Actions

Work Header

Yours is the light

Chapter Text

 

 

 

yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars

― E.E. Cummings

The first time Alec questioned his status was when he was ten years old.

Up until that point, he never even had a reason to think about secondary genders and what the consequences of being an alpha, beta, or omega were. He was just a kid. He had no use for the adult stuff when there were so many other more important and interesting things to learn, things like runes and archery and the history of Nephilim.

Then the whole debacle with Preston happened. He thought that everyone would be happy with him for adapting, and finally finding a way to beat the boy at kendo practice, despite Preston being nearly two years older than him. He listened to his mother’s advice and went against his training. Preston’s nose cracked under his shinai as a result.

Preston himself didn’t react badly - other than being embarrassed that the younger kid, whom he used to beat regularly, suddenly managed to kick his ass instead - but oh, Preston’s mother went ballistic. Alec remembered how she shouted at Maryse. She insisted that Alec should be put in his place like ‘the filthy little omega he reeked of’ and that he should be punished for insubordination and hurting her alpha son.

Alec also remembered how Maryse growled at the other woman. There was some vicious exchange of words that he couldn’t hear before Preston’s mother all but ran from the training room with the metaphorical tail between her legs.

Later that evening, when Alec was done cleaning all the weapons in the Institute, as a part of his punishment for going against Hodge’s training (a job he didn’t really mind that much), he asked Maryse about what Preston’s mother had said. Maryse sat him down on his bed and explained to him how the secondary genders worked. She told him about alphas and their dominant personalities. About betas and their hard work and neutrality that helped to keep society balanced.

And she told him about omegas. How they were incredibly rare, especially among boys. How they could carry children if they wanted and how every alpha would be lucky to have them as a partner. She told him that omegas were smart and had sharp, tactical minds, and were born leaders. She told him that nearly every great figure in the history of mankind was a confirmed omega. Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or Napoleon Bonaparte, to name a few.

Alec didn’t understand why Preston’s mother was so upset with him and in turn, Maryse explained pheromones. How Alec already smelled slightly of omega and that he would probably present soon. Preston’s mother was the type of person who was envious of the gifts that omegas were blessed with.

“There will be people in your life who will treat you like you’re worth less than them, just because of your status,” she told him. “But there will be just as many people who will cherish you for what you are.”

Maryse told Alec, again and again, that what he did with his life was his choice and his alone. He didn’t have to put up with anyone who didn’t respect him if he didn’t want to. The world would be his for the taking. As long as he was dutiful to the Clave and the nephilim’s sacred mission, he could be anyone he wanted to be. The Head of the Institute. The Inquisitor. The Consul. No one would be able to stop him if he truly wished to become a great leader.

Alec could still remember the genuinely proud look in Maryse’s eyes when he presented as an omega a little over a year later.

 


 

The life of an omega wasn’t any different than the life of an alpha or a beta.

Ever since presenting, Alec was prescribed heat-blocking shots, just like the alphas. Since he presented so early, he wasn’t allowed to go through a heat until he was fourteen. Only then did the doctor’s at the Institute switch him over to the regular blockers that lasted about six months, allowing a heat to happen twice a year to keep his body healthy.

Heats were a nuisance for Alec. He had to isolate himself from all alphas - except for his parents - and Izzy, who was a beta. Alec always spent his heats away in their house in Alicante for two long, uncomfortable days during which his temperature spiked and he felt like his entire body was itching. Thankfully, as long as there were no alphas around to trigger him further, that was pretty much it. There were no inconvenient erections, no rush of hormones that made him impossibly horny (no more than was normal for a teenager, anyway), and no spontaneous leaking; that particular thought left him mortified. No, all of those things would happen only with a compatible alpha, and Alec had never shared a heat with anyone.

He even had to stay away from Jace, who presented as an alpha just a year after him. He couldn’t risk it. Jace was his brother in every way but blood, but apparently it was the blood that made the difference. His feelings for Jace made everything worse since he was sure that his parabatai would trigger his heat so fast it would make his head spin.

 


 

It wasn’t exactly a secret that out of all three secondary genders, it was the alphas who were the strongest, the most aggressive, the most territorial. It was well-known.

It was also completely wrong.

Because of the rarity of omegas, people believed that they were either submissive or neutral, like betas. Not many people were educated on how dangerous a threatened omega could be. Those that were educated?

Their knowledge often came from a personal experience.

The group of boys who cornered Alec in an isolated part of the Institute had the brilliant idea of putting the resident omega on his knees, to see if he would ‘get wet for them like the bitch that he was’. There were five of them. Alec had just hit a growth spurt not so long ago, but he was still only sixteen and they were all older and bigger than him. He didn’t have any weapons on him and was severely outnumbered.

Alec didn’t know he would need weapons in his own home. He had not experienced this kind of behavior before, this kind of degradation and aggression, aimed at him just because of his status as an omega. Polite disinterest was the worst thing that ever happened, not that he minded. It was better than the curious, interested looks he had been receiving for the past couple of months. Izzy had joked about it. She told Alec that it was because he was turning from an ‘awkward turtle into a beautiful swan’, whatever the hell that meant. Alec always rolled his eyes at her, but maybe even that joke had some truth to it. Was that why he was getting harassed now?

It didn’t matter.

The corner of Alec’s lip twitched in an imitation of a smirk, all sharp teeth and disdain. He was not going to give them what they wanted.

When other shadowhunters came running moments later, alarmed by the sounds of fighting, Alec had a broken rib and a black eye, but the five guys were on the ground either unconscious or moaning in pain, all of them looking far worse than Alec. One of them was missing half of his right ear. When Maryse arrived at the scene, Alec greeted her with a red-tinted grin. The blood running down his lips and chin was not his own.

Calming an omega down from a feral episode was not easy, but Maryse was the only alpha Alec yielded to. She coaxed him out of the corner, where he stood to ensure no one attacked his vulnerable back. She led him to the infirmary, where she held an ice pack to his ribs and drew a fresh iratze on his skin.

“I’m so incredibly proud of you, my sweet boy,” Maryse whispered into his hair as he hid his face in the crook of her neck, taking shallow breaths and fighting against the pain that came as the adrenaline rush ebbed away. The red haze of the anger-fight-survive instincts that clouded his mind was receding, chased away by his mother’s tender words and the familiar scent of her perfume. “I’m so proud of how well you fought and how you protected yourself.”

Alec never saw those boys again. He was sure Maryse put the fear of the Angel in them and made them transfer away from New York as soon as they could walk again.

 


 

As a general rule, Alec tended to be wary whenever an alpha warlock showed even a little bit of interest in him.

It was a given fact that warlocks were infertile, but what many didn’t realize is that it wasn’t completely true. It wasn’t common, but a male alpha warlock could father a child with an omega female or male, but only of different species, like a Seelie or a werewolf.

Or a Nephilim.

Alec wasn’t aware of this fact until he ran point on a mission to capture and arrest Iris Rouse, a notorious dark magic user. She managed to flee before they got to her, but she escaped in a hurry, leaving her experiments behind.

Her hideout was a thing of nightmares.

Rooms were filled with brainwashed omegas - Seelies, wolves, and even mundanes - some of them in late stages of pregnancy. The entire building reeked of dark magic, misery, and pain. As soon as Alec entered those blasted rooms, he knew that none of the omegas were there of their own free will.

At first, Alec didn’t understand how it was possible. Omegas who went through extreme trauma - physical or emotional - couldn’t conceive. Fertility during heats required a deep emotional bond between partners, and that sure as hell couldn’t happen in that horrific breeding house.

Later, much later, Izzy came to him with lab results. Through the combination of magic, potions, and drugs Iris managed to brainwash her victims into a state similar to heat and even imitated a bond between mated pairs, making sure that the omega’s body didn’t fight the unwanted pregnancy.

She had been kidnapping omegas for months. She had been renting them out like broodmares to alpha warlocks and demons, to create more warlocks. She had done all of this under his nose, in his city. Alec made a promise to himself, and to the rescued omegas and their unborn children, that he would find Iris Rouse and make her pay.

 


 

When Clary Fray entered their lives - along with her beta friend, Simon - she brought chaos with her to an extent that he really did not appreciate. She refused to play by the rules. She did whatever the hell she wanted and somehow seemed to pull everyone into her quest to find her mother.

Jace became enamored with her almost immediately, which only added insult to injury. Clary was an alpha, just like Jace, but that didn’t mean much. These days it didn’t matter what your secondary gender was, you could date whoever you wanted. Heck, even his parents were an alpha pair, which wasn’t something that would have happened forty or fifty years ago.

Clary didn’t know how to act around omegas. Alec very much enjoyed putting her in her place after the first time she tried to order and intimidate him, under the utterly foolish impression that he would yield to her.

Alec had never yielded to anyone but his mother in his entire life. Even the Clave officials have never seen a submission from him, only polite manners and professionalism that he used with everyone.

But then...then Clary led them to Magnus Bane.

 


 

All the silly romance movies Izzy had made him watch could not have prepared him for the lightning that struck when he saw Magnus clearly for the first time, after fighting those Circle members together.

He felt numb and buzzed with restless energy at the same time, as if he had an electric current pulsing underneath his skin. The apartment smelled of battle and blood and magic, but beneath that Alec could detect other, subtler scents. Something wild and primal that he couldn’t describe. It smelled like the air after a thunderstorm, like ozone and wet dirt. Like cedar and rosemary and woodsmoke, all wrapped up in one alluring package.

“I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced,” Magnus said to him, and Alec forgot how to breathe. He could only stare at the most gorgeous man - an alpha - he had seen in his life. He barely managed to choke out his own name. He was torn between the desperate need to stay, to keep the warlock in his sight, and the need to run away and hide in the embarrassed of his own incoherent mumbling.

