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War of Hearts

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Please be aware that I have chosen not to use many archive warnings as they can spoil part of the story. I want to make it clear that pretty much anything can and may happen in this universe. Anyone can and may be killed, tortured, injured, suicidal, or any multitude of things that occur in the real world. So PLEASE proceed with caution. If you are concerned about being triggered and still want to read, please send me a private message and I will do my best to warn you as to what’s ahead.

Things that will absolutely NOT happen in this story:

Graphic descriptions of violence (physical or sexual) against children. It may be mentioned and/or threatened, but it will not be explicit or glorified. The same goes with sexual violence against women, mentioned but not explicit or glorified. I’m clarifying sexual violence because it is cannon for the female warriors of this show to be directly involved in violence. It seems disrespectful to not acknowledge their awesomeness by not having them involved in conflicts they would normally be in.

 

Background basics that are different than in the books and/or TV show:

 

  • The Clave is not anti-LGBT+. Most of their marriages are arranged for political and/or breeding purposes. Same-sex marriages are just seen as another way of doing the same, it’s just not as common. In the same vein, there are no restrictions or stigmas for single mothers or fathers. They want more shadowhunters in whatever way they can get them.
  • The Clave doesn’t like shadowhunters to have relationships with downworlders, but there’s no law against it so they can’t stop it. Sex with downworlders is seen as “slumming” and accepted, but relationships are not. So basically, no one cares that Alec is gay, they care that he’s dating a warlock rather than just “wham- bam thank you ma’am”ing him.
  • Magnus was adopted shortly after the deaths of his birth mother and step-father. He had no interactions with Asmodeus and was not raised by the Silent Brothers at any point.
  • Max is not a Lightwood in this story. He is the son of a single woman, Emilia Blestwell, who works as a doctor in the New York Institute. She has taken Alec, Izzy, and Jace under her wing as a kind of surrogate mother. So the three still see Max as their little brother. He is also younger in my story than in the book or TV show. I believe he was around 10 in cannon, and I see him as more of 6-7 years.

 

Takes place immediately/shortly after 1x12 and the only changes are:

 

  • Ragnar didn’t die and Camille was not freed. Magnus sent Ragnar a fire message about the Book of White instead and was sent the bookmark.
  • Clary wanted to talk to and possibly free Camille, but Simon refused to help break her out after Raphael said no, and Alec recommended sending her to The Silent Brothers to get the information. At the start of the story, she is still under interrogation. One of the first questions asked of her was if the rest of the Clan knew of her turning Simon she was forced to answer by the Soul Sword and the New York Clan was cleared of breaking the Accords. Downworlders can only resist the Soul Sword for so long before they are killed, so interrogations take days or even weeks.
  • Clary is a little more aware and less self-centered in this story. I get that not everyone might agree with my assessment of her personality and I get that she’s barely 18 in the TV show, but I just find her mildly annoying in her willingness to risk the lives of everyone around her because it’s in her best interests. I just tweaked her personality a bit so I could deal with writing her.
  • Hodge did not attack Lydia and steal the Mortal Cup, so everything after that has changed. The forsaken is suspected to be an attempt by Valentine to regain possession of the still sleeping Jocelyn and/or murder unloyal circle members.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Tell me the story again, please?” Magnus asked as his adoptive mother tucked him into bed, “Just one more time.” Aoife smiled at the boy she’d taken in after finding him sobbing in front of the smoldering remains of his home. He couldn’t have been more than five or six, and Aoife knew that the shadowhunter would have no mercy despite his age. So she moved the earth to hide the remains of the home and smuggled him away into the night. Two years later and she couldn’t imagine loving him more.

“Even little warlocks need sleep love,” She told him softly, “And you’ve had a particularly long day of training.” She was answered with a large yawn from the small boy, which earned him a soft chuckle.

“I want to hear about the first mage,” Magnus muttered as his eyes started to sag, “It gives me nice dreams.” Aoife melted, knowing that the small boy had been suffering from nightmares since she’d known him.

“One more time then,” She told him as she settled down next to the moss bed so she could card her fingers through his hair, “Then sleep little one.”

“Yes mama,” Aoife smiled softly at the title that Magnus had only started using a few months ago.

“Long ago,” Aoife started, keeping up the steady strokes through the soft black under her fingers, “ Gaea, the mother of life, knew that two-legged creatures that had begun to walk her surface would one day destroy her through their greed and ignorance. So she started searching for peaceful warriors that would protect her. The animals tried, as did the rivers and the oceans, but the two-legged creatures were too strong. Gaea despaired that she would fade and be lost to time when her salvation came from an unexpected source. A young two-legged female came to the shore of a river, a short sword shaking in her hand as she faced down three much larger two-legged males. They laughed at her quivering blade and the fire in her eyes, but Gaea did not. She listened instead, to the rough language they spoke. The men spoke of poisoning the river to kill another tribe who lived further downstream, ignoring the young female’s cry of anger at also killing the animals who use the river. The men disregarded the female, pushing her aside when she tried to stop them and pouring poison into the river. Unbeknownst to them, the young female had struck a rock when she fell." Aoife smiled at the dramatic gasp her little boy let out, something he did without fail whenever she told the story. She paused for a moment to tuck the blanket tighter around him to protect him from the slight chill of the cave they called home before resuming the tale.

"She laid there dying, unable to stop them, and whispered a prayer to Gaea. The mother was surprised. She had never heard the two-legged creatures speak to her before and she wondered if, in her own hopelessness, she had missed their devotion. The female begged to be forgiven for not being able to stop the men and breathed her last breath into the loam beneath her fingers. As she died, Gaea pushed life back into her, more life than the female had initially possessed. The gasp of life she gave, brought flowers bursting from the soil around her. Soft petals, easing the pain of her injury as they grew around her head. Gaea spoke to the female, telling her to keep faith and to heal the world around her. She had become the first mage, sworn to protect and heal the land from those who would do it ill. To this day, those who die to protect Gaea and her creatures are sometimes raised again as mages.” Aoife smiled as Magnus’ breaths evened out in sleep.

“Good night my little love,” Aoife whispered as she pressed a kiss to his forehead and sought her own bed for the night.

Magnus wasn’t sure what woke him but based on the birds starting to sing and the sun just beginning to peak over the mountains, it was earlier than he usually woke. Rubbing a fist still chubby with baby fat against his eyes, he hopped off the moss and stone bed to find his mama. He wandered through the halls of their stone home towards where he assumed his mother would be starting the morning meal, stopping when he heard a voice he didn’t know.

“Another family was slaughtered last night,” the unknown voice said gravely. Magnus held back a whimper of fear at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, knowing that strangers had rarely been good things in the past.

“How many?” Magnus relaxed slightly at the soft tones of his mother’s voice, though he remained hidden.

“Three children and their father,” the other voice replied, “The youngest hadn’t even reached a decade. Their mundane mother found them.”

“Do we know who was responsible?”

“Shadowhunters.” Magnus gasped at the same time as his mother let out a sharp hiss of surprise. Even at a young age, he knew the word and that the beings associated with it were to be feared and avoided at all costs.

“They’ve gone rogue?”

“No," The voice was grave and full of pain that Magnus understood despite his young age, "It’s Clave ordered.”

“I know they slaughter so-called Downworlders indiscriminately,” she said, “But they’ve always claimed that mages were outside of their control. We have no angel, nor demon blood. What changed?”

“Word is spreading that The Clave fears our power,” the voice told her, “Hallowed ground is still part of Gaea and they fear that we can destroy them with a snap of our fingers.”

“How reliable is this information?” Magnus crept closer to hear more. Mama had warned him about how shadowhunter and The Clave were dangerous to people like him.

“A few shadowhunters actually have basic decency and reached out to warn us. I came to you first.”

“Why me?” Magnus heard his mother ask, “What about me warrants a visit from the Grand Mage?”

“The warlock.” This time, Magnus was the only one to let out a gasp and the stone walls went silent.

“Magnus? Come out here darling, it’s alright.” His mama’s voice was soft and Magnus couldn’t resist the call, already knowing she would never do anything to hurt him. He dashed out from his hiding place and into his mama’s lap as fast as his short legs could carry him.

Once he was safely encased in the woman’s arms, Magnus turned his attention to the unknown man in the room. His skin was a darker color than he’d ever seen, so dark that his eyes and teeth seemed to shine like stars against the darkened sky.

“I’ll not give him up,” Aoife told the man, tightening her arms around the small boy and the other man raised his hands in a show of peace. Magnus clung tightly to her, not unlike the baby monkeys he saw in the jungles around his family’s farm, clinging to their mothers as they raced through the trees.

“And I wouldn’t ask you to,” he assured her, “He’s an innocent in all of this. I only mean to warn you to take extra care. It is no secret that you’ve taken him in and the shadowhunters may find you a more tantalizing target.”

“Some mages may find it difficult to fight back,” She told him firmly, “But I was raised with a sword in my hand to protect myself, my clan and our lands. I will defend my son to death. Be it mine, or theirs.” The man laughed, a rich, deep sound unlike anything Magnus had heard in his short life and Magnus decided he liked the man. Even if he didn’t trust him yet.

“I would expect nothing less from a Celt,” he told her, “Now tell me more about the little one you brought back to your ancestral lands.”

“His parents called him Mogens,” she pulled the boy closer when he flinched at the use of the name his parents screamed at him when they realized what he was, at least before they started calling him ‘monster’, “But I’ve been calling him Magnus.” The man’s smile was brilliant against the darkness of his skin and the kindness in his eyes had Magnus smiling back at him shyly.

“Well met Magnus,” he told the small boy, “May your future be safe and bright.”

“Magnus?” The warlock in question, broke free from his memories, glancing between the teacup raised halfway to his lips and the woman sitting across from him. Clearing his throat, he set the cup back into its saucer and gave her a soft smile.

“Sorry Mama,” Magnus said, “Just remembering.” His mother, Aoife, just smiled sadly back at him reaching across the table to take his hand in hers.

“Bad ones?” Magnus shook his head slightly.

“A little bit of both maybe,” he told her, leaning back into his chair with a soft sigh, “I was remembering the first time I met Abasi, and then what happened after.” Aoife’s smile slipped a little at the memories of years they spent in hiding. Hiding from the might of the Clave and their Shadowhunter kill squads. They spent a moment in silence for the lost mages of the past and she squeezed his hand again before letting go.

“Enough about the past,” she told him, taking a sip of her tea and locking eyes with him over the rim of the cup, “Fill me in on what I’ve missed in the last few months, especially this boy you’ve been pining for.”

“I have not been pining,” Magnus whined, “And I’ll tell you, if you tell me about the name change. Elora? Really?” The Celt sighed and leaned back in her seat again, setting the delicate teacup back down.

“No one in this century knows how to pronounce Aoife,” she huffed, “Unless I go to Ireland, and I’m tired of suffering through the miserable attempts people make.”

“And it has nothing to do with Elora being from your favorite movie?”

“Willow is a treasure.” Magnus has to suppress his giggle at the finger wiggling in his face, “And more people should see it. Now tell me more about your shadowhunter.” Magnus had to slap a hand over his mouth to keep from spitting tea all over the table.

“How did you know?” He asked once he was no longer in danger from inhaling the hot liquid.

“I’m your mother,” she told him simply, taking another prim sip of her tea, “Of course I listen to the gossip about you. How else am I supposed to destroy those who would hurt you?”

“Bloodthirsty mage,” Magnus muttered, drawing a laugh from the woman, which was matched by a shy smile of his own, “You’re not mad? About me dating a shadowhunter.” The laughter stopped at the half-whispered question and Elora stood so she could move her chair closer to her child, wrapping him in a half hug. She was the only one who he felt he could be fully honest with and reveal his true insecurities, mainly because she knew them all already.

“Of course not my little love,” she assured him, “We suffered the same, you and I. We watched our friends die horribly and had to hide for decades, just so we wouldn’t be slaughtered for who we are. If you trust this shadowhunter enough to have feelings for him, then I know he has a good soul.”

“He saved my life the night I met him,” He told her softly, her arm tightened around him at his words. Both seeking and giving comfort like she had when he was still small enough to curl up in her lap, “Twice. Killing shadowhunter both times to do it. Granted, they were Circle members, but he still chose a warlock over other shadowhunters.”

“Then I know I’ll love him too,” she assured him, “He saved my baby after all.” Magnus

“He’s a Lightwood.” Magnus felt his mother flinch at the name, and blinked back the tears the suddenly filled his eyes. It was a name that had brought an incredible amount of pain to the two of them, but he was hoping that would change with Alexander. Elora let out a soft sigh, but kept her arm around her son.

“You may be a bit of a fool when it comes to love,” she told him, ignoring the way he tensed slightly in her arms, “But if you’ve fallen for a Lightwood, then there must be something special about him. You would never risk it otherwise.” Magnus felt like crying again, despite being over four-hundred years old, not having realized how much he feared not getting his mother’s approval. He knew that, no matter how much he had come to care for Alexander, he would have left the young shadowhunter behind if his mother had disapproved.

“Did I tell you he called off his wedding by kissing me in front of all the guests,” Magnus said wetly, before clearing his throat, “including Maryse and Robert Lightwood.” His mother immediately burst in peals of laughter.

“Now I have to hear this story,” she told him still chuckling, “Tell me everything.”

Chapter Text

“Alec! Alec! I found something,” the excitement in Max’s was enough to draw Alec out from the fortress of pillows and blankets they had set up in an unused area of the archives, “Ah!” The short scream had the oldest of the Lightwood sprinting towards the younger Shadowhunter. Max may not have been related to him by blood, but he was Alec’s baby brother from the moment Emilia Blestwel placed her newborn son in his arms. He, Izzy and Jace had been looking after the little boy with Emelia and Hodge ever since.

“Max,” he bellowed as he turned the corner, stopping short when he saw Max standing in front of what appeared to be a previously hidden door. One that Max had apparently figured out how to open, “By the Angel.”

“What do you think it is?” Max asked, practically bouncing in his excitement, “Can we look, can we?” Alec had to grab the back of his brother’s shirt to keep him from running in.

“We don’t go running into unknown situations unprepared,” Alec reminded him, “Go get the witchlight.”

“Yes!” Max threw a celebratory fist in the air and scurried off to grab the aforementioned light while Alec kept his eyes locked on the dark room in front of him. He was nearly as curious as Max, but he’d also had years of war that had tempered his curiosity with caution. Alec used Max’s distracted search for one of the witchlights in the pillow fort, though Alec refused to acknowledge he had been a part of building it, to clear the entry of any trip wires or triggers. Satisfied that getting into the room was at least safe, he waited for his little brother to return with the light.

“I got it,” Max shouted as he raced back towards the door, witchlight held firmly in his hand, “I got it.” Again, Alec had to snatch the boy’s collar to keep him from barreling into the unknown.

“What did I just say Max?” Alec sighed tiredly, not letting go of the fabric clenched in his fist. He felt the moment his brother stopped struggling and let go of the jacket, allowing the grumbling boy slouch in his displeasure.

“Don’t go running into unknown situations unprepared,” Max parroted dutifully, “But we have light now.” He held the witchlight up higher as if his older brother couldn’t see the cluster of glowing crystals.

“And I’m still going first,” Alec told him, plucking the light neatly out of his hands, “Stay behind me and do not, under any circumstances, run off. Get it?”

“Got it,” Max assured him, and Alec’s anxiety level dropped when he felt a smaller hand clutch onto the hem of his shirt tightly.

“Good,” Alec and Max smiled at their traditional game of verbal catch. Alec took a fortifying breath and led the way into the darkened room carefully. The witchlight was in one hand and the other on the seraph dagger he always carried. The band of fear constricting around his chest was unmistakable, but he kept his breaths steady and even. Each breath became a little easier as the pair advanced further into the room without incident. Some caught his eye off in the corner, and he reached out with the witchlight to get a better look. Both boys snapped their eyes shut, though Alec forced his back open almost immediately when the small room was flooded with light. The witchlight torch that Alec had been investigating had flared to light when the active witchlight he had been holding got close enough. Blinking to fight off the odd feeling of being suddenly thrust into full light, Alec slid the witchlight into his pocket and removed his hand from the dagger. Seeing no immediate danger, Alec signaled to Max that the younger Shadowhunter could let go of his shirt.

“It looks like a hall of records, but why is it hidden?” Alec muttered, then turned his attention to Max, “Stay in this area.” The room, which looked more like a hall, seemed to continue endlessly into the darkness in front of them. Each section seemed to have its own set of torches that a Shadowhunter would have to activate as they moved deeper into its recesses. The part they were in was walled by huge and nearly empty bookcases that disappeared into the cathedral height ceilings, with an empty alcove on each side. Alec eyes the rickety ladders on both sides and took note to keep an extra close eye on Max to make sure he didn’t try to climb them.

“How old do you think all of this is?” Max asked, his eyes flicking from title to title of the few books lining the shelves to their right even though Alec was pretty sure they were in a language neither of them could understand.

“Old enough to not have electricity,” Alec muttered, looking for anything that might give him a clue as to the age of the place. The amount of dust and decaying cobwebs made him think that they were looking at decades at least, if not centuries of neglect. After making sure Max was distracted by one of the many books, Alec cleared the next archway before moving forward to activate the witchlight torches. The section was again covered in bookshelves, but this time they were full, and the alcoves weren’t empty. Alec was drawn to the nook to his left to where he could see a dusty portrait that looked remarkably like Hodge.

“Thaddaeus Starkweather,” Alec read quietly, “Born 1595, died 1620 aged 24 years. Guess it was right before your twenty-fifth birthday. Shadowhunters really do die young.” Alec checked in on Max again, smiling a little when he saw the boy was still enraptured with the dusty book in his lap. The shelves around the portrait were filled with the standard books or scrolls detailing the life the Shadowhunter spiritually entombed there, trinkets from their travels to different institutes and personal effects donated by the family. A slight pang hit Alec’s chest as he remembered that spots in the halls of records were reserved for shadowhunter who died on missions, but their bodies were never recovered. There was a chest beneath the portrait with a package tied with twine on top of it that Alec made a mental note to investigate as it didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the items. Turning around to study the other side of the room, Alec had to bite back a shout of horror when he saw multiple sets of eyes staring back at him. Warlock eyes.

“Angel,” Alec breathed and fought back the bile as he continued to stare and realized that every shelf was littered with disembodied warlock marks. Eyes, horns, wings, tongues were all preserved somehow through the centuries and were sitting on the shelves as morbid trophies to the darker side of shadowhunter history. A sharp tone from his phone snapped his attention away before he could further investigate the shelves.

“Max, time to go,” he called, snatching up the bundle from the top of the Starkweather trunk on a whim and powering down the witchlight torches in his section.

“But it was just getting good,” Max whined, hugging the book to his chest and shifting away when Alec ruffled his hair with his free hand.

“I know buddy,” Alec told him, “We can explore more tomorrow, but you’ve got to get back to your room to get ready for your tutor.”

“You promise we can come back?” Max asked, looking hard at his older brother. Alec held back a laugh at how far back the much younger boy had to tilt his head back to meet the six foot three man’s gaze.

“I promise,” Alec assured him, “There’s still a lot back there to explore.” The blinding smile he got in return made everything worth it. He listened to Max chatter while keeping an eye out for his parents, as they walked back towards the living quarters and had to grab his little brother’s collar to stop him from passing his room entirely.

“Slow down,” Alec told him as he took out his stele to unlock the door for Max, since the younger Lightwood was still banned from having his stele without direct supervision. Not that Alec could really blame him for the prank he pulled on Maryse and Robert when they tossed insults at their children like they were confetti. Max was nothing if not protective of his family and, while his siblings appreciated it, they did ask him not to risk himself like that again. All three could remember the sting of the slaps that Maryse dolled out if she was displeased.

“Love you Alec,” Max said, squeezing Alec tightly.

“I love you too Maxie,” Alec assured him. He pulled back a little to press a kiss to the boy’s forehead, “Start studying, and I’ll see you at dinner.” Max nodded and hurried into his room.

“See you later Alec,” Max shouted as he started closing the door, but before he could shut it completely, Alec remembered something.

“Oh, and Max,” the boy stopped, peeking through the crack of the slightly open door, “Let’s keep what we found between us.” Max shot his brother a quick thumbs up and finished closing his door. Alec headed off to his own bedroom to hide the bundle of paperwork, also sending off a quick text to Izzy to let her know he’s on his way. After leaving his room, with the papers secured in his closet, Alec hurried down the halls to get to the briefing. Unfortunately, his near mad dash down the hallway led to him nearly colliding with Lydia as he swung around a corner. Both highly trained fighters jumped back at the sudden appearance of another person and landed in a fight ready stance. Lydia was the first to relax, though Alec attributes his tension to the whole situation surrounding their planned and spectacularly canceled wedding.

“Alec,” the temporary head of the institute released a sigh and dropped out of her fighting stance, “Heading for the ops center?” Alec nodded, not trusting himself to not blurt out apologies for leaving her at the altar. Especially since he wasn’t actually sorry for what he did, just the way it happened, “Mind if we walk together?” She was answered with another nod, and the pair walked on in silence.

“I’m sorry,” the words burst out of the male Shadowhunter before he realized it, and he grimaced at the harsh way it sounded. When he finally looked up at his jilted former bride, she was frowning at him.

“Sorry for what?”

“For humiliating you, my family,” Alec muttered out, the words of his parents flooding back into his mind, “For destroying the Lightwood name even further.” The bitterness in his voice was evident, though he doubted she knew the real reason for it. He was startled and had to reign back the instinct to lash out when she grabbed his chin. She forced his eyes to meet hers, though he couldn’t remember dropping his eyes back to the ground.

“You did what was right for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” she told him firmly, “Would us getting married have been a political gain, yes, but both of us would have been utterly miserable.” Alec looked at her in surprise. Shadowhunters had been taught from birth that happiness meant nothing and duty came first. Most marriages were based on political advancement, or even breeding purposes to make stronger shadowhunter. His own parents were an example of a marriage based on both of those ideals.

“You really believe that,” Alec breathed when he saw nothing but honest understanding in the woman’s gaze. Lydia nodded, biting her lip slightly.

“Most of us don’t get a chance to fall in love before we have to get married,” Lydia told him, “so they’re more willing to just go along with what’s expected of them. You and I met our people before duty was brought up, so we know what we’d be missing.” Alec blushed and started stammering.

“I don’t...Magnus isn’t...What?” Lydia rolled her eyes and nudged him good-naturedly.

“You may not love Magnus, yet, but you’ve been besotted with the High Warlock of Brooklyn since you met him,” Lydia teased him, “Magnus is quite magical? Kind of gave it away.” Alec flushed brightly and started scuffing his feet, making Lydia burst into laughter.

“I’m still sorry I let it go so far,” He told her. Lydia looked at him with sympathy evident in her expression.

“So am I,” Lydia told him, “I’ve been pushing back the pain from losing John for so long that I forgot just how much it hurt, and I nearly caused you that pain.”

“Magnus wouldn’t have died,” Alec started only to be interrupted by Lydia’s hand in his face.

“We both know you would have shut down and you never would have seen him again,” Lydia told him, “Other than maybe for official business, which might have been even worse. To have the person you love standing right in front of you, but not being able to be with them.”

Alec nodded minutely, knowing it was true. The Clave saw adultery as a deruning offense as it proved the Shadowhunter was willing to break sacred vows. The only loophole was the couple pre-agreeing to the affairs. Something that many political couples actually put in a written contract to protect themselves, often even before the wedding.

“I could think of worse people to be stuck with for life,” Alec told her, an unspoken olive branch and offer of friendship that the Nephilim was surprised he actually hoped she would take.

