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Building Bridges (EV)

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Maryse arrived at the Institute and went to her son's office. She was obliged to inform him of her visit and also she wanted to know if he was going to be busy that day. Ever since Max had recovered she had been sent back to Alicante, but she had been given a couple of days off and had asked for them at her old Institute. She wanted to spend time with her children, wanted to be part of their lives as she had not been in years.

She walked down the aisles, watching the looks of respect from her former subordinates and kept her head steady. She knocked on the door, but no one answered. She turned the knob but saw that it was closed. Maybe Alec was training with Jace. She headed there but in the training room there were only Izzy and Max.

'Mom,' Izzy said as she stopped her brother's training when she saw her coming.

Max turned and smiled, coming toward her to give her a hug. Maryse hugged him happily seeing that he was fully recovered and training again.

'What brings you here?' Asked her daughter.

Maryse reached out, unconsciously putting on that pose of a warrior. 'I have a couple of days off and I thought I'd pay you a visit.' She was a little scared of her daughter’s reaction and didn’t wanted to look needy. She was afraid of her children’s rejection, of them not wanting to spend time with her, and she understood that the would not want to. When had she wanted to spend time with her children just for the sake of being with them? She couldn’t remembered the day for it was so long ago.

'How many days are you staying?’ Izzy asked, grabbing the water bottle and taking a sip.

'Three.'

Izzy nodded, thinking how to tell her mother that she couldn’t spend the day with her today. Isabelle wanted to spend time with her mother, especially after the conversation they had had about her addiction. She had always wanted their relationship to be closer, like they one her mother had with Jace, but at the same time it was hard to take that first step. Too many years of pretending she didn’t mind the lack of affection, of support.

‘I’ve gone to inform Alec of my stay but he wasn’t in his office,’ Maryse said noticing her daughter's silence.

'Today has the day off.'

Maryse looked at the floor, recomposing her strategy, but her daughter didn’t give her time.

'He left me in charge. I can sign your arrival, but I'm afraid I cannot spend the day with you. '

‘He left you in charge?’ Maryse asked, a little surprised. It was not common for the Heads to have days off, but she supposed Alec deserved one.

'Yes. Well, if something serious happens, I'll call him and he’ll come, but if it's not a case of extreme necessity, he wont be here until tomorrow.'

‘I see.’ Maryse looked at Max, wondering what to do next.

‘We can have the day off, too,’ the boy said. 'Let's have breakfast.'

'Max, you've already had breakfast,' Izzy said, putting on her leggings. 'And you have to train. Remember what Alec said.'

‘Have we? But Mom came to see us.’ Max wanted to use his mother as an excuse to escape, but Izzy was not going to let him.

'Remember that apart from being your brother, Alec is your boss. He ordered you to train and me to train you and that's what we're going to do.’ Izzy's voice left no room for argument, yet Max looked at his mother, begging with his eyes to stand by his side.

'Isabelle is right. Alec is your boss. The orders of the Head of the Institute must always be fulfilled. If he has ordered you to train, you must train.’ His voice was serious, for if there was something Maryse respected above all else was law and order. Something she intended to teach his younger son as he had done with the others.

Max sank his shoulders and went back to his sister.

'Is Jace here?'

‘No. He's on a mission with Clary,’ Izzy said with a smile of compassion. 'They left ten minutes ago.'

Maryse looked around, looking for some way to end the conversation with dignity, some way to go without seeming that nobody loved her. She understood that her children were busy, she had not, after all, reported on her arrival, but that didn’t mean that she was feeling unconsciously rejected by them.

'Why don’t you visit Alec? You could eat with him and Magnus.’ Izzy offered with a smile, trying to help.

'Surely the last thing your brother wants is to see me on his day off,' she replied, but what she really meant was that she had not come to New York to eat with Magnus Bane. She had accepted the relation of the warlock with his son, it had cost some time but she had done it. She had seen with her own eyes the warlock's charitable soul when he had saved Alec's life and tried to save Max's, but she had never talked to him since Max's disastrous party. She had never asked for forgiveness and she didn’t know if she would be able to. There was too much history between them, too many things her children didn’t know and that Maryse didn’t want to remember.

'I'm sure he’d love to see you.' Izzy walked over to her and put a hand on her arm in a gesture of encouragement. 'Go and see them. Magnus knows the best restaurants in the world, I would not miss it.'

Maryse wanted to say no but her daughter's smile was too honest, hopeful, and she couldn’t. She nodded and watched Isabelle's eyes light up. Maybe it was time to deal with her son's relationship more actively.

***

Alec opened his eyes and took a deep breath. He noticed Magnus standing next to him and didn’t need to see his face to know he had a grin from ear to ear.

'It was... Eh... It was good.'

'Just good?' The warlock's voice with false indignation. 'Is that the review? Three out of five stars? '

Alec smiled and turned, feeling like his body was butter under the sun. 'Four and a half stars.' He said just to see Magnus's face.

'And a half? Alexander, I have not spent centuries perfecting my technique when it comes to giving a blowjob for you to give me four and a half stars.’ His voice continued with that touch of annoyance, as if he were really angry. But Alec knew he wasn’t, he could see it in the way his nose twitched, his eyes moved, his body completely relaxed. That was something he adored, being able to tease Magnus and know exactly how far he could carry it.

Alec turned and looked at the ceiling. 'Well, I have some comments to make. You know... To get improve your technique.’ He couldn’t help but smile at the sound coming from Magnus's throat. It was too easy sometimes.

Even so, he couldn’t hear what would certainly be a response with a high sexual content on the part of his boyfriend because the bell rang insistently and both left the jokes aside and looked serious at each other.

'I thought you didn’t have clients today?' Alec asked.

'I don’t. Maybe it’s your siblings.'

'Impossible. I've sent Jace and Clary on a mission that will take them all day and Izzy is in charge of the Institute. '

The bell rang again insistently.

‘It must be an emergency,’ Magnus said, standing up and with a snap of his fingers he had the black silk pants on, the blue robe and a slight touch of makeup. He ran his fingers through his hair and it looked more presentable than it had been minutes ago after Alec's fingers work on it. 'Don’t move, I'll take care of this and be right back.’

Alec nodded, the last thing he wanted was to get out of bed. He leaned back and closed his eyes as Magnus closed the door of the room.

Magnus went to the door and opened it with the intention of telling whoever was on the other side that it was better be a death or live situation or they were going to know his rage, but he couldn’t, because the surprise left him speechless.

'Good morning,' said Maryse, stretching her back further, if that was possible. Her face expressionless as always, her hands together.

Magnus remembered at that moment that he was in pyjamas, that his robe was open and that he could still taste Alec's semen in his mouth. It was especially that last detail that made him step back unconsciously.

'Hello, Maryse. How can I help you?’ His voice sounded professional, the same tone he always used with his boyfriend's mother.

'I've been told that Alec has the day off and that I might find him here.'

Magnus nodded, watching as the possibility of a second round of sex for that morning disappearing in front of him. He remembered that Maryse was on the other side of the door and opened it more, signalling her to enter.

'Please come in. I'll go find Alec.’ He closed his robe and door once the shadowhunter was inside. ‘Please wait a second’, he said, and left Maryse in his hall.

He opened the door of the bedroom carefully and closed it behind him. He watched as Alec shook his head and looked at him affectionately, without any concern. Magnus hated to know that his words were going to give his boyfriend that frown back.

'Your mother’s here.'

Alec sat up surprise, the sheet covering his pelvis but making it harder for Magnus not to notice Alec's torso and he cried inside because he couldn’t enjoy that any more today.

'My mother? What does she want?'

'I don’t know. She went to see the Institute and they told her to come here.'

‘She’d have to be in Alicante.' Alec's voice was pensive and a little annoyed.

'Well, she's in our hall.' Magnus realized too late how he had said 'our' instead of 'my'. He hoped Alexander hadn’t noticed. That was not the way he had imagined asking him to move in with him. Luckily Alec was too busy looking for the sport pants he used to be comfortable at Magnus' house. He found them on the ground and put them on. Grabbing a T-shirt and going to the door.

‘I’m going to see what she wants,’ he said leaving the room but not before giving Magnus a kiss on the cheek as an apology. Apology Magnus didn’t want nor need, but Alec felt he should give.

