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Hold Onto Me (Cause I'm a Little Unsteady)

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The cold of the concrete seeped through his jeans. He’d been staring at the same spot on the ground for seconds, minutes, hours, he didn’t know anymore.

The reverie he’d been in broke at the insistent buzzing of his phone. Lydia. She’d know already, one of the other shadowhunters would have called her after the ambush became evident. Bracing himself for what she was about to say Alec answered the phone.

“What. Happened?” Her clipped tone drilled into his brain.

“We were set up,” Alec answered. His voice was gravelly from disuse, he must have been sitting there for a while.

“Get everyone rounded up now. Get back to the institute. I have to inform the clave.” Again her words were clipped, spilling order after order like she was trained to do.

The call disconnected and Alec pocketed his cell phone. He hung his head for a second, taking deep breaths in and out. His parabatai rune was burning, not with death, or injury, but with betrayal.  Alec squeezed his eyes shut to stop the stinging and heaved himself off the floor. A sharp pain ran down his left arm and he clutched his bicep. Now that he was more coherent he could feel the injuries littering his body from his fight with Jace.

Alec listed them in his brain like a checklist. A wound on his bicep he could attribute to the Forsaken, no need to give Jace the credit for everything. A bruise developing on his jaw. A sharp pain across the left side of his rib cage. General aches down his back and legs. A stiff left shoulder he would later discover had five perfect fingerprint-shaped bruises embedded.

During his time sitting on the floor he must have bitten his tongue because the taste of iron slowly filtered its way into his sense. Alec spat blood onto the floor before taking one last look around and heading outside to find whoever was left of the shadowhunters he’d come with.

 

 

Lydia was waiting for them as they made their way into the institute. She regarded them with a clenched jaw and cold eyes. Alec hadn’t known her very long – 3 days Alec, that’s how long you’ve known her, his mind whispered – but behind her anger he could see something else. Fear, his brain supplied.

“Everyone go and clean yourselves up. An inquisitor from the clave will be arriving in the next few days and the last thing we need is every one of you looking like you’ve gone six rounds with a Forsaken,” Lydia ordered. For a group of shadowhunters they all moved sluggishly, some of them sheepishly avoiding Lydia’s gaze.

“Not you,” Lydia’s voice rang out. Alec looked up and saw her eyes fixed on him. She waited until only tech shadowhunters remained before advancing towards him. As she approached Alec hunched his shoulders. He’d done it since he was a kid, whenever he did something wrong – which was rare until Jace came along, Alec always followed the rules – making himself smaller, a lesser target. Lydia’s arm came up towards his jaw and Alec flinched away. Lydia’s eyes softened marginally.

“You need an iratze or that bruise will take days to disappear.” Turning on her heel she gestured for Alec to follow, and he did. Only his left leg must have taken some beating he hadn’t noticed before because it felt like he was walking on sand, like his nerves weren’t co-operating properly. Lydia glanced over her shoulder, her brow creasing once she saw Alec’s limping frame. Walking briskly back over to him she slipped her arm around his back. His right arm gripped her shoulders gratefully.

“You took quite the beating,” Lydia said, her voice low so no-one else could hear them, her eyes understanding. Alec said nothing. His eyes were trained on the floor ahead of them. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Lydia nodding, her features softening with every painful step towards his room.

They reached the doorway to his bedroom quickly even despite Alec slowing them down. He had picked his room so it was closest to the control centre, closest to the nearest exits, in case anything were to attack.

Lydia helped him over to his bed, easing him down onto his duvet – black, of course, black sheets, black pillowcases – before pulling out her stele.

“Okay Lightwood, shirt off,” Lydia ordered.

“What? No, its fine, it doesn’t even hurt, its fine,” Alec spluttered. Lydia tilted her head to the side with a sardonic look on her face.

“Either you take it off or I take it off for you. And I think you’ve had your ass kicked enough for tonight so do yourself a favour,” Lydia replied, one brow raised expectantly. She held her hand out for the garment and twitched her fingers in a ‘gimmie’ motion when he didn’t move. Alec huffed and pulled his jacket off, wincing as he went, handing it off to Lydia who went to hang it on his coat rack while he struggled out of his shirt.

Lydia turned back and she hissed when she saw his torso, her lips pulling back in a grimace. Alec looked down and saw almost his entire side was purpling. From his shoulder leading down to his abdomen the bruising stood out on his pale skin.

“By the angel Alec, how much of a beating did you take?” Lydia asked incredulously.

“I don’t understand, we were just grappling really. There’s no way it should look this bad,” Alec replied in disbelief. He saw Lydia’s hand reach up to touch his shoulder and she hissed again.

“Alec your skin is burning. What the hell happened out there?” Lydia asked.

“Seriously, I’m not lying, he barely even touched me. Ja -,” Alec started before clamping his mouth shut. Lydia’s eyes narrowed as she stared him down.

Who barely touched you Alec?” Lydia asked, crossing her arms over her chest. Alec just shook his head, eyes focussed on a spot on the floor. “Who Alec? Jace? Is that what you were going to say?”

Again Alec kept his eyes trained on the floor a flush rising up his cheeks. Lydia stepped closer, in between the V of his outstretched legs, and lowered her voice. “Alec? Did Jace and Clary ambush you? Did they take Meliorn?” She was met with silence. “Alec!”

“What is going on in here?” Isabelle demanded from the doorway. Alec’s eyes shot up as Lydia took a step back.

“Were you there? When Jace and Clary freed Meliorn?” Lydia asked Isabelle, her demeanour changing from ‘friend’ to ‘soldier’ with alarming ease.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Isabelle replied, indignant. Alec knew her though, knew her tics. She tilted her head to the side when she lied and she was doing it now. The knowledge that not only had his parabatai betrayed him but his sister as well washed over Alec like a wave, crashing into all the fissures in his chest, leaving him aching.

“Really?” Lydia asked, disbelieving, “Take a look at your brother’s bruises and tell me again you had nothing to do with this.”

Alec watched as Isabelle turned her eyes to him, her indignant expression becoming one more akin to horror. Her eyes widened and shock took over her features. Her lips parted and she swallowed, shaking her head, as her eyes raked down his body.

“Fine, don’t tell me. But I will be reporting this to the Clave. You better hope for your sake that you have an alibi Isabelle, because otherwise there won’t be anything Alec or I could do to save you,” Lydia stated. She turned around to look at Alec, who nodded, before she strode to the door, shutting it softly behind her.

Isabelle rushed towards him, pulling her hands back when he flinched from her.

“Alec I don’t, this wasn’t, I mean, I don’t understand, I just -,” Isabelle stuttered, almost incoherently, before reaching out almost unconsciously to touch him. She dropped her hand once she realised what she was doing and took a step back. In that moment Alec had never felt more connected to his sister. He finally got it. How it felt when Jace came, when Alec stopped being her big brother and just became her brother, when Alec stopped being there for her the way she always was for him. Those fissures in his chest widened and it was like a whole new level of pain.

“Iz-,” Alec began. He stopped and took a deep breath before looking up at her from under his bangs. “Iz, I need iratzes. Could you grab your stele and draw them for me?” Almost as soon as the words had left his mouth Isabelle was nodding and moving towards him. She situated herself on the bed next to him, legs folded underneath her, and pulled out her stele. She glanced up at him and gave him a reassuring smile before burning the rune into his skin.

Alec hissed as the pain flooded through him. He ground his teeth together to avoid crying out and his eyes squeezed shut in pain. His hands curled into fists as the white hot pain throbbed throughout his limbs.

“Alec?” Isabelle’s worried voice cut through his psyche and he let out the breath he’d been holding. He opened his eyes and caught Isabelle’s worried gaze.

“I’m fine Iz, just more painful than I was anticipating,” Alec placated.

“Alec it shouldn’t hurt that much, you know that,” Isabelle replied. She bit her lip, steeling herself, before asking, “Was this Jace?”

“You know damn well this was Jace, Isabelle. You might be able to lie to Lydia but I’m your brother, you can’t lie to me,” Alec said tiredly. He watched as her brow furrowed, like he was an enigma she couldn’t figure out. Maybe she couldn’t anymore, maybe they were so far apart that there was almost nothing between them.

“I don’t understand though. Jace never said –,“ Isabelle started before cutting herself off.

“Jace never said? What, you mean, he didn’t stop to recount his win?” Alec asked bitterly before sighing. “Look, I already told Lydia, it shouldn’t be this bad. Unless I was in a trance the whole time and missed him kicking my ass. I don’t know why I look this bad.”

Isabelle’s brow furrowed again. She reached her hand out and traced the bruising on his shoulder, the sensation sending shivers down his spine.

“Alec… I’m sorry. About you and Jace. But I won’t apologise for helping Meliorn. I had to do what I thought was right,” Isabelle said softly, imploringly, her eyes begging him to understand.

“I know,” Alec replied.

“No Alec, I mean -,” Isabelle started.

Iz. I know, okay? I know. I know you’re sorry, I know you did what you thought was right. I know,” Alec interrupted. He sighed and ran his right hand through his hair. They sat in silence for a moment, Isabelle tracing runes with her finger over his bruised skin.

“The Clave want to remove us as heads of the Institute,” Alec said softly.

“Alec I know that,” Isabelle sighed.

“No, Isabelle, the Clave want to remove us as heads of the Institute. Not mom and dad. Not me and you. All of us. The Lightwoods,” Alec said, “They want to take all of this away from us. And I know that doesn’t mean much to you but it means everything to me. This is all I have, Iz. Jace is against me, you’re against me. I can’t be like you guys. I have followed every single rule set out for me because this is it for me.”

Before Alec had even finished speaking Isabelle begun shaking her head.

No, Alec, this is not all you have. You have me, Max, Jace, even though he’s not here right now. And I’m not against you. I’m right here where I’ve always been,” Isabelle replied, pushing herself up onto her knees beside him. “We will figure something out, okay?”

“I don’t want to marry Lydia but I have to, okay? If I marry her we get to keep the Institute, Iz, but that’s it. There is no unspoken third option. Either all of us Lightwoods lose the Institute or I marry her and we run it together,” Alec answered. Alec couldn’t bear to see the look on his face so he pushed himself off the bed with a wince and went over to his closet, limping slightly.

Silence permeated the room as Alec grabbed a worn sweater, the sleeves falling past his hands until he shoved them up his forearms. Alec heard a soft exhale behind him and looked over his shoulder at Isabelle. She had a soft smile on her face as she looked at him.

“What?” Alec asked, his neck getting hot at the attention.

“I know you like to think you’re my aloof older brother but I know you too well,” Isabelle replied.

“What does that mean?” Alec asked confused.

“It means that you’re wearing your sad sweater. You wore it the first time mom and dad left for Idris without us. You wore it the next time they left and took Max with them. You wore it the night Jace went to bed with that visiting shadowhunter from Shanghai. You wore it -.”

“Okay, alright, first it is not a sad sweater alright? It’s comfortable. All those times are just coincidentally sad,” Alec replied, waving his hand in dismissal before wincing at the pain in his left bicep.

“Whatever big brother,” Isabelle replied with a smile on her face before springing up from the mattress and heading for the door.  

Alec couldn’t get any words out in protest before she was out the door, leaving him alone with his pain. His side was still throbbing regardless of the iratzes and he had a headache forming at his temple. Alec popped the button on his jeans and shoved them down gasping at the sharp pain up his side. Much like his abdomen his entire left leg was purple from hip to thigh, spreading down his calf in slow watercolour on his pale skin. He gripped the door of his closet for a few minutes while the pain ebbed.

He kicked the jeans away from him with his right leg and shuffled into a pair of black sweatpants. Just as he was pulling on a pair of clean socks his door opened again. Alec looked up as Isabelle entered, a tray covered with a dish towel balanced perfectly on one hand and her pillow tucked under her arm. Alec noted she’d also changed into pyjamas – a deep purple silk camisole with matching silk shorts. She balanced the tray on the bed and threw her pillow on top of his before walking over to him and reaching past him into his closet. She pulled out one of his hoodies – black, of course – and put it on before putting an arm around his back.

“Come on big brother, let’s get you into bed,” Isabelle smiled. Alec gave her a small smile in return before leaning on her for support. They got him onto his bed, him gasping as they went, before Isabelle moved to the tray at the bottom.

Alec watched his sister as she uncovered two steaming mugs of what smelled like hot chocolate. He noted she’d taken most of her make-up off and twisted her hair up. She was drowning in his hoodie over her pyjamas. Alec felt a pang of longing as he realised his sister had grown up without him noticing. Of course he knew she was a kick-ass shadowhunter but this wasn’t the little girl who used to follow him around anymore. This was his incredibly brave, passionate, deserving sister, his equal on the battlefield. She was better than him in so many ways and he hadn’t even realised.

“Now I know you’re going to say that you’re too old for hot chocolate and that I should have brought you some sort of leaf-y tea that you seem to like so much because ‘they have healing properties Izzy, we should all be drinking them, they’re so good for you’ but hot chocolate has healing properties too so this is what you’re getting,” Isabelle said sternly before handing him a mug.

Alec smiled softly as he took the mug from her. “Healing properties? What healing properties does hot chocolate have?”

“It heals the soul Alec, duh,” Isabelle replied before clambering over him and settling against her own pillow, her mug balanced on her abdomen.

“Whatever you say,” Alec said softly, blowing on his mug. He took a sip and found that unlike most of Izzy’s cooking it actually tasted quite nice.

“Don’t look so surprised,” Isabelle deadpanned, “Even I can make a simple hot chocolate.”

Alec smiled softly over at his sister as she snuggled in beside him.

“I miss this,” Isabelle admitted softly, her voice so low it was almost a whisper.

“Miss what?” Alec asked.

“This. Us. You and me against the world. When we were kids I used to follow you everywhere, and I knew it annoyed you, but I just wanted to be with you. You were my hero Alec,” Isabelle replied. She smiled softly before continuing, “You still are.”

“I’m no one’s hero Iz,” Alec said tiredly.

“You don’t get to decide if you’re someone’s hero. They do. And you’re one of mine, Alec, no matter if we disagree sometimes, okay?” Isabelle asked, her eyes wide and pleading.

“What are we gonna do Iz?” Alec sighed.

Isabelle grabbed his hand and squeezed before replying, “I have no idea.”

 

 

This isn’t your fight.

Like hell it wasn’t. Isabelle’s arrest had rippled through the institute, the techs whispering about it when they thought he couldn’t hear. Thank god Hodge had taken Max for the day on a shadowhunter history lesson, locked away in the library, he didn’t need to hear this about his big sister.

Alec limped along to his parents’ office still favouring his right side despite the fresh iratzes he’d drawn on this morning. The bruising had spread down his leg and now his entire left side was purple. As he neared he heard his mother’s voice rising and paused just outside the doorway.

“You’re always so soft on her Robert, look at what she’s done,” Maryse hissed.

“What she’s done? You mean your daughter? Need I remind you that her connections to the seelies are what got us information in the first place?” Robert returned.

Connections. If that’s what we’re calling it,” Maryse spat back.

“Stop. Right. There,” Robert replied in a low voice. Alec swallowed down the automatic shame that rose at that tone. It was usually directed at him.

“There’s nothing we can do Robert. Nothing. The clave are sending Inquisitor Herondale to the Institute and there will be a trial,” Maryse said. Alec could hear the chair scraping back from the desk indicating his mother standing up.

“She needs a defence. A good one,” Robert replied.

“Well if you can find someone the Clave will take seriously to defend our daughter then be my guest. We’re not allowed to testify. Alec may have to take the stand as the acting head of the Institute while we were away but there’s no one else Robert. No one.” The last part was so low Alec almost missed it. His chest tightened at the thought of Isabelle being stripped of her marks, the thought of the pain she would have to suffer.

Just as he was about to break up his parents’ fight Alec felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. The pain was so severe that Alec doubled over at the waist and grabbed the wall beside him for support. Gritting his teeth Alec lifted his shirt and on the right side of his torso, above his hipbone, his parabatai rune was burning. Alec gasped again as a wave of pain went through him, his entire abdomen seizing.

“Alec? Alec, what’s wrong?” Lydia’s panicked voice cut through his conscious.

“Jace,” Alec gasped. “Something’s wrong with Jace.” He gripped his abdomen and the rune continued to burn.

“Okay, I’m getting your mother,” Lydia said already moving towards the office door.

“No,” Alec gasped again, “Hodge. I need Hodge. He’s in the library with Max.”

“Alec –,“ Lydia started.

“Please Lydia, I’m begging you,” Alec pleaded still doubled over.

“Okay. Okay. Can you get yourself to the infirmary? I’ll get someone to clear out the medical techs and bring Hodge to you.” It alarmed Alec minutely how quickly Lydia could switch from panicked to in control. In this instance however he was extremely grateful. From where he was doubled over he could see her tapping on her phone, no doubt making good on her promise to clear out the infirmary. Just as he was about to reply to her the burning in his abdomen ceased completely.

 “Alec?” Lydia asked noting the alarm on his face.

“The burning stopped,” Alec answered, his brow furrowed. “Something’s still wrong, go and get Hodge, I’ll meet you in the infirmary.” Lydia nodded back at him as her and Alec headed in different directions. Alec’s limping was a hindrance before but he ignored the pain in his body as he bounded towards the infirmary as fast as his legs could take him. Jace needed him.

As promised the infirmary was empty when Alec arrived. The early afternoon sunlight filtered through the stain glass bathing the entire room in fractured light. Ten beds littered each side of the room, pristine white sheets standing stark against the light. Alec paced down the middle of the beds. He made quick work of his shirt as he walked and threw it onto one of the beds before pulling out a mirror from one of the cabinets at the far end of the room. He held the mirror up and inspected his abdomen. The bruising from before had disappeared entirely and only the black of the runes stood stark against his skin. His parabatai rune had turned orange, like burning ashes, and the pain behind it was now a pulsing ache.

“Alec,” Hodge all but yelled, bursting into the room, Lydia on his heels.

Alec turned around on his heel and met Hodge in the middle of the room.

“Something’s wrong with Jace. I felt a stabbing in my abdomen before and now my parabatai rune is fading,” Alec said, gesturing to his rune. “Hodge, what’s happening?”

Hodge stepped closer to Alec and inspected the rune. He reached out to touch it and pulled back with a hiss.

“Your skin is burning. I don’t know exactly what’s happening but you’re right, something is definitely wrong with Jace,” Hodge said before straightening up and crossing his arms.

“Well what do we do?” Lydia asked.

“The only thing I can think of is that Jace has entered another dimension and that’s why the rune is fading. It could mean he’s run into trouble,” Hodge replied.

“So can we do something? To help him? Or bring him back, or something,” Alec pleaded, his hand going to cover the rune.

“There’s one thing we could try but -,” Hodge started.

“Do it,” Alec interrupted, “Whatever it is, do it.”

Hodge glanced over his shoulder at Lydia, who was hovering behind him, before looking back to Alec.

