Chapter 1: Chapter One
It had taken only weeks after he and Alec began their relationship for Magnus to realize he needed to come up with techniques to keep himself sane when Alec was on a mission.
His initial method of coping was brooding, worrying, pacing, checking his phone nearly a hundred times and, when he was feeling particularly terrified, standing out on his balcony straining his ears as though he would be able to hear Alec’s cries for help.
Needless to say, it was not sustainable.
Alec had promised him that he would keep him as informed as possible, which was both sweet and helpful. After that, though, it was up to Magnus to keep himself from tearing his hair out. He had outright rejected drinking himself silly. One, it took a lot of alcohol to get him truly drunk and two, if he was drunk and Alec needed him he would be of no use. After that had gotten thrown to the wayside and after Catarina had talked him out of transforming himself into a cat to, in her words, stalk Alec while on a mission he had settled on distraction in the form of company.
It was great on two fronts. Magnus loved throwing a good dinner party and he also loved spending time with friends. At his age, his rolodex was quite long. Reconnecting with old friends, keeping close with current ones… both were excellent outcomes.
Catarina, currently both a career woman and a mother, was his frequent companion. They set Madzie up in one of his guest bedrooms and ate too much dessert while they both bitched and gushed about the current turns their lives had taken.
When Cat was unavailable, Magnus invited old friends and new ones to distract him.
Tonight he was having a late evening with Simon and Luke. The timing worked rather perfectly for all of them. Simon might have been a daylighter but he was also a vampire who was quite comfortable with the wee hours of the evening and Luke had just gotten off his shift. A late dinner with some good conversation and drinks afterwards was just what Magnus needed while he waited for Alec to come home.
The new strategy worked rather well, if he did say so himself. He was less tense and his lack of panicked hovering when Alec got home meant his boyfriend was less stressed as well. It was a win-win all around. Even Alec thought so, which was why he didn’t mind so much when he had to actually interact with guests occasionally.
Not that Magnus had any illusions that Alec would be pleased to see Simon when he got home. If Magnus had warned him that Simon was one of his dinner guests Alec might have even decided that he wanted to sleep over the Institute instead of the loft, which was absolutely why Magnus hadn’t mentioned it.
Perhaps not, though. Alec generally preferred to stay with Magnus, his own preference as well, and they were probably getting to the point that Alec didn’t strongly dislike Simon so much as he was exasperated by him. The good might outweigh the bad by now.
Although, if Alec could hear about Simon’s plans for a ‘Shadowhunter Movie Education Night’ he might have begged to differ.
“Listen, I’m just saying that when they can understand my movie references, they’ll think I’m at least eighty percent funnier.” Simon argued.
Luke laughed, “I’m not against a movie night, Simon, but I think you’re overestimating how much context can make Jace or Alec think you’re funny. Isabelle maybe but eighty percent is pushing it.”
Magnus laughed at Simon’s outraged expression. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, my friend, but I’ve shown Alec Sleeping Beauty. He definitely understood that joke you made about the warlock at Pandemonium last week dressing like a slutty Maleficent. He did not laugh.”
The vampire looked put out by that for about thirty seconds before the implications of Magnus’ sentence caught up with him, “Wait, you’ve gotten Alec ‘Sourpuss’ Lightwood to watch a Disney movie?” Simon asked incredulously. “And it was a princess movie?”
Luke laughed but knocked his hand against Simon’s shoulder from the other end of their shared couch. “He’s not that bad, Simon.”
“Oh please Luke!” Simon shot back, “No offense Magnus but when I think of Alec I do not think of a guy who would enjoy dancing woodland creatures.”
Magnus couldn’t entirely blame him, outwardly Alec didn’t seem like he would be a fan of Disney movies. “They’re fun and sweet and uncomplicated. Good for a night relaxing after he’s spent a particularly frustrating day at the Institute. I’m not saying he’s loved every Disney movie I’ve shown him but he hasn’t disliked any either.”
At the same moment, Luke and Simon erupted into questions.
Luke’s was predictable, “Are you sure he wasn’t just saying that to make you happy?”
Simon’s was shrill, “He’s seen multiple Disney movies? How have you never told me this? Which ones? Tell me everything.”
Magnus laughed again, “One, Luke, I can definitely tell when he’s lying to humor me and when he genuinely enjoys something. And two, Simon, he’s seen Sleeping Beauty, Sword in the Stone, Lion King, Mulan and Beauty and the Beast so far. You will be unsurprised to know that he liked Mulan best.”
“Okay, fine, that’s fair.” Simon nodded, “I mean, if you had asked me which Disney Princess I thought he might like best it would have probably been Mulan. Although does Mulan really count as a…”
Luke and Magnus were spared Simon’s rambling about princess qualifications by the sound of the door opening.
A rush of relief went down Magnus’ entire body. Even if Alec came through the door hurt, as he occasionally did, Magnus was close by to help him. That he had gotten home meant the worst was behind and Alec was safe.
He stood and was halfway across the room before Alec had even gotten the door closed behind him. Near as he could see, there were no gaping wounds on his body. Alec hung his bow up on the pegs that Magnus had installed for him and waved tiredly when he heard Simon and Luke call over.
The second Magnus was in front of him, Alec leaned in for a kiss and Magnus obliged him happily. “Hello, darling. Happy hunting?”
Alec quirked a smile at him, “Seven demons dead. No major injuries. That’s as happy as it gets.”
Magnus brought his hands to Alec’s shoulders and ran a critical eye down him, “No minor injuries either, I hope?”
“Few scrapes and bruises. Jace already drew an iratze.” Alec reported. He dragged a hand down his face and Magnus got to see one of the scrapes he had mentioned, right over his knuckles. It didn’t look bad at all. He managed to restrain himself from asking to heal it. Alec had strong feelings about what healing Magnus should waste his magic on and a scrape that would be gone soon enough didn’t qualify. If they were alone he might have been willing to have the argument but alas, they were not.
Alec yawned, “I’m just tired.”
“Why don’t you take a quick shower and get in bed?” Magnus suggested softly.
Alec’s eyes darted over to where Luke and Simon were talking on the couch. “Should I…?”
Magnus cut off his question with another soft kiss. It was sweet when Alec worried about being good to Magnus’ guests, especially considering Magnus knew he would usually rather retreat. Luke and Simon weren’t old friends who needed introductions to the new man in his life, though, and neither would be offended if Alec waved goodnight instead of coming to talk to them. They both knew firsthand how tiring battle could be. Magnus pulled back from the kiss, “Not at all, Alexander. Go to bed. I’ll join you in a little while.”
The grateful smile Alec gave him was highlighted by the dark circles under his eyes and the droop of his shoulders. Magnus kept smiling at him because to do anything else would send his poor boy into a panic of second guessing, but Magnus couldn’t help but inwardly frown. He hated that Alec let himself get so rundown. Why were Shadowhunters so allergic to self-care?
At least he was going to bed now without fuss instead of trying to sneak in some more paperwork to finish. Alec waved again at Simon and Luke and went straight for their bedroom.
Magnus turned back to Luke and Simon and saw the werewolf looking at Alec in concern. “He okay?” Luke asked.
Magnus sank back into his seat with a sigh, “He’s tired. I told him he should just go to bed instead of joining us. I’m sorry to deprive you of your chance to question him about his feelings regarding Tale as Old as Time, Simon.”
“It’s okay.” Simon laughed, “I’ll definitely corner him another time. So tell me this, if he’s down with fairy tale movies so far, how do you think the Princess Bride would translate?”
And the conversation took off again.
He can’t hear you if you mumble.
“Shh, Jace.” Alec said to his annoying parabatai. He shivered on the bed and wished he hadn’t taken his shoes off. Magnus would be mad, though, if he put his gross boots on the bed. It would get the blankets all dirty.
If you’re cold, getting under the covers will help.
Alec’s eyes blinked open hazily. Where was Jace? Magnus’ room swam around in front of him in lazy swirls that made Alec go a little cross eyed as he tried to follow them. His jacket was down on the ground where it had slipped off the back of the chair and Alec regretted taking that off too. Why was it so cold? Where were Jace and Magnus? He had been talking to them just a second ago.
“Magnus?” He asked again, quietly in case the warlock was asleep. That wouldn’t work though, not if Magnus was going to make the room stop moving and warm up. Alec had to wake him.
He uncurled his legs and tried to work up the energy to roll onto his back to see Magnus. It was strange, they usually slept pressed together. Unless Magnus wanted to be the little spoon tonight? Was he mad because Alec hadn’t known? Maybe that was why the room was cold but he didn’t really think Magnus would do that to him.
He shivered again and groaned. What wouldn’t Magnus do to him?
Alec rolled onto his back before hissing and rolling back to his side so hard he fell out of bed and onto his knees. That hurt. He twisted his arm around, trying to feel the spot that lanced fire up his back. His fingers caught in something tacky and he pulled his hand back to find dark blood smeared over his skin. “Oh,” He said quietly.
