Alec confirmed once he was happy that everyone was gathered, “and currently, the only people who know the whereabouts are the elite guards. Even I am not sure exactly where the mirror is being kept, and that is how it will remain. We are concerned that we may have a double agent among us,” Alec’s eyes roamed across all the shadowhunters standing before him, as if he could tell who the traitor was just from looking at them. “We fear that it may be Jonathan Morganstern, or else a person allied closely with him. If anyone has any suspicions, report them immediately. In the meantime, the search for Valentine continues. I want Delta Team to head out to Province Park to locate and assist Palani; last we know of him, Jonathan had him there. Everyone else except Penhallow is to stay on the mission I’ve already given you. Dismissed.”

Izzy made a beeline for Alec, looking around at the crowd of shadowhunters as she went. “Have you seen Max? Did you send him out on mission? I haven’t seen him for hours.”

“No, I haven’t given him his orders yet. Honestly, I forgot about it completely. I’m surprised he hasn’t come by the office to remind me,” Alec frowned, looking around the ops centre. “I don’t think he was here, either.”

“Alec, there’s something else,” Izzy murmured as Aline appeared next to her, “my tracking device has been smashed. Someone in this Institute is determined to protect Jonathan and Valentine.”

“Alright,” Alec said decisively, “Izzy, go and find something from Max’s room to track him. Aline, I need you to think like Valentine, go through all the possible ways they could gain access to this Institute. Once you’ve thought of all the doors they could take, I need you to close them.”

“Got it,” Aline assured him, “but what are we going to do if Jonathan is already here?”

“He has to be, who else would want to smash my tracker?” Izzy pointed out.

Alec nodded, looking around at the shadowhunters working. “We have to proceed carefully. Aline, test all of the elite guard with electrum. Anybody could have been replaced by Jonathan. Once you’re happy that they’re all who they say they are, have Clary man the front entrance with electrum and test everyone who tries to go in or out. Iz, find Max. The last thing we need is him trying to play hero like he did with Kaelie.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“You’ve finally decided to grace us with your presence, Alpha Wolf,” the Seelie Queen drawled, her piercing eyes on Luke as he and Magnus approached the throne.

“Apologies, Your Majesty, but my duty is to my pack, and they needed me.” Luke explained.

“Your loyalty to your people is refreshing,” she admitted, her eyes darting to Magnus, who had yet to look up from the ground. “Now that the two of you have had your eyes opened to the true nature of the Clave, I trust you agree that it is time to move against them.”

Magnus shook his head. “As I said before, my feelings for Alexander aside, I cannot condone war for war’s sake.”

“War for war’s sake?” The Seelie Queen repeated. “Valentine has the soul sword, Magnus Bane. He could activate it at any time, and the Clave has sought to keep this fact a secret. They are praying that Valentine will succeed.”

“We don’t know that,” Luke insisted, “they’re bureaucratic fools, the lot of them. They’re just trying to avoid an uprising.”

“To retain their power over us,” the Seelie Queen pointed out, and neither Magnus or Luke could argue with that. “I offer your people protection in my realm, both from the soul sword’s power and from the tyranny of the Clave. Neither of you can deny that you want that.”

“I need time to think about it,” Magnus murmured, “I am not sure that my people are ready for an uprising or a war.”

“The war has already begun, Magnus Bane,” the Seelie Queen told him. “All I want to know is whether you’re going to be on my side, or the shadowhunters’.”

“I’ll think it over as well,” Luke added. He didn’t think the Seelie Queen much cared about the wolves one way or the other, but Luke had to admit to himself that he was tempted by her offer of safe haven for his pack.

The Queen walked towards the two of them, producing two roses from her hand. “We only have so much time, gentlemen. When these roses turn black your time is up, and my offer of allyship has expired.”

“We’ll be in touch, Your Majesty,” Magnus assured her, he and Luke bowing before making their way out of the court.

“You can’t really be considering this,” Luke muttered as he watched Magnus cast his portal.

“The warlocks need protection, and the shadowhunters have failed in-”

“You can’t decide shadowhunters hate us just because Alec let you down,” Luke argued, stepping through the portal backwards.

Magnus scowled, and followed him into his loft. Ragnor was already waiting there. “I don’t think that they hate us. I think that they have prioritised their own safety over ours. And I won’t stand for it.”

“What’s been decided?” Ragnor asked, his hands on his hips.

“Nothing,” Magnus insisted, “but I’m considering the Seelie Queen’s offer of protection in exchange for my support of her coup.”

Ragnor looked at Luke with disbelief, who shrugged. “You have to be joking. You can’t want war with the Clave just because Alec made a mistake?!”

“You are the one who said that the Clave needed to be overthrown!” Magnus reminded him.

“As a joke! The last thing I want is war. Magnus, your feelings towards Alec are clouding your judgement. Be rational about this.”

“I can’t win, can I?” Magnus shouted, his magic flaring and making a few books fly from their shelves. “If I love him my judgement is clouded, and if I’m fighting with him my judgement is clouded!”

Ragnor tutted. “Lucian, perhaps you should go and check on the pack.”

“Yeah,” Luke murmured, “see you later.”

Once the werewolf had gone, Ragnor took Magnus by the arm and steered him to sit on the couch. Magnus went, though his jaw was clenched, embarrassed and annoyed in equal measures.

“I know you can see that your behaviour is erratic.” Ragnor stated.

Magnus put his head in his hands, taking some deep breaths. “I just can’t win.”

“You’re hurt because Alec lied to you and you’re taking it out on everyone but him.”

“Oh, I took it out on him,” Magnus muttered, “you weren’t there.”

Ragnor snorted. “You need to think very carefully about your next step. More is at stake here than your relationship with Alec. You need to ignore your feelings for him one way or the other and make an objective decision.”

“I know,” Magnus said quietly. “But he is all I can think about.”

“I’ll go and check on our people,” Ragnor volunteered, patting Magnus’ knee. “You have a lot to consider. Don’t make this decision lightly.”

Magnus sighed, rubbing his arms. “What do you think I should do?”

“It hardly matters what I-”

“Ragnor,” Magnus said sharply, “you have always had opinions on my decisions. I need your counsel now.”

“I can’t make this decision for you, Junior.” Ragnor replied, his voice quiet. “I am not the High Warlock of Brooklyn.”

“And if you were?”

“Then I would take the Queen’s protection and manipulate events to discourage an uprising.” Ragnor shrugged.

Magnus looked at him with suspicion. “How?”

Ragnor smirked, patting Magnus’ shoulder. “400 years and still so much to teach you.” He conjured a blackboard and piece of chalk and got to his feet.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Luke!”

He was only just getting back to the Jade Wolf when Maia called him from across the pier, Simon looking worried where he stood next to her. Luke glanced in the window of the restaurant to check that the wolves were getting along before going over to his adoptive kids.

“We have a problem,” Maia told him, ushering him inside Simon’s boathouse.

As Luke walked in, he reached out to flip the lightswitch, but Simon caught his fingers and shook his head. He let his wolf eyes come out and looked into the darkness, his eyebrows furrowing when he made out the shape of a person sprawled on Simon’s armchair.

“Who-?”

“A new recruit for Russell,” Maia whispered.

“Hello? Where are the paramedics?” The kid groaned, raising a shaking hand to the nasty clawmarks on his chest.

“They’re on their way,” Luke assured him, “don’t worry, we’ve got you.”

Simon grimaced when Luke shot him a sharp look. “We had to lie to him to get him to stop screaming.”

“You’re sure this is Russell?”

“I saw him in wolf form running away from where we found him.” Maia told him, “we need to tie him up, the moon is going to rise in a couple of hours.”

Luke sighed, looking the kid over. “What’s your name?”

“Bartholomew,” he croaked, “but people call me Bat.”

“We’re going to make sure you’re taken care of, Bat,” Luke promised, before turning back to Simon. “There’s chains in the basement of the Jade Wolf. Go and get them, quickly.”

Simon nodded and wasted no time in darting out of the boathouse to go and find the chains, and Luke dug his hands in his pockets. He could feel Maia’s gaze on him and let his shoulders slump.

“The Seelie Queen has offered the wolves shelter from the angel, but it comes with a price. She wants war with the shadowhunters.” He murmured.

“What?! You can’t seriously be considering it!” Maia hissed, her eyes wide.

Luke swallowed hard, taking Maia outside for a moment. “There are things that Clary and the others have been hiding from us. Valentine… He has the soul sword. The Clave never had it.”

“That-” She shook her head. “That’s not true.”

“It is, Maia,” Luke murmured, “and Alec and the senior shadowhunters knew about it.”

“Clary and Izzy wouldn’t…”

“Magnus said the same thing about Alec,” Luke said quietly.

Maia shook her head. “I don’t believe it.”

“Maia… The war has begun. We have to choose which side we’re going to be on.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy couldn’t understand why Max was in the Institute but had missed the briefing in the ops centre. He was usually in the front row whenever Alec was giving out missions, insisting on taking the most dangerous ones for himself. She tracked him through the corridors towards the quarters, her eyebrow arching as she sensed him in Clary’s room. His favourite stele glowed gold in Izzy’s grasp as she opened the door, but the reprimand she’d been preparing for the last hour died in her mouth when she laid eyes on Max’s still body lying face-down on the ground in front of Clary’s bed, one hand touching the JC box.

“Max?!” She screamed, rushing forward and falling to her knees, hastily etching an iratze into his arm, but he didn’t move. Her fingers shaking, she pulled out her phone and sent out an SOS, drawing iratze after iratze on any part of Max’s skin she could see, but none of them took, fizzling out into nothing.

~~~~~~~~~~

“He was trying to tell us that Jonathan did this,” Izzy sniffled, swiping at the tears on her face. Alec hadn’t said anything in a while, his eyes on their brother’s pale face. “Jonathan is in the Institute, Alec.”

“I know,” Alec mumbled, swallowing hard. “Aline,” he glanced up, “can you send a fire message to our parents and give Clary some more staff? All the entrances need to be covered by a shadowhunter with electrum.”

As Aline squeezed Alec’s shoulder, Clary came running into the room, Sebastian hot on her heels. “I came as soon as I heard. What happened?”

“We think Max figured out who Jonathan is,” Izzy said quietly, “and Jonathan tried to kill him to keep his cover.”

“But he’ll pull through?” Sebastian asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Come on,” Aline murmured, tugging Sebastian out of the room, “give them some space.”

Clary gave Izzy a hug, and Alec ached to see it. He wished Magnus were here. Before he could follow that train of thought down into a pit of miserable self-hatred, however, the Silent Brother who’d been examining Max straightened up. He looked with his sewn up eyes at Alec.

“The damage to his brain is great. It is doubtful that mundane medicine can help him now. Our only option is to attempt to appeal for angelic power. Iratzes are powerless in cases like these, but-”

“How risky is it? What’s the catch?” Alec demanded.

“Only one in seven shadowhunters survives the appeal,” the Silent Brother told Alec, and Izzy whimpered, bursting into a fresh round of tears into Clary’s shoulder.

Alec shook his head. “I want a second opinion.”

“From whom?” The Silent Brother asked, and Alec pulled his phone out of his back pocket.

“From the High Warlock of Brooklyn.”

~~~~~~~~~~

For the first time in a long time, Magnus was facing a personal crisis without alcohol, and though it felt sort of good not to relapse, he also felt utterly, utterly miserable. He had no idea how to even begin to sort through his feelings. Ragnor’s scheme had helped give him a little perspective, but he still had to decide what to do about Alexander. He couldn’t join the Seelie Queen, and thus carry out Ragnor’s plan, without breaking up with Alec, but the thought of breaking up with Alec left him bereft.

He had no idea how long he’d been staring into space, weighing up his options, when his phone rang. Alec’s name was glowing on the screen, and Magnus locked his phone and set it face-down. The last thing he needed was to hear Alec apologise, right now. He was already confused enough. Magnus gazed at the rose between his fingers, spinning it slowly, and a half-smile came to his face as he remembered an evening a few weeks ago, warmth filling him for the first time in what felt like forever.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Oh, shit!” Magnus hissed, his hand tightening on Alec’s as he dragged his boyfriend to the left and into the bushes.

They’d been walking back to the loft through Central Park after yet another lovely, low key dinner. Alec was stress-free and open with his laughter, and Magnus had had a couple of days off, so both of them were in a good mood, but that all changed when Magnus spotted Lorenzo Rey walking towards them.

“Ow, Magnus!” Alec whispered, batting a thorny branch out of his face. “What are you doing?!”

“Shush!” Magnus clapped his hand over Alec’s mouth, his eyes wide as he watched Lorenzo walk blithely past with a warlock Magnus didn’t recognise, laughing his annoying fake laugh. Once the two warlocks were out of earshot, Magnus relaxed and let Alec’s mouth go.

The two men looked at each other for a moment, Alec’s head tilted to the side, and Magnus yelped when he put his hand out to steady himself, only to grasp a rose bush and get stuck with half a dozen thorns. Alec started to snort, and Magnus chuckled, and that was it. They clutched at each other as they laughed so loudly that people walking past started to give the rose bushes a wide berth.

“Who the hell was that?” Alec wheezed, wiping a tear from his eyes and sitting down on his ass in a small patch of dirt between the bushes.

Magnus shook his head, forcing himself to calm down, and slumped against Alec, his side pressed to his boyfriend’s chest. “Lorenzo Rey,” he answered, his forehead resting on Alec’s jaw, “he’s one of the most insufferable people I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting, and I didn’t fancy explaining all this to him.”

“All this?” Alec asked, raising an eyebrow.

“He’s been vying for my job for decades. He’s been trying to stir up drama since I started dating you, trying to put the idea in people’s heads that I’m more concerned with you than I am the good of the warlock community.” Magnus explained, “and I didn’t want him to ruin our night.”

“So you decided to pull us into a bed of literal thorns instead?” Alec huffed out a laugh, “without even magicking said thorns away?”

“It’s hardly a bed,” Magnus snorted, though he did flick his wrist to smooth out the thorns.

Alec shrugged one shoulder, putting one hand under Magnus’ chin to raise his face, “Don’t tell me this is the weirdest place you’ve ever made out with someone.”

“We’re not making out.” Magnus pointed out, though he was looking at Alec’s lips in anticipation.

“True,” Alec smirked, his face moving closer, “let me fix that.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Raj came to just as the sun was rising, with a couple of joggers hunched over him with cell phones pressed to their ears. He batted away their concerns and reached for his stele, groaning at the ache in his head. The stele and his phone had gone from his pocket, and Raj struggled to sit up, the joggers helping him.

“Just stay still, an ambulance is on the way,” one of them told him, but Raj forced himself to stand, swaying a little on the spot. Suddenly, he remembered his exchange with Jonathan, and he wondered why he’d been spared.

He staggered away from the joggers and found his balance after a couple of stumbles, looking around to try and remember which direction the Institute was in. Once he’d chosen a path, his mind drifted back to Jonathan. He went over the exchange they’d had, and when it came to him Raj stopped dead in his tracks.

Sebastian.

Only Sebastian called him Rajesh.

Sebastian showed up at the same time as Azazel, who was also trapped in Edom.

Sebastian had displayed incredible strength for an academic.

Sebastian had been missing for days after Valentine was kidnapped by Jonathan.

Sebastian appeared again once Jonathan started working with Valentine.

Sebastian had more or less unfettered access to the Institute.

Sebastian had gotten close to Raj in order to break through Alec’s suspicions.

Sebastian was Jonathan.

Jonathan had tricked him.

Raj steeled himself against the pounding in his head and broke into a jog, heading back towards the Institute. With no phone and no stele, his only choice was to get back to the Institute and tell Alec in person. He just hoped that he got there before Jonathan was able to get the mortal mirror from Aline.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Any sign of him?” Alec asked as Aline let herself into the medical bay, and she sighed as she took Alec out into the hallway.

“Which him?”

Alec shrugged, running his hand through his hair. “Either.”

“There’s no sign of Raj at the park except for a few drops of blood. Jonathan didn’t have time to take him somewhere to imprison him between Clary getting the mirror and him attacking Max, so-”

“Raj is alive,” Alec nodded, a wave of relief lightening the load on his shoulders the tiniest amount. “Any luck with the electrum guards?”

“Not yet,” Aline said, “but the majority of the staff have missions that are keeping them inside the Institute.”

“Okay,” Alec murmured, “my parents will be here soon and then I’ll be able to organise the-”

“Alec, you need to be with your brother,” Aline insisted, squeezing his arm. “What’s our next move? I can organise it.”

“Have everyone line up for an electrum test. Absolutely everyone. No exceptions.” Alec ordered. Jonathan wouldn’t leave without the mortal mirror, so for now they had him trapped.

“Got it, boss. Stay with your family, don’t worry about a thing. I got this.” Aline promised him, “we’ll get him.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Simon and Maia had been sitting on the ground playing Mario Odyssey while they waited for the moon to rise and Bat to change, but when Bat’s panting changed to soft growls, Maia sat up straight and yanked the Switch remote out of Simon’s hand. The two of them scrambled to their feet as Bat started to struggle anew in the handcuffs they’d secured around his wrists.

“I feel kinda bad for the guy,” Simon murmured, cradling his precious Nintendo Switch in his arms as Maia pulled him out of the boathouse.

“Yeah, well, don’t. He’s going to break those cuffs in-”

A loud ping echoed around the boathouse, and Maia and Simon looked at each other with wide eyes, scrambling to close the iron door. Just as Simon slid the padlock through the hole to lock it, a massive weight threw itself against the iron hard enough to dent it.

“Will it hold?” Simon asked, and Maia shrugged.

“Depends how big Bat’s wolf is,” she answered, “he’s a small guy, but I’m small too, and my wolf is pretty huge.”

Simon hummed. “Yeah, your wolf form is badass. I’m kinda jealous.”

“I don’t know, man, it gets kinda old, turning into Lassie whenever you get mad or sad.”

“Lassie,” Simon snorted. He winced as he heard Bat throw himself against the door again. “That’s gotta be hurting him…”

“Probably,” Maia sighed, “but he’ll heal by the morning.”

Simon nodded slowly. “He’ll be alright, won’t he?”