“This will be harder than anything you’ve ever faced,” Hodge warned.

“I don’t care, let’s do it,” Alec said.

“Alright, lie down on one of the beds. Lydia, have you got your stele?” Hodge asked as Alec lay down on the bed next to them, discarding the shirt he’d thrown there earlier.

“My stele? Where’s yours?” Lydia asked even as she followed the order.

“I left it with Max, he’s been going crazy without his,” the last part was directed at Alec with a small smile. Hodge reached out to Lydia and she handed over her stele before moving around to the other side of the bed. She squeezed Alec’s forearm reassuringly, standing sentinel on his left side.

“Okay, I’m going to begin. This will hurt Alec. Don’t hold anything in, okay? The pain will be nothing like you’ve felt before but you need to push through it and try and reach Jace,” Hodge warned before burning the new rune above but overlapping his parabatai rune.

The pain began almost instantly. It ripped the air from Alec’s lungs and set his skin on fire. He clenched his hands in the sheets below him as all of his abdominal muscles seized at once. He grit his teeth against the pain, focussing on controlling the white-hot burning in his chest.

“Jace,” Alec moaned, the name becoming mangled in his throat. He squeezed his eyes shut and when he opened them he was looking down at Jace.

“Alec?” Clary’s voice cut through his pain haze. Alec moved his eyes from Jace, lying on the dirt, to Clary, seraph blade in hand. 

“Clary? What’s happening? Where is this?” Alex asked in quick succession.

“Meliorn transported us through a portal of some kind. He said it would help find Valentine but everything is different in this dimension,” Clary answered, her grip in the blade tightening to the point where her knuckles were almost transparent with pain.

“Alec,” Jace moaned from the ground, his fingers scrambling in the dirt.

Alec and Clary were both at his side in a second, Clary still gripping the handle of her blade and Alec still shirtless.

“Alec, it’s the necklace, the demon necklace. Valentine, his plan, the Forsaken, it all ties together. There’s something in the necklace that he needs but can’t get,” Jace gasped, his hand coming out to grip at Alec’s arm.

“Forget the necklace, how do we get you back?” Alec asked, his eyes trained on Jace’s face. The pain had faded into the background, like a sharp ache than a piercing stab.

“Meliorn. He can re-open the portal and pull us through. Alec, you have to get the necklace, I know why -,” Jace’s words cut off as Alec came back to himself in the infirmary, the sunlight having faded a bit so the room was dimmer.

“Alec?” Lydia asked urgently.

“We need to find Meliorn,” Alec replied, hauling himself upright and pushing off the bed, “You were right Hodge, they’re stuck in another dimension. We need Meliorn to open a portal and pull them back through.”

Alec grabbed his shirt off the floor and hastily buttoned it. Lydia stared at him intensely before nodding. She pulled out her phone and quick-dialled before putting it to her ear.

“I need Isabelle Lightwood, bring her to the foyer,” Lydia ordered before hanging up. “Your sister will be able to find him, she knows him best.” Lydia directed this at Alec.

“Thank you,” Alec breathed before rushing out of the infirmary. He made his way through the labyrinth of corridors with ease, his brain focussing now that he had a mission. He made it to the foyer before Isabelle and he paced back and forth in front of the elevators. His head snapped around at the sound of Isabelle’s clacking heels. He was sure the look on his face was that of pure relief.

“Alec, what -,” Isabelle started.

“Jace and Clary are in an alternate dimension. Meliorn sent them through and now we need him to get them back. Iz, they’re in trouble,” Alec stated.

“I know where to find him,” Isabelle nodded, already entering the elevator. Alec rushed in beside his sister and shoved his sleeves up his forearms, another nervous habit he’d picked up.

“We’ve got this Alec. They’ll be fine,” Isabelle reassured. Alec said nothing but he nodded in absent agreement.

Alec followed his sister in a daze, his mind racing with thoughts of Jace, Jace in pain, Jace dying, Jace thinking Alec had abandoned him. And to some extent Alec worried about Clary. That she wouldn’t be able to defend Jace, that she’d die defending him, that the two of them would be stuck in another dimension barely alive but clinging to existence.

The evening chill nipped at Alec’s bare forearms and he tugged the sleeves down over his hands. His parabatai rune retained a dull ache above his hip bone and he rubbed it absently as Isabelle paid their cab driver.

“Okay, we’re here,” Isabelle said, waving bye to their driver.

“Here?” Alec asked. They were standing on the outskirts of the Bronx, 30 minutes from the Institute. Isabelle nodded at him before leading him into a park, her steps sure like she’d done this hundreds of times before. She has done this hundreds of times before, his brain whispered, unlike you Isabelle knows how to have fun.

The two of them trudged through the undergrowth before coming to a large satin canopy. Alec faltered but Isabelle kept up her stride as she pushed aside the curtain that acted like a door.

“Meliorn?” Isabelle’s voice rang out through the evening cicadas. Alec hurried to join her, his eyes raking around the canopy, taking in all the details of the seelie’s home.

“Isabelle,” Meliorn said softly with a smile, a smile that faltered when he saw Alec, “… and company.”

“Meliorn we need your help.” Isabelle walked towards him, her hand coming up to his shoulder.

“And why should I help you?” Meliorn asked with his eyes firmly trained on Alec.

“Because you sent Jace and Clary through that portal and now they’re stuck,” Alec replied, squaring his shoulders for a fight.

“Stuck?” Meliorn asked surprised, “They shouldn’t be stuck. Something must have gone wrong.” Meliorn moved away from Isabelle before reaching into a trunk and pulling out a stone. “We will need to recreate another portal. They won’t be in the same location though so one of you will have to go through and find them.”

“I’ll do it,” Alec and Isabelle said simultaneously.

“Alec you can’t go through, if anything were to happen to Jace we wouldn’t know through here,” Isabelle reasoned.

“I’m not letting you go through Iz, Jace and I’s connection will lead me to him, I’ll follow the feeling of the parabatai rune,” Alec shot back.

“I have another idea, actually. Give me your hand,” Meliorn interrupted, reaching a hand towards Alec.

“What, why?” Alec asked, suspicious. 

“Like you said, you have a connection to Jace. Instead of sending either of you through the portal we can tap into your connection and hopefully pull them through that way,” Meliorn answered, hand still outstretched.

“Will that work for Clary as well?” Alec asked.

“It should,” Meliorn said.

“That’s not an answer,” Alec challenged.

“It’s the best you’re going to get Alec, just trust him,” Isabelle cut in. She nodded to Meliorn who nodded back and closed his eyes. The stone began to glow softly, a rich emerald green colouring his skin. His outstretched hand reached closer to Alec who took it reluctantly. Like the demon summoning at Magnus’ a jolt ran through Alec’s body at the touch of Meliorn’s hand.

“Okay Alec, you must concentrate. Focus on Jace – happy thoughts and memories only. It’ll make this easier to locate him,” Meliorn said in a low voice.

Alec looked at Isabelle who nodded encouragingly before closing his eyes and thinking of Jace. His parabatai rune burned insistently and his chest began to ache. Images of Jace filtered through Alec’s mind, of when they were kids and everything were easier, of when Jace had saved his life, just Jace, Jace, Jace

Jace,” Alec gasped.

“Jace!” Isabelle yelled. Alec’s eyes flew open just as Clary barrelled straight into him, taking them both to the floor. Alec landed on his back with Clary pressed to his chest, her seraph blade flying across the floor. From his vantage point on the floor Alec could see Jace propped up on his elbows as Isabelle drew a hasty iratze onto his skin. Relieved his parabatai was okay Alec let his head drop back to the floor, his chest loosening. Only when he realised Clary wasn’t moving did he attempt to move again.

“Clary?” Alec wheezed, his hands going to her arms. He quickly switched their positions when he got no reply so she was lying on her back, unconscious, and he was hovering over her. Alec saw her shoulder was dislocated and there was a long cut reaching from her hairline down to her ear. He quickly popped her shoulder back in and pulled out his stele, burning an iratze below her collarbone. He pocketed his stele and scooped Clary off the floor and into his arms.

“By the angel, Clary!” Isabelle’s panicked yell filled the room.

“We need to get her back to the Institute and let Hodge take a look at her,” Alec said, adjusting his grip under Clary’s legs.

“No,” Jace stated, “Not to the Institute. Give her to me, I’ll take her to Magnus.”

“No Jace,” Alec shot back, “Stop abusing Magnus’ magic like this when we’re perfectly capable of healing her ourselves. I know you’re pissed off at the Clave and the Institute and me but Clary needs to be around other shadowhunters so she can heal.

Jace stared at Alec with an indecipherable expression. It sent a pang through Alec’s chest to see the one person who used to know him better than he knew himself stare at him like he was a stranger.

“Alec’s right Jace. You’re injured as well, you and Clary need to rest,” Isabelle placated, stepping in between the two of them.

“Alright fine,” Jace acquiesced after a moment, “But this fight isn’t over.”

“Of course not,” Alec sighed under his breath. He nodded to Meliorn in thanks as he followed Isabelle and Jace out into the night and back to the Institute where they could all heal.

 

 

Because it guards against one very important thing – shadowhunters fighting other shadowhunters.

The next day brought news of the imminent arrival of the Clave. Inquisitor Herondale would be the one interrogating Isabelle. Alec hit the punching bag, hard, before straightening up and clutching his left bicep. The bruising had reappeared on his left side that morning with a vengeance, the purple and blue staining his pale skin like a watercolour.

“You’re going to hurt yourself more ya know,” Clary’s voice cut through the pain and Alec turned around to look at her. Hodge had managed to heal the cut on her face but he’d had to wrangle her into a sling to rest her arm. She was dressed in her sweatpants and a tank top and a black hoodie that looked suspiciously familiar. She noticed his confusion and smirked.

“I, ah, hope you don’t mind. Isabelle gave it to me. Said it always made her feel better. I can take it off if you’d rather though,” Clary rambled, her pale skin flushing.

“No, no, it’s fine. How’s your shoulder?” Alec asked, pacing over to where she was standing.

“It’s okay. I’ve been forced into this sling though,” Clary joked lamely. They shared an awkward half-smile before Clary cleared her throat. “Look, Alec, I know we’re not friends. I know you don’t like me very much. But I think I have an idea that could help Isabelle.”

“I don’t not like you Clary,” Alec replied stiltedly.

“Good to know,” Clary said drily, a smirk on her face.

“Wait, Isabelle? What idea?” Alec asked, his shoulders straightening to his fully height. A sad smile crossed Clary’s face. “What?”

“I feel sorry for you Alec,” Clary answered, “You’ve been trained since day one to be the perfect soldier and every time you do what you’re been taught to do you get reamed for it. I know a lot of the heat on your shoulders – probably all of it actually – is down to me and I’m so sorry. You switch from ‘man’ to ‘soldier’ so fast I don’t even think you realise it.” Clary’s face looked wistful. She hadn’t even known Alec long and already she’d managed to narrow down his problem faster than his family.

“Look, we can do this later. I’ll stop being a douche, you and I can talk, and we’ll sort our crap out. Later. But seriously, what about Isabelle?” Alec asked hurriedly.

“Right,” Clary nodded, “Right. I had time last night lying in the infirmary and I asked Jace to bring me some Clave rule books. Need to brush up on my shadowhunter history, ya know? Anyway, I found a loop hole. Isabelle still has to stand trial but there’s a truth spell that has to be cast to ensure she’s telling the truth. Normally the Clave assigns a warlock but the defendant is allowed to nominate one if they so choose.”

“Warlock, so Magnus? You want me to ask Magnus?” Alec asked, his shoulders slumping again.

“I can do it if you want me to but I honestly think it would sound better coming from you. The request and the nomination to the Clave,” Clary replied. Her eyes were sympathetic and she stepped closer to him, placing her uninjured hand onto his right shoulder, “Alec, Isabelle needs you. I know you’d do anything for your family and I know you can do this.”

“Okay, yeah, I can do this,” Alec answered absently.

“Yes you can. But first? Shower,” Clary stated, removing her hand from his shoulder and stepping to the side. At Alec’s confused look she huffed a laugh. “Alec you’ve been punching that bag for hours now. You smell ripe. Go, take a shower, and put on a pair of jeans tight enough to make your ass look cute.”

“Woah, okay, that’s just, look,” Alec stuttered, his face flushing. Clary outright laughed at that.

“Come on Alec. You’re tall, you’re built, you know you’re hot,” Clary explained. At Alec’s deepening blush her brow furrowed. “Okay, maybe you don’t know you’re hot. But Magnus thinks so. Dress up a little.” With that statement she winked and left him standing there, his blush threatening to burst his capillaries. Rubbing the back of his neck and glancing around to make sure no one had overheard them Alec took off in the direction of his room to get ready. He had a warlock to charm.

 

 

“Visiting so soon? Don’t you have a wedding to plan?” Magnus asked sarcastically, his right hand clutching a glass of scotch. Alec noted that it was roughly 1pm and it was probably a little early to be drinking something so heavy but Alec wisely kept his thoughts to himself. He felt awkward in Magnus’ place for the first time, his shoulders hunching further. He felt stupid for following Clary’s advice, his tight jeans felt restricting and his black t-shirt felt like it was suffocating him.

“I’m really sorry to bother you, I probably should have called first, I shouldn’t have come at all, uh, I’ll go, forget I was here,” Alec rambled. His nervous energy caused his abdominal muscles to tense making the pain from the bruising more acute. He’d realised after his shower that the bruising had actually gotten worse. He’d get Hodge to check it later, when Jace and Isabelle were safe.

“Alexander. Why are you here?” Magnus asked straightforward. That hurt. Alec’s chest ached when he realised how different Magnus was with him now compared to before. Alec absentmindedly ran his hand through his hair, Magnus’ eyes trained on his face.

“I came to ask if you’d help Isabelle,” Alec said, proud his voice had stayed steady.

“Help Isabelle? What has she done?” Magnus asked. He’d reclined back into his arm chair, his legs crossed, and was swirling his scotch around the glass.

“Meliorn escaped and the Clave think she told him things she shouldn’t have,” Alec replied, omitting the part where he already knew she’d helped Meliorn escape. “The Mortal Cup is gone too and the Clave will find a way to pin it on her if she’s found guilty.”

“And where exactly do I come in to this?” Magnus asked in a bored tone.

“The truth spell the Clave will cast. Clary found a loop hole where we can request the warlock who casts it. We thought you’d be nicer to her than a stranger,” Alec said his eyes trained on the floor. “I already know she didn’t take the Cup but I know she helped Meliorn escape.”

“Hmm,” Magnus made a thoughtful sound. His eyes bore into Alec’s skin, his gaze filling the fissures in Alec’s chest. Where before he’d felt empty and aching there was something about Magnus’ stare that warmed him from the inside out, regardless of how cold Magnus was being towards him.

“How do you know she didn’t take the cup?” Magnus asked suddenly.

“Well because she’d need –,” Alec started before cutting himself off. He narrowed his eyes at Magnus who stared back placidly. It hadn’t occurred to Alec until now that the only way someone would have been able to get the cup would be to grab his stele. And he hadn’t seen his siblings between telling them about his engagement and his fight with Jace. Which meant –

“ – it was you. You stole my stele?” Alec asked, betrayal sneaking into his voice. He hadn’t even known Magnus long but this felt like a dagger between the ribs. Magnus levelled a gaze at him with something like regret - was that what that was? - on his face.

“Your siblings asked me to,” Magnus answered simply.

“Was this before or after I told you about Lydia?” Alec asked, clenching his jaw.

“Before,” Magnus admitted, his gaze dropping for the first time to stare into his glass.

Alec shook his head, clenching and unclenching his fists at the same time. He ticked them off in his head like a checklist. Jace betrayed you, Izzy betrayed you, Clary who barely even knows you betrayed you, Magnus betrayed you, your parents have been betraying you your whole life. Does anyone trust you? Does anyone believe in you?

Alec swallowed down his feelings of self-hatred and squared his shoulders again.

“Regardless. If you cast the spell you’ll be a lot less harsh than whoever the Clave contracts in. You’re very good at what you do,” Alec stated all of this in what Isabelle called his ‘Clave’ voice. The voice that was devoid of emotion. A bit like himself at this point.

Magnus looked up in surprise. He narrowed his eyes at Alec but Alec kept his gaze never letting it falter.

“Okay, I’ll help her,” Magnus nodded.

“Fine, thank you. I’ll have Clary text you the details,” Alec replied, turning on his heel and walking straight out the door before Magnus could reply.

He took the stairs quickly and pushed open the heavy door that lead onto the street in Brooklyn. It was teeming with people shoving into each other and rushing around like ants. Alec hadn’t applied an invisibility rune so people stared at him strangely when he leant heavily against the brick wall of the building.

His mind was racing. He should’ve seen this coming. His stele was the one who locked the rune, it could only be his stele that unlocked it again. So stupid, his mind berated. He knocked his head back against the brick before shoving his fingers through his hair. Pulling the strands slightly Alec pulled himself together and set himself off in the direction of the Institute, unaware of the cat eyes following him as he went.

 

 

If she’s convicted she’ll be stripped of her runes and banished.

In some sort of pathetic fallacy the day of Isabelle’s trial dawned bleak and bitter. The Institute felt sombre and reserved as the Judgement Hall was prepared. Inquisitor Herondale had brought with her a Silent Brother – a reassurance she said, if she couldn’t trust Magnus Bane then the Brother would step in.

Alec had taken Isabelle some tea that morning, like she had done with him and the hot chocolate when he was injured. She’d smiled at him gratefully before narrowing her eyes and asked about his limping again. He’d reassured her he was fine, that she’d be fine, and that he’d be waiting for her outside the Hall.

Truth was, he wasn’t fine. The bruising hadn’t gone down and it had been days since his fight with Jace. The wound from the Forsaken had gotten worse instead of healing and it was beginning to grow black at the edges. Alec had bandaged it with a grimace, promising himself that he would consult Hodge after Isabelle’s trial. Like his wound the bruising hadn’t gotten any better either. The purpling had taken on a black tinge and was extremely tender to the touch. From left shoulder to left ankle was a giant bruise. Alec had barely slept all night because he kept rolling over onto the injured skin. That and he was worried about Isabelle.

Jace and Clary had gotten a lead on Valentine so they’d gone to check it out with Simon and Luke. Clary had filled Alec in once he’d gotten back from Magnus’ the day before – not Jace though. Alec hadn’t spoken to Jace since they’d agreed to bring Clary back to the Institute for healing. His parabatai rune throbbed occasionally and it sent loneliness around Alec’s entire body. They were fractured, broken. It was weighing heavily on Alec and his slowly deteriorating health way not helping.

Alec peeked into the Judgement Hall when he got there. Two Clave guards stood on either side of the Hall with tall spears in their hands. Inquisitor Herondale had already taken her seat and was flipping through a folder intensely, the Silent Brother stood to her left in a Sentinel position. Lydia was already sitting at her desk, back ram-rod straight and staring ahead. Alec couldn’t look at her so he turned away just as Magnus approached the Hall.