If dirt from his boots on the blankets would make Magnus mad, blood on them would be just as bad. Worse, maybe, because Magnus didn’t like blood. He pulled his head up and looked across the bed, but Magnus wasn’t there. The covers weren’t even slept in, which was weird because Alec had just been asleep.
Then he remembered, Magnus was with Luke. And Simon. And Jace. No, maybe not Jace. Or was it not Simon? Definitely Luke, though. He was going to come to bed sometime but Alec couldn’t remember when. When had he gotten into bed?
After the demon hunt, probably. He didn’t usually do those in Magnus’ loft. Only sometimes.
Alec started to stand before he flopped down half on his side. His stomach roiled in protest and Alec swallowed heavily. That wasn’t helping at all. If Magnus was somewhere else then he needed to get up not lay back down. Although that sounded nice. He was even closer to his jacket.
He sighed and tried again. This time, he got up and swayed there for a minute. It was colder higher up. Was it always so cold when he stood? He wasn’t that tall, no matter what Magnus said.
And now that he had remembered he had a stomach, it felt angry with him. Had he swallowed dirt? Definitely not blood, he’d remember that.
He walked to the door and pushed it open with a grunt. It was heavier than he remembered. Once it was out of the way, though, he could hear people talking and Magnus laughing. It made him grin too because Magnus happy was the best sound in the world.
He wanted to stand there and listen to it all night but his stomach gave another angry lurch. He stumbled forward, one hand pressed against it to keep it quiet.
Magnus laughed as he waved away the remnants of their drinks and chocolate tarts. Simon and Luke were making noise about standing up and putting on jackets, which meant that they had probably another ten minutes before they were actually out the door. That was usually how goodbyes went after a successful dinner party, so Magnus wasn’t annoyed even if a larger and larger part of him was eager to go lay down next to Alec.
His Shadowhunter had left them not quite an hour and a half ago, so hopefully including shower time Alec would be an hour under and wouldn’t even stir when Magnus joined him in bed. He usually liked to curl up with him earlier, only letting the party continue a half hour or so without him, but conversation had turned to whining about the Seelie queen and that was always one of Magnus’ favorite conversations, so long as it was had within his wards and with trusted companions. So rarely did he get to indulge in it.
Luke was insisting that Maia did the best impressions of the Queen out of anyone. He’d had his phone in his hand for the last three minutes, like they were actually going to call Maia and demand a performance, “But seriously Magnus, next time you see her you absolutely need to get Maia to do you her impressi… whoa, Alec!”
Instantly, Magnus’ smile was gone. Luke looked genuinely freaked out and Simon’s eyes were widening with the same concern in them.
“Magnus?” Alec’s voice was a low mumble that sounded almost slurred. There was a shuffle of footsteps behind them before the sound of vomiting.
Magnus turned and stood in the same motion before freezing in shock. Alec was bent forward, losing his stomach on the floor and wearing the same clothes he had come home in. He was pale and the dark circles under his eyes looked more like bruises now. There was a sheen of sweat over his skin and a flush to his cheeks that indicated a rising fever.
“Oh my god,” Magnus whispered in horror. “Alec!”
Alec was bent forward, losing his stomach on the floor and wearing the same clothes he had come home in. He was pale and the dark circles under his eyes looked more like bruises now. There was a sheen of sweat over his skin and a flush to his cheeks that indicated a rising fever.
“Oh my god,” Magnus whispered in horror. “Alec!”
Finally, his legs started moving and he was at Alec’s side before he was even done puking. He wrapped an arm around Alec’s chest and the other around his back, trying to stabilize him while he swayed in the half bent over slump. The last thing he wanted was for Alec to hurt himself falling over. He would have liked to help Alec kneel down but he didn’t seem with it enough to coordinate movement while he was still being sick.
The heat of Alec’s skin burned through the thin layer of his t-shirt and it instantly got Magnus’ attention. “Luke, in the bathroom I have a first aid kit, please go grab a thermometer out of it?” He didn’t turn to see either of his friends but knew the werewolf would do as he asked without delay.
Magnus leaned down as best he was able in their strange position so he could speak softly to Alec, “That’s it, love, just get it up and you’ll feel better.” He wasn’t sure where this had come from but Alec was clearly ill. Had he felt sick when he returned home? Should Magnus have pushed harder when he asked how Alec was feeling post-mission or gone with him to the bedroom? Sometimes Alec still got so strange about needing help or letting on that something wasn’t right. Could he have been unwilling to say anything in front of Luke and Simon and instead had been counting on Magnus coming to join him shortly?
“What should I do?” Simon asked with clear panic in his voice.
Magnus looked up at the vampire and saw the boy with his arms spread and his eyes locked on Alec. There wasn’t really much to have him do, especially since Magnus wasn’t yet sure what was wrong and wouldn’t be able to get a handle on it until Alec was done being sick but sending him out of the room gently was absolutely the right way to go. Alec wouldn’t want to be seen like this and Simon would just work himself into a frenzy otherwise. “Go get me a damp washcloth, please?”
Simon hesitated for a brief second before Alec let out a low moan and another splatter hit the ground. That seemed to make his mind up and he sped from the room at regular human levels.
Now that they were alone, at least for another second, Magnus tried to get a sense of how aware Alec actually was. “Darling, what’s wrong?”
“Magn’s, ‘s cold but I didn’t get’ny dirt on the bed, pr-promise.” Alec groaned. He tried to stand back up straight but overbalanced himself and would have fallen face first in his own vomit if Magnus wasn’t there holding him up.
The words, mostly slurred, sent a shiver of dread down Magnus’ spine. That wasn’t his Alec. That barely made sense.
“Shh, Alec, let’s sit down.” Magnus said as calmly as he could. He shifted his grip on Alec to help him down to the floor and his hand slid through half dried blood. Alec cried out in pain and suddenly what was happening became a lot clearer.
And a lot more frightening.
Magnus pulled up the back of Alec’s shirt to expose the small wound marring his lower back. It was more like a scratch, something that should have been almost entirely cleared up the healing rune Jace had drawn two hours before. Instead, it was livid red with black and green around the edges. Somehow, in the span of only a couple of hours, the small wound was both kinds of infected.
“That looks bad,” Luke said. Magnus hadn’t even heard him coming he had been so startled by the sight of Alec’s wound.
The werewolf had the requested thermometer in his hand and he moved to Alec’s other side to help Magnus sit him on the ground. A wave of his hand cleared the vomit away before Simon skidded back into the room.
Magnus leaned Alec against his chest and tilted his head up so they could look at each other. Alec’s eyes were half shut and his pupils didn’t seem to be tracking the world around him. “Alec, look at me.” Magnus commanded gently. Simon handed him the washcloth dampened with cool water and he used it to quickly wipe over Alec’s skin.
Alec’s eyes slowly swung around to meet Magnus’, “Magnus, ‘M cold.” He repeated again as though he couldn’t understand why Magnus wasn’t fixing this problem for him.
“You’re going to be okay, darling, I promise.” Magnus managed to get out evenly despite the rising swell of emotion. He held his hand out to Luke to take the thermometer from him. “Open your mouth, Alec.”
Alec obeyed after a few seconds delay. Magnus slid the thermometer under his tongue and used the hand on Alec’s face to coax his mouth shut again.
While he did that, Luke had bent down to get a better look at his back. “The cut itself is small, he might not have realized that there was venom in it.”
“That’s what he said, right?” Simon’s worried eyes darted between Luke and Magnus, “He said he only had a few scrapes and bruises but Jace drew the whatever rune.”
“It’s in a weird spot, he wouldn’t have been able to see it.” Luke agreed. “If it’s a slower acting venom…”
“This doesn’t seem super slow acting. He was like fine an hour ago.” Simon shook his head.
Magnus was about to correct Simon but the thermometer beeped and Magnus carefully tugged it free from Alec’s mouth. He looked the number and felt his stomach clench in fear. It was too high. Alec was in danger of cooking himself. Wordlessly, he passed the thermometer to Luke and slid his hands under Alec’s knees to stand with Alec in his arms.
“What is it?” Simon whispered to Luke, at least aware enough that Magnus wasn’t saying it out loud to avoid panicking Alec, if that was even possible in his state.
Magnus rushed towards their bathroom but he was still close by enough to hear Luke answer with audible concern, “104.8.”
“That’s, um, wow, that’s not good.” Simon said. Whatever he said next was lost as Magnus threw the bathroom door open with his magic and hurried inside. He didn’t waste time drawing the bath by hand, instead he flicked a finger and the tub was full of tepid water. Then he magicked away Alec’s t-shirt and pants until his Shadowhunter was limp in his arms wearing only his black underwear. He bent and quickly lowered Alec into the water, hardening his heart as best he could against the whine that Alec let out as he arched his back weakly to try to avoid the lukewarm bath he was being set in.
“N’Magnus, please…” Alec begged. His normally strong hand gripped Magnus’ shoulder with the strength of a child.
“I know, darling, I know. This will help, Alexander. I promise. We have to cool you down.” Magnus tried to soothe him. He gently unwound Alec’s fingers from his shirt and eased his arm down into the water when his hand was free.
