Its early enough in the day that the sun is beginning to seep through the floor to ceiling windows, casting a soft warm blanket of light across the majority of Magnus’ apartment. Magnus is lying horizontally across a rose pink embroidered chaise longue, ankles hooked over one another on the curved arm while his head rests comfortably on a decorative cushion. This morning he’d been in a particularly eighteenth century France mood, and the front room was decked out to be reminiscent of the beautiful house in Paris he’d inhabited all those centuries ago.
Chairman Meow had decided a few minutes ago that Magnus was a worthy pillow and has been curled up on his stomach ever since, purring contentedly and this really is an idyllic morning. Magnus hasn’t a single client until four this afternoon, the sun is shining, his cat loves him and the pink lemonade he conjured up a few minutes ago is to die for.
Where usually Magnus would find himself fully enraptured with his worn copy of The Iliad, he can’t seem to get his mind to focus on the beautiful poetic form and the enthralling adventures of Achilles. Whenever he finds himself at the end of a stanza, Magnus realizes he hasn’t taken the story in at all and has to start over again in order to keep up. Loathe as he is to admit it, Magnus knows absolutely what is causing this problem.
Or, not what, but rather who.
Unfortunately, Magnus cannot get the image of the pretty Shadowhunter boy out of his mind for more than five minutes. Its frustrating, is what it is. Alec is Nephilim, he’s part of a race that has spent centuries looking down on Magnus in disdain just moments after demanding his help. Magnus had always sworn never to fall for a Shadowhunter – they were pretentious and self-righteous and entirely ungrateful little creatures – but then he’d agreed to that fateful meeting with the Wayland boy.
Though he let them believe the necklace was important enough for him to venture from the safety of his so-called lair, Clary Fairchild was the real deciding factor – Magnus had spent eighteen years ensuring that she live in blissful ignorance of the shadow world and now that she was being hunted from all angles, he felt a guilty twinge of responsibility for her wellbeing.
Clary was a sweet girl, an artist and a musician with a selfless and untainted soul, so it was a little jarring to see her walking side by side with Jace Wayland. He oozed the sanctimonious arrogance that came only from Angel blood, face curled into an expression that said he was too good for this place, this conversation. Magnus knew then that either Clary would keep a firm grip on her pure mundane heart or she’d succumb to the bitter flurry of Nephilim blood in her veins, and he had no desire to wait around for the outcome.
Until an arrow appeared out of thin air, taking down a man Magnus hadn’t even had the chance to notice before the assailant could think about drawing a weapon.
And honestly, the arrow may as well have hit Magnus.
The boy was beautiful, and even that felt too inadequate a word to fully encompass what Magnus was seeing. He was ethereal. Magnus was drawn to the profile of his face against the backdrop of the club lights, all high angled cheekbones and shimmering pale skin, an effortless mess of black hair giving his features a striking edge. The boy glanced over, all business, and said something to the Wayland boy in a deep, flowing voice that seemed to slip beneath the bassline of the music and wash right over Magnus. He was utterly breathtaking.
And he was very clearly Nephilim. So Magnus panicked, and flung himself towards the portal he’d made.
Magnus would have probably been able to get over it, too. A few days and he’d be wondering if his hair was even black, or just a dark brown. A few weeks and he’d wonder if his eyes had actually been honey hazel, or had it been a trick of the light? Magnus was no stranger to setting pretty boys out of his mind over time, even if his heart had skipped a particularly prominent beat.
But then there Alec was, not even an hour later, saving Magnus’ skin with the second well-placed arrow that day. Magnus had seen the arrow, had registered the striking parallel to the earlier incident but in the adrenaline of it all, with his magic surging through his veins like fire, he hadn’t matched it together in his head.
Until he turned around, and there he was again. Alec.
Magnus had been alive long enough to know that he was a very attractive man. Many a person had undressed him with their eyes, lingered a little too long on his lips when he spoke, shamelessly dragged their gaze along the lines of his body. But this was not that.