“Alexander. Nice day for a trial don’t you think?” Magnus asked rhetorically. His outfit was extremely understated today, a simple dark grey two piece suit with a crisp white shirt. His tie however was a rich purple and Alec was almost certain there was gold woven into the material. Alec had gone for his usual attire, black jeans, black shirt, black boots. Someone once commented that he looked like he was always ready for a funeral. At least the mood of the day lent itself perfectly to his outfit.

“Magnus,” Alec acknowledged, his shoulders hunched and his hands intertwined in front of him.

“Magnus!” Isabelle shouted from down the corridor. Her long dark hair was down and simple but her dress was a royal blue, her lips a fiery red, and her heels were sky high. This was the sister Alec had missed.

“Isabelle, dear, you look very chipper for someone about to stand trial,” Magnus joked as Isabelle approached, the Clave messenger who’d arrested her at her heels.

“Well I have nothing to worry about as I am innocent,” Isabelle aimed the latter part of her sentence over her shoulder at the messenger, “So this trial should be a breeze for you. They’re only blaming me because they’re a bunch of slut-shaming idiots who think a woman can’t enjoy her own sexuality and do her job at the same time.”

Alec choked out a laugh at her statement and both Magnus and Isabelle turned to him in surprise. A grin spread across Isabelle’s face as she approached her brother and kissed him on the cheek. She placed her hand on his left shoulder and caught his wince when she exerted too much pressure.

“Still Alec?” Isabelle asked incredulously as she withdrew her hand.

“Iz, I’m fine. We need to worry about you today,” Alec told his sister.

“You worry about me every day, you need to start worrying about yourself, this isn’t healthy,” Isabelle replied, a pleading tone to her voice.

“How are we doing over here?” Hodge asked, joining the group in front of the Hall.

“We’re fine,” Alec answered quickly before Isabelle could say anything. Isabelle widened her eyes at him and he stared back at her as they communicated silently. Isabelle huffed and shook her head at him before striding into the Hall, the messenger and Hodge close behind her.

“Everything alright?” Magnus asked, curious.

“Yeah I’m fine,” Alec answered absently.

“Okay, so now I know you’re not alright considering I asked if everything was alright and you answered about yourself indicating your secrecy and guilt over the subject,” Magnus stated, stepping closer to Alec.

“We should go in,” Alec blurted before breezing past Magnus and stepping into the Hall. He found Hodge and slid into the seat next to him. Magnus strode past them a few seconds later and took a seat beside Isabelle. The heavy doors at the back of the Hall were shut with a loud thud and all eyes were on the front.

“Let us begin,” Inquisitor Herondale stated clearly, her voice carrying across the entire room. “We are here in the trial of the Clave versus Isabelle Lightwood under the charges of revealing state secrets to a downworlder, aiding the break-out of aforementioned downworlder, and a direct violation of Clave rules by disregarding and disobeying orders from acting head of the Institute Lydia Branwell. Do you object to any of these charges Miss Branwell?”

“No, Inquisitor,” Lydia answered calmly. Alec saw Isabelle shoot Lydia a venomous glare.

“Miss Lightwood, you have nominated Warlock Bane to cast your truth spell. Warlock, please step forward and grip the sword,” Inquisitor Hendondale intoned, standing as she did.

Alec watched as Magnus rose gracefully from his chair, buttoning his jacket as he did. He glided over towards the sword and raised his right hand to grip the hilt of the sword, bowing his head as he did. There was a charged silence throughout the Hall and Alec watched in apprehension as Magnus begun to cast. His eyes slatted into cats’ eyes. His voice was too low to hear clearly but Latin filtered out into the room. Blue sparks lit up Magnus’ hands and wound around the hilt of the sword before settling into a blue glow surrounding the metal. Magnus’ mouth stopped moving and he lifted his head. Magnus glanced up at the Inquisitor, who nodded her head once, and removed his hand from the sword. His long legs carried him swiftly back to the table and he re-joined Isabelle.

“The truth spell has been cast. Miss Lightwood, please approach the sword,” At the sound of her name Isabelle stood. She had the perfect air of confidence but she kept smoothing down her dress as she walked, a tic Alec knew she’d picked up from him and his nervous fidgeting.

Isabelle stood in front of the sword and reached out to grip the hilt as Magnus had. Her body jolted like she’d received an electric shock as she did and Alec made to get up. Hodge placed a hand on his arm to keep him steady and Alec slid back towards the back of his chair again. The blue glow surrounding the hilt travelled up Isabelle’s arm and lit up her body in colour before fading away completely.

“Miss Lightwood, please, have a seat,” Inquisitor Herondale gestured to the stone seat to her right. Isabelle shook her head as if in a daze before following the request and sitting down. “Miss Branwell, you have the floor.”

Alec watched as Lydia rose from her chair, smoothing down her skirt as she did. She paced into the centre of the floor and turned her attentions to Isabelle. Isabelle’s gaze could strip paint off a wall and not for the first time Alec found himself a little in awe of his little sister.

“Isabelle, we know for a fact that you and Meliorn had a relationship of a sexual nature. We know you visited him on more than one occasion to extract information out of him. What we want to know is did he manage to extract any information out of you?” Lydia questioned, her voice clear and steady.

“Absolutely not,” Isabelle answered fiercely.

“Isabelle, please, we all know seelies cannot lie. Which means any and all information you got from him was true. But what about you? What pillowtalk did you two exchange in that could have caused the safety of the shadowhunters in this Institute to be compromised?” Lydia demanded.

“That is enough. You want to accuse me of compromising the safety of this Institute? Do not attempt to shame me in regards to my sexuality in order to do so,” Isabelle replied vehemently, “I have not, nor have I ever, told Meliorn anything which would compromise the safety of the people in this Institute. These people are my family and I would never endanger them.” Isabelle had risen to stand during her reply but sat back down just as fast once she’d finished.

Alec felt a smile spread across his face. He looked over at Lydia and saw a stunned expression on her face. She smoothed down her skirt and her steps faltered as she rounded her table again.

“There was seelie blood in the Forsaken that attacked the Institute. Did Meliorn tell you anything about that?” Lydia asked.

“No offence to the entire shadowhunter population but I have much more interesting things to discuss with my lovers than Forsakens. However I trust Meliorn. He and his people sent seelie scouts to help us, they wouldn’t betray us now,” Isabelle answered.

“Okay,” Lydia said before glancing up at the Inquisitor, “I have no more questions Inquisitor.”

“Very well,” Inquisitor Herondale said, “I trust Warlock Bane’s truth spell. I trust what Miss Lightwood has said today. I move to dismiss the charge of spilling state secrets to a downworlder. I also believe Miss Lightwood when she says the seelies would not betray the shadowhunters here at this Institute therefore I move to also dismiss the charge of helping the downworlder to escape on the grounds that he should not have been in custody in the first place. The charge of disobeying orders will be dismissed from the Clave however I will leave it up to acting head of the Institute Miss Branwell to decide how she wishes to proceed with Miss Lightwood’s punishment. That is law. Dismissed.” With that parting statement Inquisitor Herondale rose from her chair, the Silent Brother close behind her, and walked down the centre of the room, the doors opening for them.

The room sat in a stunned silence before people began to chatter, moving from their chairs and out into the Institute. Lydia sat in her chair staring down at the table before she shoved herself away and exited the Hall in a hurry.

“Isabelle you should be happy. You just gave the Clave the middle finger, in record time I might add. I’m actually a little in awe of you,” Magnus joked, rising from his chair. Isabelle looked up at him stunned.

“I honestly thought they would convict me. I thought they’d charge me regardless of what I had to say,” Isabelle confessed before furrowing her brow, “How long does this truth spell last?”

“Ah yes,” Magnus said and snapped his fingers. Isabelle looked shocked again before shaking her head. She smiled gratefully up at Magnus before throwing her arms around him.

“Thank you for coming Magnus,” Isabelle said, her arms around his shoulders.

“Wait until you receive my bill,” Magnus replied gleefully.

Alec had sat watching this unfold but now he pushed himself into a standing position. Hodge had exited with the rest of the shadowhunters so it was just the three of them in the room. As Alec stood Isabelle looked over at him and her smile widened.

“I told you everything would work out big brother,” Isabelle sang as she threw herself at Alec. Alec winced as he caught his sister, her body pressing right into the bruising along his chest, but he wrapped his arms around her all the same. Over her shoulder he could see Magnus watching them – no, him – curiously. Alec’s heart gave a peculiar thud in his chest. He caught Magnus’ gaze before lowering his eyes to the floor. Isabelle gave him one last squeeze before letting go.

“We have to celebrate,” Isabelle stated.

“You sure you want to celebrate with me? You could call Meliorn,” Alec offered. His body had started to ache in exhaustion and he honestly just wanted to take a long, hot shower and go to bed.

“Of course not stupid. I want to celebrate with you,” Isabelle implored. “And Magnus, if you wish to join us,” Isabelle added, turning to include Magnus in her plans.

Just as Magnus had opened his mouth to respond a high pitch wailing noise rang through the Institute. Alec’s head snapped around and his hand went automatically to his quiver.

“Alec, Isabelle, there’s been a demon attack in Central Park,” Lydia burst through the door brandishing Isabelle’s whip and a pair of boots. She handed them to Isabelle as soon as she was close enough and Isabelle made quick work of her heels. “Think you two can handle it alone?”

“Is water wet Lydia?” Isabelle returned. Her and Lydia shared a smirk before Isabelle straightened up. “Come on big brother, let’s go kick some ass.”

Alec rolled his neck before following Isabelle out of the room. He threw one last look over his shoulder and caught Magnus’ gaze. He looked… wistful? Alec thought. Like he’d missed an opportunity. It was probably all in Alec’s head though.

His body ached as he followed his sister through the streets of New York, exhaustion washing over him in waves. His chest became tighter and his vision started to narrow. He shook himself mentally and focussed on following his sister.

Up ahead in the clearing of the park was a hoard of Ravener demons. Isabelle must have called Jace and Clary because they were already up ahead, Jace wielding his seraph blade like it was an extension of himself. Alec had to give props where it was due, Clary was hacking away too, her right shoulder still looking stiff.

Alec tried to focus to aim his arrow but his vision started to blur. He raised his arm to send the arrow flying but he couldn’t keep it straight. He squeezed his eyes shut before opening them, refocussing, and shooting the arrow. One after another, taking down Ravener demons one after the other.

Only he wasn’t.

His arrows went flying sure, but he didn’t hit any demons.

Instead when he focussed again he saw the bodies of Clary, Jace, and Isabelle lying on the ground with arrows in various body parts. Alec’s parabatai rune started to burn with loss and he almost doubled over to vomit.

Alec stumbled over to them his eyes burning with unshed tears. He was sure the horror was plain on his face. Isabelle reached out a hand to him as she clutched at the arrow in her chest with the other. Her mouth formed his name as she started to cough up blood. Clary lay next to Isabelle, her eyes wide open and glassy, the life already drained from her. Jace lay furthest away, his face in the dirt. Alec rushed over to him and his hand hovered above the arrow sticking out of his back.

“This is your fault Alec, you did this to us,” Jace gasped, “You’re the reason we’re all dead. You failed. You couldn’t protect us.” Jace started coughing up blood before he choked and just stopped breathing abruptly.

Alec fall back and sat on the dirt amongst the three dead bodies he’d just murdered.

See what you did? If you’d been better, been smarter, been more, this wouldn’t have happened. You killed them. You did this. You don’t deserve to live anymore. You should be dead just like the rest of them, it’s what you deserve.

With that last thought Alec pulled out the dagger from his boot and plunged it into his carotid artery, welcoming the warm blackness of death with open arms.

Chapter Text

It was like something inside of him snapped. In the middle of spearing one of the demons Jace doubled over and hit the dirt, landing on his knees with an audible thud. He could hear Clary’s shout in the back recesses of his mind but Jace only had enough focus left for one thing. Alec.

With a gasp Jace pushed himself into a kneeling position with one hand as he scoured the park for his parabatai. Izzy’s whip was wrapped around the neck of a Ravener whilst Clary brandished her seraph blade beside her. They were both easy to spot in the descending darkness but Alec’s dark hair and dark clothes allowed him to blend into the background. Like he’d always been doing, fading back, fading away, pushing himself into a tiny little box so the rest of you could shine a little brighter, his brain whispered.

Jace’s abdomen burned again, his parabatai rune lighting his skin on fire and turning his insides to mush. Finally his eyes focussed on a mass lying alone on the grass. Jace’s eyes widened in shock at the river of red pouring from Alec’s neck, blood pooling beside his body, his life draining out of him.

“Alec,” Jace gasped, forcing himself to his feet. Gone were the shadowhunter reflexes that had been drilled into him as he stumbled over to Alec’s prone body. All of his focus was on Alec, his vision honing in on the wide gaping wound on his neck. Jace collapsed on his knees next to Alec, his hands immediately trying to slow down the bleeding.

“Alec, c’mon, please,” Jace begged, his hands sliding and scrambling across the slick skin. 

Alec,” Isabelle’s gasping voice sounded right behind Jace and he turned to look over his shoulder at her.

“Iz, start drawing iratzes, lots of them. We need to get him healthy enough to get back to the Institute,” Jace ordered hoarsely. Isabelle wasn’t moving, her horrified eyes locked onto Alec’s face. “Isabelle. Now.”

Something in his tone must have snapped her out her trace because she moved into action, falling to her knees on Alec’s other side stele already in hand. She started drawing iratzes faster than his eyes could track.

“Um, guys?” Clary’s shaky voice asked. They both ignored her, too focussed on preventing the life pouring out of their brother. “Guys!”

“What?” Jace snapped.

“He did this to himself,” Clary breathed, her hand coming down to pull the dagger from Alec’s right hand. Jace’s eyes widened in horror and when he looked up at Izzy her expression was exactly the same. She broke eye contact and shook her head.

“He doesn’t need the Institute, Jace, he needs Magnus,” Isabelle said, her voice shaking, “I knew something was wrong, I knew it.”

“Izzy what are you talking about, something being wrong?” Jace asked desperately.

Isabelle pocketed her stele before pulling down the collar of Alec’s shirt on his left side. The purple, almost black, bruise stood stark against his deathly pale skin. Isabelle sat back on her heels and Jace could feel her eyes on his face.

“He’s been a walking bruise since his fight with you. He said it was getting better but I am almost positive it’s been spreading. He couldn’t even walk here without a limp,” Isabelle explained, her eyes dropping back to Alec’s face.

The three of them hovered over him, taking in the sunken eye sockets, the almost translucent whiteness of his skin, the shadows of his lashes on his ashy cheeks. The blood pouring out of him was the warmest part of his body and Jace pushed down harder on Alec’s throat.

“Okay,” Jace whispered before clearing his throat.

“Okay?” Clary asked.

“Okay,” Jace said, voice clearer, “Let’s get him to Magnus.”

“How Jace? Alec weighs more than you and even with Isabelle’s enhanced strength there’s no way we can carry him all the way to Brooklyn,” Clary reasoned.

“I don’t care, I’ll drag him there if I have to,” Jace replied desperately.

“Clary’s right, we need a plan,” Isabelle stated.

“Let me call Simon. Or Luke. One of them can drive over here and then take us to Magnus’,” Clary said, phone already in hand.

“Tell the mundie to move his ass,” Jace joked weakly.

“He’s not a Mundie anymore Jace,” Isabelle joked back, her smile watery.

“Right,” Jace choked out. The blood pouring from Alec’s neck was slowly stopping thanks to the iratzes but his breathing was extremely shallow. Jace and Isabelle sat there in the dirt together just staring at Alec’s prone body, eyes trained on his chest as it moved slowly up and down. Jace kept his left hand on Alec’s neck but put his right hand on his parabatai’s chest. The expansion of his rib cage, the beating of his heart, all of it let Jace know Alec was still alive. 

Isabelle placed her hand over Jace’s while her other gripped Alec’s forearm tight. Her eyes were shining with unshed tears and her skin was paler.

“Simon’s here. Do you need his help carrying Alec?” Clary asked.

“No, I got him,” Jace said, Isabelle giving his hand a squeeze before leaping to her feet. Jace stood up pulling Alec’s right arm around his neck, Isabelle ducking under his other arm to do the same. Together they dragged Alec’s body to the car, towards Magnus’.

 

 

Magnus had returned from the Institute in a very strange mood. He knew there was something… off with Alexander. He had caught the wince across Alec’s face as Isabelle had thrown herself at him, the tightness of his shoulders, the stiff way he walked. Silly Nephilim. If only Alec had let him heal his arm, maybe he would be feeling better.  

Magnus sighed aloud, swirling his scotch around his glass before turning his attention back to Great Expectations. Charles Dickens might have been a racist asshole but damn he was talented.

The peace was shattered as his buzzer went and with another sigh Magnus went to answer it.

“Who dares disturb the High Warlock of Brooklyn?” Magnus asked his intercom tiredly, his usual flair missing from his tone.

“Magnus, its Clary. We need your help,” Clary’s intercom voice crackled.

“I’m sorry, I’m off duty for the Nephilim tonight. Goodbye,” Magnus replied. Just as he was about turn off his intercom and put them on do not disturb, Isabelle’s voice came through.

“Magnus please, it’s Alec. He’s dying,” even through the intercom Magnus could hear the fear in Isabelle’s voice. Without a moment’s hesitation Magnus buzzed them in and could hear them lumbering up the stairs. He quickly rearranged his living room with a wave of his hand, the coffee table being replaced with a longer dining table, the sofa disappearing so there would be more room, the lighting becoming much brighter. Magnus quickly ran over to the closet and draped a sheet over the table. Much less comfortable than Luke had been but Magnus had a funny feeling this would take more work space.

Just as Magnus draped the sheet the group burst through the door. Simon was first through the door, his car keys clutched in one hand and Alec’s bow clenched in the other. The pained expression on his face made sense when Magnus laid his eyes on Alec. Even though his clothes were black the blood caked down one side was evident. Alec’s face was deathly pale, to the point where Magnus wasn’t even sure he was breathing. One look at Isabelle and Jace told Magnus that he should be extremely, extremely worried.

“Up on the table,” Maguns ordered, rolling up his sleeves. He could see several iratzes poking out Alec’s collar already, the blood draining from his neck sluggishly now. The wound reopened a little more when they lay him out, Clary rushing forward to cover it.

“What happened?” Magnus asked incredulously.

“He did it to himself,” Clary replied. Jace and Isabelle had their eyes focussed on Alec’s chest. Counting heartbeats, Magnus’ mind whispered.

“Himself? Why?” Magnus asked, his alarm evident on his face.

“We don’t know, okay, he just –,” Jace started.

“Because of this,” Isabelle interrupted. Her hands went to Alec’s collar and she ripped open his shirt. The bruising that had been lining his entire left side had begun to spread across his chest towards the right, the purpling almost black against the remaining white skin. It was obvious that Isabelle hadn’t known how truly bad it was because the shock was evident on her face. Jace looked on, horrified.