But of course, everything went to shit quickly when he screwed up during the summoning of the memory demon. Magnus tried to comfort him afterward, saying that he had nothing to be ashamed of. His voice was low and it sent a shiver down Alec’s spine. He could still remember the jolt of energy that jumped between their hands as they’d touched for the first time, just moments before. Alec could still feel it buzzing underneath his skin, like a phantom caress of invisible fingers. From the look Magnus was giving him, Alec was sure the alpha felt it too.

 


 

He agreed to go out on a date.

Alec still didn’t know what possessed him to say yes. Maybe it was the way Magnus trembled in his arms while Alec held him up and shared his strength as he healed Luke. Maybe it was the vulnerable look Magnus gave him afterward. Or maybe it was the fact that Magnus had seen him as an equal, someone worthy of asking for help.

Alec didn’t understand it. Never in his life had he felt this kind of attraction to anyone, ever. It was like some stupid, primal part of him woke up and reared its head every time Magnus appeared in his sights. Like the part that made him an omega suddenly longed for an alpha like it never did before.

He didn’t like it.

He wasn’t ashamed of being an omega, no matter how some people resented him for his secondary gender. But he didn’t like to feel as if he was missing something. He didn’t like to feel incomplete without an alpha to fill that empty space inside of him.

And yet, whenever he was near Magnus or heard his voice, his heart resonated with such intense longing that it made his breath catch.

So Alec did the only thing he knew he could do. He talked to his mother.

He didn’t tell her that it was a warlock who caused such a strong reaction in him. He wasn’t stupid, he knew what his mother thought of Downworlders. He told her about the conflicting feelings, about the sudden yearning he couldn’t explain. He wasn’t afraid of telling her that the alpha who made him feel that way was a man. Thankfully, the gender of your mate wasn’t an issue when you were an omega capable of carrying children either way.

“Oh, Alec,” Maryse sighed as she raised her hand and touched his cheek gently as they sat together on the couch in her office, “it sounds to me like you found your mate.”

And wasn’t that a terrifying prospect.

“Just like that? I don’t even know him. I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with him?”

Which wasn’t entirely true, Alec knew. There was no such thing as fated pairs, even though the romance flicks liked to overuse the trope. Each person had many possibilities of mates they could meet at any point in their lives. Furthermore, all relationships required work and patience, not just fate. Finding a possible mate did not mean that Alec had to tie himself to them indefinitely. People fall in and out of love all the time, and mating did not have to mean life-long commitment. Mating bonds could be broken and forged anew with different people at any given time.

“You’re not supposed to do anything but find out if he’s your match,” Maryse told him fiercely. “No one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. This is your life, Alec, and only you can decide what makes you happy.”

And so he did.

 


 

They went on dates.

Alec was apprehensive at first. Magnus was an alpha warlock, and that always lit up a warning light in him due to the Iris Rouse case, which was still open. What could Magnus - beautiful, powerful Magnus - want with a plain, boring shadowhunter like himself? The fact that he was an omega had to play some important part in all of this. The fact that he could carry children for a warlock had to mean something.

And yet, during the dates they went on he couldn’t help but find himself falling more and more for Magnus. The alpha was a perfect gentleman, not pushing him any further than he was comfortable with, and always careful of not invading Alec’s personal space.

“I lived in times where an omega was considered property of an alpha,” Magnus told him one evening, “and I think it was one of the darkest parts of history. If I ever start acting like a caveman, feel free to shoot me full of arrows.”

It was a little over a month of dating - that no one except for Izzy and Jace knew about - that he kissed Magnus for the first time.

They were saying goodbye after a date night, which started at a Greek restaurant and ended with drinks at Magnus’ place. Magnus was just about to open a portal that would take Alec back to the Institute when Alec gently grasped his elbow, backed Magnus against a wall and kissed him. It was not fast and sudden. No, he had given Magnus enough time to stop him, but the warlock merely tilted his head up into the kiss.

It was Alec’s first kiss. It started out a little hesitantly, a little clumsily, and very much without finesse, but what he lacked in experience he made up in enthusiasm. His body was crowding Magnus’ against the wall, which the alpha didn’t mind much, at first. Then he pulled Alec close by circling his waist, bit gently at Alec’s lower lip and took over the kiss, dominating it completely and utterly. Alec all but melted against him and the empty, burning void inside of him started aching a little less.

 


 

Alec chose to spend his next heat in Alicante once more, not ready to share a heat with Magnus when they still had not even seen each other naked. It was rougher than usual, if only because his mind kept circling back to Magnus over and over again, making him more aroused than he was comfortable with. He was insanely grateful that heats spent in isolation lasted only two days.

He hoped that by the time his next heat came, in another six months, he would be ready to share it with Magnus.

 


 

“A warlock, Alec? Really?!”

His mother’s voice was loud and somewhat shrill, the disbelief ringing clear across every word. It grated on his nerves, made his hackles rise and buzz underneath his skin like an itch he could not scratch.

Lately, everything he did was met with some kind of disapproval, but he didn’t have time for this. Hodge had betrayed them. Jace was missing and still in Valentine’s grasp. And, while his parents played politics in Idris, trying to smooth things out with the Clave, Alec had been desperately trying to get his parabatai back.

Then, of course, things had to get worse. Maryse came back to New York two days prior and someone had already reported to her that Alec and Magnus had been dating for months. How they found out, Alec had no idea. Although, it was bound to be revealed sooner or later, especially since Alec did not intend to let Magnus go anytime soon.

“You know how alpha warlocks are,” Maryse hissed, venom dripping from her words, “they only want one thing from omegas like you! You can give them something they otherwise can’t have and I can’t believe you would fall for Bane’s deception. You’re going to drag the Lightwood name through the mud for him?”

“There isn’t a lot of good reputation to our name left, Mother, and that is your fault, not mine,” Alec spat out, trying to keep his anger reigned in, feeling it rise inside of him, wave after dangerous wave. “I don’t have the time for this. Jace is still gone, Aldertree is making our work more difficult than it should be, and I don’t have to justify myself to you.”

“I didn’t raise you to be some warlocks whore!” Maryse grabbed his shoulder when he turned around to leave and that was it, the fragile control he had over his own emotions snapped at the sound of her authoritative tone.

“ENOUGH!” Alec growled at her as he spun around and grabbed her by the wrist, yanking the offending hand away from his shoulder. She took an instinctive step back and, through the red haze of fury, Alec noticed how her eyes went wide, how a brief expression of fear flashed through her face. It brought him grim sense of satisfaction, knowing she didn’t expect his outburst. Alec wasn’t prone to anger often and never, ever, had he turned that anger on her.

Not until now.

“You once told me that no one has the right to tell me how to live my life,” Alec hissed, his tone low and husky, and with a hint of steel underneath his words. “That no one can tell me how to achieve my own happiness, or who I should tie myself to, as long as it was my choice. Well, this is my choice and you don’t get to have a say in it. I will not allow you to talk about Magnus that way. Not now, not ever. If he’s a mistake - which I highly doubt - he will be my mistake. You don’t have the right to interfere. You are my mother, but you’re not my alpha. Not anymore. Do I make myself clear?”

Alec watched her process this, her face turning more pale. When she didn’t reply, he squeezed her wrist a little more. She was probably going to have bruises. Alec would feel guilty about them later, but at this very point he could not bring himself to care.

“I said, is that clear?”

“Yes,” she finally said and he released her, but to her credit she didn’t move away, didn’t step back away from him. “Oh, Alec…”

She reached out to him, both hands raising to his face and he resisted the urge to flinch. He wasn’t sure what she was playing at, but he wasn’t about to yield to her. He wasn’t lying when he said she was not his alpha anymore. There was only one he would yield to now, and that was not his mother.

Maryse cradled his face between her hands, gently and cautiously, her eyes softening a little as she took in the hardened expression on his face. The narrowed eyes shining with suspicion, and anger boiling inside of him, ready to burn her. He was still and unmoving and towering over her, ready to snap at any further provocation. Alec was half-feral and in protective mode. And an angered or threatened omega was dangerous.

But he was still her son, and she was the one responsible for putting him in this state.

“Magnus is the one you told me about,” Maryse said, sudden understanding in her voice. She was running her thumbs soothingly down Alec’s sharp cheekbones, hoping that the familiar gesture would help calm him down. “Easy now, easy. I didn’t mean to make you so angry.” Her soft whispers eased some of the tension from Alec’s shoulders, just like they always did when she brought him down from the adrenaline rush that triggered feral episodes. “I’m so sorry, my sweet boy. I didn’t understand. I know now that he’s your mate.”

Alec closed his eyes and shivered, thinking about Magnus. His loving eyes and soothing scent and reverent touch. He had never put a label on their relationship, but his mother was not wrong. The intense, painful longing he felt whenever they were apart, the elation that filled him to the brim whenever he was near the older man, when he could breathe in his scent, touch his warm skin. It all sounded like an incomplete bond.

And Magnus...

Magnus was his mate.

 


 

Alec turned his head to nuzzle deeper into the pillow and desperately tried to forget about the disaster of an evening they’d just had. Max’s party had been a failure due to the spell that was cast over all of them. Because of Alec’s overwhelming guilt over Jocelyn's death, elevated by the spell, he’d nearly thrown himself over Magnus’ balcony. He didn’t do it, but it was close. The only thing that stopped him, seconds before it was too late, was the faint, barely-there scent he caught in Magnus’ apartment.

The memory of it was stuck in his head. His mind snapped out of the spell’s hold as soon as he caught trace of it. It was a scent he could never forget. A bizarre mix of tulips, ginger root, and dust. He would forever associate this scent with the stench of terror and pain and suffering.