Alec tried to move, to stand and get himself up, but his feet dragged uselessly against the porcelain. “Please, please…” He whispered.
Magnus slid his hand around Alec’s back to touch his magic against the wound again, ready to do whatever he could draw the venom out. The wound stubbornly refused to heal, though, and Alec made a horrible noise of pain and arched his back again when a curl of red mixed in the water.
Magnus swore as Luke came in the room and knelt behind him.
“There’s something stopping the venom from being drawn out and I can’t heal him unless it’s gone. The wound just reopened it fought me so hard.” Magnus explained. The slight of the blood in the water made his stomach turn.
“So what are we trying next?” Luke asked evenly.
Magnus pulled in a deep breath, even as his shaky hand smoothed the tear away from Alec’s cheek. “I’ll have to try to make a poultice to draw the venom out.” To do that he needed to stand up and walk away from Alec.
He stayed kneeling.
“Magnus, I’ve got him. Go.” Luke encouraged. He stood up, ready to take Magnus’ spot at Alec’s side.
Magnus leaned in and pressed a kiss to Alec’s baking forehead. “I’ll be right back, darling. Hang on for me, okay?” And then he stood, even though Alec made a noise of protest. He marched out of the room, past Simon and into his workroom.
The vampire went with him, hot on his heels. “Can I help?”
Magnus was immediately a flurry of motion. He didn’t want to be away from Alec for even a second. He needed to do this, though, to make some sort of concoction that would draw the venom out so he could heal Alec.
Alec’s body was fighting hard but no human being, even one with Angelic lineage, could withstand that high a fever for very long. They were lucky that Alec had just vomited and been delirious. There were far worse things that could happen if they didn’t get his fever down and quickly.
Neatly labeled glass jars of mermaid scales, ginger, dried basil, water from a small stream on Eldfell volcano in Iceland and iris petals went down on the table. His magic started cutting up the basil and ginger while he selected four of the darkest mermaid scales to put in his mortar and pestle, “Grind these finely.” He directed Simon.
The vampire didn’t make any comment about the origin of the ingredients, a small mercy. Magnus hardly wanted to talk about the magical properties of mermaids at the moment. Bad enough the scales needed to be ground by hand instead of magic or the balance would be sent skewed. He got to work bringing the water and petals to a boil.
He practically vibrated over his cauldron. Of course with just a whisper of his magic the water would boil but that wouldn’t give it time to properly infuse with the petals and that would mess with the end result and Alec needed this to be as potent as possible if he was going to get through this and…
“Hey,” Simon said kindly. He was dutifully grinding up the scales but he was had slid down the table to stand closer to Magnus. He was a little pale with nerves but his eyes were steady. “You’ve got this, okay? Alec is going to be fine.”
“I should be with him.” Magnus blurted out. His eyes kept darting to the doorway, waiting to see a grim-faced Luke.
Simon shook his head, “He needs you to do this more than he needs you to sit beside him in the tub. Trust me, Luke is good at this. Picking up random kids and Dad-ing them is his jam.”
Magnus laughed and if the edge of it was kind of ragged, neither of them said anything. The first burst of a bubble in the water caught his eye and he waved the ginger and basil over with his magic and had them poised to drop in. A minute later, he judged the time right and in they went. Then he set to stirring counterclockwise steadily while he muttered a spell to increase potency.
On his gesture, Simon sprinkled the ground up scales over the frothing concoction and they watched it go blue and thick. Magnus stopped stirring, “It’s just going to bubble for a few more minutes. Nothing should happen but I’ll keep an ear out for you. Can you watch it?”
“Of course,” Simon nodded firmly.
Magnus didn’t waste his few minutes by stopping to thank the vampire. He would thank Simon and Luke profusely at the end, when Alec was out of the woods. He was out the door in seconds and halfway to the bathroom before half a minute had passed.
He heard Alec before he even got to the door and his heart broke a little bit.
Though Luke was clearly and calmly speaking gentle encouragements to Alec, what his love was saying was debatable. There were words but they were slurred so badly and so distorted by his sobs that they were indecipherable. To hear his normally so desperately in control Shadowhunter breaking down like that was painful. The second he skidded into the room, Luke was up and stepping back to give them space.
Magnus sat down on the edge of the tub and pressed his hand to Alec’s cheek. It was wet, like Luke was doing his best to pour water down over any bit of skin that wasn’t submerged, but Magnus couldn’t feel any discernable difference from before. He tried to remind himself that it had only been moments really. It didn’t help.
“Hello, darling. What’s all of this about?” He crooned softly. He tilted Alec’s head back to see him better when Alec either didn’t have the strength to do it himself or hadn’t thought to. Alec’s eyes didn’t really focus on him and Magnus again had to remind himself that it was only the fever and once they got the venom out of his system it would get better.
“Magn’s, help, please…” Alec said with a low sort of whine in his voice. The sound and the words cut into Magnus.
He pressed another kiss to Alec’s forehead. He wished there was something that he could say that would calm Alec. Right now, he might as well have been speaking another language to him, for all that Alec was understanding. Luke had the right of it, a calm and soothing tone was probably about as much as Alec’s fevered mind was taking in.
“Soon, love. I’ll be right back.” Magnus stood and turned to Luke, “Drain the bath but let him stay wet.”
And then he was running again. He didn’t bother to wait to see Luke nod. The werewolf would understand how important the timing was. Even his last order was an attempt to time this as best he could to help Alec. Magnus could vanish the water away but why do that when he had to go get the potion? Better to let the cool water keep Alec from boiling for as long as possible. Why waste the time to vanish it when he returned when Alec could be ready for him? Better to have Luke handle it.
The distance from his workroom and the bathroom wasn’t so great but Magnus wasn’t willing to waste any time. He found Simon still dutifully guarding the poultice. The vampire stepped away the second Magnus arrived.
He gave the thickened concoction a curious poke with his ladle, “It’s ready.” Magnus said with relief. He dished it out onto a conjured, chilled plate to help it come down in temperature but that was about as much as he could do. Adding a cooling spell when he already needed to infused it with his magic when it was against Alec’s wound would just be too much. He hated that he was going to have to put something hot onto Alec’s already overheated skin but there wasn’t anything to do for it.
He and Simon raced back to the bathroom.
Luke was sitting on the edge of the tub, one foot inside and the other out. He had Alec leaning forward onto his thigh, his back exposed and damp. “Look, Alec, here’s Magnus just like he said.”
Alec’s eyes were closed and his hand was gripped in Luke’s. Magnus clambered into the oversized – or rather, Alec-sized – tub to sit behind Alec so he was in a good spot to get to work. His dipped his hand into the poultice and found it to still be hot but not burning. “Get ready, Luke, he’s not going to like this.” He warned.
Luke curled his free arm around Alec’s shoulders to keep him in place. “It’ll hurt?”
Magnus gently started spreading the paste over Alec’s wound. Immediately, Alec’s back arched as he tried to get away from the no doubt vicious sting.
“Magnus, stop… hurts!” Alec moaned.
“I’m sorry, my love.” Magnus felt like scum as he worked it into the wound, ensuring it was heavily coated. He heard Alec let out another low moan before his eyes slid shut. Unconscious, finally. Hopefully it would be a blessing. He spread the last of the mixture onto the wound, his hands sparked blue all the while. “We’re going to have to let that sit.”
“How long do you think?” Luke asked.
Magnus bit his lip in worry, “I don’t think we’ll see any improvement for at least twenty minutes. From there, I don’t know.”
The werewolf looked as grim as Magnus felt, “Simon, go find the thermometer. I dropped it somewhere.”
Simon rushed out of the room to go figure out where Luke had left it. Luke leaned in closer to Magnus, “You think we should call Jace and Isabelle?”
“If Jace isn’t here already it’s because he’s deeply asleep.” Magnus thought aloud, “I don’t know if throwing two terrified siblings into the mix is the best idea at the moment.”
He would hear a lot about that later, though. Especially from Alec’s little sister.
“We can wait a little bit, I guess.” Luke agreed cautiously. Magnus was always a second too slow to remember that he had once been a parabatai.
“You and Simon don’t need to stay.” Magnus offered, “I won’t need to leave him now.”
The look Luke shot him as Simon rushed back into the room was a close to chastisement as anyone outside of Cat had managed in months.
“Here!” The vampire half whispered, as if he was liable to wake Alec up. He handed Magnus the thermometer and then sort of half danced behind Luke. If Alec ever managed to think beyond his embarrassment about this whole thing, he might have been touched by how affected Simon was considering they were barely friends – although, to be fair, they were barely friends because of Alec, not Simon. Knowing Alec as he did, however, Magnus was fairly certain he was just going to have to be touched enough for the both of them. Simon probably wouldn’t accept much by way of Magnus’ gratitude but his Shadowhunter Cinematic Education whatever night was absolutely going to be happening now. Magnus would see to it even if he had to physically drag Alec there.
All of that was for later, though, after they got through this.