Magnus saw Alec soften, lose the tense and focused set of his shoulders, eyes huge and wondering and beautiful. The sincerity of it, the raw and open admiration made the first crack in the wall Magnus hadn’t realized was surrounding his heart. Not because it was shameless, no; because it was accidental. Because Alec was a blushing, stuttering definition of innocence, because he couldn’t tamp down on the lovestruck smile or tear his eyes away from Magnus’ own if he even tried.
In that moment, surrounded by mild chaos and the sharp slice of seraph blade against seraph blade, Magnus knew he was done for.
It had only gotten worse from then on. The more time Magnus spent with Alec, the more his heart felt like a restless bird circling its cage in search of escape – he was, he realized with a start, almost desperate to feel love again.
Alec was beautiful, gentle, kind in a way Nephilim were not adept at being kind. Alec looked at Magnus and saw a person, not a tool. Alec watched Magnus exhaust himself to help Luke Garroway and stuck around, huge concerned eyes following Magnus’ every move until Magnus insisted that he was fine, would be right as rain with some rest. Then it was back to the delicate pink blush that seemed a permanent fixture high in Alec’s cheeks, the wide-eyed stare when he thought Magnus was looking the other way. Every look from Alec was as scorching as a touch, and Magnus felt somewhere deep in his soul that this was leading somewhere, to something.
And then, Alec was a Shadowhunter again.
And then, he announced his upcoming marriage to Lydia Branwell.
Magnus sighs something dramatic and lets the book fall to the floor with a light smack, startling the Chairman into consciousness. The cat gives him a sort of sideways glance, like he’s judging Magnus for wasting a perfectly beautiful morning by pining over a pretty boy. Then, on a second thought, he nuzzles his head into Magnus’ palm in a brief and rare act of sympathy. Magnus doesn’t know which part of this is making his heart ache more.
Is it that Alec, beautiful, innocent Alec, is doing all of this to repair what his parents broke? That he’s carrying such a heavy weight with no one to share it, that he’s expected to throw his life away into a loveless marriage so that the Clave will respect the Lightwood name again? Or is it that Alec has gotten under his skin, that his gentle voice flows through Magnus’ veins where his blood should be, that his heart has come out of hiding for the first time in over a century only to be kicked back into the depths of his chest because Alec won’t ever want Magnus like that?
Magnus can’t decide which of them he’s more despairing for, and so he does the only thing he can possibly think to do.
He calls Ragnor.
“Remind me again why I gave you my number” Ragnor complains, instantly, before Magnus has said anything more than hello. Magnus frowns at this, twirling the coils of the phone chord around his pinky finger. Really, the 90’s style phone was not in Magnus’ apartment by choice, but Ragnor was the most stubborn man in the world and refused to get a mobile phone like everyone else.
“You didn’t” he tells Ragnor after a moments pause. “Cat did, and you love me, and so you spend all of your time eagerly awaiting my phonecalls”
Ragnor stays broodingly silent, which generally means he’s waiting for Magnus to start talking about whatever it is he’s called to talk about. Ragnor is not by any stretch of the imagination a conversationalist, or perhaps that’s just what an unspecified number of centuries of being friends with Magnus Bane will do to a person. Magnus begins his spiel about Alec and his pretty eyes and his lovely skin and the wedding, oh the wedding, oh the heartache and he pointedly ignores the infrequent “my god, Bane, you’re a mess” whenever he pauses for breath.
“I don’t know what to do” Magnus finishes. The Chairman has leapt off of his lap and onto the floor by this point, entirely unwilling to hear any more of Magnus’ pining, and Magnus wishes that the people and cats that he loved would let him be dramatic for once.
