"To hold the pieces together..."
The air blew crisp and cold, its touch resembling the one of a rough, callused hand, as it swirled around Alec’s tall, yet rigid frame. Dusk had fallen over and the lights of the majestic New York city could be seen in the distance, small beacons which tore the dark veils the night had thrown over the tall buildings. Yes, the premium balcony of the Institute had many privileges. A heater, built-in the tiled floor, thick glass windows which were meant to protect whoever was standing there from the swaying winds. Additionally, if one was to slide the doors closed, then the balcony could be completely isolated from the rest of the Institute. It was seemingly the best place for what Alec had planned. A marriage proposal. The thought swirled like a maddened wolf in the hallways of Alec’s mind, causing him to be jittery and nervous all day long.
Jace, Izzy and Clary had all offered a helping hand with the dinner, but Alec had not missed the warring glances the trio had been exchanging throughout the day. They were all on edge, avoiding to answer his questions regarding where they had been the day prior, when he had taken a leave of absence to tend to Magnus’ needs. “Is there something you are not telling me?” Alec demanded of Jace as they watched the arch chef carrying various plates on the large table which had been positioned in the middle of the balcony. The blond man remained silent, his face expressionless. “No, no Alec. Everything is under control.” He eventually offered, his tone even. He placed a comforting hand on Alec’s shoulder as he cracked up a small smile. “Everything will go as planned.” He continued, frowning when Alec knitted his eyebrows. “Last time we ate at the Institute things did not end up well.” Jace exhaled knowingly, remembering that one time Alec had lied to Magnus about the Soul- Sword.
“Jace?” The blond man halted by the sliding door, glancing over his shoulder at Alec, who was still standing by the table. “If Magnus says yes—” Jace huffed. “Correction. ‘When’ Magnus says yes…” Alec rolled his eyes at the words. “Will you… Will you be the one to give me away?” The blond man felt a twinkle of pain in his heart. “Of course brother. Of course.” He replied slowly, drowning the wish to speak to Alec about Lilith’s escape. With a nod, Alec waved Jace off, moving to light up the candles and fill the glasses with red wine. A fine linen cloth was covering the table, protecting the dark brown beechwood from being drenched in wine or being spilled by food substances. Alec swallowed hard as his ears picked up the light thuds of Magnus’ steps. He straightened his back, turning on his heels to meet Magnus’ gaze.
There he was; Standing by the threshold, dressed in the finest dark red cotton tuxedo shirt and black trousers which were gracefully embracing his hipbones, then falling over his thighs and calves, all the way down to his ankles. The seams were almost invisible; an indication showcasing Magnus had paid a lot of money for that piece of clothing. “Seeing something you like?” Joked Magnus, drawing Alec’s attention back to his upper body and face. Alec licked his lips, mesmerized by the dark crimson velvet jacket which was topping the shirt. The cufflinks were small, yet seemed handmade, bringing together both sides of the jacket, shining under the dim lights. Alec blew out a breath when his eyes reached the man’s face. Yet, this breath was not driven by awe, but by heartache. Magnus’ face was sheer perfection. Covered in a soft layer of makeup, eyes coated in eyeshadow and rounded by a thin line of eyeliner.
A perfect sculpture. A perfect mask.
“Alexander? Could I ever take the credit for rendering you speechless?” Alec smiled shyly, walking toward Magnus. “Yes, you actually can.” Taking Magnus’ face in his hands as though it would break, Alec ever so slowly caressed his cheekbones, wishing to take off the makeup. Wishing to kiss away the eyeliner, which was meant to not only offer Magnus the camouflaging abilities of the tiger, but also to bar the way of the tears which were lingering in his eyes. Those wonderful eyes… They were now drowning in sadness. “Alexander?” Magnus questioned softly, causing the archer to blink. “Come on, let us eat.” Alec offered, waving toward the table, whilst sliding the doors which connected the balcony to the Institute close. From the corner of his eye, he caught Isabelle and Clary giving him a thumbs up. He smiled nervously, and then they were lost behind the closed door.
Alec sat across from Magnus, watching his facial expressions as he tasted the food, paying special attention to the man when he dove his spoon into the bowl which contained what seemed to be beef soup. When Alec had pleaded the chef for an Indonesian recipe, the man had waved his hands in dismay, saying he would try his best to prepare a beef soup, but making no promises it would be anywhere near the original one. “That is meant to be Soto Betawi but…” Alec’s voice trailed off and his eyebrows arched when Magnus hummed in delight. “Sangat lezat…” Magnus muttered, smiling when Alec gazed at him with those eyes of, his flying open. “It’s delicious, darling.” Magnus offered kindly, the image of Alec smiling widely almost enough to drive his inner sadness away.