Magnus wanted to take Alec’s temperature again right that second but he knew it was too soon and he was only going to be upsetting himself if he did. There were better uses of their time. Alec could be awake any second and it would be infinitely kinder to move him from the bathroom to their bed while he wasn’t awake to feel it or fight them.
He stood up, slid the thermometer into his pocket and stepped out of the tub. Luke immediately got with the program and helped Magnus arrange Alec in his arms and lift him up in the slightly awkward position they were in. He was grateful for the help; lifting Alec was one thing, having to lift him around the wall of the tub was another much more difficult thing.
Simon went ahead of them, pushing things out of their way as if Magnus couldn’t do it with his magic. The young vampire even went to the trouble of turning down the covers, which struck him as strange because he doubted that Alec had made the bed before coming out to see them. It seemed impossible for the state that he was in.
“It looks like he slept on the covers, not under them.” Simon said when he saw Magnus’ confused expression.
Magnus and Luke maneuvered Alec down onto his side so nothing interfered with his wound. “I guess he was either more tired or more out of it than he let on when he came in.” Luke mused.
Magnus felt a rush of shame. How could he have not seen this? The fever was one thing, that had to have spiked after Alec left the room because Magnus had kissed him and hadn’t felt it. He could forgive himself that… but the rest of it?
“Hey,” Luke nudged his shoulder, “You talked to him for about two minutes and he seemed fine to all of us. That wound is small, Simon and I didn’t smell any huge amounts of blood.”
“Um,” Simon cut in, “I smelt blood. Sorry.”
Luke shook his head, “And he had an explanation for that. We all heard him say it.” He reminded evenly, “There was no reason to think this was going to happen.”
Maybe there wasn’t from that short conversation, but if Magnus had checked better he could figured it out, “I should have gone with him.” He pressed his palm to Alec’s forehead and winced at the heat he still felt. How much longer could Alec’s body deal with a fever this high before things went really badly? They were playing in seizure territory at the very least and the mere thought of seeing Alec’s body go through something like that put a sick feeling in his stomach.
“I don’t think he’s going to be willing to submit to full body inspections every time he comes home, Magnus.” Luke argued. His eyes saw Magnus’ thoughts so easily that he had to look away. “Shadowhunters aren’t raised to think that much of their injuries.”
Magnus could hardly speak around the way his jaw clenched in anger, “Maybe if they were they wouldn’t have such a tendency to die young.” He bit out.
Luke held his hands up, “I hear you, man, you know I do.”
Taking his anger with himself out on his friends was the last thing he wanted to do. He let out a long breath and tried to pull himself together, “Apologies, my friend.”
The werewolf waved it away. “The point is, everyone did the right thing here. Alec mentioned he was a little hurt, Jace drew the iratze, you checked in with him when he came home. This was a small wound on his back, low enough that his pants might have even hidden it from the others at first. Don’t beat yourself up, Magnus.”
Later, Luke’s words might have more weight. With Alec still shaking from the pain and the fever though, Magnus couldn’t really let them comfort him.
“Simon and I are going to go clean up in the bathroom, okay? Shout if you need us.” Luke curled a hand around Simon’s shoulder and waited for Magnus’ nod before he guided his surrogate son out of the room. He was doing Magnus yet another kindness by gracefully giving him some space.
That left no one but Alec to hear the shaky sigh that Magnus let out. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Alec’s damp hair, “I know I’m immortal, darling, but you’ve got to stop giving me these heart attacks. Eventually you will start giving me gray hair.”
He laughed but the laugh was brittle at best. He lightly stroked his fingers down Alec’s arm and wished he and Luke had set Alec the other way down, so he could easily see his face without looming over him. The important part of him to keep an eye on, though, was the wound on his back. It just wasn’t as comforting. When Alec wasn’t quite so hot they could let him lay on his stomach but until then he wanted as much of Alec’s skin exposed to the air as possible so that meant his side.
Magnus looked over the poultice covered wound and strained his eyes to see a difference in the color of it. They were aiming to go from blue to black as the venom was pulled out so that Magnus could finally heal it. The color seemed as unchanged as Alec’s temperature.
“Should I call your siblings?” Magnus asked, “I know you’re always comforted when Jace is close but I also know that they’ll panic. It seems cruel to call them now that all we can do is wait.”
Alec didn’t answer and Magnus couldn’t make a decision. That was probably mostly because he couldn’t really think beyond what was right in front of him. He put his palm to Alec’s forehead again, “Oh,” He breathed out. Either he was going crazy or Alec’s fever was coming down from the towering heights it had climbed.
He slid off the edge of the bed and knelt on the ground do he was eyelevel with the wound. Was it darker in the center than it had been?
His hand groped for the cast aside thermometer. He needed to upgrade the thing to one of those new fancy ones where he pointed it at Alec and it took a reading like they were in a sci-fi movie or something. Shadowhunters so rarely got sick. Magnus had been stocking for injury, not for illness, and the thermometer that had come in the first aid kit that he had then customized had seemed perfectly fine for their needs. He would rectify the oversight later. For now, he eased the plastic under Alec’s tongue as best he could considering Alec was still unconscious. “Let’s try this again, love.”
He held it in place and resisted the urge to peak at the numbers. “Come on, come on,” He muttered. As soon as the beep sounded, Magnus slid the thermometer out of Alec’s mouth and turned it around to see the result. “Oh thank you,” He breathed out. “103.5. We’re getting somewhere now, Alexander.”
Never in his life did he think he would feel such boneless relief over a fever that was still entirely too high. In a full grown adult man, especially one Alec’s size, that high a fever was still dangerous. Still, he leaned forward until his forehead rested on Alec’s rune-marked back and gave himself a moment to just breath in an attempt to calm his racing heart.
Luke’s voice was tentative and Magnus twisted his head around so he could face his friend without losing the connection to Alec. He waved the thermometer, “It’s working. He’s down an entire degree.”
Luke smiled at him, “That’s good news.”
“Sorry I spewed terror all over you.” Magnus apologized.
The werewolf rolled his eyes, “Seriously, Magnus, stop apologizing. Or thanking us, because I’m sure that’s coming too. This is what friends are for.” He stepped closer to them and held out the bundle of ice he had in a towel, “Besides, I’m dating his mom. Not letting her kid roast himself is kind of in the job description.”
“You’re a stronger man than me, Luke Garroway.” Magnus admitted. He and Alec’s mother had reached a truce that was largely centered on making Alec happy and, shockingly enough, he fully believed that Maryse’s personality was changing for the better. That said, the mere idea of kissing her made his stomach turn and that wasn’t just because she was his lover’s mother.
He took the ice from Luke and lightly placed it on Alec’s forehead. Alec flinched ever so slightly. “I’m sorry, Alec. Are you with me?”
Alec made a soft noise that sounded similar to the ones he made when his alarm went off after a particularly eventful night.
Magnus smiled and couldn’t help but laugh softly. “Come on, Alexander. Can you wake up for me? Make my night and say something coherent?” He pulled the ice away and carefully stepped over Alec’s legs so he could properly face his Shadowhunter. Once he was situated, he pressed the ice back onto Alec’s forehead.
Again, Alec reacted, “Magnus?” He groaned and his eyes fluttered open.
“Hello there.” Magnus gave Alec what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “Can you tell me what color my shirt is?”
Alec’s brow scrunched up in clear confusion, “Purple? Why are you asking and why is it so hot in here?” He shifted like he was going to roll onto his back but Magnus’ and Luke’s hands stopped him and held him in place. The two centimeters of movement he managed before that brought another groan to his lips, “What happened?”
“You, my love, need to check your wounds better post-battle and if you’re not going to do it yourself then you’re going to start letting me do it.” Magnus said seriously, “And my inspections will be thorough, Alec, very thorough.”
“If you’re going to get kinky in here then let me step out, okay?” Luke laughed.
Alec tilted his head back, “Luke?”
“Hey, Alec.” Luke said, “You should listen to Magnus. You scared the hell out of us.”
Footsteps at the door caught their attention before Alec could ask more questions. Simon entered the room with Magnus’ phone held to his ear, “Actually, Jace, he’s awake now.” Then to Magnus he said, “He, Izzy and Clary are like halfway here. Jace felt Alec cooking himself via their mystical warrior bond and when Alec didn’t answer his phone they took off and started calling yours. I answered, sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Magnus reassured the vampire. “Tell Jace that Alec’s fever is down and the poultice is drawing the venom out.”
While Simon repeated back the news to Jace, Magnus refocused his attention on Alec. “One of your wounds was infected with venom.” He explained simply, “You spiked a terrible fever that’s only just coming down now. The venom resisted my magic and so instead of wasting time and potentially doing the wound more harm trying to force it, I made a poultice to draw out the venom.”
Alec’s head sank back down onto the pillow, “Well, that explains why I feel like it’s a thousand degrees in here.”
“You thought it was cold before. Do you remember anything?” Magnus asked.
He shook his head, “Nothing really. Just flashes of things. I was really concerned with getting dirt on the bed? I don’t know why. After that things get hazy.”
