Magnus shot Raphael a warning glance when the doorbell rang, and Raphael rolled his eyes but mouthed I'll behave, so Magnus opened the door. Simon was holding a bottle of wine and bouncing lightly on his toes.
“Hey, uh.” He held the wine out. “Maia helped me pick it out, since I don't know much about this stuff, and I'm now, like, perpetually underage, and I can't really drink it anyway…”
Magnus smiled at him and took the bottle. “That was very thoughtful of you, Simon. Please, have a seat, relax.”
Simon took the seat furthest from Raphael but did not look remotely relaxed. It was a start. “Luke's not coming?” he asked. Magnus shook his head.
“It seemed impolite to invite him to speak ill of the dead, no matter how problematic the dead might have been.”
Magnus settled into a chair between the two of them and summoned a glass of blood for Simon, then refilled his own glass of whiskey. “Some ground rules, please,” he began. “Simon, I know you're friends with Isabelle, but please stick to defending her character within your own head. Raphael—” he glanced at him— “don't be deliberately provocative. Understood?”
Raphael nodded once in acknowledgement while Simon bobbed his head up and down. “Well then,” Magnus said, extending his arms in a grand gesture, glass in one hand, “let us vent.”
It didn't take long for them to get going. “I don't know, man,” Simon was saying after about half an hour, grasping his glass, his hands between his knees, “Like, obviously Jace didn't activate the Soul Sword on purpose, but couldn't somebody have given him, like, a blood test or something? Clary, I mean, I guess I thought she was smarter than this, but she just went with it, she just goes with everything they say, except in the few occasions when she probably should listen to the people who've been doing this all their lives and instead she sets off on some reckless scheme because she thinks she can do everything.
“And you know, I was helping Isabelle train her little brother the other day—he's cocky, but pretty sweet—and it was like, I just realized that I could actually be preparing him to take me down someday. Jace’s grandmother had no problem locking me up just for being on Institute property helping my—my best friend, so maybe someday I do something they think is out of line, and they send this kid after me. Or any of them. I just keep thinking, if Jocelyn hadn't done what she did, Clary would've been trained like that, to take down Downworlders without question when ordered. And maybe… maybe I wouldn't be a vampire if I'd never met her, but maybe it'd still happen, and then for any random reason she'd be sent after me without a second thought.”
He paused and looked down. “And again, though… maybe I wouldn't be a vampire if I’d never met her. She's my best friend, I love her, but… I think about that sometimes.”
He glanced up, expectant. Magnus tried to pick out a point to respond to from the jumble of words, but before he could, Raphael coughed.
“When I gave Clary the choice to kill you or not, I told her she should make the decision for you, not for herself. I kind of knew that she wouldn't look at it from your perspective, maybe she wasn't even capable, but I tried to explain. I mean, hey,” he spread his hands, “she seemed to hate me plenty, so I figured maybe she'd be too… disgusted, or something, to make you like this. It shouldn't have been her decision, but it wasn't mine to make, either, so.”
“Yeah, it wasn't like I had ‘in case of vampire bite’ paperwork prepared,” Simon said, laughing slightly. “I get it.”
Magnus refilled everyone's drinks during the lull in the conversation, then leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. “You’d think in this many centuries I'd have learned not to be so naïve.”
“Well, I'm not even at one-fifth of a century yet, but I feel like I've taken a crash course in Shadowhunter bullshit, so I feel you,” Simon said.
“Bullshit indeed,” Magnus agreed, taking a sip of his drink. “It was stupid of me to think he'd understand. He's spent his whole life being indoctrinated by them. Who knows if that even can be reversed.”
“Hey, sure it can,” Simon said. “I mean, he loves you, and yeah, he screwed up, but it'll work out. He seems like he's trying.”
Magnus shook his head. “He was worried about a Downworld revolt. Like they always are. Like all we do is wait around for an excuse to fight the Clave—and honestly, could he blame us if we did?”
“It'll work out,” Simon repeated. Raphael shrugged.
“I'm with Meliorn: all Shadowhunters are the same.”
Magnus glanced at him, raising an eyebrow. “Since when have you been spending time with Meliorn?”
Raphael looked away. “I'm not.”
“Oh my g— oh my gosh,” Simon said, grinning, “You're blushing.”
Raphael glared at him. “Vampires can't blush.”
“Okay, well, you would totally be blushing if you were physically capable.”
Magnus smirked. “He's not wrong.”
Raphael turned to glare at him, too. “It's nothing. Besides,” he turned back to Simon, “what about you and Maia? I can't take a step in the DuMort without hearing a new rumor.”
Simon grinned. “We're going on a date. I have no problem with admitting my affections.”
Raphael rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to respond, but stopped when Magnus sighed.
“Maybe you both have the right idea,” Magnus said. “Maybe I should just,” he twirled his hand, “wait a while for this to heal, then find a Downworlder to be with. Maybe a Shadowhunter will never really understand.”
“Hey, no,” Simon said, putting his cup down, “Don't give up on Alec just yet. Maybe he won't understand, you know, maybe it's too much for anyone who hasn't experienced it to fully get what this is like, but he cares about you, and if he realizes what he's done wrong and listens to you about why it was a big deal, then I think you should give that a chance.”
Magnus grimaced. “That would require him actually doing all of that.”
“He will,” Simon assured him. “He loves you.”
“As much as it pains me,” Raphael said, leaning back, “I agree with Simon. You and Alec are good together, usually, and it's… not entirely unsalvageable.”
Magnus smiled slightly. “I’ll drink to that.”