He saw his mother within three feet of the door, where Magnus had left her. A part of Alec felt bad because his mother was not able to come in and feel at home, to sit on the couch and wait for him as Jace used to. But if he had to be honest, this was the second time his mother had stepped into the loft.

'Hi Mom.'

'Alec,' said Maryse.

'Is something wrong?' Alec had always liked to deal with anything directly, and his mother had never suggested that he should do otherwise.

‘No. I only…’

He watched as his mother was speechless for a moment, saw a few seconds of hesitation before she lifted her head and regained that impassive pose that Alec knew and hated so much.

'They've given me some days off and I thought it would be a good idea to spend them with you and your siblings, but of course you're busy.' Maryse turned to the door and Alec understood what her mother really wanted. 'Sorry to have bothered you. I'll go back to the Institute and help Isabelle. '

'Wait,' Alec said when his mother was about to open the door. It was true that he had made other plans for his day off, the vast majority of them focused on Magnus's bed, but he couldn’t let his mother leave. She was making an effort to change, to accept him, to really know him. He didn’t know when it would be the next time he could spend time with her, he didn’t know when it had been the last time he had been with her for a nonofficial reason, or life or death situation. It was clear that she had come to get him to spend the day together. She had gone to Magnus's house. She had taken that first step. 'Why don’t you stay? We haven’t had breakfast yet, do you want breakfast?'

Maryse was about to mention that it was nine-thirty, she had gotten up at six-thirty, and had a toast with coffee as she did every morning at seven. After eight o'clock it was no time for breakfast, something she had instilled in her children from childhood.

'I don’t want to bother you.’ That was all she said.

'It's no trouble. Magnus conjures up some very good Belgian waffles, you should try them.’ Something inside Alec prayed because his mother’s say yes, for her to stay for breakfast with them, to be able to live a moment in family with her where he didn’t have to be hiding or defensive, where he could be him, where he could share his happiness. He didn’t know how that desire had appeared in him, but he wasn’t about to let the opportunity go when presented in front of him, it was not in his nature.

‘Okay.’ Maryse turned and tried to relax her posture, putting on a small smile. ‘I’ll stay.'

They were silent for a few seconds until Alec realized that he had to change and warn Magnus. He moved into the living room knowing his mother was following him.

'Get comfortable, I'm going to change and I'll be right back.'

Maryse nodded and looked around, thinking about how to wait or do.

'You can go out on the balcony or up the terrace, whatever you want.'

‘I remember the loft.’ Maryse knew that the conversation they were having was a bit awkward for both of them, but she was willing to go through it if she could spend time with her firstborn.

Alec nodded and turned, entering a room with a sliding door. Maryse looked at the state of the bed and the red sheets that covered it. Alec closed the door behind him and she was left alone, aware of something she hadn’t thought of before. His son had slept in that bed. Her son had had sex on that bed. Sex with a man. With a warlock. In that bed.

Maryse went to the balcony and opened the doors, needing fresh air. She breathed and tried to relax her mind. It was very difficult to go against everything that had been taught to her, all their beliefs. She thought she had reached a state of acceptance with Alec, especially after seeing the clear feeling of love in his son's eyes as he looked at the warlock. It was impossible to deny the evidence. Her son was in love and had fought for that love. That made her proud, that dedication, that commitment. But on the other hand, she remembered that Alec had chosen a man and a downworlder at that... That was another story. The man she could understand. If she had to be honest, she'd always known it, though she'd never wanted to accept it. She knew that there were men and women who were attracted to people of the same gender, that wasn’t new in their culture, but it was not accepted by the Clave. Homosexuality has no place in a society that was based on procreation as their major weapon against evil. More children equaled more soldiers.

Maryse knew of the story of Robert with his parabatai Michael, how it had affected them both, and she had always feared that something like that would happen between Alec and Jace. Maybe that's why she'd always tried to keep Alec from accepting that part of him, accepting his attraction to the same genre. She didn’t want to see him as she had seen Michael after Robert had pushed him aside. She didn’t want her son to lead a life of grief and misery. She had always hoped that, like Michael, Alec would find a woman that would change his mind, to satisfy him enough to let go of those feelings. Now she realized that that idea had been absurd. Michael was attracted to both genders, he had fallen in love with Eliza. Maryse had seen how he looked at his wife, who he enjoyed kissing her. Alec was not like that. Alec had never shown any interest in women. He had never been like Jace or Isabelle, ready to sneak out just to have a date. He had always stayed in his room, reading, training, being the perfect soldier Maryse wanted him to be. Now that she thought about it she had no memory of Alec enjoying life when he had been a teenager. She didn’t remember him smiling, not until Magnus arrived.

Magnus... The warlock had always been a pain in the ass for Maryse, from the day she had met him. He represented all that was to be hated and avoided. Magnus was a downworlder, he was half demon, someone who didn’t hesitate to say what he thought, someone who would fuck everything that moved, with a power unknown by the Clave but certainly greater than any other warlock. There was something in Magnus that shouted freedom: his makeup, his clothes, his nails, his attitude, his sexuality. It was this freedom that reminded Maryse that she was not free, and that had bothered her since she was very young. She did not want to remember the meetings she had had with Magnus, how the warlock had seen her in her worst moments, how he had witnessed the event for which the Clave would judge her later on. Magnus knew everything she and Robert had done under Valentine's orders, something Maryse was praying he hadn’t told Alec. She didn’t know if she would be able to look at her son in the eyes afterward.

Maryse leaned against the railing and looked out over the city. She couldn’t deny that the view was beautiful. She breathed again, trying to compose herself. She had decided to change, she had decided to remove that band of hate and resignation that she had been carrying for so many years. She wanted to be a better mother and a better person. She wanted to know Alec, to discover who the man was under all that determination and security. For she was still amazed and proud to see how Alec had taken control of the Institute only with his effort and, first and foremost, how he had started the committee for cooperation between shadowhunters and downworlders, how he had succeeded in ending Valentine threat and keeping New York is safe at the same time. It was true that many bad things had happened, that he had made mistakes, but Maryse couldn’t deny that Alec, at his young age, had done more than Aldertree or Robert. Alec had a promising future, and something told Maryse that Magnus was part of the reason for the change in Alec. Ever since he had kissed the warlock at his wedding it was as if he had awakened a part of him that Maryse didn’t know he possessed. Now there was security in his son's steps, there was determination, there was an inquisitive and proactive mind instead of a soldier that didn’t question the orders that were given, a boy who always stayed in the shadows.

'Mom?'

Maryse turned and saw Alec at the balcony door. He wore a different T-shirt and jeans. His hair was slightly wet and Maryse supposed he had taken a shower. Maryse smiled, trying to put all her thoughts aside and enjoying the moment.

'Are you going us?’

'Sure,' she said, following Alec inside the apartment until they reached the kitchen.

There was an island in the middle of the kitchen that separated a round table from where it was cooked. On the table there was a coffee pot and plates placed for three along with a small flowered vase. It was not extremely large, but it was functional and pretty, elegant like the rest of the house. It overlooked the street and let the light in, making the red color of the main wall give a warm tone to the rest of the room.

Magnus was dressed as well. He wore tight trousers and a slightly open shirt where the necklaces did little to cover the skin. Maryse didn’t know how anyone could dress so elegantly and at the same time so domestic. His hair was perfect, just like his make-up, and his smile was honest as he set the plate with the waffles on the table, inviting her to sit down. Maryse sat on the side, letting Alec and Magnus sit together.

'Tea or coffee?' Asked Magnus, who had a lovely Japanese-style teapot in his hand.

‘Coffee, thank you,’ Maryse replied politely. She had decided to make the effort to meet Magnus, to give him that opportunity she had never given him. The warlock deserved it, especially after how he had supported Alec when Max had been attacked. She didn’t find out until later thanks to Isabelle that Alec and Magnus had had a fight before the accident and Magnus and him were not on speaking terms. However, the wizard had left that aside and tried to help. Even when he'd said there was nothing he could do, he'd stayed to support Alec. That was something Maryse had not overlooked, something she didn’t intend to forget.