“Well, after that you came stumbling out into the living room and blew chunks out of nowhere.” Simon supplied helpfully, “It was like the frat parties I’ve never been to, except way scarier.”
Luke looked like he was barely suppressing a laugh, “Why don’t you go wait at the door to let the others in, Simon?”
“Okay, but didn’t Jace like, live here? I’m pretty sure he could get in himself.” Despite his words, Simon turned around and left the three of them to go man the door.
Once Simon was gone, Alec looked up at Magnus blearily, “I puked?”
“Quite spectacularly, Alexander.” Magnus answered truthfully. He grinned when Alec groaned.
“This is getting blacker, by the way.” Luke cut in. He gestured to the wound.
Magnus’s hand griped Alec’s shoulder tighter when he made a move to twist around to try to see. “That’s what we’re aiming for, Alec. Luke means the poultice, not the wound itself.”
“Yes, sorry.” Luke said, “The black is spreading into the blue.”
A pulse from his wards alerted him to the three figures entering the building. If Simon’s report of ‘like halfway here’ was even slightly accurate they must have really run their hearts out to be here so quickly. But, knowing the dedication the Lightwood siblings had to each other as he did, that sounded about right.
“We’ve got about a minute before your siblings barge in here, Alec.” Magnus warned him, “I imagine we’re both going to get an earful.”
Alec squinted tiredly at him, “Why you?”
“I didn’t call them.” He said simply.
He received a tilt of Alec’s head that said he completely understood. It wasn’t particularly reassuring.
Alec shifted his legs on the bed restlessly, no doubt not enjoying the position he was stuck in. There wasn’t much to do for it though, especially not while the poultice needed to do its thing.
“Other than hot, how do you feel?” Magnus asked.
Alec sighed heavily, “Tired, achey. I want to lay flat.”
“Well, the first two are probably largely because of how high your fever is.” Magnus said. He heard the door to the loft open and braced himself for the invasion. “As for laying flat, I’ll let you know the minute you can but until then you either have to lay on your side or your belly so nothing touches the wound. Do you want to turn onto your stomach instead?”
Alec shook his head, apparently deciding that being stuck on his side was the lesser of two evils.
“Alec?” Jace’s semi-frantic voice called. The other boy burst into the room looking like he had literally rolled out of bed before he had darted out the door. He had a pair of sweatpants on and his leather jacket zipped up over what looked like his bare chest. The pants looked like they had been hastily shoved into his boots and overall, he looked wild-eyed and genuinely freaked out.
Behind him came Clary and Izzy and they only looked a fraction more put together than Jace. Izzy won, merely because it looked like she hadn’t yet gone to bed.
“I’m okay,” Alec looked down the bed at his brother. “Really, Jace, I am.”
Jace sat down in Luke’s quickly vacated spot and bent in close to see the wound. He gently laid his hand on the edges and then hissed, pulling it back worriedly, “You’re burning up, Alec.”
Isabelle came up around Jace’s side and pressed the back of her fingers to Alec’s cheek. Her dark eyes narrowed in concern, “Magnus, he really is hot.”
“Believe it or not, this is actually better.” Magnus tried to say as soothingly as possible. From the look Jace and Izzy shot him, he wasn’t managing it.
“If this is better, how high was his fever before?” Jace sounded distraught and Magnus knew he was probably blaming himself for missing this as much as Magnus was.
Before Magnus could spin a sentence that answered the question well enough without having to give the frightening number, Simon helpfully supplied it from Clary’s side, “104.8! If you could have seen him, you’d believe it.”
Magnus glared at Simon as Jace pulled in a shaky breath. “Thank you for that.”
“What is it now, Magnus?” Isabelle asked worriedly. She perched herself up by Alec’s head and ran her fingers through his hair. Magnus could just imagine her writing up a report, thinking that both her brothers were safely sleeping before Jace burst out of his room freaking out about Alec. She certainly looked like that was what had happened.
He smiled at her as reassuringly as he could, “A full degree down. 103, now. He’s much better, trust me.” He left off the half a degree that went with it.
They certainly didn’t need a full recap of Alec’s delirium and Magnus shot a quick glare to Simon when Izzy’s eyes left his just to emphasize that. The vampire nodded sheepishly.
“If you guys are okay on your own, Simon and I are going to head out to give you some space.” Luke said, like the literal saint he was. Magnus was already mentally preparing the wildly expensive bottle of whiskey he was planning on giving Luke as a thank you for tonight.
“We’re staying.” Jace said immediately and firmly.
Magnus patted Jace’s shoulder with his free hand. “Thank you again, both of you. We’ll be all right from here.”
Luke and Simon smiled at him before turning to Clary so they could talk softly for a moment. Magnus’ attention refocused on Alec, “How are you feeling, darling? Any changes?”
Alec groaned and Magnus was momentarily terrified until he started speaking, “I think I remember why I’m wet and ugh, I’m really sorry Magnus.”
“A quick dip in the tub to keep your fever from rising any higher is not that big a deal, Alec,” He said, brushing away what Alec was actually embarrassed about.
Alec’s eyes met his and he could see the apology still in them. He squeezed Alec’s hand and gave him a soft smile. What was being in love if you couldn’t let that person see you at your worst? Although, Magnus could think of quite a few things worse than crying in the bath.
Crying in the bath, incidentally, had been about half of his early 200s.
Simon and Luke gave them one last wave before they were out the door and Clary came closer to the rest of them. She was wearing just a camisole for bed and her still ichor-stained jeans that she had apparently thrown back on in a rush. Magnus waved his hand and conjured a chair for her and Jace, since Izzy had managed to curl up at the head of the bed, and a throw blanket for Clary to wrap herself in.
“Thanks, Magnus.” Clary said gratefully. She pulled the blanket around her shoulders, “Does anyone need anything?” She said instead of sitting.
Magnus shook his head, as did Jace and Izzy. “No, my dear, please sit. We’ve all had an eventful night.”
“What’s his temp now, Magnus?” Izzy asked once Clary was sitting. She leaned back to see the wound better. Why she needed to when Jace was refusing to sit in an actual chair he was guarding it so closely wasn’t quite clear but Magnus understood all the same. “It doesn’t look any darker? Is that bad? Should we put a fresh layer on?”
Though Magnus rather desperately wanted to check Alec’s fever again, he knew there wouldn’t be much progress and the lack of buffer he had given himself when he told the three of them the last number was only going to make that worse. He rubbed Alec’s shoulder and tried not to look as worried as he felt. “In a little bit, Isabelle. I only took it a few minutes before you all got here.” Then he added partially out of actual curiosity and also to distract them, “What kind of demons where you fighting tonight? I assumed something regular because Alec didn’t tell me when he came in, but this venom is really fighting my magic.”
“We don’t know,” Jace answered. “Clary was going to draw it tomorrow and we were going to research it because we’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Do you want me to start working on it now, Magnus?” Clary sat up straighter, her hands already out from where she had curled them into the blankets as though he was going to pop a pencil and sketch pad into them that very second.
He shook his head, “The morning should be fine, Biscuit. This is working.” Not as quickly as he would have liked but not unexpectedly slowly either. “Just a description to tide me over, perhaps?”
“Huge,” Alec grunted as he shifted restlessly again, “Taller than me. Three of them that worked pretty well together.”
“A hive mentality isn’t uncommon in smaller demons but is a bit rare for the big uglies.” Magnus mused. “Interesting.”
Jace grimaced, “One went down quickly because we got a good blow in at the start. That just pissed the other two off worse.” His eyes seemed to focus on Alec’s wound even harder as he said the words and Magnus knew that it was at that point where Alec had been wounded. That meant that he had fought with an infected wound for the rest of the battle and that helped explain how wide-spread the venom was. His blood had been pumping and the venom had gotten deep into his system.
“They had pretty big eyes.” Clary continued, “They glowed yellow. Alec got an arrow into one, it was that big.”
“Which was lucky because their skin was ridiculously thick,” Izzy added, “Our blades were giving them, like, paper cuts.”
“I can’t say that huge, ugly, thick-skinned with big yellow eyes that work in teams is ringing any bells at the moment, but it will be good to find out more of them when we narrow it down.” Magnus said, “I’d like to be better prepared if there are more of them.”
“You and me both,” Alec mumbled crossly.
Magnus and Izzy shared a fond look, “Once your fever goes down a bit more you can go to sleep, Alexander. Until then, try and stay awake?”
“I’m not that tired.” Alec protested. He shifted and, before Magnus could stop him, he turned onto his belly so he could see everyone easier. Alec gave no outward signs that the movement had flared up any pain but Jace made a frustrated sound and rubbed his hand over Alec’s back like he was trying to comfort his brother through something.
“You couldn’t have let us help?” Izzy sounded genuinely annoyed, “You’re roasting, Alec, and fevers take up a lot of energy. Go easy on yourself, please?”
Alec seemed particularly petulant about that, as he usually did when someone asked something like that of him, but he reached his hand up to tangle his fingers with Izzy’s, “I feel okay, but sure, roll me around if you want.”