“Yeah,” Maia assured him, “he’ll be fine. He has a pack to look after him.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy had no idea how long she and Alec had been sitting holding Max’s hands. Neither of them had spoken in what felt like a very long time, both staring at Max’s still face. The parabatai bond was throbbing with shared worry, and though it made it feel more intense, the closeness of their souls made both Izzy and Alec feel less alone, too. The soft tick of the clock was the only sound in the medical bay; the Silent Brothers on the far side of the room lived up to their name, preparing a surgical bed with absolutely no noise between the three of them.

Sebastian cleared his throat as he entered the room, breaking the silence and making the two Lightwoods look up. “You both look exhausted,” Sebastian told them, “let me watch him for a few minutes, get a bit of rest.”

“There’s no way I can sleep right now,” Izzy said quietly, and Alec’s eyes sharpened a little when he looked at Sebastian.

“Why aren’t you out looking for Raj?” He asked. Okay, he and Sebastian had only just started dating, but Alec knew that if their positions were reversed, Raj would be tearing apart the city looking for Sebastian, and it annoyed him that Sebastian were here instead of out there looking for his almost-boyfriend.

“I know Rajesh would want me here, making sure that you had enough support.” Sebastian answered.

Alec hummed at his answer, suspicions not quite satisfied. “Have you seen Clary yet?”

“Yes,” Sebastian assured him, chuckling softly. “Never fear, I’m not the demon you’re looking for. Just a friend.”

“Sorry about him,” Izzy murmured, giving Alec a sharp look, “he’s on edge.”

Sebastian shrugged. “If it was Aline in that bed I’d be the same way.”

“I’m not leaving Max,” Alec insisted, “Aline needs help organising the electrum tests, go and help her.”

“At least go and get yourselves something to eat,” Sebastian wheedled, and Alec was about to tell him no for the second time when Maryse and Robert pushed past Sebastian, both their faces drawn with stress.

“I’m here, I’m here,” Maryse whispered as Izzy moved out of her way. She stroked Max’s hair and looked into his face, her dark eyes shining with unshed tears.

Alec and Robert made brief eye contact and Alec moved away, sticking his hands in his pockets as his father took his place at Max’s bedside. “The Silent Brothers will be doing their ritual soon, you may as well go and look after the Institute,” Robert told him.

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Let Magnus take a look at him, he-”

“Is Magnus here?” Maryse asked, glancing around with something like hope in her face.

“No,” Alec admitted, “but I’m going to go and get him. Just… Give me half an hour.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Magnus was standing by the door, letting the cats in from the rain, when a visceral, fully formed memory popped unbidden into his mind. The way that Lord Felinian the Third looked sorrowfully up at him reminded him of Alec, dripping wet, sheepishly showing up late to his own party. Magnus ached at the memory. They’d been so happy that day.

~~~~~~~~~~

If it wasn’t for Magnus’ magic helpfully keeping it cold, the ice bucket that the champagne sat in would surely have melted by now. Alec had been due at the loft for date night three hours before, and Magnus had sent the guests home an hour ago. He was determined to be mad at Alec when he got here, though he had to admit that perhaps it had been a bad idea to throw a surprise party for the Head of the Institute and take away most of his staff as guests for it.

Magnus had been practising his lecture on punctuality for six laps of the loft, now, and as he felt Alec come through his wards he rushed to the door.

The moment that he opened the door to see Alec, all of Magnus’ frustration melted away, and he felt his heart squeeze. Alec looked like he’d been dropped in a swimming pool, his dark hair sticking to his forehead, his white shirt translucent, and his trousers sagging with the weight of water. Just to top it off, he was wearing the most beseeching, earnest look on his face, his hazel eyes wide and apologetic, and he was shivering.

Magnus conjured a towel into his hands and tutted as he moved forward to press it to Alec’s face, his eyes tender. “Oh, look at you.”

“I’m sorry,” Alec murmured, unbuttoning his shirt, “there was an incident with a water sprite in Central Park… A little hello from the Seelie Queen who was very insistent on only dealing with the Head of the Institute, and the next thing I know I got dragged into this fountain… It was… Honestly it was the most fun I’ve had at work since I got promoted,” he admitted sheepishly, rubbing his hair dry with the towel. “My apple watch croaked when I was under water so I lost track of time, phone drowned…”

“You’re here now,” Magnus shrugged, taking Alec’s wet clothes and banishing them straight to the washing machine. “That’s all that matters.”

“I know, but you were planning something for tonight, if I know you,” Alec sighed, his face screwing up with guilt when he spotted the champagne bucket and the buffet laid out on the table in the living room. “Please tell me I didn’t miss a party.”

Magnus huffed out a laugh. “You did,” he admitted, “and I’ve been practising being angry with you for a good hour, but honestly…” He watched as Alec quickly changed into the spare clothes he kept in Magnus’ dresser, “I’m incapable of being mad at you.”

“Did you really go to a lot of trouble?” Alec asked grimly, wrapping his arms around Magnus’ neck.

“Not a lot,” Magnus assured him, “it’s really okay. This is your day, after all. If you want to spend it wrestling a Seelie in a pond…”

“That’s not how it went down,” Alec snorted, resting his forehead on Magnus’ shoulder.

“I love you, Alexander.” Magnus said softly, stroking his back. “Happy ten years on T.”

Alec smiled into Magnus’ shirt. “Thanks.” He pulled back to give Magnus a gentle kiss. “I don’t usually mark it but I have to admit it’s kind of nice to have it mean something.”

“Of course it means something, it’s like your tenth real birthday.” Magnus hummed, tangling his fingers with Alec’s and pulling him to the kitchen. “And as such, I called your Mom and asked her what your favourite kind of birthday cake was as a kid.”

“You did?” Alec felt like crying. The thought of Maryse and Magnus joining forces to surprise him with something like this was maybe the sweetest mental image he’d ever had.

Magnus opened the refrigerator and pulled out a seven layer chocolate cake complete with candles that he ignited with a blink, and Alec’s eyes lit up. “Now if you’d arrived in time for your guests I would’ve had them sing happy birthday to you but-”

Alec cut him off with a kiss, his hand around the back of Magnus’ neck. “I love you so much. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, you know that?”

“Including T?” Magnus snorted, setting the cake down.

“Including T,” Alec confirmed, his face open and honest.

Magnus melted as easily as the frosting on Alec’s re-birthday cake. “Go on, make a wish.” He urged, rubbing Alec’s shoulder blade.

After a moment of contemplation, Alec closed his eyes and blew out the candles, pulling out the chair for Magnus to sit down before taking the seat opposite. “You know what I wished for?”

“I’m pretty sure telling me is bad luck,” Magnus teased, but Alec wouldn’t be discouraged.

“I wished that I’d always come home to you.”

“Alexander,” Magnus murmured, reaching out to stroke the back of his boyfriend’s hand. “Could you please go five minutes without making me fall in love with you all over again?”

Alec grinned mischievously. “Never.”

~~~~~~~~~~

A knock at his door had Magnus shaking himself out of his reverie, closing the balcony door and tucking the Seelie Queen’s rose into his pocket. Flustered, he didn’t think to check who it was before opening the door, and his breath died in his throat when he found himself toe to toe with Alec. The only thing Magnus could think to do was shut the door in his face, too overwhelmed to consider listening to the other man’s apologies.

“Magnus,” Alec put his hand out to stop the door from closing. “I know I have no right to ask you for anything right now, but… Max has been hurt. It’s really bad.”

“What?”

“Jonathan…” Alec swallowed hard, looking down at Magnus’ feet. “Jonathan bashed his head in.”

Magnus inhaled sharply, grabbing his coat from the rack. “Alright. Let’s go.” He said, and Alec nodded.

“Thank you.”

Neither of them said anything more as Magnus cast the portal right to the Institute’s infirmary, though Magnus did take Alec’s hand to guide him through the portal. The moment they were through, Magnus let go and went over to Max’s bedside.

“Now wait a minute,” Robert started, but Maryse elbowed him out of the way.

“If Magnus can save our son I want him to,” Maryse hissed at him, her glare sharp enough to have Robert backing off. “Thank you for coming,” she told Magnus, giving him a watery smile. This was twice now, Magnus had offered to save one of her sons. She had no idea how she’d ever begin to repay him.

Magnus gave her a brief, tight smile before turning his attention to Max, his magic probing the damage to the youngest Lightwood’s head. It was obvious from the moment the magic grazed Max’s brain that there wasn’t much he could do, but Magnus was thorough anyway. When he was done he dropped his hand and cleared his throat quietly. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do bar pain management. It would take a warlock with the skills of a neurosurgeon, and unfortunately I don’t know of any warlocks with such a specialty. I’m afraid that the Silent Brothers are your best option.”

Maryse looked crushed at the news, and behind her Izzy started to cry, burying her face in Alec’s chest. “Thank you,” she sniffed, stroking Max’s hand. “For trying.”

“Of course,” Magnus nodded, moving aside for the Silent Brothers to begin their preparations. He made eye contact with Alec, who looked lost. “I’ll stay, if you’d like.”

“Please stay,” Izzy piped up miserably, breaking free of Alec to give Magnus a hug. “You’re just as much family as anybody else here.” She knew that Magnus and Alec had had a fight, but she considered Magnus a brother anyway, after all they’d been through together. And with both Clary and Maia busy, she felt like she was a breath away from screaming herself hoarse.

“He’s not blood,” Robert said gruffly, but Maryse, Alec and Izzy all told him to shut up at the same time.

“He’s staying,” Maryse insisted, swiping tears off her cheeks. “He has saved our babies again and again with no thanks from you whatsoever. We need him here. And if you don’t like it, you can leave.”

Magnus looked at Alec, who was already gazing at him with equal parts pain and pleading, and Magnus nodded, letting Maryse lead him and the others out to the waiting area. Alec sat next to him and offered Magnus his hand.

Magnus took it and squeezed.

~~~~~~~~~~

Despite the fact that he was an alpha werewolf, Luke didn’t consider himself a violent man. Yes, he’d gotten into fights, even picked a few, but they were always to protect someone he loved. Maybe except the fights he’d picked with Valentine, but then, he reasoned with himself, that was on behalf of the entire downworld, so he couldn’t really be blamed for wanting Valentine dead. At least that was what he told himself as he pulled his car up round the side of Russell’s pack’s lair. The meat-packing district was a good fit for him and his furry friends; it was creepy and smelled kinda weird.

Russell was waiting for him outside the door, his arms folded. Luke didn’t shy away from eye contact, the set of his jaw letting the other alpha know he meant business.

“You attacked a mundane.”

“Our pack needs numbers,” Russell shrugged, “I was gonna have the kid sign a writ of consent if he survived.”

Luke narrowed his eyes. “You’re supposed to ask for consent before you change a person’s life forever.”

“Potato, potah-to,” Russell huffed, folding his arms. “Why are you here, Luke?”

“I can’t let you attack mundanes, you know that.”

“It’s not your problem anymore, I’m not under your authority.” Russell said pointedly.

“I don’t care, I won’t have you attacking innocent kids just because you’re scared of Valentine.” Luke gritted out.

Russell’s piggy eyes glittered. “What are you going to do about it?”

Luke didn’t come here with plans to challenge Russell’s authority, but he had been preparing himself for this eventuality; Russell was a stubborn man, and Luke had known that reason might fall on deaf ears. “I’m going to challenge you and take your pack.”

That seemed to be exactly what Russell wanted to hear, which made Luke a little nervous. He led Luke into the warehouse, where his pack was lounging around, some of them already in wolf form. Luke squared his shoulders and kept his eyes fixed on Russell, ready for a pounce. “Luke Garroway thinks he can beat me,” Russell crowed, and the assembled wolves laughed and howled. “He would have us chained and restrained like show dogs.”

“I would have you asking consent before you turn mundanes into werewolves.” Luke gritted out, taking off his jacket.

“You’d have to be insane to turn down this gift,” Russell replied, hopping a little on the spot. “We doing this?”

“We’re doing it,” Luke confirmed, raising his fists.

The fight didn’t last as long as Luke expected it to. Russell was over-confident, and Luke still had the muscle memory of his shadowhunter training. He ducked the full-body punches that Russell threw and landed a few of his own, eventually managing to kick Russell in the sternum and send him flying across the warehouse. Luke advanced on him and stepped on his chest, pinning him.

“Go on, then,” Russell sneered, “end it.”

Luke stared down at him, eyebrows furrowed. For a moment he considered it. Then he took his foot off Russell’s chest and turned to talk to the wolves watching them. “I am your alpha now. If any of you attack a mundane I will kill you myself.”

There was a low rumble of assent, and Russell slowly got to his feet. “Alright, alright. You’re the alpha.”

“Damn right I am.” Luke muttered.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Silent Brothers had been working on Max for hours, and there was no hint that they’d be done anytime soon, either. Alec and Magnus had stopped holding hands a while ago, and Magnus was now sat with his arms folded, staring at a spot on the floor. Alec sighed next to him, raking his fingers through his hair, and Magnus tentatively reached out to touch his back. He felt the rose in his chest pocket wither further, the decaying magic simmering through his shirt, and his mind drifted to his and Alec’s future, and then back to the past. Back to the moment Magnus knew that Alec was the love of his life.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a totally average day. Magnus had been portalling all over the city sorting out minor disturbances in the warlock community, and he’d come home to shower and get comfortable ready for a night in with Alec. Alec had gotten to the stage where he felt comfortable letting himself into the loft, so when Magnus came out of the shower Alec was already in his bedroom, fiddling with the products on top of his dresser. When he heard Magnus open the bathroom door, Alec stood up straight and spun around, knocking a couple of skincare products over in the process. His arms were behind his back in a way that made it obvious he was hiding something back there.

“What are you doing?” Magnus asked, his eyebrow arched.

“Uhh… Nothing.”

Magnus narrowed his eyes, a smirk on his face. “You know, if you want to borrow something-”

“I wasn’t borrowing. I was putting back,” Alec explained, sheepishly showing Magnus what was in his hands.

“You can keep that,” Magnus shrugged, his eyes on the bottle of moisturiser in Alec’s hand, “it’s almost empty anyway. I need to go to Seoul to get some more.”

Alec bit the inside of his cheek. “Actually I noticed you struggling to get some out yesterday morning, so I thought I’d just… Pick up some more. And, well, they didn’t have it in Sephora.”

“No, they wouldn’t,” Magnus chuckled, “you can only get it in-”

“South Korea, right,” Alec nodded, looking at the little bottle. “I figured that out when I put this writing in google translate, which was fun considering I had no idea what alphabet it was.”

Magnus laughed a little, holding out his hand for it. “I appreciate the initiative, angel. It’s the thought that counts.”

“I wasn’t done with my story,” Alec pouted, keeping a hold of the bottle. “So then I went to Korea Town. And I asked the lady in the Korean supermarket using the picture on my phone and she said it was super fancy and that she didn’t think you could get it here,” he sighed, “and at this point it was like… I’d committed to getting this damn moisturiser, you know?!”

“Right…” Magnus smiled, shaking his head a little in amazement.

“So I called Cat. And she was busy so I called Ragnor. And then I got to Seoul, and-”

“Wait, you portalled to Seoul? By yourself?”

“Yes,” Alec answered, “and only when the portal closed do I realise that I don’t know any goddamn Korean.”

“And you can’t read a map that isn’t of New York City for shit,” Magnus beamed, sitting on the edge of the bed. “So, what? You portalled back?”

Alec huffed. “Have you ever known me to abandon a mission?”

Magnus laughed, leaning back on his hands. “Alright, alright, so what happened next in your little adventure?”

“Well, I hailed a cab, but the lady didn’t speak English so I gave that cab to somebody else and then the second cab I hailed, that guy spoke great English so I said to him look man, I need this moisturiser, and luckily there’s a bunch of shops that sell it there, so he drove me to the nearest fancy skincare place and I had to use my credit card and I swear I am never looking at the charges I must have had but…” Alec brandished the bottle. “I got it.”

“And you were just going to put it on my dresser without me noticing?” Magnus pressed, tilting his head to the side.

Alec shrugged. “I was gonna wait until you reached for it and were like ‘oh, how did this get so full?’” The impression of Magnus’ voice that came out of Alec’s voice was half endearing and half insulting, but Magnus was still giddy from the adorable gesture so he let it slide.

“I can’t believe you portalled halfway around the world just because I needed some more moisturiser.” Magnus said, patting the bed next to him, and Alec sat down. “I could’ve just summoned it in a second.”

“I know,” Alec mumbled, “but you portal us all over the world all the time, take me to all these amazing places and you always know the most romantic spots and all the history of it and you’re always at one with the culture, and I don’t know, I feel like you do so much for me, teach me so much, to make our time together as romantic as possible, and…” He tilted his head to the side. “I wanted to do something nice for you. It wasn’t meant to be quite as big a mission as it turned out to be, but…”

“I love how you call it a mission,” Magnus snorted, shifting a little closer to kiss Alec’s temple. “What was it, Mission Shea Butter?”

“No,” Alec grumbled, “if you must know it was Mission Twinkly Eyes, because I knew that when you realised what I’d done your eyes would do that thing that they do when I do something that surprises you.”

Magnus hummed, his heart full to bursting. “They doing it now?”

“Yeah,” Alec nodded. “I always know I’ve done something right when you look at me like that.” He put the moisturiser in Magnus’ hands. “Mission accomplished.”

“This is,” Magnus found himself unable to speak for a moment, a little overwhelmed. “This is the most romantic, most ridiculous thing anyone had ever done for me.” He pressed his face into Alec’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

“It’s the least I could do after everything you’ve done for me,” Alec returned, kissing the top of Magnus’ head and getting a good whiff of his shampoo as he did so, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Alexander,” Magnus cuddled into his side, the bottle of moisturiser held tightly in his hand. “So, so much.”

~~~~~~~~~~

That particular bottle of moisturiser had run out weeks ago, but Magnus kept the empty bottle on his desk in his apothecary, next to the framed photo-booth pictures from their first date after Alec’s surgery. It made him smile when he looked at it, a reminder of just how much Alec loved him. One day, when Alec was gone, it would go in his box of memories, along with George’s picture and Camille’s peacock feather quill. The thought sobered Magnus, sitting in that waiting room.