Magnus put the teapot on his side of the table, letting Alec pick up some jars of syrup and sit in the middle of the two. Maryse went to pour coffee, but Magnus stepped forward, picking up the coffee pot and pouring it until she said enough. There was one thing Maryse couldn’t deny and it was Magnus' perfect manners. It was something that had really bothered her about Max’s party: everything so perfect, Magnus so cordial and exquisite host. Maryse had been prepared to see a disaster, to tell her son "I told you so," but what Magnus had prepared was not one of those sinful raves the other shadowhunters spoke about, but a perfect celebration and with class.

‘Why the visit?’ Magnus asked, trying to break the somewhat awkward silence that had been in the room since she'd entered.

‘I’ve been given a couple of days off and I thought about visiting my children. See how the Institute is doing, those things.’ She knew that her voice sounded more professional and serious than the occasion required, but she couldn’t help it.

'How long are you staying?’ Alec asked, serving her some waffles.

'Three days.'

‘It's not much,’ his son replied.

‘According to the Clave it's more than enough,’ she said helplessly, in a tone that Magnus noticed and Maryse saw a small smile appearing on the warlock's lips.

‘What plans do you have?’ Alec asked, unaware of the small interaction.

‘None. Like I said I wanted to get away from Alicante and see you, that's all.'

Alec knew that what her mother meant was that she wanted to get away from her father and his lover and all the gossip she was undoubtedly living. He didn’t doubt that his mother wanted to spend more time with them, for she had made it clear that she wanted to know them better, to amend their relationship, and Alec had nothing against it, indeed, if he could his mother would never return to Alicante.

‘I know a very good spa in Manhattan,’ Magnus said and Maryse looked at him as she cut her waffle. 'If you want you could go. Nothing says a holiday like a massage with mud.'

Maryse was surprised at the warlock's proposal, but she had to admit that the idea was appealing. She couldn’t remember the last time she'd been given a massage.

'Or if you want something more picturesque I know a place on Kauai that does some wonderful treatments with clay on the beach.'

‘I doubt she wants to fly to Hawaii,’ Alec said, unable to help the small smile as he looked at Magnus.

'Fly? Alexander, please,’ replied the warlock, pouring himself chocolate syrup. He looked at Maryse, who took the jar with caramel. 'If you want to go you just have to say it and I’ll open a portal.'

Maryse knew how expensive it was for a warlock to open a portal. She had spent much of her life paying warlock, especially Magnus, for a service like that. But something told her that this time both the spa and the portal would not be on the Institute's end-of-month bill.

'I don’t want to bother you.’ Well, it was true. She had not gone there to take advantage of his son's boyfriend, no matter how appealing the idea might be.

'It's no trouble,' said the warlock before putting a piece in his mouth.

Maryse looked at Alec, whose eyes were open, as if asking her to do whatever she wanted, begging her that if she wanted to go to the spa, that was fine.

'Maybe I'll take the offer,' Maryse said, and then bit the waffle. She couldn’t help groaning in pleasure at the waffle. 'It’s delicious.’

'Right?' Said Alec eating with a smile on his lips.

Maryse couldn’t remember the last time she'd seen her son like that. Having breakfast with a smile, enjoying the moment. Inside, she knew she owed it to Magnus, and that made her resolve to know the warlock even bigger.

To Be Continued…

Chapter Text

‘Is she staying for breakfast?' That was what Magnus tried to ask as he brushed his teeth, but Alec understood him.

'I invited her,' he said from the shower. ‘Is that okay?’

Magnus rinsed his mouth and looked at Alec through the reflection of the mirror. ‘Of course. I just didn’t expect Maryse to say yes to have breakfast with me.’ He wiped his mouth and turned to see Alec face to face. 'You can’t deny it's strange.'

Alec sighed as he washed his hair. 'I think she wants to spend more time with me, to know me better. I don’t know, I notice she’s different.’ Alec threw back his head and removed the soap.

'I understand that she wants to spend more time with you, and I'm glad of it, Alexander, it's just that I find it strange that she wants to spend it with me too. That woman hates me.'

‘She doesn’t hate you,’ Alec said, looking at him through the glass, watching Magnus raise an eyebrow in doubt. ‘Maybe,’ he finally agreed, picking up the soap and cleaning himself effectively. 'Still, if she wants to spend time with me, she’s going to have to spend it with you too. I won’t leave you alone just because she has come to see me.'

Magnus smiled sweetly, touched by those honest words. ‘I’d understand that you wanted to spend time with her alone.' He didn’t want to come between Alec and his mother.

Alec finished soaping, leaving the bar in the container that Magnus had bought for him. He had never been a fan of shower gel and sponges. 'Is that a way of telling me that you don’t want to spend time with her?' Alec knew that sometimes he didn’t pick up the hints that people sent him and he worried that that was the case. He watched as Magnus grabbed his towel and stood at the door, waiting for him with a smile.

'I want to spend time with you,' he offered it as he stepped out of the shower. 'And if I have to spend it with your mother, I will make it the best experience possible.'

Alec looked at him, knowing there was a lot he wanted to say to Magnus, much that Magnus was not telling him. He wasn’t a fool, he knew Magnus wouldn’t spend time with Maryse on his own accord, but he also knew that if he did, it was only for him, and for that Alec valued him more than anything.

'Can you conjure up waffles?' He asked, changing the subject.

'Sure,' he said turning around and snapping his fingers, removing the mist from the bathroom. Alec knew that was his signal to leave and let him get ready. They both needed a few minutes to be alone and think about what they were going to live.

***

Magnus ate quietly while Alec updated his mother about the Institute, thinking about how he could modify his plans to integrate Maryse. It was clear that the woman was making an effort and that was something Magnus valued, especially for Alec. He could not care less what Maryse felt for him, he had stopped trying to prove to the shadowhunters centuries ago that his demon blood did not make him one. If she wanted to see him as the enemy, Magnus could live with that. If she wanted their relationship to be more formal for Alec's sake, he would do his best for it to be so. Magnus hadn’t forgotten everything he had experienced with Maryse, the things she had done, but he had always believed that people could change, and if Alexander, after being raised by her and Robert, to be trained to be the perfect soldier of the Clave, was capable of loving him unconditionaly, the least he could do was offer his hand to his mother as a sign of peace.

‘What were you plans for today?’ Maryse asked returning Magnus to the present.

‘We're going to Rome.’ Alec turned and looked at his boyfriend with a smile, then turned his gaze to his mother. 'Magnus has to buy some ingredients and is a good excuse to get to know the city.'

Maryse nodded and poured more coffee, her plate empty long ago. ‘I’ve been in Rome a couple of times, just for work, but I advise you to walk past the Institute. It was built in an old basilica, it’s something special. '

‘Have you ever been there?’ Alec asked Magnus. He shook his head.

'I've never had any dealings with shadowhunters in Italy. They have two High Warlocks who take care of the whole country. Whenever I go it’s just for pleasure. '

'Do you have any dealings with them?' Asked Alec curious, for he always wanted to know more about Magnus's life and his role as High Warlock, something his kind didn’t teach.

'Every once in a while, for work,' replied Magnus, pouring himself tea. ‘And every time there’s a Council.’ Magnus sighed and Alec smiled slightly, knowing that some interesting story was coming. 'Let me tell you that sitting at a table with Giovanni Battista for an entire night should be considered a way of torture.'

Maryse saw the interaction with surprise. She didn’t expect Alec's interest in the magical community, nor she expected them to talk about it in such a casual way as if it were normal. Every shadowhunter knew that form all the downworlders the ones that hid most information about their culture were the warlocks. They weren’t mass beings, always in solitude or in pairs, with conversations that never made clear their true intentions. However, Magnus spoke of his life with naturalness. And what's more, Alec wanted to know about it, wanted to know everything he had never been taught growing up. Maryse wondered if the lack of information about the magical community that the Clave had was due to the way they treated warlocks instead of the way warlocks treated them. Perhaps no one had ever asked without bad intentions, with the sole reason to know and understand, without judging, without wanting to intervene.

’Is he so awful?’ Alec asked, all his attention focused on Magnus. Maryse felt as if she were witnessing a private moment between them as if the two men had forgotten her presence. Or as if they knew she was there but they had decided to trust her and let her witness a day-to-day moment in their lives.