“How did? I mean, what,” Magnus stuttered, his eyes cataloguing the black spread down Alec’s chest, across his abs, down into the waistband of his jeans.

“I think it had something to do with the Forsaken attack. His arm hasn’t healed properly either. I’m ninety percent sure the bruising goes all the way down to his ankle with the way he’s been limping lately,” Isabelle reported, her eyes fixed firmly on Alec’s face.

Magnus stepped closer to the table and reached out a tentative hand to touch the bruising on Alec’s side. The skin was burning to the touch, a demonic feel to the injury. It was like his skin was moulding, moving, pulsing across Alec’s insides. Magnus begun a simple diagnostic spell that returned results to him he’d never felt before.

“It’s poison,” Magnus said, things started to click together in his brain. “The Forsaken wound, I need to see it,” Magnus directed at Isabelle, who nodded and pulled the sleeve off Alec’s left arm extremely gently. The wound was almost necrotic, the edges blackened and charred. It looked like he’d been burned.

“But wait this is impossible, it shouldn’t look like that,” Jace stated desperately.

“It seems Valentine has been experimenting more than we imagined. He must have sent the Forsaken to the Institute in the hope that Hodge would bear the brunt of this attack and that the poison would slowly kill him. It’s unfortunate for Valentine that Alexander happened to get in the way,” Magnus explained softly, his hand resting on Alec’s chest. He snapped out of his thoughts, his brain immediately forming a plan.

“Clary, the ingredients we used to heal Luke’s wounds, do you remember them? The order?” Magnus asked.

“Yeah, yes, of course,” Clary replied, slowly removing her hands from Alec’s neck.

“Everything is through in my den, take Isabelle and Simon and mix the formula. Instead of feeding it to him we’ll plaster it over the wound, live a salve. Get to it,” Magnus ordered.

“Wait, me? Why me?” Simon asked, not moving a muscle towards their direction. His eyes were still locked on the blood on Alec’s neck.

“For Alexander to heal quicker we will need to infuse the healing formula with Vampire blood, it’ll speed up the healing process and help to regenerate Alec’s own red blood cells,” Magnus explained as he went back to his closet, pulling out multiple healing crystals and candles. When he turned around no one had moved, all of their eyes locked on Alec’s prone body. “Go, move, now!”

With that everyone sprang into action, Clary towing Isabelle and Simon by the hands through the Magnus’ den. Jace stood perfectly still next to Alec, his eyes shining with unshed tears.

“Jace, I need your help too,” Magnus said softly, placing the candles precisely around Alec’s head in a semi-circle, before lighting them with a click of his fingers.

“What do you need?” Jace asked hoarsely.

“I need you to retrace your parabatai rune with your stele. Once you’ve done that you will hold this crystal to it. You will need to be touching Alexander too, either his hand, his arm, somewhere that isn’t yet infected by the poison,” Magnus explained, handing the aforementioned crystal to Jace.

“What good will this do?” Jace asked, clutching the crystal so tight Magnus though he might cut right through his skin.

“The crystal will send healing deterrents through your bond to Alec. It should stop the spread of the poison long enough for the healing formula to be completed. Once I have those things in place I should be able to drain the poison from Alec’s body,” Magnus replied, his hand resting on Alec’s forehead. The skin was clammy and pale, his eye lashes casting large shadows onto his cheekbones.

“Okay, let’s do this,” Jace said, determination all over his face.

Magnus and Jace switched sides, Jace resting his hand on Alec’s healthy right arm. Magnus watched as Jace pulled out his stele and traced over the parabatai rune on his abdomen. It began to glow a pale orange, like the dying embers of a fire, before Jace placed the healing crystal over it. His body jolted, as if he’d been shocked, before he took a deep breath and clutched the crystal tighter. Magnus watched as Alec’s parabatai rune started to glow too, a much paler orange than Jace’s, before the healing waves of the crystal travelled through the bond.

Both Magnus and Jace watched as the bruising on Alec’s chest began to dim, receding back towards his left shoulder slowly.

“It’s working,” Jace breathed, an astonished smile on his face.

Just as the waves began to slow down even further Isabelle appeared on Magnus’ right hand side. Brandishing the formula she looked at Magnus, unsure.

“You will have to apply it Isabelle. I must begin the healing process now. I trust Clary and Simon are staying through in the den?”

“Okay, just over the Forsaken wound right?” Isabelle asked. At Magnus’ confirmation she nodded back. “And yeah they’re staying through there.”

“Okay good. Even though we’re saving your brother’s life I know he’s rather modest so I assumed he wouldn’t want an audience for this,” Magnus explained before clicking his fingers. Alec suddenly lay before them in nothing but his boxers, the full extent of the bruising becoming apparent.

“Oh Alec,” Isabelle breathed, placing a hand next to Alec’s head to steady herself.

From Alec’s left shoulder, all the way down his left side, to his left ankle was bruised. The purple of the bruising was verging on black all the way down his side.

“How has he been walking around like this?” Jace asked in disbelief. His grip on Alec’s right arm had tightened as soon as he’d laid eyes on Alec’s body.

“We can discuss that later, when your brother is awake, but for now: Jace, focus on the crystal, Isabelle, apply the healing salve. I will begin the spell. Do not interrupt, I know what I’m doing, and I promise you I will save your brother,” as Magnus said this his cat eyes slit into place, his hands began weaving the enchantment in mid-air, and his magic permeated the room.

Isabelle nodded, applying the salve liberally across the wound on Alec’s arm. Once she’d applied it she moved to stand at Alec’s head, her hand brushing the bangs off Alec’s forehead.

The candles at Alec’s head suddenly shot into the air, hovering in their semi-circle. They moved so fast Isabelle had to quickly move her face out of the way to avoid being hit. A light breeze swirled around the room, the candle flames flickering gently. Jace and Isabelle shot each other a worried look over Alec’s head before turning their eyes back to their brother.

Magnus’ hands hovered over Alec’s body, the pain seeping out of Alec’s skin and into the air like red wine on carpet. The pain was so intense that Magnus gasped out loud before reapplying his magic tenfold. This poison extraction was one of the worst Magnus had ever seen. The black magic had clung to everything in Alec’s body that it could, worming its way into every fissure. Magnus could feel Alec’s energy ripple and vibe. It was weak, so weak, but with every second the poison was draining the energy would pulse, like it was gaining momentum.

“It’s working,” Magnus informed Jace and Isabelle, who looked at each other with hope. For the first time since they’d plugged Alec’s wound in the park they actually thought this could work.

The bruising had almost entirely receded, Alec’s pale skin regaining some of its healthier tone. The wound on his neck had closed over and Magnus’ magic was stitching the skin back together smoothly. The only thing taking longer was the Forsaken wound. Whatever Valentine had used was made to stay. Magnus focussed on the centre of Alec’s soul, his energy, his being, and tugged. The poison had been made to destroy not only the physical being but the mental as well. The hallucinations in the park confirmed that.

Magnus could feel the poison like a tangible thing now, his magic tugging at it gently. His magic loosened it slowly but surely until Alec’s energy was free and clear. With a sigh of relief Magnus relaxed his hands. The candles floated gently back to the table and the breeze calmed down. The crystal in Jace’s hand slowly stopped glowing until it was just a chunk of rock again.

“It is done,” Magnus sighed with relief, his hands coming up to rest on the table. Sweat had formed on his forehead and his legs felt shaky.

Isabelle rushed into the den and brought a chair back with her, gently guiding Magnus in to it. He smiled at her gratefully.

“Are you sure?” Jace demanded, “Are you one hundred percent positive that it worked?”

“Jace, he’s sure,” Isabelle replied before Magnus could even open his mouth. He smiled faintly. When he’d invited Alec over for a drink he’d spent nearly an hour talking about his family. One thing he’d mentioned was how fiercely protective Isabelle was of people who were vulnerable and while Magnus wasn’t necessarily vulnerable it was nice to have someone in his corner just now while he rested.

“He isn’t awake Isabelle, Luke was fine when Magnus was done last time,” Jace shot back. Magnus’ brow furrowed in annoyance. Something he’d always hated was people talking about him like he wasn’t there.

“Alexander has been walking around like giant bruise for days now. The poison infecting him was designed to drain not only physical power but mental as well. My magic is powerful but it’s up to Alec now. His energy, his soul, they need to rest. Of course he’s not awake yet,” Magnus said through gritted teeth.

Jace looked startled that Magnus had snapped at him before his face looked sheepish. “Right, sorry,” Jace choked out. He loosened his grip on Alec’s arm and placed the crystal on the table. “Let me get you a glass of water,” Jace offered tightly, avoiding both Magnus’ and Isabelle’s eyes.

Magnus glanced up and saw Isabelle’s glare directed at Jace as he walked out the room and he smiled again. She turned her gaze back to Magnus her features softening in his direction. Magnus snapped his fingers and a chair appeared next to Isabelle. She shot him a reproachful look before taking a seat.

“You shouldn’t be using your magic on such trivial things, you should be resting,” Isabelle scolded.

“You sound just like your brother sometimes,” Magnus mused, his mind flashing back to Alec telling him off for enchanting their drinks after healing Luke. Isabelle’s face softened and she looked slightly surprised. She turned her gaze to Alec where her gaze softened even more, the love plain on her face.

“He’ll be okay Isabelle,” Magnus told her softly.

“I know,” Isabelle replied just as softly, “It’s just… when it comes to Alec fighting he’ll fight tooth and nail to protect us all. But when it comes to himself? He takes whatever is thrown his way. Like he deserves it.”

“He always was a martyr,” Jace interjected. He handed Magnus the glass of water of which Magnus took gratefully. Jace moved back around the table to Alec’s right side and gripped his arm again.

“From what I’ve seen of your brother he’ll make it,” Magnus said softly, “He would never leave you two to fend for yourselves.”

“Yeah,” Isabelle laughed softly. She crossed her arms on the table next to Alec’s healing left shoulder and rested her head on them. Magnus knew her and Jace would be there the whole night so he settled in, the three of them just watching Alec breathe.

 

 

The day of the wedding dawned like the day of Isabelle’s trial: bleak and bitter. The Institute was thrumming with representatives from the Clave, old friends of Maryse and Robert, Lydia’s family, and the usual residents of the New York Institute.

Alec was hiding away from his bride-to-be and his family. Well, he was attempting to hide. But no doubt his family would track him to archery range and drag him back inside for more pleasantries.

Alec sighed and nocked another arrow, this one missing the target like every other arrow he’d attempted to shoot that morning. He threw the arrow onto the table in frustration and ran a hand through his hair.

“You know there’s still time to back out.” Alec whipped around at the sound of Isabelle’s voice. Her hair was up in rollers and she was wrapped in a silk robe. She was uncharacteristically lacking both make-up and heels, her feet shoved into sneakers. This Isabelle was about six inches shorter than Alec was used to but no less fierce.

“Oh yeah, I’ll just walk back inside and tell an Institute full of guests ‘I know you travelled here and were expecting a wedding but actually I don’t want to marry the bride, enjoy the buffet on your way out’?” Alec replied sarcastically.

“Well maybe not in that tone but yes,” Isabelle stated, coming further into the room. Where Alec had both hands flat on the table, his entire weight resting on his arms, Isabelle jumped up and sat next to him, her legs swinging beneath her.

“No, look, I’ll be fine, it’ll be fine,” Alec said tiredly, hanging his head.

“’Fine?’ How romantic,” Isabelle deadpanned. Her expression softened when Alec caught her gaze, her hand coming up to rest on his right shoulder. “Alec, no offense, but you look like the walking dead. When was the last time you slept properly?”  

“I don’t know,” Alec said hoarsely, honestly. Isabelle’s brow furrowed and she leaned her head on Alec’s shoulder, her hand gripping his bicep.

“You are going to be so lonely Alec,” Isabelle whispered, “I really don’t want that for you.”

“Iz, I’ll be fine,” Alec said, his voice steadier than before. He jostled his shoulder so Isabelle had to look up at him. “I promise you, I’ll be fine.”

“You deserve so much Alec. So much. I’m sorry you have to do this,” Isabelle replied sadly, her eyes still on the floor.

Alec put his hand under Isabelle’s chin and forced her to look him in the eyes.

“If me doing this means you all get to be happy then I would do it one hundred times over. I can take a life where I don’t get everything I want if it means that you do,” Alec stated.

Isabelle’s eyes filled with tears and she threw her arms around Alec’s shoulders. His arms came up around her waist and he squeezed her tight to his chest. They stayed like that for a while, Alec slowly rocking them side to side. They only broke apart when the door opened behind Alec.

“Woah, this is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, what’s with the sadness?” Jace asked, his face mildly alarmed as he walked over to Alec and Isabelle.

“Shut up Jace,” Alec and Isabelle said simultaneously. Jace smirked at them but his eyes looked wary.

“Seriously though, is everything okay? Cause I can call baby vamp and have him over here with his van if you need to make a quick getaway,” Jace told Alec, his arms folding across his chest.

“Okay, one? It’s the middle of the day, he’d walk outside and become barbeque ash in about three seconds. Two, I am fine. This wedding will be fine,” Alec said reassuringly. Although he wasn’t quite sure who he was reassuring – his siblings or himself.

“’Fine?” How sexy,” Jace deadpanned.

“That’s what I said!” Isabelle exclaimed, her hand hitting Jace in the shoulder.

“I thought you said romantic?” Alec asked Isabelle pedantically, his shoulders hunching at the two of them ganging up on him.

“It doesn’t matter Alec. ‘Fine’ is not a word you want associated with a marriage and you know it,” Isabelle said imploringly. Her eyes widened and Alec had to look away to avoid her pleading expression.

“Okay, real talk here. Are you sure this is what you want to do?” Jace asked.

Alec thought for a moment, what would happen if he said no, if he walked out of this Institute a single man instead of married. His family would lose the Institute, he’d lose his purpose, his place. He had no idea who he’d be without this job. He’d fade into the background, more than usual, ceasing to exist.

Alec could practically feel his resolve hardening, like a tangible object, and he raised his eyes to meet Jace’s. “Yes,” Alec stated. He watched as Jace’s expression dropped a little, obviously hoping he would say no.

“Okay then. We better go and get you ready then,” Jace said with a small smile as he clapped Alec on the shoulder. Alec smiled at him gratefully.

“Iz?” Alec asked hesitantly.

“Fine,” Isabelle sighed, “Let’s go have ourselves a wedding.” She hopped off the table and ducked under Jace’s arm. She caught Alec’ hand and begun to tow him back towards the main Institute building. “We have a lot of prep work brothers,” Isabelle sang cheerfully.

Alec and Jace groaned in unison as the three of them made their way back inside, back towards Alec’s future.

 

 

Alec hadn’t actually thought about what it would feel like to be standing in front of a room full of people, in traditional Shadowhunter wedding attire, about to marry a woman he didn’t even find romantically attractive let alone love.

Everyone’s eyes on him made Alec want to hunch his shoulders and curl in on himself like a hedgehog and just roll away out of the limelight. Jace stood to Alec’s right shoulder, his unhappiness and unease radiating off him like a heatwave.

Isabelle was making her way down the aisle towards them, beautiful as always in her gold dress. She smiled reassuringly at Alec, her smile doing nothing to calm the nervous energy surrounding him. Alec’s insides were tumbling, less butterflies fluttering around and more a hoard of tiny, angry elephants stomping in his chest.

Isabelle came to a stop on the other side of the altar to Alec, the Silent Brother hovering behind her in a way that felt menacing. Alec mentally shook himself and squared his shoulders as Lydia began her journey towards him.

She looked stunning, a smile plastered on her face. Alec could see both of their parents beaming on either side of the aisle. As she got closer and closer to him the pressure in Alec’s chest expanded. It felt like all of the air had been sucked from his body and he could feel the sweat pooling at his temples.

“Alec?” Jace asked quietly. His voice sounded like it was muffled, drowning.

“Alec?” Isabelle’s worried face came into his view, her hand outstretched.

“Alec?”

“Alec.”

 

Alec.”

Alec awoke with a start, a stabbing pain going through his abdomen. He gasped aloud, his head thumping back against the pillow underneath him.

“Alexander, you’re okay, just breathe deeply.” Magnus’ voice cut through the pain and into Alec’s psyche.

Alec’s eyes flew open and he took in the wood panelling of the ceiling above him. He registered the table underneath his back, the sheet covering his body. He felt a blush starting up his chest – his naked chest – at the thought of Magnus seeing him undressed. Which begged the question –

“Where are my clothes?” Alec croaked out, his throat dry and gravelly. The words sent him into a coughing fit, his left hand coming to rest on his chest. Magnus cupped the back of Alec’s head with his left hand, helping to prop him up, and helped him sip at a glass of water. Alec’s head fell back against the pillow and he took a deep, shuddering breath.

“Your clothes were caked in blood. I’ve sent the Scooby gang to retrieve some of your things and they should be back in a bit. I could magic you something now if you’d like to get comfortable though?” Magnus asked, his eyes carefully never wavering from Alec’s face.

“Yeah, please,” Alec rasped, his hands clenching in the sheets on either side of him.

“As you wish,” Magnus nodded and with a click of his fingers a pair of burgundy sweats, a white t-shirt, and a pair of black boxer briefs appeared in his hands. Magnus smirked at Alec’s wary gaze. “Are you nervous about the colour of the clothes or the idea of getting up to put on said clothes?”

“Uhhhh both,” Alec answered honestly.

“Would you like a hand?” Magnus asked. The flush rose up Alec’s chest at a steady rate, his entire face red. “How about you change your boxers on your own, give the other clothes a try, and then if you need my help to put on anything else you can shout me?”

“Yeah that would be good, thanks,” Alec smiled weakly, his hands still fisted in the sheets.

“Very well,” Magnus said lightly, placing the clothing at the end of the table before leaving Alec to his own devices.

Alec took a deep breath before sitting up slowly. His entire left side felt like it had been pulverised and Alec thought he could see a darker hue underneath the skin. Alec swung his legs around the side of the table, his vision going blurry with exertion. He gripped the edge of the table as he focussed his energy, deep breathing to steady his racing heart.

Alec gently lowered his feet to the floor, his bare feet landing slowly on the hardwood. He felt weird taking his boxers off in the middle of Magnus’ apartment but he felt grimy and grubby so cleanliness won out over his embarrassment.

He slid his boxers down his legs and changed quickly and efficiently, before collapsing back against the table so his ass was resting against the edge. While he had a burst of energy Alec pulled the t-shirt over his head. Once he’d pulled it on his vision began to blur. He leaned more heavily on the table, his breath coming in shorts pants.

“Magnus?” Alec called weakly. His voice sounded pathetic, even to him, and he winced uncomfortably.  

“Are you okay?” Magnus asked, suddenly right in front of Alec. Alec jumped slightly before slumping back against the table.