“Oh, definitely,” She agreed with a smile, “I could have been stuck with your parabatai.” Alec snorted at the unexpected jab at his brother’s expense and shook his head before gesturing for Lydia to lead the way out of the hall.

Chapter Text

              Alec was relieved to see that Izzy, Jace, and Clary were already there when he and Lydia entered the briefing room. His sister quirked an eyebrow at the laughing pair, but relaxed when Alec shook his head, indicating that he would tell her later. Jace was too busy keeping his eyes affixed to the table in front of him, despite Clary repeatedly trying to catch his attention. Alec rolled his eyes and hoped that the DNA test Izzy was running would be finished soon, the tension between the pair was driving him to distraction. He was nearly positive Jace was in no way related to Valentine and that taking the words of a known psychopath was one of the least intelligent things his parabatai had done in his life. Still, he had to push aside that line of thinking and focus on the upcoming briefing.

              “We may have a lead on Valentine’s next move,” Lydia’s words had all eyes snapping to her, including Jace and Clary’s.

              “How?” Jace blurted out, “He’s not known for being predictable or making mistakes.” Alec reluctantly nodded along and caught the folders that Lydia slid to him, taking one and passing the rest down to the others.

              “He may have made one this time,” Lydia told them. With the swipe of her hand she pulled up a picture of a young man who looked to Alec like he couldn’t have been more than sixteen or seventeen, and the circle rune on his neck showed where his allegiance stood, “This is Omer Ishikawa, aged fifteen. He surrendered himself to The Clave two days ago.”

              “He surrendered to The Clave, or he was caught and surrendered?” Jace asked, and Alec knew his mind was flicking through the possibilities of what Valentine could gain from sending the kid to them. Alec couldn’t think of any beyond the obvious of having a spy, but surely Valentine wouldn't assume they would welcome the kid with open arms just because he said he wasn’t with the Circle leader.

              “Is there a difference?” Clary asked, and Alec had to remind himself that she hadn’t grown up in their world

              “There’s a difference,” Izzy assured her and Lydia nodded in agreement.

              “He came to us,” she told them, “Offering any information he had for protection for himself and his family.” Alec couldn’t hide his surprise at her announcement.  To their knowledge, no circle member since the Uprising had surrendered to the Clave. Even then, the only ones who had were the Lightwoods and Hodge. Circle members were uncompromising fanatics. Even the ones who had been captured hadn’t surrendered. They'd been overpowered or knocked out before they were arrested and transported to the City of Bones for trial. They’d also had some commit suicide rather than be taken, so having one just walk up to them was shocking. He flicked through the paperwork quickly as Izzy explained to Clary why it was so significant that he surrendered himself, and his eyes caught on an important fact.

              “It says here we have no record of him in the archives, and Valentine can’t create new shadowhunter without the cup,” Alec said, flicking through the pages, “Are we looking at more hidden circle members.” He felt a small pang of sympathy when Clary flinched at the reminder that her mother had factually been a Circle member, despite how much she’d worked to bring it down and hide the cup, but he brushed it away to focus on more important matters.

              “Surprisingly no,” Lydia told him, “we had Isabelle run his DNA through the system and found a match to the Fairthorn family.”

              “Never heard that name,” Jace muttered his eyes locked on the picture in front of them.

              “That’s because we thought they died out,” Izzy offered, “I looked through the archives when the name popped up and the last member, Tal Fairthorn, actually requested deruning when he was stationed at the Tokyo Institute to marry a mundane. He died on a mission shortly after the request was denied, but a body was never found. My guess is he ran away to find her, and it looks like he did.”

              “So, he took her name to stay under the Clave’s radar,” Izzy muttered, “Or they changed it completely.”

              “Which means, he was either honestly taken by Valentine,” Alec mused, “Or is setting us up for a trap.” Lydia nodded along with Jace and Izzy.

              “He says he was kidnaped from his Aikido class three weeks ago,” She told them, “and the Inquisitor is confident in his honesty.” Izzy and Alec both snorted. The Inquisitor didn’t hold a very high place in the esteem after she was willing to extort them all for the Cup by basically holding Izzy hostage. Jace and Clary looked uncomfortable at their part in the whole disaster.

              “Has he been tested by the sword?” Jace asked as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Alec smirked at his parabatai as he reached for the glass of water in front of him.

              “No,” Lydia told them with a sly smile in Alec direction, “But he claims that the High Warlock of Brooklyn will vouch for him.” Alec nearly choked on the water he’d been drinking when he heard her use Magnus’ title. His siblings were grinning unsympathetically as he coughed his throat clear, and it was surprisingly Clary who handed him a few tissues to wipe the excess water from his chin. She also glared at his siblings for him, earning her half a point up in his opinion. Once he was no longer in danger of drowning himself in a cup of water, Alec turned his attention back onto the temporary head of the Institute.

              “Has he? Vouched for him yet I mean.” Lydia shook her head.

              “We’ve called him,” she told him, “But nothing yet. I was hoping you could reach out and see if he’d be willing to come in to confirm it.” Alec nodded and pulled out his phone, only to curse when he realized it was dead.             

              “I, uh, have to charge it,” he admitted sheepishly. Izzy giggled, but didn't say anything and Jace just leveled him with an unimpressed look and shook his head, “But we can go over the information Ishikawa gave us and outline a basic plan while we wait.” He quickly plugged his phone into one of the chargers built into the briefing room tables while Lydia gave a sharp nod.

              "Wait,” Clary blurted out, “Why would a mundane know Magnus?” Alec pinched the bridge of his nose and waited for Clary to realize why what she said was so ridiculous.

              ”Why did you know him?” Izzy finally pointed out for him, “Magnus probably provided a service.”

              "He did,” Lydia told them, “Ishikawa’s little sister is a warlock.” None of them were expecting that, and the Lightwood siblings all flinched. Not because she was a warlock, but because it meant that a mundane woman was either raped or tricked by a demon.

              “So they found her a warlock guardian,” Jace surmised, only to frown when Lydia shook her head.

              “Apparently they adopted her at birth, and her warlock mark appeared when she was around five,” Lydia told them, “They went to Bane to learn what to expect.”

              “That had to have been hard,” Izzy said, her eyes softening as she looked at the picture that came up with another swipe of Lydia’s hand. The little girl’s bright blond hair and fair, freckled skin marked her as clearly adopted when surrounded by the varied skin tones of the rest of her family, “Everything you'd been expecting suddenly changing.”

              “It’s called being a parent,” Hodge retorted from the doorway, “You throw expectations out the window and love them no matter what.”

              “It’s that easy?” Clary asked, thinking of her own mother who was still under a spell and Luke who was the only father she knew or acknowledged.

              “It is,” Hodge told her. His gaze landed on the trio of Lightwoods as he spoke and the three smiled widely back at him, leaving Clary and Lydia feeling like there was something they were missing, “Most parents will do anything for their children.”

              “Starkweather,” Lydia greeted him curtly, “Do you have the file I asked for?” The acting head was surprised by the sudden amount of hostility leveled at her from the Lightwoods, but was distracted when Hodge nodded and plugged a small portable hard drive into the display.

              “Iris Rouse,” Hodge began, and a picture of a dark-haired woman filled the screen, “worked as a midwife for mundanes from the 1740s to the 1860s. She’s been on the Clave’s radar since the early 1900s for necromancy, but wasn’t arrested until 1975. She served eight years and was released. After that, attended a mundane medical school and eventually opened a low-cost clinic.”

              “And now she’s caught Valentine’s interest,” Alec finished, “Why?”

              “According to the information we got from Ishikawa,” Lydia took over, “Valentine thinks she’s running a warlock orphanage or breeding ring out of her clinic.”

              “I’m not sure I want to know how you breed warlocks,” Jace muttered, grimacing as the theories sped through his head.

              “I know I don’t,” Izzy shot back. Jace narrowed his eyes at his sister, who glared right back.

              “Either way,” Alec butted in before his siblings could start bickering over nothing, “We need to find out what Valentine wants with her. Is it just to wipe out a large group of warlocks at once, or something else? Did Ishikawa know why she’s being targeted?”

              “He knows that Valentine is doing experiments on Downworlders in an old shipping barge,” Lydia told them.

              “That’s why we can’t track him,” Jace muttered sourly, “He’s constantly over water.”

              “He could want younger subjects,” Izzy mused, taking her glare off Jace.

              “Children are easier to control,” Hodge pointed out, “He could be trying to gather warlocks he can groom to be his zealots.”

              “This could also all be a trap,” Jace pointed out, tapping on the file, “The fact that a supposedly untrained teenager managed to overhear all this information and get away seems a little too easy or … or…”

              “Fortuitous,” Izzy offered with a smirk in her brother’s direction, who stuck his tongue out at her like the mature adult he was.

              “He wants me and Jace on his side,” Clary agreed, “This could be a ploy to get one or both of us.”

              “Even if this kid is telling the truth,” Alec pointed out, “He could be playing into Valentine’s plan without knowing it.”

              “Do we take the risk ourselves, or hand the information off to the warlocks and let them deal with it?” Lydia put forward. Before anyone could give their opinion, Alec’s phone gave off a flurry of pings and he hurried over to it.

              “I’m calling Magnus,” he told the room as he made his way out into the deserted hallway. Alec walked until he felt that he was far enough away from his siblings to not be heard before he connected the call to Magnus.

              “Alexander,” Magnus purred, causing Alec’s face to heat up with a blush, “To what do I owe the pleasure? Or is this an official call?”

              “A little bit of both maybe?” Alec admitted, scuffing a foot on the floor, “Lydia asked me to call you about something, but I wanted to talk to you anyway.”

              “Shall we get business out of the way then,” Magnus suggested, “Then we can indulge in a little pleasure. I believe you still owe me a date.”

              “I...uh…yeah,” Alec smiled despite his nearly incoherent mumbling.

              “I do love that I can hear you smiling darling,” Magnus’ voice had returned to a seductive murmur, “Now, let’s get the official business out of the way and move onto private matters.” Alec blushed a little darker before he cleared his throat.

              “We have someone here who says his name is Omer Ishikawa,” Alec began, only to stop immediately when Magnus started talking.

              “Meet me at the front of the Institute,” Magnus demanded, “I’m portalling over now.” Without a second thought, Alec took off running, only to slide to a stop at the front door. He took a minute to make sure his clothes are laying well and run his hands through his hair quickly before he opened the door to let Magnus in. Alec lost the ability to speak as he caught sight of the stunning man he’d broken off his wedding for. Instead, they just stood there for a few moments before Magnus broke the stalemate.

              “Are you going to let me in?” Magnus asked with a smug smile, obviously knowing what he was doing to the shadowhunter.

              “Hi,” Alec blurted out instead, drawing a bigger smile out of Magnus. The warlock stepped into Alec’s space and pressed a lingering kiss to his lips, pressing him back a few steps. When he pulled back, both men were a little out of breath and Alec was grinning like a loon.

“Hi,” Alec breathed out, still smiling at the other man. Magnus shook his head in apparent exasperation, but the answering smile on his face gave him away.

              “Lovely to see you my Alexander,” Magnus told him as he stepped around the frozen young man, “Now you mentioned young Ishikawa was here.” The shift in Magnus’ tone knocked Alec out of his stupor.

              “Yes,” Alec said, “Or, at least someone claiming to be him.” Magnus nodded and indicated for Alec to lead the way. The pair received more than a few curious glances and even a few hostile glares as they made their way deeper into the halls of The Institute. Alec’s lip curled into a snarl at the ones who glared, reminding them that he was considered one of the best and there was a reason for it. Lydia and the others seemed surprised at the warlock’s presence, but they managed to cover it relatively quickly.

              “Warlock Bane,” Lydia greeted Magnus politely when he made it through the doorway, “Thank you for coming on such short notice.” Magnus nodded back at her, the teasing aura he’d greeted Alec with firmly gone.

              “Well,” he told her with an air of nonchalance that Alec would have believed if he hadn’t heard Magnus on the phone earlier, “It seemed like an urgent matter.” Lydia nodded, pulling the picture of Omer Ishikawa back onto the screen for Magnus.

              “This boy claims to be Omer Ishikawa,” she told Magnus, keeping her attention firmly on the warlock, “He also says you’ll vouch for his character. That he’d never go with Valentine willingly.”

              “He’s been cleared of any glamour?” Magnus asked, not taking his eyes off the picture.

“Yes,” Lydia told him, “he’s been verified every way we can without magic or the Soul Sword.”

“I’d like to scan him to be sure, but the fact that he knows to use my name at all tells me he’s legitimate. Per his family’s request, no one but the five of us knows of our relationship.”

              “What relationship is that?” Lydia asked, and Alec bristled slightly. Her tone wasn’t quite accusatory, but it wasn’t wholly benign either. Unlike Alec, Magnus seemed completely unbothered at Lydia’s prodding.

              “His mother aided in saving my life a few years ago, and I’ve considered her a friend ever since,” Magnus told her, “That is a woman I would avoid angering at all costs.” Izzy looked intrigued, but Magnus shook his head when she tilted hers in curiosity. She pouted a little but backed off to refocus on the task at hand. “What kind of shape in Omer in?”

              “Bruised,” Lydia told him, “battered and slightly traumatized. He claims that he was never forced to kill anyone, but he saw people and downworlders die.” Magnus kept his face passive, but Alec could see the tension in his body at the distinct separation of people and downworlders.

              “From what I know about Omer, that sounds like him,” Magnus said tightly, “He chose Aikido because it can be used while preventing injuries to both parties.” Alec and Jace scoffed, earning a glare from the warlock.

              “But it doesn’t have to,” Hodge pointed out, staring down the snickering duo and earning a surprised look from Magnus, “You can try to avoid permanent damage and switch if you have no other choice.” Alec and Jace looked abashed at the subtle scolding. Alec pressed his weight into Magnus’ side as a silent apology and subtle support.

              “We’ll bring him in if you’re ready,” Lydia waited for Magnus to nod his ascent before she sent Hodge off to grab their prisoner. The room remained silent while they waited, no one really sure what to say and the only interruption was a teenage shadowhunter dropping off a file for Izzy. However, she had to set the file aside when Hodge returned with their prisoner in tow. The young man sagged in relief when he saw Magnus, nearly dropping to the floor before Hodge caught him and deposited him into a chair. Magnus hurried to kneel next to his chair with a fond look that Alec had only seen on the other man when the warlock was looking at him. Magnus was already sending his magic flowing around the boy with smooth hand motions as he checked the young man for injuries and nefarious spells.

              “You have been nearly impossible to track young man,” Magnus teased as he let his magic continue to examine the boy, “and your parents are beside themselves with worry.”

              “They grabbed me from class,” Omer told him, tears building in his eyes, “I managed to toss a few of them, but they just kept coming.” Alec reminded himself that despite the boy only being a scant few years younger than himself, he hadn’t been raised for life in the shadow world. Even if he’d known about it from the beginning, it wasn’t the same as living it day in and day out.

              “You did wonderfully,” Magnus assured him, “I’ll call your parents as soon as we’re done here.”

              “He’s the real Omer I take it?” Lydia’s mild irritation at being ignored was evident, but not aggressively so.

              “No evidence of a glamour,” Magnus’ magic was still whirling slowly around the boy, who seemed entirely at ease with the display. Alec felt a slight flare of irrational jealousy at the easy familiarity between the pair. He knew it would come to them as well, it would just take time, “or any other spells. What are your plans with him now? He certainly isn't a circle member in any sense.”

              "The Clave has authorized the Silent Brothers to remove the circle rune if Omer was telling the truth," Lydia told him, "and then he'll be reunited with his family."

              "Which family?" Magnus asked, maintaining a calm tone, but the accusation was clear. Alec winced and hoped that Lydia didn't find the tone impertinent and demand reparations the way his parents would, "His parents, or some obscure branch of his shadowhunter family that he's never met?" Luckily, Lydia seemed unphased by the line of questioning.

              "I was planning on asking you to arrange for his parents to meet with us at their convenience,"  she replied, and Alec couldn't help the suspicion that crept into his mind that, maybe, The Clave was interested in arresting Omer's father for dereliction of duty. Magnus clearly had the same thoughts as he snorted and shook his head.

              "I will be taking Omer back to my flat where his mother will be picking him up."

              "The Clave will require a representative to accompany you," Lydia told Magnus, who bristled slightly, "I believe Alexander Lightwood is available. Would that be satisfactory." That was clearly not what Magnus was expecting as he looked at her is barely concealed astonishment. Alec hadn't been expecting it either, but he could see the teasing glint in her eye when she glanced at him and couldn’t help the eye roll that followed.

              "That would be fine," Magnus told her once he'd shaken off the shock.

              "Can I call my mom?" Omer asked softly, breaking the silence of the room.

              "Of course my dear." Magnus pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts before selecting one. Omer took the phone with a shaky hand and held it to his ear while he waited for his mother to pick up.

              “Hi mama,” Omer said as soon as the call connected. The rest of the room smiled softly as the voice on the other end descended into rapid and tearful Japanese. Omer murmured back in the same language and, while no one could understand the exact words, it was clear that the boy was assuring his mother that he was alright. He spoke for a few moments before handing the phone off to Magnus, who apparently also spoke Japanese. Somehow, that didn’t surprise anyone in the room. Magnus conversed with the woman on the other end for a short time, before he hung up before turning to the rest of the room.

              “If we’re finished here,” Magnus addressed Lydia as she was the one technically in charge, “I’d like to get Omer returned to his family quickly.”

              “Of course,” Lydia said, before surprising everyone by smiling at the young man, “Thank you for your help Omer. You may have saved quite a few lives. If you remember anything else, please let Magnus know. He can get the information to us.” A quick glance from her at Magnus received a nod of assent.

              “I’ll take you to the infirmary to get the rune removed in a sec and then we can take him to your place,” Alec told his-, boyfriend?, Alec wasn’t sure what they were yet, but it was something they could address later. Magnus nodded with one of his trademark smirks and led the teenager out of the room.

              “Here’s a copy of the information Omer gave us,” Lydia told him, handing Alec a bland folder, “After you’re done handing Omer off, see if Magnus can expand on anything and ask him, as The High Warlock, how he involved he wants to be in the mission.” Jace and Alec both raised an eyebrow at that since they would have expected her to give Magnus orders, or at least try to. Alec took the file with a slightly bewildered look on his face and a nod, "Also let Omer know that if he ever wants to pursue shadowhunter training, or even if he just needs protection, all he has to do is go to the nearest institute. He may be older than traditional training, but the Clave doesn't want him to be defenseless." Alec's face went a little grim at that. It was well known that getting your first rune put a target on your back for demons and downworlders who were willing to break the accords, even if it was removed later. Valentine's attack had left the boy more vulnerable than he had been before. The oldest Lightwood made a note to grab one or two of his extra blades for the teenager. He could always say they were lost on a mission.

              “Huh,” Izzy’s confused sound caught the attention of the room. They turned to see her staring at the contents of the small folder that had been dropped off just a little while earlier.

              “What’s that?” Jace asked.

              “DNA test,” she told him without looking away from the results, “Comparing yours to the Morgenstern, Fairchild and Wayland bloodlines.”

              “Why?” Jace asked bitterly, “The Clave needed more proof that I’m the son of a psychopath bent on world destruction?”

              “You’re not,” Izzy told him, and incidentally the room at large. Any attention that hadn’t been on her was now firmly focused on the conversation.

              “I’m not?” Jace asked shakily, gripping tightly when Clary slipped her hand in his and leaning into Alec’s hand on his shoulder. Alec could feel the wave of immense relief that flowed through the parabatai bond. It was easy to tighten his grip on his brother’s shoulder in support and shared relief.

              “Not in the least related to the Morgenstern or Fairchild lines,” Izzy confirmed, “But you’re not related to the Wayland line either.” The pronouncement sent a wave of shock and confusion through the room.

              “Do we know what family he is related to?” Lydia asked. Many shadowhunter families had become fractured after the Uprising with so many losses. Being able to reunite a family, even nearly two decades later, could heal some of those wounds.

              “I’ll have to run a comparison through the profiles of all the families,” Izzy told them as she quickly began gathering her things, “but it will take a while. We have no idea where to start, so we have to test them all. If I can have access to the records of pregnancies, births, and deaths around the time of the Uprising, I may be able to narrow it down to the families with imminent or recent births. It may end up saving some time and work.”

              “I’ll get you access,” Lydia assured her. Izzy nodded her thanks and headed for the door. She stopped next to her shell-shocked brother and kissed his cheek.

              “You know your family,” she whispered to him, “But we’ll find your blood. You should know them too.” Jace sniffed wetly, and his siblings pressed closer to him, with Hodge standing guard at the fringes. Lydia watched as the small family breathed together and frowned in confusion when Hodge briefly pressed his palm to the back of each Lightwood’s head and neck. The large man caught her eye and stiffened, nodding at her before he left the room.

Chapter Text

Alec had to break free of the family embrace earlier than he would have liked, but he had a job to do. He slid out of his siblings' arms and grabbed the nape of Jace's neck, forcing the other man to meet his eye.

"We'll figure this out," Alec assured his brother. The tallest sibling waited for Jace to nod before he left the room to catch up to Magnus and the previously unknown shadowhunter.

"Let's get this thing off your neck," Alec said with a kind smile the younger teen. Omer answered it with an uneasy smile of his own.

"I'm ready." The answer was shaky, making Alec frown a bit at the palpable fear in his voice.

"It'll be fine," Alec tried to assure him, but it was easy to see that he didn't believe him. Alec frowned again when he saw the disbelief on Magnus' face, "It's this way." The trio was quiet as they made their way through the empty hallways and the only sound to give them away was the scuffing of their shoes on the solid floor.

"How bad is it?" Omer finally broke the silence, though Alec had a feeling that if they hadn't been so quiet, he would have missed the boy's question.

"How bad is what?" Alec asked, his mind still half on making sure they were going the right way.

"Getting this thing off my neck? How much is it going to hurt?" Alec stopped in his tracks, forcing the others to stop short in order to avoid a collision.

"It's not comfortable from what I hear," Alec told him with a confused frown, "But it shouldn't actively hurt." The others looked at him in shock, and mild concern on Magnus' part.

"Darling," Magnus started, "It's well documented that being de-runed is agonizing." He sent an apologetic look at Omer, who had begun to look a little green at the word agonizing. Alec shook his head.

"He's not being de-runed," Alec pointed out, much to the clear confusion of the warlock and teenager with him, "It's a different process when a rune has been forced on someone or if one's been placed by accident."

"How do you accidentally put on a rune?" Omer blurted out, looking more than a little relieved at Alec's pronouncement.

"It's less that the rune being put on at all is the accident," Alec clarified, "But sometimes we have to put runes on places that we can't reach, like our backs, and not everyone is great at remembering or writing runes correctly." Magnus and Omer nodded in understanding.

"So you have a painless, but uncomfortable, process for removing runes," Magnus repeated, "But a torturous one as punishment?"

"Pretty much," Alec admitted. Magnus blinked at him for a moment, as if his brain was processing the new information.

"How positively archaic," Magnus finally said with a slight sneer. Part of Alec agreed with the warlock, particularly in regards to some of the "crimes" where the punishment was being de-runed, but he also knew there were times when the crime was so severe that the perpetrator deserved to suffer. So, he merely shrugged. His go-to move when he couldn't safely agree with something, but he didn't disagree either.

They made it to the elevators soon after and were whisked away to the floor of the medical wing. Omer jumped back in surprise, or fear, when the doors slid open to reveal a Silent Brother waiting for them. Alec didn’t blame him. Even seasoned shadowhunters found the Silent Brothers unnerving.

"It'll be fine," Alec assured him quietly, "I promise." He was rewarded with a shaky nod and Omer taking a step forward towards the intimidating figure. He jumped again slightly when the Silent Brother's voice rang out in his mind.