‘He’s got the biggest ego I've ever seen in my life,’ Magnus said, leaning back in the chair with the cup in his hand. 'It’s always a non-stop "I this", "I the other" and "I think". And that after spending two hours listening to what he thinks, because yes, Giovanni Battista has to speak at every council. There is no subject of which he has no opinion.'

‘Are you sure you don’t hate him because he steals from you the spotlight?’ Alec asked raising his eyebrows without losing his smile.

‘The only thing that man stole from me was the recipe for the invisibility potion one hundred and eighty-three years ago, staying with the merit and making a name for it.' Magnus set the cup down on the table with a frown. Alec could see that it was something that was better not to touch if they wanted to have a good day, but he could not deny that Magnus was adorable with his frown, as if he were a child whom favorite teddy has been taken from him.

'Is he in Rome?' He asked, trying to change the subject subtly.

‘No. He lives in Palermo.'

'Well, then he’s not our problem today.' Alec remembered that his mother was with them and lost his smile, trying to find some way to include her. He turned to her with an idea in mind, an idea he hoped Magnus would not hate, at least not much.

'Do you want to come to Rome with us?' He asked.

Maryse looked at him in surprise. Alec had invited her to go with them to what was surely a romantic plan for the two of them. Fifteen minutes ago Maryse would have said no, having breakfast with Magnus and trying to be friendly was enough work for one day. But then she had seen them talking, Alec smiling through the conversation and Magnus being more human than ever. She had seen them at a time where they were not the Head of the Institute and the High Warlock of Brooklyn, and she didn’t know why, but she wanted to know that version of her son. And a small part of her wanted to know that human side of Magnus.

'It's clear that you have plans together. Magnus has things to do.’ Because she wanted to say yes but she couldn’t unless Magnus agreed.

‘Mine won’t take long,’ Magnus said, putting a more neutral face. 'We’re going shopping, visiting the city, eating, those things. If you want to join us, you’re welcome.'

Maryse noticed how Magnus's tone showed no excitement, something she understood, but not a rejection either. The warlock was being honest when he said she was welcome and Maryse thought to take the opportunity. She nodded with a smile and watched as Alec, for the first time in years, smiled back at him. That alone was worth the effort.

***

They arrived in Rome when it was afternoon there. The shops were still open, and they soon left the alley where Magnus had opened the portal and walked through the city. Magnus took them to the Piazza di Spagna where all the great designers were. Alec stared in wonder at the great stairs leading to the building, the afternoon sun accentuating the white stone. It was not long before he approached the fountain in the middle and took out his cell phone, taking a picture and sending it to Izzy. He turned and saw Magnus have that smile as every time he took him to a new place. His mother was a little farther away, looking at the Piazza and the street that overlooked a statue on a high column. Alec didn’t know very well what his mother thought, for it had never been easy to read her blank face, but he hoped she was happy.

It was not long before his cell phone vibrated and he saw his sister's message: "Send me a selfie of the two of you!” Alec smiled and went to Magnus, taking his hand.

'Come. Izzy wants a photo.'

Magnus soon caught Alec by the waist and smiled at the camera, kissing Alec's cheek just as he hit the button. ‘Magnus!’ Alec said in a reprimand.

‘What?’ He picked up Alec's cell phone and saw the photo. 'We look adorable.'

'Do not send that picture to my sister.' Alec tried to pick up his cell phone but Magnus was faster and turned around dodging him, pressing send.

‘Oops,’ Magnus said without remorse. Alec grunted, knowing that this photo would soon be sent to Jace and that a whole day of his parabatai taking the piss was waiting for him. He took the phone from Magnus's hands and looked at him, hoping his eyes were serious, he knew he was failing, for he couldn’t keep his brow furrowed when he was in such a nice place with the most handsome man he had ever seen.

'Come on. There are some shops I want to visit.’ Magnus said walking to the corner where Prada was, his mother looking at the window.

'Anything you like?' Alec asked as a greeting.

‘I just looking,’ Maryse replied, but Magnus could see in her face that emotion he had seen in so many women throughout his life. He wanted to verify that his theory was true, for to see Maryse in a way that was not a strict soldier of the Clave was a tempting idea.

‘I’m going to assume you're more of a shoe than a purse kind of woman,’ Magnus said, waiting for Maryse to take the bait.

Maryse looked at him in surprise but nodded. Magnus smiled and looked at the woman's shoes. They were beautiful, elegant, discreet, and two seasons old. ‘Come on, I know the perfect shop.’ Magnus said and started to walk, knowing that Alec would follow and, consequently, Maryse.

Alec looked at his mother with a slight smile and resigned face and followed his boyfriend, walking down the Via dei Condotti, past beautiful shops full of jewelry and clothing that his sister and Magnus liked so much. Now he understood what Magnus meant when he said he was only going to Rome for pleasure. It was as if the whole street had been designed for him: ancient, classy and full of history, full of jewels, clothes and a wonderful weather. It was Magnus in a street.

They stopped in front of a store called Jimmy Choo and Magnus turned to Maryse with a smile. She looked at the window and had to hold a sigh. She had not been shopping for years, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d left the Institute to buy clothes and enjoy doing it. She always used to visit Macy's, buy shoes and functional, elegant clothes, without wasting much time in looking around. There were always other more important things to dedicate her time to: meetings, schedules, problems with the downworlders, the Clave, her children. She thought that she had passed that stage of her life when she liked to go shopping with her friends, when Jocelyn and she visited the shops in Alicante, trying on clothes that would then be put on for parties or dates with their boyfriends. But now... Now she had nothing better to do, no excuse that would not allow her to look at the beautiful shoes that Magnus had put before her. She looked at the warlock and saw his smile. She looked again at the shoes, especially heeled shoes with an uneven design in black. She felt something revived within her, a feeling of excitement and happiness, something she had long since forgotten.

'Do you want to come in and try some of them?' Magnus asked, his voice soft, sympathetic.

Maryse wanted to say no, that it was a waste of time and money, as she had said many times when Isabelle had proposed such a plan. Now she regretted not spending more time with her daughter in something that could have had united them both, something they certainly had in common.

'Yes, I do,' she said and entered the shop.

Magnus looked at Alec and saw how the young man had that disbelieving face that occasionally put when Magnus did something unexpected.

‘There is no woman who resists Jimmy Choo, Alexander.'

The two men entered the store and immediately saw Maryse signaling to an employee the shoes she wanted to try on.

‘She seems to know what she wants,’ Magnus said.

‘I’m not believing this,’ Alec said quietly, watching as his mother sat on a soft sofa waiting. 'I don’t remember ever having experienced such a thing.'

‘Let me tell you that going with your mom shopping is a fundamental requirement for being gay.’ Magnus replied in the same low tone but clearly joking, Alec looked at him a little alarmed at the thought that he had to go shopping just for being gay. Maybe it was something mundane that he didn’t know, maybe it was one of those things Simon always talked about. 'Especially if it's shoes,' Magnus said.

The employee came and showed Maryse the shoes, which she soon tried and stood up.

‘Go,’ Magnus said, pushing Alec subtly toward his mother. ‘Tell her they look good on her.’

Magnus knew that Alec was that kind of man who didn’t enjoy shopping. He didn’t understand fashion, he didn’t understand the need to have so much clothing and he was not good at giving off compliments. The most he'd said to Magnus was "wow." Magnus didn’t mind, for he could see in Alec's eyes how much he enjoyed the way Magnus dressed, he could feel his desire in how the young man's breath was cut for a moment, how that little blush appeared on certain occasions, how he was left speechless. Those reactions were good for a boyfriend, but not for a mother. Magnus wanted to help Alec reform the bond with his mother and he was going to do it the way he knew best.

He saw Alec approaching her, his pose stretched out, his hands on his back as if he were ready for battle. He told her mother that the shoes looked nice on her, that she was very pretty, and Maryse smiled, looking at the mirror and shuffling her feet.

'Do you like them?’ The woman asked.

'Yes,' said Alec. 'They look very good on you,’ he repeated.

Maryse smiled and looked at her son. She'd never imagined that she'd live something like this; before she entered the shop she'd thought she could only enjoy such a moment with Isabelle and how she'd missed her opportunity all those times. But now she was with Alec trying on shoes and his son had told her she was very beautiful with them. Maryse knew she was going to buy them, not only because she liked them but because Alec liked them too, because she wanted to remember this moment whenever she put them on.