“I, eh, I need help,” Alec admitted breathlessly.

“Of course. No problem,” Magnus said softly, a small smile on his face. Magnus reached out for the sweatpants that were still lying at the base of the table before crouching down in front of Alec. Alec could feel the blush spreading up his cheeks at the position Magnus was in and he bit his lip to calm himself down.

“Lift this foot for me,” Mganus instructed, tapping Alec’s right foot. Alec did what he asked, repeating with the other side when Magnus tapped his left ankle. Magnus slowly slid the sweatpants up Alec’s legs, the material barely grazing his skin on the way up.

Alec could feel the control Magnus was exerting to keep from touching him. A small shiver ran up Alec’s spine at the smallest touch of Magnus’ fingers, made only more intense by the attempted respectful distance Magnus was keeping. It made something inside of Alec warm when he realised Magnus was trying to make him comfortable, not touching him without his express permission.

“Scoot forward a little,” Magnus ordered hoarsely, his eyes on Alec’s feet. Alec lifted his ass off the table and with one quick movement Magnus had pulled the sweatpants all the way up. Magnus practically leaped from his crouch and took a step backwards, giving Alec space.

Alec smiled at him minutely, his hands coming down to rest heavily on either side of him. Just getting dressed had been exhausting, how was he supposed to get back to the Institute?

“I can’t imagine that’s very comfortable,” Magnus said into the uncomfortable silence. “Think you can stand long enough for me to redecorate?”

“Yeah, yeah, I can do that,” Alec confirmed. He willed every atom of strength in his body to keep him upright as he removed himself from his leaning post. He swayed slightly in place but otherwise his internal prayers seemed to be keeping him standing.

Magnus nodded at him before a quick wave of his hands redecorated the living room. Where his walls had been dark wood panelling there was now a soft grey colour; the hard wood flooring had become a plush deep purple carpet that Alec’s toes sunk into; the table disappeared, along with the rest of the furniture, and was replaced by a black, deep, three-seater sofa and two matching arm chairs, teal throw pillows accentuating the purple of the carpet; a pinewood coffee table sat in the middle of the space, a row of candles cutting right across the middle.

Although Alec had seen Magnus redecorate before he had never actually paid attention the first time. It was amazing the way everything just changed with a snap of his fingers. Magnus was fiddling with the lighting of the room when vertigo overtook Alec.

Alec stumbled around the corner of the sofa and collapsed back onto the soft cushions.

“Alexander, are you okay?” Magnus asked. He’d moved to stand right in front of Alec, leaning towards him over the arm of the sofa.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little lightheaded,” Alec said, his left hand rubbing his forehead.

Magnus clicked his fingers again and a glass of water appeared in Magnus’ hand. His other hand held up two aspirin, which he offered to Alec with a smile. “I did a lot of healing magic on you so I’m afraid I can’t cure the headache but I can magic up the mundane equivalent.”

Alec took the pills gratefully, downing the glass of water afterwards. He leaned back against the cushions before a thought struck him and he sat back forward with a jolt.

“Wait, healing magic? What happened to me, where are Isabelle and Jace?” Alec asked quickly, panic entering his eyes.

“Relax Alexander,” Magnus soothed, perching on the coffee table in front of Alec. “They’re both okay. I sent them, Clary, and baby vamp back to the Institute. Although, the sun has come up so Raphael probably collected Sherwin and took him back to the hotel.”

“Sherwin? Do you mean Simon?” Alec asked confused.

“Yes, him, whatever,” Magnus answered flippantly, his hand waving languidly.

“That doesn’t explain the healing though? What happened to me?”

“Oh yes! Of course. Do you remember the Forsaken attack?” Magnus asked. At Alec’s nod of confirmation Magnus continued. “Do you remember Isabelle’s trial? The attack in the park?”

“Isabelle’s trial? Kind of, it’s blurry though,” Alec replied, his brow darkening for a second, “Wait, what attack?”

“I didn’t think you would remember. When you were attacked by the Forsaken there was a poison on your wound – Valentine’s doing – and it’s been slowly killing you over the past few weeks. It explains the bruising post-fight with Jace. Your sister is very angry at you by the way, she kept cursing out your martyrdom when she knew you would live,” Magnus informed Alec. Alec’s left eye had begun to twitch when Magnus had mentioned the fight with Jace but his eyes were clear now.

“So it’s been poisoning me? What happened at the park yesterday? Was anyone hurt?” Alec inquired quickly, leaning closer to Magnus, his elbows resting on his knees with his hands between his legs.

“Yesterday?” Magnus asked, chuckling, “Alexander, you’ve been unconscious for three days.”

“Days?” Alec asked incredulously.

“Your siblings began to annoy me rather quickly after day one so I sent them away and promised I’d inform them when you woke.  When I say siblings by the way I really mean Jace. But I should probably go and inform them now though,” Magnus said, standing gracefully.

“No don’t,” Alec said quickly, his hand wrapping around Magnus’ wrist. Magnus looked at him in surprise but he smiled softly when he saw the blush rising steadily up Alec’s cheekbones.

“I mean, could you just, could you maybe,” Alec stuttered out.

“Could I give you longer to get your bearings, maybe make you something to eat, some tea, let you assimilate back into the world?” Magnus asked quickly, understanding.

“Yeah exactly,” Alec nodded, a small smile spreading across his face. They kept each other’s gaze for a few seconds before, predictably, Alec glanced down.

“I’m going to need this back,” Magnus teased gently, shaking the wrist Alec was holding. Alec dropped it quickly, his face flaming red once again. “You can have it back when I return, I promise.” What that parting comment Magnus left Alec alone in the living room.

Alec ran his hands through his hair as he slumped backwards into the cushions once more. He could hear Magnus pottering around in the kitchen, what sounded like china tapping together. Alec smiled slightly at the domesticity of the whole situation. His smile faded when he recalled the dream he’d had, the wedding.

Alec sighed out loud, interlocking his fingers behind his head, and closed his eyes. He tipped his head so his hands were resting against the back of the sofa. Images of Lydia in a white gown, him in his wedding suit, Izzy and Jace standing up there with him, the whole idea of a wedding made him feel sick. He blew out a breath and sunk further into the cushions.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Magnus asked, suddenly right in front of Alec.

Alec’s eyes popped open and he was greeted with the sight of Magnus placing a tray on the coffee table. There stood a large tea pot in the centre of the tray, with two matching tea cups. Alec raised his eyebrows at the decadence of the tea set.

“Beautiful aren’t they? Indonesian silver. A gift from my dear friend Catarina,” Magnus said lightly, a small, smug smile on his face.

“Yes, it’s very nice,” Alec nodded.

“Nice? Oh Alexander, you really need to learn to appreciate the finer things in life,” Magnus scolded softly. Magnus poured two cups of tea – “Camomile, to settle your stomach.” – and handed a cup over to Alec. He settled in the arm chair adjacent to the sofa, keeping a respectful distance from Alec but staying lose in case Alec needed him.

Alec’s hands felt clumsy and large holding the small silver teacup. He drank the tea gratefully though, his hunger beginning to hit him with a vengeance. He finished the tea quickly and placed the cup on the coffee table.

“Would you like more? Or something to eat perhaps?” Magnus asked.

“I’m a little hungry but I’m okay, the tea’s just fine,” Alec answered softly.

“Nonsense, what would you like to eat?” Magnus inquired, his fingers already twitching in that magical nervous habit of his.

“Seriously, don’t exert yourself for me. I know healing magic takes a lot out of you,” Alec replied calmly, his face open when he looked at Magnus.

Magnus’ gaze softened and he looked at Alec with a little bit of surprise colouring his features. He smirked minutely before snapping his fingers. A platter of deli sandwiches appeared next to the tray on the coffee table, along with two bottles of soda, and a box of cupcakes.

Magnus leaned forward and forced Alec to look at him. “I exerted a lot of energy healing you, sure. But I’ve had three days to recover Alexander.” Magnus smiled softly at him. “Besides, I don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t do for you at this moment.”

Alec’s face lit up with his blush and he lowered his eyes from Magnus’ gaze. He bit his lip before glancing back up at Magnus from under his lashes. Magnus’ eyes were trained steadily on Alec’s face, a small smile stretching slowly across his features.

“Well, dig in. I have to say, I’m famished myself, I can only imagine how hungry you must be after three days. I must admit I wasn’t quite sure what you’d like so I summoned a bit of everything. Also, cupcakes. Because who doesn’t love cupcakes?” Magnus asked rhetorically, helping himself to a pastrami on rye.

“Thank you,” Alec said softly, reaching out to grab a cheese and tuna melt. Magnus smiled at him before taking a bite out of his sandwich. His bites were positively delicate compared to the ferocity in which Alec attacked his sandwich. Alec had almost finished his before Magnus even got to the half way point of his own.

“Help yourself to more, I conjured enough for a small soccer team,” Magnus joked.

“I promise I’m usually a much more respectable eater,” Alec blushed as he reached for his second sandwich, this time a meatball sub. He took a bite, and swallowed, before speaking again. “Can you tell me more about my injuries? The poison, what it did to me?”

“The poison attached itself to the healthy tissue in your body, spreading down your left side. I’m sure you came up with a multitude of explanations to reassure yourself for why it was so bad but essentially you were suffering from necrosis,” Magnus explained.

“Necrosis? So I was decomposing from the inside out?” Alec asked. His face had lost its colour and he put the remainder of his sandwich on the coffee table, his stomach turning.

“Yes, that’s exactly right. The necrosis let off toxins in your body that spread to your spread to your brain. That’s what caused your hallucinations and psychosis,” Magnus replied.

“Hallucinations? What hallucinations?” Alec asked, alarmed.

“Ahh yes. Well it seems you imagined… killing your siblings and Clary. Isabelle theorised that you when you were aiming at the demons they then morphed into the three of them and you thought you’d killed them. That’s why you took the dagger to your carotid,” Magnus explained gently. He leaned forward in his seat, placing a hand on Alec’s knee.

“Wait, I did this? To myself?” Alec sprung up from the sofa, displacing Magnus’ hand, and began to pace up and down the living room.

“I told you, the poison caused this. Alec, everyone is okay. Including you. It’s over now,” Magnus soothed, his eyes following Alec’s every move in fear that he’d collapse again.

“I could have killed them. This was so irresponsible. I’m supposed to be stronger than this, -“

Stop.” Magnus’ voice commanded. Alec was so shocked at the vehemence in Magnus’ tone that he immediately stopped pacing and turned to face Magnus full on. “Alexander, this is why the poison affected you so much. You take everything onto your shoulders – your very well defined shoulders, I must admit – but you never stop to think about what you need. What you deserve. Alec, your siblings do not expect you to run yourself into the ground just so they can run around like idiots and do what they want.”

“Magnus, I’m the oldest, okay, I should be able to protect them,” Alec replied, fiercely.

“You do not need to protect them by killing yourself. Because that’s what you’re doing Alexander. Physically, by taking all of those missions to distract yourself, mentally by forcing yourself into a loveless, sexless, emotionally draining marriage. You are killing yourself,” Magnus said vehemently. He’d strode over to where Alec had stopped when he was talking so their faces were only inches apart.

“I would rather die than see them unhappy,” Alec confessed quietly, his eyes burning into Magnus’.

The two of them stood there for what felt like hours, their breaths intermingling in the short space between them. Magnus’ eyes were lined with glitter, his make-up only enhancing the beauty of his eyes. Alec was panting hard almost as if he’d run three marathons back to back. Alec couldn’t be sure but he thought he could feel Magnus infinitesimally leaning towards him. Alec’s tongue peaked out and licked his lower lip, Magnus’ eyes following the movement. Alec saw Magnus swallow hard and he began to lean in –

“Magnus!” Clary’s voice cut through the tension, both of them taking a step away from each other. Alec cleared his throat, his hands coming up to rest on his hips. Magnus strode over to the coffee table and poured both of them another cup of tea, him clutching his like a lifeline as he sat back in the armchair.

“Magnus! Izzy sent me to – oh!” Clary barrelled into the room, stopping short when she saw Alec standing behind the sofa. “Alec, you’re awake! And I’m stating the obvious, excellent. Well, Izzy sent me to check on you and ask Magnus how you were doing but I guess you can just tell her yourself. You wanna call her or should I?”

“I’ll call her, thanks Clary,” Alec nodded at her, his hand going to a pocket that wasn’t even there. “Ah right, do you still have my clothes?” Alec directed the question at Magnus, avoiding his eyes by picking at a loose thread on his t-shirt.

“Of course, I’ll go fish your cell phone out of the monstrosity that is now your jeans,” Magnus answered, swiftly exiting the room.

“So… it’s great that you’re awake. Uh, how do you feel?” Clary asked awkwardly.

“I feel fine, thanks. How is the Institute?” Alec asked back, just as awkwardly.  

“Still standing. Although there’s been some rumours lately about Lydia being recalled to Idris? I’m not sure though. I’m sure you’ll find out more when you go back. You know? Cause she’s your fiancé,” Clary rambled. She cleared her throat before walking further into the living room and falling into one of Magnus’ armchairs. She picked up a cupcake and examined it like it was the most interesting thing on the planet.

Thankfully, before either of them attempted any more awkward conversation, Magnus reappeared, his painted fingernails appearing in Alec’s vision. Alec plucked the cell phone out of his hand, nodding at him stiltedly, and went through to Magnus’ den to call Izzy.

She answered on the first ring, something almost unheard of from his younger sister.

“Alec? Is that you?” Isabelle asked, her excitement carrying through the phone.

“Yeah Iz, it’s me,” Alec answered, an uncontrollable smile spreading across his face. He rested back against the table in the den, folding one arm under his chest and tucking his hand under his bicep.

“Oh my goodness, I’m so happy to hear your voice! How are you feeling? Is Magnus looking after you? Do you need anything? Did Clary arrive yet?” Isabelle asked her questions in quick succession.

“Jeez Izzy I’ve been unconscious for three days, you gotta ease me back into the world,” Alec joked. He could tell it had fallen flat though when there was nothing but silence from Isabelle’s end. “Iz I’m kidding. I’m okay, I promise.”

“Alec I was terrified. I know Magnus is powerful but you just looked so… lifeless,” Isabelle confessed quietly. Alec could picture in his mind the expression she was most likely sporting; her mouth downturned, her big brown eyes wide and frowning. Alec never wanted to see that expression.

“Isabelle, I’m okay. I’m sore all over but I’m alive,” Alec said just as quietly. He knew that this moment required him to be honest, vulnerable. “I feel like I’ll never walk without getting winded again but Magnus explained the poison to me so I’m not surprised I still feel so beat up.”

“Wait, how long have you been awake? Did you not call me right away?” Isabelle demanded.

“Um no. Magnus wanted to make sure I was rested enough,” Alec reasoned, but even to himself it sounded weak.

“Uh huh. Okay. Well do you want us to come over and pick you up? If you need help walking or anything?” Isabelle asked with amusement. Alec blushed lightly even though she couldn’t even see him.

“I mean Clary could probably bring me. How did she get over here?” Alec asked, shifting around against the desk.

“She took the subway.”

“That’s fine, I’ll ride back with her.” Alec pushed off from the desk and wandered over to look at one of the walls in the den. It was lined with pictures. Magnus with a guy with horns on his head. A woman with blue skin and white hair. Magnus and Raphael. Pictures taken in what looked like hundreds of different countries. It occurred to Alec that he didn’t really know Magnus at all.

“Alec you cannot take the subway! At least pay for a cab,” Isabelle berated, cutting into Alec’s prying.

“Okay fine, I’ll get a cab,” Alec acquiesced.

“Excellent! I’m so excited you’re coming home. I’m gonna cook you dinner to welcome you back,” Isabelle stated, excitement colouring her voice.

“Izzy you really don’t –“

“Nonsense, nothing is too much for my big brother. I’ll see you soon. I love you.” Isabelle hung up with that.

“I love you too,” Alec muttered sarcastically, pocketing his phone in the borrowed sweats. He shot one last look at the wall of pictures before re-joining Magnus and Clary in the living room.

Alec was greeted by the sight of Magnus weaving an intricate braid into Clary’s hair, Magnus’ hands working quickly and efficiently. The two of them were laughing at something, Magnus’ head leaning backwards as he laughed with his whole body. It took Alec’s breath away, the easiness that flowed between the two of them. Alec was never like that, never that comfortable in his own skin.

“Literally though, these were the worst pancakes I have ever had,” Clary said, her voice filled with amusement. Her eyes widened when she saw Alec and she smiled wider as if to include him in the joke. “Alec, you probably have a million stories about Izzy’s cooking. How is she so terrible?”

Magnus looked up from where he was braiding and fixed Alec with an oddly intimate gaze. Alec’s ears began to burn under their scrutiny and he sank back onto the sofa just for something to do. “She’s not so bad at drinks, she actually makes an awesome hot chocolate, but she cannot cook to save her life. When our parents left for Idris she thought it meant she had to cook for Jace and I and I don’t think we’ve ever ordered so much take-out in such a small time frame.”

Clary’s laughter filled the room while Magnus’ amusement was much more diluted, just a small smile colouring his smooth features.

“How about you, can you cook? Did you steal all the cooking talent in the family?” Clary teased, her smile wide.

“I’m not too bad. Jace is good. You wouldn’t think so but he makes great desserts,” Alec replied, his shoulders losing some of their tension as he thought about his siblings. “I’m pretty good at pizza.”

“Like ordering or oven pizza?” Clary asked amusedly.

“Like actual pizza. I can make it from scratch,” Alec confessed.

Clary’s face looked surprised, at the detail he’s shared about himself or about the detail itself Alec didn’t know, but Magnus’ expression didn’t change, the soft smile still firmly in place. Alec looked down at the floor, his ears burning, before he cleared his throat.

“I should probably get back to the Institute, Izzy seemed really worried on the phone,” Alec said. While not quite a lie, it definitely felt like one when he saw Magnus’ facial expression drop slightly. However Magnus’ mask – and Alec was more sure now that Magnus hid behind a mask just as much as Alec himself did – slid into place quickly and he finished twisting Clary’s hair.

“Ah yes, I’m sure the delightful Miss Lightwood is beside herself waiting for you. She was extremely worried when you were unconscious,” Magnus said lightly, his fingers twitching in the air.

Alec was sure he was staring but he couldn’t really take his eyes off Magnus’ hands, that nervous twitch almost as captivating as Magnus’ eyes. Almost.

“Oh yeah that reminds me, Iz sent over some clothes for you. Hang on, I’ll grab the bag from the hallway,” Clary said, springing up from her chair.

Magnus had walked over to his cocktail bar and was mixing himself a drink. Once again Alec found himself captivated. By Magnus’ long, lean legs, his slim waist, his strong, lithe arms that tapered into skinny, delicate wrists. Alec focussed on Magnus’ long fingers as he swirled his pinky around a martini glass.

