“Why did you let us believe that you were less powerful than you truly are?”
After Magnus woke up Jocelyn Fairchild using the Book of White, Alec offered to see him out which turned into a leisurely walk through the nighttime streets of New York. He waited till they were safe distance away from the Institute, out of the range of every surveillance device in the vicinity of the headquarters, to ask his question, just in case Magnus’ answer was not meant for everyone’s ears.
Magnus laughs, but there’s a note of slight apprehension in his voice when he responds, “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about, Alexander.”
Alec looks at him sideways. “You told us that the Book of White was full of the most powerful spells out there, and yet, you used one as if it was nothing, your everyday bread and butter. You didn’t even have to make any preparations at all, you just told us to move Jocelyn because you needed space. That was it. And then you woke her up. Just like that.”
Magnus shoots him a furtive, nervous look and speeds up his steps a little. “It was actually a pretty easy spell, beginner lever, a warlock child would’ve been able to perform it.” He waves his hand again. “I’m nothing special, really. Just one of the herd, an average practitioner at best.”
“Magnus…” Alec says softly, and reaching out, he touches Magnus’ upper arm gently to make him stop. That’s all he does, he just says Magnus’ name and touches him gently - and Magnus crumples.
Sighing in resignation, Magnus turns around. “Alright. I just didn’t think it wise to point out just how powerful I am while I was at your place, surrounded by…” He waves a hand again.
“Shadowhunters?” Alec finishes for him. “We are not your enemies, Magnus.”
Magnus just stares at him. “Alexander, one of the people who were there at that time, in that room, joined - or rejoined, you might say - Valentine not two days later. So, I’m sorry if I don’t really trust your lot all that much.”
Alec cringes at the painful reminder of Hodge’s betrayal. “Alright, I see your point,” he admits. “I just really hate secrets and lying. It always ends badly, no matter how good your intentions were at the beginning.”
One corner of Magnus’ mouth turns up. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and all that?”
Huffing out a laugh, Alec crosses his arms over his chest in an unconscious defensive gesture. “Yeah, something like that.” He looks away. “I guess you must think me naive, huh?”
Magnus takes a step closer. “No, Alexander. Not naive - innocent. And I find it admirable, charming even, that after everything, your first instinct is still to trust people, to believe in their honesty and goodwill. I hope you never become jaded, that you won’t allow life to destroy your faith in the world.”
He lifts one hand and after a moment of hesitation, as if he’s still unsure of his permission to do this, to express his… affection for Alec openly, he touches Alec’s face gently, comfortingly. And Alec smiles and presses his cheek into his hand.
They stand there like that for a moment longer until a group of drag queens stumbles past, giggling, and one of them, a dark-skinned beauty dressed in a short neon yellow dress, yells at Magnus, “Hot damn, sugar, you’re one lucky bastard!”
Magnus chortles and bends over laughing, and Alec blushes so hard the tips of ears turn pink - he has completely forgotten that they were visible!
To save at least some of his bruised dignity, Alec clears his throat, and tries to get back on topic. “So,” he says, “just how powerful are you, then? I promise not to tell.”
Still chuckling, Magnus straightens. “You’re like a dog with a bone when you want to know something, aren’t you?” He lets out a deep breath and shakes his head in exasperation. “Fine. Let’s just say that I’m powerful enough and,” he hesitates, then looks around quickly and continues, giving Alec as honest an answer as he can, “there are not twenty warlocks out there more powerful than I am, alright? But honestly, it’s not like we hold the Warlock Olympics to determine who’s best at magicking. Mostly, we just assume that the older the warlock, the more powerful he or she is. And some of us are very old.”
Alec narrows his eyes. “And how old are you, exactly?”
Magnus holds up a finger. “Nah-ah, my dear. I don’t kiss and tell.”
“Are you being coy again?” Alec asks, looking suspicious.
Laughing, Magnus entwines his arm with Alec’s and pats him. “See? You’re slowly getting the hang of it. One day, I might even teach you how to flirt!”
“Please, don’t?” Alec mutters, expression pained.
Still laughing, Magnus drags Alec along - and Alec can’t help but smile, too.