Maryse came out of the tent with a bag in her hand and a small smile. ‘Where are we going now?’ She asked Magnus. He smiled, watching Alec take his mother's bag.

'I think we're going to need a dress for those shoes. Maybe a skirt? '

'Skirt and blouse sound good,' said Maryse.

Magnus started to walk and the two followed. Willing to find the perfect outfit.

***

When they entered Stella McCartney, Maryse made her way to the dress section. Alec had four bags in his hands, but it seemed he was going to end up carrying more. He had never seen her mother like this, but he knew she was having fun. She had the same smile as Izzy when she pulled him out shopping against his will. His mother was enjoying it and he wasn’t about to complain as he did with his sister.

‘I’m going to go buy my ingredients,’ Magnus said, putting his hand on Alec's arm to get his attention.

‘We can all go together once we’re out of here,’ Alec replied.

Magnus denied the idea with his head. 'Stay with your mother. I'll be back in an hour or so.’

‘Are you sure?’

Magnus nodded. 'When I'm done, I'll send you a message and see where we meet, okay?'

Alec nodded, not content to let Magnus go alone to buy his ingredients, but knowing that his place now was with his mother, something that Magnus also understood.

‘I love you,’ Alec said before kissing Magnus softly, not caring who saw them.

‘I love you, too,’ Magnus said with that smile he always wore when Alec kissed him like that, the smile the young man loved so much. 'See you soon.'

Alec watched Magnus go, and as he turned his head he saw a female employee looking at him with a smile, then he moved his eyes and looked for his mother, who was in a corner with two dresses in her hand. He went to her.

'Which one do you like more?' She asked, and Alec had gone through that question many times with Magnus not to know the right answer.

'Why don’t you try them on and see which one suits you better?'

Maryse looked at him and nodded. Going to the fitting room, Alec followed her, sitting in a small chair and leaving the bags at his side. He watched as the curtain moved slightly and his mother took out her hand, calling him. He entered the tester and went to the curtain.

'Mom?'

‘I need help zipping it up,’ his mother said and Alec carefully opened the curtain, seeing his mother's back and the half-closed dress. Carefully he zipped it up and looked at her through the mirror.

‘What do you think?’

Alec pulled away and Maryse turned so he could appreciate her better.

'I don’t like the color on you.' He said as it was the truth. Magnus had told him on more than one occasion that there were certain colors that he didn’t wear because they didn’t go well with his skin tone. Alec had never understood how a color could not go well depending on the skin tone, but now that he saw his mother with that soft pink color he realized that Magnus, as always, was right.

'I think they have it in black,' said Maryse turning and noticing her reflection.

‘Black always looks good,’ Alec replied, for it was the color of eighty percent of his wardrobe.

'Can you bring it to me in black?'

Alec nodded and went out to get the dress in black. Soon he found it and gave it to his mother, repeating the same process.

'Better. Much better,’ she said, seeing herself in the dark color. 'Can you bring the green shoes I bought earlier?'

Alec nodded and left the fitting room. His bags were still there and the employee who had helped his mother went to him.

‘Is she liking it?’ She asked in English with a strong Italian accent.

‘Yes. She’d want to try the shoes that we bought with the dress. Is that alright?'

'Of course,' said the young woman with a smile.

It was not until they paid when Maryse realized that Magnus was not there. She said nothing until they left the store.

'Where is Magnus?'

‘He had some things to do. He'll be back in an hour or so. '

Maryse nodded and looked around. She hadn’t realized until now how the warlock's presence had softened the situation, made the whole morning easier and more fun. Now, for the first time in a long time, she was alone with her son, and she was not quite sure what to do.

'Would you like a soda?'

'Yes,' said Alec. 'I think I've seen a coffee in one of these corners.'

They end up in a little cafe some streets ahead. There was an uncomfortable silence until the drinks arrived, but it was necessary for Maryse to think about how to approach the situation.

'Do you two do this very often?' She asked taking a sip of her lemonade.

Alec looked at her in confusion.

'Travel to other countries, go shopping...'

Alec nodded. ‘When we both have the time,’ he said, drinking his coke. 'We haven’t done it much. Usually, it’s just dinner or lunch in some restaurant and then visiting the city a little.'

'Going out with a warlock has its advantages.' There was no malice in Maryse's voice. The phrase had come out of her heart, but she saw Alec getting a bit tense. 'What's going on?'

Alec breathed, calmed down, and looked at his mother. 'I don’t go out with him for this,' he said earnestly, pointing to the city.

Maryse nodded, realizing there was something else in her son's mind. At first, it seemed as if Alec was not going to say anything else, but in a few seconds, he spoke again.

'People think I go out with him because he takes me to cities and I can have access to his magic at no cost. As if instead of a boyfriend I had a pet.’ There was irritation in his voice and Maryse understood where the anger came from. She knew that was the way the great majority of the Institute saw their relationship every time Magnus went to help her children or took Alec to exotic places.

‘They're not used to something like you two, Alec. It’s normal they don’t understand it.’ She didn’t want to be included in that phrase because she thought that perhaps she was beginning to understand.

'Is it normal for someone to look at him as if his existence depended on his usefulness to us? Is it crazy the idea that someone wanted to spend time with him altruistically?'

Maryse took a moment to reply, knowing that Alec was talking about something that had been bothering him for some time. And she knew that she had been one of those people, that perhaps she still was.

'It is. It’s normal to look at him and see only a warlock, the utility of his magic.’ Maryse saw Alec was about to speak, as his face grew darker, but Maryse stopped him with a wave of her hand. 'It's normal but it's not okay.' Alec looked at her in confusion and Maryse continued.

'Alec, I've spent my life hating that man, it's something I've never hidden. I’ve been educated that those of his race were a necessary evil for a superior good, but not for that less of an evil. I don’t want to talk about the things I've done as I'm not proud of them.’ Maryse stared at her drink, searching for strength in the yellow liquid. 'And it was not until recently, thanks to you, when the idea that perhaps all my principles, all my convictions, were wrong.' Maryse looked at her son and saw the surprise in his eyes.

‘This hasn’t been easy for me, Alec. First losing the Institute, Jace, Valentine, you... Especially you, Alec.’ Maryse sighed, knowing it was time to show her cards, to be honest as she had been with Isabelle. She looked at Alec, making sure his son listened to her words. ‘I’ve always known about your sexual orientation, always.’ She saw the surprise in Alec's eyes and half-smiled a small smile that was lost on her lips. 'You've always tried to hide it from a very young age, but a mother knows those things.'

‘You never said anything.’ Alec's voice was muffled, unable to believe what he heard.

‘There was nothing I could say,’ Maryse replied. 'At first, I thought I was imagining it, then I thought that maybe it could be a phase, but you kept growing and it kept becoming more obvious. Not for someone outside the family, but for me... For me it was clear and I think that's why I refused to mention it. I didn’t want to accept the fact that my son, who I had trained to be the best, who was the future of our family, would end up being put in the shadows once the truth came out.’

Maryse swigged her drink, trying to compose herself. Alec said nothing.

'When you told me that you were going to marry Lydia I was so glad because I thought maybe I was wrong, maybe you were interested in women too and there was something about Lydia that appealed to you. I wanted that so bad…’ She set the drink on the table and looked at Alec. 'I won’t deny that I was also glad of the positive political repercussions that that wedding could offer us, for the fact that you could manage the Institute. Alec, I saw with that wedding how that future that I had laid out for you was going to be fulfilled. How you would reach the top, how you would continue the lineage of the Lightwoods and eliminate all those mistakes that your father and I made.'

‘Sorry I destroyed that idea,’ Alec said, but it was clear in his voice that he didn’t feel it at all.

Maryse didn’t know if she was doing well continuing this conversation, if Alec was about to get up and leave, leaving her alone and exploiting that bubble of happiness in which she had lived the last few hours. But Alec did not move, and she decided they had to have this conversation once and for all.

‘I don’t regret it.’ Maryse took Alec's hand, which did nothing to get hers, but neither did he refuse the contact. 'That day I saw the real you for the first time in years, though I was too blinded by anger and disappointment to notice. I had worked so hard to make you perfect that I never saw the you already were.’ She stroked his son's big hand, noticing the hardness in certain parts due to the use of the bow.