He ran through the apartment trying to locate the source. His frantic behavior must have been enough to alarm the others. Magnus tried to get his attention, to calm him down, but it wasn’t working. Alec seemed to be focused only on his task, hell-bent on finding the threat and eliminating it.

How dare she? How could she come into this apartment, into their territory, and hide away like a coward? Just the faintest trace of her scent was enough to make Alec’s hackles rise and his skin crawl. This time she was not going to get away from him.

He found her in Magnus’ bedroom, disguised in the form of a cat. Alec rushed at her, but she shifted into human form just in time to cast a spell that pushed him back.

Iris Rouse.

What happened afterward, Alec wasn’t sure. He couldn’t remember most of it. He’d been immobilized with magic for half of the fight and then blinded with rage for the rest of it. He knew that Magnus fought Iris and trapped her in his own spell. He knew that Jace had to hold Alec down to keep him away from tearing into Iris with his bare hands. He would have. He would have choked the life out of her there on the spot if he only had a chance. But now she was in Idris, awaiting the Clave’s judgment.

And he was here, in Magnus’ bed hiding his face in a soft pillow, trying to muffle the world around him. He wasn’t running high on adrenaline anymore, but his body hadn’t gotten the memo. Every muscle in his body was tense and he was ready to fight, even though his brain already knew there was nothing more to be done.

He didn’t flinch when he felt the bed dip next to him. Then Magnus was there, lying down next to Alec, his arm coming around Alec’s shoulders to hold him close.

“She’s gone, Alec. You can rest now.”

Alec made a wounded, angry sound and abandoned his pillow, choosing to hide his face away in the crook of Magnus’ neck instead. The warlock’s scent there was strong, easing his mind a little, filling his lungs as he took in shaky breaths.

“The things she did to those omegas,” Alec rasped out, trying desperately not to think back to the horrors of Iris’ experiments and failing. Every time he closed his eyes he could see Iris’ victims. He couldn’t stop his mind from going in circles and wondering what stroke of luck had spared him from the same fate, from being bound and broken and violated in a way you couldn’t ever recover from, not really. As a male omega, he would have been an attractive target for Iris, if she only knew of his existence. “I could have killed her. I will kill her if I ever see her again.”

“She’s going to pay for what she’s done,” Magnus whispered as he ran his fingers through Alec’s black hair in an attempt to calm him down. Alec’s scent filled the air between them. It was sour, unhappy, and that put Magnus on edge as well. “And you are the one who figured out she was here in the first place. You caught an intruder in my lair.” Magnus paused for a moment. “In our lair. You did good, love.”

Their lair. That sounded… nice. A space that they could share as one territory, theirs to protect. To nest in. It was something that usually only happened between mated pairs and Alec couldn’t help the warm, happy feeling that bloomed deep in his chest.

 


 

They took their relationship to the next level not long after that since Alec didn’t want his first time to happen in the middle of his heat. He didn’t want the rush of hormones and haze of lust to cloud the experience.

And oh, it was definitely an experience. Alec grew up thinking he would always be alone since he never showed interest in any alpha, but this? This was something else. Magnus worshipped his body, taught him the wonders of shared intimacy that were just on the razor edge of being overwhelming.

Alec let himself fall, knowing that Magnus would be there to catch him.

 


 

“Your mother and I always had a complicated relationship.”

Alec snorted in disbelief, not lifting his eye from the tablet in his hand as he scanned over the latest report from the previous night’s patrol. The group had not encountered anything out of the ordinary, which gave Alec hope that things might finally be leveling out, even just a little bit. Valentine was in custody and most of his followers were scattered. The Clave had acknowledged his leadership in the battle, thankfully disregarding Alec's rebellion against Aldertree.

Everything led up to this moment. Discovering Izzy’s addiction. Taking back control of the Institute. The battle. Confronting Valentine and his shadowhunters. And now the Clave had named him Head of the Institute. This was what he had been aiming for ever since he was a child.

“It’s not complicated.” Alec put down the tablet after signing off on the report, sending it to be archived. He finally looked up at his father, sitting on one of the sofas in his office. His office. It still blew his mind. “You cheated on her.”

“I made a mistake,” Robert said, looking down for a moment before shifting his gaze to Alec once more. “I never meant to hurt you, any of you. But I fell in love. You of all people should know what that’s like.”

“Magnus isn’t an affair!” Alec growled, slamming an open palm down on the desk, the sudden loud thump making Robert twitch in response. “I won’t allow you to disrespect him. He is my mate. And mom was yours. Until you decided to throw it all away.”

They were silent for a minute. Alec closed his eyes and took deep breaths, trying to control his feelings. Ever since realizing what Magnus meant to him, his emotions were all over the place. Logically, he knew it was a period of adjustment that he needed to get through. The fierce protectiveness over his mate would ease away in time, but until then he was ready to go to war for Magnus, even against his own father.

“I can understand falling for someone else,” Alec finally said. “People fall in and out of love all the time. That’s just how life is. You don’t have to stay with your mate for the rest of your days.” He looked at his father and saw the tiniest flicker of hope in his eyes, a hope for reconciliation.

He was about to crush that hope, hard, and didn’t feel any remorse.

“But going behind Mom’s back, continuing your affair? That’s what I can’t forgive. You should have ended things with Mom before you started seeing someone else. But now you’re not being truthful to either of them. You’re just another alpha being led around by his knot.”

“Alec!” Robert’s expression turned angry and he stood up from his seat, his entire body one tense line. “I won’t allow you to talk to me like that!”

“Why?” Alec asked, raising an eyebrow. “Because I am an omega? So is your mistress, remember?”

“Because you’re my son! You will show me some respect.”

“Respect is earned, Dad.” Alec hissed, narrowing his eyes. He remained seated behind his desk, anger churning inside of him freely, but it was the icy-cold kind of fury that washed over him with a false sense of tranquility. He did not need to shout or get angry to get his point across. “It’s also as easily lost, and you lost all respect I had for you when you chose to hurt your family. Mom was your mate for over twenty years - she deserved more than being cheated on and made into the new hot gossip of Idris.”

“Alec, you don’t have the right to--”

“I have every right,” Alec interrupted him, his voice low and dangerous. Robert’s eyes widened when he realized that he was stepping on thin ice now. “Out of the two of you, it was Mom who was my alpha. It was never you. She was my alpha and you broke her heart.”

Alec had hurt people for less.

“Unless it’s official business, we have nothing more to talk about.” Alec picked up his previously discarded tablet and turned it on. “Not until you fix your own mess. Now, I have the Institute to run. I trust you can let yourself out.”

“Alec…” Robert’s voice was quiet and defeated now, but Alec wasn’t looking at him any more.

“You can go,” Alec said and sighed with relief when Robert left his office without a word.

 


 

“Are you nervous?”

Magnus’ breath washed over the heated skin of his forehead and Alec closed his eyes as he shivered, half in anticipation and half in fear.

“Yes,” he finally admitted, his voice shaky, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

Which wasn’t entirely true. Alec had academic knowledge of how heats should go, he wasn’t going into it blind. He knew that his heat would last from two to four days, during which his temperature would spike and, if a compatible alpha was near, he would experience a heightened state of arousal. Not enough to make him crazy with it (no matter how online porn liked to pretend that omegas in heat turned into knot-obsessed slaves that alphas could do anything with) but enough to make things very uncomfortable if he didn’t have sex. His pheromones would, in turn, trigger an alpha into a rut so that they could go through their heats together.

It all sounded very… clinical. Alec wasn’t sure how he felt about the aspects of his biology that only happened during heats. He wasn’t looking forward to experiencing the feeling of producing his own slick or having Magnus knot him - something he was pretty sure was going to hurt, at least at first.

He tried to approach it like a battle for which he could plan ahead. He scheduled himself a week off work, just in case this first heat went for longer than usual, which wasn’t uncommon. He left his siblings in charge and threatened them with bodily harm if they disturbed them for any reason, save for the apocalypse dropping on their heads or Raziel himself demanding his attention.

He also made sure his contraceptive shot was still active since he had no intention of having a child anytime soon. Alec had been wary of admitting this to Magnus, but the warlock only smiled, told Alec that it was his decision and he had all the time in the world to wait and see if he changed his mind one day.

So, all in all, Alec felt like he was ready.

Despite all this knowledge, despite all the facts he had researched and learned about, nothing could have prepared him for actually feeling the effects of the heat. The hot rush of pure want that filled him as they laid on the bed together touching and kissing, the need building up like an inferno, making Alec’s skin feel like it was on fire. The fabric of his clothes seemed like a branding iron, scalding, and hurting, and he whined in the back of his throat at the uncomfortable feeling.

“You don’t need to be scared,” Magnus said, kissing Alec in between sentences. Pressing small, brief kisses over his lips, the bridge of his nose, his closed eyelids. “I’ll take care of you.”

“I know,” Alec panted, squirming a little until he could reach to strip off his shirt and then yanked Magnus’ own tunic off his body, relishing in the way cool air hit his overheated skin, “I trust you.”

That was what this was. For over a decade, he'd spent his heats alone, in isolation from the outside world. Now he had finally found someone who he trusted with his life, with his body. Someone who would stay with him when he was the most vulnerable.

“Magnus,” Alec whispered as the warlock shifted them around until Alec ended up on his back, Magnus nestled in between his legs. They were both hard. Alec shivered.

“How do you feel?” Magnus asked, pressing their foreheads together. One of his hands settled over Alec’s sternum, feeling his heart beating wildly inside of his chest like a bird caught in a cage.

“Hot,” Alec panted. “Too hot. Is it… is it always like this?”

“Yes, but it will get better. It’s just the first rush. It will ease soon.” Magnus kissed him again slowly, possessively, owning Alec’s mouth and Alec surrendered with the sweetest sigh.