"Greetings Omer Ishikawa," the voice said, Alec and Magnus winced at the power contained in said voice, "I am Brother Zachariah." Alec could appreciate that they brought in the least terrifying Silent Brother to treat the traumatized young man.

"Hi," Omer managed to squeak out, making Alec stifle a giggle at the sound and earning him an elbow to the side from the warlock beside him.  Brother Zachariah beckoned the young man closer to him and directed him to sit on one of the infirmary beds. Omer obliged, followed closely by Magnus, but began shaking when the former shadowhunter pulled out his stele. A few swipes later and Brother Zachariah took a step back to let the rune take effect. Omer grimaced slightly and squirmed as the rune on the side of his neck first glowed, then faded. Both he and Magnus blinked for a few moments as if waiting for something else to happen. Alec took the opportunity to send Jace a quick text with a simple request.

"Is that it?" Omer's voice was full of surprise and a little wonder.

"That's it," Alec assured him with a wry smile. He was secretly enjoying Magnus' surprise. It wasn't very often that he knew something the four-hundred-year-old warlock didn't, "Let's head out." Omer nodded before hopping off the bed and taking a few steps. He paused for a moment before turning back to face the Silent Brother.

"Thank you," he said with a tight, but honest, smile and was rewarded with a slight nod from the man before he swept out the door. Omer turned to Alec with a slight frown, "Are they all so creepy." Alec shrugged in return.

"At least Brother Zachariah doesn't have his mouth sewn shut," Alec told him. He ignored the look of horror on Omer's face and Magnus' suppressed chuckles, "Let's get you back to the loft."

Once they were finally outside of the protective warding, with the few possessions Omer had been carrying when he'd surrendered to shadowhunters, Magnus opened a portal to take them directly to their destination.

"If you set the wards," Omer wondered aloud as he accepted a glass of water from the warlock, "Can't you portal in and out." His question made Alec frown since the idea made sense and it raised questions on the security of the Institutes around the world. Magnus paused, something Alec noticed.

"Technically I could," Magnus admitted, "But, the wards would make it more difficult than it's worth in all honesty. I would only do it to evacuate during an emergency, and I certainly wouldn't be leaving alone." The warlock sent Alec a fond look that warmed the shadowhunter, and he told himself he would talk to Magnus about it later. Omer nodded in understanding and started sipping on his water.

"When will his family get here?" Alec suddenly blurted without thinking it through completely, earning him a suspicious look from Omer and a fondly exasperated look from the warlock, "Sorry."

"Omer's sister will be creating a portal once his parents pick her up from her school," Magnus told him, "Which should be any minute." Alec nodded and leaned over to grab the bag he'd had Jace pack before they'd left the Institute. Not that Jace knew what Alec was going to do with the supplies, he just assumed Alec wanted extra weapons at the loft since he would hopefully be spending more time there.

"Take this," Alec said handing Omer the small sack. The teenager took it after carefully setting his water down on the coffee table and gasped when he saw what was inside. His head snapped up to stare at Alec in surprise.

"Will you get in trouble for this?" Omer asked, earning Alec a concerned look from Magnus.

"Possibly," Alec admitted, "but it's easy enough to write them off as lost during a fight. Some of them already have been, and I have a feeling you might need them now." Omer nodded as he pulled a stele out of the bag to examine it. Magnus moved forward to lay an affectionate hand on Alec's arm and opened his mouth to speak, a near frantic knock at the door kept Magnus from saying whatever he had intended.

"I believe that's my cue," he said instead and made his way to the front door with a flourish.  As soon as it was opened, a blur of blonde ripped through the doorway and tackled Omer on the couch.

"Mer!" Once the blonde blur was still, and clinging to Omer, it was easy to recognize her from the family picture he saw earlier. Omer just buried his face in the little girl's hair.

"Hey Sara." Alec ignored the way the teen's voice broke a little when he said his little sister's name. He could hear Magnus greeting Omer's parents at the door.

"Did you take my brother?" Alec spun back around to see a very severe glare coming from the little girl in question and a still teary, but bemused Omer behind her. He knelt down in front of her, trying to make his six foot three frame look a little less intimidating.

"I didn't," Alec assured her, "I promise. I'm trying to stop the people who did." Sara didn't look entirely like she believed him, but she turned her attention back to her brother when he tapped her shoulder.

"Alec's been helping me," Omer told her, "He's friends with Magnus." Alec fought back a blush at the sly look Omer gave him, the teen's confidence clearly coming back now that his family was nearby.

"Really?" Sara asked, less suspicious, but uncertain.

"Really." The little warlock beamed at Magnus when he spoke from behind Alec, and the shadowhunter stood to step to the side so Omer's parents could get to him without running Alec over. Omer stood up just in time to be enveloped in the arms of his parents. They murmured to each other in voices too soft to be heard by anyone outside of their cluster. Alec smirked as he saw Sara determinately wriggling her way into the group embrace and he was reminded of Izzy. Sara would undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with when she was fully grown. After a few moments, the embrace eased, and the adult Ishikawas took a step back. Magnus cleared his throat to get their attention. Alec took a moment to study the family in the flesh rather than through pictures. There was a steely determination within the parents that Alec recognized from his own, but it was softened by the love-filled glances they gave their children. He remembered those looks too, but certainly not from Maryse or Robert. Magnus took over introductions like the flawless host he was.

"Tal, Natsuko, this is Alexander Lightwood." Alec did his best to hold back the flinch when Tal heaved in a sharp breath in recognition at his last name, "He's here as a Clave representative and guardian of Omer until he can be returned to you. Alexander, this is Omer's father, Tal and his mother, Natsuko." Tal and Natsuko nodded their heads in greeting at Alec, both none too eager to let go of the son that had just recently been returned to them, which Alec returned. Natsuko turned to Magnus and spoke to him in Japanese, drawing the warlock into a conversation. Alec took the opportunity to try and get Tal off to the side to issue his warning about Valentine.

"Mr. Ishikawa," Alec said softly catching the former shadowhunter's attention and beckoned him over with a subtle wave of his hand. Tal complied, though his movements were stiff and reluctant.

"Thank you for helping my son," Tal said once they were far enough away from the small group to not be overheard, "I assume you're here to take me to face the Clave?"

"Absolutely not," Alec assured him, "I'm here for Magnus."

"You're taking Magnus in?" The former shadowhunter looked furious, and Alec realized how his words must have sounded, "On what charges?"

"No. No!" We're dating. Kind of?" Alec rubbed the back of his neck nervously, "I'm not sure how to actually categorize it. I'm kind of new at this." Tal just stared at him for a moment in shock before he snickered. Alec frowned at him but managed to pull himself back together, "You've heard of Valentine correct?" Tal stopped snickering immediately, and Alec could see the warrior inside springing back to the surface.

"He took my boy?" Tal asked fury overtaking his face for a moment when Alec nodded. He could see Magnus approaching them out of the corner of his eye and continued since he wasn't planning on hiding the information from Magnus.

"He's trying to build his own army. He's after the cup and has been gathering fighters to try and turn. I think he got lucky with Omer and recognized him as Nephilim somehow. Omer didn't tell us how Valentine knew, but he managed to bring us information that Valentine may be looking for young warlocks," Alec tilted his head slightly in Sara's direction and saw Magnus speed up to get to the pair.

"He won't get my baby girl," Tal assured Alec with a growl, "Not without going through me first." Alec nodded and nodded towards the bag sitting next to Omer.

"I managed to sneak a few steles and seraph daggers into Omer's bag," Alec told the former shadowhunter, "It's not much, but it will give you more of an edge if Valentine comes after her or Omer again." Tal chuckled darkly.

"If Valentine comes for my family I'm shooting him first." When he raised his hand to pat his hip, Alec noticed for the first time that the man wore a mundane firearm with ease and the golden badge next to it.

"Does everyone who leaves the shadowworld become a cop?" Alec blurted out, earning another chortle from the man.

"We do seem to have the skill set for it," Tal admitted. Magnus approached before they could continue their conversation, with a look at Alec that told the shadowhunter they would be talking later.

"We should get you going," Magnus told Tal, "Omer says he didn't give Valentine his real name, so you should be safe going home."

"But hide at the first sign of trouble," Tal finished, "We'll keep in contact Magnus, "Natsuko has family in some very remote parts of Japan. If push comes to shove, we'll hide out there until this all blows over." Magnus nodded easily, clearly understanding something about the safety of those places that Alec didn't. Magnus opened a portal for the family, and they begin to disappear through it one by one. Just before she was about to follow, Natsuko stepped over to Alec with her hand out.

"Thank you," she told him, "For taking care of my son." Even though he felt like he didn't do much, Alec nodded.

"Take care of them," He told her. She nodded sharply, a harsh look overtaking her face.

"No one will touch my family again," she said, her voice was almost pleasant, making Alec suddenly felt like he was in the presence of a predator.  With a small bow to Alec, Natsuko follows her family through the portal and Magnus closes it behind them.

"So," Magnus said, "Valentine is after warlock children?"

"We don't know for sure," Alec told him as he walked to his bag. He slid the folder out and handed it to the warlock who immediately flipped it open to flip through the information, "Omer heard him talking about a warlock named Iris Rouse. Valentine seems to think she's running a warlock orphanage, or a breeding ring." The warlock's head shot up, and he immediately summoned his cell phone. When Alec opened his mouth to ask him what he was doing, Magnus simply held up a finger.

"Darius," Magnus said when the call connected, "I need your help with an investigation. Call Iris Rouse and ask about placement for an infant warlock. Yes, tell me exactly what she says. Record it if you need to. Thank you." Magnus hung up and dropped onto his couch with a harsh exhale.

"Magnus?" Alec wasn't sure what just happened, but he could tell that it upset Magnus considerably. The shadowhunter slid onto the couch next to him and leaned into him, letting the pressure of his arm ground the man lost in thought.

"If she's running a breeding ring," Magnus said, "I don't think this is the first time."

"What do you mean?"

"In the early 1800s," Magnus started, "The warlock community started finding more and more young and infant warlocks, most of them already dead. Some died of exposure, but most of them had been slaughtered, and many of them were missing their marks." Alec grimaced at the idea of children dying such horrible ways and knew that most of them had probably been killed by shadowhunters. It made him sick as he thought back to the trophies he'd seen in the hall he and Max had found. How many of those had belonged to children?  Alec managed to shake away the creeping horror to continue the impromptu history lesson.

"How did you know it was a breeding ring?" he asked, earning a headshake from Magnus.

"We didn't at first," Magnus told him, "But we had to try and save the rest. A few of us managed to create a spell that passively searches for warlock life signals all over the world, and it's been running ever since."

"Magnus, that's..."

"Dangerous? We know. But most warlocks value children highly because we can't have our own. We were willing to take the risk. The spell reader is located in the innermost circle of the Warlock's Labyrinth. No one, and I mean no one, can get in without permission. We have a rotating group of warlocks who monitor it and send word to the nearest High Warlock when a new signal appears. Then the child is observed or rescued depending on their situation." Alec nodded again. The risk to Magnus and the other warlocks around the world concerned Alec, but he trusted that Magnus truly believed the risk was worth it. He couldn't honestly say he disagreed.

"How did you find out it was a breeding ring?" Magnus sagged at Alec's question.

"Five new signs appeared within days of each other at the same location," Magnus told him, "The team that responded found four mundane women in various stages of pregnancy and five that had recently given birth. Two of those women were dead, and the rest were spelled to make them unaware, docile. Then someone found the demon chained in an outbuilding. Far enough from the main house that you couldn’t hear someone scream"

"Angel," Alec breathed, "The women were locked in until they were pregnant?" Magnus nodded, looking as queasy at the notion as Alec felt.

"That was the theory at least. None of them remembered it, thankfully," Magnus said, "But only two of the women had the Sight. We had to decide what to do with the newborns since most of the women didn't recognize the babies as theirs. Most were taken to warlocks who were willing to adopt them as their own. The two women with the Sight took their babies and went into hiding until they were old enough to protect themselves. One eventually became a dear friend of mine." The pair paused for a moment to absorb the information and memories until Alec spoke.

"Can you contact everyone with young warlocks?" Alec asked

“I trust you with my life Alexander,” Magnus told his lover, taking the other man’s hands in his own, “Which is more than I ever thought I’d say about a shadowhunter, but I can’t trust anyone with their lives.”

“I know Magnus,” Alec told him, slipping his hands out of Magnus’ to cup the other man’s face, “I just need you to tell them to run, to hide. At least until we stop Valentine.”

Magnus nodded, relief clear in his face that Alec hadn't pushed for the information. He pressed a lingering kiss to Alec' cheek, earning him another soft dusting of red on the taller man's cheeks.

"I'll start making some calls," Magnus told him quietly, "Are you staying?" Alec nodded, his eyes still glued to Magnus' lip which drew into a smirk at the attention, "Then you should probably check in." Alec managed to shake himself to better awareness and pulled out his phone. Without looking away from Magnus, he dialed his office number by heart and waited for Lydia to pick up. He hit the speakerphone button on a whim so Magnus could hear as well.

"Branwell," was the only thing Lydia said when the call connected.

"It's Alec," he told her, unnecessarily, "Magnus wants in, and we're waiting on a possible lead."

"Do we know anything new?" Alec glanced at Magnus who nodded slightly.

"This may not be the first time Rouse has done this if it's a breeding ring," Alec told her, "There was another breeding facility in the early 1800s in her general area, but no proof."

"So she may have learned from past mistakes," Lydia mused, "Do we know what stopped her last time?"

"No," Alec could hear the frustration in his voice at the lack of knowledge, "The facility was abandoned when the warlocks got there. The women and babies were still there though."

"Alive?"

"Most of them. So at least Rouse won't kill them during her escape. Just leave them to die."

"Alright," Alec could hear Lydia shuffling papers on her desk, "When are you coming back to start coming up with a plan?"

"Tomorrow," Alec told her, "Magnus and I will get started and hopefully have a basic outline, with more information in the morning."

"Try to get at least a little work done," Lydia teased, and Alec blushed red enough for Magnus to notice.

"I...no...but...wha..." Alec managed to stammer over the sound out Magnus cackling like a mundane Halloween witch.

Chapter Text

The smell of fresh bacon, butter, and fried potatoes woke Alec slowly. A pained groan escaped him as he pushed himself up from the couch. A couch, no matter how plush or decadent would never fit his long frame. His stumbling attempts to make it to the kitchen while still half asleep earned more than a few bruises on his shins, but he eventually succeeded in following the delicious scents.

"Good morning handsome," Magnus purred while Alec stood dumbfounded by the sight in front of him. Magnus was hard at work at the stove, frying eggs in butter while bacon sizzled away in another pan. What had stopped Alec short though, was the sight of Magnus' naked back, the muscles bunching and shifting as he worked, with a pair of sleep pants hanging dangerously low on his hips.

"I..., Um, morning?" Alec stammered, finally managing to blurt out the greeting while distracted by the amount of bare skin in front of him.
"I'd ask if a cat got your tongue, but" Magnus chuckled in response, "I know they're all out on the balcony enjoying their own breakfast." Alec sent the older man an unimpressed look that collapsed when Magnus pressed a lingering kiss to his lips. Alec instinctively followed for more when the Indonesian man pulled away, rocking slightly on his feet. Every kiss since their first had been chaste in comparison, but each one left the inexperienced shadowhunter tingling for more. Magnus hummed as he stepped back, "An excellent morning indeed. Breakfast?"

"Hmmm?" Alec hummed, still a little dazed by the kiss. Once the question had finally made it to his sleep and kiss addled brain, he answered more coherently, "Breakfast, yes."

Alec helped himself to a generous helping of fried eggs, bacon and heavily buttered toast, groaning when he took a bite of the crusty sourdough bread.

"Where did you get this?" Alec asked around the mouthful, not wanting to miss the taste by hurrying to swallow the bite.

"San Fransico," Magnus told him as he dished up his own breakfast, "I summoned it fresh this morning. An acquaintance of mine runs one of the bakeries and always puts an extra loaf in for me." Magnus turned just in time to see Alec shove another, massive piece into his mouth, butter dripping down his chin, "I take it you approve?" Alec looked up bashfully at being caught, and it made Magnus wonder at the fare supplied in the shadowhunter community. It certainly seemed like a society that would see food as fuel, a necessity, rather than something to enjoy. The young shadowhunter smiled sheepishly around the bread, causing Magnus to fight and fail to not find the puffy cheeks endearing.

"Mumfh," Alec muttered, trying to talk through a full and closed mouth.

"You're lucky you're cute," Magnus muttered.

"Hey!" After a short glaring contest, playful of course, they settled in to finish their breakfast in comfortable silence.

"Any word from your people?" Alec finally asked just before shoving the last bite of his sumptuous breakfast into his mouth. Magnus seemed to deflate at the question, and Alec felt a momentary twinge at asking.

"Unfortunately, yes," Magnus told him, "They were able to confirm that Iris has access to newborn warlocks, but not how."

"So we still don't know if it's a warlock council or Clave problem," Alec mused and frowned when Magnus snorted.

"Either way, the Clave will want to do the punishing," Magnus pointed out, "It's what they're good at." Alec wanted to argue, to defend the Clave, but found that he couldn't. Magnus wasn't wrong.

"We need more information," He pointed out instead, "A reconnaissance mission." Magnus perked up a little at that, snapping his fingers after a moment.
"I have an idea."

As he stepped out of the portal in front of the visage of the abandoned church Alec decided that portal travel was definitely his preferred method, but he reminded himself that Magnus was doing a lot for them that he would typically be getting paid significantly for. He made a note to himself to talk to Lydia about Magnus getting paid for his assistance more often. He knew Magnus wouldn't accept payment for Omer, since the warlock was close with the family, and most likely wouldn't demand payment for the Rouse investigation as it was his responsibility.

"We need to confirm your payment for this," Alec blurted out without thinking, earning a confused look from his boyfriend."

"Alexander," Magnus started, "It's my respo-"

"I know it's your responsibility," Alec said quietly, looking around and pulling the warlock further away from the entrance, "But maybe your 'payment' can be a contract that states The Clave will not interfere if it's proven to strictly be a warlock issue."

"If there's one thing the Clave prides itself on is that it adheres to contracts," Magnus said suddenly as if realizing it for the first time, "That might work." Alec felt a momentary twinge of panic and shame at the fact that he'd helped a downworlder circumvent the Clave, but shook it off a moment later. He knew it was an ingrained reaction from a lifetime of training. The more time he spent with Magnus and other members of the downworld, the less he felt like blindly following every Clave order.

"I'll bring it up to Lydia," Alec told him, "It'll make you look better when you refuse money and just ask for the warlocks to handle it if appropriate."
"You continue to surprise me my darling Alexander," Magnus told him before kissing him softly, "In the most pleasant of ways."

"Get it Alec!" Izzy's voice echoed across the courtyard made Alec consider sororicide for the first time.

"Shut up Izzy," Alec muttered as he stomped past her on his way towards the front door of the old church.

"Really Isabelle," he heard Magnus say behind him, "You couldn't wait for me to get another kiss?" Alec blushed harder and stumbled on his own feet as he made his way into the Institute.

“What do we know?” Izzy asked when the trio joined Jace and Clary in the conference room they'd taken over, “Do we want to play catch?” Magnus and Clary both looked confused and looked at Alec for clarification.

“It’s something we do when we’re working on a specific case rather than just patrolling,” Alec explained, “We each take a stance on the case and argue the facts. One prosecuting, one defending and one who looks asks questions. Izzy, want to defend?" Izzy shrugged.

“Sure,” she said leaning back in her chair, “Magnus can supply facts. Clary and Jace can ask questions. You prosecute.” Once everyone has agreed to the plan, Alec nodded and tossed everyone a file. Jace nearly fell as he tried to grab the file while balancing his chair on the two rear legs.

“Let’s start with Magnus,” Alec suggested, earning a grin from man.

“I had a few informants do some digging,” Magnus reported, “and they found some instances of Iris suggesting that something needed to be done about the decline of the warlock population.”

“Motive,” Alec pointed out, sticking his foot out to push Jace’s chair back onto all four legs.

“How bad is the decline?” Jace asked, rocking his chair onto the back legs again and earning him a glare from Alec that he ignored, “Is keeping current ones alive enough, or could someone be pushed to more drastic action?”

“That depends on how you look at it,” Magnus mused, “We lost six during the attack at my loft.” Magnus paused at the memory of feeling those magical connections suddenly snap. Alec pressed into his side, offering himself as silent support, "And there are only a few thousand of us left now."

"Mundanes would label that number as endangered or even critically endangered," Izzy pointed out, earning a sad nod from the warlock in the room."

“So there’s a high risk until we stop Valentine,” Jace concluded, “It might push someone over the edge.”

“And possibly into starting a breeding ring,” Alec pointed out, “What’s our evidence?” His serious appearance softened slightly when he looked at the currently glittering warlock, who smiled back at him.

“The only thing we know is that she has access to newborn warlocks, but it doesn’t look like she’s taking any in. One of my informants reported that she’d recently placed a newborn with an applicant who’d been rejected from the registered orphanages. Another informant approached her about an abandoned newborn, and she denied any ability to take in the baby.”

“That doesn’t rule anything in or out,” Izzy argued, adhering to her assigned role perfectly, “She’s acting as a mundane doctor. One of her patients could have been carrying a warlock and gave the baby up for adoption.”

“Why wouldn’t she refer the woman to one of the orphanages then?” Clary asked, looking surprised that she’d jumped in so quickly.

“Money,” Izzy suggested, “She could be taking payments for arranging the adoption, especially if she’s working with people who were previously rejected.” Jace frowned a little, the idea hitting hard as someone who'd been adopted by a set of parents who never should have been permitted to take custody of a child.

“Do we know how often she’s doing this?” he asked.

“She supposedly has another mundane due any day,” Magnus told them, “And the warlock council has recorded an increase in warlock infants abandoned at one of the orphanages. One conveniently located in New York.” Jace frowned at that information.

“Why would she take them all to one place?” He asked, “She can portal anywhere in the world, so why take the risk?”

“Arrogance,” Magnus told him, “The Iris Rouse I met believed that she was one of the most narcissistic people I’ve ever met, and that’s coming from me.” Izzy and Alec snickered at his tone and the way he wiggled his eyebrows.

“So we really don’t have any firm proof of a breeding-” Clary paused to grimace at the idea, “facility.”

“Not enough to get the Clave safely involved,” Magnus admitted, and the shadowhunters caught the reference that he didn’t trust the Clave with this.

“Involved in what?” Lydia asked in the doorway, “Good morning Warlock Bane. I hope you don’t mind that I take the lead on this case.”

“I can certainly think of worse possibilities Ms. Branwell,” Magnus replied pleasantly, pleased to see that Lydia was taking the lead over a certain tyrannical Lightwood, “I remember working with your ancestors fondly.” Alec raised a questioning eyebrow at Magnus when Lydia looked down with a surprising blush. Magnus shrugged noncommittally, but Alec could remember Lydia’s excitement at the idea of meeting Magnus when she first arrived at the New York Institute. Lydia’s fluster was controlled in under a minute and she was back to business.

“I’m assuming you are all discussing Rouse and the information Mr. Ishikawa gave us?” She asked though she returned her gaze to Magnus before anyone answered, “Did he get home okay?” Magnus smiled at her obvious concern for the teenager.

“He did,” the warlock assured her, “And his family sends their thanks for taking care of him.” Lydia’s returning smile was honest and blinding for a moment before her focus returned to the task at hand.

“We were,” Alec slid her a copy of the new information he and Magnus put together, “So far all we've confirmed is that it's highly likely she's running an underground warlock adoption ring.”

“Which would make it a warlock council problem,” Magnus interjected, earning a few looks from the surrounding shadowhunters. Especially from Lydia.