'You did something so brave and honest, something for yourself, for your own happiness, and I didn’t know how to live up to it. I'm sorry.’ Alec closed his hand around his mother's in acceptance. 'I won’t deny that everything would have been easier if you had decided to go out with someone of our own race. Not just for me, but for you too.'

‘I know,’ Alec replied, for it was not the first time someone had said that to him.

'It would have been easier if it were someone unimportant, any other downworlder.’

'Mum, I know.' For Alec knew that a lot of how people looked at their relationship with Magnus was because of who the uncomfortable was. 'I fell in love with him, there's nothing to do about it.'

‘I know,’ Maryse said, and Alec looked at her in surprise.

His mother had always referred to Magnus as "the warlock”, "his friend", or "Magnus" very recently. He had never felt as if she accepted his relationship completely, let alone think it was love.

‘I love him,’ Alec said to make sure his mother understood. 'And that's not going to change in the future.'

Maryse nodded, staring at their hands and looking at Alec with small tears in her eyes struggling to get out. 'I know.'

Alec came up to her and hugged her, needing to feel her close. He felt her mother sigh, trying to hold back the tears, and he held her tightly, trying to show his feelings.

'I love you,' she said.

Alec didn’t remember the last time his mother had told him that.

TBC…

Chapter Text

It was as if after that conversation something changed between them. They both knew they would need many more conversations to make their relationship what they both wanted, but it had been a good first step. They drunk the rest of their drinks in silence and, when they were paying the bill, Alec received a message from Magnus telling them to meet at the Fountana di Trevi. Alec soon found a route on his cell phone. They walked in silence, enjoying the city and watching how little by little the sun began to set giving the streets a magical touch. Alec saw the signs that marked their path and knew they were nearby. There was something he had to do before they met Magnus, and he had been thinking about how to approach the situation for a while.

'Mom,' he said, catching Maryse's attention. She turned and looked at him. 'I know what I'm going to ask for is not easy, but I want you to make an effort with Magnus.'

Maryse stood, surprised at the request of her son. Alec stood beside her, knowing he wouldn’t be able to give his mother another chance if she wasn’t going to give it to Magnus.

'I know there’s history between you two. I haven’t asked him and he has never brought up the subject, but I imagine it’s not good. That's in the past and I'll leave it there.’ Alec watched as his mother nodded in gratitude. Something inside Alec wanted to ask at that moment what had happened all those years ago, he knew that if he asked Magnus he would tell him, but he feared that if he did the possibility of having a good relationship with his mother would disappear. There were things better left unsaid. 'He’s my future and if you want to be part of it you're going to have to treat him with the respect he deserves.'

'I cannot promise that we'll be friends.' Maryse knew her limitations.

'I don’t want you to be,' Alec said. 'I just want you to respect him and accept that he’s the person I want to share my life with.'

Maryse looked at him surprised and Alec realized the meaning of his words. It sounded like a marriage proposal, but Alec hadn’t had that intention in mind. He knew they haven’t been dating for long, that there were still many things that had to improve in their relationship, many questions in front of them, but if Alec has learned something after everything they’ve gone through together it was that Magnus was the love of his life. He knew that for those of his race when they meet the right person it was forever, that it was normal to marry young knowing that love would only grow. Alec hadn’t had any previous experiences, but he knew that what he felt for Magnus he had never felt it for anyone else, and he doubted he would. Maybe Aldertree was right and their relationship was doomed to failure, but Alec was going to fight for it nevertheless. It was not in his nature to quit.

Maryse nodded, understanding the gravity of Alec's words, knowing that her son was speaking from the heart. A small part of her hoped it was not so, that something would come between Alec and the warlock, that their relationship would be over and Alec would find a shadowhunter with whom to spend the rest of his life: someone with whom he could live and fight, someone with whom he could share the position and the responsibility, someone who shared his traditions and customs, with whom he could end up getting married if one day the Clave would consent it. But another part of her said that maybe Alec didn’t need that, maybe the relationship he had with the warlock would be key in the long run to unite the Shadow World. Perhaps he didn’t need to repeat Robert's footsteps and hers, for the last thing Maryse wanted was for Alec to become his father. She didn’t want to think about Robert, about his cheating, about how the man she'd fallen in love with had changed so slowly over the years that by the time she'd wanted to realize it, it was too late.

'I will,' she said, trying to get away from those thoughts. 'I promise to give him another chance.'

Alec nodded and kept walking, finishing the conversation. They soon arrived at the fountain, full of tourists taking photos and throwing coins. It must have been impossible to find Magnus in that crowd, even though it was such a small space, but Alec's eyes found his boyfriend within seconds. It was as if he had a magnet, as if something inside him told him where to look. He watched as Magnus turned and their eyes met. A small smile appeared on Magnus's face and Alec couldn’t help but smile as well as he walked toward him.

‘How was the shopping?’ Magnus asked as a greeting.

'Good,' Alec said. He wanted to kiss Magnus, he wanted to tell him how handsome he was, how fortunate he felt to be worthy of his love and time, but it wasn’t the right time nor he had the right words. He felt his mother behind him and moved to not turn his back on her.

'Are you hungry?'

'Yes,' Alec answered. Maryse nodded.

'There’re two options: If you want pasta carbonara I know a wonderful place near Piazza Navona. But if you prefer Lasagna I have another one behind the Colosseum.'

'There's no pizza choice?’ Alec asked, enjoying Magnus's passion for food, something they certainly had in common.

‘No. If you want pizza we go to Naples. It’s not that it isn’t good here, it is, but it doesn’t compare to the lasagna or carbonara.’ Magnus's tone was serious, for he knew that Alec had become a sybarite since they had begun dating. Or maybe he had always been, and he had never been able to get that part of him out before.

Alec turned to his mother who shook her head. 'Both options are good.'

The young man turned his gaze to Magnus and said "lasagna". They were soon on the move, enjoying a pleasant walk where Alec asked Magnus about his shopping and Magnus told him about his purchases in the store of magical objects and how he had met an old customer, who had asked for a favor and he couldn’t refuse but help him.

In less than twenty minutes Alec saw what was undoubtedly the Colosseum. He had to hold his breath, for the image of the building next to all the temples and basilicas was too beautiful. They walked down Via dei Foro Imperiali, where Alec looked around as Magnus told them a story of how Catarina and he spent a weekend in Rome and ended up at night in the Palatine looking for a magic necklace with the characteristic of attracting gold which a warlock had lost years ago.

'Did you find it?' Asked Maryse, who had followed the story carefully.

'Yes,' said Magnus. ‘But it turned out that it didn’t attract gold, but golden things. Useful two hundred years ago, completely useless today.'

'What did you do with it?’ Alec asked.

'Catarina traded it for a book about healing properties of some kind of plant.' Magnus waved his hand, dismissing the matter, but then stopped it. 'Now that I think about it, she still owes me half of that sale.'

'I doubt you were going to get your weight in gold,’ said Alec, who couldn’t help saying that even knowing it was a bad joke. Magnus stared at him implying that he hadn’t been amused, but Alec knew that something had amused him when he saw that little smile at the corner of his mouth.

They reached the restaurant and Magnus said his name. They were seated overlooking the Colosseum, which was beginning to light up, giving the atmosphere a romantic and magical touch. Alec looked at Magnus, saw the last rays of the sun caressing his skin, turning it into gold for a few minutes, how handsome he was, how considerate he was. He knew he must have booked the table in advance, for the restaurant was full, and he wondered what time he had called to change the reservation from two to three.

The meal was more enjoyable than Alec thought, his mother making a clear effort to keep the relaxed atmosphere that Magnus had started. They talked about Izzy and how Max was getting better, about Jace and Clary, something his mother was very interested in knowing but Alec told her to ask Jace herself. There was a moment, close to dessert, where Maryse asked for the Cabinet that Alec had started. Magnus explained how he thought it was a good idea that it would need more time to bear fruit. Neither of them wanted to give more details, because they wanted to forget work for a day, something that Maryse noticed and didn’t insist more.

‘What do you do during the day?’ Maryse asked when they brought the tiramisu that Magnus and Alec were going to share and her coffee.

Magnus looked at her in surprise, for he wasn’t expecting such question. Soon he smiled and put that friendly face back.