“Can you feel it?” Alec asked after a moment, gripping onto Magnus’ hair with trembling fingers as the warlock mouthed at his neck, covering it in his marks. “The bond?”

Magnus made an affirmative noise and Alec closed his eyes, focusing on the feeling. The beginning of a bond thrumming between them. He had felt it for the last couple of months, but it would only be complete with a shared heat. Alec was more than ready to take the leap, to tie himself to this wonderful, brilliant man who turned out to be his shining star, his beacon towards which he had been gravitating his entire life.

Alec allowed himself to fall apart, trusting Magnus to put him back together. To gather all his broken pieces and make him whole again, until Alec felt brand new and loved and complete.

Chapter Text

Alec was sitting on the couch in his office with Jace occupying one of the armchairs. They were going over the previous week’s reports of night-time patrols when a loud knock interrupted them.

“Hey Izzy,” Alec greeted his sister with a smile when she entered the office without being prompted, “back from your mission already?”

“How did it go?” Jace asked, turning off the screen of his tablet.

“Everything’s fine. The mission went off without a hitch. The entire lamia nest has been cleared out.” Izzy gave Jace a sunny smile and then looked at Alec. “I’ll give you my report in the morning, if that’s okay? The team just got through post-op at medical and I am about ten minutes from crashing. We’ve been tracking this nest for the last twelve hours without a real break.”

“Since it went well I don’t see why it can’t wait until tomorrow. I’ll let Heartdale and Ashmark know too,” Alec said and turned his attention briefly to his own tablet, typing out a quick message and letting the two shadowhunters know that they didn’t have to rush with their reports.

“Say, Iz,” The suspicious tone in Jace’s voice caught Alec’s attention again, “are you holding what I think you’re holding?”

“Yep!” She replied cheerfully, sitting down on the arm of Jace’s chair and waved two syringes in front of the blonde’s face. “I just got mine in medical, since I was already there, and I told the doc I can give you your shots. No need to drag your asses over there and face the public humiliation. Besides, they ran out of lollipops for good little patients.”

Alec felt his stomach drop. One of the syringes; the one currently being brandished in front of Izzy like a deadly weapon, was filled with a pale blue liquid, the other was deep, amber gold. That one was meant for him.

He cursed himself internally for not thinking about this sooner. This wasn’t how he planned on telling his siblings.

“I don’t like needles, you know that!” Jace grumbled but he peeled up the sleeve of his shirt regardless, presenting Izzy with his bare shoulder. She quickly cleaned a small patch of skin with a disposable disinfectant wipe before piercing through it with a needle, making Jace wince a little.

“I am a medical professional, you know.”

“You’re a forensic pathologist,” Jace replied. “Your usual brand of patients don’t care if you stick them full of needles or not.”

“Do you prefer to go to medical for this?” Izzy gave him a narrowed-eye look and he held it for an entire two seconds before caving in.

“No,” he admitted with defeat and winced again when Izzy removed the needle and made him press down a cotton swab over the injection site to stop the bleeding.

“How can you burn runes into your skin without reacting, but wuss out over a simple shot is beyond me,” Izzy laughed at him as she capped the needle. “Just be happy with another six months without going into a rut.”

Since he had just gone through one, Jace wasn’t due for another rut in half a year. Alec, however, was about to run out of H-blockers and would go into his twice-a-year appointed heat next month. The amber-colored shot was his usual mix of contraceptives, the ones he always took around the same time, so that they would last him from one heat to the next.

‘Well, shit,’ Alec thought as Izzy plopped down on the couch next to him. He would just have to bite the bullet, so to speak.

“Your turn, big bro,” Izzy cheerfully waved the other syringe at him and tore open a fresh packet of wipes.

“Actually,” Alec said, slowly, not sure how his siblings will take the news, “I’m good, thanks.”

“But your heat is up next month.” Izzy frowned, blinking at him owlishly a couple of times, not really understanding yet what was going on.

“Yeah, I know.”

They stared at each other for a long moment, Alec doing his best to hold Izzy’s gaze without lowering his eyes in embarrassment.

“Holy shit!” Jace’s sudden exclamation broke the silence and made Alec and Izzy startle a little, ending their starting contest. Alec looked at his parabatai. “Are you guys serious about this?”

“Oh.” In that moment something seemed to click in Izzy’s brain and she dropped the syringe on the coffee table, one of her hands touching Alec’s forearm. “Oh, Alec .”

She wrapped her arms around him in a hug and he hugged back, insanely glad for her support and understanding. As always, she was one of the few people he knew he could always count on, no matter what.

“Dude, that’s awesome.” Jace grinned at him and Alec could feel a mix of content-happy-proud feelings spreading through him like a wave, coming from their parabatai bond. “What made you change your mind?”

“I’m not even sure,” Alec said once he extracted himself from Izzy’s octopus-like embrace. “It just feels like it’s the right time, you know? I’ve been with Magnus for years now.” He shrugged a little. “We talked about this and we’ve decided that, starting from my next heat, I’ll stop taking the shots and we’ll see what happens.”

It wasn’t a sudden change of heart, but rather something that Alec had been thinking about for months. Magnus had never rushed him, never pressured him into anything he didn’t want. His alpha gave him all the time in the world and Alec was so, so very grateful for that. Things had been relatively calm for almost a year now. The war was over and it was about time to start rebuilding from the fallout.

Alec felt like it was time. He was ready to start a family. Somewhere along the line, the idea of carrying a child for an alpha stopped being something scary and oppressive, something that was expected of him, even if no one outright pressured him into it. Instead, it became a thought that was welcome, if only because it was Magnus who was his mate. An idea of creating a life with him put Alec at ease, as if it was something that he was missing and now could finally have. Part of it could be blamed on omega biology, he knew, but he didn’t think that was it. Whatever it was that made him want a child so badly, was only born from his feelings for Magnus. From the love he could feel in their mate bond, always present with him even when they were apart.

“I’m going to be an aunt,” Izzy gasped as the thought suddenly hit her. “Oh, this is going to be amazing.”

“Don’t get too excited yet,” Alec leaned back on the couch and tried his best to reign in her over-enthusiasm. “You know how low alpha warlock fertility rate is.” Alec never liked talking about this, it seemed too private to share. But these were his siblings that he was talking to, and he felt like he owed them some explanation. “There’s still a large chance that it won’t work. Or it could be months or even years before - if - anything happens.”

“Yeah,” Jace nodded, leaning back in his armchair as well after tossing the tablet back on the coffee table. It was pretty clear to everyone that no more work was going to happen that evening. “But man, we have your back, no matter what.”

“I know.”

And he did, he truly did, he never doubted his siblings for a moment. They were his greatest supporters through his relationship with Magnus. Even his mother, who had always told him that his omega status was something to be proud of, had her reservations about his choice of an alpha. Thankfully, that resentment was long gone and Maryse made her peace with Magnus. After so many months she finally got rid of her prejudices about Downworlders. It was still an ongoing process, but she had already made a lot of progress and Alec was proud of her.

“I’m going to be an aunt!” Izzy was still grinning, apparently stuck on that revelation. “Does that mean we get to suggest baby names?”

Alec’s groan was lost in the sound of Jace’s laughter.

Chapter Text

Alec thumbed quickly through his phone, scrolling through the messages and alerts from the last hour. Everything seemed to be in order. Izzy and Jace had quite a lot of practice in running the Institute by now and no shadowhunter in New York batted an eyelash anymore at the temporary switch in power. There were some hiccups at the start, but by now his people were used to it.

He read through the message from Izzy, reporting that everything was just fine and assuring him they wouldn’t call him for anything short of a disaster. She also wished him luck and sent out an impossibly long string of inappropriate emojis, so eventually he closed the messaging app, silenced his phone and put in on the nightstand.

He could hear Magnus walking around the loft, taking care of things. It was almost a routine by now, the way Magnus walked the perimeter of their lair and strengthened the wards around them to war-level, something that would protect them when they were the most vulnerable. It also gave Magnus time to center himself, to check for hidden threats and make sure everything was in order. That the spells on Chairman Meow’s food and water bowls were still active, so that the cat would not go hungry when they got inevitably distracted. That the fridge was stocked full with their favorite foods and electrolyte water. The dozens of little things they had to remember before basically disappearing from the face of the earth for the next couple of days.

Alec almost dozed off before Magnus finally made it to their bedroom and closed the door behind him with a quiet click. The air in the loft was heavy with pheromones. Alec was always comforted by Magnus’ unique blend of scents - cedar, ozone, and rosemary with a hint of wet dirt and woodsmoke underneath. But now, every part of the loft also smelled of Alec, and during heat the pheromones made it stronger and sharper. He knew his scent changed a little after they became mates and Magnus told him he smelled like lemongrass, coffee, and lavender with a tone of fresh book ink and night-time air. It should have been a bizarre combination, but Magnus loved it and that was the important part.

“Everything okay?” Alec asked, raising himself on his elbows to look at his mate, who still had not moved from his spot by the door. He frowned. “Magnus?”

“I need to ask you one last time,” Magnus said, quietly, his eyes never leaving Alec’s own, even though Alec could tell how affected he was already by the presence of his mate in heat. There had been a hint of tension between them for a while now, like it always was before the heat, a quiet anticipation of what was to come. Alec could feel it himself, the warmth spreading through his body in soft, regular pulses. Matching the rhythm of his heart that was still steady, but would inevitably speed up once Magnus actually touched him. “I need to know that you are sure.”

“Magnus, we talked about this,” Alec whispered, trying not to show any vulnerability in his voice. “Do you not want…” He hesitated, swallowed heavily and tried again. “Are you sure?”