“There’s nothing you can do” Ragnor tells him. “The boy is getting married. It baffles me that you expected him to be any different from the rest of them, Magnus. You are better than Nephilim”
This, from the mouth of Ragnor Fell, is the highest and sincerest form of comfort one might ever receive. Magnus considers telling him as much, when Ragnor continues “and I certainly don’t want to hear but he’s not like the others. They never are, Magnus. They’re always different and ‘not like that’ and then the next thing you know, you’ve enchanted a horse to fly you around Egypt and I’m trying to make sure you don’t get arrested for expelling the five bottles of red wine you drank onto the pyramids”
Magnus huffs. “You promised never to speak of that again”
“No” Ragnor reminds him, “you begged me not to speak of that again, and so I told Catarina, and now we remind you of it every time you do something stupid like pine after a Nephilim”
Magnus says “I’ll have you know, there is nothing like pining after a Nephilim. This is officially the most stupid thing I have ever let myself do” and is ready to add a second point when the buzzer by the door gives off a sharp vibration, “Hold on, there’s someone at the door”
Magnus sets the phone face-up on the counter and the Chairman pads over to sniff it with interest. Magnus is going to be very displeased if this is an emergency client – the décor of the front room today is too nice to be ruined by blood or demon fluids or anything else viscous and staining, and he simply doesn’t have the energy to redecorate. Clearing his throat, Magnus presses a finger against the button and asks “who dares to disturb the High Warlock of Brooklyn?” in his most dramatic, menacing voice.
After a beat of silence, a voice says “It’s me. Alec. Alec Lightwood”.
The sensible, reasonable, centuries old part of himself argues that he should simply ask Alec to leave or pretend to be very, extremely busy. His hand seems to disagree, however, as he finds himself hitting the door release button without actively meaning to. From the phone, he can hear the distant buzz of Ragnor shouting and he flicks a hand to bring it to him.
“-let him in, Magnus. I will portal all the way over to your unpleasant apartment and send him away myself if I have to. You did not just beg my comfort for half an hour so you could go and let him in - Magnus, are you even listening to me? He’s a Nephilim! An engaged Nephilim! Of all the stupid things I have watched you do, please tell me you did not-“
“I let him in”
Ragnor makes a vaguely threatening sound. “I hate you and your terrible decisions”
“I hate me and my terrible decisions” Magnus agrees.
“Don’t call me” Ragnor tells him, as always, and then the line goes dead. Magnus wonders if he’ll ever actually just say goodbye. Chairman Meow gives Magnus a sort of disapproving look from where he’s perched on the phone table, meticulously grooming his left paw. Then, there’s a soft knock at the door.
“Alexander” Magnus says, by way of greeting. Alec is a delicate shade of pink from the tips of his ears to the point of his cheekbones, and Magnus isn’t sure if that’s from the cold or from – well, something else. Alec remains quiet but follows Magnus into the front room, his hands shoved aggressively into the pockets of his jacket and Magnus busies himself at the little glass drinks table by the window. Chairman Meow, the traitor, instantly winds himself around Alec’s ankles and Magnus very determinedly doesn’t think about the surprised, pleased expression on Alec’s face at being chosen by the cat. “What can I do for you, Alec?”
Magnus hears the fabric of his clothes brush together and imagines him shifting uncomfortably. “Um” he says, and then “I don’t…I don’t know”
Spinning gracefully on one heel, Magnus raises an eyebrow. “You don’t know? I imagine you had something in mind when you knocked on my door”
Alec folds his arms. Or rather, he curves his hands around his upper arms like he’s huddling in on himself, not defensive but protective. He’s so tense and uncomfortable that it makes Magnus physically ache. What he wouldn’t give to see the uncoiled, lovestruck demeanor of the Alec he encountered when they first met.
“I went for a walk” Alec tells him. “Everything was…I don’t know. I needed some air. Then I found myself here”
“Well, I imagine all that wedding planning must be very stressful. I can’t envisage planning something like that so…suddenly”
There’s something in the way he says it that makes Magnus’ heart flip yet sink at the same time. Like Magnus shouldn’t mention his upcoming nuptials, like its forbidden territory, like he thinks he can come to Magnus and not discuss the elephant in the room.