‘My day to day hasn’t changed in decades,’ he said taking some tiramisu with the spoon. 'I've done the same since I became High Warlock. Aside from the usual call for help from Clary and company, nothing has changed in the time we’ve known each other.’ Magnus ate and looked at the woman, waiting for an answer. He wasn’t sure what Maryse wanted with that question.

Maryse took a sip of her coffee and left it again, pouring sugar into it. 'I've never really known what you do for a living. I know you’ve clients and that you’re one of the Institute's main contacts for magical matters, but I don’t know anymore.’ It was clear that she was uncomfortable admitting that in all those years she had never had the slightest interest in knowing about the warlock’s life.

Alec looked at Magnus, wanting to tell him that he didn’t have to answer, that he owed nothing to his mother, but his boyfriend's eyes were fixed on Maryse.

‘I have clients of all kinds who ask me for things,’ Magnus said, leaning back on the table, accepting the silent invitation Maryse had offered him. 'From potions to translations of spells. Every person is different.’ Magnus took a sip of the wine. 'Then I'm the first one they call if there's a problem between vampires and werewolves to solve it. Also if there is a problem with other warlocks.’ Magnus listed his obligations as one could dictate their shopping list. ‘I’m the owner of a nightclub, which takes more time than imagined to run so it continues in the top 5 of Brooklyn nightlife.’

‘I thought Pandemonium had closed,’ Alec said, remembering that Magnus was the owner of that place.

'I closed it when Valentine re-appeared,' he replied. 'But I've been thinking about re-opening it for a few weeks now. Now that it’s safer and I can pay it more attention.'

'Do you handle Downworld conflicts?' Maryse asked, for that was what had surprised her the most.

Magnus turned his gaze to her with a smile of self-indulgence. 'Who did you think was in charge of them?'

‘I don’t know,’ said Maryse, and those words hurt her, for she was not a woman to admit she didn’t know things. 'I had never thought about it.'

Magnus picked up some of the tiramisu Alec had left. 'I guess it's normal. After all, you only show up if there are mundanes or demons in between.’ He stuck the piece in his mouth and tasted the chocolate with the mascarpone, knowing that his words were loaded with a bitterness that he could never eliminate.

Maryse looked at her coffee while Alec thought about what Magnus had just said. Alec knew that Magnus was playing a key part in keeping the Shadow World of New York World at bay, but he had never stopped to think how much. Now it made sense that Magnus knew Luke and Raphael so well, as well as the other leaders of the other packs and clans. Perhaps it was time that he also knew them better, maybe little by little he could gain their trust.

Maryse's thoughts were different from his son. She thought about how much she hadn’t known about her own world. She had always thought that her role was to protect the mundanes and kill demons. Part of protecting the mundanes was to kill downworlders, something she had never hesitated to do, but since Valentine's return, since Alec had started dating Magnus, since she had spoken to Lucian again, she had begun to think differently. There were many things she didn’t know about downworlders and discovering that much of the Institute's lack of more problems were due to the silent intervention of the warlock, was making her look at Magnus with other eyes.

***

They returned to the loft as evening fell, and Maryse soon said goodbye to them, taking her bags and thanking them for such a pleasant morning. Magnus reminded her of the spa's offer and she smiled, considering calling tomorrow to accept it.

It was not until they closed the door when Alec breathed quietly, holding his head back and letting the peace of the apartment invade him. It had been an interesting morning, but he believed it was constructive for his future. He watched as Magnus headed for the mini bar and poured himself a whiskey. He was not going to say anything to him, for he knew that the day had been harder for him, though his face had never shown the least discomfort. He waited for him to take a long sip of the alcohol before he wrapped his arms around him and kissed his neck.

'Thank you for today.'

Magnus turned in his arms, the glass between them. 'You don’t have to thank me.'

‘I think I do.’ Alec's voice was sure, aware that it was necessary for Magnus to understand how grateful he was for everything. 'You didn’t have to.'

Magnus put his hand on his cheek and stroked it. 'Of course I did.' He took another sip finishing the drink. He turned, sitting on the couch. 'Did you have fun?'

Alec smiled and sat down beside him, leaning back against his chest, noticing Magnus's fingers caressing his hair. 'It was interesting, I cannot deny it.'

They were silent for a few minutes, enjoying each other's company. Magnus closed his eyes and let the peace invade him. It hadn’t been the morning he'd had in mind, but he thought he'd been victorious. He didn’t know how, but he and Maryse had managed to maintain an educated facade throughout the day, something Magnus thought impossible. Perhaps the woman really wanted to make an effort and accept her son. Magnus wasn’t about to intervene by bringing up their past, the many memories he had of his boyfriend's mother being all Magnus had always hated about their race. If she wanted to improve and become a person instead of a machine he wouldn’t stand in her way. He smiled, for the idea that Alec was so open-minded and affectionate having grown up with Maryse and Robert would never cease to amaze him.

'What do you want to do with the rest of the day?' Alec asked, it was four in the afternoon after all.

'What do you want?'

Alec leaned back, leaning his head on Magnus's lap and raising his legs to the couch. 'Stay here. For a while. Then maybe we could go out and eat a hamburger? Something around here.’

Magnus stroked his hair more freely. 'Do you want to rest for a while?' Alec nodded.

'What do you think if we take off our clothes and rest in bed?'

Alec looked at him with a smile. 'It doesn’t sound like what you have in mind is to rest.'

Magnus's eyes were full of love and Alec could feel how some of the lust he saw in them was contagious, but it wasn’t like other times, where he needed to undress Magnus and feel him close as soon as possible. Now there was a new calm, a different feeling of being on the couch in the middle of the afternoon, talking about it.

'Do you want to?’ Magnus asked. And Alec knew that this time was going to be different.

He moved without haste and took Magnus's hand, leading him to the room. He closed the door behind them and carefully unzipped the buttons on Magnus's shirt. The warlock’s hands on his hips, not moving but steady, making it clear he was not going anywhere. He didn’t remember the last time he had spent so much time undressing Magnus, but knowing that they weren’t in a hurry, that there was nothing they had to do or place to be was a new sensation. Magnus turned and Alec took his shirt off, sliding it across the soft skin and lovingly kissing his shoulder.

‘You're beautiful,’ he said as he brought his hands to Magnus's belt and unbuttoned it. He moved closer to him and slipped his hands through his trousers, noticing how Magnus was beginning to harden slightly under his touch. Magnus took his hand back, taking Alec's head and making it stay on his neck, stroking his hair. ‘Beautiful,’ Alec said again, and kissed Magnus's neck, slowly climbing up and removing the spider-shaped earring with his mouth. He felt Magnus glue his buttocks against his crotch and smiled, letting the earring fall into his hand. He ran his fingers around Magnus's neck, caressing the part where the hair was growing and looking for the opening of the necklaces. He took them one by one, holding them in the same hand. He turned, leaving them on the nearest table and removed his T-shirt before sticking again to the warlock’s back.

'I want to massage your back.' He didn’t know where that need came from, but he couldn’t deny it.

Magnus turned and Alec saw that precious smile on his lips. He took his face and kissed him affectionately. He felt Magnus's hands rise up his torso, stay on his pectorals and stroke the hair there. They parted when they needed to breathe, staring at each other, enjoying the calm. Magnus put his hand up his neck, tracing the rune with his fingertips.

‘I love you.’ Magnus's voice was sure and deep.

Alec brought his thumbs to Magnus's cheeks, caressing the underside of his eyes. 'Show me.' Magnus didn’t look away, for it was not the first time the shadowhunter had asked for such a thing. Since their first time Alec had wanted to see his true eyes whenever they made love and in the beginning, Magnus hadn’t felt comfortable with it. At first, Alec hadn’t asked for it, but he had always kissed him harder, had caressed his face more tenderly, told him he was beautiful when his glamour disappeared and he saw him as he really was. It hadn’t been until a couple of nights ago when he'd started asking him to show them as Magnus's eyes haven’t changed for a long time.

Alec brought his hands to Magnus's face and looked at him in concentration. Magnus could see the small drops of sweat on his boyfriend’s forehand. He felt completely relaxed thanks to the skillful hands of the shadowhunter.

'What's going on?' Magnus asked when he saw that Alec kept looking at him.

‘Did you like it?’ Alec had never asked him that, and Magnus thought it was because he had never needed it.