“Gods, how can you even ask me that question?” Magnus laughed, but it was a strained, tense sound. “But I need to hear it, love. One last time.”

Alec looked at his mate, really looked at him. Magnus stood perfectly still by the closed door, one hand on the doorknob, as if ready to leave at Alec’s word. He was wearing only a pair of soft, cotton pants that left very little to the imagination when it came to proving how much Alec’s heat affected him. But despite his stillness, Alec could see the way his muscles quivered, as if his entire body wanted to move but he was stopping himself only by sheer will. It made Alec shiver in return, the knowledge that all that strength, all that alpha power hiding underneath the golden skin was his and his only. That Magnus wanted him so much that he looked close to falling apart, but still held himself back, in case Alec changed his mind.

He didn’t. He couldn’t. Not when Magnus was looking at him as if he all but hung the moon and stars. The love he left thrumming through their bond felt almost overwhelming, like something real and palpable, wrapping around him in protective cocoon of yearning-devotion-affection that took his breath away. Alec was willing to give him something that no one in his hundreds of years had ever given him and yet Magnus was ready to walk away, to leave that dream behind if Alec wasn’t one hundred percent sure he wanted it too. Alec knew that rejecting him right now would crush Magnus, break him in a way he had never been broken. Because this wasn't just about sharing a heat, like all those times before. This was something way more important, a beginning of their future together.

But Magnus had absolutely nothing to fear. Not when Alec had chosen him years ago and never regretted that decision for a second.

“Magnus,” Alec said gently, reaching out with one hand towards his alpha, “come here.”

A siren call of an omega in heat was something that any alpha would have a very hard time resisting. In that moment, Alec held all the power and it was an exhilarating, heady feeling. Alec could see the way Magnus hesitated, just for a second, and then instinct won and he moved forward, standing next to the bed and taking Alec’s hand in his own. Something like electricity zapped along Alec’s nerves, making him gasp and he still couldn’t help but wonder at how the smallest touch could affect him that much. He pulled Magnus down until he laid down next to Alec, their legs tangling together, close enough that their faces almost touched and Alec could see the tiny emerald flecks dancing in Magnus’ golden irises.

And Magnus… Magnus seemed unsure, too unsure for Alec’s liking. As if this was all a dream and he clearly wanted to reach out to make sure that Alec was real, that he really was there. The look in his eyes showed uncertainty, like he was fearing that if he actually touched Alec he wouldn’t be able to stop. Which was a completely irrational fear, because while Alec was perfectly capable of defending himself if it came down to it, he knew without a shadow of doubt that Magnus would never hurt him.

“I am sure,” Alec said, cupping Magnus’ cheek gently and his heart fluttered a bit when Magnus nuzzled into it instinctively. “You’re my alpha. My mate. I have never been more sure of anything in my life.”

The kiss that followed that declaration was deep and powerful and Alec surrendered into it with a sweet sigh, relishing in the intensity of the touch, in the love-mine-perfect singing along their bond, filling him to the core. He could feel the temperature of his body climbing steadily the more they touched, and he knew that soon it would be almost too much to handle. His body always reacted to Magnus’ presence, his pheromones filling what little space was left between them and eventually Alec pulled Magnus on top of him. Nestled between his legs and pressing him into the mattress, blanketing him in a way that made him feel safe and cherished and protected.

Alec pulled away from the kiss, choosing to rest his forehead against Magnus’ for a moment as he panted and tried to get his breathing back under control.

“Hey, Magnus?” he whispered as he opened his eyes and looked at the older man, who seemed equally shaken, tethering on the edge of control just as he was.

“Yeah?” Magnus’ voice was low and raspy and it sent another shiver through Alec’s already over-sensitive body.

Alec gave him a small, shy smile.

“Let’s make a baby.”

The startled laughter that burst from Magnus’ lips was enough to make him chuckle too, and they both shook with mirth, even as Magnus hid his face in the crook of Alec’s neck as he tried to reign the giggles in. Alec wrapped his arms around Magnus’ torso and held him and just like that, all the previous doubt and insecurities were gone, the uncomfortable tension all but forgotten.

What followed after was a blur in Alec’s mind. The heats never affected him in a way that made him unaware of that was going on, but when the hormones raged inside of his body, everything was so intense that it tended to blend together. Like the way he tilted his head to the side, giving Magnus better access to his neck, in the old-fashioned, submissive gesture. It always made the primal part of Magnus’ brain short-circuit, urging him to kiss and mark the smooth expanse of skin until Alec’s neck was covered in love bites and hickeys, too sensitive to touch. Or the way his body responded to a compatible alpha and made him drenched in his own slick - something that used to embarrass him to no end at the beginning, but not anymore. Magnus played his body like an instrument and coaxed new, wanton sounds out of him.

The clarity of mind always returned by the time Magnus entered him. The sweet, smooth glide in and out, the powerful thrusts that made him moan and groan and whimper. Sex was always a little rougher during heats, but never too rough, never more than Alec could handle. Magnus’ hands holding his own pinned next to his head, keeping him exactly where Magnus wanted him, unable to touch back, at the mercy of his mate. Magnus’ lips, pressed against Alec’s in a never-ending cycle of kisses, or against his ear whispering words of praise, of how amazing Alec felt, how well he was taking it, how he was meant for this. Magnus’ strong body moving over him, around him, in him, bringing him to a pleasure so intense that Alec shattered long before Magnus, without even needing to be touched, coating their stomachs with come.

Alec had enough presence of mind not to tense up when Magnus climaxed, instead he breathed in deeply, their mixed scents helping him to focus and keep his muscles relaxed. Despite all of this, knotting always hurt to some extent, which took them both by surprise during their first shared heat. Magnus had told him it wasn’t uncommon, this uncomfortable feeling, but even years later it still made him feel like there was something wrong with him. That conviction that knotting should be something he ought to enjoy, while in truth this was the part of heat that he liked the least. But Magnus’ weight on him was a welcome distraction and Alec ran his hands over his sweaty back and raked his fingers through the messed-up hair as he waited for his alpha to recover from his orgasm.

Magnus was brushing light, warm kisses against the tender skin of Alec’s neck while he gathered his strength. When he shifted on top of Alec to look at him, the subtle change of position made Alec let out a small, pained hiss.

“Shh, it’s okay, you’re okay,” Magnus murmured as he kissed the distressed sound from Alec’s lips. “Just a little bit longer.”

“I know.” Alec forced himself to breathe deeply through the sharp sting of pain. They had done it enough times for him to know just how long it took for Magnus to soften enough to slip out of his body. He reached for Magnus’ hand, tangling their fingers together and smiled when Magnus pressed a kiss against his knuckles.

They were really doing this. Some part of Alec still couldn’t believe it, after thinking for most of his life that he would never find anyone he would want to mate with. Anyone whom he could entrust with his body, with his very being. But here he was, laid out on his back with an alpha resting between his spread thighs, tied with him in the most intimate way possible. A process that would repeat many times in the next couple of days. All with the singular purpose of creating a new life together.

And Alec wouldn’t have it any other way.

 


 

When he woke up in the morning on the fourth day of his heat, Alec could tell that it was over.

The constant burn of arousal he felt for the past three days died down during the night and so did the wonderful mix of hormones that made everything easier. Alec refused to move for the time being, laying on his side with Magnus’ broad chest against his back and using one of Magnus’ arms as a pillow. They had fallen asleep after the last round, still tied together.

Before Magnus waltzed into his life, all the knowledge Alec had about heats was purely academic, mixed in with what he could learn from porn. The second source had to be taken with a grain of salt, of course, since most of it was just alpha-bait, a fantasy that didn’t meet with reality.

But the aftermath of heat was the part that no porn ever mentioned. Alec’s entire body ached. His back and thighs felt the strain of the sex marathon. His throat felt parched, even though they always made sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. He felt pretty gross, despite a couple of showers they took, and the sheets definitely needed changing.

And by the angel, his ass hurt. Magnus’ magic helped in between the rounds of sex but after three days of being knotted - repeatedly and in many positions - even magic couldn’t fully erase the pain. After their first shared heat, Alec had gone through a couple of embarrassing and somewhat uncomfortable tests to make sure that there was nothing actually wrong with him. All he had learned was that he was indeed healthy, but because he was a man he would always be more sensitive to the after-effects of knotting than female omegas. Which, Alec thought, was entirely unfair.

He could feel Magnus stirring against his back, the alpha’s free hand stroking his side, over his hip and waist in a calm, comforting gesture. Alec tried to lean into the touch and that proved to be a mistake, since his lower back responded with a sudden stab of pain.

“Ow, ow, oh shit,” Alec hissed into the pillow as Magnus’ previously trapped arm moved away and he could feel himself being shifted, rolled fully onto his stomach and ow, he didn’t know it was possible to feel even worse. But a moment later, Magnus’ hand brushed over his back and cool relief washed over him, the muscle cramps easing away under the wave of soothing magic. Magnus’ hand was splayed over the small of his back and, when he turned his head sideways, Alec could see the tendrils of light blue magic, even through his half-closed eyelids. It seemed to sink into him through his skin, spreading through his core in gentle pulses, easing away the hurt.

How did anyone go through a heat without their alpha being a warlock, Alec would never know.

“Better?” Magnus murmured into his ear before placing a kiss on his bare shoulder. His hand was still rubbing slow circles against Alec’s back, even when the magic had already stopped. The pain wasn’t completely gone, but it had simmered down to a dull ache, something he could live with.

“Much. Thank you,” Alec said with a sigh and hummed contently when Magnus lay down next to him and wrapped his arm around his waist. “But I don’t want to move. Ever. Moving is the worst.”

“How about I draw us a bath,” Magnus said, “and after that we’ll order some Chinese.”