“It’s rude to stare you know,” Magnus mused, turning around quickly to catch Alec’s eyes. Alec inhaled quickly, his chest constricting at the look in Magnus’ eyes.

“I wasn’t, I mean I was, but I didn’t, that wasn’t,” Alec stuttered before he cut himself off. His father always used to tell him that stuttering was for blushing girls, not something a Shadowhunter, a leader, should do. Alec could feel the blush rise on his cheeks as he looked down at the floor and rubbed the back of his neck.

Alec could see Magnus open his mouth from the corner of his eye but before he could say anything Clary burst back into the room carrying a duffel bag. She hefted it over and dropped it at Alec’s feet with a huff. At Alec’s confused look she stifled a laugh.

“Isabelle didn’t take you being out of action very well,” Clary explained, “She decided that she would overhaul your wardrobe for when you were up and about again. Don’t worry, Jace reigned her in before she bought anything too extravagant. I think mostly she just wanted to feel like she was useful,” Clary finished softly.

Alec avoided her eyes as he pushed himself off the sofa and grabbed the duffel. He felt immensely guilty now at not wanting to call Isabelle right away when he woke up.

“You can change in my room Alexander, or the bathroom if you’d prefer,” Magnus offered.

“Uh your bedroom will do fine,” Alec mumbled, his eyes still trained on the floor.

“Excellent, it’s right through here,” Magnus said brightly, his arm gesturing towards the deep purple stain glass doors Alec had written off as art. Magnus slid the doors apart to reveal a room with dark red walls, mahogany floor boards, and a giant four poster bed covered in red sheets. The room was so Magnus that Alec had to stifle a smile. Alec could have been wrong but he thought Magnus looked pleased at Alec’s reaction. “Be sure to shout me if you need help getting dressed again Alexander.”

Alec’s face flushed brightly again, and from the corner of his eye he saw Clary’s face light up in a delighted smile. Alec hefted the duffel further up his shoulder and headed into the bedroom. Magnus slid the doors shut behind him and for the first time since the trial Alec was alone.

Alec threw the duffel onto the bed and ran his hands through his hair, blowing out a breath. His body still ached and his shoulders were stiff but his mind was clearer than it had been for a while. Alec knew as soon as he got back to the Institute there would be some tough conversations. Until then though Alec busied himself with rifling through what Clary had brought.

Thankfully Isabelle hadn’t gone too crazy. There was a pair of black jeans on the top, a little bit tighter than Alec would usually go for but not too bad. Multiple t-shirts, one white, one black, one dark blue, one forest green, all a size smaller than he would have picked for himself. Again not too bad. Alec’s face flushed when he grabbed the underwear Isabelle had packed. Calvin Kleins, definitely a size smaller than he bought himself. Alec shook his head, it wasn’t like anyone would be seeing them anyway right?

Alec pulled off the t-shirt Magnus had given him and pulled on the black one Isabelle had packed. The material clung to his body in a way that wasn’t entirely comfortable but it was only until he got home. Next Alec shimmied off the sweatpants and boxers and pulled on the Clavin Klein boxer briefs – thankfully black – before squeezing himself into the jeans. The boxers were snug but the jeans were tighter than anything he’d worn before. Alec felt horribly on display and there was no one even looking at him. There’s no one looking at you ever anyway, Alec’s mind whispered.

Alec shook his head and pulled out a pair of socks before tugging on the new pair of boots Isabelle had bought him. After he’d laced them up he dug to the bottom of the bag and smiled softly at what he unearthed. Underneath everything Isabelle had packed a brand new black hoodie. On it was a post-it note where Isabelle had written, “I know you have a sad sweater so I thought maybe this could be your happy hoodie? Love you big bro, Iz x”

Alec tugged the hoodie on – a size bigger than he’d buy, the sleeves falling past his hands – and the soft material felt amazing on his skin. Sometimes Alec thought Isabelle should have been the older sibling the way she was always taking care of him. Alec stuffed the clothes Magnus had lent him into the duffle, uncomfortable with the idea of leaving behind dirty laundry. He hefted the duffle over his shoulder and slid open the door back into the living room.

“I cannot believe Isabelle got her hands on your wardrobe and you still picked everything black in that bag,” Clary joked.

“I like what I like,” Alec replied, pulling the strap further up his shoulder defensively.

“Nothing wrong with a man who knows his own mind,” Magnus cut in from where he was sitting on his arm chair, a martini glass filled with hot pink liquid in his hand. Alec looked him in the eyes and was once again captivated by the look in them.

“Thank you Magnus,” Alec choked out eventually after many moments of staring.

“Thank you?” Magnus asked, his eyes boring into Alec’s.

“For healing me,” Alec clarified. “Thank you. For saving my life.”

“It’s quite alright,” Magnus replied, his gaze never wavering and filled with warmth. Alec couldn’t look away. He didn’t even want to.

“Uh Alec, I’ll go. Get us a cab. Or something. Bye Magnus,” Clary’s voice cut through the tension and she waved awkwardly at Magnus before heading for the door.

Alec averted his eyes from Magnus’ and cleared his throat. Magnus stood swiftly and gracefully from the armchair but retained the distance between the two of them.

“How much, eh, how much do I owe you?” Alec asked, lifting his gaze back to Magnus’. Magnus looked down at the floor, a sad expression on his face, before looking Alec in the eyes again.

“You don’t owe me a thing Alec,” Magnus said, a heartbroken expression on his face. Magnus had walked closer to Alec and they were standing so close again.

“But this took a lot out of you, it can’t have been easy, plus my family are annoying, I can’t imagine they made anything any easier, so really I –,” Alec stuttered until Magnus raised a finger towards his lips so quiet him.

“Alexander,” Magnus said quietly, and oh didn’t that send a shiver down Alec’s spine, “I healed you because I wanted to, not because I had to.”

“Why?” Alec asked, an echo of a conversation they’d had when they’d first drank together.

“Because, Alexander, there’s something about you I can’t seem to ignore. I don’t want to ignore it either. In fact I’d like to know more. So you could say I saved you in the hope I’d have that opportunity,” Magnus answered honestly, his gaze open and trusting.

“Magnus, I’m engaged,” Alec said quietly, his gaze dropping again. Magnus placed a single finger under Alec’s chin and tipped up his face until their eyes met.

“When you were unconscious you must have been dreaming, because at one point you said my name,” Magnus confessed, his eyes imploring, “And then later you said “Lydia, I can’t”.” Magnus paused in his confession to take a steadying breath. “Alec you have to understand, I’ve been alive for over four hundred years. I know a lost cause when I see one and you, angel, are nothing of the sort. I’m going to keep hoping, for as long as it takes.” As Magnus finished he took a step backwards from Alec, his hand dropping from Alec’s chin.

Alec leaned towards the contact and when it was gone he felt a shiver of cold run down his spine. Alec gripped the strap of the duffle bag like a lifeline before turning for the door. He only took a few steps before he stopped again.

“I don’t want to marry her. I don’t think I can,” Alec confessed quietly into the charged air.

“You don’t have to marry her. You don’t,” Magnus stressed to Alec’s back.

“I should. It would help my family,” Alec said, ducking his head, “But I can’t do it. I’m too weak.”

“No Alec,” Magnus asserted, coming around to stand in front of Alec again, “Refusing to do this doesn’t make you weak. It makes you strong, one of the strongest people I’ve known.”

“I don’t feel very strong,” Alec almost whispered.

“You are. I promise you that,” Magnus said, his hand twitching towards Alec’s shoulder before he dropped it heavily and averted his gaze. “Alec, when you’re feeling better, you’re welcome here any time. Any time.”

“Thank you Magnus,” Alec said, his voice quiet and calm. He moved past Magnus again before pausing in the doorway. He turned back around and caught Magnus’ gaze. “How does Friday sound?”

A blinding smile spread across Magnus’ face and his eyes lit up. “It’s a date,” Magnus said brightly.

“It’s a date,” Alec confirmed, a small matching smile on his face. Alec shut the door behind him and bounded gently down the stairs. He pushed the door open onto the street of Brooklyn and found Clary leaning against the wall immediately to his right.

“I thought you were getting us a cab?” Alec asked confused.

“I didn’t know how long you’d be,” Clary smirked, a knowing expression on her face.

“Alright, let’s go,” Alec said, his face flushing gently.

“You look much less miserable when Magnus is round you know,” Clary joked. She loped her arm through his, in a move that reminded Alec so much of Isabelle, and dragged him off towards a cab. Alec went without much protest, just a roll of his eyes, and allowed himself to be dragged. He needed to get back to the Institute and rest.

He had a date to prepare for after all.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec was thankful his parents were still in Idris with Max because he could not handle it if they’d caught him leaning on Clary like he was.

“You’re heavier than you look you know that?” Clary asked from where she was situated under Alec’s arm. He had it wrapped around her neck and he was leaning almost his entire weight on her, his entire body aching.

“You’re a shadowhunter, you have enhanced strength, use it,” Alec panted. He’d felt okay leaving Magnus’, almost like he was floating on air actually, until him and Clary hadn’t been able to catch a cab due to the horrific downpour that caused all the mundanes to scramble for the cars. Now Alec and Clary were about ten blocks from the Institute and Alec was very close to passing out.

“Can’t we just call Isabelle? Or Jace?” Clary asked, her teeth chattering.

“Come on, we’re almost there. I can walk on my own if you want,” Alec offered, already sliding his arm away from her neck. Clary grabbed his wrist and pulled the arm back around her.

“Okay, one? You couldn’t walk three feet without my help right now. And two? Where we’re pressed together is currently the warmest place on my body so you do not get to let go when I’ve basically carried your sorry ass all the way from the subway,” Clary shot back. Alec had to admit she was essentially dragging him home.

“Can we just… stop? Just for a minute?” Alec asked, his vision spotting.

“Woah yeah, you okay?” Clary asked, her voice suddenly filled with concern. She pulled Alec under an awning in front of a bakery that coincidentally Jace loved. The bleak New York weather made the day seem much later than it was when it was actually only the middle of the afternoon. The bakery was thrumming with people attempting to stay warm and dry, powdered sugar hovering in the dry air inside.

“Yeah, I just need a second,” Alec rasped, leaning his shoulder against the red brick wall and dropping the duffel on the floor. Clary hovered beside him, concern clear on her face. Her expression cleared before she smiled and dashed around Alec, leaving him leaning against the wall on his own.

“Okay, I’ll just wait here. By myself,” Alec said sarcastically to the now empty space where Clary has been. Alec took deep breaths in and out, his body aching with every breath. He was actually considering calling Magnus when Clary reappeared beside him.

“Here,” Clary smiled, holding out a cupcake for Alec to take. Clary shot him an exasperated look when he didn’t move an inch and held the cupcake out more insistently. “Take the cupcake Alec.” Alec looked back at her with a similar exasperated look before reaching out and taking the cupcake.

“Thanks,” Alec said, holding the cupcake up in front of his face.

“I noticed the cupcakes on Magnus’ coffee table and I saw that none of them were gone. I figured out of everyone that deserved a cupcake today it was you,” Clary said lightly before taking a bite out of her cupcake.

“You are eating that all wrong,” Alec said affronted.

“How can I eat a cupcake wrong?” Clary asked, confused.

“You don’t take a massive bite out of it. You eat the bottom first and leave the frosting for last, everyone knows that,” Alec explained, eating the sponge off the bottom of his own cupcake and nibbling around the frosting on top.

“What? No. Then the ratio of sponge to frosting is all off, are you nuts?” Clary replied, taking a defiant bite out of her cupcake. Her glare wasn’t nearly as powerful as she wanted it to be considering her hair was dripping water onto her cheeks.

“The frosting is the best part, everyone knows that,” Alec said, licking his fingers to rid himself off the leftover frosting.

“If you do that every time you eat a cupcake no wonder Magnus conjured them,” Clary said cheekily, gesturing to the fingers in his mouth. She took a victorious bite of her cupcake as Alec’s face flamed red.

“That is, I mean you’re just, this is just -,” Alec stuttered.

“Alec?” Both Alec and Clary turned to face the new voice and found Lydia standing immaculately under a large black umbrella. She made a stark contrast to the dripping messes the two of them made hidden under the bakery awning.

“Lydia, what are you doing here?” Alec asked, wincing as he straightened up from the bakery wall.

“Jace asked if I’d come here to pick up some cupcakes. Apparently he’s making your favourite dessert but Isabelle hates it so I was despatched to get something else,” Lydia explained, her smile small but sincere.

“Iz hates tiramisu,” Alec smiled, “She can’t stand the taste of coffee.”

“Wait Jace can make tiramisu?” Clary asked, amused. She’d pushed off the wall too and was standing right next to Alec, smiling up at him softly.

“I told you, he’s pretty good at desserts,” Alec told her, returning her smile.

“Okay it’s only fair, one day you’ll make pizza from scratch, and Jace will make dessert, and Iz will make hot chocolate, and you’ll all feed me and in return I’ll educate you in mundane movies. Deal?” Clary asked, her smile growing wider.

“Fine, deal,” Alec replied, amused. He turned back to Lydia who had a small smile on her face. She looked rather wistful and slightly sad.

“What’s wrong?” Alec asked her.

“Oh, nothing,” Lydia replied, a professional smile sliding into place on her face. “I couldn’t help but notice you were wincing a little? If you guys wait for me to grab these cupcakes I could give you a hand back to the Institute?”

“That would be great, thank you,” Clary answered before Alec could even open his mouth. Lydia nodded at Clary before stepping under the awning and shutting her umbrella. She handed the umbrella over to Clary before stepping into the bakery.

“Does she seem off to you?” Alec asked Clary, his eyes following Lydia as she spoke to the girl behind the counter.

“I think you and her need to have a conversation when we get you back,” Clary answered. At Alec’s confused look she shot him a small smile before picking up the duffel. “Now that Lydia is here she can carry your heavy ass back to the Institute and I will carry the duffel and the umbrella. Thank god she showed up though, I am freezing.” At Clary’s words a shiver ran through her small frame and she hunched her shoulders.

“There’s another hoodie in the duffel if you want it?” Alec offered.

“Nah, I’m already cold and wet, might as well stick it out until I can sink into a warm bath,” Clary replied. She perked up when Lydia came out of the bakery and joined them. “I’ll take those,” Clary said, grabbing the cupcake box out of Lydia’s hands, “You need to help Alec. I cannot carry him anymore.”

Lydia chuckled under her breath and nodded at Clary. She shot Alec a smile before sliding her arm around his waist. “Come on Lightwood, let’s get you back.” Lydia and Clary shared a smile as Clary opened the umbrella and popped it over Alec’s head.

“Just for the record, I am not some damsel in distress, I don’t need your help,” Alec said determinedly.

“Okay princess, whatever you say,” Lydia chuckled.

Alec rolled his eyes as the three of them trudged through the bleak New York weather and back towards the Institute.

 

 

Alec didn’t usually allow himself to indulge in frivolous things, he was a soldier and soldiers didn’t require luxuries. However, at Clary and Isabelle’s insistence, Alec was currently immersed up to his neck in bubbles in the claw-foot tub in Isabelle’s private bathroom. How she’d gotten their parents to agree to this luxury was beyond Alec but he was not complaining.

Alec sunk deeper into the bubbles, his aches slowly melting out of his body. Isabelle had texted Magnus as soon as she’d clocked Alec limping but Magnus had reassured her that a little ache was normal.

Just as Alec was relaxing, the tension draining from his shoulders, the bathroom door opened. Alec’s eyes shot open and he was met with the sight of Jace shutting the bathroom door behind him before coming around the side of the tub and pulling a chair up beside Alec’s head.

“What the hell are you -,” Alec started, stopping when he saw Jace’s expression.

“I know you’re still mad at me, Alec, but I need to talk to you,” Jace said quietly, his voice honest and open.

“You couldn’t have waited until I was out of the bath and dry?” Alec asked sarcastically.

“This is the only place you couldn’t run away from me,” Jace replied, his mouth lifting up at the side in the approximation of a smile.

“Alright. What do you want to talk about?” Alec asked, his hands gripping the sides of the bathtub. Alec was just thankful Isabelle had been liberal with the bubbles.

“What I said to you when we fought… it wasn’t fair. I should never have thrown your feelings in your face like that,” Jace almost whispered, his eyes boring into Alec’s.

“Jace -,”

“I knew how you felt about me. I have known. I abused it sometimes, to get you to do things I knew you didn’t want to do. But when you took that dagger to your throat? I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, I couldn’t breathe. Alec, I am so sorry if I have ever done anything to make you feel like you were unworthy of something. You’re my parabatai Alec, my brother. I cannot apologise to you enough for not being there for you,” Jace said quietly, his voice wavering slightly towards the ends.

Alec was stunned silent, his fingers slipping on the edge of the tub.

“Alec I promise you that I’ll do better. I’ll be better. I just need you to forgive me. Please,” Jace finished quietly.

“Can you get up please, and go stand at the door?” Alec asked quickly.

“Yeah sure,” Jace said quietly, his facial expression dropping. He got up from the chair and stood facing the door, his shoulders evidently tense underneath his t-shirt.

Alec stood quickly and hopped out of the bath, pulling on the boxers his sister had left and wrapping a towel around his waist. He walked quickly over to where Jace was standing and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Jace,” Alec said quietly, his hand slipping from Jace’s shoulder as he turned around. Jace’s face lit up and he threw his arms around Alec’s shoulders, one hand coming up to rest on Alec’s neck. Alec squeezed him once before pulling away with a cough.

“I forgive you. But only if you’ll forgive me too,” Alec said in a steady voice.

“Hey man, there’s nothing to forgive,” Jace said brightly, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Alec replied, his mouth quirking up at one side.

Jace slapped Alec on the shoulder before reaching for the door handle. “Come on, Izzy has made dinner – don’t worry, Lydia helped her almost every step of the way – and there is a kick ass tiramisu waiting for you downstairs. Go get dressed and join us.” Jace shot Alec a smile before he exited the bathroom, leaving Alec alone to drain the tub and go and dry off.

 

It turned out that when Isabelle had been overhauling Alec’s wardrobe she hadn’t stopped at his closet, oh no. When Alec returned to his room after dinner he’d found that his sister had replaced almost everything he owned clothing wise – his underwear, his t-shirts, jeans, formalwear, pyjamas, you name it. The only thing that hadn’t felt her wrath was his ‘sad sweater’, as she’d named it, and the black hoodie she’d appropriated from him before. Alec shoved a hand through his hair, sighing aloud, before rifling through his pyjama drawer to find something he wouldn’t actually mind wearing.

“God damn it Iz,” Alec muttered under his breath to himself. He’d just thrown a ludicrous pair of neon green basketball shorts into the corner of his room when there was a firm knock at his door. Muttering under his breath the whole way there Alec made his way to the door, opening it to find Lydia on the other side.

“Hey,” Alec said, surprise colouring his tone. He took a step back and gestured into his room for Lydia to enter.