What he and Alec had was beautiful, but it couldn’t last forever. One way or another, it would end. Either with an argument or with Alec’s death. His people, on the other hand, the warlocks, they would need Magnus forever. As much as it pained him, Magnus knew what he had to do.

Alec had chosen his duty to his people. Magnus had to do the same.

The sting of the realisation was somewhat dampened by the Silent Brothers opening the doors to the infirmary and everyone getting to their feet at once to hear the news of the youngest Lightwood.

“Maxwell has pulled through,” the telepathic voice of the Silent Brothers told them, and Maryse let out a happy whimper and hugged her two eldest children, Robert hanging awkwardly by. “He will wake in a matter of minutes.”

Magnus watched the Lightwoods go into the room, and turned to leave.

“Magnus,” Alec called, and Magnus closed his eyes when he heard Alec following him. “Where are you going?”

“Home,” Magnus answered, almost flinching when Alec touched his arm to turn him around. “I’m glad that Max is going to be okay, but I have no business here now.”

Alec swallowed hard. “Look, I know that I messed up. It was a terrible, awful thing to do and I am so sorry that I lied to you. I knew it was wrong, I have no excuse, I don’t blame you for hating me.”

“I don’t hate you, Alexander,” Magnus said quietly, meeting Alec’s eyes.

“You and me…” Alec shook his head a little, one hand reaching up to cup Magnus’ face. “We always find our way back to each other.”

Magnus sniffed, wrapping his fingers around Alec’s wrist and gently pushing his hand from his face. “Alec… There are difficult decisions we have to make as leaders. We are in a time of war, and I’m not sure that our people are on the same side anymore.”

“What do you mean, of course we are, don’t say that, I would never fight with Valentine.”

“I know,” Magnus nodded, “I know. But… I have to do what is right for the warlocks. I have to do my duty just like you have to do yours. There are decisions I have to make, and the only thing holding me back from doing that is you. I can’t be a good leader and love you. We can’t have both, Alexander.”

Alec’s face looked like a kicked puppy, tears shining in his eyes. “Of course we can, we can… We can figure this out, Magnus. We can figure it out.”

Magnus shook his head, his gaze dropping to Alec’s feet. “There’s a reason why I hadn’t opened my heart up for a hundred years when you met me,” he murmured, swallowing down a wave of emotion. “It’s this.”

“Magnus-”

“Goodbye, Alexander.” Magnus whispered, turning away from the other man and striding away towards the elevators.

~~~~~~~~~~

When Aline had taken the job as Alec’s Head of Security, she did not expect her first week on the job to be so intense. She’d figured there would be a lot of paperwork, some boring meetings about budgets and staff shortages, maybe a couple of celebratory brunches with downworlder allies. Guarding one of the mortal instruments had not been in her job description, and yet here she was. Alec had been right; the New York Institute was certainly not like any other.

She wasn’t very good at doing nothing, and her second hour standing guard over the mirror consisted mostly of pacing. When her phone buzzed she looked at it straight away, her heart thudding in her throat as she read the message from Sebastian.

-I woke up outside a Bleeder Den on 4th. Please, I need your help

“Longfall, you’re in charge!” She cried, holstering her seraph blade and running for the exit.

~~~~~~~~~~

“You’re good, Steph,” Clary murmured as her thirtieth shadowhunter of the day dropped the piece of electrum back into her hand, “have fun on patrol.”

Clary looked at the line of shadowhunters waiting to leave the Institute and groaned. She should be with Izzy, she knew, but for once, she was going to do as Alec said. As the minutes ticked by, with no sign of Jonathan, Clary got more and more nervous. As the number of shadowhunters still in the building dwindled, the more likely it became that the candidate in front of her was her murderous brother.

She was confused when Sebastian stepped up to the front of the line. “Wait… Aline just went looking for you. She ran past saying you were in trouble.”

“Did she?” Sebastian asked, tilting his head to the side. “I told her I needed to talk to her, but I have no idea why she’d think I was outside.”

Clary furrowed her eyebrows and looked Sebastian up and down. “Funny, that she’d worry enough to abandon her post when you just texted that you wanted to talk.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t sound like her, does it?” Sebastian replied, his voice deliberately light. “Maybe the stress of the job is getting to her.”

“Mmmm… Maybe,” Clary said quietly, straightening up a little. “Anyway, you ready for the test?”

“Of course,” Sebastian held out his hand for a moment, but closed it before Clary could drop the electrum into his hand. “Just out of curiosity… What do you think will happen to Jonathan when you catch him?”

Clary raised her chin. “I was ready to give him a chance, I wanted to try and understand him, but after seeing what he did to Max… A child…”

“Yes, it was awful,” Sebastian agreed, clearing his throat as he opened his hand once more. “He should be ashamed of himself.”

Clary put the piece of electrum into Sebastian’s hand, and his fingers closed around it, smiling at her.

~~~~~~~~~~

Aline was barely a block clear of the Institute when she spotted Raj running towards the Institute on the other side of the street. Weaving between the gridlocked cars, she grasped Raj’s arm, both of their expressions wild and worried.

“Sebastian is Jonathan,” Raj panted, gripping the top of Aline’s arms. “It’s him. We have to tell Alec.”

“It can’t be-”

“It is, think about it!” Raj shouted, sweeping his sweaty hair out of his face, “you said yourself, your cousin never broke the rules, never showed a sign of being addicted to yin fen, was never interested in men. Give me your stele.”

Numb, Aline gave her stele to Raj, who scrawled a fire message into the air, drew a few runes on his body, and put it back in her hand. “So… Sebastian… The real Sebastian Verlac...”

“I don’t know, but we need to get back, come on!” Raj urged, pulling her along towards the Institute.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Lightwoods were still waiting for Max to wake up when a fire message fizzled in the air over his bed. Alec snatched it out of the air, his stomach dropping when he read the message. He scrambled towards the door, snatching up his bow and quiver from the waiting room as he went. Izzy picked up the piece of parchment that Alec had dropped in his haste, and gasped.

“It’s Sebastian. He’s Jonathan.”

Alec skidded into the entrance hall to see Clary drop the electrum into Sebastian’s hand.

“Clary! It’s him!”

~~~~~~~~~~

For the few seconds that Sebastian held the electrum in his grip, he and Clary held eye contact. Clary searched his eyes for any hint of pain, her eyebrows set, and he searched hers for a sign of forgiveness, his lips twitching. At the sound of Alec’s voice, Clary didn’t even look up. She just grabbed Sebastian’s wrist and turned his hand over, exposing the angry red welt on his palm.

Sebastian reached up with his free hand to grasp Clary’s hair, his eyes hardening. He walked them towards the elevator as Clary grabbed for the blade in her thigh holster, ramming it into his gut with barely a flinch. He growled in pain, but he didn’t let her hair go, instead yanking her closer.

“I wanted both you and the mortal mirror,” he snarled, eyes flat black. “But I’ll settle for just the mirror.” He pulled his seraph blade with his free hand and raised it, but as he did one of Alec’s arrows pierced right through his palm, and Clary caught the sword as he dropped it, cutting his jacket so that the mirror in his pocket clattered to the floor.

“Get him!” Alec shouted as Sebastian tossed Clary to the floor, and half a dozen shadowhunters ran towards him.

Sebastian, or rather, Jonathan, looked at Alec with a wild look in his eyes before plunging down through a burning demonic portal. Alec yelled and thumped the wall as the portal closed, leaving a black scorch mark on the floor.

“I’ve got the mirror!” Clary panted, rubbing her head where Sebastian had torn some of her hair out. “I got it.”

Alec ran over to her side, crouching next to her. “Well done, good job. You might have just saved the downworld,” he said breathlessly, squeezing her shoulder.

“He got away,” Clary sighed, looking at the scorched remnants of Jonathan’s portal.

“Yeah, but we have the mirror.” Alec pointed out, holding out his hand for it. As Clary handed it over, it disintegrated, turning to dust between Alec and Clary’s hands. “What-”

“Huh?!”

Raj and Aline burst through the front entrance, poised for a fight. At the sight of Alec and Clary sat on the floor and the other shadowhunters hovering near them, Aline relaxed.

“You get him?”

Alec shook his head. “No, but he didn’t get the mirror.”

“I don’t know if that was the mirror,” Clary murmured, looking at the thick, black dust on hers and Alec’s hands.

~~~~~~~~~~

“The scar looks years old,” Bat marvelled, running his fingers along the skin where Russell’s claw marks had healed.

“Perks of being a werewolf,” Maia told him, handing him one of the spare t-shirts that they kept in the flat above the Jade Wolf. “Put that on, it’s a bit chilly down in the restaurant.”

Bat turned away to tug the shirt up over his head, feeling so hungry that he thought his knees might give. “I feel like I could eat half the menu.”

“Yeah, you probably will,” Maia snorted, “another side effect of the scratch. Turning makes you really hungry, especially the first time.”

“Maia…” Bat was frowning a little, his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans. “What happens to my family?”

“That’s up to you,” Maia told him. Families were something of a sore subject for her, so she didn’t quite meet his eyes. “You can be involved with them, but you’re gonna have to steer clear for a few weeks while you learn to control the change. Until then, the pack is a pretty good substitute.”

Bat nodded thoughtfully. “So you still talk to your family?”

“No,” Maia answered, folding her arms. “But not because I’m a werewolf. The whole trans thing…”

“Right,” Bat hummed, tutting. “People can be assholes, huh.”

“Yep,” Maia confirmed. “Come on, let’s go and get you some food. Luke will be happy to see you up on your feet.”

Downstairs, it seemed like every wolf in the pack had shown up to greet the new member of the pack, as well as celebrate the fact that Russell and his wolves had returned. Russell was sat in the corner, his pride a little bruised, but he didn’t look mad. Luke made a fuss of Bat, clapping him on the shoulder and giving him a shot of whiskey.

“Welcome to the pack, kid.” He enthused, clinking his shot glass with Bat’s. “To family,” Luke toasted, raising his voice to address the room, “to the New York pack!”

There was a happy rumble of assent through the room, and everyone gulped back their shot. Bat winced, dropping his shot glass onto the table before raising his hand to his mouth.

“Food now?” He asked Maia hopefully, making both she and Luke laugh.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Max is awake,” Aline told Raj as she walked into the ops centre to see him standing in the same spot she’d left him in two hours ago.

“That’s great,” Raj nodded, not taking his eyes off the screen in front of him. He was trying to pinpoint where Sebastian’s flat was; he couldn’t remember if it was on 24th or 25th street, and it was too dark to go looking at the streets in person.

“Maybe you should go and get some sleep… Or at least take a shower.”

“Haven’t got time,” Raj replied, his eyebrows furrowing as he scribbled another detail he remembered about the apartment onto the notebook on the table.

Aline put her hand on his shoulder. “Hey. Look at me.”

Raj swallowed hard. “I have to fix this. I brought him here.”

“He would have found a way in with or without you,” Aline insisted, forcibly turning him away from the screen. “You can’t blame yourself for this.”

“It was obvious, Aline, from day one, that there was something off about him. I’m supposed to be the spymaster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alec demotes me.” He rubbed his face, avoiding her eyes. “And the real Sebastian Verlac…”

“Alec isn’t going to demote you. We all fell for Jonathan’s trick. Even me, and I mean, I’ve known Seb my whole life. I should have known something was going on the second I heard that he was dating you…”

Somehow it made it worse that the real Sebastian Verlac wouldn’t have been interested in him. For the first time, Raj had felt like his feelings were truly mutual, and it turned out that the object of affection was stringing him along the whole time. He felt humiliated, and betrayed, and heartbroken.

“We’ll get him,” Raj breathed, turning to look back at the screen.

~~~~~~~~~~

Now that Max was awake, Maryse sent Alec and Izzy to bed to rest up. Tomorrow Alec had to co-ordinate the chase for Sebastian, but for now he had a few hours to himself in his quarters. The last thing he wanted was time to himself. So much had happened since the last time he slept, and he didn’t want to think of any of it.

He didn’t reflect on Valentine or Jonathan for one moment, though. His thoughts were filled with Magnus. Magnus’ hand in his while Max lay sleeping, Magnus telling him that he didn’t hate him, and then ending things between them. Magnus walking away from him.

Alec lay down on his back, toeing off his shoes, and stared up at the ceiling. He wondered if Magnus was lying awake too. He wondered if they’d ever lie awake together, again.

His vision blurred.

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary was in the shower when it occurred to her.

She’d been thinking about the mortal mirror for hours, now. If the artefact that Jocelyn had been protecting all those years wasn’t the mirror, where was the mortal mirror? As she wet her hair, the water running over her face, she got a flash of the moment she broke the surface of Lake Lyn, gasping for breath as she had that day.

She’d dreamed of that moment several times over the past few weeks, and the feeling of coming up for breath always came with the sound of glass breaking.

Clary froze, her hands full of shampoo.

The mortal mirror was Lake Lyn.

Chapter Text

Aline and Raj pressed their backs against the wall either side of the front door of Sebastian’s apartment. They held eye contact for a moment, Raj holding his stele and Aline with her spear held ready. With Aline’s nod, Raj spun and burned an explosive rune into the painted wood of Sebastian’s door, the both of them ducking out of the way of the blast before rolling into the apartment.

They’d prepared for a fight with Jonathan, and maybe even Valentine, but they hadn’t expected to find Jonathan calmly sitting at a desk facing away from them. Raj was nervous about facing him, but he didn’t hesitate to pull out his seraph sword.

“Stand up with your hands on your head,” Aline ordered, suppressing a shiver at the thought of possibly having to fight a demon that looked exactly like her favourite cousin.

Jonathan didn’t move, not even a little. Raj and Aline crept forwards, and when they got close enough, Aline poked him with the end of her spear, spinning the chair around. What she saw made her heart freeze in her chest, before picking back up with double the speed.

It was the corpse of Sebastian, the real Sebastian Verlac, propped up, his eyes wide and terrified even in death. It was obvious that he’d been tortured before he died; his body was black and bruised. Aline let out a shaking breath, and Raj swallowed hard. As Aline started to lower her spear, the corpse suddenly moved, the head snapping up to look right at Raj.

Raj and Aline had never fought in a team before, but they had trained together a few times as teenagers at the academy. Raj went in close with his swords, dodging a clumsy swipe of Sebastian’s hand and trying to keep the zombie busy as Aline jabbed at its core with her spear. Before Aline could land a blow, though, Sebastian’s corpse jumped up to the ceiling and started crawling along it like a spider.

Luckily, the ceiling wasn’t so high that Aline couldn’t reach him with her weapon, and she skewered Sebastian fairly easily, the corpse falling limply to the ground as the possession demon screeched and rushed out of its mouth in a rush of black smoke. Aline fell to her knees next to her cousin’s body, and turned him over, her stomach in knots.