Alec considered it for a moment.

“Only if you get double egg rolls.”

Alec listened as Magnus walked around the apartment, content for the time being to just laze around. He was serious about not moving, not until he absolutely had to. Though the heat only lasted three days, usually, he always took another one or two to recover from it. It was extra time for just the two of them, for Alec to rest and for Magnus to tend to him. The alpha’s instinctual drive to take care of his mate usually spiked right after heat, so Alec patiently let Magnus prepare food and provide for him and generally do his best impression of a helicopter, with all the hovering that was going on. Alec wasn’t entirely sure if it was a biological instinct that every alpha possessed, or just something that Magnus did. But as they rested in the bathtub filled with hot water, with his back against Magnus’ chest and his mate’s hands running a soft washcloth over his skin, Alec decided he didn’t really care.

Chapter Text

“Mom?” Alec called out as he walked through the door to their family home and it shut behind him with a quiet click.

“Alec, is that you?” Maryse’s voice sounded like it came through from the kitchen. Alec took off his jacket and hung it by the door before following his mother’s voice into deeper parts of the house, walking the well-memorized path through a corridor and a dining room. Everything felt familiar and alien at the same time. He had lived here for most of his life and still visited frequently after moving to New York. He had isolated himself in here during his heats and this house used to be his sanctuary, the barrier between him and the outside world when he was at his most vulnerable.

But it didn’t feel the same way anymore. The dark-wood furniture, the beautiful rugs, the pictures of their family on the walls… It was all familiar and comforting, but something was missing. The house did not feel like home anymore. Alec wasn’t happy with that realization, but it was true. Home was the New York loft now. The shared territory, marked by his mate’s scent, theirs to protect and care for. A safe space that they could nest in.

“You’re a little early,” Maryse said as she greeted him with a quick hug. Alec wrapped his arms around her smaller frame carefully, breathing in her perfume and her own unique scent underneath it. It would forever be a source of comfort for him, since she used to be his alpha. “I was just about to make myself a coffee. Do you want some?”

“Just tea for me, thanks,” Alec replied as he sat down at the kitchen table, waiting patiently as Maryse prepared their drinks. He thanked her when she set down a cup in front of him and then took a seat to his right, busying herself with adding some sugar to her coffee.

“Your fire message told me you wouldn’t be coming until afternoon,” she said. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, everything is fine. I have a meeting with some of the Clave officials and they bumped me up in their schedule.” Alec took a sip of his green tea and hummed approvingly at the rich taste.

“Are they still trying to keep you on your toes?” Maryse frowned as she stirred her drink.

“Have they ever stopped?” Alec snorted. “I can handle them, Mom. The Institute is operating at peak efficiency. They don’t have a single thing that they could use against me.”

“I know,” she said before taking a sip. “Is the Clave audience about something important?”

Alec set down his cup and his back stiffened. That little posturing didn’t escape Maryse’s attention. After years of dealing with Nephilim politics, she was too well-versed at reading minute body language tells.

“There’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about, before I go to the meeting. I wanted to let you know first, since I am pretty sure the news is going to spread like wildfire once it’s out.”

Alec breathed in deeply, looking his mother in the eyes. Maryse seemed like she wanted to say something else, but was holding herself back and letting him gather his courage.

“Around the middle of December I’m going to be taking a leave from work and passing the Institute’s leadership to Izzy and Jace for some time.”

“What?” Her voice raised a little and Alec could smell how her previously content scent soured almost instantly with worry. It was an instinctual response of an alpha parent, Alec was very well aware of that. “I thought you said everything is fine!”

“It is, I promise.”

“Then how is resigning from your post ‘fine’?”

“Mom, I’m not resigning,” Alec said, trying to calm her down.

“Are you sick?” She put down her cup, her hands shaking a little. “You worked for so long to be the Head of the Institute, I find it hard to believe you could just leave like that.”

“Mom.” Alec reached out and took one of her flailing hands, settling it down on the table and giving it a light squeeze. She responded instantly, her own fingers grabbing hard at his, as if he would disappear if she let him go.

“Whatever it is, we can figure it out. I can—”

“You’re going to be a grandmother.”

Alec would never know what Maryse was going to say when he interrupted her. Words seemed to get stuck in her throat as she gaped at him, lips still a little parted. Alec suppressed a laugh at the thought of actually breaking his mother’s brain and gave her time for a system reboot.

“How?” She finally said, once she regained her voice.

Alec only raised one eyebrow at her.

“No, obviously, I know how,” she let go of the death grip she had on his hand, “but I thought you were taking shots?”

“Not anymore. A while ago Magnus and I decided that I would stop taking them and we would see what happened.” Alec picked up his previously abandoned tea and looked down into it, avoiding his mother’s gaze for a moment.

“Only Jace and Izzy know. I had to tell them, since we had to come up with a plan to present to the Clave. That’s it.” Alec looked up at her and her face was an unreadable mask. Her scent evened out now and Alec hated that he couldn’t tell what she was thinking. “But now you know too. We haven’t told anyone else, since we weren’t sure if it was going to work.”

Maryse still said nothing and Alec could feel his anxiety skyrocketing. The tiny, primal part of his brain urged him to appease her. But there was only one person he would submit to now, no matter how much he wanted her approval. Maryse had always supported him, told him throughout his entire life that he was going to do great things. She was the one he came to for advice and guidance and she always had his back. There was shift in their dynamic after Alec bonded with Magnus and it took some time before she became comfortable with his choice.

At least, Alec had thought that she was comfortable. Now, though? Now, he wasn’t so sure.

“Mom,” he said, his voice quiet and surprisingly calm, betraying nothing of the turmoil he felt inside, “please, just… say something.”

Maryse blinked a couple of times, as if she was waking up from a long dream. She seemed to take in his stiff posture and the tense line of his jaw and all of sudden something changed. Her gaze became softer and she stood up, stepping around the table to get closer to him.

“I’m sorry, you just… you surprised me.” Both of Maryse’s hands cupped his jaw and Alec had no choice but to look up at her, still seated in his chair. “Alec, my sweet boy… I’m so happy for you.”

Alec’s breath caught, because it’s been ages since she called him that. He leaned into her and rested his forehead against her stomach while she raked her fingers through his unruly hair. Her nails scratched lightly against his scalp and it felt so good. Not just the reassuring touch, but also the knowledge that she didn’t think he was a disappointment; a family let-down. Alec didn’t know if he would be able to survive it, if she did.

“How long have you known?” Maryse asked later, when they both had calmed down and she sat next to him again.

“A little over a week,” Alec said, wrapping his hands around the cup of the still warm tea. “I was making breakfast one day and I thought that I didn’t have enough familiar smells in the loft. Izzy and Jace are over all the time, but their scents never stick for long. I was wondering if I can get away with taking one of Izzy’s shirts when she wasn’t paying attention.” Alec let out a somewhat self-deprecating huff. “That’s when I figured out I was nesting.”

And wasn’t that realization a shock. Alec remembered how he froze once that thought appeared in his mind and the empty plate he was holding slipped from his numb fingers and shattered all over the kitchen floor. Magnus came in then, alerted by the noise and for a moment he couldn’t get Alec to respond when he asked him what was wrong. “Holy shit, I think I’m nesting,” was what he told Magnus once he regained his voice and his mate gave him a startled look, as if Alec had slapped him.

“Magnus did a spell to check and I did some tests the next day, to be sure.”

“How did he take the news?” Maryse asked and Alec eyed her carefully. While her expression was neutral, her scent was still content and she seemed genuinely curious.

“He was happy, Mom.” Alec said, his voice soft.

‘Happy’ wasn’t really a big enough word to describe Magnus’ reaction. Alec couldn’t help but smile at the memory of Magnus’ initial speechlessness at the sudden news, or the way his eyes swam with tears when the spell revealed two heartbeats instead of just one. ‘Happy’ didn’t describe the way they both laughed like loons, or how Magnus had kissed him stupid and held him like he was something small and fragile and precious, as silly as that sounded.

“Mom, he… he never thought he was going to be a parent,” Alec said and he could see how Maryse’s expression softened a bit. “He gave up on it long time ago. We didn’t know if he even could father a child, but we wanted to try. And now I can give him something he never had, a family. I have never seen him more happy. I can feel it through the bond and it’s just…”

Alec trailed off when he felt like his voice was about to break under the weight of emotion. There was no way he could put into words the nearly overwhelming feelings of love, devotion, and pure elation singing along the mating bond he shared with Magnus. It was almost like the news of a child had managed to bring some part of him back to life. A part of his heart that, even despite loving Alec for so many years, was still closed off. Until now.

“Do you know what you are going to have?”

“We don’t want to know if it’s a boy or a girl. But if you mean the baby’s race… we’re not sure. I couldn’t find any data about shadowhunter and warlock children, either because they are so extremely rare or because the Clave did their best to hide their existence. But statistically speaking, in cases of warlocks fathering children with Seelies or werewolves, the warlock blood is the dominant one,” Alec said and then sighed, knowing that both the Clave and his parents would prefer the child to be Nephilim. “But it doesn’t matter, right? As long as the baby is healthy.”

Maryse reached across the table and brushed her hand across his cheek and jaw in a move so tender and familiar it made Alec’s breath catch.

“Of course it’s not important,” Maryse said. “And I’m really happy for you two. I know that this baby is going to have so much love in their life, because of how much you wanted it.”

Alec covered her hand with his, briefly, before bringing it closer to press a kiss against her knuckles. The answering smile he got in return eased any anxiety he felt about their meeting.

“I haven’t told Dad yet,” he finally said, looking back at her again. “At first I thought I might just send him a message, but I guess this is the kind of news you should give in person.”