“Or,” Alec continued, side-eyeing the man he was attempting to date, “She could be running a breeding facility.”

“Any evidence we have is circumstantial at best,” Izzy pointed out pushing at Jace, who was still attempting to balance on the rear legs of his chair.

“We need someone to get inside,” Lydia mused, “How-” The temporary head of the Institute was cut off by Maryse Lightwood marching, uninvited, through the door.

“And I thought I was dramatic,” Magnus muttered under his breath as Maryse surveyed the room like a queen observing her subjects. Alec had to bite the corners of his lips to keep himself from smiling or laughing.

“My apologies,” Maryse simpered insincerely, “I had no idea this room was occupied.” Izzy snorted, earning a venomous glare from her mother.

“Did you need something Maryse?” Lydia asked firmly, drawing the woman's attention away from her daughter.

"Since I'm here, I thought I could offer my assistance," The Lightwood matriarch responded, looking as if she expected the case to be handed to her immediately.
“I’m sure someone with such a long history of experience could offer some advice.” Four pairs of eyes stared at Lydia in awe, one in ill-concealed fury and Magnus looked startled at the civil hostility from Lydia.

“Did she just call Maryse old?” Jace whispered to Clary, “To her face?” Clary nodded without looking away from Lydia.

“I think she did.”

“If,” Magnus drew the word out in an attempt to end the tension in the room, “Rouse is running a breeding facility. She needs women. The easiest way to find out what she’s doing would be to send in someone she might see as a mark.”

“Izzy should go in,” Maryse suggested before anyone else could make a suggestion, “She could take the warlock out easily as soon as she’s in the door.” Magnus looked furious at the unsubtle suggestion that they would take Rouse out guilty or not, and Alec didn’t look much happier.

“I doubt Izzy would be able to get in the door,” Alec pointed out. Lydia and Maryse both turned their attention to him. Alec didn’t flinch, or look away when Maryse sneered at him, her lip curling in disgust when she saw how close he was sitting to Magnus, “She doesn’t exactly come across as helpless.” Izzy preened at his words, taking them as the compliment he meant them.

“Who would you suggest?” Lydia asked, fighting back the smirk that wanted to spread across her face.

“Clary,” Alec said with a simple shrug, “She’s already in over her head and, no offense Clary, but it’s more likely that someone will believe that they can take advantage of you than Izzy,” Alec told her. Clary looked at the female shadowhunter who oozed confidence and self-assurance before she shrugged.

“That’s fair,” she admitted when she turned back to the group at large, biting her lip to keep from smiling when she caught a glimpse of Maryse looking practically apoplectic. The older female Lightwood had become Clary’s least liked person the instant she met her and saw how the women treated her children.

“She also has a believable story already,” Alec continued, “Rouse was under surveillance for necromancy. Clary coming to her to bring her best friend back from the dead would be a perfect trap. Sorry.” The last sentiment was directed at Clary, who looked a little green at the idea of using Simon’s “death” as her way in. She smiled weakly at him in response but just nodded.

"What do I need to do?" She asked, and Magnus jumped in before Maryse could argue further.

"The first step is to get her to agree to the spell," Magnus pointed out, "It's unlikely that she'll offer to perform it the same day. It's a spell that takes time and requires something of the deceased. A lock of hair or such. Once she agrees we can move onto the second part." Lydia nodded in agreement.

"Necromancy itself is a violation of the accords," Lydia said, leaning more of her weight onto the table as she read through the file.

"Only if the spell is performed and if for a mundane," Magnus pointed out, "Just her agreeing isn't enough for prosecution and a shadowhunter requesting it would be seen as entrapment by the warlock council. Charging a warlock after that would break any trust the warlocks have in shadowhunters and The Clave."

"Agreeing to it is enough to have her burned," Maryse spit out. The rest of the room looked at her in a mix of surprise, shock and/or fury.

"Not according to Article 30, paragraph 13 of the Accords," Magnus snapped back, making Maryse take an involuntary step back, "Do not test me Maryse."

"And I certainly don't plan on taking advice on situations involving downworlders from a former Circle member," Lydia told her pointedly, earning a flinch from the older woman, "Tread carefully, or I'll have you transferred back to Idris under guard faster than you can blink." Seeing that she wouldn't win, Maryse nodded sharply and excused herself from the room. There was silence for a moment until Clary clapped her hands.

"Alright," she said once she had everyone's attention, "Where do we start?" Alec rolled his eyes but smirked a little at the action. He had to admit the mundane was growing on him.

"We are going to the row house where Rouse has her practice."

Alec watched from the shadows as Clary approached the front door of the medical practice Rouse ran. Magnus had contacted the Warlock council with his concerns, and they had agreed, giving the High Warlock of Brooklyn permission to continue the investigation alongside the Clave representatives. Alec and Clary had gone alone, so he had an arrow notched just in case things went south. Magnus had been worried that Rouse would have wards up that could sense another warlock nearby and had given Alec a spelled sparrow to release so he could map her wards before the full investigation. Alec scoffed as the warlock embraced Clary less than a minute after she opened the door. Soon Rouse was leading Clary into the garden and holding up a feather. After a few minutes of observation, Alec saw a crow burst from their feet and take off. He couldn’t keep his eyebrows raising, impresses despite himself, but he also remembered how uncomfortable Magnus had looked when giving them all a lesson on the dangers of necromancy. With a jolt, Alec threw himself back behind the edge of the building he was standing beside just as Rouse turned around her eyes suspicious. After a couple of minutes, Alec risked peeking around the corner and was just in time to see the front door close behind the warlock. The red-headed shadowhunter in training barely managed to keep from bolting off the porch, but still made her way towards Alec at a fast clip.

"I don't like her," Clary said as soon as she was within hearing distance of Alec.

"Not the hugging type Fray?" Alec teased and chuckled as the redhead shuddered.

"It's weird," Clary told him, "She seems perfectly nice, but she just gives me the creeps. She just felt off."

"Hone that instinct," Alec advised her, "It may save your life. Did you set up a time to come back?" Clary shook her head with a frown.

"She just told me to come back when I was ready and to bring some of Simon's hair. Did you see the little girl in the window?"

"Not specifics, but I could tell someone was watching from inside. So we know there's at least one kid there."

"She seemed so sad." Alec frowned at the younger girl in confusion.

"Rouse? Hey!" Alec rubbed the back of his arm where Clary had pinched him.

"The girl," Clary said, "But at least we know to keep an eye out for her when we come back." Alec nodded as they turned the corner and entered the coffee shop where they'd planned to meet Magnus and Izzy. Alec slid into the chair next to Magnus and accepted the drink the warlock held out for him. It was piled high with whipped cream and what Alec assumed was caramel.

"What is it?" He asked, taking a sniff and a small sip. His eyes went wide, and he forced himself to set it down before his sister saw his reaction.

"A salted caramel hot chocolate," Magnus said as he took a sip of his own coffee, "I thought it might be a little late in the day for caffeine."

"Alec doesn't eat anything sweet," Izzy laughed once she'd set down her own drink. Something milky pink with fruit floating in it that Alec promised himself he would never try.

"Oh, my mistake," Magnus said insincerely and smirked when Alec took a huge gulp of the hot chocolate when Izzy's attention was on Clary. As soon as Clary's drink was ready, the four made their way to the nearest alley so Magnus could open a portal back to the institute. It was time to finalize the next step of their plan.

Chapter Text

"How do we want to play this?" Izzy asked taking a large bite out of the slice of pizza she'd grabbed the second the box was set down. The group had relocated to Magnus' loft after they had spent an hour just trying to avoid Maryse, who kept trying to butt her way into the mission. Something that made the Lightwoods uneasy. They didn't know what her play was, beyond possibly getting one or more of them injured or even killed. Lydia had approved the change of location provided she was kept up to date, and they checked in before moving forward with the plan.

"Clary definitely isn't going alone." Magnus and Alec both cringed as wet bits of masticated pizza fell out of Jace's mouth while he spoke. A quick snap of the warlock's fingers cleaned the mess and Jace shrugged sheepishly at the glare Alec sent his way.

"Obviously," Magnus sighed, "If Iris is taking mundanes for breeding purposes, then having Clary go in alone increases the risk too much. A quick spell to render her unconscious as soon as she's through the door and she's at the mercy of a demon before we can even get inside."

"That's comforting," Clary mumbled picking at her slice. Her bravado was starting to fail as they were getting closer to the beginning of the mission. It was beginning to hit Alec that she would be suffering the most if they failed and Rouse really had created a breeding facility. She was putting herself at risk to be raped by a demon to possibly save others from the same fate.

"I'll be with you," Alec assured her, earning a surprised look from everyone, even Magnus, "And, no you can't go with her Jace."

"Why?" In anyone else, the tone that came from Jace's mouth would have been called a whine, but somehow the blond managed to just barely avoid it.

"Can you be objective and let her complete the mission?" Alec raised an eyebrow as Jace clearly battled mentally before his shoulders slouched.

"No," he admitted, "So what's the plan?"

"She won't show her hand unless she has Clary alone," Magnus told them all, "So as much as we all dislike the idea, she has to get Clary alone." Clary reached out and clapped her hand over Jace's mouth before he could say anything else.

"I'm okay with that," She assured the others, "Anything I should be aware of?"

"Do NOT drink anything she offers you," Magnus told her sternly, "Don't even get it in your mouth. Fake it if you have to, but avoid it altogether if you can."

"Got it. Anything else." Magnus suddenly looked thoughtful and concerned, which they had all come to realize was usually meant nothing good.

"Magnus?" Alec reached out to set his hand softly against the soft fabric of his boyfriend's coat, "What is it?"

"She may try and trap you with a blood oath," Magnus admitted, "It would be a way around the accords."

"Blood oaths are still against the accords," Izzy pointed out before she took another large bite of pizza. Much like Alexander, the other shadowhunters fell on unhealthy or delicious food with a ferocity that confirmed a traditionally restrictive diet.

"But the punishment involved is far less severe." Magnus reached out to grab another slice of pizza, grimacing when he saw the pineapple and summoned another supreme.

"So by using the blood oaths," Alec surmised, "She'd go to prison for a few decades, but avoids execution."

"And for a warlock as old as Iris Rouse, a few decades is nothing," Magnus pointed out, "A simple manipulation she'd be thrilled to pull off."

"So how does Clary avoid it?" Jace had been none too subtly inching closer to his girlfriend as they spoke, and Clary rolled her eyes before leaning in so he could wrap his arm around her.

"There are a few options," Magnus assured him, "The first is make a copy of the oath before Clary signs it and change a few lines. It's a simple spell on a piece of parchment that will copy the magical signature, but read that there will be no favor requested for services rendered."

"That will only work if Rouse isn't there or not paying attention," Izzy pointed out, "What happens if Rouse does it herself or whoever does watches like a hawk."

"When push comes to shove, decline and leave," Magnus says simply, "We can always find another way in. Her arranging the adoptions is enough to get the warlock council involved."

"Won't she try to stop me if I leave?" Clary asked, "If necromancy and blood oaths are illegal and she'd agreed to it, wouldn't she want to stop me."

"Technically as long as she doesn't actually perform anything then there's no issue," Alec pointed out, "Trying to keep you from leaving is actually more of a risk." He frowned when he heard Magnus scoff and raised an eyebrow at the man.

"I agree, but I'm sending you in with the magical equivalent of a panic button just in case," he assured her. The other shadowhunters looked at him in bewilderment.

"Do you honestly think she'd risk it?" Jace asked, "Like you said, a few decades is nothing to a warlock." Magnus sighed and took a sip of his cocktail, grimacing as it mixed poorly with the pizza he'd just eaten.

"Rouse is a survivor," Magnus told him, though it was clear he wanted everyone to hear it, "Warlocks as old as Rouse and I remember when shadowhunters slaughtered our kind for profit and sport. Twenty years, give or take, isn't enough for us to forget centuries of persecution and fear." There was a very subtle flinch from the shadowhunters present, but Clary just nodded having seen enough of the mundane equivalent.

"We should get back to the Institute. Lydia will want an update," Izzy announced once she'd finished swallowing her last slice of pizza, "Would you mind making us a portal Magnus?" The warlock nodded and with a flick of his wrist, a twirling circle of magic appeared in front of her. She disappeared through, quickly followed by Jace and Clary. Alec paused and signaled for Magnus to close the portal.

"Not that I'm not eager to spend more time with you darling," Magnus hummed as he stepped into Alec's open arms, "But won't they be expecting you."

"I can spare a few minutes," Alec said with a soft smile that morphed into a frown, "Was it really that bad?" The other man sighed and dropped his forehead to rest on Alec's chest.

"I lost many friends to shadowhunters," Magnus told him honestly, and he hated how the young man tensed, but he also wanted him to know the truth, "Some who were murdered right in front of me when we were only children." Alec closed his arms tighter around his boyfriend and pressed a kiss to his head.

"I'm so sorry," He whispered against the soft strands of the other man's hair.

"It's in the past," Magnus assured him, pulling back so he could look into the shadowhunter's eyes, "And the future certainly looks better from where I'm standing." Alec blushed at the twinkle in the warlock's eyes as he flirted and he gathered his courage.

"I can see it getting better," Alec managed to blurt through his blush. Magnus quirked an eyebrow with a smirk.

"And how exactly do you see that happening?"

"A goodbye kiss?" Magnus didn't answer as he was too busy making the future better for Alec.

The next morning found the shadowhunter sneering at the impeccable looking front door that proclaimed Iris Rouse as a simple MD. He stopped when he felt a nudge from Clary.

"You ready for this?" Clary was trying to put on a brave face, but it was clear that she was nervous to be going into such a risky situation.

"Of course. Are you?" Clary rolled her eyes and cocked her hip with a displeased scoff.

"I have the replacement parchment, and you have the blocking spell," she told him, "It'll be fine." Alec watched her flounce away towards the door and rolled his own eyes.

"Fine is something that never happens when you're around," he muttered as he jogged to catch up with her. The knowledge that Magnus, Izzy, and Jace were nearby waiting for his signal helped, but he despised going into unknown situations. Clary was already knocking at the door by the time he made it the porch, so Alec just took his place next to her in time to have the door open. The woman who answered the door was heavily pregnant and, most troubling, obviously dazed.

"Are you here for Dr. Rouse?" The woman mumbled, swaying on her feet. It took all of Alec's control not to reach out to steady her. It could be a trap, but his instinct was telling him that this was a mundane woman in trouble. Instead, the shadowhunter took a fortifying breath and stepped inside when Rouse came to the door and led them inside.

Alec played his part perfectly, generally disagreeing with the warlock and being borderline insulting to ensure that she would insist that Clary would have to meet with her alone. Thankfully, Rouse had sent Clary off with the possibly bespelled mundane for the oath so there was a chance that Clary could switch the papers. He sat in the entryway, waiting for clary to activate her magical panic switch or for the rest of the team to come through the door. A slight creak caught his attention, making him turn his head to see a little girl standing by the stairs.  He quickly realized she was the girl Clary saw through the window. She looked to be around five or six years old, and there was an air of caution around her that Alec didn't like. It was more than a normal shyness with strangers, but Alec couldn't tell what was the cause. Her clothes were just a touch too big, and so far Alec hadn't seen another person who would match her features, which made him wonder where her parents were.

"Hello." It was clear that she would most likely bolt if he moved towards her, so instead, he simply stayed where he was and waited, "Do you live here?" A nod was his only answer, but he was rewarded with her taking another step closer to him. The multicolored scarf around her neck seemed out of place on a child her age, and it made him wonder what it was hiding. Keeping his movements careful, Alec pulled out his phone to let Magnus know he's confirmed there was a child in the house. A quick glance around the room reinforced his thought that she didn't spend much time down here, "Where are all your toys."

When she pointed up at the second, or third, floor Alec was able to see that the scarf was covering a set of gills on each side of her neck, "Cool gills." The words, despite how positive they were, made the girl nearly snap her head down so that her chin touched her chest. He smiled at her and was rewarded with a tiny smile in return. Before he could send another text to let Magnus know the girl was a warlock, a baby's cries caught her attention and pulled her away from Alec. Curious, and needing to determine what was going on in the house, he followed her up the stairs, sending Magnus the update as he did. When he reached the second-floor landing, the woman who greeted them came out of one of the rooms holding a baby. It was easy to see that the baby was a warlock since their skin was covered in scales. The woman looked just as dazed as she had when she had answered the door. His phone was immediately at his ear, ringing for Magnus, and ignored that the woman disappeared back into the room without a word. As the phone rang, the small stone in his pocket attached to Clary’s emergency alarm started buzzing. He took the stairs up to the third floor as quickly as his long legs allowed and Magnus answered as soon as his foot hit the landing.

"There's-," he was cut off with a grunt as he was flung across the room to slam into the wall. He groaned as he landed on the carpeted floor and tried to get to his feet, only to be magically lifted and thrown into the ceiling.

"That's not very nice shadowhunter," Rouse told him as she let her magic release him and he plummeted down from the fifteen-foot ceiling, "and after I invited you in."

"You're breeding warlocks aren't you?" Alec managed to groan out, blood making his tongue thick and he wasn't sure where it was coming from. He got a twinge of fierce pleasure at her grimace of disgust when a mixture of blood and saliva dripped onto her carpet.

"I don't have much of a choice now do I?" She asked as she began to crush him into the floor, "Not with one of your kind bent on wiping us out."

"Where's Clary?" He bit out, making sure to get more blood on the floor as he spoke and not even bothering to clarify that Valentine wasn't one of theirs. He heard an aggravated huff, one that he was personally familiar with when it came to Clary.

"Stubborn girl refused to even touch her tea," Rouse griped, "So she's useless for what I need. At least now that I know the Clave is investigating me. I suppose I could take her with me, but that seems like so much work. Besides, she still owes me that favor. As for you, I can always leave your kind a message." Alec bit back a scream that the sheer amount of force that was suddenly grinding him into the solid wood floor. His breaths were coming in short gasps, and it seemed like the pressure increased every time he exhaled.

“Nana! Nana no!” Alec heard a small voice yell just as his vision was starting to fade and he felt the force pressing him into the floor ease just enough for him to breathe.

“Oh hi honeybun,” Rouse’s voice was dripping sugar as she spoke and it made Alec shiver in disgust at the woman's obvious manipulation. It reminded him of Maryse more than he'd like, "Don't worry, I'm just playing with the man."

"Play time's over," Alec was sure he had never been so happy to hear his sister's voice than in that moment, "Put the girl down."

"Her name's Madzie, and she's better off with me than left to fend for herself in this cruel world. What? What's happening?" Alec could hear the fury in the warlock's voice and listened as a pair of small feet hit the ground before scampering a few feet away.

"That would be me." There was a surprised cry, and  Alec felt the pressure on his back finally disappear entirely.

“You’re late,” Alec coughed out as he flipped himself over so he could see the room. He could see that Magnus had Iris suspended slightly off the floor with a fiery band of spinning magic. The warlock looked uncomfortable, but not in any significant amount of pain. The little warlock, Madzie, was pressing herself into a door jam in a way that was familiar to Alec. He used to do the same thing when he was unnerved with what was going on around him.

“I’ll make it up to you darling,” Magnus assured him as he kept a hold on Iris, who was fighting against the band of magic tightening around her torso. He took his attention away from Iris for a moment to flash golden cat eyes at the wide-eyed little girl, “Hello sweet pea.” Madzie waved at the warlock shyly and shifted closer to Alec as the tall shadowhunter stumbled to his knees, an arm wrapped around ribs that felt broken. It took Alec a moment to recover his senses after seeing Magnus' un-glamoured eyes for the first time. He wasn't sure how soon he should let Magnus know that flashing those eyes at him was a sure fire way to make him lose track of anything else. Once he had, he quickly wiped the blood from his lips, earning a concerned look from his boyfriend, and turned his hopefully clean face to the scared child.

“Thank you for saving me,” Alec told her with a kind smile, “You’re name’s Madzie?” The little girl nodded and offered the tall man a shy smile of her own.

“Madzie!” The little girl jumped as Iris shouted her name and unconsciously moved closer to Alec, “Get away from them. Break the warlock’s hold.” Magnus glared at the woman who would use a child to attack him since she knew he wouldn’t use his magic against a child and he breathed deeply to keep himself from squeezing her harder in retaliation. Ignoring the magic that surrounded them, Alec held out his hand slowly and waited for Madzie to take it on her own. He could see she was surprised he was letting her choose if she wanted to touch him or not and wondered just how often the little girl had been grabbed or dragged around.

“Thank you Madzie,” Alec said when she finally set her tiny hand in his much larger one and turned his attention to the captive warlock, “You don’t get to hurt her anymore.”

“I kept her safe!” Iris shouted angrily, gasping when the cage around her tightened. She glared at Magnus, then cowered when she saw the rage on the High Warlock’s face.

“No,” he told her, “You isolated her so she wouldn’t trust anyone but you, then you made her a target for Valentine.” The female warlock’s eyes went wide and her struggling stopped instantly.

“What?”

“He knows what you’re doing here,” Magnus told her, “And he wants the children.”

"For what?" Rouse asked, her curiosity clearly overriding her anger.

"To slaughter, to use and discard," Izzy ticked off fingers as she spoke, "Who cares why. We just want to make sure he doesn't get his hands on them." The female warlock returned to glaring, this time directed at Izzy.

"What does it matter to you shadowhunter?" The hatred in the last word suddenly made Alec think of his mother and suddenly didn't want Madzie to have to see the conflict that was going on. He crouched back down, wincing as the movement pulled on the injuries scattered across his body.

"Hey Madzie," Alec gave her arm a playful wiggle to get her attention, "We have to get the babies somewhere safe. Can you help me?" Madzie smiled at him again, just a barely-there smile that took his breath away a little, and began tugging him back downstairs. The gentle tugging on his arm sent bolts of agony through his chest, but he made sure to hide the pain from Madzie. The little warlock in question froze when she saw Jace and Clary standing on the top of the second-floor landing, nearly making Alec bump into her. When they were stopped, Madzie ducked around to hide behind Alec's legs without letting go of his hand.

"It's okay Madzie," Alec assured her when she looked at him for help, "They're with me,  the dopey blond one is my brother."

"Hey!" Jace cried out, exaggerating his offense to make the little girl smile and she did, a little. Alec ignored the outburst and smiled when he felt Madzie shaking and realized she was laughing. He shook the little girl's hand again, something she seemed to have started taking comfort in and turned his attention to the pair of shadowhunters in front of him.

"We've got babies in this room," Alec told them pointing with the hand that had been wrapped around his chest, "I don't know how many, so we may have to get more hands here if there are more than we can handle ourselves." There was a shriek from the floor above them, and Madzie winced, clinging more tightly to Alec's leg. Ignoring the pain in his chest and back, Alec reached down and swept Madzie up into his arms before his brain could point out it might be a bad idea. Luckily, Madzie just switched her grip to around his neck instead, "You're okay Madzie, you're okay."

"I don't like it when the sad women cry." Alec had to force himself not to tense up at the sound of Madzie's voice for the first time.

"I know it's scary Madzie," Alec whispered to her, "I know that this is all new, but your Nana did something bad."

"Does she have to go to her room for quiet time?" Alec's jaw clenched at the idea that Madzie might have been locked in her room alone for being "bad".

"Did you have to?" He could feel Madzie nod against his neck and he sighed, "Your Nana made the sad ladies sad, and she wasn't supposed to. That means she has to be in quiet time for a very long time."

"What about me?" Madzie's voice was tinged with fear and Alec wrapped his arms around her just a little tighter.

"I promise Madize," Alec told her firmly, "I am going to make sure you get to go home to someone who will love you. Who will cuddle under the blankets with you, laugh while you make cookies with your magic and will do their best to make sure you're never scared again. Okay?"