They ate and drunk in silence for the most part, enjoying the splendid night. Yet, Alec could see Magnus was not really present. His soul was scattered all over the place, and the black strings of eyeliner were trying to hold him together. Magnus moved as though his limbs were attached to a puppeteer’s strings. His body was just a shell… Alec’s heart broke at the sight that only a few could actually witness. Only those who knew Magnus well. “You mind telling me why you went into all this trouble, and why you obliged the arch chef to try and make Indonesian food?” Magnus poked as he eyed Alec fondly, speaking for the first time in a long while.
“I didn’t oblige him! I pleaded with him.” Alec replied to his defense, knowing he had indeed almost begged the chef to try making the soup. Magnus’ lips turned upwards ever so slightly. “You do not have to resort to pleading for me, Alexander.” Magnus’ voice was laced with sadness, his gaze laden with guilt. Lorenzo occupied the Warlock’s thoughts for a second, but Alec refused to let the egomaniacal piece of garbage ruin the night. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, Magnus.” Alec pointed out in all seriousness, as he emptied his glass of every drop of wine it contained, before getting up and around the table.
The archer stood at his full height before sliding down, sitting on his heels in between Magnus’ spread knees. There wasn’t anything sexual about the act, as Magnus could sense how nervous Alec was. “What is it, Alec?” Magnus questioned, voice now wavering ever so slightly. Alec wasn’t certain If the ghost of Camille’s figure passed before Magnus’ eyes, muttering words about an inevitable separation, but the mere thought caused him to shiver. He gazed upwards at Magnus, licking his lips. “Magnus… Magnus relax. It’s nothing bad. O-o-or so I want to believe.” Alec placed his palm on Magnus’ knee, feeling the muscles tensing.
“Alec, why are you stuttering?” The archer bit his lip at the repetitive sound of the shortened version of his name. “Magnus, I promise you. Breaking up with you is not what I want to talk about. I—“ Alec blew out a long lament, gathering up his courage. “I know—No.” Alec cut himself off, body shivering. “No, I do not know.” “Alec, whatever this is—” “I do not know what it feels like. To lose a part of yourself. To feel vulnerable, open to all kinds of assaults. To ask for help from the one man who wishes to humiliate you. To lose the place you call home. I do not know what it feels like to look in the mirror and no longer recognize the image staring back at you.” Alec paused, feeling Magnus had gone rigid under his touch. Their eyes met and Alec could pinpoint the telltale second during which Magnus realized Alec had seen the Warlock looking at himself in the mirror, hating what was trapped in the glass. “You thought I wasn’t looking.” Alec said, somewhat brokenly.
“I wished for you not to.” Magnus spoke for the first time in a while. “I didn’t want you to see… This.” He uttered, gesturing towards his hunched frame. Alec took Magnus’ hands in his own. The cold rings dug deep into his callused palms, but Alec paid no mind. “I know this morning I said you’re back to your old self. What I meant by that phrase, was that you are back on your feet. You no longer lie still on a scratchy hospital bed, hooked onto wires and machines of all kinds so as to stay alive.” The words tasted sour in Alec’s mouth, and the archer had to blink the image away. A trembling breath escaped his lips, and Magnus could swear he could almost see the pain it bore with it.
“Magnus when you were lying on that bed, I brought Izzy’s cosmetics and removed your make up from your face.” Magnus narrowed his eyes at Alec’s sudden confession. “Do you know what I saw? I saw the same face of the man I love. Plain and pale. Then I removed the eyeshadow.” Alec uttered, swallowing hard. “Only your eyes remained closed. Unable to see how much I needed you to stay with me.” Alec moved his hands, fingertips ghosting over Magnus’ eyes. “Then I removed the rest of the makeup. Brushing my fingers over your lips as I moved.” Alec continued, repeating the movements once more. “Yet your lips didn’t move. They were unable to utter my name.” Such was the ache those words were bearing that Magnus felt his body starting to shake. Alas, he couldn’t bring himself to speak.
“I know magic is important to you. And for you, it is worth dying for.” Alec continued, uttering aloud the words Magnus could not. “I may not know what it feels like to be absent of it. But I know you need it.” Magnus looked down at Alec, face sad, overrun with guilt. “I need you too.” Magnus dragged the whispers out brokenly. “That’s what I have been trying to tell you. You have me, Magnus. You will always have me.” Alec nearly begged, snuggling closer to Magnus’ body, cupping the Warlock’s face with his hands. Magnus needed a moment to understand the notion. Alec was desperately trying to keep the pieces together.