“I’m sorry, Aline,” Raj murmured, focussing his eyes on her rather than the corpse of the man he thought he’d loved.

~~~~~~~~~~

Inquisitor Herondale had been leaving Alec messages demanding an update every hour for two days now, and when Raj hung up after telling Alec what happened in Sebastian’s apartment, Alec realised he couldn’t put it off any longer. He went to his office and sent a video call request to Inquisitor Herondale’s office, smoothing down his shirt as he waited for her to call him.

“Mr Lightwood, I was starting to think there was a problem with your WiFi,” the Inquisitor said dryly.

“Apologies, Inquisitor,” Alec nodded, “I honestly haven’t had time to update you. A lot has happened since my last report.”

“There’s a rumour here in Alicante that you have the mortal mirror in your Institute. Is this true?”

“Yes and no,” Alec answered, resting his hands on his desk. “We located the artefact that Jocelyn and Valentine believed was the mortal mirror, but it turned out to be a red herring.”

“A red herring?” The Inquisitor looked concerned. “So the mortal mirror is still lost?”

“No, Clary Fray believes that she knows where the true mortal mirror is located, and I have to be honest, her theory holds water,” both figuratively and literally, he thought, though he didn’t divulge that particular piece of information.

The Inquisitor leaned forwards. “Well? Where is it?”

“Right there in Idris,” Alec told her, “we believe that Lake Lyn is the mortal mirror. The surface of its waters reflect the sky, and it is the site where Raziel first appeared to Jonathan Shadowhunter.”

For a moment, the Inquisitor sat and considered the new information. “I have to admit, it makes sense,” she allowed, her fingers over her lips. “What of Jonathan Morganstern? Have you located him?”

Alec scratched at his hairline. “We have uncovered his disguise. He was glamoured as Sebastian Verlac. Unfortunately, my staff found the real Sebastian Verlac dead in the apartment he’d been living in. Jonathan Morganstern is in the wind, and we believe he is with Valentine. The two of them think that we have the mortal mirror, so they will stay in New York until they find a way to get it back. Of course, we don’t have the mirror, so it will simply be a matter of catching them when they attempt to take over the Institute. We’ll be ready for them this time.”

“I hope you’re right, Mr Lightwood. You are clinging onto your leadership role at the New York Institute by the skin of your teeth. I suggest you capture the Morgansterns quickly.” She sighed, looking at her desk and then back into the camera. “I will let the Consul know about the mortal mirror and have him station shadowhunters near the shore of Lake Lyn. In the meantime, I will let the Verlac family know-”

“Aline Penhallow has portalled to tell Sebastian’s parents in person. She is… Was, his cousin. She will be portalling back here soon. No need to disturb the family.” Alec told her, and she nodded.

“Good, good. Keep me updated, Mr Lightwood, or I’ll have to come down there and supervise your methods myself.”

Alec gave her a small salute, and hung up the call. He figured he’d better go check on Izzy’s progress rebuilding her tracking device, but first he wanted to call into the morgue to check that Sebastian’s body had been processed properly. He wasn’t surprised to find Raj there, standing over Sebastian’s body, the white sheet pulled down to Sebastian’s chest.

“Hey,” Alec murmured, walking over to squeeze Raj’s shoulder. “How you doing?”

Raj shrugged one shoulder. “It’s weird. I didn’t know this guy. He’s a stranger to me, but I feel drawn to him. I thought I was in love with him.”

“Maybe you were in love,” Alec shrugged, “Jonathan tricked us all. And… You don’t know that Jonathan didn’t genuinely feel-”

“You saw what he did to Max,” Raj insisted, folding his arms. “He’s not capable of love.”

“Then why did he leave you alive?” Alec asked.

Raj shrugged. “So he could rub it in, maybe.” Even as he said it, he knew it wasn’t true. Jonathan had looked genuinely conflicted that night in the park. He’d left his coat over Raj to keep him warm. There was a seed of fondness deep inside the monster, Raj knew that, but if anything that just made him feel worse. “He used me.”

“I know how you feel,” Alec said quietly, “Hodge did the exact same thing to me. It’s fucked.”

“I made it so easy for him.”

“Me, too,” Alec murmured. “Guys like us, we just want to be loved. As far as weaknesses go, it’s not the worst one to have.”

Raj smiled ruefully. “I guess.”

“I’m calling an emergency downworld cabinet meeting,” Alec told him, “come on. Come work security for me. I have a feeling the tensions are going to be a lot worse than usual.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I just got dumped, don’t say a word,” Magnus insisted as Raphael walked through the door with a disapproving frown on his face, swirling the extra strong martini round his glass.

“You did not get dumped,” Cat pointed out, “you were the dumper.”

Magnus shrugged, taking a long sip of his drink. “I still feel like a piece of shit.”

“So your plan for the emergency downworld cabinet is to show up hammered?” Luke asked, hands on his hips.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m drunk,” Magnus huffed, finishing the martini off. “I’ve accepted the Seelie Queen’s offer to speak for the warlocks.”

“So did I,” Raphael admitted. “The vampires need her protection. I can’t risk it.”

Luke folded his arms. “I don’t like it, but the pack voted to accept the Seelie Queen’s help. Most of the pack now aren’t fighters, we’re going to need time to train them, and the Seelie Realm can buy us that time.”

“So she now controls the entire downworld,” Ragnor piped up, nursing his own martini. He and Magnus made eye contact, and Ragnor winked at him.

“I don’t like it,” Cat insisted, “she’s not to be trusted, and you know the moment she sees an opening she’ll declare war on the Clave.”

“What choice do we have? Valentine has the soul sword and it’s only a matter of time before Lightwood fumbles it and they get the mortal mirror.” Raphael grumbled, straightening his sleeve cuffs.

Magnus gave him a sharp look but didn’t argue. He had no idea what was going on with the shadowhunters, and he was trying his very best not to care, but he still had faith that Alec would do everything he could to protect the downworld. With one last gulp he finished his martini, and checked his watch.

“Well,” he sighed, getting to his feet. “It’s time to go and hear what exactly the shadowhunters are doing to catch Valentine and his little brat.” With a wave of his hands he cast a portal to come out on the steps of the Institute, and Luke led the way through.

The Seelie Queen was already waiting for them in the conference room, and as Raphael, Luke and Magnus walked into the room, a satisfied smile came over her face. “Gentlemen,” she hummed, “I’m glad you could make it.”

“The pleasure is ours, Your Majesty,” Magnus bowed before taking his place in the seat to her right. Raphael and Luke exchanged glances as they also took their seats. “Why did the shadowhunters call this meeting?”

“Never mind that, warlock,” the Seelie Queen replied, “you are under my protection now. No need to worry about shadowhunter politics.”

Magnus couldn’t say that he liked that, and judging from the way Luke was squirming, he wasn’t alone in that sentiment. “Of course, Your Majesty.”

Alec and Raj showed up a few minutes later, Alec pausing in his stride when he saw the downworld leaders all sat closely together. “Thank you all for coming.” He said, pulling up his own chair on the opposite side of the table to the Seelie Queen. “I’m going to cut right to the chase. Given the situation, it’s best we get right to business. We need help tracking Valentine and Jonathan.”

“So you lost the demon spawn,” the Seelie Queen drawled, her eyes sharp on Alec’s face. “How disappointing.”

“Magnus, do you think you could-”

“I speak for the entire downworld,” the Seelie Queen interrupted him, and Alec’s eyebrows rose. “We have come to an agreement.”

Alec looked at Magnus, who was avoiding his eye. “Is this true? Magnus?”

“It is,” Raphael told him, eager to take the heat off Magnus. “We have forged an alliance.”

“Then…” Alec swallowed hard. “Your Majesty, I appeal to you, help us track and capture Valentine. You have eyes everywhere, you could find him in-”

“Yes, shadowhunter, I could,” the Queen told him, looking down her nose at him.

“Then help us, and we can capture-”

“Capture him? So he can escape custody again?” The Queen asked coolly. “No, shadowhunter, I will not be assisting you in your manhunt. The downworld protects the downworld, nothing more, nothing less. We owe you nothing.”

Alec raised his chin, knotting his fingers together on the table. “With our combined forces, we can-”

“I have no need of your help, shadowhunter. Stay out of our way and let us deal with Valentine as we see fit, or else you and I will end up clashing.” The Seelie Queen told him, getting swiftly to her feet. “This meeting is over.”

She and the downworld leaders filed out, including Magnus, who didn’t give Alec a second look. As the door of the conference room snapped shut behind Raphael, Alec put his head in his hands and sighed loudly. It seemed that the shadowhunters were on their own, and now they had to worry about running into the downworlder hunting parties, too.

“Wonderful,” Alec muttered, pushing himself up from the table to go back to work.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Got it,” Maia confirmed, glancing at the wolves who were standing in the Jade Wolf waiting for orders.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Luke promised, “but we can’t wait, we need to get the wolves moving now.”

“Yeah, I’ll get their asses in gear,” Maia assured him before hanging up the phone. “Orders from the alpha!”

Most of the wolves straightened up at the news, but Russell folded his arms. “Luke beat me fair in square in a fight for authority. I take my orders from him, not you.”

Maia narrowed her eyes at him. “These orders come from Luke, I’m just delivering them.”

“Yeah,” Bat piped up, “that’s her job, she’s the beta wolf.”

“The beta wolf?” Russell asked, looking at the new boy.

“Yeah,” Bat shrugged like it was obvious. “Everyone knows that every alpha has a beta he trusts to look after the pack when he’s away. Duh.”

Russell didn’t look convinced, but the other wolves hummed in agreement. “Fine,” he grumbled, eyes darting to the rest of the pack and back to Maia. “What do we have to do?”

“We need to head to the apartment that Valentine’s kid was living in and pick up his scent, then we hunt him.” Maia explained. The rest of the wolves, Russell included, seemed to perk up at this news, excited to have free rein to chase Valentine themselves. “Anyone got a problem with that?” None of the wolves spoke up, and Maia nodded. “Right then. Move out!”

The pack started to pile out of the Jade Wolf, most of them shifting into their wolf form. Bat went to follow, but Maia caught his arm.

“Thanks for the back-up.” She smiled, tilting her head to the side. “I guess if I’m the beta, that makes you the gamme wolf.”

Bat snorted. “That sounds better than omega.”

“I knew you’d be a hentai guy.”

“Not hentai,” Bat told her, “marvel fanfiction.”

“Somehow that’s worse.” Maia chuckled, patting him on the back. “Remind me to set you up with Simon.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“What do you need from me?” Izzy asked, looking up from her work. Alec came to stand opposite her, leaning against the workbench. “I’m only a couple more hours off finishing this. Luckily Magnus made a spare crystal, so-”

“I need you to go to the Seelie Queen and convince her that we aren’t the enemy,” Alec told her, “you mentioned that she seemed keen to collect you. Do you think you could use her fondness of you to our advantage?”

Izzy didn’t much like the sound of going back to the Seelie Realm, but she knew Alec needed all the help he could get now that the downworlders had joined forces and shut them out. “Yeah, I think I could,” she answered, “you sure you want me to prioritise this over the tracker?”

Alec looked between the redesigned microscope and Izzy’s face, and deliberated. “Be as quick as you can with the Queen, then get back here.”

“Got it,” Izzy nodded, coming around the workbench to squeeze Alec’s arm. “Leave it with me.”

~~~~~~~~~~

As he stepped out of the portal into the Seelie Realm, Magnus tucked his hands into his pockets to check that the things that had been in them had come through the portal with him. Sometimes portals to different planes were temperamental, and Magnus had lost dozens of handkerchiefs over the years portalling to and from the seelie realm. He frowned a little when he felt a silk square in his right pocket. He brought it out and his heart sank as he remembered Alec giving him the omamori. In all the excitement, he’d forgotten all about it, and he looked at it for a few long moments, wondering what Alec was doing, whether he was thinking of Magnus, too.

“Magnus!”

Madzie’s cry of happiness pulled him away from that train of thought and he dropped the charm back into his pocket as he caught sight of Madzie running towards him, opening his arms for her to jump into them.

“Sweet pea!” Magnus cooed, swinging her around in a circle. “Are you having fun?”

“Lots of warlocks,” she answered, looking over Magnus’ shoulder at the other warlock kids playing.

“Mmmmm, are they all playing nice with you?” Magnus asked, and Madzie nodded, craning backwards like she wanted Magnus to put her down, so he did. “Where’s your Mommies?”

Madzie took his hand and led him past the grove where the warlock children were playing, right to a huge, house-sized rosebud. She patted the petal as they got close enough and it peeled back to reveal an opening. Magnus allowed her to pull him through the door into a small but cosy room, where Cat, Ragnor and Dot were sitting talking. They all stopped abruptly when they saw that Madzie had brought Magnus.

“How is it up there, Junior?” Ragnor asked, conjuring a chair for Magnus to sit on.

“We’ve been given orders,” Magnus said smoothly, “the Queen wants our help maintaining anti-shadowhunter wards over the city. Valentine is still after the mortal mirror, which is under the protection of the New York Institute. He won’t leave the city without it. It’s our job to hem him in so that the wolves can hunt him down.”

“What, all of us?” Cat demanded, looking at Madzie.

“No, no,” Magnus assured her, “just you, me, Lorenzo and Ragnor. Some of the Seelie Knights are going to help us, as well.”

“I wanna help!” Madzie volunteered.

Magnus smiled at her, leaning forward like he was going to tell her a secret. “You have the most important job in the whole downworld, sweet pea.”

Madzie looked up at him, her eyes big and round.

“I am leaving you in charge of all the warlocks. You have to make sure they all stay safe and don’t cause any trouble.” Magnus explained, “including Dot. You think you can do that?”

Madzie nodded, conjuring her own seat at the table between Cat and Dot, knotting her fingers together on top of the table, all business. Dot and Magnus looked at her fondly. “Got it, boss.”

Magnus gave her a little salute as he pushed away from the table. “Come on, I want to get there before Lorenzo, otherwise he’s going to try and take charge as always.”

“God forbid,” Ragnor grumbled, “I am not taking orders from that little weasel.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy wouldn’t have come back to the Seelie Realm for just anybody. If she had her way she’d never see the Seelie Queen again, but Alec was right. She had an advantage. The Seelie Queen was keen to recruit her, and that put Izzy in a unique position.

“Isabelle Lightwood,” the Queen didn’t sound surprised to see her. It gave Izzy the uneasy feeling that her visit was all a part of the Queen’s plan. “Lovely to see you again.”

For a moment Izzy said nothing, curtseying instead. At least this time, she told herself, she didn’t have Clary and Maia with her. “It’s a pleasure, Your Majesty. I wish this were a social visit, but I’m here on business.”

“Oh, yes,” the Seelie Queen smiled, “I imagine you are.” She leaned back in her throne, confident. “What can I do for you?”

“I’ve come to appeal to your boundless wisdom, Your Majesty,” Izzy explained, “in the past year or so, the New York Institute has worked closely with the downworld. My brother and I respect downworlders and at every opportunity we’ve sought to grow closer to them, celebrating our similarities and advocating for downworlder interests in Alicante. It’s surprising and saddening that you would see this unique relationship end.”

The Seelie Queen hummed. “Pretty words, Isabelle, but your brother actively hid the truth about the soul sword from, not only the downworld at large, but his warlock lover. To me, it seems as if you and your brother’s words are nothing but that. Words.”

“Alec admits that he made a mistake, and makes no excuse for it.” Izzy pointed out. “He is keen to make it up to the downworld by capturing Valentine dead or alive. At this very moment, he is-”

“You will not convince me to co-operate with the Clave, Isabelle Lightwood,” the Seelie Queen insisted, raising her chin. “If you and your brother are so keen to act for the interest of the downworld, you would renounce the Clave and join me. If you do not… You will be on the losing side of this war.”

Izzy frowned. “The Clave is not at war with the downworld. We are both at war with Valentine and his band of rebel shadowhunters.”

“For now,” the Queen replied, her eyes inscrutable and glittering.

“You want to start a war with the Clave? For what reason?”

“Why are wars ever started?” The Seelie Queen asked, tapping her fingertips on the armrest of her throne, “society as we know it is not working as it should. It is time for change.”

“But thousands will die, isn’t it better to try and work with us to-”

“War will come, and you will stand by my side or die, angel-blooded one,” the Queen insisted. “Choose wisely.”

Izzy swallowed hard, and curtseyed once more. “Thank you for your time, Your Majesty. I would return to my people now.”

The Seelie Queen narrowed her eyes almost imperceptibly. “Watch your step, Isabelle Lightwood.”

Izzy curtseyed one last time, and made a hasty exit from the court. The Seelie Queen seemed determined to engineer a war, and Izzy knew that her time would be better spent fixing the tracking device which would allow them to track Jonathan and Valentine.

~~~~~~~~~~

Maia knew that there was no way she was going to make it back to the Jade Wolf or her apartment. She was only a few blocks from the Institute and bleeding badly; Valentine’s spawn had managed to cut her quite deep as she leapt over him towards Valentine, resulting in a nasty gash along the length of her abdomen and stomach. It was impossible to stem the flow of blood running on four legs, but if she turned back to human form she’d be naked and mortally wounded in a busy district of the city.

Her only option was to run to the Institute as fast as she could.

By the time she reached the Institute steps, her head was spinning, and she whined for attention when she spotted Clary patrolling the perimeter. Clary ran over to her, her eyes wide, and helped Maia up the steps and into the entrance hall.

“I need a medic!” She shouted, quickly taking off her coat. “Can you change back?” She asked, and Maia shook her head, panting. She didn’t have enough energy left.

Maia’s wolf was huge, and Clary had no hope of carrying her by herself. Alec came out of the ops centre and helped Clary carry Maia to the infirmary.

“What happened?” Alec demanded, and Clary shrugged as she pressed her jacket to the cut along Maia’s belly. Alec grabbed as much gauze and bandages as he could carry once Maia was situated on a bed, patting the medic on the shoulder when she appeared.

The next few hours were a blur for Maia, phasing in and out of consciousness. When she came to, Clary was sitting with her, and Alec and the medic were nowhere to be seen. She realised she was in her human form, and a sheet was pulled up over her to cover her nakedness. With a soft groan, she reached out to Clary, who caught her fingers and brought her hand up to her mouth to kiss.

“How are you feeling?” Clary asked, and Maia moaned, squeezing her eyes shut.

“Groggy. What happened?”

“I don’t know, you showed up at the Institute wounded. The medic stitched you up and gave you a blood transfusion. She said no organs were damaged, but you lost a lot of blood. Your healing has kicked in, though, so you should be okay in a couple of hours.”

Maia nodded, shifting a little to get more comfortable. “The rest of the pack?”

“I called Luke,” Clary said, “only a few minor injuries. What were you doing? How did you get hurt? Luke wouldn’t say.”

“We were tracking Valentine and the son,” Maia answered, “Valentine figured out that you don’t have the mirror.”

“What? How would he know that?!” Clary gasped, texting Alec that she needed to speak to him.

“I don’t know, but they’re trying to get to Idris. Heard Valentine say that he had a way of getting past the wards-”

“Wards? What wards?”

Maia looked at Clary suspiciously. “I don’t know if I should tell you. You didn’t say anything about-”

“The soul sword,” Clary nodded, “I know. But if there are anti-shadowhunter wards somewhere in the city, someone could get hurt if they run into them. We haven’t been told about them.”

“The warlocks and seelies have put wards in a bubble around the entire city. Valentine can’t walk or fly through them. They have him hemmed in.”

Clary frowned. “Why didn’t Magnus warn us?”

Maia sat up a little, groaning in pain. “Why didn’t you warn us about the soul sword?”

“It wasn’t my call, Maia, it was Alec’s.”

“Since when do you follow orders that you know are wrong?” Maia fired back, narrowing her eyes. “You’re not that person who blindly follows orders so don’t pretend to be.”

She was right, and Clary knew it. “I don’t know,” she answered honestly, “I don’t know what my rationale was, I don’t know what me and Alec were thinking. We just hoped that we’d get the sword back before we were forced to lie to you and Magnus and Luke. We didn’t want to hide it from you, but we were scared about a possible uprising.”

“How did that work out for you?” Maia snorted.

“Not great,” Clary admitted quietly.

~~~~~~~~~~

Newly motivated by the Seelie Queen’s menacing attitude, Izzy returned to her workshop as soon as she’d filled Alec in on her mission to the Seelie Realm and got back to work on the tracking device. An intern came to tell her that Maia had been found injured outside the Institute but that she was being looked after by the medics and watched over by Clary, so Izzy stayed where she was and focussed on finishing the tracker.

As soon as it was done, she paged Alec and headed to the infirmary, where she found Maia awake and alert, and looking distinctly put out. Clary was sitting at her bedside, her expression uncomfortable and maybe a little sheepish. Maia, it seemed, had given Clary a piece of her mind. When Izzy entered the infirmary, both women looked over at her, Clary letting out a sigh of relief.

“The tracker is ready for a drop of your blood,” Izzy explained, putting the device on the bed next to Maia’s and going to grab a needle and syringe. Clary rolled up her sleeve as Izzy prepped the needle. “How are you feeling?” She asked Maia as she took some blood from Clary.

“Physically, a bit out of it,” Maia said quietly, not quite meeting Izzy’s eyes. “Emotionally? Betrayed.”