“What do you really want, Alec? You can’t expect me to ignore the fact that you’re getting married tomorrow. If you’ve come to seek solace, you’ve come to the wrong place. You already know what I have to say”
Something changes in Alec’s expression. Magnus sees his eyes widen and then narrow in confusion, helpless to do anything but stare back as Alec searches Magnus’ face, forgoing the mask that usually might hide the quick succession of curiosity-realization-sadness. Alec opens his mouth to speak, takes a deep breath, and then falters.
“Alexander” Magnus coaxes, soft, because he can’t help himself. Alec’s fist clenches by his side.
“You don’t know how much I wish I could, I just…”
“Want to do what’s best by your family?” Magnus suggests. Alec tugs his bottom lip between his teeth and nods. “I get that, Alec, I do. But you don’t have to do this”
Alec pushes both of his hands backwards through his hair and Magnus, to his own credit, tries not to stare at the strip of skin that peeks out at his navel when the action shifts his shirt. Pensive, Magnus sips at the whiskey in his glass and watches as Alec begins to wear a hole into the plush carpet with his anxious pacing. It becomes evident that whatever it was, and however it made sense in Alec’s head, the Shadowhunter absolutely came here for a reason.
“I’m sorry” Alec tells him. “I shouldn’t have come, I just-” he cuts himself off with a frustrated gasp, teeth clamping down on his bottom lip. Magnus takes a measured step forwards and Alec stills.
“Alec” Magnus says. “If there’s something you want to get off of your chest, I’ll listen”
Magnus moves to fold himself elegantly into the plush velvet armchair by the long window. It seems reasonable enough for him to swallow down the harsh, bitter taste of rejection in order to listen to whatever Alec has to say. Inexplicably, he cares about Alec enough to set his own heart to one side for a moment. After a few moments of standing, tense, hands clenched into fists by his side, Alec drops into the matching chair a few feet away from Magnus’.
It’s a start.
“I can’t afford to follow my heart” Alec says after a little while, an echo of the advice Magnus had dished out himself not so long ago. Before Magnus can say anything to this, Alec continues “I mean it. This is bigger than just me, and I know you mean well in telling me to live for myself but. I have to think about Isabelle, about the future Max will grow into. I have to think about Jace, and my parents and the position my family will be forced into if we lose the institute. Lydia is…she’s nice. She’s intelligent and caring and she understands the law like I do, in any other circumstance we’d be good friends, I think”
Magnus taps perfectly manicured nails against the curve of his glass, humming in thought. “I hear what you’re saying, Alec” he says, “and yet I sense there’s a but”
Alec tugs at his hair and Magnus aches to reach out and stop him, smooth his hair down and tell him it’s okay. As it is, he tightens his grip on the whiskey tumbler and swirls the pointer finger of his other hand until the glass is filled once more. “But” Alec says in confirmation, “but I don’t want it. I want to call it all off so badly that it hurts”
The confession hangs a little heavy in the air. Magnus had known that marrying Lydia was not what Alec wanted to do. Of course he had, but hearing Alec vocalize this was another thing entirely. Vulnerability was not a trait common amongst Shadowhunters and yet Magnus felt that in seventeen words Alec had bared himself as much as he knew how to. There was a sort of angry flush to his cheeks that hadn’t been there before; shame, Magnus realizes with a start.
“There’s no shame in not fitting the mold your parents crafted for you” Magnus tells him. “That’s not me telling you what to do, Alec. I can see that you’re frustrated with yourself for not being able to love and marry a Shadowhunter woman that might make your parents proud but those are not the qualities of a good leader. Who you choose to love and marry doesn’t coincide with your skills and abilities as a leader and a fighter and a protector. If nothing else, you should know that”
“That doesn’t matter to my mother” Alec shakes his head. “If I don’t do this, they’ll never forgive me”
Magnus tilts his head to one side and watches the quick twitch of Alec’s fingers pull thread after thread from the cuff of his sweater. “Would you forgive yourself?”. His fingers pause, caught, and Alec looks up. “In ten, fifteen years when you’re living with a Shadowhunter man and you’re sending your kids off to an institute for training – wouldn’t you have forgiven yourself?”