"Okay."

Chapter Text

"There were two demons in the basement." Jace looked sick as he imparted that bit of information to his brother and Clary didn't look much better, "They were chained up, but the chains could reach every corner of the room."

"So the women had nowhere to escape." Alec turned to see Magnus walking up behind him, his face a mask as he spoke. It was clear that they were all imagining the fear the women trapped in the house faced when they realized there was nowhere to run.

"The woman I saw took the baby in there," Alec told the warlock, pointing just a finger at the door so he wouldn't have to put Madize down.

"Why don't you sit down with her," Izzy suggested, clearly seeing that he was slowly losing his color the longer he stood with the extra weight, "Clary can stand guard with the two of you while the rest of us clear the room." Alec nodded, and sat on the floor without arguing, something that made his siblings exchange a look of concern. Something that Magnus noticed.

"Alexander," Magnus said coming to crouch down next to the younger man, "Where are you hurt."

"I'm fine," Alec tried to assure him, "Nothing an iratze can't fix." His brother was next to him in an instant, drawing the rune on the exposed skin of his forearm. They would have to do another one over his heart later for it to be the most effective, but Alec could feel the pain in his chest easing as it went to work.

"We'll get him to the infirmary later," Jace told a still very concerned Magnus, "But he's not going to go willingly until we finish what we came for." The shadowhunter in question nodded in confirmation and listed to the side, so his arm was pressing against Magnus' leg.

"There are babies in there Magnus," he murmured, the urgency clear in his voice, "I'll get checkout once they're safe, I promise." Magnus leaned in to press a kiss to the mop of wayward curls.

"Still full of surprises my darling," Magnus whispered before he stood up and made his way to the door, "I have to make sure there are no magical defenses before we open it." Jace and Izzy nodded as they backed away to give him room to work. The magic that flowed from the warlock's hands never failed to amaze Alec. It was something he had been taught was a "cheat" and something to be looked down on, or even feared. Nevermind the fact that every Institute and even Idiris itself was protected by warlock magic.

Soon enough, the shimmer of Magnus' faded away and the warlock nodded to the shadowhunters next to him. Clary fell back to cover Alec and the little warlock that was still holding tight to him, while the other three members of their group made entry into the unknown.  Alec and Clary waited anxiously while they listened to the soft creaking of footsteps on loose floorboards. After maybe thirty seconds, a masculine yell sent Alec's heart racing. Clary immediately raced to the doorway and disappeared into the dim light.

"Magnus! Jace!" When he got no response to his shout, Alec tried to struggle to his feet without dropping the little girl that was still clinging desperately to him. Before he could manage, Izzy emerged from the room calm, collected and snickering.

"What happened?" Alec was confident that his face was a mask of confusion, but he waited for his sister to stop laughing long enough to fill him in.

"We found babies," the dark-haired woman managed to blurt out between laughter, "and one peed on Jace."

"Ewwww," Madzie said into Alec's ear as he was doing his best to maintain a firm facade, which of course made him break into a big smile.

"Very ewwww," he confirmed. Izzy took the hand he held out for her to help him up and the trio entered the room.

The first thing Alec saw when his eyes adjusted to the dimmed light was his brother frantically rubbing at his face with multiple baby wipes as Clary stood by. The second was Magnus standing at a changing table easily avoiding tiny flailing legs as he finished securing a diaper onto to the tiny body.  The care Magnus used reminded Alec of the way he interacted with Omer Ishikawa, and it made him wonder how often the warlock was faced with things he knew might not be possible for him to have. The spectacle also warmed Alec in ways he didn't particularly want to examine so early in their relationship.

The feeling only grew as Alec watched Magnus settle the now contented infant into one of the three cradles at the end of the room.  For the sake of his own sanity, Alec turned away from the sight and made his way over to his brother, who had yet to stop scrubbing at his face.

"Not sure you can scrub away that much ugly," Alec teased his brother, who stopped rubbing just long enough to send him a glare.

"I never want kids," Jace growled, earning a sincere nod from Clary, "That was disgusting." Alec bit back a laugh, unsurprised by Jace's words. The young man had never known what to do when confronted with children, not including Max, narrowly beating out Izzy. She could at least deal with them when they edged closer to ten.

"I don't think anyone would argue with you on that one," Alec assured him, "Let's go check on Izzy." Jace nodded and together, the group of shadowhunters and one young warlock made their way over to the cradles. Magnus had already redirected his attention to the bespelled women and appeared to be examining them with his magic. Izzy looked up when they were close enough to hear each other whisper.

"I guess we can confirm a breeding ring." It was clear that Izzy was trying to lighten the mood with her tone, but the wet tinge in her voice revealed just how much the situation disturbed her. Alec managed to free one of his hands for long enough to squeeze her arm softly to say he understood, but a soft whine from one of the cradles drew their attention away from each other. Alec nearly laughed at the twin looks of panic on the faces of his siblings at the threat of a baby, or multiple babies, crying but was distracted when Madzie started to wiggle in an attempt to get down. Bending, carefully, he set her down and watched as she wandered over to what looked like a single serve coffee maker.

"Alec," Jace hissed as the baby's whines started rising in pitch, "What do we do." For the sake of his ribs, Alec bit back a laugh at how quickly his regularly fearless brother was backing away from the cradle with Izzy looking at it like it was about to explode. Clary actually hiding behind Jace had Alec rolling his eyes. He reached in to pick up the discontented infant, who immediately stopped whimpering at the motion and he noticed it wasn't the same one Magnus had been changing earlier.

"Hello," Alec cooed when he had the baby cradled in the crook of his arm, "What are you complaining about?" Alec did a quick check, confirming that the baby still had a clean diaper and, incidentally, that she was a girl. The baby was young, very young and Alec made a note to have people keep an eye out at hospitals in case any women came in with post-pregnancy complications and no baby. He smiled as the baby grabbed onto one of his fingers and tried to focus undeveloped eyesight on his face. He heard Izzy gasp from where she'd walked up behind him when the baby blinked revealing something that flickered across her eyes.

"It's got nictitating membranes," Izzy said, her scientific brain getting the better of her reluctance to be near a baby.

"She," Alec told her, glaring a little and cuddling the baby protectively closer as if to protect her from Izzy's interest. The fact that Alec was practically a baby whisperer was well known within the New York Institue. He had often been sought out if a new parent was in desperate need of rest, or when they were given a last minute assignment. He wasn't sure why babies seemed to settle with him, but Alec was happy to admit that, unlike his siblings, he loved babies and kids. They were a break from the death, violence, and destruction that permeated the shadowworld. Something innocent that needed protection.  He heard Madzie approach and looked down to see her holding a full bottle out to him. His heart broke a little as he realized that she had, quite possibly, been given the role of caretaker to the infants when she wasn't even old enough to take care of herself.

"Thank you Madzie," he said as he took the bottle and settled onto a nearby bed to rub the nipple on the baby's lower lip. The little girl immediately latched on and began suckling in earnest, making Alec wonder when she'd last been fed. Madzie climbed onto the bed, scrambling a little when she lost purchase, to sit next to him and watch the baby eat.

"We should get them all to the loft," Magnus said quietly as he approached. He brushed a finger against a soft cheek of the infant in Alec's arms, something incredibly fond and yet painful in his gaze, "I want them away from this horrible place." Alec nodded and turned to Madzie, giving her a playful nudge when she kept her gaze on the floor.

"We're going to take you somewhere safe, okay?" He waited until he got a confirming nod from the little girl to continue, "Perfect. You're being really brave Madzie. Can you wait here a second? I need to talk to Magnus." Once he'd again gotten a nod from the little girl, he tilted his head so Magnus would give him some space to stand. He did so with a wince, earning another concerned look from Magnus.

"Are you alright darling?" Magnus asked, his fingers twitching with magic and the urge to heal the younger man.

"I'm fine Magnus," Alec assured him, "I promise."

"Alexander," Magnus said sternly, crossing his arms in front of his chest, "I saw the blood on your lips and chin, so it's quite possible that I don't believe you."

"I bit my tongue," Alec muttered, keeping his gaze on the child in his arms.

"Pardon?"

"I bit my tongue when she tossed me," Alec repeated a little louder, "That's where the blood came from. I'm just bruised and sore. I promise."

"I reserve the right to confirm that once we're safely in the loft." Alec nodded, not at all opposed to having Magnus examine him and shifted the baby so he could be burped.

"Let's get going then."

Juggling three infants, two pregnant mundanes and all of the supplies for said individuals would have been a nightmare without magic. Especially when two of your cohort, Jace and Izzy, absolutely refused to be near the babies. Clary was willing at least, but she had no experience, so she was relegated to helping push the supplies that Magnus had spelled to hover. Izzy had suggested calling for back-up and therefore more hands, but Magnus quickly shot it down. He pointed out that, as much as he trusted the Lightwood siblings, he refused to let unknown shadowhunters near such vulnerable warlocks. Izzy and Jace began to argue but were cut off by Alec when his mind flickered back to the wall of macabre trophies he'd found. Instead, they had Alec and Magnus split the four children between the two of them. Magnus held an infant in each arm, the girl that Alec had been feeding and the scale skinned baby Alec had seen earlier. Alec had the last and seemingly oldest infant, a little boy that seemed to have no discernable warlock mark, splayed across his chest and shoulder while Madzie clung to his other hand.
Jace and Izzy were the first ones through the portal, leading the mundane women to the relative safety of Magnus' loft before the blond reappeared to help Clary with the supplies. Alec let out a sigh of relief when he felt the plush carpet beneath his feet. He had the strongest urge to take off his shoes so he could curl his toes into the soft cotton, but was distracted when he realized Madzie had the same reaction, only her shoes were already off.

"Woah." Alec couldn't help but smile at the sight of Madzie staring in wonder at the smooth fibers tickled between her toes.

"It's certainly a wonderful feeling isn't it sweetpea." Magnus swept by them to settle his charges in the newly arrived cradles. Izzy situated the formula maker on an empty space in Magnus' kitchen and turned around to rub her hands together.

"Alright," she said, "What's next."

"My friend Caterina should be arriving soon," Magnus told her as he moved items around to make the space of his living room and entryway the most functional, "And representatives from the orphanages will arrive by the end of the day."

"What do you need us to do?" Alec asked moving to the cradles with the comfortably sleeping baby into the last free bassinet.

"I need you all to go back to the Institute," Magnus told them as he looked around the room, finally satisfied with

"What!" Jace blurted out, "but-"

"I doubt the warlocks running the orphanages want us around when they're planning for the safety of the babies. The Clave isn't exactly trusted, remember." Izzy and Jace both seemed to deflate at his words and they nodded quietly.

"You're leaving?" the whimpered question had Alec kneeling next to Madzie in an instant. The girl immediately snagged his sleeve and tried to pull him closer.

"I have to go home for a little while," Alec explained, "and Magnus is going to have some people here that are scared of me, but they're going to find somewhere safe for you and the babies to stay." Madzie looked confused, and Magnus assumed it was at the idea that someone was scared of Alec.

"Are you coming back?" Alec looked at Magnus for confirmation before answering. At his nod, the shadowhunter returned his attention to the child in front of him.
"I promise," Alec assured her, "that I will come back to see you before you go anywhere, and I'll make sure you're only going to the best person in the world okay?" Madzie surprised everyone when she threw herself into Alec's arms and hugged his neck tightly. Alec hugged her back just as securely for a few minutes before he was successfully able to transfer her into Magnus' arms.

"Make sure you get checked out," Magnus insisted before Alec could pull back too far. Alec blushed and quickly kissed Magnus, his face turning even redder, and scampered back towards the door.

"I promise," he told the warlock as he disappeared out the door behind his siblings.

Less than two hours after the shadowhunters had returned home, Caterina was medically and magically examining the two pregnant women they'd found hidden in the row house, the three infants sleeping peacefully after their own. Madzie was standing close behind the RN in quiet awe. The little girl had returned to her near mute state after Alexander had departed for the Institute and had remained so until Caterina Loss had arrived. Magus smiled as he remembered the little girl's surprising emergence from her shell.

Magnus felt a soft tugging at the sleeve of his jacket and glanced down to see Madize holding tightly to him, but her eyes were locked on Caterina.

“What’s wrong Sweet Pea?” Magnus asked as he lowered himself to her eye level. He wasn’t entirely surprised when the little girl stepped closer and wound her arms around his neck. She seemed to be touch starved, which made the older warlock wonder how little affection Rouse had given her.

“She looks like me,” Madzie whispered clutching closer to the only thing that was remotely familiar in this new place.
“That she does,” Magnus muttered, wondering if he should have asked Cat to maintain her naturally blue skin rather than her glamour, “Do you want to meet her?” He felt the little girl stiffen for a moment.

“Is she like us?” Magnus nodded, deciding his friend would forgive him if he revealed her warlock mark to the nervous little girl.

“She is,” Magnus assured her, “You know how you have your gills and I have my eyes?”

“Alec said my gills are cool,” Madize informed him gravely, forcing Magnus to bite back the smile that was creeping up. He made a note to kiss Alexander extra thoroughly the next time he saw the shadowhunter.

“They are very cool,” Magnus assures her, “and they show that you are a warlock, just like my eyes do. All warlocks have them.”

“All of them?” Madzie asked, once again looking at the “normal” appearance of the adult female warlock.

“All of them,” Magnus assured her. He made sure he had a good grip on the nervous child and wandered closer to Caterina, who was using magic and mundane means of examining the infants, “My dearest Kitty Cat.” The warlock in question raised an unimpressed brow at the nickname.

“You’ll need to stop using that at some point,” she told him, before smiling at the five-year-old girl, “Hello sweetheart.” Madzie waved, still wide-eyed and shy but curious.

“We were just discussing warlock marks,” Magnus told her, hoping that one of his oldest friends would catch onto what he was asking without him having to say it. Caterina smirked at him, and the illusion began to fall away from her skin. Madzie gasped as she watched the dark skin fall away to reveal a stunning pale blue reminiscent of forget-me-nots.

“Pretty,” Madzie whispered when Caterina gave a little spin to show the girl her entirely blue skin.

“Thank you, sweetheart,” Caterina said, her smile so wide it looked like it might hurt her cheeks, “I hear you have some very cool gills.” Madzie giggled, and for the first time since they found her, she tugged down the scarf just enough to show the other warlock said gills.

The warlock suspected that Iris was the only other grown warlock the little girl had met and it was only natural that she was curious. It was love at first sight for the little warlock, and Magnus had a feeling the feeling was very mutual. The normally blue-skinned warlock seemed just as enamored with the little girl, which was giving Magnus ideas.

"They're all fine." Magnus cracked his eyes open at the sound of his friend's voice, "Traumatized, but physically fine."

"Do they remember what happened?"

"Not any detail," Caterina told him, taking a seat on the couch beside him. He was momentarily startled to see that she was cradling a sleeping Madzie, "But they know something bad happened."

"Small blessings," Magnus muttered as he raised the last of his drink to his mouth, and refilling it with another two fingers, "We need a plan to deal with the mundanes when they give birth, and for that little one. The babies are easy enough to place, but she’ll need special care." He lifted his glass to his lips as his mind spun with possibilities, ideas being discarded here and there.

“I want her Magnus,” Caterina said suddenly, making Magnus choke on his 15-year-old Kentucky Bourbon. He summoned a handkerchief to muffled his hacking so he wouldn’t wake Madzie, who was bouncing slightly as Caterina chuckled at his misery. He glared at her, playfully, before his expression turned serious once again.

“Are you sure?” He asked her and watched as she wrapped her arms more tightly around the sleeping child.

“I’ve always wanted a family,” Caterina reminded him, “she could be my chance, and she needs someone who can see her through the struggles she’s going to have.” Cat snuggled the little girl closer as she spoke and Magnus saw a softness in her gaze that he hadn’t seen in a long time. He also couldn't fault her logic. Madzie was going to need specialized care that Cat had experience with. Her work as a nurse has brought her in contact with traumatized children again and again. She’d even taught classes on handling those children and recognizing abuse. Magnus couldn’t think of a better person to take care of the little girl and have her grow to be a healthy, confident warlock.

“In that case, to family,” he raised his glass in congratulations to one of his dearest friends and earning an unimpressed look in return.

Chapter Text

It had been two days since Alec had left the loft after the takedown of Iris Rouse and he was still stuck on light duty. Meaning he wasn’t allowed on any patrols until he was cleared by one of the doctors, which wouldn’t happen until he completed his mandatory week of rest. A rule that had been implemented by the same doctor he was waiting to see. After Dr. Emilia Blestwell had examined him upon his return from the Rouse mission, she had immediately restricted his actions due to his ribs. It had turned out that Rouse had managed to crack four of his ribs. The iratze Jace had used, and a few subsequent ones, helped them heal, but mandatory rest and light duties were assigned for ribs injuries.

“You and your blasted parabatai are going to be the death of me.” Alec looked up at the familiar voice and took in the woman walking towards them. She was about average height for a woman, making her nearly a foot shorter than the tall shadowhunter that was trying to make himself look smaller on the bed. Her gait showed an amount of confidence born from experience and an attitude that brokered no argument, “I thought you promised to be more careful.”

“Sorry Dr. Blestwell,” Alec glanced quickly around at the other medics in the room to see if they were paying attention. When he realized they weren’t, he allowed himself to relax a little and leaned into her touch when she brushed his sweaty hair from his face. Emilia had been the one he’d gone to when he was feeling overwhelmed, scared or unsure. She had also been the second person he’d come out to, though often times he counted her as the first since Izzy found out accidentally when he’d agreed with her on a mission that one of the mundanes around them was cute. He’d been so scared when he told her, afraid that she would cast him away. The Clave might have approved same-sex marriages, but the old prejudices were still present. He was confident that Maryse and Robert would have killed him if they had found out privately rather than the rather public coming out he’d had. Emilia had just gathered the gangly thirteen-year-old in her arms and spent over an hour holding him as he cried and whispering how much she loved him, and how proud she was of him.

“What happened?” She asked, drawing Alec out of his memories. Her eyes continued to flick side to side as she checked him for injuries.

“I picked a fight with a warlock and she threw me into the ceiling,” Alec tried to joke, earning a very unimpressed look from the doctor, “I was training with Jace, he hit me in the side.”

“Hey!,” The look the blond sent his brother, his parabatai was full of betrayal, “It was your idea! And I made you come here instead of just drawing an iratze.” The last line was told directly to the woman in front of them with a smug smile reminiscent of a golden retriever puppy waiting for praise.

“And yet,” Emilia told the boys in front of her, “You both should have known better. Alec shouldn’t be doing any heavy training for at least another week, let alone sparring.”

“Sorry ma’am,” both young men mumbled quietly, cowing under the doctor’s stern gaze.

“Alec!” Three heads turned towards the sound as Max burst through the doorway, taking out a tray of instruments at the same time. His mother closed her eyes at the clatter of metal in tile.

“Angel knows where he gets the energy,” she muttered while her son closed the short distance.

“Sorry!” Max shouted to one of the medics who had gone to clean up the tools, knowing Dr. Blestwell wouldn’t want her son picking up the obsidian sharp scalpels, “Sorry!” Once he reached the bed, the six-year-old did his best to scramble up, legs kicking as he tried, until Jace gave him a little boost.

“Max,” Emilia scolded when the boy moved to launch himself at his oldest brother. Max froze mid-lunge, a position so comical that Alec had to fight hard to keep from re-injuring his ribs from laughing so hard.

“I just wanted to make sure Alec was okay.” The boy looked up at his mother with wide, pleading eyes that Alec was positive Jace taught him. Emilia stood firm in the face of those eyes, merely raising an unimpressed eyebrow, but Alec caved in seconds when they were turned on him.

“I’m fine Max,” Alec assured him, wrapping an arm around the young boy and pulling him into his side, “Just a little sore.”

“And he needs rest,” Emilia told them pointedly, with a soft glare at the boys she considered her own, “Can you help me with that Maxie?” Alec bit back a groan at the woman’s underhanded move. She knew Max was his weakness, and clearly had no qualms about using it against him. Max nodded frantically next to him, and he knew the battle was lost.

“I can help! I can help, mum!” Max looked giddy at the idea that he could help his big brother, “We can read in the library.” The little boy sent Alec a covert look, instantly reminding him of the discovery the pair had made over a week ago that they hadn’t been able to explore more.

“That sounds great Max,” Alec assured him, ruffling his brother’s hair and earning himself a glare as said brother tried to press his hair back flat.

“I’m sure the library would be a perfect solution,” Emilia pointed out once Max went to poke Alec and she realized it could very easily devolve into a “poke war” if she didn't put a stop to it, “and no training.” All three of the boys grumbled their agreement under the stern gaze.

“Can we go now?” Max asked eagerly, leaning so far forward on the bed that Jace had to snatch him by the back of his shirt before he could fall off, “Please, mum?”

“Fine,” Emilia's sigh was immediately answered with a loud whoop from her born son as the child scampered off the bed and down the hall, shouting for Alec to follow him. When Alec moved to go after his little brother, the doctor held out an arm to stop him.

“I know you don’t do well with being still,” she told him softly, keeping a hand on his arm, “but sometimes you need to slow down, or you could end up in worse shape than your body can handle. You need to take care of yourself.” Alec placed his hand over hers where it rested on his arm and leaned in to press a quick kiss to her cheek.

“I’ll do better, mum,” he whispered, “I promise.” He didn't allow himself to call her any derivative of "mother" often, and he knew his siblings did the same, out of fear that Maryse would hear or find out. The Lightwood matriarch may not have actually wanted to perform the duties of being a parent, but they knew she wouldn’t tolerate her offspring giving the honor to anyone else. Another bellow from down the hall made Emilia roll her eyes and the brothers still in the medical room laugh.

“So impatient,” Emilia muttered as she swept Alec’s hair from his forehead under the guise of checking his pupils, “Go on then. Make him happy, and take it easy. If you get yourself hurt again doing something stupid I swear I will confine you to quarters.” Alec let his eyes go comically wide in pretend fear and grinned when the woman let out a soft huff of laughter before he hurried off after his little brother.

“Alright squirt,” Alec told his slightly glaring little brother when he reached him, “Let’s go.” He ruffled the younger boy’s hair and the glare intensified, at least until Alec started making his way down the hall towards the library.

“We’re going to explore more right?” Max asked eagerly as he raced to catch up with the towering man, “That secret room we found last time?”

“Shhhh Max,” Alec looked around to make sure that no one was able to overhear them, “Yes, we can explore.” Max whooped again and took off at full speed down the hall towards the library. Alec shook his head as he heard another crash when his brother's zip around a corner was almost immediately followed by the sound of cursing.

“Angel Max,” Alec sighed, rubbing a hand down his face in exasperation. He apologized to the shadowhunter who was gathering up the paperwork and tools she’d dropped when Max collided with her and hurried to catch up with the boy, “Max!” The boy in question skidded to a halt at the library door, his hand resting on the handle and sheepish look on his face.

“Sorry Alec,” Max mumbled once Alec had caught up, “I’ve just been waiting soooooo long to get back in there.”

“It’s been a week,” Alec muttered as he pushed the door open, “That doesn’t mean you get to smash into people and run away. You’re going to have to apologize to Margaret later.” Alec grinned as Max grumbled his way through the now open library door and quickly followed behind. Truth be told, he was nearly as excited as Max to see what he could learn from the mystery antechamber. All the curiosities that had been pushed to the back of his mind while they were investigating Rouse came flooding back. He wanted to know if it had been hidden on purpose, or if it had faded into obscurity over time. Who were the men who had been spiritually entombed there?