Now that Alec was on his back, Magnus could see his wound better. He leaned in and saw the center was the black and from there the blue was just a bit darker. He made a displeased noise.
“What?” Jace asked instantly. He had, Magnus realized a few seconds too late, been watching him with intent eyes, waiting to see what Magnus thought.
He gently swiped his finger over the edge of the poultice and found it had changed to an almost dried clay consistency. “I was hoping it would be blacker.”
“Hoping or expecting?” Clary asked from her chair.
“Alec,” Magnus sat up straight again and rested a hand on Alec’s hip where the blankets were slung low, “I need you to be serious with me. Do you feel any better?”
Alec started to make a motion like he was going to shrug before Jace pressed down harder on his shoulder and Alec froze. “A bit,” He answered slowly, “It aches but it doesn’t sting as bad.”
“The stinging was the poultice.” Magnus wasn’t pleased with the report. “This venom is damned stubborn.”
If Alec was feeling markedly better then the lack of stinging might have been attributed to the poultice’s work being almost done. That he wasn’t said quite the opposite. The poultice’s effectiveness might have run out.
Magnus snapped his fingers and sighed as a wet washcloth appeared.
“Magnus, talk.” Izzy demanded.
He gently started swiping over the poultice and clearing it away so he could see the wound, “I think we’re going to have to change our game-plan.” Magnus admitted, “I can tell just by touching your skin that your fever isn’t much better and you say you don’t feel any improvement besides the lack of stinging. It should still sting, at this point.”
As the wound slowly came back into view, Jace and Magnus, closest to it, traded equally upset looks.
Clary leaned in, “Does it look, um, any better?” She asked quietly. Her face was twisted in a way that spoke volumes about how the wound currently looked.
“Believe it or not, yes, it does.” Magnus said absently. He wasn’t lying to spare them, either. It did look better.
It just also looked horribly infected.
“That’s better?” Jace asked with horror dripping from his disgusted voice. “By the Angel, what did it look like before?”
Alec’s little wound looked less blackened but it also looked more swollen. The edges of it had puffed up and the skin looked downright angry. There was a little blackened blood welling up in the center of the split skin. The effect made the wound look bigger than it had before and Magnus wasn’t entirely sure if it was just his perception or if his magic’s attempt to heal it had literally pulled it open wider.
“Stay still, big brother.” Izzy chastised her brother.
Magnus realized that Alec was moving again, trying to twist around to see his back. He had already done it a few times and he seemed more determined than ever. Magnus waved his hand and pulled up a little floating reflection in front of Alec’s face so that he could see what the wound looked like.
“Oh,” Alec said softly, “Yeah, that looks about how it feels.” And thankfully he settled back down onto the bed.
“Biscuit, could you run into my workshop and grab the cauldron I left on the table? There’s still a little of the poultice left in it.” Magnus requested. “It shouldn’t be too hot to touch.”
Clary jumped up and went running, her blanket streaming behind her like a cape.
Jace was still staring at the wound but he managed to pull his eyes away to look at Magnus, “Is that going to do anything? I mean, it stopped working.”
“It won’t hurt to put on a fresh application and see what else it can manage while I cook up something else.” Magnus tried to sound surer than he felt. At the very least, he reminded himself, it was managing Alec’s fever. Even if it wasn’t doing a world of good in terms of getting the venom out, it was still doing a decent job at keeping Alec from fever induced seizures.
Clary came rushing back into the room with the pot of leftover poultice. “Here, Magnus.”
“Thank you,” He said as he took it from her. He dipped a finger into it and found it much cooler. There was enough left for a light covering. It was better than nothing, at least. He scooped some out onto his fingers, “This might ramp that stinging back up, darling.” He warned Alec.
“Just do it.” Alec answered.
Again, Magnus had to harden his heart as he applied the poultice right into the wound. All the muscles in Alec’s back tensed visibly and Magnus could hear the soft noise he made before he seemed to manage to quiet himself. It was just as hard this time as when Alec had been crying and fighting against him, despite how incredibly different his reactions were. Or maybe it was because of that? Alec was so not himself before and seeing him like that when he never had before was horrible. Now, though, this stoic pain that Alec was trying to silently bear, that was his Shadowhunter and it hurt just as badly.
The best thing he could do for Alec was to get it done as quickly as possible. He coated the wound quickly and scraped his fingers against the sides of his cauldron hoping to get every last speck of it out and onto Alec’s skin.
All the while Jace and Izzy spoke softly to their brother and Clary stood between Jace and Magnus, a hand on each of their shoulders. Everyone trying to support everyone, as best they could.
Once the wound was covered again, Magnus stood as was surprised when Izzy did as well. “I’ll help you.” She said simply. He had expected Clary, maybe, even though Isabelle had more medical background than the redhead.
Magnus flicked his fingers and they were suddenly clean. “All right.” He agreed. If she needed to do something actively then he was happy to give it to her. Jace wouldn’t be torn from his brother’s side, that much was obvious. He felt better about leaving the two of them together with Clary to watch over them than he had before, although that was no slight on Luke. Alec wouldn’t be able to hide anything from Jace even if he couldn’t articulate how he felt or, the more likely option now that Alec was more himself, that he wouldn’t tell the truth.
“Shout if you need us.” Izzy patted the top of Jace’s messy hair as she went past before curling a hand around Magnus’ bicep to get him moving. She pulled him out of the room impatiently but he didn’t mind.
Once they were out of earshot from the bedroom, Izzy seemed to sag. “Tell me what you really think about how the poultice stopped working.”
He shut the door to his workshop halfway to cut down on the chance of their conversation carrying but not so far that he would be able to hear if one of them called for him. “It’s disheartening but not catastrophic, Izzy. I promise.”
“I’m trying to remember that changing up a medication isn’t a big deal but it’s Alec so it’s hard.” She let out a shaky breath to try to center herself.
Magnus walked around to stand in front of his main wall of ingredients and waved his hand so the jars that had already been used went back into their spots so he could see everything altogether. “If these demons are unknown to us then it’s likely because they’re somehow fresh from Edom.”
Izzy came to stand at his side and stare at the wall as if she had much idea what each ingredient’s properties were. If Magnus had to have a Shadowhunter help him choose potion ingredients he would pick Alec because between living with Magnus and playfully being quizzed by Madzie occasionally, Alec was slowly learning. Still, he appreciated Izzy by his side all the same. “Okay, so you think their strong connection to Edom is what’s making their venom so resistant to the usual methods?”
“Exactly. For round one I chose things that were one, good for bringing down a fever, and two, good against most venoms. This is going to have to be a little more specific.” Magnus said, “What the four of you described doesn’t ring any immediate bells, so I’m going to have to guess again.”
“An educated guess is better than nothing,” Izzy reassured him.
That was true but they also didn’t have days upon days to figure this out. Eventually the venom was going to spread too far or weaken Alec beyond what he could endure.
He pushed those thoughts away. They weren’t helping.
He grabbed the dried basil again, for Alec’s fever. Then the astragalus root for the infection. “If these things are tied to Hell, how about a little bit of angel’s root?” He muttered. He sent the angelica root extract down onto the table as well.
“We have a root?” Izzy asked as she picked up the little dropper bottle.
“Old nickname for it,” Magnus said, “They should really teach at least some herbwork to you lot.”
Izzy flashed him a tired smile, “That’s what we have warlocks for.”
Magnus rolled his eyes and dropped some moss from the Fae lands down onto the table.
“You’re going to put moss into Alec’s wound?” Izzy’s nose wrinkled.
He nodded and quickly pulled out a little patch of it and enchanted one of his knives to start dicing it up finely. “It’ll balance things out. Very grounding.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Izzy said as she set down the angelica.
Magnus grabbed the last ingredient and tried not to second guess himself. The last poultice he had made was a standard recipe. This one was a bit more made up but he was apparently going to have to be creative. The holy water was going to be painful for Alec but hopefully it would do the trick better than last time.
He looked over the minced moss and set it in a little crystal dish. “Izzy, could you count out seven drops of the angelica root onto the moss while I get the rest of this going?”
“In one spot or all over?” Izzy planted her feet in front of the ingredients firmly as though they were demons she needed to slay.
He started shredding the astragalus, “Get as much of it soaked as you can.”
She nodded and started counting out the drips precisely and Magnus had to smile at the sight of it. Occasionally Raphael had done little tasks for him during potion making but other than that, it had always been a solitary or warlock-only activity. Even Alec didn’t mess with his potions or even with him while he was making them, although that was probably because Magnus had once gotten distracted by him post-workout and had nearly scorched the room. That was apparently enough to put Alec off from interrupting his work for good.
Now, in one day, he had been aided by both Simon and Isabelle. It was new and interesting, to say the least.
He mixed up the holy water, astragalus and basil before pulling his own magic into a dark red ball and essentially shoving it in the bowl. The ingredients glowed for a moment while Magnus cast his spell and Isabelle studiously ignored him in favor of her moss.
“All set,” She said after a few seconds. She held out the crystal dish of mossy sludge sort of like Chairman Meow did when he presented Magnus with a fresh mouse corpse.