“That would probably be the best,” Maryse agreed, a little hesitantly.

Alec didn’t miss the way her lips tightened a little, a small tell that she never could really hide when it came to Robert. Ever since their divorce, Alec was careful not to mention him around her too much. His parents remained civil towards each other, but Alec was pretty sure that part of it was because of their mutual need to keep their game faces on before the Clave. The other part was probably because of Max and their shared custody of him.

Alec’s own relationship with Robert was still somewhat strained. His father had less reservations about Alec’s relationship with Magnus, but remained a little distant ever since moving out from the Lightwood home and moving in with his mistress-turned-partner a little while back. Alec still had not fully forgiven him for the way he had treated Maryse.

Alec didn’t doubt that Robert would be happy for the coming of his future grandchild, though he wasn’t so sure about the Clave. Male omegas were rare and appreciated among his kind, yes, he had experienced it himself. With the number of the Nephilim dwindling every year, having children was actively encouraged. But to have a child with a warlock? Alec hasn’t heard of a single similar case in the past. There was simply no guarantee about how the Clave members would react.

He and Magnus were going to shake things up, that was for sure. But Alec was prepared for it - to fight for himself, for Magnus, and for their family.

And if anyone dared stand in the way of their happiness, Alec was ready to show them just how much of a mistake it was to piss off a pregnant omega.

Chapter Text

Magnus stared at his phone for a long moment after the call disconnected. He felt frozen in place, all of his muscles tight and strained, like a coiled serpent ready to strike. The knuckles of the hand that was gripping his phone were white and he was sure he was seconds away from cracking the device. The warlocks around him could see the change in his posture instantly, but his scent was an outrageous mix of conflicting emotions - delight, anger, and misery - which told them absolutely nothing about how he actually felt.

“Magnus?”

Magnus raised his eyes from the now dark screen to one of the warlocks who had dared to approach him, despite his quite obvious semi-aggressive stance. He could only guess that his magic and aura seemed just as unstable as he felt, which would give any warlock pause.

“What is it, Francis?” he asked, his voice low but steady, betraying nothing of his inner turmoil. He relaxed his hand a little before he actually broke his phone.

“Are you… are you able to continue?” Francis hesitated and Magnus could see how the other man searched his face for any clue about what had upset him so much. “Is everything okay?”

No, nothing was okay. He was here, stuck for who knew how much longer, unable to go where he should be.

“My daughter was just born,” Magnus said, and he could see how the attention of every single warlock snapped right to him. “My daughter was just born and I wasn’t there.”

There was so much anger in his voice, so much disapproval, that something resembling a collective flinch ran through the gathering, through betas and alphas alike. A lot of gazes turned away from him, some in shame and some just uncomfortable with the projected ire.

Magnus sat down for a moment and hid his face in his hands, not paying attention to Francis, who gaped at him as if Magnus had just smacked him right across the face.

Of course his child had inherited his flair for dramatics, Magnus thought, having chose the middle of a crisis as a perfect moment to be born. It just had to happen the same day the sky tore open with an interdimensional portal the size of half of a football field over Queens, from which demons escaped through in weirdly regular intervals. All the weeks - months - of planning, only for them to be rendered obsolete. Because that was his life, apparently.

Despite the chaos, Magnus refused to leave Alec’s side until Alec had literally ordered him to go and do his job.

“You are the only High Warlock in New York. And not only that, but also the highest ranking alpha warlock currently in the city,” Alec had told him, raising a finger in warning when Magnus was about to protest. “You need to get your people and try to seal the breach. Our shadowhunters will take care of the demons and we will call for backup from other Institutes if we need it.” Then Alec’s gaze softened a little at the sight of Magnus’ quite obvious distress. “I’ll be fine, I promise. We both will. Go do your job, love, then come back to us.”

Because even in early stages of labor and in a fair amount of pain, Alec’s first thought was of helping others and keeping his city safe. He knew that the task of closing a portal of this size was too big for just one warlock and that it would take hours before they succeeded, and yet he told Magnus to go because that was his duty - it was as simple as that.

Magnus knew all of that, he really did, but it didn’t change how he felt about it. That he had left his mate alone and frightened. Alec never told him that, but Magnus knew he was scared, despite going over the details a thousand times with Catarina. Cat, who was there to help his child come into this world and had called him afterwards to let Magnus know that both Alec and the baby were perfectly fine.

At least Isabelle and Jace were there with him. It was a small mercy to know that Alec’s siblings stayed with him while Magnus had to tend to his conclave. He could only hope that their presence and the parabatai bond made everything at least a little bit easier for Alec.

“You should go.” Francis’ voice brought Magnus back from his reverie. “Magnus, seriously. Go be with your shadowhunter.”

There was an undertone of softness to Francis’ voice, the same gentle kindness he could see in the eyes of the warlocks who had not turned their gazes away from him. They all understood. They knew how miraculous it was for a warlock to have a child and that to miss their birth was agony. They also knew who his mate was; it was hard not to know if you were a member of the Downworld community of New York, since both he and Alec held positions of power.

“No,” Magnus said with a sigh and stood. “My mate told me to do my duty and that’s what I intend to do.” He looked up and the portal flared up with a flash of power, a sure sign that they were bound to encounter incoming demons any minute. Magnus hoped that the shadowhunters have recovered from the previous wave of battle. He stood up, brushed off his pants, and took a couple deep breaths to calm himself. “We need to switch with those who are holding up the stasis spell. Come on, people. The sooner we finish this, the sooner we can go home.”

 


 

“You can’t go in.”

There were hands on his chest, stopping him from entering the other room. Magnus’ focus shifted slowly, gradually, to the person blocking his way. Everything felt sluggish, as if he was waddling through a sea of molasses, time slowing down to a crawl. His exhaustion was almost palpable, his magic depleted almost utterly, but still he knew that he had enough in him to fight off whatever obstacle stood between him and his mate.

But there was no reason to fight. It was only his friend, looking at him with a frown as if she were trying to see if he was going to attack her or not.

“Let me through, Cat. I need to see him.”

“I will, but only when you get a hold of yourself,” she said, giving him a little push that wasn’t nearly enough to make him take a step back. Catarina was a beta, but she never backed down from anyone and never failed to stand up to alphas. “I can’t let you see him until you calm down.”

“Cat—”

“You weren’t here, Magnus.”

Her tone was calm but firm and he flinched away from her then, rearing back as if she had slapped him. Guilt washed over him, white-hot and scorching, tearing a small, distressed sound from his throat.

“Hey.” Hands were cupping his jaw and he opened his eyes, not even sure when he closed them in the first place. Catarina was watching him, keeping his gaze focused on her. Her hands were gentle on his skin, warm and soft. “It’s not your fault. Everyone knows this. And I realize you’re very tired and you just want to see Alec but I can’t allow you to go in like this. Your pheromones and your scent are all over the place and that is not what Alec needs right now.”

She took his hand and led him a couple of steps towards a nearby chair before sitting down next to him. They were in the corridor outside of the Institute’s infirmary. They were alone and Magnus wasn’t one hundred percent sure why, but he suspected that Cat might have cleared anyone who wasn’t immediate family out.

“You weren’t here,” she repeated, softer this time, running her fingers through his already messed-up hair. “And right now the man in the other room is not your mate, but an omega whose child has just been born. His protective instincts are through the roof. And you’re an alpha who wasn’t there for the delivery.”

Magnus gave her a narrowed-eye look.

“Are you saying that he might attack me?”

“I don’t believe he would,” Cat said, shaking her head. “But we can’t eliminate the possibility. Alec is exhausted, in a fair amount of pain, and still pretty out of it since there is only so much that runes and magic can fix. You go in there, smelling like anger and guilt and bringing all that negative energy with you and there’s no telling what he will do. I know that you would be able to defend yourself, but he might end up hurting himself in the process. I know you don’t want that to happen.”

Magnus sighed, slumping a little sideways in his seat and leaning against his friend, his temple resting against her shoulder. Her hand was still holding his, a reassuring touch when everything else was so confusing.

“So what should I do?”

“First, you need to calm down. When you go in you can’t have all that anxiety clinging to you. Stand by the door and let him recognize you. Go to him only when he asks you to. That’s all. You give him the space he needs and everything is going to be alright.”

He breathed in deeply to center himself, to focus on bringing his nervous scent down.

“And one more thing, Magnus,” Cat said, breaking his concentration.

“What?”

She patted his cheek lightly, a fond look in her eyes.

“Congratulations, my friend.” She gave him a small smile and he pressed his forehead gently against hers. “I’m so happy for you.”

 


 

Magnus closed the door behind him with a quiet click and leaned on it for a second, taking everything in. The room was pretty spacious, the lights dimmed enough to paint long shadows on every available surface. The stained glass windows were dark, seeing as it was now late in the evening. He could just make out the mass of snowflakes clinging the glass, appropriately for the mid-December climate. There was a collection of beds in the infirmary, but only the one furthest from the door was occupied.

Magnus’ heart skipped a couple beats.

Alec was curled on his right side. His bed was flat - probably to ease the strain on his back - and he was turned towards Magnus. He looked like he was sleeping, but Magnus doubted that was true. His mate’s scent was filling the room, an intoxicating mixture of happy-content-peaceful that instantly put him at ease. Magnus could only guess that Alec was going through a serious endorphin high to be throwing his scent out like that.

Alec looked pale, much more than what was normal for him, but that could be attributed to his fatigue. There was an IV drip that was connected to the back of his right hand, without doubt feeding him painkillers. His hair was a mess, though it sort of looked like someone - perhaps Isabelle - tried to finger-comb it back into some semblance of order. Somebody covered Alec with a warm, soft-looking quilt and it was pulled up almost to his chin. The quilt was bunched up in an odd way in front of Alec and it almost looked like he was hiding something from the view.