“I do not care if you have magic or not. If you can portal us to Paris or not. I do not care whether you live in a loft or a small cottage. I do not care if you bear a title or not. All I care about, is seeing you healthy and happy. All I want is to be able to witness your smile, to be able to hold your hand. To be able to make plans with you about the future. Everything else can, and will be fixed.” Magnus could feel tears gathering up in the corners of his eyes. The unspoken promise that Alec would go the ends of the world to get Magnus his magic back was now hanging over their heads. “I am not worthy of such words.” Magnus replied bitterly. “You are worthy of everything I can give you and then so much more.” Alec emphasized, withdrawing his hands from Magnus’ face to reach into his pocket. “But for now, all I can give you…” Alec breathed, bringing forth a small round box, “Is this.” A short popping sound cut the air as Alec opened the box, revealing a ring with the sigil of the Lightwood family at the center.
Magnus stilled, eyeing the shiny family heirloom which Alec had brought before his eyes. “I’ve heard marriage is a wonderful institution.” Alec spoke, causing Magnus to place his palm over his mouth to stop a sob from emerging. “Not that I would know of.” Alec continued, swallowing down a sob of his own. “But I am willing to get to know it now. All of it. With you. Whether you have magic or not, whether you own the loft or not… Whether you are immortal or not… I want you in my life.” Magnus had forgotten how to breathe. “So, Magnus Bane… Will you honor me, Alexander Lightwood, by marrying me?” Alec managed to ask, Adam apple popping as he spoke.
Magnus let his hands fall from his mouth to his sides, thankful that he was seated, knowing that his legs would have betrayed him by now. His mouth was left ajar yet no words seemed able to escape. “M-Magnus?” The Nephilim blurted out. “How can you say those things?” Magnus muttered shakily. “I am but a mortal man…” Alec shook his head. “And by being just a mortal man, you’ve proven you are so much more.” Magnus refused to let the tears fall.
"I am broken.” Magnus said, ashamed.
“You are not. But if you feel like it, then I will not argue.” Alec’s heart ached at the admission. “But maybe this can contain the pieces.” He continued, eyeing at the ring he was still holding. “This is the only way I have of showing you I want you with me. It is the only way I can think of to make you happy. Whether you are whole, or trying to pick up the pieces. I will stand by you. I will wait for you. And if you want me to… I will help you gather up those shards.” Alec paused, shoulders slumping as Magnus remained silent.
“You do not have to accept the proposal.” Alec ever so slowly uttered, the words barely audible. Magnus’ heart stumbled onto itself. “If you need to take some time, to think, then do it. But Magnus, take the ring, if only for it to help you find yourself. If only for it to remind you I will always wait for you. That I will always love you. Let it be a reminder that the true magic you possess is not the one you lost, but the one nestling in your heart. The one that brings out the best which each one of the individuals standing around you has to offer.” The words got trapped in Alec’s throat and the young archer lowered his head.
Silence leaped between them then. A long, thick silence.
Alec turned his head away, biting his bottom lip. Only said head was soon raised upwards as Magnus cupped Alec’s cheeks with trembling hands, flinching as he brushed away salty tears. “No man, mortal or otherwise, could bear such an honor without sliding to the ground by its greatness.” Magnus uttered through a veil of tears, as he got up from his chair. He caressed Alec’s face desperately, chasing the tears away as he kneeled in front of Alec. They were now at the same level. Alec’s eyes widened. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. But then again, when had they followed any ordinary stereotype? The young man gasped as Magnus looked at him straight in the eyes, his dark brown orbs glossy.
“I-Is that a y-yes? You don’t have to--” Alec stumbled onto his own words, laughing and crying at the same time. “Yes… Yes, Alexander. Yes!” Magnus replied, smiling for the first time ever since losing his magic. He offered his left hand to Alec, who carefully, shyly, slid the ring onto Magnus’ finger. They both gasped, gazing at the newly added piece of jewelry on Magnus’ array. "There is nothing I want more than to spend every day of my life with you." Magnus spoke, battling the tears. "There is, Magnus. There is something you want more. And I will give every last drop of my blood if that means getting it back." Alec confronted the man, leaving no room for an argument, using Magnus' words against him once more. Magnus was at a loss for words, unable to produce any coherent sound.
“Magnus… I love you.” Alec offered, opening his arms. “I love you too, Alexander…” The man eventually replied, throwing his arms around Alec’s shoulders, burying his face into the archer’s well built chest. No, things were far from being perfect. But perhaps together, Alec and Magnus could make them a little bit easier. Perhaps they could make the days a little bit more bearable. They stayed there for a very long while, not caring about anything and anyone, unaware that Lilith had her eyes upon them from afar. Unaware that Jia Pinhallow was standing behind that door, waiting for Alec’s return, so as to pass on her verdict regarding the unilateral action the rest of the group had proceeded with, the night before. A verdict which would mark the end of Alec’s era as Head of the New York Institute…