This, however, Magnus was much more grateful to receive.
He poured it in and stirred it up. Now for the final bit. “I’m not sure how your brother will feel about this so let’s not tell him right now, yes?” Magnus asked her.
She looked confused until Magnus held a blade to his thumb.
“Powerful connect to Edom versus powerful connection to Edom, with a little angelic help thrown in.” Isabelle realized out loud. “I’ll let you tell him whenever you want.”
He appreciated her discretion. He pressed the point of the blade into his finger until it started welling blood, then he squeezed it until four drops of his own blood mixed into the green mess below.
“It was bad before, wasn’t it?” Izzy asked solemnly as she watched Magnus work.
He didn’t meet her eyes merely because he didn’t want her to see the amped up fear. “It was. He was… not himself.”
“Jace wasn’t making any sense. I had just finished writing up my report from the mission when he came almost falling out of his room, half dressed, with Clary still blinking in bed.” Izzy said, “I ran to him and tried to get him to explain and he just kept repeating that Alec was hot.”
“Well, he certainly is that.” Magnus gave her a small smile.
She laughed tiredly, “True but not what he meant. Total honesty? I thought somehow a fire had broken out in the loft and Alec was being burned alive or something. That was how freaked out Jace was at first.”
“I suppose being exhausted after a battle and then waking up from a dead sleep doesn’t lend to coherency much.” Magnus could understand why Jace panicked quite so hard if he wasn’t even fully awake before he made it out into the hall to Isabelle.
“Exactly.” Izzy agreed, “By the time I got him to put on a jacket and try actually calling Alec, he was explaining better.”
Magnus kept up stirring everything together to get it blended as best he could considering how thick it was. “No wonder the three of you look like you’ve been through the wringer.”
“Like you look better, Mr. Smudged Eyeliner.” Izzy teased.
“I’m going to ignore you out of love, Isabelle Lightwood.” Magnus sniffed. He grabbed the bowl of poultice and instantly the two of them sobered up. “Let’s go check on your brothers.”
Silently, they headed back to Alec and if Magnus’ steps got a little faster the closer they got that was okay because Izzy was nearly sprinting alongside him.
Jace had moved up by Alec’s head and Magnus was struck by the sight of Jace’s arm extended out under Alec to pillow his brother’s head and the way they had their foreheads pressed together. Clary had pulled her chair closer to Alec’s wound so she could keep an eye on it but otherwise seemed to be leaving the parabatai to deal in their own way.
When the two of them entered the room, Jace’s eyes made contact with Magnus’ and instantly he knew that nothing had gotten better in the ten minutes he had been gone. Not the fever, not the pain and not the wound.
He sat down on the bed at Alec’s side, his hip pressed to Alec’s blanket-covered thigh. “We’re going to try something different, Alec, all right?”
“Okay,” Alec said through grit teeth. The stinging was clearly still in full force.
Again, Magnus conjured up a damp cloth to wipe away the failed poultice that was just as blue as it had been when had first applied it. He banished the whole mess away and found the wound to look exactly the same as the last time he had checked it. He scooped out some of the green mixture, this one runnier than the last and strangely cool against his fingers. “This isn’t going to feel better than the last one.” He warned Alec.
Jace nodded for the both of them and Magnus took it as his cue to spread the poultice over the wound.
Instantly, Alec’s back arched as he tried to get away from it. Izzy hopped onto the bed quickly so she could press her hands on Alec’s back to try to keep him still.
“Magnus!” Alec shouted. “Shit, shit…”
Jace curled his forearm around to keep himself pressed to Alec, “Facilis descensus averno…” He whispered to Alec, “Facilis descensus averno…”
Alec groaned before his voice picked up the rhythm of Jace’s words so they were both whispering the words together.
He knew what they were saying, of course. He spoke Latin perfectly well but Alec had also told him about his and Jace’s method for withstanding pain and Magnus had been slightly horrified that two teenagers had decided on that themselves, that they had even needed to. Now here they were, chanting it together because of something that Magnus was doing.
He was helping Alec, he knew that, but it still hurt.
Once the wound was covered in a thick coat, Magnus conjured some gauze to lay over the poultice to keep it in place. He set the bowl aside, thankful that he had made enough for two thick applications if he needed it. He hoped they didn’t, though. This would be the third attempt Magnus had made with a poultice, fourth altogether if he counted his attempt to heal the wound with his magic back in the bath. That had only been about two hours ago but it felt like a lifetime.
“If he’s in that much pain, hopefully that means it’s doing something.” Izzy said as she watched her brothers.
Clary sat up straighter in her seat, uncurling enough to lean in close to Magnus, “How long do you think this one will take?”
“At this point I don’t really know,” Magnus admitted regretfully. “If I’ve healed a wound from this demon before, it’s been so long I’ve forgotten.”
Hearing Jace’s voice enter the conversation was a little surprising. Magnus had thought he would be chanting with Alec for at least a little bit longer. Still, his voice was rough but the words were welcome, “It feels different this time.”
“Compared to the first poultice?” Isabelle asked immediately. She and Jace locked eyes in the way that the three Lightwood siblings did when two were desperately worried about the third. Magnus had seen it in all possible combinations. They managed to communicate so much in a look – pain levels and exhaustion and symptoms. It was incredible and depressing. They were too young to have a silent language of pain.
Jace glanced between her and Alec, monitoring some expression on his parabatai’s face that Magnus couldn’t see at his angle. “Yeah, stronger definitely. It feels more right, though. I… I can’t explain better?”
“That’s all right,” Magnus reassured him, “Alec will when he feels ready. Until then, it’s good to know that we might be on the right track.”
Magnus tried to let the hope overpower the fear.
Please, please let us be on the right track.
Thank you so much for all the comments and kudos for the last chapter, I really appreciate it! I hope everyone enjoyed this one and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
More to come!
Magnus sat on the bed beside Alec, propped against his formally ornately carved wooden headboard that had been replaced with a plush, upholstered one over an hour ago to spare his aching back. The sun had started to rise, bringing new light to the otherwise dim room. He had turned down the lights about a half an hour after he had applied the poultice to Alec’s wound in the hopes that it would be both soothing and restful to whoever needed it – which was all of them, honestly.
He surveyed the room with tired eyes. Clary and Izzy were curled up together in the armchair he had conjured up hours ago. Jace had refused to get up off the floor but hadn’t protested when Clary had wrapped a blanket around his shoulders. Now he was asleep with his head leaning against the side of the bed.
Alec too had finally managed to fall asleep just after Jace had. Magnus wasn’t sure if that was just him holding out until he knew his siblings were okay before promptly passing out or if Jace’s end of the bond radiating sleepy vibes had something to do with it. Both, maybe.
For his part, Magnus was used to far more than one sleepless night. He was tired, but that was mostly because of the fear and worry.
He kept one hand on Alec’s shoulder at all times, both to reassure himself and to monitor his temperature. He had taken it once, about halfway through this horrific wait, and had found it hovering around 101.
Since then, he was pretty sure it had gone down even further. Soon, he would wipe away the poultice and check Alec’s wound again, hopefully for the last time. Well, he allowed himself, maybe not the last time. He was pretty sure that even when Alec was fully healed he would keep checking his back for at least a week.
He shifted just a little in his spot, restless as they approached the three hour mark that he had designated as the time to check Alec’s wound again. What if the wound was no better? What if Alec’s sleep had turned to unconsciousness and he hadn’t noticed?
Magnus pulled in a deep breath and let it out slowly before he could really work himself up.
Alec’s fever was probably almost entirely gone, his body was relaxed and every once and a while something interesting must be happening in his dreams because he kept scrunching his face up adorably.
He was okay.
Maybe not one hundred percent, Magnus allowed, but under no circumstances was he going into the Institute tomorrow so Magnus would be free to keep an eye on him and force his stubborn Shadowhunter into resting and taking it easy. By this time tomorrow morning Alec would hopefully be back to his usual self, chomping at the bit to go back to work.
A sudden pulse of a phone’s vibration startled him out of his thoughts. The noise had clearly come from Isabelle because she jerked in her sleep and grabbed her phone to silence it before it woke Clary.
“Alarm,” She said as she rubbed her hand over her eyes. “You said three hours, right?”
“Isabelle,” Magnus whispered fondly, “You didn’t need to wake up to watch me clean muck off of your brother’s back.”
Izzy dropped her hand and glared at him but the effect was softened by the way she was squinting at him with one eye, “Under no circumstances was I sleeping through checking if there was still venom coursing through my big brother’s veins, Magnus.”
“Well,” He winked at her, “When you put it that way.”
Isabelle untangled herself from the blankets and Clary and stood up to stretch. “How’s his fever?”
“Down quite a bit.” Magnus reported, “I’ll take it soon, I just didn’t want to wake him.”
She nodded in agreement and bent to stare at the gauze covered wound. Her hands gently framed the space and she smiled up at him, “He feels cooler.”
Magnus carefully shifted onto his knees further down the bed before pausing and looking back at Alec. He waited a beat but his boy was still deeply under. “He does, which is the only thing that’s been keeping me from going out of my mind.”