'Of course, Alexander. Why you ask?'

‘Your eyes.’ That was what Alec said as if it were all the explanation Magnus needed. Seeing that the warlock didn’t understand, he elaborated the phrase better. 'They haven’t changed. They’re brown.'

Magnus breathed and laid his head on the pillow. 'I've learned to control the glamour. That’s all.'

Alec looked at him unconvinced but said nothing. Not until the next time they did it and Magnus's eyes stayed brown. Magnus was moving on Alec, slowly but steadily, one of the archer's legs on Magnus's shoulders and the other on his waist. The rune of flexibility doing its job. Alec brought his hands to Magnus's face and placed his thumbs under his eyes, stroking the skin.

'Let me see them,' he said in a hoarse but soft voice. 'If you want,' he added quickly.

Magnus stopped moving and looked at him in surprise. Alec settled himself a little, not breaking the contact but getting more comfortable.

'Why?' Asked Magnus, who knew what he meant.

'Because they’re beautiful.’

There was complete honesty in Alec's words, and Magnus didn’t know what to do for a moment. None of his former lovers had wanted to see his eyes, not even Camille. Everyone who had seen his mark had had different reactions, but none had been like Alec's. No one had ever been like Alec. Magnus let out a breath that he didn’t know he was holding and let the glamour disappear. He watched as Alec smiled and brought his face closer, kissing him with passion. ‘Beautiful’ That was all he said when they parted. Magnus moved again, this time faster, more hurried, and Alec grabbed his neck and didn’t lose eye contact until he came minutes later.

Magnus took off the glamour and saw that smile he had begun to recognize in Alec's eyes. The young man approached him and kissed him affectionately. Magnus knew he wanted to take the afternoon calmly but at the same time, he wanted to feel Alec's hands on his back. He'd never offered him a massage, not like this, and he wasn’t about to miss the occasion. He went to the bed and removed the duvet to leave the sheets alone. He glanced at Alec, who hadn’t moved from the spot but didn’t lose sight of what he was doing and snapped his fingers without breaking eye contact, causing the rest of his clothes to disappear. He noticed how Alec stopped breathing for a moment and smiled, pleased to know he could still bring that response from him.

'How do you want me?' He asked knowing there was a sexual connotation in his voice.

‘Lie down,’ Alec said, walking toward him and pulling off his pants but leaving his underwear.

Magnus lay down knowing that the sight he offered to Alec was one that the young man couldn’t resist. It wasn’t long before he felt his legs on either side of his and felt him sitting on them carefully.

‘Is it to much weight?’

‘No.’

Alec looked around and knew he was going to need lotion or something. Magnus had some in the bathroom but he didn’t feel like moving.

'Can you give me some lotion?’

Magnus snapped his fingers and a new bottle of lavender massage oil appeared on the curvature of his back.

'Much better,' said Alec, taking the bottle and opening it, letting the lavender smell invade the room.

He had never done a massage like this before, but he had massaged the tired muscles of Izzy and Jace more than once. But this time it was different. This time it was not about untangling tendons and relaxing muscles to continue training, but to relax and give pleasure without any other intention than to give it. This time he had an extremely attractive man completely naked under him. His growing erection was still present, hidden thanks to the underwear but making it clear that after his eyes and hands enjoyed the man it was time for other activities.

He put oil carefully on Magnus's shoulders, watching as it fell down his back. He closed the bottle and hurried to pick up the drops that were running toward the sheets. He knew that these were going to end up dirty at the end of the night, but he wanted to do his best to avoid it. He moved his hands and felt a small surge of pleasure running down his back as they massaged Magnus's broad shoulders. His hands were on either side of his body, his head resting on the mattress, his eyes closed. They were silent for a long time, Alec focused on Magnus' back, undoing a few knots he had found, marveling at all the marks and moles he encountered. His desire was there, latent but calm, without haste.

'My mother told me that she’d always known I was gay.'

Those words broke the silence and the atmosphere in which they were. Alec felt that he had made a mistake. He didn’t know what had made his day that, but his mind had gone unconsciously into that conversation. He felt Magnus move his arms, placing them under his head like a pillow, but otherwise, he was still, waiting for him to continue.

‘I don’t know how she never said anything all these years,’ Alec said, taking more oil and massaging the lower back of Magnus. ‘She explained to me why she never said anything, and I understand her motives, but a part of me refuses to accept it.'

'What did she said?'

‘She thought it was a phase, that maybe she saw things where they were none... I understand her point of view but at the same time I can’t stop thinking that everything was for nothing.'

'What was for nothing?' Magnus asked confused.

‘Hide it.’ Alec raised his hands and push his thumbs on either side of Magnus's spine. 'If she had said something, if someone had said something perhaps everything would have been different.'

'Isabelle knew it,' said Magnus. ‘She made it very clear to me before we started dating. I'm sure she tried to talk to you.'

Alec sighed and stretched his back, regaining his posture for a moment. ‘It's not the same,’ Alec said.

Magnus turned carefully and rested his back on the headboard, moving his legs and placing them crossed under him. 'I don’t follow you, Alexander.'

Alec sat down on the mattress and sighed. ‘It doesn’t matter.'

'No.' Magnus touched Alec's knee, catching his attention. ‘It matters. Tell me.'

Alec shook his head but Magnus knew that it was not for him but for himself. 'I don’t know why I've spent my whole life hiding something that my mother has always known. Since I was small and I discovered that I didn’t feel the same as other kids, as Jace, I knew something wasn’t right in me. I wanted to talk to someone, but by that time Izzy was very young and Jace… I couldn’t tell Jace, I didn’t know what I felt for him.’ Alec put his hands in his hair, not worrying that they were filled with oil. 'If my mother had said something, if she had told me and said that what I felt was normal, that it was not bad, that I didn’t… But she never said anything and my father always asked me when I was going to bring home a girlfriend, and she reminded me how important it was to preserve the name of the family.'

'It shouldn’t have been easy. But I don’t understand why you never told Izzy later, she would have understood.'

'What was I going to say? That her brother was everything her family detested? That I was a poor excuse of a shadowhunter?’ There was anger in Alec's voice and it wasn’t until he said those words when he noticed as if something opened inside him and it saw the light once and for all.

'Alexander...' Magnus tried to take his hands but Alec moved them, pulling them into his hair and scratching the back of his neck.

'I couldn’t, Magnus. I was afraid it would be real, that there was something wrong with me and that Jace would know. '

‘But Jace knew. He must have known.'

Alec shook his head. 'I don’t think he knew it until months after the parabatai ceremony.'

Magnus left his hands open and Alec caught them, letting the air enter his lungs and relax him.

'Since I realized I was different I thought I was in love with Jace, Magnus.'

‘I know.’ Magnus's voice was soft, calming Alec.

'I was terrified because I saw him and my pulse would raise, because I loved him like a brother but there was something else, something that I thought wasn’t right. And he wanted to be my parabatai, Magnus, I loved him more than anything, and I didn’t know how to say no, because I wanted that too. And my mother... My mother knew and never said anything. She never told me that it was normal to be confused, that what I felt for Jace was not what I thought. She was afraid she would be like that and let me do the ceremony.'

'Why did you do it?' Magnus was curious. He knew it was not the time to ask questions, that Alec was dealing with things he had never bothered with before, but he couldn’t help but be curious. They had never spoken of what Alec felt for Jace, not like this, and Magnus wanted to know.

'Because Izzy told me that I would regret it if I didn’t. I was about to turn eighteen and couldn’t postpone it anymore. And she... She knew how I felt about Jace. She tried to speak but by then it was too late. And…’ Right then Alec remembered Izzy's words, they came to his mind with complete clarity as if she had said them yesterday. He smiled, realizing that his sister had been right all along.

'What's going on?'

'Izzy,' Alec said as an explanation and seeing Magnus's eyes he explained himself. 'I just remembered what she told me the day before the ceremony. I thought they were hollow words, but she was right.'

'What did she say?'

Alec looked at Magnus knowing the gravity of what he was going to say and he didn’t hesitate for a moment.

‘She told me that someday someone would love me heart and soul.'

Magnus smiled, excited to hear those words.

‘She was right,' he said, putting a hand to Alec's face and kissing him gently.

The End