Izzy winced at her words. The truth was Alec and Clary hadn’t told her about the soul sword either, but she could understand why Maia had assumed that she’d been lying, too. “When we get five minutes, the three of us will sit down and talk about it. For now, we’ve got two homicidal maniacs to find.”

She put a drop of Clary’s blood onto a slide and slipped it into the microscope, her heart leaping when the red crystal in the base immediately started glowing.

“Is it Jonathan or Valentine?” Clary asked, her eyes wide.

“The magic should show me if I…” She looked down the microscope, the image of Jonathan walking through a cemetery swimming into focus. “He’s in a-”

The Institute alarms started to blare, and the three women looked up at the ceiling, startled. “Looks like the patrols found him the same time you did.” Maia said.

“You gonna be alright if we…?” Izzy asked, and Maia nodded.

“If you catch either of them consider yourselves forgiven for the soul sword, go,” she insisted, reaching for the jug of water on the table next to her bed.

Clary pressed a kiss to Maia’s hair before following Izzy out to the ops centre, where Alec was organising a team.

“You found Jonathan?” Izzy guessed, and Alec shook his head.

“A dozen forsaken at a cemetery a few blocks away,” he answered, his eyes on Izzy’s tracker. “Is it done?”

“Yes, and it showed Jonathan at that same cemetery.”

Alec straightened up. “Then we’re going to have to go ourselves.” He stepped up onto the platform and called for quiet, holding one hand up in the air. “Everyone! Jonathan Morgenstern is co-ordinating the forsaken attack. We’re going to have three teams of four. Aline, I want you to take a team to focus on taking down the forsaken. Raj, you’re going to lead the second team, keep mundanes away from-”

“I need to be on the team to deal with Jonathan,” Raj insisted.

Alec hesitated, his eyes darting to Aline. She said nothing, but shrugged. “Alright,” he allowed, you’re with me, Izzy and Clary. Lydia,” he hated to call on her, but she was just about the only other member of his staff that had leadership experience. “You lead the team to keep mundanes away from the area.”

“Will do,” she confirmed.

“The rest of you, secure the Institute. It’s possible that this is a distraction to get us to lower our guard here so Valentine can attack. Maximum security.” Alec commanded. “Let’s go!”

~~~~~~~~~~

When they got to the cemetery, Alec suggested that they split up into twos to search for Jonathan. Alec went with Izzy, to make the most of their parabatai strength, and Clary stayed with Raj, the two of them working well together after the few dozen patrol shifts they’d shared before Raj was promoted.

“I hope you don’t blame yourself for this,” Clary murmured as they crept around the cemetery, both looking around keenly.

“How could I not?” Raj replied, “I made it so easy to infiltrate the Institute, I almost got Max killed-”

“You didn’t do that, Jonathan did,” Clary insisted softly, elbowing him. “He would’ve found a way in somewhere, you were just the poor bastard he came across first.”

Raj didn’t buy it, not really. “I have to be a part of bringing him down. I have to prove that I’m worth my position, that I’m not just some lonely idiot who falls for the first double agent to cross his path.”

“No-one thinks that, Raj, I promise.” Clary told him. “We’ve all made mistakes in the way we handled this situation; none of us are fully equipped to deal with this shit show. Don’t blame yourself.”

Raj shrugged. “Either way I’ll feel better if I get a few good punches in.”

Clary snorted, but didn’t reply, her eyes scanning their surroundings.

“It’s gotta be hard for you, too. He’s your brother.” He reminded her tentatively, and Clary hummed, her eyebrows raising.

“For a moment I thought that maybe I had another shot at having a family. I mean, I have Luke, he’ll always be my Dad, but… I don’t know. Part of me hoped that Jonathan would be…”

“Not a child murderer?” Raj tried.

Clary huffed out a laugh. “Exactly. Same as you,” she admitted, “I’ll feel better once I get a few good punches in.”

“I think Jonathan is probably in one of these mausoleums,” Raj pointed to the small buildings scattered around them, “we should check them out.”

“Lead the way,” Clary agreed, ready with her seraph blades.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Maia’s healing well?” Alec asked, his bow primed with an arrow. The two of them were heading for a mausoleum that looked like a good place for a creepy half-demon murderer to hide in.

“Yeah, she’ll probably be completely sorted by the time we get back.” Izzy nodded, following closely behind him as he stepped into the mausoleum, checking their surroundings.

“That’s good.”

Izzy’s eyes landed on Alec for a moment. “How’s Magnus?”

The click of Alec’s throat swallowing was audible. “I wouldn’t know.”

“Maybe you should text him.”

“Mmmm, if I get a moment between running the Institute and chasing Clary’s evil brother I’ll give him a call.” Alec muttered sarcastically.

Izzy snorted. “I didn’t mean this second.”

“He made it pretty clear how he feels about us when he put those shadowhunter-killing wards up without warning us,” Alec pointed out, “any of us could’ve walked into one accidentally and got fried.”

“Oh my God, don’t be so dramatic, you don’t know that the wards are set up to kill shadowhunters. When have you ever known Magnus to kill anybody?” Izzy huffed, rolling her eyes. “You’re both pouting, and it would be cute if it wasn’t so-”

“Wait a minute-” Alec stopped short, lowering his bow slowly. He’d spotted a vicar crouched down in the corner, seemingly reading the inscriptions on the lowest shelves. “Uhhh… Hello?”

The vicar turned around sharply, exposing his purpled, rabid face. He was a forsaken.

Alec fired off an arrow straight through its throat, but its growl must have alerted the others, because half a dozen forsakens got to their feet from where they’d been lurking, lying down on the ground. Izzy pulled Alec back towards the exit, but two forsaken ambled in through the doorway and grabbed for the both of them.

Jonathan darted behind the forsaken, and Alec shot an arrow at him but narrowly missed, Jonathan moving too fast for him to track. Alec abandoned his bow and grasped two of his arrows to defend himself as the forsaken boxed him and Izzy in. He hated fighting at close quarters, but he wasn’t awful at it. It didn’t take he and Izzy long to slaughter the forsaken, only sustaining a couple of bruises in the process.

“We have to go after Jonathan,” Izzy panted, activating a stamina rune. “He’ll be after Clary, and maybe Raj, too.”

Alec nodded, picking his bow up from the ground and following Izzy as she jogged out of the mausoleum. “Bet you anything they’re in that one,” he muttered, pointing at a mausoleum across the way that a few forsaken were running into.

~~~~~~~~~~

Raj and Clary were back to back, fighting off the forsaken that had poured into the mausoleum, both panting harshly and starting to tire. They didn’t have time to activate a stamina rune, or any runes at all; the forsaken just kept coming. Clary grunted and pushed away from Raj to slice up a row of three forsaken with better efficiency, and the forsaken surrounded Raj, threatening to overwhelm him.

Clary just had enough time to drag her stele over a stamina rune when she felt an agonising burn and a pull in her shoulder, turning her head to see Jonathan standing beside her holding a chain, which was attached to a barbed hook, which was stuck in her shoulder. With glittering black eyes, Jonathan started to drag her backwards by the chain, Clary letting out a blood-curdling scream.

Raj scrambled to reach her, but the crowd of forsaken trying to grab him was too thick, and he shouted out in frustration, anger and fear. When he had half a moment he looked over to the entrance, and saw that Jonathan and Clary were gone, but Izzy and Alec came running through the door to help him.

“Raj?!” Alec yelled, trying to see him through the forsaken.

“Jonathan has Clary!” He responded, finally cutting through to get to the Lightwoods, “I’m going after him.” Raj didn’t give either of them any time to stop him, activating his speed and healing runes and darting after them.

Alec leapt up onto a statue, giving him a little height over the forsaken that had now turned their attention to him and Izzy. “Go after them,” Alec told her, “I’ve got this.”

“You sure?” Izzy asked, knocking forsaken over with her staff for Alec to shoot with his arrows.

“Yes, Clary and Raj need the backup, go!” He didn’t look over to see Izzy run off in the same direction as Raj, but he did feel her apprehension fade into focus. There were so many forsaken he had a brief thought that he might run out of arrows, and he jumped down past the forsaken and started backing up towards the exit, firing off shots at a rapid pace. There were only six forsaken left but they were too close, and when Alec went to grab two arrows to go dual wield he found only one left. He did his best to fight with it, and took down two of them, but one of them slipped around his undefended side and tackled him, knocking him down onto the ground hard enough that his arrow flew out of his hand and rolled away in the mud.

Alec blocked the blows of the forsaken on top of him, but more were closing on his head. His mind was blank, completely focussed on getting out of the sticky situation he’d found himself in, but all of a sudden a four-pronged strike of lightning came down and hit each remaining forsaken in the crown of their head, leaving them unconscious and twitching. Alec quickly scrambled up to his feet, eyes wide. It wasn’t even raining, let alone storming.

Magnus.

He whirled around, looking desperately for the warlock, and he thought he saw a spiky-haired silhouette dart between gravestones, but then a cloud went over the moon, and Alec couldn’t see it anymore.

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary could barely think through the pain. There was a rune burning in her mind’s eye, Ithuriel begging her to use it, but her stele was in her pocket on the side of her injured shoulder, and she couldn’t reach it. Jonathan was grunting as he dragged her, finally stopping halfway across a bridge and tossing the end of the chain over a beam, using it to heave Clary up until she was dangling by her shoulder, face to face with her brother at last.

“I wanted to love you,” Clary spat, trying to kick at him with her legs.

Jonathan shook his head. “No, you didn’t. If you did you’d try and see things from my-”

“You tried to kill Max!” Clary shouted, tears streaming down her face. “You’re a coward! Why didn’t you just come to us? Why all the lying? The killing?”

“Once you’re out of the way,” Jonathan panted, his eyes wild as he looked into hers, “father and I will be together, and I will prove myself as his greatest creation, and we will watch your world burn.”

“You think you’re his favourite?” Clary choked out a laugh. “Then where is he? He left you behind, Jonathan. Again.”

“No,” Jonathan growled, “he’s coming back for me.”

Clary scoffed. “No, Jonathan, he isn’t. He hates you. He burned you alive and sent you to literal hell, why would he come back for you now that he has everything he wants? He doesn’t need you anymore.”

“Shut up!” Jonathan screeched, his hand around her throat. “I am his favourite! I am his most powerful creation! Me!”

“Yeah?” Clary croaked, her lip curling, “prove it.”

“I know what you’re trying to do,” Jonathan scoffed.

Clary stopped kicking, meeting Jonathan’s eyes. “Is it working?”

Jonathan paused, his eyes narrowing. He let go of the chain, and Clary slumped to the ground. She grasped the hook and yanked it out of her shoulder, crying out in pain and quickly drawing an iratze on her stomach as Jonathan stalked back and forth across the bridge, blocking her way.

He tossed a seraph blade to her, spinning his own in his hand. “Get up.”

“Alright,” Clary panted, raising the seraph blade with her good arm. “Let’s do this.”

“You’re hardly a match for me, dear sister, I fought off Azazel.”

“We’ll see,” Clary shrugged, knowing damn well that he was right. Even on her best day, she couldn’t stand up to him, and she couldn’t lift her left arm. Her only hope was the Lightwoods and Raj coming to help her.

Jonathan ran at her with a roar, and she ducked out of the way. Very quickly she realised that her only hope was to keep dodging and hope that he got tired. He snagged her a couple of times, and he was getting angrier and angrier with each dodge she pulled. “Face me!”

“Nah, I’m good,” Clary muttered, yelping as he grabbed a handful of her hair and yanked her close. “Pretty sure that’s not-”

Jonathan stabbed her through the stomach, and Clary’s words died on her lips. He let her go and she fell backwards slowly, Jonathan chuckling quietly. “You taught me that one, dear sister.”

Clary choked and tasted blood, squeezing her eyes shut against the pain. When she opened her eyes, she saw Jonathan standing over her, his seraph sword held over her face like the Sword of Damacles. “Jonathan-”

“Don’t bother begging for your life now,” Jonathan panted, his face twisted with hatred. “You never loved me.”

“Yeah, well,” Raj said, barrelling into Jonathan and sending him flying over Clary’s head, his seraph blade clattering to the ground. Raj kicked it off the edge of the bridge and advanced on Jonathan, his face smeared with the purple blood of forsaken. “Some of us did.”

Jonathan looked up at him with wide eyes. “Rajesh-”

“Don’t say a goddamn word,” Raj warned, pointing his sword at Jonathan’s throat. “Not a fucking word. I trusted you, you sick son of a bitch! I wouldn’t have cared about your goddamn demon blood! I would have loved you!”

Jonathan slowly started to raise his hands over his head, and Raj stared down at him, breathing heavily. “I’m sorry.”

“No you’re fucking not. Get up.” Raj spat.

“Alright, alright,” Jonathan murmured, slowly getting up. Raj stood his ground, keeping him at arms length, the point of his seraph blade an inch away from Jonathan’s throat. Jonathan’s hands lowered, going behind his head.

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Raj muttered.

Jonathan grabbed the daggers hidden under his jacket and deflected Raj’s sword away from his throat. Raj recovered and gave as good as he got, his jaw set as he and Jonathan fought, their weapons clanging together again and again.

“Don’t make me kill you, Rajesh, please…” Jonathan whispered when they found themselves toe to toe, Raj’s sword locked down by Jonathan’s hip.

Raj wrenched his arm down, going for a spin away, but Jonathan was too quick, and stabbed him upwards between his ribs. Raj gasped for air and nothing came. He tried to continue fighting, but Jonathan kicked him backwards and he fell, sprawling onto his back. “Go on then,” Raj wheezed, spitting blood out of his mouth. “Go on, do it.”

He didn’t dare to hope that it was any sense of affection that made Jonathan pause. Raj struggled for air, looking up at the man he thought he’d fallen in love with, and he watched as Jonathan stepped past him, heading back to Clary, who’d struggled to her feet, her shoulder half healed thanks to the iratzes she’d been drawing over and over on her skin.

Luckily for Raj and Clary, Izzy arrived on the scene and swung her staff at Jonathan’s head, sending him reeling. Clary rushed to Raj’s side to help him activate a healing rune as Izzy started to fight Jonathan, her staff enabling her to keep him too far away to use the short daggers he had left.

Izzy felt like she was in her element, her eyes on Jonathan, blocking his every attack. She knew, instinctively, where his blows could be blocked, and her mind accelerated, taking over time itself and seeing, clear as crystal, the sequence of moves that he was going to make. Before she could think twice about it, she stepped forward, perfectly avoiding his rapid attacks, and shoved her staff right through his middle.

Jonathan looked as surprised as Izzy felt, his face slack with shock, and Izzy pulled her staff back. Clary staggered to Izzy’s side, and Izzy relaxed a little as Jonathan’s hands pressed to the wound in his stomach, trying to stem the flow of blood. He raised his eyes to Izzy and lunged, but she’d already seen it coming, and kicked him in the sternum, sending him sailing off the bridge and into the river below.

Raj groaned behind them, and Clary and Izzy ran to his side, helping him to sit up. “Is he…?”

“Yeah,” Clary panted, looking at Izzy. “How did you know…?”

“I don’t know,” Izzy admitted. “I just… I saw it, I saw what he was going to do, and I just… Knew how to stop him from doing it. I don’t know.”

“Where’s Alec?” Raj asked, leaning heavily against Clary.

“I don’t know, but he’s safe,” Izzy assured him. “He’s… Oh, there he is.”

Clary and Raj twisted around to see Alec running towards them, his face flecked with blood.

“Where’s Jonathan?” He asked, and the three of them pointed at the river. Alec’s eyes widened. “Oh.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary got the bed that Maia had just vacated, and Raj the one next to her. Maia had gone back to the pack, still not quite ready to forgive and forget, though she did give both Izzy and Clary a swift kiss on the cheek as she left. It wouldn’t take long for the iratze runes to fix Clary and Raj’s injuries, but they were in for a painful couple of hours.

“I can’t believe he dragged you all that way,” Izzy murmured, running her fingers through Clary’s hair.

“I’d rather not think about it,” Clary swallowed hard against the nauseous feeling in the pit of her stomach. Izzy huffed out a laugh and kissed her temple.

“You were amazing.”

“So was Raj,” Clary insisted, looking over at him. “If you hadn’t shown up when you did, I’d definitely be dead.”

Raj shrugged. “We both had a lucky escape, thanks to Izzy’s new found ability.”

“Yeah, what was that? You said you saw what he was going to do before he did it?” Alec asked, looking up from where he was bandaging Raj’s ribs.

“It was like time was slowed down and I was…? Running past it? I don’t know, it was weird. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.”

Raj hummed. “So your angelic gift is related to time,” he theorised, “which would mean that it’s Cassiel who blessed you and bestowed his gifts.”

“We already knew from Valentine that we come from different angels,” Clary remembered, looking at Izzy’s nervous face. “It would make sense that the archangel of time blessed you, if this is how his gift is manifesting.”

Alec let out a low whistle. “I’d never put much stock in the angels or the legends surrounding them, but if you can manipulate time… That’s pretty much game over for anything that fights you.”

Izzy shrugged. “I can’t do it all the time. Guess it just flares up when I really need it, like Clary’s rune thing.”

“I’ll commission some research into Cassiel and see if we can find some insight into his powers,” Raj promised, “but right now I need to sleep and cry a little.”

Alec squeezed Raj’s shoulder. “It’s over now. You did great.”

Raj nodded. “Thanks, man.”

“I have to go and call the downworld leaders,” Alec said, pulling his phone out of his pocket, “I’ll come in and check on you all later.”

He walked out of the infirmary and put his phone to his ear. The Seelie Queen was probably the one he should call first, but he just wanted to hear Magnus’ voice. He’d mostly been able to distract himself from the gut-deep agony of the break-up with the Jonathan crisis, but now that was over he just wanted to beg Magnus to take him back.

Alec was sure that Magnus was just going to let his call go to voicemail, but after the fifth ring he picked up. “Magnus-”

“What do you want?” Magnus asked. He sounded exhausted.

“I…” How did he even begin to fix this? “We caught Jonathan. He’s dead.”

Magnus sighed. “But Valentine got away.”

“We’ll get him,” Alec promised. “Magnus, can we-?”

“I’m very busy, shadowhunter,” Magnus insisted, “and the Seelie Queen assured me that she would deal with you from now on. Please don’t call this number anymore.”