“Alec!” His brother’s call shook Alec out of his own thoughts, and he firmly closed the door behind him. He had to fight back a laugh at the sight of his little brother with his arms crossed over his chest and a tapping foot.

“Alright squirt,” Alec said as he passed the younger boy, ruffling his hair as he moved, “Do you remember how you opened the door?” Max lit up at the question and scurried away towards the bookshelf that hid the entrance to the room.

“I was trying to get that book down,” Max said as he started scaling one of the bookshelves, immediately activating Alec’s protective instincts, “and I grabbed this thing, but it slid out.” The older shadowhunter watched as Max tugged a witchlight torch out of the wall like it was on a hinge and the shelves next to him began to swing open.

“Nicely done Max,” Alec told him, earning himself a blinding smile from the boy, “Remember not to go any further than we already have until I’ve cleared it.”

“Okay!” Max said, bolting forward before Alec could stop him and he let out a sigh of relief when nothing happened. Logically, he knew the likelihood that someone had found the hall and boobytrapped it was low, but he had been raised to be cautious. With a sigh, he followed his brother into the dark. Working from memory, he was able to draw a quick rune to activate the witchlights on the wall and smirked when he realized Max had already gone back to the book that he’d had to leave behind last time. Shaking his head, Alec made his way down the hall a little further to see what else he could find at the tombs. He had to pause for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the lower light before he could activate the next set of witchlights. Knowing what was ahead, he steeled himself for what he was about to see. Just like he remembered, rows and rows of warlock marks were sitting preserved in different size jars and shadowboxes along the shelves. This time, however, a  scrap of paper leaning on one of the vessels caught his eye, and Alec couldn’t fight his curiosity off.

Item: Warlock Mark, Eyes, Owl Appearance

Origin: Warlock Gabi Sarka

Claimant: Tomas Lightwood

Method Of Preservation: Magic by Warlock Gabi Sarka

Alec gagged at the thought of the warlock being forced to create a spell to preserve their own eyes, most likely knowing what was going to happen shortly after and that it was most likely the same for all the others. The large amber irises were staring at him, unseeing as they were and Alec fought the urge to turn them away. A large part of him felt like it would be the easy way out to ignore them, and it would disrespect the warlock who died at the hands of his ancestor. Eventually, he was able to look away without feeling guilty and began to take stock of the rest of the “trophies” his ancestor had collected. Another wave of nausea rolled through him when he saw marks that were small enough that they had likely come from a child or even infant, though he desperately hoped he was wrong. Once he had fought back the nausea rolling his stomach, the name of the shadowhunter on the paper sprang to the forefront of his mind.

“Oh Angel,” He whispered, feeling the sickness returning to his stomach as he forced himself to look at the portrait on the wall, “Tomas Lightwood. Born 1593, died 1620 aged 27 years.” He let out an unconscious sigh of relief when he realized the man in the portrait looked nothing like him. The other man had sandy blond hair that was known in the Lightwood line until Cecily Herondale married Gabriel Lightwood. Izzy had pointed out that Alec looked significantly like Cecily’s brother Will when she had been researching their family line, and Alec was never more thankful for that then at that moment.

Shaking away the unease of having such a bloodthirsty ancestor, Alec focused his attention on the alcove where Thaddaeus Starkweather had been laid to rest. In stark contrast to Tomas Lightwood, the Starkweather memorial was covered in books and trinkets without a warlock mark to be seen. A quick scan of the books revealed that they were nothing new, just older copies of the books easily found in every shadowhunter library. Knowing he still had the bundle of paperwork in his room, Alec decided to see what the trunk contained. The lock was easily beaten by an unlocking rune and was opened to reveal...books. Alec was only mildly disappointed, a childish excitement for something mysterious vanquished upon opening the trunk.

An excitement that returned when he realized the books were ones he’d never seen before. He spent the next few hours flipping through the books and checking on Max. Most of the books ended up being older versions of histories of the different species of downworlder. They were exciting reads that Alec would love to spend hours devouring when he had something to take notes with. He was already finding deviations from what he had been taught. One of the books dropped from his fingers when he reached too far, straining his ribs and sending a zing of pain along his ribs. He winced at the pain, then frowned when the book hit the bottom of the chest with a hollow thump.

It was easy enough to transfer the books inside onto one of the empty shelves, carefully as they were clearly antique, and Alec was able to see that there had to be a false bottom to the chest. The bottom seams were smooth under his fingers, but once he’d run his fingers over them enough, he could feel where they had been sealed. His curiosity got the better of him, and a small pocket knife was in his hand before he could think about it. He cautiously scraped at the sealing complex, not wanting to risk damaging anything hidden underneath. It was a delicate process, taking far longer than Alec realized and his lower back was aching from the strain of his hunched position by the time he finally scraped the last of it away.  This time he wasn’t disappointed to see more books when he removed the board hiding them. Books that were hidden that well, were often hidden for a reason.

Picking up the one on top, he ran his fingers over the spine reverently. The books were clearly handbound from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, far older than the ones he’d been looking through earlier, and must have been spelled against damage to still look as pristine as they did. When he, carefully, opened to the first page, he didn’t have to struggle to decipher the book’s title, A History Of Mages, other than the ornate script it was written in. He felt his face drift into a frown as he reread the title. Mages were a complete unknown to him. When he turned the next page, he began to struggle slightly with the antiquated language flow.

‘Mages art creatures beholden to neither heaven n'r hell.  Instead, they calleth the earth their mother, which grants those folk powers ere unseen.  Their hands hest the earth to doth their bidding beest t glebe 'r unbless'd. Their blood is unsanctifi'd and uncorrupt'd.  They art beyond the reacheth of the laws of the angel’

Before he could get too much further into the book, his phone rang. Delicately closing the book, fearful that the preservation spell might wear off at any time he set it aside so he could answer. His heart rate sped up slightly when he saw Magnus’ name on the screen, and he hurried to answer before the call dropped.

“Hello.” He closed his eyes in embarrassment when his voice came out in a higher pitch than he would have liked.

“Good afternoon Alexander.” Alec couldn’t help the pleasant shiver that ran through him when he heard Magnus’ voice, “Are you available for dinner this evening?”

“Of course,” Alec said, smiling to himself when his voice came out steady, finally, “The babies all got placed safely then?” Magnus chuckled slightly sending a warm feeling through the shadowhunter.

“Yes,” Magnus told him, “Silence has returned to my humble abode. Not that I don’t adore children, but even I can admit that four at once may be more than I can handle.” Alec couldn’t hold back a laugh at the idea of a flustered Magnus and shook his head.

“One at a time is definitely a handful,” He admitted, “I don’t know how people can handle twins or more. At least shadowhunters have runes to help, but the mundanes who do are incredible.” He bit his lip for a moment, his brain suddenly reminding him of a promise made to a scared little warlock, “Is Madzie okay?”

“She is,” Magnus assured him, “She’s one of the reasons I’m inviting you for dinner. You did promise to see her again before she goes on to her new home.”

“She’s going someone good right? With someone who will love her?” That was the part that Alec had been worried about. He had grown up with love, but it still hurt that his biological parents saw him and his siblings as a means to an end, nothing more.

“I promise,” Magnus told him in a soft voice, as if he knew the memories that were running through the younger man’s head, “You’ll even get to meet her new family at dinner.” Alec smiled brightly at the idea of getting a chance to see Madzie again and get a feel for her new family. Despite only having met the little girl briefly, he felt more than a little protective of her.

“I’ll be there in about an hour,” Alec told him, “I need to update the Head that the children have been placed.”

“Would that have something to do with the fact that I didn’t have shadowhunters beating down my door at all hours,” Magnus’ voice was fond, though Alec could detect a slightly surprised undertone. The shadowhunter cleared his throat, waring between pride and embarrassment.

“I had them take you off the register of available warlocks until the kids were all placed,” Alec admitted, “We figured you would want to give them your full attention.”

“Thank you Alexander,” The warlock’s voice was soft and Alec thought he could detect a slight hint of awe within, “We’ll see you for dinner in an hour?”

“Absolutely,” Alec assured him, “I wouldn’t miss it.”

Chapter Text

A little over an hour after hanging up with Magnus, Alec jogged lightly towards the door to his building. He was a little late, as corralling Max had proven to be an exercise in patience. The six-year-old had wanted to stay in the library with his new discovery, but Alec was too worried about him getting locked in the hall while no one knew where he was but Alec. He had compromised by helping his little brother sneak a few of the books into his room. In doing so, he had slipped the book on mages into his own bag. There wasn’t a specific reason or thought to it, it was almost as if he was working on instinct. Just like he had the instinct to bring it with him to the dinner with Magnus.

“Alec!”The shadowhunter just managed to stay on his feet as a small being crashed into his legs the second he made it through the front door. A bright smile spread across his face when he looked down into Madzie’s beaming one. It was the first time Alec had seen Madzie smile with her entire face and a warm feeling filled Alec at the knowledge that he had been a part of making her smile like that.

“Madzie,” Alec picked up the child and spun her around as he spoke, “There’s my favorite little sorcerous!” Madzie giggled as they spun, and Alec caught Magnus’ fond look in the brief moments they were facing him.

“Not that this isn’t absolutely adorable,” Magnus interrupted playfully, “But I do believe it is time for dinner.” Alec came to a stop, though his head took a moment longer to realize he’d stopped, and smiled at the man he’d gotten lucky enough to have in his life.

“Great,” Alec moved, without putting Madzie down, towards where he knew Magnus would have set up a dining table for the night, “I’m starving.” He slowed a little as he approached the table, slightly surprised to see an unfamiliar woman setting a heavily laden dish on the table. Instinctively, he knew the woman was unlikely to be a threat as Magnus hadn’t seemed worried, but a soldier’s instincts were difficult to let go. He fought the urge to hold more tightly to Madzie when the girl began to wiggle in his arms, a silent request to be set down, but he was able to set her down. She immediately bolted to the woman and held her arms up. Alec tensed when the unknown woman swung the little girl onto her hip was familiar ease.

“Alexander,” Magnus said, placing a gentle hand on the small of the shadowhunter’s back, “This is my dear friend Caterina Loss. She’s adopted Madzie. My dear Cat, this is my darling Alexander.” Caterina smiled at the still tense shadowhunter as she hugged her adopted daughter close.

“It’s nice to meet you Mr. Lightwood,” the smile was genuine and Alec found himself relaxing involuntarily. He knew part of it was a prejudice that had been ingrained in him practically from birth, one that he was doing his best to overcome. Squaring his shoulders, he stepped forward with his hand outstretched.

“It’s an honor to meet one of Magnus’ closest friends,” Alec told her honestly, reminding them why he was chosen as the politician of his family, “I’m glad Madzie will be staying close.” He blushed a little as he admitted the last bit, but was rewarded with a bright smile from the woman.

“Well then,” Magnus said, clapping his hands together, “Now that everyone’s been introduced, shall we eat?” Everyone voiced their agreement and settled down at the table. They kept the conversation focused on Madzie, Caterina’s work as a mundane nurse or amusing anecdotes from Magnus’ clients. They stayed clear of any conversation regarding the Clave or the other babies they’d rescued. Alec had expected the atmosphere to be tense when meeting another warlock, but he was surprised by how easily the conversation flowed, and how relaxed he felt. The dinner lasted until Madzie spent more time yawning than talking or eating.

“I think it might be time to get this little guppy home,” Caterina said as she smoothed a hand over the drooping girl’s hair.

“Nooooo,” Madzie whined sleepily, “Want to stay with my big friend.” She clung to Alec weakly, having crawled into his lap sometime after dessert.

“Don’t worry Madzie,” Alec assured her, melting under the little girl’s pleading gaze, “We’ll still see each other.”

“Will you visit me at my new house?” Madzie asked, and Alec was thrilled that he wasn’t in control of the answer on his own.

“That’s up to your mom,” Alec told her, which earned him a bright smile from the woman. Madzie immediately turned her pleading gaze on Caterina and Alec, for reasons unknown, joined her look with one of his own.

Caterina rolled her eyes, and Magnus had to fight back a giggle at the sudden wide-eyed, innocent and begging looks directed her way.

“How on earth does a shadowhunter over six feet tall manage to look like a kicked puppy?” She muttered to herself, “Yes Madzie, your tall friend can visit.”

“Yay!” Madzie’s sudden outburst was followed by a sudden quiet as the girl realized how loud she had been. Her eyes were wide for a different reason like she was waiting for her punishment for being too loud. Alec was reminded suddenly of Jace when he was adopted by the Lightwoods. He covered his fear with false bravado and distance. The ten-year-old was constantly convinced that he would be hit, beaten or locked away as punishment if he did something even remotely wrong. It had taken years to get Jace to trust and love any adult, but it had been easier for him to let Alec and Izzy in. He’d never been hurt by a peer. He knew that Cat was in for a few tough years, but it would all be worth it. His instinct was to do his best to comfort her, but he was beaten to the punch.

“It’s okay to be loud when you’re excited sweetheart,” Caterina said, crouching next to Madzie before Alec could say anything, “There are times where it’s more polite to keep your voice soft, but when we’re here or at home, you can be loud. Okay?”  Madzie nodded and held her arms up for Caterina. The blue-skinned woman answered the silent request by sweeping the little girl up into her arms, “I think it might be time to get her home, and into bed.” She directed the last portion towards the two men in front of her, who nodded when they realized Madzie was beginning to nod off in the woman’s arms.

“Of course,” Magnus said, snapping some of the leftovers into containers and a bag for Cat to take home, “We’ll do dinner again when she’s more settled.”

“Goodnight Madzie,” Alec said, giving the girl a small wave which was returned. Albeit with a sleepy lag that made the tall shadowhunter smile, “I’ll see you again soon.” He wanted to promise her that he would, he really did, but he knew better. His lifestyle meant that any day, any mission could be his last and he didn’t want to break any promises to the little warlock who had been through so much already in her short life.

“Time to clean up,” Magnus said with a bright smile once the other two warlocks had portalled back to their home. Alec reached out and held his hand before he could magic the mess away with a snap of his fingers.

“Let’s clean it up together,” Alec suggested shyly. The few times Alec and his siblings had been forced to share a meal with Maryse and Robert had been an exercise hell, but the clean up had been a time to bond and enjoy his siblings. It wasn’t something he’d told Magnus, but the warlock clearly saw something in Alec’s face so he agreed. They worked together in silence for a while, trading smiles whenever they caught the other’s gaze. Once the mess had been cleaned up, the pair settled onto the couch to spend another few hours before Alec had to return to the Institute.

They had been sitting together for less than thirty minutes when the book in his bag caught Alec’s eye, and he opened his mouth before he could fully process what he was thinking. Something that was happening more often the more time he spent with Magnus.

“Do you know anything about Mages?” The silence that greeted his question surprised him, “Magnus?” The warlock’s back was as tight as one of the shadowhunter’s bowstrings, something Alec has never seen in the normally, blasé warlock.

“Where?” Magnus asked, catching Alec off guard with the tension evident in his voice.

“Where what?”

“Where did you hear about them?” Magnus bit out, causing Alec to take a step back in shock.

“I found a book about them,” Alec explained, crossing the room to pull the book out of his bag, “I haven’t had a chance to read it beyond the first few pages that talk about them being entities separate from the Shadoworld. All it said is that they had no demon or angel blood, but were suspected to be nearly as powerful as the Angel.” Magnus snorted suddenly, drawing a small smile from his boyfriend despite the chill that still lingered in the air from Magnus’ initial response.

“Perhaps not that powerful,” Magnus told him, “but there were times it certainly seemed like it.”

“Why weren’t we taught about them?” Alec asked, setting the book on the coffee table, “If they’re that powerful, shouldn’t we know about them?”

“Because they were wiped out,” Magnus sighed and conjured himself a drink as he dropped onto the couch, “There aren’t any more left.”

“What happened?”

“Mages were once mortals who died protecting the land and its children. They were brought back to become the immortal guardians of the land,” Magnus started, keeping his gaze locked on the drink in his hand but not raising it to his lips, “They had the ability to control the elements and an incredible talent for healing. They would help anyone who needed it, mundane, downworlder or shadowhunter. They were neutral, safe.” Magnus fell silent, expression vacant.

“You okay?” Alec asked after a few moments of silence, reaching out to put a hand on Magnus’ knee gently. The warlock looked up and gave his lover a weak smile.

“Just less than pleasant memories,” Magnus admitted, “I met quite a few mages in my childhood and it hurts to remember they’re gone.”

“I can just read the book if you don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Alec assured him, but Magnus shook his head.

“If the book was written by someone in The Clave, I doubt it would contain the truth.” Alec frowned at the implication that The Clave would lie in their history books, but a small voice in the back of his mind reminded him that mages seemed to have been wiped from most or all of Shadowhunter history.

“Why wouldn’t it?” Alec asked, still confused despite the concern and fear nipping at the heels of his mind.

“Because The Clave were the ones that slaughtered them.” Alec reared back in shock at the blunt accusation that fell from his lover’s mouth and immediately shook his head, but Magnus wasn’t looking at him. His gaze had locked on something far in the past and he continued to speak, “The Clave didn’t like that mages healed downworlders and gave us sanctuary when it was requested. They were afraid that the mages would rise up and destroy them, despite the fact that the majority were complete pacifists.”

“But-” Alec began to croak out, but Magnus wasn’t stopping.

“Mages could manipulate earth,” Magnus’ voice was soft but clear and Alec could hear every word with a clarity that made each word hit him like a blow from a hammer, “whether it was hallowed ground or not, and The Clave was worried that an angry mage could destroy their institutes with practically no effort. So they started killing them off one by one or, more accurately, family by family.” Alec’s stomach rolled at the implication that came with the word family, but he hoped he was wrong. He also hoped that Magnus was wrong.

“Without angel or demon blood,” Alec began, “Mages would have been outside The Clave’s jurisdiction. They didn’t have the authority to pass sentence on anyone other than demons or downworlders who did something wrong.”

“They didn’t care about right or wrong Alexander!” Magnus bellowed as he jumped off the couch and began pacing across the room, “What could a four-year-old warlock possibly have done so wrong that they deserved to be murdered and dismembered so the Shadowhunters could take trophies? What mother deserves to be forced to watch her newborn thrown into a fire and held down as he burns because it’s for her own good?” Alec turned paler at every example of past shadowhunter cruelty that spilled out of Magnus’ mouth, the anger and pain in his voice all the proof Alec needed of the truth in the words.

“Magnus-”

“I was ten, ten!, when I had to hide under a bed while Tomas Lightwood murdered my friends!” Magnus went silent almost immediately after the information had burst from his mouth and Alec again felt his stomach roll at the mention of the ancestor he now knew enjoyed taking warlock marks as a prize after a kill. Magnus’ voice was flat and subdued when he began speaking again, “I was spending the day with my friend Amilia at her family’s farm. She was the oldest, the same age as me and there were four younger children. The youngest baby was only a few months old and I had to use my magic to keep her quiet while her family was mutilated in front of us. Tomas cut the tendons in their mother’s limbs so she couldn’t fight back, not that she would have after a childhood of abuse she only escaped when she died and became a mage, and made her watch as he carved her children into pieces while they were still alive. Once he spotted us, all I could do was put up a shield and hope help got to us before my magic failed.” Alec had to fight back a surge of panic at the idea of Magnus in danger and remind himself that Magnus clearly survived as he was standing within touching distance.

“How did you,” Alec croaked out when he was able to speak again, but he had to stop as bile rose in his throat from the vivid picture Magnus painted with his words.

“Another shadowhunter shockingly enough,” Magnus told him with a soft chuckle, “Thaddeus Starkweather. Tomas was too busy stabbing and slashing at my shield to realize the other shadowhunter was there until Thaddeus dragged him away from the bed. I’ll never forget what Tomas said when Starkweather asked him why. He said, ‘A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.’ I managed to look it up centuries later and it was a quote by a man named Guy Fawkes. Have you heard of him?”

“No,” Alec croaked out, though he wasn’t sure if it was in denial of the truth about his ancestors and the people he fought for, or about the man in question.

“Shadowhunters are strangely resistant to learning mundane history,” Magnus admitted, “He was a man who attempted to destroy the English government in the early 1600s. I thought it was apt that a murderer quoted another, albeit unsuccessful, killer.”

“Bu-, but,” Alec stuttered,  “Mages were outside of the Clave’s reach. It must have been a mistake, or, or a rogue group. It would have been against the law to order an attack on mages. ”

“You think that would stop them? After all,” Magnus said bitterly, taking a sip from his drink, “The law is the law. But of course, even after signing the accords, downworlders are murdered or tortured by the Clave for no reason other than existing or choosing to keep to themselves when the Clave demands unearned loyalty. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten Meliorn.” Alec flinched at the reminder that he nearly assisted in the torture and almost certain murder of the Fae diplomat simply because the Fae didn’t want to risk any more lives for a governing body who wouldn’t consider it any great loss if downworlders died. Alec took a step towards his boyfriend, only to stop when the warlock held up a tired hand.

“Magnus,” Alec started, “I…”

“I think it best you go now darling,” Magnus told him, “These are not pleasant memories and I doubt I would be the best company right now.”

“Mags,” Alex tried again but stopped. He was at a loss as to what to say when confronted with information that flipped everything he’d been taught all his life, but that he instinctively knew was true. His head dropped as he tried to think of something, anything, to say but his mind stayed firmly blank. As soon as he felt the soft touch of Magnus’ hand on the back of his neck, his muscles relaxed and he dropped his head just far enough that their foreheads touched.

“I’m not angry with you,” Magnus assured him quietly, and Alec tried not to flinch at the thickness of his voice, “I just need time when memories like these make their way to the surface.” Alec nodded softly and kissed Magnus, partly hoping he could give the warlock some comfort while he was reliving such a traumatic experience.

“Call me when you’re ready?” Alec asked once the kiss had ended, his voice hesitant in the face of knowing yet another instance where shadowhunters had harmed his love in some way.

“Of course darling,” Magnus assured him. With a nod and a last peck, Alec turned to walk out the door. When he glanced back as the door was closing, he saw the lowball glass dangling lightly from ringed fingers as Magnus stared unseeing out the large balcony doors.

Chapter Text

By the time Alec had finally made it back to the Institute, he was fuming. Alec managed to get to his room without too many human interactions and immediately locked his door behind him. He dropped onto his too small bed and rested his head in his hands, eventually bringing them up to cover his ears as if he could shut out the knowledge he already had. He knew Magnus wouldn't lie about the fate of the mages, and he had been slowly coming to the realization that the Clave would do what it felt was needed to preserve their perfect image and their position of power. After a few moments he rubbed at his ears, with no particular purpose or goal other than it seemed like the thing to do, and took the book on mages out of his bag. Just as he was about to put the ancient book on the shelf, a sheet of paper faded with age despite the preservation spell floated to the floor. For a heart-stopping moment, Alec was terrified that he had damaged the book by leaving it in his back and was kicking himself for risking such a treasure. Carefully, Alec set the book on a shelf and picked up the loose piece. He was relieved to see that it was not actually a part of the book, but a folded sheet of rough edges paper that had been placed there for what Alec assumed was safekeeping. Curious as to what was written on the paper, the shadowhunter took it over to the desk and tapped the lamp to cover the surface with light.

The desk in his room was the one thing that he had actually placed in his room because he liked it, rather than just because it was needed. It wasn’t a particularly large desk, being an antique writing desk, but it was a beautiful solid oak desk that he’d seen left on the side of the road a few years earlier. It had been a little dinged up with superficial scratches on it and a broken leg, but Alec knew he could make it shine again. He had immediately called Jace for help lugging it back to the institute, which was luckily only a few blocks away. Though the way Jace had cursed and complained, one would have thought Alec had asked him to carry it ten miles. Halfway Alec had been wishing he had just tossed it on his back and done it himself.