Alec looks down at his hands. Strong, sure hands scattered with pale scars that tell tales of battles fought and survived. “You’re wrong, you know”
Magnus averts his glance to his glass and the dwindling amber liquid inside. He shouldn’t have been surprised really, since this conversation was always going to be a continuous loop of back and forth but he hadn’t expected Alec to refute him so swiftly. “How so?”
Alec stays quiet and when Magnus glances up he’s surprised to find that Alec is standing now. One of his shirtsleeves comes down to cover the palm of his hand and Magnus thinks it endearing despite himself. Imbalanced suddenly, Magnus rises and moves so that he’s a few careful feet away from Alec. Magnus thinks Alec might leave, he looks so jittery. Instead, he takes a determined step forwards.
“You’re wrong” Alec repeats. His voice catches on a breath, low and smooth but uncertain and Magnus is thrown for the first time this whole conversation. “If it was a Shadowhunter man I wanted, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here”
None of the words throwing themselves around in Magnus’ head feel right enough to put into a sentence and his tongue is heavy and useless. Alec’s nervous, fidgeting hands suggest he perhaps hadn’t intended to be so forward or honest but there’s no taking it back now. “Alec”
Slowly but with all the determination of a Shadowhunter, Alec takes another tentative step into Magnus’ space. It becomes clear in the way he holds himself that this is new to him, whatever it is that’s happening now but he’s too sure of himself to back out. “Magnus, I want…” the unspoken you hangs in the air as Alec lifts a hand, maybe thinking about cupping Magnus’ face but ultimately faltering and landing warm and gentle on his shoulder. His palm is scorching through the soft, silky material of Magnus’ shirt and his skin prickles where Alec’s thumb shifts uncertainly.
“What are you saying?” Magnus asks, finally.
“I don’t know” Alec admits. Magnus bites his lower lip in thought and sees Alec track the slight movement with his eyes, lingering unintentionally and almost innocently on Magnus’ mouth.
“Alexander” Magnus says, slow and soft. Alec hasn’t lowered his walls but he’s given Magnus a door, one sure to close when Magnus brings him back to his senses. Magnus hates to do it but knows he has to, for his own sake as well as Alec’s. “It is the greatest punishment to kiss someone once, knowing you never intend to kiss them again”
Alec blinks a little owlishly but doesn’t move back, though he lowers his hand like he hadn’t realized he put it there at all. “You’re right” he says.
“Well, at least we’ve come full circle” Magnus acknowledges. Alec steps back and runs a hand over his face, shoulders slouching briefly in exhaustion. “Look, Alec-”
“I’m sorry” Alec blurts out. “Magnus, I’m sorry. Please, I- there’s something I need to do. I have to go”
And then he’s gone.
A soft click tells Magnus that the front door has closed and he’s left rooted to the spot, empty whiskey glass hanging uselessly at his side. Instinctively Magnus fills it and pulls himself out of the daze of confusion and hurt to plow through to his bedroom; the beautiful Victorian window-seat has always been his favorite spot in the whole apartment. Maybe that’s because it looks right out over the whole city, or perhaps Magnus prefers to do his moping while silhouetted by streetlights. Either way, he curls up against the cool glass pane and takes a steady sip of his drink.
What had he expected from Alec, really? It was the night before his wedding and though clearly frustrated, Alec hadn’t come seeking Magnus’ advice – it was obvious he already knew what choice he would make. He’d thought about kissing Magnus, too, and that sits bitter and ugly in his chest. What, he wanted to kiss Magnus just to see if he felt something? Just so he knew he had before he signed his life away to someone else? Magnus didn’t think Alec was malicious, but kissing someone you don’t plan on seeing again is never going to have positive after-effects.
As though sensing his morose mood the Chairman jumps up onto Magnus’ lap and curls up against his arm, little tongue licking softly at his hand. “Stop trying to groom me” Magnus tells him, but scratches behind his ears anyway because he’s soft. The Chairman purrs, content, and Magnus considers that he doesn’t need anyone else anyway. Even if the little cat was prone to knocking vials of important potions off of Magnus’ shelves in a huff, he was loyal and sweet and not a heartless Nephilim.