The line went dead, and Alec walked more purposefully towards his bedroom, where he could bury his face in a scarf that Magnus had let him borrow and wallow in self-hatred for a while.

~~~~~~~~~~

Once he’d hung up the phone, Magnus dropped it into the empty lounger next to him, his eyes turning to the horizon. The view was beautiful; the rooftop that Magnus had chosen to station himself on was one of the higher ones in the city and Magnus could see almost everything. He could even see the faint pulse of magic, high up in sky, a bubble around the city. The mundanes below would remain ignorant of it, but there it sat, trapping Valentine in New York like a spider in a glass.

Magnus hadn’t felt so lonely in what felt like a very long time. The only company he had was the warmth of Catarina, Ragnor and Lorenzo’s magic flowing through his, strengthening his wards, each of them sat on a high roof like Magnus was, watching the sun dip behind the New York skyline. He wished Alec were here, with him. That things could be different.

But things were as they were, and Magnus was alone.

He glanced at his phone, heart heavy, and looked back out at the sunset.

Chapter Text

Magnus had only been home for a few hours when an urgent knocking came at his door. His wards were down for the first time in decades, since he was still recovering from putting up the anti-shadowhunter wards over the city, so for once he had no idea who he was going to find on the other side of his front door. Part of him was relieved to see Maia and Simon, but that soon faded when he saw the scared looks on their faces.

“Luke is missing,” Simon told him, “we need your help.”

“Missing?” Magnus repeated. It wasn’t like Luke to disappear during a crisis.

“The pack hasn’t seen him since last night and he didn’t show up to work,” Maia explained.

Magnus frowned. “You don’t think Valentine…”

“No, it was the Seelie Queen.” Simon insisted, “I saw a couple of Seelies hanging around the dock last night, I figured they were just getting some chinese food, but I’ve been seeing them more and more lately, and-”

“We never get Seelie customers at the Jade Wolf, and they definitely didn’t come in last night.” Maia added.

“Why would the Seelie Queen want Luke? We’re all allies, Luke agreed to let her speak for him.”

“Why does she do anything? To cause trouble,” Maia grumbled, sitting down heavily on Magnus’ couch. “She’s a nightmare.”

“Seconded,” Simon nodded.

Magnus sighed. “I was going to brief the Queen this morning anyway. I’ll ask her about Luke while I’m there.”

“What do we do in the meantime? There’s a wolf pack without a leader.” Maia pointed out, chewing on her thumb nail.

Simon snorted. “Are you kidding? You’re more alpha than Luke is.”

“He has a point, you do have a natural flair for leadership,” Magnus agreed, wandering into the kitchen to make himself a chocolate milkshake. He couldn’t afford to lose it right now, not with the current political climate, so since he was trying not to drink, he was making a lot of them. “Milkshake?”

“God, I wish I could say yes,” Simon groaned, looking around Magnus’ shoulder to see what he was doing.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Your Majesty,” Luke tried, “I really should be getting back to my pack.”

“Nonsense, Lucian,” the Seelie Queen replied, sipping from a wine glass. The wide bowl of it looked strange at her lips considering she was still appearing as a nine year old girl. “You’ve only just gotten here.”

“We are at the height of a crisis, Your Maje-”

“We have more important things to discuss,” the Seelie Queen pressed, “like two of your adopted children.”

Luke narrowed his eyes. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to be more specific, I have at least three of those, now.”

“I counted six,” the Seelie Queen murmured, “considering your fondness of the Lightwood matriarch.”

“Why is everyone obsessed with me and Maryse Lightwood?!” Luke threw his hands up in the air. The Seelie Queen didn’t even live on the same plane as Maryse and somehow she’d clocked Luke’s unfortunate crush on the woman.

“The two children I speak of are Simon Lewis and Isabelle Lightwood.” She told him, tactfully ignoring his outburst about Maryse Lightwood. “I’ve come to know that Simon Lewis is a daylighter. It has been centuries since the last daylighter walked the earth.”

“What do you want with him?” Luke asked, eyebrows furrowing.

The Seelie Queen tilted her head to the side. “I sense dark days coming, and a daylighter will be our only hope.”

Luke snorted. “Simon is no fighter.”

“He will be a great weapon,” the Queen insisted. “It is our only hope.”

Luke didn’t buy it, but he knew it wasn’t wise to argue with the Queen. “And Isabelle?”

“Cassiel has given her a powerful gift. She will be a useful ally.”

“Clary has gifts too, why aren’t you looking at her?” Luke asked.

“Her gifts are unnatural and tainted,” the Seelie Queen wrinkled her nose. “I care not for things not born of nature.”

Luke was going to argue with her on Clary’s behalf, but then he figured that it was probably a good thing that Clary wasn’t on the Queen’s radar. “So…? What? You expect Simon and Izzy to come and rescue me?”

“The original plan was to bring Clary Fairchild here,” the Seelie Queen said, shooting her knights a sharp look. “But she proved too difficult to catch without alerting the Clave.”

“I thought you wanted a war with the Clave.”

The Seelie Queen hummed. “The time is not yet right. The situation has taken an unexpected turn.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Luke demanded, “what’s happened?”

“You aren’t to worry about that, Lucian. Come, sit. Drink, be merry.”

“I have to get back to my pack, Your Majesty. Thank you for your hospitality, but Valentine needs hunting.” He bowed, and went to turn away from her, but thick, thorned vines burst from the ground to ensnare his feet, rooting him, quite literally, to the spot.

“Valentine no longer needs hunting,” the Queen assured him.

Luke’s eyes widened. “You caught him?”

The Seelie Queen smiled, her strange eyes gleaming with mirth. “That’s not for you to concern yourself with. Take him to the wander woods. We will await the daylighter’s arrival.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I hope we’re all refreshed and ready to work this morning,” Alec said crisply as he walked into the ops centre to meet with the senior staff. “We’ve neutralised Jonathan Morgenstern, now we need to find his father. I spoke with the Clave a few moments ago and they’re happy that Jonathan is dead but anxious to hear news of Valentine. If we don’t find him inside the week, they’ll be sending Inquisitor Herondale to take over the investigation, and we all know about her attitude towards downworlders. The last thing this situation needs is someone coming and offending the Seelie Queen.”

“She’d cause an uprising for sure,” Raj nodded. “Is Izzy’s tracker working for Valentine?”

“We believe so,” Alec explained, “but it only works in a ten block radius. Izzy and Clary are heading out to comb the city as we speak. With the warlocks and seelies keeping their wards active, we should be able to narrow our search eventually.”

“What are our orders?” Aline asked.

Alec handed Aline and Raj a file each. “We have CCTV footage of the fight between Valentine’s men and the wolves. It shows him and Jonathan running away in the direction of the cemetery. Raj, I want you to try and figure out where they parted ways. Comb through CCTV footage, try and find where Valentine went. Aline, I want you making sure that our search teams are steering clear of the pack and the vampire clan teams. The Seelie Queen warned us away from searching for Valentine, and I don’t want to put anybody in a situation where we’re fighting over turf.”

“Got it,” Aline nodded, “I’ll-”

She was interrupted by blaring alarms, and Clary and Izzy running into the ops centre. “Demons!” Izzy burst out, her eyes wide. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Show me,” Alec urged, following her over to a monitor. Izzy opened the camera feeds and showed Alec the huge, black, dragon-like demons that were flying around the city. “Change of plan,” he said hurriedly, “Aline, take over Raj’s job with the CCTV. Raj, I want you looking for the rift that’s spitting out these things.”

“Will do,” he promised. “What are you going to do?”

Alec strode over to the weapons cupboard and retrieved his 5-arrow bow. “I’m going to bring these fuckers down.”

“Shall I gather the rest of the long range fighters?” Aline offered.

“Yes, have them split up.” Alec nodded. “You two,” he gestured to Clary and Izzy, “with me.”

The three of them were quiet as they jogged towards Times Square, where Clary and Izzy had spotted the first demon. Along the way, Alec saw at least six of them in the sky, though they were all too high up for him to hit with his bow. As they came to a stop in Times Square, though, they found one of the demons circling low, shrieking loud enough to have the hairs on the backs of their necks standing on end. Not for the first time, Izzy marvelled at the ignorance of the mundanes around them. None of them could see or hear the demons; none of them had any inkling that they could be snatched up and eaten at any moment.

Alec notched a couple of arrows in his bow and took aim, tracking it around the block.

“Shoot it!” Clary urged as it started heading for them, but Alec held steady.

“Wait for it…” Alec murmured, waiting until the demon was almost upon them before shooting it right between the eyes. It exploded into several lumps of black goo, but by the time they hit the ground, those lumps had morphed into smaller versions of the demon, scattering and scuttling in different directions. “They’re splitting up!” Alec noted, “try and keep them in sight!” He shot one of them and it evaporated into black smoke, but the others had all disappeared through windows or down into the sewers by the time he was ready to shoot another.

“They’re too fast, we need to track them from the Institute,” Izzy insisted, and Alec nodded, lowering his bow.

“Why aren’t they attacking?” Alec wondered out loud, his eyes following a demon flapping high up in the sky.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I don’t know if this is a good idea, Simon. The last time I came here without an invitation, the Seelie Queen tried choking me out with vines, and Clary’s not here to kiss it better this time,” Maia pointed out, tentatively following Simon on the path towards the Seelie Court.

“We’ll be fine,” Simon promised, “the Queen doesn’t need us for anything. We’ve just gotta go in, ask her what she wants in return for Luke, and we’ll be golden.”

“What if she wants our toes in a necklace?” Maia huffed, her skin crawling. The Queen creeped her out, and she had a bad feeling about all this.

Simon shrugged. “Then we run away.”

“Tried that last time,” Maia told him, “did I mention the choking vines?”

“You did,” Simon chuckled nervously, “but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Just think positive.”

Maia gave Simon a doubtful look, but she didn’t argue. “Right. Positive.”

They were allowed into the Seelie Court without much fuss. If anything, it seemed as if the knights were happy to see them, given the way they inclined their heads as Maia and Simon passed them. Still, Maia stayed close to Simon.

“Simon Lewis,” the Seelie Queen crossed her legs as they entered the throne room. “At last.”

“You’ve… Been expecting me?” Simon asked, swallowing hard.

“Oh, yes. I was hoping that you would come looking for your adopted father,” she answered, “and you have.”

“Yeah, well,” Simon replied nervously, “here I am. Where’s Luke?”

“He’s perfectly safe in the wander woods,” the Queen assured him, ignoring Maia completely. “The two of us have plenty to discuss, daylighter.”

Simon straightened up a little. “Oh… You heard about the daylighter thing, huh?”

“I’m going to go and find Luke,” Maia announced, “which way…?”

“My knights will take you, beta wolf,” the Queen told her dismissively, “leave us, all of you. The daylighter and I have much to discuss.”

Maia didn’t wait around and argue, quickly following the seelie knights out of the Court towards a thick line of trees. Simon watched her go with some trepidation, hoping that it wasn’t a trap for Maia.

“So…”

“In the days to come, daylighter,” the Queen started, “you will be a powerful ally and weapon against the darkness rising under New York. It’s imperative that you and I work together, for the good of the downworld.”

“I don’t know what you’ve heard about me, Your Majesty, but I barely held it together fighting one vampire.” Simon told her, “I’m no fighter.”

“Not yet,” she corrected him, “but we can fix that.”

Simon took an uneasy step back. “What do you mean?”

“All will be revealed in time, once this business with Valentine is finished.”

“Did you find him? Is he dead?” Simon asked, his eyes widening.

The Seelie Queen said nothing, glancing at the knights standing off to the side of her throne. She nodded at them and they stepped towards Simon. “I will let the two wolves go if you give me your word that you will seek me out once the storm has passed. I have plans for you, daylighter.”

“If it means you’ll let Luke and Maia go, sure, whatever, I’ll come by. We good?”

“Yes,” the Seelie Queen smiled, “we are, as you say, good. My knights will take you to the wolves and lead you out of the wander woods to safety.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Simon bowed and hurriedly followed after the long-legged seelie knights.

“Oh, and Simon?”

Simon turned back to look at her, his face fearful.

“Tell the alpha and your friend Raphael that they’d best start evacuating their people to my realm sooner rather than later.” The Seelie Queen told him, a satisfied look on her face.

~~~~~~~~~~

It didn’t take Maia too long to find Luke; wolves had good instincts when it came to locating their alpha, and Maia was grateful that those instincts weren’t dulled by being on this plane. He gave her a tight hug when she found him, and gripped her shoulders as he pulled back.

“Did you bring Simon or Izzy?” He asked.

“Just Simon, why?”

Luke shook his head and raised his hands to his face. “That was exactly what she wanted, she wants Simon for something, I was the bait.”

“What was I supposed to do, come alone?!” Maia asked, and Luke sighed.

“No, that’s not what I meant, I’m sorry. Where is he now?”

“He stayed behind to talk to the Queen. She’s not gonna hurt him, is she?” She checked.

Luke looked tense. “If she does…”

“Never fear, alpha wolf,” said a voice behind them, and both Luke and Maia turned. There was Simon, with two seelie knights walking ahead of him. Luke shoved through them to give Simon a hug, running his hand over Simon’s hair.

“Are you alright?” Luke demanded. He knew Simon wasn’t great at confrontation, and even worse at fighting.

“I’m fine,” Simon assured him, letting Maia pull him into a hug too. “Let’s just get out of here.”

“What did she say?” Maia asked.

“She said…” Simon swallowed hard, looking at Luke, “that we needed to start evacuating werewolves and vampires ‘sooner rather than later.’ And she was acting like she knows what’s about to happen, where Valentine is.”

Luke’s eyes widened. “She didn’t.”

“That crazy fucking bitch!” Maia gasped, covering her mouth.

“She’s let Valentine through the wards.” Luke spat the words out like a curse. “We have to tell Alec.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Alec, Clary and Izzy had returned to the Institute to monitor the demons across the city. They were getting pretty close to finding their point of origin when Alec’s phone rang. He was confused when he saw Luke’s name flashing on his screen but answered it anyway, curious as to why he wasn’t hearing from the Seelie Queen.

“Luke?”

“Alec, Valentine is through the wards. The Seelie Queen gave him passage to Idris and is counting on him wiping out all the downworlders who aren’t hiding in the seelie realm. You have to stop him.”

“What?!” Alec gasped, walking out of the ops centre so that the other shadowhunters didn’t overhear and start panicking. “When?”

“No idea, he could already be there. I have to get the pack into the seelie realm, it’s going to be up to you and the shadowhunters.” Luke told him. “We’re counting on you, Alec.”

“I’m going to do everything I can,” Alec promised, “just focus on moving the vampires and werewolves out of New York.”

They hung up the phone and Alec marched back into the ops centre, forming a two-pronged plan as he went. New York was overrun with demons that could attack at any moment, but they needed to stop Valentine, or millions of downworlders were going to die.

“Listen up!” Alec called, stepping up onto the platform at the head of the room, “Valentine has broken through the wards around the city. He is on his way to Lake Lyn as we speak. Luckily for us, Consul Malachai has stationed troops around the lake, but I will be sending Izzy and Clary there to help them apprehend Valentine. Izzy,” he addressed his sister, “take the tracker with you, it’ll help you pinpoint him.”

Izzy nodded, and went to get the tracker from her workshop, pulling Clary along with her.

“The rest of us are going to stay here and work on tracking these demons. Raj,” he asked, “any luck on identifying them?”

“They’re asmodei,” Raj told the room, an old tome on demons in his hands, “they’re from Edom, and they move in hordes. Odds are they’re waiting until they have the numbers to wipe out the city.”

“Well, we’re not going to let them get to that number,” Aline piped up, looking at the map. “They have to be coming from here, this beach.”

“It has to be a pretty big rift if these things are getting through,” Alec noted, “we won’t be able to close it with a rune.” As he said it, he realised what he had to do, and the thought made his stomach turn over.

Raj was looking at Alec like he knew exactly what the other man was thinking. “We need Magnus.”

“He’s not talking to me,” Alec reminded him.

“This is life and death, Alec, he’s not a monster. He’s not going to say no.” Aline insisted, “if you don’t ask him I will.”

Alec nodded. “Alright. Alright. But he’s not going to answer my calls. I’ll have to go and see him in person. You two have the Institute, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Once Izzy had gotten the tracker from her workshop and the two of them had made sure that they were fully armed, Clary tugged Izzy to the library.

“We don’t have time to wait for a warlock,” she pointed out, texting Alec that they were going to use one of her rune portals. “Do you have everything you need?”