“Hey,” Lydia replied quietly, taking Alec’s invitation and walking into his room to perch on the edge of his mattress. Alec’s eyes never left her as he closed the door, a feeling of apprehension washing over him.

“How are you feeling?” Lydia asked, her eyes meeting his for the first time.

“I feel better,” Alec nodded, moving across the room to sit next to her on the bed. “What’s up?”

“I have to tell you something and I think I know how you’re going to take it but I’m worried you’re not going to react the way I think you’re going to act and I’m a little bit scared,” Lydia rambled, her eyes on the floor in front of her.

“Okay, you’re rambling. Lydia, what’s going on? Are you okay?” Alec asked, his body curving around to stare at the side of Lydia’s face.

Lydia took a deep breath before nodding once and raising her eyes to Alec’s. “The Clave have offered me the Shanghai Institute. Apparently my running of the Institute here and the fact that I was rather harsh on Isabelle during her trial was enough to convince them that I don’t need to be married to run an Institute.” Lydia’s eyes reflected her fear – at this opportunity, at his reaction, Alec wasn’t sure – and she bit her lip.

“Lydia, that’s great,” Alec smiled at her.

“Really? Oh thank goodness,” Lydia smiled back, relief plain in her voice. She dropped her head back and all the tension drained from her shoulders.

“Were you worried I would be angry? I mean I can’t say I won’t be disappointed to see you go but I’m really happy for you,” Alec told her. She pulled her head back up and looked at him with something akin to surprise on her face.

“Honestly? I thought you’d be happy for me but angry considering I’m breaking our engagement at the same time,” Lydia said quietly, her eyes wide.

“I think we both know that it’s going to be a little bit of a relief not to have a wedding,” Alec joked, leaning back on his hands.

“Right,” Lydia laughed, “Plus this way you can ask out Magnus Bane.”

“What?” Alec asked surprised. Lydia looked over to him with exasperation on her face.

“Come on Alec. Did you think I couldn’t see it?” Lydia asked in disbelief.

“It can’t have been that obvious,” Alec argued, his face flaming lightly.

“Alec I think Isabelle is more attracted to me than you are,” Lydia joked, “Plus I saw the way you looked at Magnus when he was here for the trial. You might have everyone fooled into thinking you’re a robot but I like to think I know you better than that.”

“I’m not a robot,” Alec replied weakly.

“I know,” Lydia said gently, placing a hand on his knee. “You were literally about to marry a woman you barely knew just to save your family’s honour. I can see how much you care. If you give your future partner even half of what you give to your family then they will be a very lucky person.” Lydia’s smile was soft and gently, her eyes open and honest.

Alec didn’t know how to respond. He thought he’d been so careful in keeping his feeling locked down.

“I know you’re beating yourself up now because you think you’ve failed or something but your heart is what makes you strong, okay? Don’t lose that,” Lydia asserted, her golden hair falling down her back.

“You say that like you’re saying goodbye, like this is it,” Alec said quietly.

“It’s not goodbye. It’s just goodbye for now,” Lydia clarified. She pushed herself off Alec’s bed and smoothed down her skirt. Alec bolted off the bed to stand up next to her and she turned around to look up at him.

“I’m really sorry for everything that went down here Lydia.”

“Don’t be. You guys have been great – you know, minus the hate at the beginning, and the whole trial thing,” Lydia joked lightly, a smile spreading across her face. Alec mirrored her smile before she reached out and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. He squeezed her back once before letting go. She smiled at him again before heading for the door.

Alec flopped back onto his bed again just as Lydia turned around on her heel sharply.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Yeah sure,” Alec answered, a confused expression on his face.

“If I hadn’t been offered Shanghai would you still have married me?” Lydia asked, her eyes narrowing slightly.

“I probably would have tried,” Alec answered quietly, “But I don’t think I would have been able to, I’m sorry.” Alec hung his head before looking up to catch Lydia’s gaze. There was a huge smile stretching across her features.

“Are you kidding? This means I get to leave guilt free. For what it’s worth, I’m really glad you picked your own happiness,” Lydia said, her voice calm and steady. She smiled at him once more leaving his room, shutting the door firmly behind her.

Alec flopped back on his bed, his eyes on the ceiling with his hands on his abdomen. He was about to push off the bed and restart his search for pyjamas when his phone began vibrating in his back pocket. He shimmied around and slid the phone out of his jeans, smiling slightly when he saw Magnus’ name.

“Hi,” Alec answered lightly, sitting up again on the edge of his bed.  

“Hello, Alexander, how are you feeling? Isabelle called earlier and said you were experiencing some discomfort.” Magnus’ voice was light but there was a slight edge underneath it. He was trying very hard to conceal it but Alec managed to pick up on it.

“Yeah I was sore earlier but I feel okay now. Are you okay?” Alec asked, concern worming its way down his spine.

“Me? Yes of course, what would make you think otherwise?” Magnus answered Alec’s question with a question.

“You sound different,” Alec answered simply. He got up from his bed and began to pace the length of his room.

“Different? How so?” Magnus asked again, his voice becoming tenser.

“It’s difficult to explain. You just don’t sound like you. Are you sure everything’s okay?” Alec asked, the concern from earlier blossoming into full blown worry.

Magnus was quiet for a moment, just the sound of his breathing filtering through the phone, before he sighed out loud. “I may have had a small argument with one of my oldest friends today.”

“An argument? About what?” Alec asked, the worry being replaced with confusion.

“About you,” Magnus replied quickly.

“Me? Why were you arguing about me?” Alec asked back just as quickly, his face flaming even though Magnus couldn’t see him.

“Ragnor is convinced that you’re only going on a date with me because I healed you,” Magnus answered, his attempt at being nonchalant failing. Alec could hear the nerves in his voice, which didn’t make sense. He’s worth more than ten of you, how doesn’t he see that? Alec’s brain whispered.

“Well I mean that’s ridiculous, its, its, just, it’s, I mean, is that, is that what you think?” Alec stuttered out, his pacing coming to a stop as he clenched his empty fist by his side.

“No, of course not,” Magnus replied, an edge to his reply.

“You don’t sound very convinced,” Alec said quietly.

“I just want to assure you that if you did only agree to a date because you feel indebted to me then fear not, you don’t have to fulfil whatever sense of guilt you are feeling and you’re free from any obligation,” Magnus’ voice wavered towards the end but finished as cold as steel.

“Magnus..,” Alec’s voice trailed off. He took a steadying breath before continuing, “What are you doing tonight?”

“Its happy hour at Magnus’ Magnificent Cocktail Bar,” Magnus replied loftily, “I shall be indulging in some exquisite liquor whilst I stare out at the New York skyline.”

“Do you… have room for one more?” Alec asked. The apprehension was plain in his voice, his nerves overtaking him. He was glad he’d asked before he’d chickened out though.

“Alexander…”

“Magnus I didn’t ask you out because I felt like I had to. I did it because I wanted to,” Alec replied quickly, mimicking the words Magnus had said to him during their last conversation.

“Well in that case, I definitely have room for you,” Magnus said after a moment, amusement and relief colouring his tone.

“Well, great,” Alec replied. He wanted to say something witty like Isabelle or Jace did when they spoke to their dates but his mind was empty except for his many insecurities whispering back at him.

“Would you like me to conjure a portal for you or will you get a cab over?”

“I’ll… make my own way over,” Alec said nervously, rubbing a hand at the back of his neck.

“Okay, I will see you soon,” Magnus said, an upward lilt at the end of his sentence that transformed it into a question.

“I will see you soon,” Alec reaffirmed. He hung up his phone, running a hand through his hair, before a thought struck him. Alec quickly left his room and took the twenty or so extra paces to Isabelle’s room. The door was slightly ajar and Alec could see his sister lounging on her bed polishing a dagger.

Alec knocked quietly on her door before pushing his way into her room.

“Hey big brother, I would have thought you’d be cocooned in a nest of blankets by now,” Isabelle smiled. At Alec’s confused look she laughed under her breath. “There’s a pile of blankets under your bed now. It’s where guys usually keep their porn.”

“I am not talking about porn with my little sister,” Alec spluttered, his ears heating up.

She rolled over from where she was lying on her front, swinging her legs around so she was perched at the end of her bed. “What did you want to talk about?” Isabelle asked with a smile

“I need…” Alec trailed off, embarrassment overtaking him.

“What?” Isabelle asked, her head cocking to the side.

Alec took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I need fashion advice.” Once he’d said it Alec peeked out from behind one closed eyelid and saw a small smile spreading across Isabelle’s face.

“Can I ask why?”

“I… have a date with Magnus,” Alec said, opening his eyes fully. He’d crossed his arms over his chest in a defence mechanism so he let them drop back to his sides.

“You have a date? Oh my goodness, yes of course I’ll help you!” Isabelle answered, delight plain on her face. She jumped up from the bed and bounced over towards Alec. “I’m assuming you’re just doing his loft right?” Isabelle asked. At Alec’s nod of confirmation Isabelle grabbed his hand and towed him out of her room and over to his. She pushed him down to sit on his bed as she went over to his closet.

“By the way, what did you do with all of my clothes?” Alec asked. He wanted to fill the silence with something and since his sister was helping him with fashion he figured that was as good a conversation starter as any.

“I donated them to Goodwill,” Isabelle replied from her place in his closet.

“Didn’t you keep anything else? Also, my underwear?” Alec asked exasperated.

“Alec your boxers were ratty and ill-fitting. You’ve done not too badly recently, with the t-shirts and the denim shirts, but you’ve filled out since you last went shopping. You’re a knock out big bro, own it,” Isabelle replied as she finished rummaging around his closet. She handed him a complete outfit before flopping down on his bed. “Go, try them on,” Isabelle said when he made no move to get changed.

 Alec sighed but did as she asked, draping the clothes she’d given him over the clothing partition Isabelle had installed in his room.

Alec stripped quickly and efficiently. His face did something complicated when he realised Isabelle had included underwear – those damn Calvin Kleins – but he simply sighed and pulled on the black boxers. Next up was a pair of very dark navy blue jeans, much tighter than he’d usually go for but she’d thrown out everything else so Alec guessed he’d better get used to them. She’d included a white t-shirt and a dark green sweater – forest, his mind supplied – but he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to pick one or put them both on together.

“You’ve stopped moving, I’m assuming it’s because you don’t know what to do with the t-shirt and sweater right?” Isabelle’s voice came floating towards him. At his silence she snorted quietly and continued, “Alec, I know you. I know you’re nervous and I figured you’d feel better with more than one layer on. Kind of like dating armour.”

A small smile came to Alec’s face at how well his sister knew him. He pulled on the t-shirt, very tight, and the over-sized green sweater before tugging on the black socks she’d given him. He ran a hand through his hair before coming back around the partition and facing his sister.

A soft smile spread across Isabelle’s face from where she was lounging on his bed. He held his hands out in a ‘here I am’ gesture and her smile only grew wider. “Alec you look great.”

Alec tugged the sleeves of the sweater down past his hands and nodded at her absentmindedly.

“Seriously?” Isabelle asked exasperatedly. She pushed herself off of his bed and came to stand in front of him. “You are literally about to go on a date with the High Warlock of Brooklyn, who, by the way, has made his attraction to you very clear, and you’re still nervous?”

“I don’t do this. I don’t date, I don’t date ever, let alone date -,”

“A man?” Isabelle asked, her voice suddenly softening.

Alec shrugged his shoulders as he shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’m not like you, or Jace, I don’t know how to be… smooth, or whatever, and Magnus is like, he’s like, four hundred years old, and I’m sure he’s gone on dates with people much more, ya know, than me, so I mean, I should just cancel right?” Throughout Alec’s rant Isabelle’s face had gotten sadder and his hand was flailing in that gesture he’d managed to pick up. He shoved his hand back into his pocket before sighing.

“Alec,” Isabelle said quietly, stepping further into his space so he’d have to look at her. “You are brave, and kind, and hot, and a catch, okay? You’re a Lightwood, we’re awesome.” Isabelle smiled up at him. “I have watched you slay demon after demon without stopping to be scared. What’s the worst that can happen on this date?”

“I don’t know, he could think I’m a stuttering mess of a person?” Alec replied nervously, shoving a hand through his hair again.

“Alexander Gideon Lightwood, stop. Magnus has met you multiple times now – come to think of it the first time you met him you were a stuttering mess of a person – and he only seems more enthralled every time he sees you,” Isabelle said knowingly. “I think he finds your shyness endearing.”

“Enthralled? Endearing? Great, so I’m like a puppy,” Alec said sarcastically, tilting his head back to stare at the ceiling.

“Stop that,” Isabelle laughed, her hands coming to rest on Alec’s shoulders. She shook him until he looked down at her again. “Alec you can do this. Go on your date and fall in love and get married and have tiny little warlock babies. It’s fate.” Isabelle shrugged one shoulder at him, her smile blinding.

“Yeah, okay,” Alec chuckled. He sighed again before rolling his eyes at his sister. He walked over to his closet and grabbed his boots, lacing them up, before grabbing his leather jacket from where it was draped over his closet door.

“Oh wait, cologne!” Isabelle exclaimed, running over to Alec’s dresser and pulling out the bottle she’d hidden away.

“Did you hide everything?” Alec asked, looking around his room in bewilderment.

“No, I tidied it dumbass. Now everything is in a place that makes sense,” Isabelle replied with derision. She spritzed him a few times all over before returning the bottle.

“Okay, guess I better… get going,” Alec said, a new wave of nerves washing over him.

“You’ll be fine big brother,” Isabelle reassured. “Now have you got everything, phone, stele, wallet?” At Alec’s nod of confirmation she nodded back. “Okay good, you getting a cab over?”

“I was just gonna take the subway,” Alec replied, the two of them heading for the hallway.

“Think of all the sweaty people on the subway Alec. Take a cab,” Isabelle asserted, her hand coming up to squeeze his shoulder. Alec nodded absentmindedly whilst blowing out a breath.

Alec smiled at her before heading down the hallway. He turned back around to see her leaning against her doorway with a soft smile on her face. She winked at him before making a shooing motion. “Go Alec, have fun.”

Alec smiled back at her before continuing through the labyrinth of the Institute, towards the front door, and towards Magnus. 

 

Alec stood on the street in Brooklyn staring at the door to Magnus’ stairwell for a long while. His heart was racing so much that Alec was actually afraid he might pass out before he even made it into the building. Every time he raised his hand to the buzzer it shook and he pulled it back to his side and made a fist. Alec was contemplating turning on his heel and running all the way back to the Institute when his phone vibrated in his pocket.

MAGNUS BANE: Are you going to come upstairs? I promise I’m a lot nicer to look at than the door to my building.

Alec huffed out a laugh, a flush starting on his neck, and he rolled his neck up to look up towards Magnus’ window. A ‘buzz’ signified the opening of the door and with one last deep breath Alec pushed his way into the building. He took the stairs slowly, trying to calm his racing heart, and when he reached the top of the stairs Magnus’ door was already open and waiting for him.

“Hello?” Alec called into the apartment, shutting the door quietly behind him.

“Alexander,” Magnus all but purred from the living room, “Come on in.”

Alec took another quick deep breath before continuing into the apartment. He noted quickly that Magnus had redecorated again. Mahogany hardwood covered the expanse of the hallway leading into the living room. Where the walls had been a dark grey they were now a bright orange, one wall white in contrast. On the white wall sat a large fireplace, a fire crackling gently, and a tv hanging on the wall above it. The sofa was still the same plush black as before but instead of a three seater with two matching arm chairs it was now a corner sofa, deep and inviting. A dark mahogany coffee table sat in the middle of the living area atop a large white fluffy rug. Alec smiled slightly at the warm and cosy setting.

“Alexander,” Magnus repeated, this time his voice much lower and inviting. Alec’s eyes landed on where he was standing – beside his cocktail bar, of course. “Would you like a drink?”

“Yeah that would be nice,” Alec answered, his voice rough from disuse. He’d been standing at the bottom of the stairwell for longer than he’d care to admit. A thought struck him and he shirked his jacket, throwing it over the back of the sofa.

Magnus nodded at him, a small smile on his face, as he proceeded to mix up his concoction. Alec took the time to surreptitiously check Magnus out. Where Alec had gone for a sweater and jeans combo Magnus had definitely dressed up a little more for the occasion. His deep purple dress shirt was fitted and tapered perfectly, his small waist accentuated in the garment. He’d also opted for jeans but his were black, very tight, and left little to the imagination. A silver glittery belt held up the jeans matching the many bracelets and necklaces adorning Magnus’ body.

Magnus looked over his shoulder to glance at Alec who was standing rigid by the sofa clutching his hands in front of him. “Alec, please, have a seat. Or at least come in closer. I can’t imagine it’s very warm over there.”

Now that Magnus had mentioned it a chill ran through Alec, a shiver running up his spine. He came further into the living space, closer to Magnus, and could feel the warmth of the fire slowly starting to thaw him out. Magnus turned around and handed Alec a whiskey glass, the contents of which seemed to glow a fluorescent purple.

“This looks questionable,” Alec said, holding the glass up to the light and glaring at it suspiciously.

Magnus laughed lightly, his own drink a neon green. “I promise you there is nothing untoward. It’s simply fae liquor. Extremely hard to come by but worth it all the while.”

“Are you sure you want to waste it on me?” Alec asked pausing with the glass mere inches from his lips.

“There is absolutely nothing being wasted here Alexander. You deserve nice things and I like to think that I can at least give you a little taste of the decadence you deserve,” Magnus replied matter-of-factly. He took a sip from his own glass, his eyes never leaving Alec’s face.

Alec swallowed quickly before taking a sip of his drink. He furrowed his brow slightly at the taste but it was definitely better than the last one Magnus had made him.

“How are you feeling anyway? Less aches I hope?” Magnus asked, his question breaking the silence that had fallen between them.

“Yeah, yes, definitely,” Alec stuttered, “Isabelle forced me into a bubble bath when I eventually made it home.”

“Forced? A bubble bath is one of life’s simplest pleasures,” Magnus commented, amused. He looked over the rim of his glass at Alec, his gold rimmed eyes bright and focussed. He quirked his head to the side when a thought struck him. “Wait, ‘eventually made it home’?”

“Uh yeah, I kind of… got a little dizzy on the walk back. Clary and I had to stop at a bakery for a few minutes,” Alec told him. He took another long sip of his drink while Magnus’ face did something complicated before settling on distaste.

“Perhaps I should expel a little more healing magic on you if you’re still feeling unwell,” Magnus offered, already placing his glass down in preparation.

“No,” Alec said quickly. Magnus seemed startled at the ferocity in Alec’s voice, taking a step backwards. “Sorry,” Alec softened his voice. “It’s just, I’d like, I mean I want, I mean,” Alec stuttered out. Alec put his drink down beside Magnus’ in frustration, the liquid slopping over the side and down over his fingers.

“Alexander?” Magnus asked gently, stepping back towards Alec. His hand twitched by his side as if he wanted to reach out for Alec but thought better of it.