Maybe heartless was a little dramatic. Moping by moonlight would be incomplete without some level of melodrama, though, so Magnus thinks heartless will do. He briefly entertains the idea of calling Ragnor again but the other warlock will doubtless call him an idiot in every language they know, if he bothered to pick up at all. Catarina might hear him out, but Ragnor has probably filled her in on his woe by now and she always sides with Ragnor because she’s awful. Raphael…well. Magnus knows it’s a dark day indeed if he’s considering calling Raphael Santiago for advice.
Magnus isn’t sure how long he spends watching cars blur by on the highway but eventually he falls into a fitful sleep, neck crooked uncomfortably so that his head might loll against the window. He jolts awake a few times but doesn’t move, too wrapped up in sleep to care much about his position and the final time he wakes it’s to the sound of the buzzer, sharp and relentless.
“I really need to implement working hours” Magnus mutters to himself, though in his line of work there wasn’t quite room for a schedule. Without the usual preamble, Magnus simply asks “who is it?”
“Oh” a familiar voice says, then “uh. Me again. Alec. Alec Lightwood”
Magnus can’t deny that he’s surprised. In fact, he stands there perplexed for so long that Alec has to say his name three times before he remembers he should reply. “What do you want?”
Magnus tries not to be too harsh but he’s exhausted, he’s fed up and his neck is cricked. There’s a pause and a shuffle, then “can I, um. Can I come up?”
“Why?” Magnus asks in a drawl, “was almost-kissing me and then running away so much fun that you’d like a repeat?”
Alec stays quiet for a few moments and Magnus wonders if maybe he’s gone home. And then, “I’ve come to apologise”
Magnus hums. “Apology accepted. Can I resume sleeping now?”
Another shuffle. “It’s raining out here”
Unfortunately, the first thing that pops into Magnus’ mind is how adorably rumpled a rain-soaked Alec must look. Bumping his forehead against the wall with a resigned sigh, Magnus hits the door release button. Somewhere in the world, Ragnor Fell is surely cursing him out.
Alec is indeed rumpled and soaked when Magnus pulls the door open. Bizarrely, he’s also smiling and Magnus hopes that there’s something I need to do hadn’t actually been code for I’m going to go and get drunk. If Magnus was thrown before, he’s something else entirely right now.
“I’m sorry about before” Alec starts, wringing his hands together a little. “But you were right about something”
Magnus raises an eyebrow. “Just the one thing?”
Sarcasm has always been a natural defense, especially when Magnus is this physically and emotionally exhausted. If Alec thinks it strange or hostile he doesn’t show it, choosing to ignore the pinch of attitude and instead take a few tentative steps closer to where Magnus is still standing by the archway.
“You told me it would be unfair to kiss someone with no intention of ever doing it again and I realized I’d be doing that to Lydia, wouldn’t I? Kiss her at the altar knowing we’d be in a loveless political marriage and she’d never have the chance to find another love, that I’d never have the chance to find love at all. I thought marrying her was the right thing but it’s not, I’d be condemning myself and her. I can’t marry her, Magnus. I called it off”
Magnus quickly lifts his head to finally look at Alec, eyes no doubt wide and shocked. “You did?”
“Lydia was so understanding. She even offered to tell everyone it was her that couldn’t go through with it but – I wouldn’t let her do that. It would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? I called off the wedding because I can’t marry her, or any woman. I think it’s time I be honest about that”
This time when Magnus flicks his wrist elegantly, the blue sparks from his fingertips conjure up two glasses and he hands one to Alec. “I offer you this only because you’ve had quite the day of revelations, it seems. Alec, I’m glad you put yourself first. I’m sure young Isabelle must agree?”