Izzy nodded, checking that the blade in her thigh holster was sharpened. “Let’s go,” she murmured, holding tightly to her tracker as Clary burned the rune into her hand and spun the portal. Clary took hold of Izzy’s elbow and pulled her through the portal, and they found themselves next to Valentine’s cabin, a short walk away from the shores of Lake Lyn. “We need to find Consul Malachai,” Izzy urged, leading Clary towards the tents she could see on the edge of the tree line.

~~~~~~~~~~

Alec hadn’t felt this nervous walking up to Magnus’ door since his brief stint as Lydia’s fiance. He knew that Magnus knew he was coming; he’d felt the warm breath of Magnus’ wards pass over his skin as he came up the stairs. The wards hadn’t forced him to stay out, so that was a good sign, Alec told himself, but as he knocked the door he felt like he could be sick.

After a pause that felt like an eternity, Magnus opened the door, making a confused noise in the back of his throat and pointedly looking up and down the hallway like he couldn’t see Alec. It would’ve made Alec smile if it didn’t break his heart so much.

“Magnus,” Alec tried, putting his hand out to stop Magnus from shutting the door in his face, “I know that you don’t want anything to do with me, but Valentine-”

“Has escaped New York, I know.” Magnus muttered, his nose wrinkled. “If that’s all you came down here to tell me-”

“We need your help. There are asmodei demons filling the skies, and we need a warlock to seal the rift they’re coming from.” Alec explained.

“Duh.”

Alec sighed. “Please, Magnus. The people of New York are in danger.”

“Fine,” Magnus allowed, opening the door wide enough to let Alec into the apartment. “But after this, Alexander, I swear if you come to my door looking for favours-”

“I won’t,” Alec promised, swallowing hard against the emotion building up inside him. “I swear, from now on, I won’t bother you anymore. I know that I hurt you, Magnus, I don’t want to hurt you anymore. I’ll do anything you want, I’ll-”

“I just want you to leave me to be heartbroken in peace,” Magnus said quietly, his eyes focussed on the portal he was conjuring. “I can’t keep my head on straight if you’re inserting yourself into my life all the time.”

Alec nodded, looking down at the ground. “I’m sorry. Really.”

“I don’t want your apologies, I want to forget about you.” Magnus muttered, jerking his head in the direction of the portal. Alec stepped through it and found himself on the steps of the Institute, and Magnus came through right behind him. “Go and get your team, and the co-ordinates of the portal.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy was relieved when she saw how many shadowhunters Consul Malachai had assigned to the protection of Lake Lyn. None of them were particularly welcoming as she and Clary walked through the camp to the Consul’s tent, but Izzy figured that was because Clary was Valentine’s daughter. When the Consul came out to greet them it was with three security guards, and Izzy’s stomach dropped when she saw the circle runes on their necks, clear as day.

“You…”

“Glad you could join us, Miss Morgenstern,” the Consul had the meanest smile that Clary had ever seen. “We were hoping that you would make yourself known.”

“You can’t be a Circle member, you’re in charge of the Clave!” Clary insisted, her eyes wide.

Izzy wasn’t as surprised as she could have been; she’d said all along that the Clave’s attitudes were more like Valentine’s than her own. “That’s how Valentine was able to stay one step ahead of us.”

Consul Malachai looked to his guards. “Take them. We’ll execute them at dusk, before Valentine arrives.”

“He won’t like it,” Clary pointed out, struggling against the man who grabbed her. “He wants me alive.”

“Such a shame,” the Consul tutted, “but he’ll get over it.”

They took Clary and Izzy into one of the tents next door, and tied the two of them back to back around a sturdy wooden pole stuck in the middle of the tent. As much as they squirmed, neither of them could resist the brute strength of the huge shadowhunters who held them, or the ropes that they used to tie the two of them up with.

“What are we gonna do?” Clary demanded, wriggling against the pole.

Izzy tilted her head back, looking up at the tent. “The Clave is rotten to the top. Even if we get out of here…”

“Don’t you fucking give up on me,” Clary hissed, “we have to think about Maia, and Luke, and Simon, and Magnus. We have to save them. We have to get out of here, so… Think!”

“They took our steles and weapons,” Izzy mumbled, looking down at her top pocket. “We’re stuck, Clary.”

“That you are,” Consul Malachai boasted, striding into the tent to sit down on the desk across from the two women. “You two will be the first blood in a glorious purge.”

“The angels don’t want downworlders dead, Malachai,” Clary reminded him, “they stopped the genocide at the Institute, and they’ll stop Valentine.”

“You don’t know what the angels want,” the Consul insisted. “Shadowhunter numbers are dwindling while the downworlders turn more and more mundanes by the year. The angel’s wish is our only hope in regaining control of this plane.”

“What are you talking about? The downworlders are still oppressed by the Clave,” Izzy pointed out, “in what world do they control this plane?”

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, with your demon blood fetish,” Malachai sneered, and Clary gritted her teeth.

“Just for that I’m stabbing you in the balls when I get out of these ropes,” Clary snarled, wriggling with fresh motivation.

Consul Malachai chuckled. “Yes, good luck with that, Miss Morgenstern. You’ll only be released from those ropes once your head has rolled along the forest floor.”

“Don’t count on it,” Clary warned him darkly, and he looked a tiny bit unsettled by the determination in her face.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Alec, wait,” Raj said, jogging to catch up with Alec and Magnus once they’d all come through the portal. The other two men were both striding ahead, evidently eager to get this task over and done with so they could get away from each other. Raj glanced at Magnus as they walked, but the warlock showed no signs of giving them any privacy for Raj to deliver his news. “New intelligence from Alicante. I-I… I’ve been told that Malachai was sporting a Circle rune when he left the Citadel.”

“The Consul of the Clave,” Magnus chuckled bitterly, “a member of the Circle. How predictable.”

“Izzy and Clary went to meet him, have you been able to get through to them?” Alec demanded.

“We’ve sent fire messages, but no response.” Raj explained, “I’m sorry, Alec, but we can’t send more troops there if there’s a trap waiting for them.”

Alec nodded, swallowing hard. “We’ll go ourselves, once this rift is sealed.”

Magnus was eyeing up said rift, surprised at just how big it was. Whoever opened it must have used tremendously powerful magic. “It’ll take me some time to close it; a rift this size can’t be closed with a flick of the wrist.”

“Are you gonna be okay?” Alec checked.

“I’m the High Warlock of Brooklyn,” Magnus replied, like that was all the answer necessary. Maybe it was. Magnus snapped his fingers and conjured a red mist, his eyes narrowing as he urged it around the edges of the rift. Alec and Raj kept a lookout, watching the skies for any asmodei heading in their direction. All of them seemed to be heading towards the centre of the city, paying them no mind. “Uhhh… Alec.”

Alec looked around at Magnus and followed his eyes down into the rift. There was a demonic screech that made Raj look down too, and the three men watched grimly as a massive asmodei flew up towards the mouth of the rift, right for them. Magnus started moving his hands faster, hurrying along the magic as Alec and Raj took their positions to defend him. Alec took a few steps back to give him the range necessary to get it with one of his arrows, but as the demon emerged from the rift, its tail knocked Raj flying.

He landed so hard on the ground that he bounced, and Alec went to run to his side, but Raj thrusted his hand up into the air. “I’m fine!” He wheezed, “go!”

“Cover me!” Magnus shouted, turning back to the rift to finish his spell.

The asmodei had flown up over Magnus’ head, and Alec ran to get a better shot, chasing the demon down the beach as it went to turn around for a run up. Alec shot off three arrows, but the asmodei was clever enough to dodge the long-distance arrows. He realised he’d have to wait until the demon got closer, and stood his ground, aiming at the asmodei’s middle.

Alec wasn’t expecting the demon to spit fire, but spit fire it did, only inches from Alec’s boot. He started moving backwards, and realised after a moment that he was going to have to run. After firing off another arrow, Alec turned tail and ran back up the beach, back towards Magnus. “Magnus!” He yelped, jumping over a ball of fire, “Magnus!”

Magnus was moving his arms so quickly now that they seemed to be blurring together, muttering the incantation under his breath. Right as Alec thought the both of them were done for, Magnus spun around and blasted the asmodei with a jet of scarlet magic, making it explode into three smaller demons. Alec shot the first two, but the third got past him, and Raj dived over to stab it with his daggers as it leapt towards Magnus’ back.

The rift closed with a final crackle of magic, and Magnus sagged, falling down onto one knee. Alec ran to his side, catching him before he keeled backwards. Magnus’ eyes were shut, and Alec’s heart started to race.

“Magnus?!” He shook the other man a little, sitting down hard on the sand with Magnus’ head cradled in his arms. “Magnus, wake up, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry-”

With a groan, Magnus opened his eyes, a look of surprise on his face when he saw that Alec had caught him.

“Are you alright?” Alec asked, his hand hovering over Magnus’ torso like he was checking for injuries.

Magnus nodded, struggling to sit up. “I’m fine.” Alec didn’t let him go, holding him close. Magnus gently raised his arm to touch Alec’s shoulder. “You can’t get rid of me that easily.”

Alec chuckled breathlessly, pressing his lips to Magnus’ forehead without thinking about it.

“I’m fine, by the way,” Raj panted from a few feet away, cradling his elbow in his hand. “Thanks for asking.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Don’t push!” Luke barked, glaring at a couple of wolves who were jostling some vampires out of the way of the portal. “There’s room for everybody.”

Raphael checked his watch nervously, glancing around. “Valentine could make his wish at any moment, we need a second point of entry.”

“We’ll make it,” Maia assured him, though she had no idea where her optimism was coming from. Raphael was right; they could be wiped off the map any time.

“Go, both of you,” Luke told them, “I’ll stay here and make sure everyone gets to safety.”

“I’m not leaving you,” Maia insisted, folding her arms. “No way.”

“What kind of a leader would I be if I pushed to the front of the line?” Raphael huffed, “no, Luke, I’m staying right here until all my people are safe.”

Luke nodded, secretly glad that the two of them hadn’t left him to organise the clan and the pack alone. “Right. Well, let’s just hope that the shadowhunters have a hold on Valentine.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Izzy had been training her whole life. Death was something that she was taught not to fear, something that was a crucial part of a shadowhunter’s service to the angel. Death was the full stop at the end of a sentence, the thing that gave the sentence meaning. And yet, as she was led into the forest to be executed, she couldn’t stop shaking. Her thoughts were filled with her family, of how Alec would cope, of her Mom, and the relationship that they’d been trying to hard to repair. Of her Dad, and the fact that their last conversation would be a fight. Of Max, of never seeing him grow up. Of Maia.

Would Maia survive Valentine’s wish? Would Magnus? Luke? Simon? Madzie?

At least Clary was here, she told herself. At least she and Clary would be together facing whatever came after death. They were handcuffed, so they couldn’t hold hands, but they walked close together, their shoulders brushing. Clary was silent, brooding. No doubt trying to think of a way to escape. Izzy knew better. There was no escaping, not this time.

Valentine had won.

When they reached a clearing, Consul Malachai and his guards stopped, tugging Izzy and Clary to a halt. There was a smooth tree stump in the middle, with a massive axe leaning against it. Izzy swallowed hard, keeping her eyes away from Clary. She stepped forward, but one of the guards stopped her, and Clary was dragged towards the stump.

“No, let me go first!” Izzy shouted, biting down on her lower lip. “Please.”

Consul Malachai looked at her for a moment, and Izzy pressed her lips together, still shaking like a leaf. He turned his eyes to the guard holding Clary. “Proceed,” he muttered, and Izzy choked on a sob when she saw Clary being shoved over the stump, her cheek resting on the wood and her green eyes trained on Izzy’s face. Izzy looked away, down at the ground.

“Izzy, look at me. It’s okay.” Clary said, her voice wavering.

“Ready the axe,” the Consul said, and Izzy’s eyes swept up to meet Clary’s one last time.

The moment they made eye contact, Clary’s eyes glowed gold, and all her runes flared like they’d been activated at once. Izzy felt the strength, speed, agility, flexibility… All her runes, all of them, rushing through her system so suddenly she felt her head spin. She wrenched her wrists apart, shattering the handcuffs, and turned to fight off the two guards flanking her as Clary wrestled the axe from the would-be executioner.

She heard the swing and dull thunk of the axe being used, and she turned to see it buried in Consul Malachai’s skull, Clary standing over him breathing hard.

Together, Izzy and Clary despatched of the rest of the guards with ease, and once they were all on the ground, the two women looked at each other, falling into a passionate kiss. Izzy had never felt power like it, angelic energy pulsing along the surface of their skin wherever they touched. The parabatai bond was powerful, but this? This was a rush like no other.

“We have to go,” Izzy whispered, wrapping her hand around Clary’s, “we have to go and get Valentine.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“Magnus, you can’t be here, you have to go to the seelie realm,” Alec argued as they walked into the Institute with Raj. “You heard what Raj said-”

“Yes, I did,” Magnus said, “and if you think for one second that I am going to go and hide on another plane while millions of downworlders get wiped out of existence-”

“I won’t let you-”

“And who exactly are you to let me do anything?!” Magnus gritted out, and Alec swallowed hard. “I’m staying. I’m helping you get rid of these asmodei and then we are going to go and stop Valentine.”

“It’s going to be difficult to get rid of them,” Aline told them grimly, “they seem to have disappeared from our scanners.”

“They’re bloody huge, they can’t just have gone,” Raj pointed out, “they can’t all be hiding.”

“That many asmodei could wipe out half the city in a night,” Magnus shook his head, “we have to find them.”

Alec ran his hand through his hair, his mind still racing at the possibility of Magnus still being here if Valentine made his wish. “Aline, can you get the records back for the scanner? They can’t have all just disappeared, they must have all gone somewhere. If we can find that point, we can find the demons.”

“On it,” Aline nodded.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was easy for Clary and Izzy to sneak through the Circle-controlled camp once they’d picked a couple of steles off the bodies of the guards who’d tried to execute them. The power that had torn through them in the clearing had abated from them now, but with a couple of silencing runes etched into their arms, it didn’t take them long to cross the camp and head down to Lake Lyn. They were relieved to see that the lake was in darkness, and Valentine was nowhere to be seen.

“The mortal instruments aren’t here,” Izzy pointed out, turning in a slow circle to check their surroundings, “we must have beaten him here.”

Clary chuckled breathlessly. “Old man must be-”

Izzy whirled around to see Valentine standing right in front of Clary, his hand outstretched in a fist at her sternum. Father and daughter were looking into each other’s eyes, and Clary let out a choked sound, sagging. Valentine let her fall slowly, and Izzy ran to her side, unable to believe what she’d just seen.

Clary was bleeding badly, and Izzy heard the knife clatter to the ground next to her.

“What have I done?” Valentine breathed, but Izzy was more worried about Clary, whose eyes were rolling back in her head.

“Clary?!” Izzy hissed, drawing an iratze on her neck, but it didn’t take. “Clary?! Wake up!”

Clary’s head lolled to the side, and Izzy’s breath hitched. She started shaking her head slowly, shocked. No matter how much she shook the other woman, Clary stayed limp, her eyes half open.

“Isabelle…” Valentine muttered.

“Shut up!” Izzy shrieked, her hands hovering over Clary’s body like somehow she could fix it. Panic was building inside of her, and before she could get a hold of it, it burst out of her in a sob, her eyes on Clary’s face.

Slowly, Clary’s head swept back up, her eyes rolling and her body lurching up, like someone had hit the rewind button on time itself. Izzy scrambled to her feet as the knife that had killed Clary floated back up into Valentine’s hand as he moved back towards Clary. As the knife rewound out of Clary’s heart, Izzy gasped for breath, realising too late she’d been holding it, and moved just quick enough to shove Clary out of the way and take her place. Time stabilised and crawled forward once more, this time with Izzy in the path of the knife.

She was shorter than Clary, so the knife pierced her an inch higher, and, surprisingly, she didn’t feel the pain. As she fell, Clary rushed forward to catch her, and Izzy choked on a mouthful of blood.

“What did you do?!” Clary rasped, her eyes bright with tears. Sparkling. Beautiful.

“Saved you,” Izzy slurred, her hand going up to cup Clary’s cheek.

“I almost made the worst mistake of my life,” Valentine murmured, but Clary ignored him, taking hold of Izzy’s wrist, holding her hand at her cheek.

“It’s gonna be okay, Iz, I’ve got a stele-”

“Not gonna take,” Izzy gasped, and sure enough, the rune fizzled and died on her skin. “S’okay.”

Clary shook her head. “No, it doesn’t end like this. It can’t, we can, we can get Magnus-”

“Shh,” Izzy closed her eyes, “it doesn’t hurt.”

“Iz, come on, princess, you have to fight it. Stay awake, come on, you can’t leave me here like this.” Clary shook her a little, but Izzy’s eyes didn’t open. “Iz? Izzy?”

“She’s gone, Clarissa,” Valentine said, and Clary suddenly went very still, watching as Izzy sighed and went utterly, utterly silent. “She prevented me from making-”

“Shut up.” Clary said, her voice flat. She slowly got to her feet, eyes intent and burning on Valentine’s face. She took out the seraph dagger she’d jammed in her thigh holster. “I am going to gut you.”

~~~~~~~~~~

A thousand miles away, Alec suddenly went weak at the knees, falling heavily onto the table in front of him. Something was ripped away, and for a moment he was disoriented and confused, until he felt the burn of his soul being torn. He felt the impact as he hit the floor, his hands reaching out, reaching out for Izzy as he felt her take her last breath. Someone caught it, but it wasn’t Izzy.

The pain went on for what felt like an eternity, but eventually it began to shrink, and shrink, until it narrowed to his hip, and he tore his shirt up, his eyes swimming back into focus just in time to see his parabatai rune fade into nothing. Alec stared at the blank patch of skin, utterly, utterly numb. Someone was there, speaking, pressing lips to his temple. Alec breathed in. Sandalwood. Magnus.

He sagged against Magnus, eyes wide with shock.

Izzy was dead.

“We have to go,” Magnus said, “we have to stop Valentine. Alec, angel, please. Please, we need you. Look at me.”

Alec blinked slowly, looking up at him. “Izzy’s dead.”

Magnus nodded, his big brown eyes bright with sadness. “I know. We have to go. The downworld is at stake.”

“Let’s go,” Alec agreed, letting Magnus help him up. He took the bow that Raj put in his hand, and blinked a few more times.