It had taken some time, and a steep learning curve, but Alec had completely restored the surface and repaired the leg. It one of the few things he was truly proud of and he kept it safe in his room as a reminder that there were things he could do, and enjoyed doing, other than shadowhunting. It served as a place for him to work when he didn’t want to risk being interrupted, like at that moment. He was careful as he opened the paper, not wanting to risk tearing it and began to read. It was written in a style very similar to the introduction of the mage book, but it wasn’t too difficult to decipher.

To our descendants,

the clave hast exceed'd their authority.  Mages has't at each moment been outside their influence and hest, but t madeth those folk fear'd by the clave.  Anon in secret, the clave demands their deaths. An charge given to only their most loyal soldiers hests yond every sir, mistress and issue did determine to beest mage is to beest slaughter'd absent impunity.  As i writeth, the hunt hast already begun. I has't hath sent word through mine own family, imploring the mages encave themselves until the bloodlust ends, but i fear t may beest too late f'r many. The clave shall nev'r admit to their own failings, instead, t falls to me to keepeth record of their atrocities in the desires yond they may beest reveal'd.  Proof of mine own words art enshielf nearby, pages writ by the clave's own handeth and within the memories of the silent brothers

Lemuel Starkweather,  1618

The mention of nearby proof brought the bundle of paperwork he’d hidden when he and Max had first stumbled across the hall. A quick search led to him pulling it out from behind his rune study books. It was a relatively non-descript bundle of papers tied together with soft twine. The knot was too tight to untwist, so Alec was forced to pull out a small knife to take care of it. Inside, once the pages are carefully unfolded, is the proof Lemuel was talking about. The bundle was made up of pages and pages of confidential correspondence from the Clave officials of the time. All of them spoke of the danger the mages posed and possible solutions. The mages’ insistence in remaining a neutral party in the shadowworld angered the members of the Clave who wanted their assistance in hunting downworlders that remained in hiding. Lemuel’s letters argued that the mages were overwhelmingly peaceful people, most of them being healers and farmers, who offered their help in those matters to anyone in need. The words on the last page sent a shockwave through Alec and made his breath catch in his chest. The official order of termination for the race of mages contained the signatures of at least three-quarters of what would have been the council members at the time.

Alec continued reading through the correspondence, his heart sinking more and more as proof of what Magnus told continued to build. After about an hour of reading, Alec realized he was missing something. Some of the letters mentioned an insult to the Clave by the Mages and references to earlier letters that Alec couldn’t remember seeing. Another half an hour of searching led Alec to believe that Lemuel had been unable to collect all of the correspondence, which shouldn’t have surprised the young man. The mention of the insult was the thing he’d wanted to know the most about.

He set the papers aside for a moment to pull up Lemuel’s letter, scanning to see if there was anything he’d missed. There wasn’t, but rereading the portion on the Silent Brothers gave the young man an idea. Pulling out his phone, Alec opened a scanner app that Izzy had insisted he download that had ended up being a lifesaver when it came to his paperwork. He made quick work of scanning in all of the communications and Lemuel's letter, before he bundled them back up and snagged his coat on his way out.

The graveyard was quiet, as graveyards tended to be, when Alec arrived and it was easy enough to find the grave of Mary Mulligan for the second time. The grave seemed like the best place to hide the letters that wouldn't be traced directly back to him. Sure, someone could tell that he’d locked it using his stele, but that could easily be explained as him grabbing a backup weapon during patrol. The papers were hidden at the bottom of the pile of weapons so a curious shadowhunter would be less likely to stumble across them if they came looking for a weapon of their own. Once he was done sealing the tomb, he made his way to the hidden entrance of the City of Bones.

The use of human bones or bodies as decoration wasn’t that much of an aberration if one considered the Paris Catacombs or some of the medieval churches in Europe, but here it sent a shiver racing down Alec’s back. The men and women entombed there were his people. People who had most likely died doing the same thing he did nearly every day. It made him absently wonder which alcove he’d rest in one day, and how soon it would be.

“You’ve come with questions young Lightwood.” The telepathic voice projected in his head made the shadowhunter flinch and snap his head towards the Silent Brother that had managed to sneak up on him, but he managed not to fall back.

“I do,” Alec confirmed, “I’ve come to confirm some of the things I’ve heard about a hidden history of The Clave.”

“The path you take is dangerous,” the Silent Brother told him moving closer, the dark stitching on his eyes and lips contrasting harshly against skin paled by the absence of the sun, “You must be sure that this is a road you wish to continue.”

“I do,” Alec told him without hesitation. He was tired of being lied to, of being used to pursue a vendetta or course that he might not agree with, “I understand the risks.”

“Then we will tell you what you wish to know.” The figure stepped aside to let the taller man pass with a dramatic sweep of his arm. With a deep breath Alec ventured deeper into the darkness, and the people who might be able to answer the questions gnawing at his mind.

Night had fallen when he finally staggered out of the depths of the catacombs and Alec shivered as the brisk New York air seeped through the thin jacket he’d grabbed earlier. It had taken hours to go through all the history of the mages despite the shadowhunters not knowing much about them. They knew of their abilities, and their genocide. For the first time on his life, he truly hated his own people. The Clave preached superiority, perfection, and yet they were willing to wipe out an entire race to maintain their illusion of power.

“It's an illusion!” Alec suddenly blurted, realizing for the first time it was the truth. He thought back to when vampires, werewolves and warlocks worked together to free Meliorn. His team of top shadowhunters had been easily overwhelmed. Yes, it had been an ambush, but shadowhunters were ambushed almost daily. Alec realized that if Izzy, Jace, and Clary hadn't been there it was highly likely his team would be dead. He shook the thoughts away as he turned onto the street where the Institute sat. Despite the early hour, the events of the day were catching up to him and he was beginning to yawn. The doors of the Institute were, as always, deceptively easy to push open and he began the shortest path to his room.

He started tugging off his clothes the second the door was closed and locked behind him, like the action could erase the stress the day had caused. Turning on the water as hot as he could stand it, Alec let the water soak his hair and cascade down his torso. There was no easy answer to his conundrum. As a shadowhunter, he was expected to follow orders without question, but falling for Magnus had opened his eyes to the fact that the Clave might not be the pillars they wanted everyone to think they were. Alec only left the shower when he was good and pruney. He slipped on his loose pajama bottoms and rubbed a towel over his still dripping hair absently. The flashing light of his phone drew his attention and the notification that greeted him sent his mind spinning. There was going to be an open court in Alicante in two days. The towel was tossed aside and Alec set the canned papers up to print. It was time to get to work.

 

Two days later, Alec stood quietly to the side, waiting for the last matter to be discussed before he could request the floor. The court had been in session for three hours already, stuck waiting until the end because he had been running behind getting to the portal at the New York Institute. Emilia had insisted on another check up and he had to scramble to get through the Alicante Hall’s front doors before the door closed. Thankfully, some of the topics had been helpful, if not particularly interesting.

“Alexander Lightwood would request the floor,” Alec called out when the previous matter was closed and The Consul called for the nest discussion.

“Come to the floor and be recognized Mr. Lightwood,” the Consul called out, “What have you come here to discuss.”

“Thank you Consul and council members, “I am here to discuss the exclusion of mages from our history and their slaughter by order of the Clave.” The only sound that followed his pronouncement was the trickling water from the fountains in the corners of the room.

Alec could see the Consul struggling and that was exactly what he had hoped would happen at an open meeting. It would be difficult for the council to completely silence the information with as many people in attendance, but clearing the room would inevitably lead to gossip and supposition.

“You may proceed Mr. Lightwood,” the Consul finally permitted, “Please inform us where you came across this information, and what proof you have of it.” Alec nodded and pulled out the paper copies, handing them to the attendant so they could be taken to the members of the council.

“I found these last week,” Alec told them, “But I didn’t get a chance to read them until recently. They reference the existence of a group, outside of the shadowworld, called mages and alleges that they were exterminated by the Clave despite having no demon or angel blood.” He hoped that being vague on the timeline would make the council assume that he had read them and immediately brought them to the meeting. He could hear the tittering from the shadowhunters who had observed the meeting and hoped that, if nothing else, the information began making the gossip circles.

“What outcome are you hoping for this?” One of the council members asked as the papers made their way down the line, “The incident referenced in these papers are over 400 years old.”

“I would hope that the kill order could be disavowed,” Alec told them carefully, doing his best to keep from insinuating that the Clave could be wrong or corrupt, “And the mistake of the past be acknowledged. It may have been in the far distant past, but these people were innocent and they died because of an illegal order. As a society, we can learn from this and prevent such actions in the future.” Alec held his breath as the council poured over the paperwork, his last sentiment was pushing the limit of what the Clave would deem acceptable.

“Your passion is commendable,” the consul droned from his high throne, “and we condemn the actions of these traitors that performed violence against a group so innocent of our world.”

“Mages did provide sanctuary to downworlders,” one nasally voiced council member pointed out. Alec just managed to keep a straight face at the confirmation that mages and their genocide was only a secret to the rest of the Shadowhunters. The Clave had always known, and had kept it hidden.

“So do some mundanes,” Alec rebutted blandly, “Should we send shadowhunters to hunt them down and slaughter them as they beg for their lives?” The council member who had spoken went red with embarrassment or rage and sputtered.

“Tread carefully Mr. Lightwood,” the consul raised an eyebrow, unconcerned with the young man’s outburst, “Accusing a shadowhunter of harming mundanes is a grave accusation indeed.”

“I make no accusation,” Alec said firmly, planning his words carefully, “I’m simply pointing out the futility of the council member’s argument.” The Consul nodded sagely.

“The matter of the hunting of mages mars the impeccable reputation of the Nephilim.” Alec had to fight hard to keep from rolling his eyes at the Consul's words, “Which is why it was excluded from our history and will continue to be excluded. Our people must have the utmost faith in our society and guidance so as to be able to maintain the fight against the demonic energies that continue to attack our world.”

“With all due respect Consul,” Alec said before a motion could be passed, his rage held firmly in a small compartment of his mind, “Wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge that atrocity and The Clave’s condemnation of it. To prevent such mistakes from being repeated. The dangerous generalization of so-called demonic energies can be seen as encompassing downworlders as well, which would make us no better than Valentine.” His words were a risk, but it was a risk he had to take for people like Magnus, Madzie, the babies taken from Rouse and any other downworlder who wanted nothing more than to be left in peace to live their lives without fear of being attacked for some perceived threat or offense.

“Downworlders are not themselves demons,” The Consul admitted, “But their demonic blood makes them far more prone to vicious or evil acts than angelic or even mundane blood. We must remain vigilant to continue the work presented to us by the Angel Raziel.”

“How do you explain Valentine then?” The question was out before he could stop it, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to push the council any further.

“Perhaps the Morgenstern line has more mundane blood in it than angelic,” The Consul replied, “To have led him so astray to have murdered his own. But he will face the Angel’s judgment when his time comes for the Nephilim blood he has spilled and corrupted.” Alec bit his tongue till it bled to keep from pointing out that the maniac and his devotees had slaughtered innocent downworlders too. He knew he had pushed the topic as far as he safely could and it was better for him to retreat now than end up in a cell.

“Of course,” Alec said with a slight bow, “I thank the council for allowing me the floor to speak.”

“Return to your duties shadowhunter,” the traditional dismissal left a bitter tang in Alec’s mouth that had nothing to do with the blood still leaking from his tongue, “take with you the knowledge that this kill order has been disavowed. Any shadowhunter intentionally wounding or killing a mage will be punished to the same extent as a shadowhunter who has done the same to a mundane. And remember our words here.” With a final nod to each of the council members, except for the nasal-voiced idiot, Alec turned his back and walked out the door.

It was painful, realizing that he would have to break from the Clave and it’s teachings if he wanted to continue what he believed was right. To do so would risk the life of not only himself but anyone who helped him. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do it alone.

Chapter Text

Alec didn’t bother going to his room, or even stopping anywhere in the Institute when he emerged through the portal and instead walked right out through the front doors. He let his feet move him and soon enough found himself standing outside of a loft he'd left just just a few days before. Magnus hadn't contacted him since, but he hoped that he'd still be welcomed.

The outer wards let him pass, the magic swirling around him like an affectionate feline as he made his way to the stairs. Without knocking, Alec twisted the knob on the solid door and pushed it open. Based on the look on the warlock's face, Alec had caught Magnus by surprise.

“Alexander what-,” Alec cut the warlock off with a kiss, realizing after their lips had already touched that it might not be welcomed. Luckily, Magnus immediately kissed back.

“You were right,” Alec told him as soon as they broke apart, “The Clave knew about the kill order and was covering it up.”

“You talked to the Clave,” Alec could hear the concern in his boyfriend’s voice, but missed the near-panicked glance the man made towards the kitchen. By that point, the shadowhunter had already started pacing back and forth as he continued speaking.

“Of course I did!” Alec nearly shouted, “I found more proof after I left and I couldn’t just let it go! And they knew! They knew the whole time and have just been hiding it from us!” Magnus took a step forward to brush his hand down Alec’s arm.

“Governments have been doing that for centuries,” Magnus assured him as he subtly tried to lead Alec deeper into the loft, nearly growling when the taller shadowhunter didn’t notice the warlock’s guiding hand, “Shadowhunters are no exception.”

“We’re supposed to be better!” Alec bellowed, his pacing took on a frantic edge, “That’s what they’ve been shoving down our throats since birth. It’s what I’ve based my whole life on. This idea that I had to somehow be better than the mundanes, and I’m just finding more and more examples of how they’re hypocrites.”

“Darling,” Magnus tried to interrupt, half distracted by something in the kitchen. Not that Alec noticed, his mind spinning with the new, and devastating, information he'd received.

“I've spent my whole life trying to be the perfect soldier, the perfect shadowhunter,” Alec tugged absently at his charcoal hair as he paced, “and for people like that. They hid genocide. How can I be proud to be a part of something like that? What can I do now?” His gaze went to Magnus and his face went pale when he realized someone was standing next to the other man. She was only an inch or two shorter that the Indonesian man, staring at him with a smirk. It was difficult to tell how long her hair was while she had it in a bun, but she held herself with a confidence he was very familiar with.

“It’s okay,” Magnus hurried to assure his boyfriend as the taller man stumbled back at the realization that a stranger had heard him expressing doubt in the Clave, “You can trust her.” The warlock led his boyfriend over to the couch, forcing Alec to sit when he seem to start swaying where he stood.

“She’s…” Alec stopped, glancing between his boyfriend and the woman again, unsure of how much he could safely say in front of her.

“Going to get you a glass of water,” the women told them, disappearing back into the kitchen. Alec absently noted the English accent, but he was more concerned about knowing just how much he could trust her.

“Magnus,” Alec leaned close to the other man so he could his voice low, “Are you sure you can trust her? How long have you known her?”

“Since childhood, and I trust her with my life” Magnus assured him, “I trust her with any infant or child warlock I come across.” That more than anything else, told Alec that she had done something to earn that type of respect from the normally recalcitrant warlock. It didn’t tell Alec who the woman was however.

“Who-” Alec was cut off as the woman re-entered the room, carrying a frosted glass of water.

“Don’t fret love,” the woman assured him as she pressed the water into his hand, “The Clave can rot for all I care. I’d actually prefer it.”

“Who are you?” The words were out of mouth before he could stop them and he covered it by taking a too large gulp of water, which puffed his cheeks out.

“Elora,” she told him with a smirk, “I’m his mum.”

“Mum!” Magnus squacked at the cackling woman when Alec had to slap a hand over his mouth to keep from spewing water all over the expensive rug at his feet. He took the napkin that Magnus magicked up for him and wiped the dripping water from his chin as he struggled to swallow the rest. He finally did force the water down, but it was down the wrong pipe. He did his best to stifle his coughing in the handkerchief, but his lungs still protested the movement.

“Oh you were going to tell him soon anyway,” Elora waved away her son’s concern, earning a half-hearted glare from the warlock as he pounded on Alec’s back to help clear his airway.

“Yes,” Magnus admitted, “but I was going to try and avoid killing him in the process.”

“I’m fine,” Alec finally managed to get out, wiping his face and setting the glass onto the coffee table in front of him. He turned to Elora, “it’s nice to meet you.” He stood and offered a hand as he spoke, shaking her hand easily when she took his. The British woman smiled at him before directing her attention to the other man in the room.

“I like this one.” Her grin was wide and slightly wild in a way that Alec found interesting. The apparent lack of artifice to the woman was a stark contrast to the political intrigue he’d grown up surrounded by, “I’ll leave you boys to it. Call me when you’re ready for dinner.” Magnus walked into the arms Elora held open and the pair hung onto each other for a moment before she walked out the door. Silence filled the room for a few moments, one man not knowing what to say and the other already dreading the conversation to come.

“More bad memories?” Alec finally asked.

“Some,” Magnus admitted, moving to resume making his cocktail now that the spell had been broken, “but there were plenty of good ones too.”

“Will you tell me?”

“Yes,” Magnus settled on the couch with his drink, snapping his fingers to clean up the water that had spilled and refill Alec’s glass with some of the fresh raspberry lemonade his mother had brought with her, “Come have a seat. You know how warlocks are conceived.”

“Usually a mundane mother and a demonic father,” Alec faithfully recited as he took a seat on the couch next to his boyfriend, “Through rape or illusion.”

“My birth mother was one of the lucky ones,” Magnus told him, keeping his eyes trained on his glass, “My father disguised himself as her husband and I was the result. Not that they knew at first.”

“What do you mean?”

“Some warlock marks are difficult to hide,” Magnus explained, despite the fact that Alec knew most if not all of this, “but some warlocks, like myself, get their marks later.”

“Yours came in later,” Alec

“I was six when my mother realized she’d given birth to a monster,” Magnus’ voice was thick as he spoke.

“You’re not a monster.” Alec grabbed Magnus’ hand, using it to offer strength to the other man similar to the way he had when they had worked to heal Luke.

“I know,” Magnus assured him, “but at the time, all my mother saw was my mark and he knew I wasn’t human. So did her husband.” Magnus trailed off, his focus somewhere in the distant past. It wasn’t until Alec called his name that he realized he’d drifted off.

“Magnus?” The shadowhunter frowned when he felt the other man shiver.

“He was a very religious man,” Magnus continued, “and when he realized what I was, he took to trying to beat it out of me. Spare the rod and the like.” Magnus patted the hand that was gripping his tightly.

“How long?” Alec hissed.

“A few years,” Magnus told him, “He blamed my mother too, for ‘fornicating with the legions of the devil’. That was one of his favorites.”

“What stopped it?”

“My mother killed herself,” Magnus stood up and walked over to where an intricate black dagger was displayed, “with this. I found her laying in bed with it lodged in her chest. My step-father was less than pleased, said that it was my fault. Apparently, she was supposed to kill me, but couldn’t bring herself to do it.”

“Magnus, I’m so sorry,” Alec walked up behind the otehr man so he could wrap his arms around the warlock’s waist and pressed a kiss to the juncture of his neck and shoulder.

“He tried to kill me,” Magnus continued, taking the support that Alec offered, “He dragged me away from my mother’s body and to the stream behind our house, I was still screaming for her to wake up. I didn’t understand and I just wanted her to wake up, so I didn’t realize what was happening until he had me under water.”

“He tried to drown you,” Alec concluded. He could feel the other man’s heart rate speed up as he relived the terrifying moments.

“I fought,” Magnus assured him, “At least, I tried. An eight-year-old is hardly a match for a grown man.”

“Elora saved you?”

“No,” Magnus told him, taking a fortifying breath, “My magic did. The first thing my magic ever did was burn him alive, and the house with him. I don’t know how long I was sitting there, at least a few days, and I don’t even know what I was waiting for. I’d already killed everyone there.” He let his voice trail off, waiting for Alec to react, to push him away in disgust and condemn the actions of a terrified child. Instead, the shadowhunter just tightened his grip and Magnus relaxed back into Alec's chest.

“I'm so sorry you had to live through that,” Alec whispered into the skin of Magnus’ neck, “It’s not fair.” It hurt Alec to even think about it. He could imagine a tiny, terrified Magnus sitting in front of the remains of his home.

“How did you meet Elora?”

“Mom found me sitting in front of my house, and she didn't see a monster, she saw me. She took me away and kept me safe. Found warlocks to train me so I didn't lose control again. Became my family, my mother in a way my birth mother couldn't be after.”

“I’m glad she found you,” Alec told him, leading the other man away from the weapon that had taken his birth mother’s life and over to the couch, “Wait.”

“What?” Magnus took his place on the couch and stared up at his boyfriend as he towered over him.

“If Elora is a warlock,” Alec said slowly, “Which I would assume since she found you nearly four hundred years ago and she’s still here, plus she just walked into the sun, why would she need to find warlocks to train you?” Magnus sighed and let himself collapse into the soft cushions of the couch.

“She’s not a warlock,” Magnus admitted, gauging the other man’s reaction.

“Then what…” Alec’s eyes went wide as the realization hit him, “She’s a mage. That’s how you know so much about mages and what happened to them. You were living with one the whole time.”

“She is,” Magnus admitted, “We were in hiding for almost a century before we felt safe enough to really live again.” Magnus huffed out a wry laugh, “It was actually safer to let everyone assume she was a warlock. Even today the mages that survived refuse to come out of hiding. Most of them live as mundane as possible, or retreat to survive in the wilderness.”

“The kill order’s been disavowed,”Alec told him, the words tumbling out of him like he’d just remembered, “Mage’s can’t be hunted anymore, at least not without repercussions.”

“They’ll always be a loophole,” Magnus argued, “THe Clave takes care of their own. They always have, and they always will.” Alec began pacing again, his earlier agitation returning.

“You’re right,” Alec confirmed, “They’re only committing to punishing shadowhunters that intentionally target a mage.”

“Which means anyone who kills a mage can say they thought they were a warlock and get away with it,” Magnus moved across the room to make himself another drink, “And there’s nothing we can do about it.”

“Maybe there is,” Alec murmured, moving towards his bag and digging through to find one of his notebooks.

“What was that?”Magnus asked without looking away from pouring his drink.

“There may be something we can do,” Alec clarified as he finally managed to pull the notebook out of his bag, “To protect the downworld and the mages.”

“How?”

“We make a clave of our own.”

Alec and Magnus brainstormed on how they create an organization with the power to stand up to the Clave. They spoke for hours, until the chiming of Alec’s phone made him jump. He stood up to pull the phone from his back pocket, wincing when his back cracked as he straightened. A glance at his phone screen revealed a vague text from Izzy, but it directed Alec towards his sister's lab to find out what she needed.

“I’ve got to go,” Alec said leaning over to give Magnus a quick kiss, “Izzy needs me for something, but dinner tomorrow? We can discuss this with your mother.”

“Sound perfect darling,” Magnus told him, “I’ll make sure to have something delicious waiting, other than me of course.” Alec rolled his eyes at the innuendo, but blushed all the same and ducked in for another quick kiss as Magnus opened him a portal to the front of the institute.

It was strange, Alec thought as he wandered through the hallways, having knowledge that the people around him didn't have. He wondered who of the people he was passing would be the ones to take up an order like the ones towards the mages all those centuries ago. Hurrying his steps, he did his best to shake off the maudlin thoughts and pushed through the doors that led to his sister's domain.

“What's going on Izzy?” He asked when she looked up from the files on her desk. It always gave him a small thrill when he saw her in her lab coat, satisfied that she had defied their parents and pursued science despite their objections.

“Wait until Jace gets here,” she bustled around the lab as she spoke, shooing Alec out of her way when she needed to get past him.