“I don’t want tonight to be about what you can do for me,” Alec said quickly. Magnus cocked an eyebrow at Alec to which Alec’s face flushed lightly. “I meant,” Alec asserted, “that I don’t want you to waste your magic on me tonight. I’m not here so you can… service me. I mean, I don’t want this to be… I don’t,” Alec trailed off, frustration plain on his face.

“I think I see where you’re coming from,” Magnus said lightly, a smile crossing his face. “If I may?” Magnus asked. Alec nodded, puzzled. “From what you’re saying, or trying to say anyway, is that you’d like tonight to just be about… us?”

Alec nodded, a pleased smile lighting up his face. He dropped his eyes to the floor before raising them back to lock his gaze with Magnus’ and cleared his throat. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to keep doing things for me. I’m not here because you’re useful, or whatever, I’m here because I… like you.”

At Alec’s confession a light flush started on Magnus’ face. Magnus smiled softly up at him before dropping his gaze to the floor.

“Shall we move to the couch?” Magnus gestured, his eyes coming back up to look at Alec bright and clear. “It’s much more comfortable for talking.”

Alec nodded, trailing after Magnus when the latter headed over to the sofa. They had both gotten settled, enough space for another person in between them, when Magnus clicked his fingers and a bottle of red wine with two wine glasses appeared on the table.

“I figured you’d enjoy something a little more… mundane than the fae liquor. Plus this red is absolutely divine,” Magnus informed Alec, his hand waving elegantly to uncork the wine. When Magnus leaned forward to pour them the wine a strip of skin above the waistband of his pants became visible and Alec found himself ogling that sliver of skin more than he would admit.

Alec’s eyes shot back to Magnus’ face when he turned around, their fingers grazing as Magnus handed him the glass of wine.

“To us,” Magnus said softly, raising his glass for Alec to clink in an echo of their first almost-date. Magnus had turned towards him, his left ankle tucked under his right knee, his entire focus on Alec.  

Alec shot Magnus a small smile, their eyes meeting over the rims of their glasses. The first sip of wine was considerably better than the cocktails Magnus had made him, Alec’s eyebrows lifting quickly in surprise.

“Better?” Magnus asked, his lips already staining red from the wine.

“Better,” Alec confirmed. Now that they’d sat down Alec’s nerves hit him full force and he found himself tongue tied again with nothing to say. His heartbeat quickened and his palms began to sweat as another wave of anxiety overtook him.

“Don’t do that,” Magnus said so quietly Alec almost missed it.

“Do what?” Alec asked alarmed, his mind racing over everything he’d done to figure out what he’d done wrong.

“It’s this thing you do,” Magnus said, his eyes sad. “Your entire being seems to shut down. I don’t know if it’s a self-preservation thing, like you think I’m going to mock you or laugh at you, or if it’s something you’re so used to doing, shoving yourself into the background, that you don’t even realise you’re doing it anymore.”

Alec sat there stunned. Nobody usually looked at him long enough to catalogue something so huge about him. He honestly didn’t know how to respond, until Magnus sighed and looked like he was about to tell Alec to leave.

“You make me nervous,” Alec blurted, his heart hammering. Magnus looked straight into his eyes, his expression softening. “Nobody focuses their entire attention on me. Izzy yeah, Jace sure, but never me. And I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, it’s just true.” Alec paused and took a large gulp of wine for courage. “But you. You focus solely on me and I’m not entirely sure what to think about that.”

“Alexander,” Magnus whispered, “It’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling. Just being in the moment. Don’t overthink this, my dear, just feel it.”

“I don’t think I know how to,” Alec whispered back, his eyes downcast.

“You don’t know how to feel?” Magnus asked quietly, his voice puzzled.

“I’m trained to be a soldier, I’m trained to think six steps ahead, I don’t ever get to just… be,” Alec replied just as quietly.

“You don’t have to be that here. You don’t have to be Alexander Lightwood: exceptional shadowhunter. Here you can just be Alec,” Magnus said imploringly, leaning forward as if to refute his point. He’d placed his wine glass on the coffee table and his now empty hand landed on Alec’s right knee.

“Okay,” Alec said softly, a small smile gracing his face. Alec’s eyes locked with Magnus’, the deep brown of Magnus’ eyes captivating like nothing else Alec had ever seen before. A shiver ran up Alec’s spine when Magnus smiled back.  

“What do you want to do Alec?” Magnus asked gently, his eyes bright and sparkling.

Alec didn’t stop to hesitate. He had no choice after a question like that. It was like magnets, like two puzzle pieces coming together.

At the first press of his lips against Magnus’ Alec’s mind blanked out, his eyelids falling shut, his forehead leaning against Magnus’. Alec’s top lip rested on top of Magnus’, his lower lip caught in the middle. Magnus pressed back firmly, one of his hands coming to rest on the side of Alec’s neck as he kissed him back.

The kiss was messy, and uncoordinated, and unpractised, but it was everything Alec had.

Magnus pulled away first but he didn’t go very far. He kept his forehead leaning against Alec’s while the two of them breathed heavily against one another, their breaths mingling somewhere in the middle of the space between them.

Alec kept his eyes focussed on Magnus’ as he breathed, the brown of them lighting up when Alec moved in for another kiss. This one was hotter, faster, more forceful. At the first press of Magnus’ tongue against his lower lip Alec pressed forward, his right hand coming up to rest on Magnus’ shoulder and his left –

Dropped an entire glass of red wine down his front, the glass clattering to the floor but not shattering. At the feel of the red wine soaking through his sweater Alec jerked backwards, his eyes opening in alarm.

“I am so sorry, I didn’t mean that,” Alec rushed out, halfway off the couch already to attempt to soak up the wine.

“It’s okay, don’t even worry,” Magnus assured Alec with a hand on his shoulder. With a snap of his fingers the stain on Magnus’ floor disappeared entirely. Alec stared at the spot a little dazedly before falling backwards onto the couch with a small smile on his face.

“Would you like me to fix your sweater also?” Magnus asked, squeezing Alec’s shoulder.

“Yes, but actually…” Alec trailed off, biting his lower lip while a thought formed. Hesitation over, in one quick movement, Alec pulled his sweater over his head leaving him in just his white t-shirt – that had, thankfully, escaped the red wine fiasco. He held the sweater out to Magnus who had a surprised smile on his face. Magnus accepted the sweater from Alec and clicked his fingers again, the red wine disappearing entirely.

“Would you like to put this back on?” Magnus asked, his hand outstretched, offering the sweater back to Alec.

Alec smiled slowly before grabbing the sweater and tossing in the direction of his jacket before leaning in towards Magnus again. Magnus’ eyes lit up with delight and he met Alec in the middle, their mouths coming together again. Alec twisted around, tucking his right ankle under his left leg, mirroring Magnus. His left hand landed on Magnus’ shoulder, his fingers gripping the material, while his right landed on Magnus’ knee.

Alec moaned quietly into Magnus’ mouth at the feel of Magnus’ hands on his neck. One hand landed above the rune on Alec’s neck while the other trailed upwards towards Alec’s jaw, tilting his head with a thumb under his chin.

Magnus bit down on Alec’s lower lip before soothing the sting with his tongue. Magnus swiped his tongue over the area once, twice, before Alec opened his mouth and their tongues met finally.

Kissing Magnus, for Alec, felt a lot like dancing – the two of them coming together, moving together, melting into one another. This single act, this single kiss, was the most intimate thing Alec had ever experienced.

The two of them kissed for what felt like hours but really couldn’t have been any more than a few minutes, Magnus’ hands alternating between Alec’s shoulders and twining his fingers in Alec’s hair. Magnus had just slid his hand up into Alec’s hair again, his fingers tugging lightly at the roots. Alec’s hand flexed uncontrollably where it was lying on Magnus’ knee, his fingers itching to slide further up but something in his mind stopped him. Magnus pulled away slowly, resting his forehead on Alec’s shoulder.

Alec kept his eyes closed, afraid he’d open them and the moment would be over. Alec could feel when Magnus pulled further away, the space he’d been occupying suddenly empty and cold.

“I’m sorry, I needed a minute to breathe,” Magnus said softly. Alec opened his eyes slowly and found Magnus staring at him with the most intense expression he’d ever seen. He smiled softly at Magnus, his entire body feeling like a livewire.

“Can I… ask you a question?” Magnus implored.

“Yeah, of course,” Alec said lightly, his smile still in place.

“Was that your first kiss?” Magnus asked quietly.

Alec’s smile dropped off his face and he averted his eyes to the sofa. “That bad, huh?” Alec joked stiltedly. He stared at the point where his hand was on Magnus’ knee and made to withdraw it. A hand around his wrist stopped that action quickly though.

“No Alec, not at all. It was wonderful, you were wonderful,” Magnus asserted, his thumb caressing the bone protruding from Alec’s wrist softly. “I was afraid I had pushed you too much. I should have made it more special for you.”

“Are you kidding?” Alec asked surprised. He lifted his eyes to gaze at Magnus, his skin tingling at every point of contact between the two. “This entire evening has been… magical. Pardon the pun.” Magnus smirked lightly at the joke, the two of them just gazing at other, smiling like idiots.

Magnus jerked lightly, as if he’d been electrocuted, before he moved further away from Alec. “Would you like another glass of wine? We may as well finish what you didn’t spill.” Magnus shot a smile at Alec to reassure him he’d been joking before conjuring another glass into existence and pouring Alec another glass of wine.

Alec accepted the wine, taking a small sip, and watched as Magnus downed what was in his glass before pouring himself another. Magnus took a very large sip of that glass before sliding backwards on the sofa again. “Magnus are you okay?” Alec asked. Magnus’ jittery actions were making Alec worry. “Do you… want me to go?”

“No! No, of course not,” Magnus asserted, turning his body so he was again facing Alec.

“Then are you okay?” Alec asked again, his body tensing as if bracing for impact.

“I’m fine,” Magnus said quietly. At Alec’s look of apprehension Magnus sighed before taking another sip of wine and placing the glass on the coffee table.

“Magnus seriously, is everything okay? Are you sure you don’t want me to go, because I’ll go, I’ll, I’ll leave if that’s what -,”

“I want you, Alec,” Magnus said simply. Alec’s jaw dropped open and all the air rushed out from his lungs.

“That’s what you’re worried about?” Alec asked incredulously.

“No, Alec, I want you,” Magnus emphasised, “I want you, more than I’ve wanted anyone in a long while. And I don’t want to push you because I also like you. This isn’t a situation I’m used to being in and I’m… a little nervous I’m going to scare you off.”

“You’re not scaring me off,” Alec assured, shuffling closer to Magnus on the sofa.

“Your entire body is tense, like you’re about to run off. When we were kissing your hand was like a fist, like you were ready for a fight. You haven’t even taken your shoes off. It’s like you’re ready to just take your hands off me and disappear,” Magnus said softly, “The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable.”

“Magnus I’m tense because I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to make you feel like I feel but I don’t know how to,” Alec explained. By the time Alec had finished speaking his face was bright red, his left hand clutching the stem of his wine glass so hard he was afraid it would snap. “But if you’re saying what I think you’re saying then… I think maybe we were right to stop. To talk, I mean.”

“So… wait I don’t understand, what do you mean?” Magnus asked, his eyes narrowed in confusion.

“I… am not ready to have sex yet,” Alec said quietly, his eyes downcast and focussed on his wine glass. “I like kissing you, and I’d like to do more than that, but I think that’s all I’m comfortable with just now.” Alec lifted his eyes hesitantly and was surprised to see a smile on Magnus’ face. “What?”

“Nothing, Alexander, it’s just… A few days ago you couldn’t even articulate your feelings, you were engaged to be married to a woman, I was almost certain I would never have the pleasure of dating you, and now? You’re sitting on my couch telling me exactly what you do and don’t want,” Magnus said softly. “You’re truly remarkable.”

Alec blushed again, the flush starting at his neck and proceeding up towards his ears. He cleared his throat and placed his glass on the coffee table again. Alec leaned forward and unlaced his boots quickly and efficiently. Alec would do anything to make Magnus feel as comfortable as he was attempting to make Alec. He straightened up after he’d kicked his shoes off and turned back to Magnus. A small smile was planted firmly on Magnus’ face and Alec wanted nothing more than to kiss it. “Would it be okay if I kissed you again?”

“Absolutely,” Magnus answered. “Don’t feel like you have to keep your hands to yourself though. I know you’re not ready to go further, and to be honest I don’t think I am either, but that doesn’t mean you can’t touch me. It just means that if anything gets too out of hand or one of us feels uncomfortable then we speak up, okay?”

“Okay,” Alec whispered. They’d moved unconsciously to mirror each other again, Alec’s right knee resting against Magnus’ left on the sofa. He smiled, already leaning towards Magnus. Alec slid his left hand around Magnus’ neck, his fingers resting at the base of his hair, whilst his right hand landed on Magnus’ knee again.

Magnus’ lips were just as soft as before, this kiss starting slow and gentle. Magnus had one hand resting on Alec’s waist, just above the waistband of his jeans, and the other hand slid over Alec’s shoulder.

Alec found himself sinking into this kiss. It was so exciting, like trying something new, but at the same time it felt inherently familiar, like coming home. He opened his mouth quicker this time, Magnus’ tongue making all coherent thought fly out of the window.

Magnus’ hand flexed at Alec’s waist, his fingers sliding up to span Alec’s ribs. Alec felt his breath hitch at the intimate sensation and in retaliation he slid his hand further up Magnus’ leg, leaning further into Magnus as he did so. Magnus moaned quietly into Alec’s mouth, the sound setting Alec’s every nerve on fire.

Alec surged up towards Magnus, his excitement causing him to send Magnus sprawling backwards onto his back on the couch.  Alec’s hands landed on either side of Magnus’ waist and he pulled away from the kiss, his cheeks flushing lightly at how eager he must look.

“Well I can’t say I object to this turn of events,” Magnus said breathlessly. He was looking up at Alec with something that resembled awe on his face. Magnus lifted one hand to trace along Alec’s hairline and down the side of his face, his hand stopping just under Alec’s jaw.

To Alec it felt like Magnus was leaving sparks in his wake. His entire being was tingling. Alec hesitantly settled himself in the V of Magnus’ legs, careful to not align their hips too much. Magnus continued his exploration of Alec’s face, his fingers trailing along Alec’s cheekbones, his fingertips catching on the skin of Alec’s bottom lip. Alec felt his breath hitch again as he stared into Magnus’ eyes.

“Is this okay?” Alec asked quietly into the small space left between them. Magnus nodded, just a small movement of his head, before he trailed his hand back around to the back of Alec’s head and brought their mouths back together again. It was so much better this way, Alec thought, because now he could actually sink into Magnus. The warmth of Magnus leeching out into Alec, the warm skin under Alec’s hands, the thrum of Magnus’ heartbeat against Alec’s chest, it all meant something. 

Magnus bit down gently on Alec’s lower lip again before sliding his tongue against Alec’s. They lay there for minutes, hours, Alec’s lips going deliciously red and kiss-swollen. The two of them were both painfully hard in their jeans but neither of them made any move to get up, happy to suffer if it felt like this.

Alec pulled away to trail his lips down Magnus’ jaw, kissing just under his ear, when he felt Magnus let out a yawn. Alec pulled back from his spot to smirk down at Magnus’s sheepish expression.

“I’m sorry, am I boring you?” Alec asked jokingly.

“I apologise,” Magnus said quietly, “I didn’t really sleep much after healing you, too anxious you would wake up on your own, and I didn’t sleep today due to Ragnor’s visit. I promise I am very much not bored.”

“I was kidding anyway,” Alec murmured. He used his hands, where they were still planted on the couch beside Magnus’ waist, and pushed up so his arms were extended and he was hovering over Magnus. Cold air snuck into the now empty space between them and Alec let out an involuntary shiver as he scooted into a sitting position. Magnus shuffled backwards so he was leaning against the arm of the sofa, one arm thrown casually behind his head, and he made the perfect picture of relaxed decadence.

Magnus watched with hooded eyes as Alec slid his phone out of his back pocket, the display reading 3:36am, and he smiled softly as Alec’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“I had no idea it was so late,” Alec said in disbelief. He swiped his phone open and quickly fired off a quick text to Isabelle in reply to the ‘?????’ she’d sent him an hour earlier.

“Well you’re welcome to stay here this evening,” Magnus offered softly. Alec turned to glance at him, his cheekbones flushing a light pink.

“Just to sleep,” Magnus clarified, “But I will not be offended if you want to go home.”

“I probably will go, if that’s okay,” Alec wondered, his uncertainty making the statement a question.

“Of course Alexander,” Magnus assured. He swung his legs across the sofa so his feet were flat against the floor and he was sitting up. Alec could feel Magnus’ eyes on him as he laced up his boots and pulled his sweater back on. He took his time straightening up after catching a glimpse of himself in a mirror and seeing just how wrecked he looked. Plus he didn’t entirely want to leave.

Magnus stood gracefully from the couch and collected their glasses and bottle of wine from the coffee table and making them disappear with a wave of his hand. He came to stand behind Alec as Alec attempted to fix his hair. Magnus placed a hand on Alec’s shoulder spinning him around and he ran his fingers through Alec’s hair, straightening it in a move that felt so intimate and caring that a shiver ran down Alec’s spine.

“There, you look much less like you’ve spent the last few hours making out with  me on my couch,” Magnus joked softly. He made to take his hand away but Alec grabbed it on the journey down. Magnus gifted Alec’s bravery with a bright smile, his entire face lighting up with delight.

“When can I see you again?” Alec asked eagerly, a little breathless.

“There’s always Friday?” Magnus reminded, “But I’m hoping we can make this a regular thing?”

“Like… dating?”

“Exactly like dating Alexander,” Magnus confirmed with a quick swipe of his thumb over the back of Alec’s hand.

“I’d like that,” Alec blushed, his fingers tightening around Magnus’.

“Good,” Magnus asserted. “Now grab your jacket, would you like a portal back to the Institute?”

“Yes please.” Alec let go of Magnus’ hand slowly, turning around to grab his jacket. He shrugged it on while Magnus waved his hands over the mirror, a portal springing up in its place. Alec bit his lip as he approached the portal and Magnus, his entire body still tingling.

Magnus pulled Alec in by the elbow, his eyes flicking down to Alec’s lips before kissing him lightly. “I certainly hope that isn’t the last goodbye kiss I ever get,” Magnus said as he pulled away.

“Don’t think of it as goodbye, think of it as goodnight,” Alec corrected shyly. He moved out of Magnus’ space and towards the portal.

“I’ll see you on Friday Alexander,” Magnus said behind him softly.

“See you Friday,” Alec confirmed before stepping through the portal. It brought him into the hallway outside his and Isabelle’s rooms and closed quietly behind him.

Alec felt suddenly bereft now that he was home. But he comforted himself with the idea that that was not the last night Alec would ever spend with Magnus. And with that final thought Alec smiled before pushing himself into his room, happier than he had been in a long time.