Izzy was dead.

~~~~~~~~~~

Clary was calmer than she remembered being in her whole life. She traded blow after blow with Valentine, her eyes and mind sharp. Despite her best efforts, though, Valentine had twenty years of experience on her, and eventually wore her down, shoving her away from him with his swords and kicking her onto her back. Clary landed hard, so hard that the breath flew out of her lungs, and she couldn’t move for a moment. It was long enough for Valentine to kick her daggers away and climb on top of her, tying her hands together.

“Get off of me!” Clary panted, wriggling and kicking. Valentine sat on her shins and tied her ankles together, getting to his feet once he was sure that Clary wasn’t going anywhere. “If you make this wish, you’ll die too!” She shouted at him, “I know you have demon blood!”

Valentine wiped some blood from his nose, gasping for breath after their long fight. “It’s my wish. I can exempt myself.”

“You are going to kill millions of innocent people!” Even as she said it, she knew Valentine didn’t care. He turned his back on her to pick up the soul sword and the mortal cup, and started walking into the lake. Clary looked around for a stele, and her eyes landed on Izzy. She would still have a stele in her pocket. As quietly as she could, Clary started shuffling over towards Izzy’s body, one eye on Valentine. He dropped the mortal instruments into the lake, and a blue light started to shimmer up from the water.

Clary heard the splash of something emerging from the water as she wrapped her fingers around Izzy’s stele, quickly drawing a burning rune into the ropes securing her feet.

“Valentine Morgenstern,” Raziel said, his voice powerful and rational, “why do you summon me?”

“My Lord Raziel,” Valentine replied, “I come before you to beg for your help. The world your father lovingly created has become infested with godless creatures.”

“If it is downworlders you speak of,” Raziel interrupted him, “they are not godless, for they are half human. As human as you and the rest of your kind.”

Clary was relieved to hear the angel confirm what she already knew; downworlders were regarded as equal to shadowhunters by the angels. She struggled to draw the burning rune into the rope tying her hands; her wrists weren’t quite flexible enough, and the rope was tight.

“But my Lord-”

“Nevertheless,” Raziel continued, “you may compel from me one wish, with a drop of sacrificial blood.”

Clary ripped the ropes from her wrists as Valentine pulled out a knife to cut his palm, and Clary ran up to him, snatching up Izzy’s dagger as she went and stabbing him through the middle of his back, landing on top of him as he fell forwards into the water. He struggled underneath her, twisting as Clary pulled the dagger from his back. Father and daughter found themselves face to face as Clary pushed his head under the water and stabbed him, again, again, again, and again. The water got so dark with blood that Valentine wasn’t visible anymore, and Clary yanked him up by the scruff of his neck, the two of them nose to nose.

“That is for Izzy,” she snarled, “and this,” she stabbed him through the side of his neck and left the dagger there, his eyes going wide, “is for Maia.”

Valentine stared at her, pride and shock shining in his eyes, and then his light dimmed, and he was dead. Clary got up, soaking wet, and looked up at the angel. She couldn’t see his face, the light around him too bright.

“I don’t want downworlders to die!” Clary declared, swallowing hard.

“What is it you want, Clary Fray?” Raziel asked her, and Clary snatched up Valentine’s knife and slit her palm open, letting her blood drop into the water with Valentine’s.

“I want Izzy back. I want you to save Izzy.” She answered, “can you do that?”

The angel plunged down into the water, and his light darkened once more. Clary stared at the water for a moment, then heard a gasp from behind her. She spun around, splashing through the water back to shore and running to Izzy’s side. Izzy opened her eyes right as Clary dropped to her knees next to her.

“What happened?” Izzy croaked, looking up at Clary with wonder.

“You’re back,” Clary whispered, clutching Izzy’s lapels as she slowly sat up, “the angel brought you back.”

“He… What?”

Clary smiled, cupping Izzy’s cheek. “I stopped Valentine, and I wished for you to come back to me.”

“You used the angel’s wish?” Izzy gasped, “Clary-”

“I couldn’t live without you. I wouldn’t.”

Izzy sighed, and brought their foreheads together. “You’re a fool. But…” She huffed out a soft laugh. “I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing.”

Clary giggled, a little delusional from exhaustion and the emotional rollercoaster of the last hour, and kissed Izzy softly. It didn’t take much coaxing for Izzy to kiss back, her hands tangling in Clary’s hair.

“Izzy?!”

The two women broke apart to see Alec running towards them, his bow in his hand. He stopped short when he saw Izzy look up at him, his eyes wide like he was seeing a ghost. Magnus and Raj quickly appeared either side of him, out of breath from running.

“You’re… You were…” He stepped closer as Izzy got to her feet, his hand going to her shoulder and then around the back of her neck, pulling her into a tight hug. “You were dead. How…?”

Izzy pressed her face into his shoulder, closing her eyes tight. “I’m not, that’s all that matters.”

“But-”

“Alec,” Izzy said softly, pulling back enough to look at him. “I’m okay. That’s all that matters right now.”

“Where’s Valentine?” Raj asked.

“Here,” Clary heaved the body out of the water, dragging him to Raj’s feet. “He’s dead.”

Magnus and Raj couldn’t believe their eyes. Valentine’s body was a mess, soaking wet and covered in deep stab wounds. He stared straight up at the sky, and neither man made any move to close his eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey! Everybody! HEY!” Luke yelled, stamping his foot on the table he was standing on. The conversations in the Hunter’s Moon petered out, and he raised a bottle of champagne, twisting the cork off and letting it fly off into the crowd. “To the downworld!”

“To the downworld!” Everyone crowed, raising their glasses towards him.

Luke whooped and jumped down from the table into Clary’s arms, giving her a warm hug. “Oh, kiddo, I’m so proud of you.”

Clary almost fell over with the force of his hug, especially when his drunken ass overbalanced and fell forwards. “Thanks, Luke,” she laughed, straightening him up. “You having fun?”

“The most fun I’ve had in years,” Luke confirmed, ruffling her hair. “When did you get so tall, anyways? Where’s Izzy?”

“Right here,” Izzy said, appearing with two more drinks. “It’s nice to see you relaxed. Mom wanted to say hi, she’s-”

“What?! Your Mom?!” Luke’s eyes went wide. “But I’m drunk!”

Izzy and Clary laughed.

“I can’t talk to your Mom like this, Isabelle, you gotta tell her I went home.”

“Too late,” Izzy said smugly, steering Clary away.

“Lucian,” Maryse stepped out of the crowd in front of him, a cocktail glass in her hand. Luke swallowed hard.

“Maryse.” He cleared his throat, hoping he didn’t look as drunk as he felt. “I’m surprised you could make it.”

“I’ve…” Maryse shrugged one shoulder. “I’ve experienced enough crises in Alicante by now to know when to throw your hands up in the air and just be thankful that everything turned out alright.”

Luke smiled. “Those times are rare.”

“Which is why we should cherish them,” Maryse hummed, sipping her drink. “I’m hoping that I’ll be around New York a little more, now that the divorce is finalised.”

“Oh, it’s…?” Luke blurted out, “it’s done?”

“And dusted,” Maryse sighed, nodding. “Finally.”

“I said you deserved better from day one,” Luke reminded her, and she giggled, tucking her hair behind her ear.

She looked at him inquisitively as he rose the champagne bottle to his mouth. “That you did.” Maryse stirred her cocktail with the straw stuck in it, arching an eyebrow. “Do you ever wonder what would’ve happened, if-”

“Maryse,” Luke grimaced, “can we please have this conversation when I’m less…”

“Inebriated?” Maryse finished, her eyes darting down to the ground and then back up to his face. “Yes, Lucian, of course. I should go and-”

“I do,” he answered, desperately. “But I’m like, very drunk.” To illustrate his point, he tried to take a step closer to her and went veering to the left, Maryse laughing as she caught his elbow.

“Alright, alright. Then I’ll see you when you’re sober.” She promised, her hand running down his forearm as she walked away.

Alec, who’d been watching the whole exchange with morbid curiosity, gave his Mom a thumbs up as she approached him. “Wow, Mom, you’ve still got it.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“He’s blushing, look at him!” Alec marvelled.

“He’s drunk, he’s just flushed.” Maryse insisted, her own cheeks a little pink. “Now, have you and Magnus made up yet?”

Alec huffed, glancing over to where Magnus was standing by himself near the toilets, holding a chocolate milkshake. “I don’t think there is any making up this time, Mom. He made himself pretty clear.”

“Alec,” Maryse squeezed his arm. “The two of you… I may not fully understand it, but I have never seen devotion like what you have. The selflessness that he shows when it comes to you… He adores you, Alec. And I know you feel the same way. Don’t let it slip away.”

“But I broke his trust.”

“Are you sure?” She pressed, “don’t you think you should give it one more shot? Given everything that’s happened… The soul sword and mortal cup back in our grasp, Valentine dead once and for all… Maybe his feelings have changed.”

Alec downed the rest of his martini, putting the glass down on the bar. “You’re right. The worst he can say is no, right?”

“Right,” Maryse nodded, rubbing his shoulder. “Love is precious, honey. You have to fight for it.”

“Thank you, Mom.” He murmured, giving her a hug. “For everything.” After pressing a quick kiss to his mother’s cheek, he let her go and headed over to Magnus, his hands in his pockets. “Hey,” he said softly, steeling himself when Magnus looked at him with something like surprise. “You bounced back from the magic depletion okay?”

Magnus hummed, nodding. “It’s easier when I’m drinking, but, uh…” He held up the glass holding his chocolate milkshake, “these seem to be helping. That and a long bubble bath when I get home.”

“I know how much you love bubble baths,” Alec smiled, biting the inside of his cheek when Magnus looked away. “Magnus… Can we talk? Outside?”

“Alright,” Magnus replied, setting his drink down, his nerves clear on his face. Alec let him lead the way out of the back door, and then they were alone, the alley behind the Hunter’s Moon empty. “Alexander-”

“Magnus, I’m sorry. For everything. If I could take it all back, I would. It was the worst mistake of my life.”

“It’s in the past,” Magnus shrugged, wrapping his arms around himself. He looked into Alec’s eyes and found he couldn’t look away.

“I miss you,” Alec said softly, and Magnus swallowed hard. “Ever since our fight… I can’t… I can’t think straight.”

Magnus huffed out a laugh. “Well, there’s a reason for that…” Alec stepped a little closer, and Magnus rubbed his own arm, feeling his cheeks warm. “I know how you feel. I… I’ve been a mess. I can’t eat-”

“I can’t sleep,” Alec added.

“I can’t do anything without thinking of you,” Magnus admitted, tentatively reaching for Alec’s waist. “I miss you, too.”

“I don’t think I can live without you, Magnus,” Alec said, “I need you.” His hands slipped from Magnus’ wrists to his elbows to his shoulders.

Magnus sighed, their foreheads falling together. “I thought I had to choose between you and the downworld, but… I can’t. I can’t be without you, I’m… I’m yours. And you’re mine. And I’m afraid there’s not much either of us can do about it,” he smiled, closing his eyes.

“So what do we do now?” Alec asked, not wanting to break the moment.

“Well…” Magnus pulled back enough to look Alec in the eyes. “A wise man once said, ‘relationships take effort’.” He recited, pitching his voice low.

Alec snorted quietly, rubbing Magnus’ back. “That was an understatement.”

“You know what takes no effort at all?” Magnus asked, his hands going up to the back of Alec’s neck. “Loving you.” He pressed his lips to Alec’s, the two of them falling into a gentle kiss. Alec sighed happily as they parted, his eyes staying closed for a long moment.

“You think there’s room for two in that bubble bath you were planning?” Alec asked, and Magnus chuckled, taking Alec’s hand.

“There certainly is.”

“You wanna get out of here?”

Magnus nodded, his thumb rubbing the back of Alec’s hand. “Let’s go.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I have never seen Luke so drunk in my life,” Simon snorted, leaning against the bar.

“Oh, I have,” Maia shrugged, “he can’t hold his liquor for shit.”

Clary pouted. “How come me and Simon never got invited to any of his drinking sessions?”

“Because no mundanes are allowed in here,” Maia reminded them, “and you two were mundanes until last year.”

“I think it’s cute,” Izzy insisted, watching Luke hug Raphael, who looked embarrassed. “He deserves to let his hair down a little.”

“We all do,” Simon insisted. “It’s been hell the past couple of months.” His eyes fell on Raj across the bar, sitting by himself and staring into his beer. “Be right back.”

Clary, Izzy and Maia all smirked at each other when Simon hopped down off his bar stool and headed over to the male shadowhunter.

When Simon got close, he cleared his throat, and Raj glanced up. “Mind if I sit?” Simon asked, feeling a little self-conscious with the glass of dark red blood in his hand.

“Go ahead, but I’m not great company,” Raj replied. Simon sat on the stool next to him and the two of them drank in silence for a moment.

Simon had never been great at silence. “I know it probably sucks for you right now, but it’s gonna get better.”

“Maybe,” Raj allowed, leaning on his hand, his elbow on the bar, “but that doesn’t make right now suck any less.”

“I guess not, but…” Simon shrugged one shoulder. “You have a lot of friends if you ever want to vent. Me included… I hope.”

Raj glanced at Simon, a weak smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. “Thanks, man. I appreciate it.”

“I just got a Switch, so you can hang out and play Mario Kart if you want. Maia keeps kicking my ass and she’ll probably kick yours too, but there’s a new wolf, Bat, who’s-”

“I’d like that,” Raj admitted, looking back down into his beer. “But just… I don’t think I’m going to be ready to be… I’m not sure I ever want to…”

“Hey,” Simon nudged him gently. “When I said that I’m here as a friend, I meant it. No ulterior motives here, I promise.”

Raj smiled a little more this time. “Okay.”

~~~~~~~~~~

“I give them two months before they start boning,” Maia said wryly, and Clary snorted.

“That’s generous.”

“I don’t know, Raj is pretty vulnerable right now,” Izzy speculated, “and Simon will never make the first move. Like, ever.”

“Oh, good point,” Clary nodded, “Simon’s too skittish for that.”

“They’re so cute together, I hate Jonathan for fucking them up.” Maia growled, looking over at the two men talking animatedly. Her wolf ears picked up something about Mario, and she figured that they’d gone full nerd on each other. “Simon’s clearly obsessed with him.”

Clary sighed, setting her beer down on the bar. “I hope it works out. Simon has the worst luck when it comes to love.”

“So does Raj, they’re basically soulmates,” Izzy said, nudging Clary. “Now stop staring at them, leave them be.”

“I’ll just stare at you instead,” Clary smiled, which had Izzy letting out a giggle.

“So…” Maia finished serving a patron a few feet down the bar and returned to them, leaning over to talk to Clary and Izzy. “What happened at the lake? How did you get Valentine?”

“Clary was amazing,” Izzy said, squeezing the redhead’s hand, “she took him down all by herself.”

“Surprised you let her after the shit he put you through on that rig,” Maia smirked, “not like you to sit back and watch the action.”

“Technically, Izzy was-”

“Injured,” Izzy supplied, giving Clary a sharp look. “Valentine got me in the lung and it took a couple of minutes for the iratze to work.”

“Ouch,” Maia winced, rubbing the top of her chest. “I don’t know how you people manage getting stabbed and then just walking it off like its nothing.”

“You kinda get used to it,” Clary shrugged, though she was a little confused as to why Izzy had lied to Maia about what had happened. Hadn’t they learned their lesson with the soul sword?

Maia snorted. “I don’t want to ever get used to getting stabbed, thank you very much. I’m happy to stay a downworlder.”

“Hey, Aline is here.” Izzy noticed, “catch up with you in a bit?” She asked Maia, going on her tiptoes to lean over the bar to give Maia a kiss on the cheek.

“I’m off my shift in a little while, I’ll come find you guys,” Maia promised, taking the kiss from Izzy and giving one to Clary’s cheek.

“Why didn’t you tell her about-”

“Wolf hearing,” Izzy muttered, glancing over her shoulder at Maia, but she seemed to be busy serving Raphael and Meliorn. Once they were over the other side of the room, Izzy took Clary’s hand. “You used the wish, Clary, the one wish. No-one can know about it. If it gets out, you would be imprisoned for the rest of your life.”

Clary swallowed hard. “It was the right thing to do.”

“Maybe, for us,” Izzy allowed, “but I can’t bear the thought of you locked up. So please, until all the intrigue blows over, let’s keep it to ourselves. We’ll tell Maia once the Clave has found something new to worry about, okay?” She tucked Clary’s hair behind her ear, and Clary nodded.

“Fine, but I don’t like lying to her.”

“Me neither,” Izzy sighed, “we have to keep it from Alec, too. Where is he, anyway?”

“Izzy,” Aline said, tapping her on the shoulder. “This is Helen Blackthorn, my girlfriend. Hel, this is Izzy and Clary. The heroes of the hour.”

“I’ve heard a lot about both of you,” Helen smiled, “you’ve left the Council quite shaken.”

“Helen is the youngest person ever to sit on the Council,” Aline told Clary and Izzy, pride obvious in her voice.

“Yeah, I’m guessing we’ve caused more than our fair share of trouble for you,” Izzy said grimly, but Helen waved it away.

“We needed something to push us towards change. And now that Malachai is dead and his circle accomplices imprisoned, hopefully we can move towards a more loving future.”

“Spoken like a true diplomat,” Aline scoffed, “I need to get you a drink.”

Helen giggled, leaning into Aline’s side. “Please. And none of that pale ale nonsense, I want vodka.”

“So Alec mentioned that you’re gonna be coming to work in the New York Institute?” Clary asked, and Helen nodded.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get re-elected to the Council this year. The anti-downworlder rhetoric was too strong, but honestly, I miss field work.” Helen explained, “it’s easy to lose touch with what it’s like on the ground when you sit in meetings all day.”

“Is it true that Aline’s mother is going to be Consul?” Izzy asked inquisitively. She’d never met Jia Penhallow, but she couldn’t be too awful if she’d raised Aline, she reasoned with herself.

Helen tapped the side of her nose. “It hasn’t been confirmed yet.”

“Oh my God, don’t tell me you’re still talking about politics,” Aline groaned, returning with two drinks. “Here,” she insisted, pressing a glass into Helen’s hand, “get that in you.”

“Bossy,” Helen tutted, though she did take a sip. “I knew being Head of Security would go to your head,” she teased, eyes glinting with mischief.

“Careful, I’m your boss now, remember?”

“Technically, you’re not my boss until I officially transfer in a couple of weeks.” Helen laughed, nudging Aline’s side.

“You guys are so cute,” Clary cooed, making Aline and Helen scoff. “How long have you been together?”

“Almost two years,” Aline answered, looking at her partner. “Best two years of my life.”

Helen melted, and gave Aline a kiss on the cheek.

“How did you meet?” Izzy asked, “or, how did it happen? Neither of you were out, right?”

“It’s kind of a long story,” Helen admitted, glancing around. “Should we sit?”

“Yeah,” Clary nodded, letting Izzy tug her by the hand to the last empty table in the Hunter’s Moon. The four women took a seat, and Helen and Aline launched into the story of how they realised that the other was into them in a ‘gay way’ (Aline’s words), and Clary and Izzy listened and laughed. Clary only had eyes for Izzy, feeling grateful that she’d been able to save her, and reached over to take Izzy’s hand. Izzy gave it a squeeze and Clary, for the first time since she’d discovered the shadow world existed, felt truly, completely relaxed.