“I have arrived!” Jacce bellowed as he practically kicked the door open, Alec rolled his eyes at his brother’s familiar actions. Jace had returned to his obnoxiously over the top behavior since discovering he wasn’t actually Valentine’s son. Alec had asked him if he was worried about what the blood test revealed, but Jace had assured him that nothing could possibly be worse than believing you were the child of a psychopath and possibly falling in love with your sister. The oldest sibling was forced to concede that, for once, Jace had made a good point. The blond had pouted instantly at the good-natured slight and Izzy had laughed so hard she collapsed into the nearest chair. This time, Izzy just rolled her eyes and pushed past her blond brother to seal the door with a locking and a silencing rune, “That can’t be good.”

“It usually isn’t,” Alec agreed, sharing a concerned look with his parabatai, “Izzy? What's going on?” Izzy crossed back to her desk and picked up a folder, handing it to Jace when she was within arm's reach.

“Jace's DNA results came back,” she told them. Jace's eyes went wide and he scrambled to open the file, going pale when he read what the results were. The folder was shaking when he handed it to Alec and Alec felt his brows shoot up when he saw the name.

“Herondale,” Alec said incredulously, “ As in Inquisitor Herondale.” Izzy nodded, taking the file back from her dark haired brother and locking it her private file drawer.

“Based on age and familial records,” Izzy told Jace, “She's your grandmother. Her son Stephen was killed on a raid when his wife Céline was 8 months pregnant, who supposedly committed suicide shortly after. Since then, testimony from captured Circle members proved that Valentine orchestrated their murders.” Jace looked utterly heartbroken at the idea that Valentine could have taken more away from him.

“Why?” Alec didn't comment on the way his brother's voice broke on the question, “Why did he kill them?” Alec slipped him arm around his brother's shoulders and pulled him close as a show of support, but both of them frowned when they realized how silent Izzy was. The question had been rhetorical, so Jace really wasn't expecting an answer, but he pure silence emanating from Izzy was unusual.

“Izzy?” The young woman but her lip and slipped another file out of her desk, setting it down carefully as if it were an explosive rather than a report.

“The Clave doesn't do autopsies on suicides, so everyone thought Céline was pregnant when died,” Izzy told them, “I think Valentine was after you, and I think I know why.” She handed Jace the second file, who flipped it open to reveal what looked like a set of lab reports. Alec could see it because he was so close to Jace, but he had no idea how to read it.

“I have no ideas what any of this means,” Jace admitted, handing the file back to Izzy in a silent plea for an explanation.  Their sister waved them over to a table and she set a second file on the surface.

“This is the factor that The Clave has identified as angelic presence,” Izzy told them, pointing to what appeared to be a sample chart, “We don't know why it shows up like this, but it is only seen on nephilim blood tests. This is the normal range, and this is Jace's.” The boys leaned forward, eyes flickering over the paperwork.

“That can't be right,” Alec said, when he compared the numbers, “Are you sure the machines aren't off?” Jace nodded frantically, staring at his sister with begging eyes.

“I ran it four times, in two different machines,” Izzy assured them, “Jace's numbers are nearly ten times higher than the average shadowhunter's.”

“So what, I have more angel blood?” Jace asked, looking less than happy about the idea and Alec couldn’t blame him.

“That’s exactly what it means,” Izzy told them. The room went silent for a moment as the three digested the new information.

“The Clave can’t find out about this.” Alec was the one to break the silence, “It’s too risky. Jace could end up on a lab table in less time than it takes to blink if The Clave thinks they could find a way to make the rest of us better.” The other two nodded in agreement and Alec made the decision to not tell his siblings about what he found, at least not until he had more information and a plan.

“I agree,” Izzy told them both, “Which is why I already deleted the results. This is the only copy.” Izzy pointedly dropped the file in the shredder, earning a relieved sigh from Jace.

“Thanks Izzy,” Jace pulled his sister into a firm hug which she returned eagerly.

“We protect our own,” Izzy told him softly, squeezing him tighter for a second before letting go. Izzy and Alec both ignored the remnants of tears clinging to their brother's lashes.

“What does this mean?” Alec asked, drawing the attention to himself, “Jace having extra angel blood?” Izzy shrugged.

“It could mean nothing,” Izzy admitted, “or it could give him skills that the rest of us don't have, or just make him generally better at the skills we all have. We'll have to figure it out, though I doubt any new skills will just appear after twenty years.”

“Well we do know I'm the best shadowhunter of all time,” Jace said smugly, his normal attitude returning easily and making Alec roll his eyes so hard he was surprised they didn't fall out of his head.

“I'm not sure falling into an open basement entrance because you got distracted by a girl would support that,” Alec pointed out, earning an offended squawk from the blond.

“I was… That...I…” Jace stammered, before falling into a sullen glare, “I hate you.” Izzy chuckled at the antics of the boys before she started pushing them out of her lab.

“Alright. I have work to do,” she told them and handing Jace the file with his familial DNA results, “We'll keep this quiet too. It's your choice when you want to tell anyone.”

“Thanks Iz,” Jace said. Alec was sure that the way he hugged the file to his chest was completely unconscious. Jace knew his siblings, Hodge and Emilia were his family the same way he knew Maryse and Robert weren't. But knowing who shared his blood, once everything he'd thought was true was ripped away, was probably a small comfort. Jace turned to leave when Alec realized that he would have to tell his siblings about the Clave murdering mages, just in case something happened to him. He couldn’t tell them about Elora and the plan they had come up with, not yet, but he didn't want them to be blindsided if he got caught.

“Wait!” He said when Jace put his stele to the lock, ready to unseal the door and make his way back outside, “There’s something you two should know.” The blond paused and took a step back, his concern and confusion

“Hey, you okay?”

“Not really,” Alec admitted, shocking his brother even more. “I’m giving you both an option. If you want to leave now leave, if not then nothing said here leave this room. It doesn’t leave your minds. Don’t write it down, and never, ever tell anyone.” Jace immediately held out his hands for the papers, his other hand pressed to his parabatai rune as a silent reminder that he had sworn to stand by Alec no matter what. With a soft nod, Alec handed him the paper and glanced at his sister. He nearly snorted when he saw her standing with her arms crossed and a look on her face that clearly said he was an idiot if he thought she was leaving. After a few minutes, Jace looked up at Alec in shock.

“Does this mean what I think it means?” He asked quietly and paled when Alec nodded, “So the Clave really is no better than Valentine.”

“Not really,” Alec admitted, rubbing a tired hand over his face, “Magnus knows.” Izzy had already put her equipment away and we next to her brother, holding her hand out for the papers in an instant.

“What in the name of the Angel is this?” Izzy asked, her gaze just as furious as Alec felt. Her oldest brother could tell that she was restraining herself from shaking the fragile papers at him in a demand for an explanation.

“I found those in the library a few weeks ago,” Alec told them, “But I didn’t think much of it until I found the book about mages.” He wanted to avoid telling the two about the hall he’d found with Max until he absolutely had to. That way they had plausible deniability if he managed to piss off the Clave enough for them to come after them.

“I’ve never heard of mages,” Izzy admitted, looking frustrated in a way Alec was familiar with. Izzy hated not knowing something.

“Mages are...were,” Alec correct himself, not wanting his siblings to know that the mages were resurfacing and hoping they would just take it as him still processing information, “People who had been killed protecting the earth and the actually brought them back. When they were brought back, they had the ability to control the elements.” Izzy and Jace’s eyebrows raised in identical expressions of surprise.

“So…, they were mundanes that could suddenly control the elements.” Jace said slowly, “All of them? Like air, water, earth and fire?”

“All of them,” Alec confirmed, “Apparently the Clave at the time was afraid that they would destroy the Institutes and even Idris, so they created the kill order to wipe them out. But it was more likely out of revenge.”

“Did a mage attack?” Alec shook his head.

“No,” Alec told her, “The papers I found hinted that the mages might have done something that offended The Clave, but I couldn’t find it. So I went to the Silent Brothers.” Alec broke off at the sharp inhale of both Jace and Izzy.

“Alec,” Izzy breathed, “If the Clave finds out.”

“They know,” Alec told her, earning a terrified look, “I’m safe, at least for now.” His assurances didn't do much to placate his sister, but she gave him a sharp nod.

“So what was the insult?”

“They refused to join The Clave in hunting downworlders,” Alec told them, “Apparently The Clave thought it would be easier to hunt them all down if they had soldiers that could literally speak to the land. But, mages had already declared themselves as neutral parties. They would help anyone who needed it. Mundane, shadowhunter or downworlder, it didn’t matter.” Alec let the implications of that set in. The idea that The Clave had decided to indiscriminately slaughter a peaceful people simply because they wanted to help everyone, without restrictions, hurt. After a few minutes, Izzy looked at her brother.

“You said Magnus knows?” Izzy asked, earning a pained nod from her dark haired brother, “How?”

“Magnus knew mages,” Alec explained his posture closing down in the way it only did when he was extremely uncomfortable, “When he was a kid. They were murdered in front of him by Tomas Lightwood.” Izzy let out a pained sound at the name and grabbed Alec’s arm.

“Alec are you…?”

“I’m fine Izzy,” Alec assured her, “Magnus isn’t blaming me for the past, the same way I don’t hold his against him.”

“So what do we do?” Jace asked, drawing the pair’s attention back to him, “The Clave can’t just keep sweeping this under the rug.”

“We’re doing nothing,” Alec told him harshly, “I’ve already spoken to the Clave and they’ve given me a direct order to not speak about it to anyone. I’m already breaking it by tell the both of you.”

“But we can’t-”

“We can,” Alec interrupted Jace before he could get going, “and we will. At least for now. We have no advantage right now, nothing to protect us. If this comes out, you two put all of this on me.”

“No Alec,” Izzy protested, taking a step forward to rest her hand on his arm, “I won’t-”

“This is bigger than us,” Alec insisted, “If the Clave decides that they don’t like me knowing, the truth can’t die with me.”

“Alec,” Jace looked horrified by the idea of his brother dying, but Alec could tell that a small part of him understood.

“I’m hoping it won’t come to that,” Alec assured him, “I’ve never given the Clave reason to doubt me, but we have to be by the book from here on out. No off the record missions, no skirting the boundaries of the law. The Clave will be watching us all closely for any hint of impropriety. If I could have avoided telling you I would have, but I didn't want you to not know why you were being watched.”

“I promise,” Jace told him firmly and Izzy quickly followed with a nod of her own.

“We won’t give the Clave a reason,” Izzy told him, “If they want us gone, they’ll have to violate the law to do it.”

Chapter Text

Emergency. Coming to the Institute.

Alec frowned at his phone when he saw the text from Magnus pop up on his screen. The fact that it was free of the warlock’s normal teasing and flirtation was what made the shadowhunter worry. He quickly packed up the plans he and Magnus had been drawing up in the secret pouch his boyfriend had made for him. It would automatically destroy the contents if someone other than Alec tried to open it, or if they tried to have Alec open it by force.

The eldest Lightwood child made his way to the front of the Institute, unsurprised to see that Magnus was already there arguing with the guard. What did surprise him, was the presence of Elora next to him. It was clear from the gestures, that it was her presence that had the guards on edge. Magnus had become a familiar fixture at the institute due to his constant maintaining of the wards and his relationship with Alec, but Elora was an unknown entity. Alec also had a feeling that The Clave didn't have a file on her.

“I’ll take it from here,” Alec called out when he was close enough for the guards to hear him, “Morning Magnus, Elora.” The fact that Alec seemed to know the previously unknown woman made the guard relax slightly, and he swept a hand out to let the pair pass. It was easy to see that there was something on his boyfriend's mind when he didn't brighten the same way when he saw Alec.

“Alexander,” Magnus breathed, “Can you get a team together? Quickly?” The warlock clutched onto the arm that Alec had reached out to him.

"Magnus? What's wrong?" Magnus pulled back with a sigh and let his hands relax on Alec's chest.

"A warlock child's been taken," Magnus told him, "We think Valentine has her."

“What?” Alec shuddered at the thought of a child in Valentine’s grasp, especially a downworlder child, “How did he get her?”

“She was snatched off the street when her mother’s back was turned for a split second,” Magnus told him, “Her mother saw the circle rune just before they pulled the girl through the portal.”

“We managed to track her,” Elora told him, “But we don’t have the numbers  to get her ourselves, and Magnus suggested we come here.” It was clear that Elora didn’t think much of the idea, but trusted her son enough to follow his lead.

“The Clave would be less than forgiving in they found out we had information on Valentine and kept it to ourselves,” Magnus pointed out, earning a reluctant nod from Elora, “At least they’ll be willing to act on Valentine and we can focus on getting her back.”

“We’ll go talk to Lydia,” Alec told them, turning slightly away from Magnus so he could still keep a hold of the other man, “She’s the only one who can approve a team this size.” Alec led the pair through the twisting halls of the Institute while sending Lydia a quick text, then another to Jace and Izzy. The acting Head of the Institute was waiting for them at the door to her office.

“You said this was an emergency?” She asked after a polite nod to Alec and Magnus. She cast a slightly suspicious glance at Elora, but didn’t question her presence.

“It’s time sensitive at the very least,” Alec told her, indicating the office and guiding the two “warlocks” in ahead of him, “It’s about Valentine.” He saw Lydia’s eyes go wide for a split second before she schooled her expression once again. He followed her back into the office, nodding to Magnus and Elora as they settled into the chairs on the guest side of the desk.

“Magnus,” Lydia greeted, “I wish it were under better circumstances, but it’s nice to see you again.”

“Likewise Miss. Branwell,” Magnus smiled tightly, “This is Elora; she’s a close friend and she’s the one who brought me the information. We’re here because we need your help.”

“It’s a pleasure Elora,” Lydia said as she shook the older woman’s hand, “Alec says you have something on Valentine?”

“We believe his men snatched a warlock child off the street approximately an hour ago,” Magnus told her, “We were able to track her location, but we don’t have enough people to get her out safely.”

“Not to mention dealing with Valentine and however many Circle members are waiting there,” Lydia mused, “Alec get your team together and meet me in the war room. Magnus, Elora, if you’ll come with me we can start drafting out a plan of attack.” Alec could tell as he left the room that Elora was grudgingly impressed with how quickly Lydia was responding with the information. He sent off a quick text to Jace, Izzy, and Clary, telling them to meet up with him just outside of the war room. With that done, he jogged after his boyfriend to catch up with the group.

“Listen up!” Lydia’s voice carried over the room and immediately demanded attention, “We have new intel on Valentine, and I need a team ready to go in less than an hour. I want at least ten volunteers, preferably twenty, within the next fifteen minutes. Get your names in and you’ll be assigned a role.” The shadowhunters in the room all nodded and the muttering picked up slightly as Lydia’s phone pinged with the first email from a volunteer.

“I’ll start pulling files,” Alec offered, knowing that the standard process for picking teams for ops like the one they were about to start was to review files before approving them for the op.

“Perfect,” Lydia said absently, “You and your team with be working with Magnus and his people to rescue the child. The main team will focus on Valentine. Your job will be to get in, get the child and get out.” Magnus snorted, appearing surprised at his own reaction when the others looked at him.

“You disagree?” Lydia asked.

“Not at all,” Magnus assures her, “Just remembering a quote is all. No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Alec couldn’t help but smirk at the accuracy of the statement, having lived through more than a few battles where the plan dissolved, or changed, almost immediately upon its implementation.

“But,” Lydia said with a smirk of her own, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

“That they are,” Magnus mused softly, “But people are going to die today, on both sides and no amount of planning will prevent that.”

“Such is the cost of war,” Lydia pointed out, “At least with planning we can hope that less of ours fall.”

“Of that, I’m well aware,” Magnus assured her, “I’ve seen soldiers fall before, and not all of their deaths were at the hands of the enemy.” Understanding dawned in Lydia’s eyes.

“You’re worried about friendly fire,” she said, giving the warlock her full attention.

“I’ve found that friendly fire is decidedly unfriendly,” Magnus told her, “It still resulted in someone dead or injured. My people are still wary of the Clave and their teachings. Things may have improved slightly after the accords were signed but downworlders are still targeted, and not just by Circle members.” Lydia’s eyes narrowed.

“I can assure you that none of that will happen here,” Lydia told him, and Alec couldn’t keep his eyebrows from rising in disbelief. He would never forget his part in the arrest and near torture of Meliorn, but it seemed like Lydia had. The shadowhunter was also concerned that Magnus might be pushing a little far for his safety. A quick glance at Elora proved she had the same fears. Luckily Magnus seemed to realize just how close to the line he was skirting, or Lydia had inadvertently given him what he wanted.

“I will hold you to that,” Magnus replied, his eyes just as firm. There was a tense silence for a moment until Magnus clapped his hands together, “Well! I’ll contact my people and see who’s up for a rescue mission.” Magnus nodded to the rest of the group and wandered off to the raised walkway for a little privacy to send his messages.

Alec watched for a moment, while Lydia and Elora pulled up a map of the location they’d tracked the little girl to. He pulled up another file, rejecting it outright when he saw that the shadowhunter still wasn’t cleared for duty medically. He had only just been cleared himself, and going on a mission as big as the one he’d just been assigned was rare. Taking a moment, he made his way over to where Magnus had just finished sending his last fire message.

"You've been in battle before," Alec said softly when he was standing next to the other man, covering Magnus' hand on the railing with his own. The warlock released the railing and twisted his hand so he could tangle his fingers with Alec’s.

“You sound surprised,” Magnus said wryly, amusement clear in the quirk of his lips.

“I just never pictured it,” Alec admitted, “I always just assumed you avoided it. I don’t know why I did, but you didn’t stay away.”

"No, I fought many times," Magnus admitted, "In mundane wars, in the shadowworld, and I've seen loved ones fall each time. I always wonder who I'll lose next. It’s why I’ve tried to keep out of it until now."

"I'm sorry Magnus," Alec said, at a loss on how to make it better. He had been raised a soldier in a way that Magnus had not, so he'd grown used to the loss of life.

"I know. And it helps," Magnus assured him. The warlock turned to face Alec and the shadowhunter couldn't resist leaning in to brush their lips together. Magnus smiled when the taller man pulled back, "Just promise me you'll be safe."

"I'll do my best,” Alec promised him, “We should get back on the floor. It looks like Jace just arrived.” Jace, Izzy and Clary were all gathered around the touch table while Lydia’s hands flew over the screen to pull up as much information as she could gather on such short notice.

“And mum will definitely find him annoying very quickly.” They got to the table just in time to hear Jace ask Elora a question he really shouldn’t have.

“How old are you?” Alec slapped a disbelieving hand over his face, “If you don't mind me asking.”

“Thirty-six,” Elora told him with a slightly raised brow. Jace rolled his eyes with a smirk, and Alec had the strongest urge to strangle his brother.

“How long have you been thirty-six?”

“Five months.” Izzy snorted at the deadpan answer and had to turn away so that Jace couldn’t see her laughing at his expense, “It’s not that different than thirty-five to be honest.” Alec leaned closer to his sister and whispered so they wouldn’t be overheard.

“Lydia tried to look her up in our database,” Izzy told him in the same hushed tone, “Nothing came up, so Jace got suspicious and started asking questions.”

“If we’re done with the ridiculous questioning,” Elora said loudly when Jace opened his mouth, most likely to lodge his foot even deeper, “Can we continue with planning. The longer Valentine has his hands on Sam, the less like we are to find her unharmed, or at all.” Jace flinched at the reminder of the man who had been his surrogate father until he’d been placed with the Lightwoods.

“Sorry,” Jace muttered, leaning further into Clary’s space and receiving a soft pat on the back from her.

“Can you give us more information on the child? Sam?” Lydia asked, “Alec, Jace and Izzy will be focusing on getting her to safety along with you and Magnus. Any extra information would go a long way in getting her to trust them enough to get her to safety.”

“What about Clary?” Jace asked, frowning at the fact that the redhead had been left out of the battle plan.

“Clary will be staying here,” Lydia told him firmly, “The Clave has just issued a restriction on Clary going on missions, and frankly I agree.”

“Why?” Clary’s tone was filled with curiosity and absolutely none of the anger or frustration that Jace was radiating. Lydia turned to Clary with a slightly apologetic look on her face.

“You have essentially no training,” Lydia told her. She swept her hand out to indicate the three siblings, “They may have been training you to the best of their ability, but that doesn’t change the fact that shadowhunters train for at least a decade before being sent into the field. Your inexperience puts their lives at risk.”

“That’s fair,” Clary admitted, “So I just stay here and train?” Lydia sighed.

“The Clave has actually ordered you and Jocelyn to Alicante,” Lydia’s words were met with noises of outrage from Jace and even Izzy, “You’ll train there for a few years before being assigned to an Institute.”

“We need her,” Jace argued, “Valentine-”

“Wants you both at his side,” Lydia interrupted forcing Jace to snap his mouth shut, “Having you both together makes you even more of a target, so the Clave wants you separated until he’s dealt with. Clary’s an easier target because of her lack of training, which is why they want her in Idris.”

“Jace,” Izzy put her hand on the blond’s arm when it looked like he would continue arguing, “It makes sense. She’ll be safer there.”

“But-”

“Sam, Samantha, is ten years old,” Elora interrupted loudly, halting any more arguments, “I can promise you that she will be terrified of any shadowhunters right now, but she has a code word with her mother in case something like this happens. If you find her, tell her Yoda.” Clary snorted immediately, while the shadowhunters looked confused.

“Simon would love this,” Clary said, giggling a little, “Yoda is a character from a mundane movie series. A very famous one, but I’m guessing most shadowhunters wouldn’t have seen it.”

“Making it very unlikely that any of the Circle members would know it. Clever,” Lydia finished, glancing down at her phone to see the last of the files Alec had sent her, “We’ve got our team together?”

“Seventeen shadowhunters,” Alec confirmed, “All of them have been stationed here in New York for at least five years, and they’ve had either no complaints from downworlders or less than one a year. I figured it would be important in a case like this.”

“Nicely done,” Lydia told him, “Briefing room in fifteen.” After receiving an affirmative from the group she disappeared down the hall towards her office. A fire message flew in to land in Magnus’ waiting hand.

“Good news?” Alec asked trying to edge closer to see if he could read what was on the letter.

“We have another warlock who’s willing to help,” Magnus told him, “Even better, he’s been a soldier for most of his life.”

“So we’ll have two warlocks,” Alec glanced around to make sure there was no one close enough to overhear them, “and a mage on our team.”

“No,” Magnus admitted, “Mum’s staying here to help with any healing after. Someone might question her “magic” if they saw it in a fight.” Alec nodded at the logic in that decision, and knew that it must have been a difficult one to make.

“Healers are always welcome,” Alec told him, “and needed.” Magnus looked around and realized for the first time that the pair had migrated away from the rest of the main group. With a smirk, he took advantage of the semi-privacy to tease his Alexander a little despite the grim circumstances.

“I suppose all of this means we'll be rescheduling our dinner date.” The smile Magnus sent Alec was full of flirtation and the younger man couldn't help but blush. He rubbed the back of his head in the way he did when he was nervous.

“Yeah,” Alec conceded, “I don’t have much time off now that I’m cleared for missions, but maybe I can stop by one day after one of my patrols?.”

“A late night rondevu,” Magnus gasped dramatically, “Alexander, how scandalous.”

“I thought that was how you like it,” Alec’s attempt at suave was marred slightly by the massive blush that spread across his face, and Magnus has the strongest urge to ask if it went all the way down. But, he restrained himself out of fear of shorting out his virginal lover’s brain.

“That I do darling,” Magnus admitted, tilting his head back in offering. An offering that Alec took full advantage of before he hurried to the armory to gather his gear for the mission. Magnus felt his heart clench at the sight of the younger man strapping on weapons and sent a quick prayer to whoever was listening to keep him safe. Alec may have only come into his life a few short months ago, but Magnus already didn’t want to imagine a life without him.