At this, Alec smiles. Magnus doesn’t think he’s ever seen two siblings so fiercely protective of one another, so desperate to place the happiness of the other before their own. “I couldn’t get her to stop hugging me for five whole minutes. Knowing that she’s there for me makes it easier that my parents probably hate me now”
He explains having to approach his father’s office, Lydia by his side for moral support, in order to face both of his parents. Maryse had been sifting through folders of official papers all ready to be sent off in the name of Alec and Lydia Lightwood the next morning and Lydia had squeezed his hand in reassurance. Magnus knew he liked her for a reason; he’d seen the same spark in her that had drawn him to befriend Charlotte Branwell a few centuries back, the same determined authority combined with compassion and honesty making for an unstoppable force.
Wincing at the sharp curl of alcohol against his tongue, Alec explains that his mother had gone from confusion (“has something happened? We can always push it back a week if there are more pressing matters…”) to barely-veiled frustration (“this family has been in the mouths of the Clave enough in recent weeks without us giving them more reason to look down on us. The ambassadors came all the way here…”) until she finally settled on a brand of disappointment and anger usually reserved for Isabelle.
“I’m going to tell her” Alec admits. Light bounces off of his glass as he twirls it around in deft fingers, swishing the remnants of his drink around in the bottom almost distractedly. Magnus can’t help but watch him in unmasked awe. It took real strength to push through barriers of uncertainty and unfamiliarity in order to come to terms with one’s identity and feelings and Alec had finally broken them down, at least the few that mattered for now. No matter what happened next, Magnus would gladly let Alec go knowing that he’d be going to a place where he was, if nothing else, himself. After a few moments pause, Alec speaks up again. “My mother, I mean. I’m going to tell her I’m-”
His voice falters, if only on some deep-rooted instinct and when Magnus is ready to reach out, assure Alec that he doesn’t have to define anything right now, the boy surprises him again by plowing through it. “I’m going to tell her I’m gay”
Magnus can’t help it; he smiles. If his heart stops when Alexander mirrors that with a gentle smile of his own, no one needs to know. “Is that the first time you’ve said it, out loud?”
Alec nods. “I guess it is. Huh. Maybe it’s fitting, then. That you’re the first person I’ve really told”
The streetlights outside are setting his eyes ablaze, shimmering tones of warm honey and russet gold. Magnus is still unsure when Alec takes a step closer. Familiar, and yet breathlessly different. This time he can feel the cold press of Alec’s boots against the front of his house shoes, has to tilt his head that he might be eye to eye with the Shadowhunter. For the second time, Magnus asks “how so?”
When Alec reaches out, this time, his hand makes it to the sharp curve of Magnus’ jaw. Magnus knows Alec must feel the hectic flutter of his heart where his smallest finger rests over Magnus’ pulse point just slightly, and he swallows despite himself. The tight coil of Alec’s body shows that he’s nervous, under his Nephilim bravado, that he’s uncertain and perhaps a little scared. Magnus can’t look away from his eyes, wide and open with unhidden wants and desires and this time, when they flicker helplessly to Magnus’ mouth, it doesn’t hurt.
“It’s okay” Magnus assures, barely a murmur but it’s enough. Alec tips Magnus’ chin up with one careful hand, holds him by the waist with the other and then they’re kissing. A soft, chaste press of lips dissolving into something better with encouragement, hurried and desperate and finally before switching to longer, languid exchanges just to be close, to be kissing.
When he pulls away, reluctantly, Alec is wide-eyed and breathless. His mouth is soft and pink and swollen, kiss-damp and pliant and Magnus thinks he’s beautiful. “Was that – I mean, that was okay?”
Magnus startles the silence of the room with a delighted laugh. “Okay is far too simple a descriptive to even come close to what that just was”
A sheepish smile spills over and Alec hides his blushing face with both hands. Impossibly endeared, Magnus pries them away, sneaking his fingers through Alec’s own while he has the opportunity. An almost awed expression takes over Alec’s face when he looks down at their hands between them, Magnus’ own looking small and delicate when locked with strong archer’s hands.
“I can have this” Alec muses, “can’t I?”