“Don’t think you’re not taking a break after we check on this.” Izzy warned, “I took a nap and after we see where we are with this, you’re taking one too.”
“If he’s better, perhaps.” Magnus hedged. Honestly, he didn’t even want a nap if Alec’s wound was cleared and healed. He knew from experience that he would be too keyed up with leftover anxiety for hours yet. Most likely he would curl up with Alec for a sleep sometime late afternoon.
Izzy didn’t seem impressed with his answer but she didn’t argue. Bad enough they were bent whispering over Alec’s back, they didn’t need to get into a full argument. He could just imagine one of the others waking up to find them literally hissing at each other.
Magnus gently slid a finger under the edge of the gauze and started slowly peeling it away. Once he had it up he vanished it away with a flick of his wrist and conjured yet another washcloth in the same movement. He felt like half of the night had been comprised of damp towels.
“I still can’t believe you smeared moss all over Alec’s back.” Izzy whispered to him.
Magnus flashed her a quick grin, “Warlocks are kinky like that.”
Izzy let out a half-aborted snort and shoved his arm, just a little. “Careful, that’s my brother you’re talking about.”
As if he could forget. The two of them sobered up as moment of truth stared them in the face. He took a deep, steadying breath and gently swiped the cloth over the center of the wound, unwilling to delay any longer.
Little bits of green remained but they were the only parts that were green. Magnus let out a sigh of relief as Alec’s wound was revealed.
It looked so much better.
No more black, no more green, no more pus or blood. The edges of it were still a little swollen but that was just because of all that had happened to it over the evening. Magnus finished cleaning the area up and held his other hand over the wound. Blue curls of magic hovered over the Alec’s skin, assessing and finally finding Alec’s wound ready for healing.
Izzy watched him do his thing. “No venom?” She asked to confirm.
Magnus shook his head, something in his stomach finally relaxing as he watched the wound fade until it was only a fresh pink scar. “No, he’s finally okay.”
“Thanks to you.”
Magnus gasped in surprise and looked up to find Alec’s sleepy smile. “You’re awake!”
“Hmm,” Alec hummed to agree, “When my boyfriend and my sister start talking about kinky things an alarm goes off in my brain.”
“Magnus and Izzy are what?” Jace mumbled with his eyes still closed.
Izzy rolled her eyes at her brother, “What do you have an alarm in your brain for when Magnus and I start saying the word kinky too, Jace?”
Jace opened his eyes and scrunched his nose up in disgust, “No way. And if I did it would only be so I could run far away.”
“Okay, that’s enough of that.” Alec laughed. He slowly turned himself around so he was laying on his back. He sighed in clear pleasure, “Oh, this shouldn’t feel so good but it does.”
Magnus grabbed the thermometer from the crumpled covers and held it out to Alec, “While you bask in the joy of laying on your back again, please humor me and do this one more time.”
There was a little bit of a mutinous expression on Alec’s face but Magnus held his gaze pleadingly and Alec almost immediately relented and held his hand out to take the thermometer from Magnus to press the little button and pop it under his tongue. “Only because you saved my life.” He mumbled.
“Hey,” Izzy said, “I made the moss goo!”
“Gee thanks,” Alec said around the thermometer.
Magnus shushed him, “Stop talking or you’re going to have to do that again.”
They heard a yawn from behind and Magnus turned to find Clary stretching herself awake. “What did I miss?”
“Alec is better.” Izzy beamed, “Magnus just healed his wound.”
Clary smiled and reached out a hand to Jace. Finally, Alec’s parabatai was willing to get off the floor. The blonde stood and did his own stretch, bones audibly popping back into place. Then he sat down beside Clary, the two of them shifting until the redhead was perched sleepily in his lap.
The thermometer beeped and Alec didn’t even bother looking at it before he handed it off to Magnus. With a sigh of bone deep relief, Magnus read off the number, “98.9, perfectly normal.”
“Debatable,” Jace joked.
Alec laughed but the sound was audibly exhausted. It was time for everyone to get some real rest.
“All right, Shadowhunters. I’ve got fresh sheets in the guest rooms, go get some rest.” Magnus said.
“Not me,” Izzy said, “I’ll head back to the Institute and check on things there before I go to sleep. Jace and Clary should stay, though.”
“Are you sure?” Clary asked, “I just got some sleep while we waited, I could come with.”
Izzy shook her head and reached out to kick Jace in the leg gently, “If you go, who will make sure Jace actually gets in the bed?”
Jace didn’t bother to protest, he just tipped his head back against the chair. Clary and Izzy traded looks and the decision was apparently made. Magnus took the opportunity to send a wave of magic into his guest room to freshen up the sheets so he wouldn’t be a liar.
Isabelle stood and walked over to Alec and Magnus. She kissed each of them on the cheek, “Behave for Magnus, Alec. If you step foot in the Institute before tomorrow I’ll lock you out of your office.
Her threat was well received by Magnus but less so by Alec. He glowered at his sister grumpily but that only made her laugh at him. To be fair to Isabelle, Alec didn’t look like he could take down a kitten let alone a determined badass of a sister.
“Just agree, love. I won’t let you out of this loft until then anyway.”
“Mutiny,” Alec rolled his eyes, “Fine, but call me if you need me, okay? I really do feel better.”
“Oh yeah, you look fit for battle.” Izzy laughed. She turned to Clary and Jace and nudged Jace back into opening his eyes, “Come on, don’t make Clary and I drag you to bed.”
The two girls herded Jace from the room and Alec watched them go with something unbearably fond in his eyes. It made Magnus feel slightly bad that he hadn’t called them himself but his intentions had been good so hopefully that evened it out.
“Magnus,” Alec said softly, calling the warlock’s attention back to him.
With a wave of Magnus’ fingers, the door to their bedroom slid shut. “Yes, Alexander?”
“Thank you, seriously.” Alec reached out and tangled their fingers together, “I’m sorry that you had to do all of that.”
Magnus slid down onto his side so he laid alongside Alec, “You never have to thank me for healing you, darling. It’s entirely self-serving. I would be lost without you, so it really is in my best interests to keep you in one piece. I would like it if you were at least a little helpful in that goal but I’ll take what I can get.” His words were aimed teasingly but Magnus realized immediately that the last bit had fallen a little bit flat for the both of them.
“I didn’t realize the wound was poisoned, I promise. I thought the rune Jace drew would be enough.” Alec promised earnestly.
“I know, Alec,” Magnus soothed him regretfully, “I didn’t mean to imply this was your fault. That wound was so small and the venom was so slow-acting for all that it was incredibly tenacious.”
Alec squeezed his fingers, “When we finished with the demons, I was so tired but I thought that was just because I’ve been doing more patrols lately. That it had just caught up with me.”
“Well, I hope you’re hearing yourself. You’re running yourself so ragged you’re confusing being tired with being infected by demon venom.” Magnus pointed out.
Not even a workaholic like Alec could spin that to make it sound less awful. “I’ll try harder to balance things better, I promise.”
And he probably would for a little while. A month or two if Magnus was really lucky. Then things would get crazy, or rather crazier, and the first thing that Alec would drop by the wayside to compensate would be his own wellbeing.
That was where he would have to step in. Perhaps it was time to start pushing a little harder, or maybe recruiting Alec’s siblings. That was a worry for another day, though, not tonight when Alec was finally healed. “I’ll hold you to that, Alexander. Would you be willing to put it in writing?”
Alec laughed softly. His eyelids were already drooping, his lashes were brushing against the dark circles under his eyes. “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. What happens if I break the contract?”
“We have to go on vacation. Four days minimum, more days added depending on the severity of your transgression.” Magnus said instantly. He pressed a kiss to Alec’s runed neck. “I get to pick the location, of course.”
“Oh, of course.” Alec agreed sleepily. “Is that supposed to discourage me?”
Magnus couldn’t help but scoff, “Big words from the only person in this relationship holding us back from vacations. I could be ready to go anytime, any day, with five minutes’ notice. You’re the one keeping us from lying naked on a warm beach somewhere, Alexander.”
Alec’s eyes finally lost the battle and shut but he was still smiling, “I’m awful, I know. How dare I let the safety of the entire New York Shadow World keep us from nudist beaches?”
“There’s a happy medium to be had, Alec.” Magnus reminded gently. He rubbed his hand over Alec’s bare side, “For now, just think about how nice it would be to stretch out on warm sand, listening to the waves…”
“Getting sand places it shouldn’t be.” Alec added.
“And taking very thorough showers together,” Magnus finished. “We must start planning something.”
With the last bit of wakefulness that Alec had, he squeezed Magnus’ fingers tighter and nearly whispered, “Whatever you want.”
Magnus watched his expression smooth out and his breathing go even, finally in a true restful sleep. He waved both their phones over so he could silence them and cancel any alarms because Alec was absolutely going to sleep until he was ready to wake up. With that done, he laid his head down on Alec’s shoulder and wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling him in tight.
“Only you, darling, I only want you.”
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