Magnus actually let out a tiny gasp once he realized what it was.

The quiet sound of his inhale was enough to alert Alec, whose eyes snapped open and Magnus could see the way his entire body tensed. There was a flash of alarm he could feel through their bond now that they were closer to each other and the pleasant scent in the room soured instantly with confusion and apprehension.

Magnus froze by the door after making sure he wasn’t actually blocking the exit. Alec’s eyes seemed unfocused for a moment, dazed with conflicting emotions as his body went through the fight-or-flight response Magnus had been warned about.

“Hello, darling,” Magnus murmured softly, his eyes never leaving Alec’s.

The staring contest between them lasted for a long, tense moment, during which Magnus didn’t even dare to blink, too focused on keeping up eye contact with his mate. But eventually Alec relaxed, once more yielding to his mate. He turned his gaze away and then blinked sluggishly a couple times, before closing his eyes again. Still, Magnus waited patiently in his spot by the door, even though the anticipation was killing him. He waited for Alec’s breath to even out and for his scent to turn neutral again.

Finally, after what seemed like eternity, Alec’s hand reached out to him, palm up, inviting him to come closer. With his heart beating wildly in his chest - enough to make him question if he was not going through an actual heart attack - Magnus slowly crossed the room and took the offered hand, giving it a strong squeeze. They froze together for a couple seconds, before Alec let go of him and pushed away the quilt, revealing his secret.

And there, lying on her back and cradled close to Alec’s chest, was his daughter.

She was so tiny. Magnus knew she was born early - the children of male omegas usually were premature, to make it easier on their carrier’s bodies - but between knowing and seeing how small she could be was an entirely different reality. She had inherited his coloring; her skin had a beautiful golden glow and a healthy blush. The shock of black hair on top of her head could be both his and Alec’s genes, but with the way the wispy hairs were sticking out in every direction, he risked a guess that she took after Lightwoods in that aspect.

Magnus sat down in a chair that stood next to the bed and reached out slowly, still cautious of Alec’s protective instincts, brushing the back of his fingers against the newborn’s cheek.

The bond that snapped in place on contact had him gasping for breath as it hit him with the full force of a sledgehammer to the chest. She was there, she was real and she was his. She was born out of love, born because her parents defied the expectations. Against all the odds of this world - his and Alec’s age difference, their social standing, the abysmal chance of natural warlock pregnancy - she was here, alive and healthy and beautiful. Their tiny miracle, born just in time for Christmas. Their impossible child.

In that moment, Magnus knew that he would do absolutely anything for her. That if he had to, he would burn the world down to protect her.

“It’s intense, I know.” Alec’s voice brought him back to reality and he realized Alec was touching his cheek, brushing away the tears that spilled from his eyes without him even knowing it. The strength of his reaction would have scared him, had he not expected it. It was all about chemistry, about nature’s way to ensure that parents protected their vulnerable children. That fact still didn’t make their feelings any less real or genuine. “The first time I held her, it was like…”

“Like nothing else in the world existed,” Magnus whispered, nuzzling into Alec’s palm and placing a kiss on it, before leaning in and kissing his mate. He kissed him, long and hard, then moved to his cheek and then the bridge of his nose.

“Yeah.”

“I love you,” Magnus said into Alec’s mused hair. “I love you so much, both of you.”

“I had to decide on her name,” Alec said with a sigh. “I had to give them something to put in the records and you weren’t here to help me choose. I’m sorry.”

They had been debating names for as long as they knew about the pregnancy and still haven’t reached a consensus, eventually deciding to wait until birth before they picked one. It wasn’t a perfect solution - something that their family and friends didn’t hesitate to point out, repeatedly - but it was the only one they could agree on.

“It’s okay, darling. I’m sure whatever name you chose is perfect,” Magnus said. “So what did you settle on?”

“Ragna,” Alec whispered, brushing his fingers gently over their daughter’s wispy hair. “Her name is Ragna.”

There was definitely something wrong with his heart, Magnus thought idly, since it was impossible for it to come to a sudden stop upon hearing those words. Even after being together for so long, after sharing every aspect of their lives with each other, after making the decision to start a family together… Alec was still capable of taking his breath away.

“Alexander…”

“You know that the Nephilim often honor their fallen by naming their children after them,” Alec reminded him, though Magnus was very well aware of that particular custom. “I know we haven’t talked about this before, but once I learned about a girl version of his name I thought… I thought that it would be fitting for her to be a namesake to the one person whom you loved like he was your family.”

“I’m not sure what kind of reaction he would have if he knew my child was named after him.” Magnus chuckled. “He would probably be torn between being horrified and tickled pink.”

“So… do you think the name can stay?” Alec asked quietly, his eyes still firmly set on the baby, as if he couldn’t tear his gaze away from her.

“Of course it can stay,” Magnus‘ hand joined Alec’s in stroking the newborn’s head. “Ragna Lightwood-Bane.”

Alec finally looked at him, one eyebrow raised a little in question.

“Not Bane-Lightwood?” he asked, knowing that most alphas would prefer the different order. Then again, Magnus was never like most alphas - that Alec knew for sure.

“As far as I’m concerned, your name should go first. You did all the work, after all.” Magnus grinned at him.

That and having Alec’s name first would go over smoother with the Clave, and in that they should use every advantage they could.

“Hardly,” Alec snorted and then paused to let out a huge yawn. “All I did was let them put me to sleep and cut me open. You can’t really call that an active participation, so I don’t even know why the hell am I so tired.”

“You did carry her for months, love. I say you did plenty. And it’s probably the medicine that’s making you so drowsy,” Magnus said. “Are you still in pain?”

“A little, but no more than we expected,” Alec mumbled back, closing his eyes for a moment. “But I also sort of don’t care?”

“Good drugs?”

“The best.”

Magnus laughed quietly and then promptly shut up when his daughter grimaced and snuffled a little, probably disturbed by the sounds. She opened her eyes for just a second before falling asleep again, but it was enough for Magnus to see her beautiful brown eyes, clearly inherited after Alec.

“Take her,” Alec said, his words slurring a little, and Magnus saw how he struggled to keep his eyes open. “I need to sleep and I’m afraid I’m going to roll over on top her if she stays where she is.”

Magnus stood up and gently, so very gently, picked Ragna up and nestled her in his arms. She was even smaller than she first appeared, swaddled in a soft, cozy blanket and a pale yellow onesie. She barely stirred when he adjusted his hold and she fitted into the cradle of his arm perfectly, like she was always meant to be there.

Alec’s arm shot out to grab the belt loop of Magnus’ pants when he moved away from the bed to sit in his chair again.

“No,” he mumbled sleepily. “Stay. Please.”

Magnus could hardly ever deny Alec anything and had even less desire to do so now, not when he had given Magnus everything that he ever wanted. It took a minute to figure out the logistics, but soon Magnus was sitting on the bed, his back against the infirmary wall and legs stretched out fully. Alec’s head was resting in Magnus’ lap and he had thrown one arm over his mate’s thighs, clinging to him even as he slowly drifted off. Ragna was held securely against Magnus’ chest.

Magnus became aware, all of the sudden, that Alec had probably not slept since he first woke from the anesthesia and that was hours ago. The omega’s protective instincts kept him awake despite his exhaustion and pain, because his mate was not there. Their child’s safety was a priority and Alec - body still buzzing with hormones and mind clouded with hurt - refused to let his guard down until Magnus could join them.

“You can rest now, love. It’s okay,” Magnus said. The warlock’s free hand was in Alec’s hair, scratching lightly against his scalp and playing with the black locks.

“Can you feel her magic?” Alec whispered, tilting his head slightly to press harder against Magnus’ palm that was lazily petting him. “Cat said she could sense it in her.”

“Yes,” Magnus whispered back. There was a magical pull he could feel in his child, very much like his own, proving without a doubt that she was his daughter. Her magical signature was small and fragile, as was the case with all newborn warlocks, but it was clearly there. “I guess that answers the question of her race. I wonder if she will be able to use runes too.”

Alec only made a small, non-committal sound. Magnus glanced at him and found that his eyes were closed and he looked like he was going to slip fully into sleep any second.

“She doesn’t seem to have a mark,” Magnus mumbled more to himself than to Alec, as he inspected his daughter’s face. “She might get one later on, though.”

“Yeah,” Alec’s barely-there whisper was slow and a little slurred. “I hope she gets your eyes...”

Magnus looked at Alec once again but his mate had finally dozed off, his body relaxed completely. Magnus inhaled the sweet smell of Ragna’s hair and focused on his breathing instead, trying to stave off the tears he could feel pricking at his eyes again.

All his life, he had seen his real eyes as a curse. He’s hated them for centuries, hated the reactions that they invoked from others. They were the reason his mother killed herself, the reason his stepfather tried to drown him, the reason his lovers left him. They were behind some of the biggest heartbreaks in his long life, this first-hand proof of his origin, of the demonic blood rushing through his veins.

It wasn’t until Alec came into his life that Magnus saw them as anything else but a stigma. It was his mate who looked at him - the real him - and told him that his eyes were beautiful. And now he had said - so casually and effortlessly, like it was the easiest and most obvious thing in the world - that he wanted their daughter to have the same eyes.

Ragna would never have to feel the same way he did for his entire life. Her mark would not bring her shame. It would not be an evidence of violence but a proof of love instead. If she ever inherited his eyes, it would be because her parents loved each other enough to bring her into the world.

All that Alec ever gave him - the love and the affection and now their child - all of it was priceless and precious and something that Magnus would die a thousand times over to protect.

But the knowledge that his warlock mark was no longer something to hate, but to be celebrated instead… perhaps that was the most precious gift of all.