“You really must stop playing hard to get, Alexander” Magnus tells him, “it makes things difficult”
And how refreshing it is for Alec to meet Magnus’ light-hearted flirting with an embarrassed smile rather than a stoic mask of refusal, how beautiful Alec is when he’s not trying to be otherwise. Magnus brings their hands to his mouth and brushes a soft kiss across Alec’s knuckles. “Will you let me take you out, Alexander? For fear of sounding cryptic, I’ll clarify and say that I do mean a date. Dinner, perhaps?”
Magnus’ efforts earn him a wry smile as Alec remembers the night they had drinks together, and he manages to make his eye-roll look legitimate even through the blush he’s sporting. “I’d like that”
Magnus stretches up onto his toes to steal a quick, gentle kiss now that he knows he can. The resulting dusting of pink across Alec’s cheekbones and up to his ears makes Magnus want to do it again and again, but as it is he settles for a coy smile. Magnus yawns involuntarily, disentangling one of his hands to cover his mouth delicately and he catches the last traces of a frown when he opens his eyes again.
“I’m sorry. I woke you, didn’t I?”
Magnus quirks an amused brow. “You certainly did, my dear”
Wonderfully, Alec flushes again. “I just meant – it’s very late, you must be exhausted”
Magnus nods. Truthfully, he’s relying on the sheer force of will to keep himself awake. When Alec doesn’t move away immediately, Magnus hums. “You can stay, if you like”
If a Shadowhunter had the ability to short-circuit, Magnus thinks he’d have witnessed it in Alec’s expression. He hurries to clarify; “I meant nothing untoward, of course, only that it’s very late and I imagine you’ll have a lot of unpleasant explaining to do in the morning. I meant only that if you wanted, you could have a few more hours’ peace before that happens”
All of the tension drains out of Alec’s shoulders and he nods, a sleepy smile blooming in the curve of his mouth. “Okay, that- yeah. That sounds good”
Magnus snaps his fingers and douses the room in a soft glow. An admittedly showy twist of his hand and fingers sends the French chaise longue sliding elegantly across the parquet until it faces out over the city by one of the huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and a final click sets the soft yellow blanket from his bed across the arm of the seat. When he looks back he finds Alec watching in unguarded admiration, the expression uncurling something warm and fluttering in his chest.
They don’t sleep, even if they are both exhausted. Magnus couldn’t comprehend wasting time with sleeping when he could be doing this instead. Curled up against the curved arm of the seat, Alec tucked against him after a tentative and hesitant few minutes, Magnus watches the cars speed along the roads and wonders where people are going at three in the morning. Softly, Alec points to the few stars they can see in the city and tells Magnus their names. It isn’t new information considering how long Magnus has been alive but it’s the way Alec speaks, voice quiet and smooth and soothing like rain against a window that keeps Magnus hanging off of his every word.
A while later, just when Magnus thought Alec might have fallen asleep, he says “thank you”.
Magnus pulls the blanket a little closer around their shoulders. “For what?”
Alec turns his head to look Magnus in the eyes, earnest and open and Magnus is struck one again by how breathtakingly beautiful Alec is. “For the advice. For helping me be honest with myself. And, uh. For letting me kiss you”
Magnus slips his fingers between Alec’s own, thumb rubbing soft circles into the curve of the voyance rune on the back of his hand. Laughing, he says “you’ve no need to thank me for that last part, Alexander. The pleasure was all mine; I assure you”
Alec blushes but he’s smiling, and Magnus squeezes his hand. “As for the rest of it, you’re welcome, but I think you knew what you needed to hear before you even got here. You helped yourself, and you should be proud”
Alec dozes off against his shoulder, eventually. Magnus watches him for a little while, memorizing the small details like the dainty freckles you could only really see this close and the way his eyelashes cast little inky shadows across his cheekbones in the moonlight. Tomorrow, Alec would have a lot of explaining to do to a lot of people but for now, he seemed content enough to sleep soundly with his hand in Magnus’.
Magnus feels like the luckiest man in the world.