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Magic rarely fails Magnus.

His whole life – every infinite second of it – is about magic; for work, for play, when he just wants something. It’s a part of him, and he would never give it up, no matter how dangerous the world gets. He cherishes it, never takes it for granted, but it’s always been constant, always been something he can rely on.

Except now.

Magnus rests a hand on the edge of the bed, bites down on the urge to scream. He’s destroyed more things in Alec’s room than he wants to count, would ever want Alec to discover, but his whole body sings with failure.

He’s out of spells, out of resources, there’s nothing left for him to do.

“Alec,” he says, the word sounding a lot like failure.

Magic is easy. It’s always been easy. A flick of the wrist, the smallest of thoughts. Magnus and magic are as entwined as -

You flirt, you laugh, you use magic.

Alec’s words echo in Magnus’ head, almost mockingly, and the truth of them hits home. Being a Warlock is something Magnus is always proud of, his very identity hinges on it, and even now, when it’s tearing his soul from the inside, he clings to it like a lifeline.

He’s exhausted, feels the burn in his muscles, the strain on his eyes. His magic thrums with life, but it’s thin and thready, as tired as he is. He doesn’t know how much longer he can hope to keep Alec alive.

Saving him seems just that little out of reach.

Failure, Magnus thinks, is just a breath away.

Losing Alec – it’s not like losing anyone else, and oh has Magnus lost people. Friends, good friends, numbers edging into the hundreds, and Magnus mourns every one.

The thought of having to mourn Alec, of losing the one person who dug deep and found everything Magnus thought he’d locked away-

Magnus’ eyes burn for a whole different reason, throat thick with emotion. He wants, so desperately, to save Alec, to protect him from the world. He wants to laugh with him, to be able to kiss him. He wants to fight with him if it would mean Alec’s eyes open, fire and determination staring back at him.

Magnus trails a hand up Alec’s body, magic settling between them like an unsteady blanket. It doesn’t help, every bit as frayed as Magnus’ temper, as his heart.

 

 

 

Jace appears like a welcome ghost, and Magnus knows that if his magic can’t, if nobody else can, Jace can bring Alec out of this, has to be the key they’re missing.

The tenuous hold Magnus has on his emotions snaps and distorts as soon as Alec’s head tips sideways.

However accustomed Magnus is to losing people, it feels nothing like this; a burning in his chest, an ache that settles about his shoulders like a friend, the urge to let his magic riot.

Heartbreak isn’t new, death isn’t new, but combined they threaten to bring Magnus to his knees. He stares past Jace, at the prone body of his – his Alexander, who’s spent so long feeling unworthy of the love he so obviously deserves. Alexander, who’s stolen the only thing Magnus never thought he’d give away again.

I could love you, Magnus wants to scream, but all he can do is stand there, the quiet devastation of losing something that never quite had the opportunity to grow all-consuming in his grief.

 

 

 

Except-

 

 

Afterward, when the room is finally clear and Alec’s promised Izzy, Clary, everyone, not to do anything rash until they can come up with a clear plan, Magnus lingers.

He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do now. Shadowhunters are exhausting at the best of times, and with Jace in custody, Magnus wants to retreat to the safety of his own home.

Alec asks, gently, for him to stay.

Magnus does, of course he does (where else would he be, could he be?) and stands in the middle of Alec’s room, trying to ignore the fact that not too long ago, Alec died.

“Magnus,” Alec says, throat raw.

Magnus stills, wants to say a million things that are tumbling through his head; I tried so much, I’m sorry, even a kiss couldn’t – but none of them seem right, his mouth won’t work.

“Hey.” Alec’s closer, Magnus could reach out and touch, but he doesn’t. Frowning, Alec tilts his head a little, light playing over the rune on his neck. “You with me?”

“Yes,” Magnus says, trying for smooth and missing by a continent.

Something in Alec’s face shifts, realisation or something like it, and he touches Magnus. It’s just a hand hold, something they’ve done before, it’s not new, but it suddenly feels like it; Magnus closes his eyes, angry at himself for being so undone.

Alec’s not the first person he’s loved, not even close, but that doesn’t stop the fear from rolling in Magnus’ stomach, doesn’t stop the terror that this could happen again, that this will happen again.

It’s the touch to his face that ruins Magnus.

As soon as Alec’s fingers touch his skin, as soon as Alec says, “Magnus,” Magnus lets out a noise and drops forward, forehead pressed to Alec’s collarbone.

If Alec’s surprised, he doesn’t let on; he tugs Magnus in, hand sliding to cup the back of Magnus’ head, and he presses a kiss to Magnus’ temple. It’s so simple, as easy as magic, but Magnus can’t describe the feeling crushing his chest.

It’s relief, maybe, a little gratitude. There’s also love, Magnus knows, a lot of love waiting for Alec to want it, accept it.

“Alec,” Magnus says, finally, when he can make his voice work. “I thought-“

Alec presses his nose to Magnus’ temple and whispers something low and soothing. It shouldn’t work, Magnus still feels like he’s flying apart in a million different directions, but in that moment, with Alec alive and touching him, holding him, Magnus lets it soothe whatever uncertainty may lay ahead.

These quiet moments, Magnus thinks, closing his eyes and trailing fingers up Alec’s arm, these are what make the pain bearable.