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Sculptured Ivy and Stone Flowers

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Padding over to the kitchen island to grab a tea bag from the metal canister, Alec sighed contentedly.

It was raining outside in thick sheets that resulted in very low visibility, and it was loud as it pounded against the windows of the loft. There was the occasional crack of thunder that punctuated the white noise of the rainfall. He had always loved thunderstorms, finding a kind of peace in it somehow.

He moved towards the cabinet to grab a clean mug, and upon opening the door, found one pushed to the forefront with a post-it note stuck to it. Carefully extracting it, Alec pulled off the note and immediately recognized Magnus’ sweeping script. Choose me! it read, followed by a small scribbled heart.

Alec smiled, warmth blooming in his chest, and poured the hot water from the kettle into it. He dropped the tea bag in after it then carefully carried it back to the couch where he had created a crease in the cushions that would mold to his body perfectly when he sat back down. He even had the throw pillows arranged just so with a blanket tucked in.

It was rare that he ever had time to do something as indulgent as this. Even before being appointed head of the Institute, he’d always been restricted to duty first. And that inevitably spiraled into very little, if any, time for himself. He’d done his best to shield his siblings from the same constraints, and he felt no shame in believing he had succeeded. However, on his end, learning how to enjoy time to himself was an obstacle he had been unprepared to face. It was a recent development that he was able to go extended periods of time without getting antsy and uptight at not being productive.

Magnus disagreed with his definition of productive, though, as he insisted that taking time for oneself was paramount, especially in a role of leadership. For him, nothing was better than immersing himself in a book with a mug of tea, which was precisely why Alec found himself doing just that as soon as he was able to slip away from the Institute for the evening.

Reading had never been something that Alec equated with personal enjoyment. He read exclusively for the sake of knowledge; a mad scramble for information to ensure he was never at a disadvantage. Magnus, on the other hand, was someone who read for pleasure, given that he had lived much of what was in history books. His extensive collection of books included mostly anthologies, narratives, poetry, and novels.

It had been Magnus’ goal to teach Alec how to appreciate the power and majesty of words, steering him in the direction of some of his favorite authors. Edgar Allan Poe was his favorite, and after reading a few of his works, Alec could understand why.

Now, curled up on the couch, he was reading through a collection of his poetry. While that had never been a style of writing that had appealed to him, there was an undeniable beauty in it that was captivating.

Alec set his mug down on the coffee table as he began a new page. He soon became immersed, forgetting about his drink all together until he paused to stretch luxuriously and caught sight of it. Somehow, though, it was still emanating tendrils of steam that immediately warmed his palm as it hovered over it, and the mug itself was still hot to the touch. His eyebrows furrowed for a moment in curiosity, until he remembered the note Magnus had left.

Magnus.

With the errant thought that he would thank Magnus when he got home, he returned to his reading. 

Alec only looked up again when the soft hum of energy caught his attention. He had become acutely attuned to the sound of portal magic, conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to expect a reward at the sound. In his case, that reward was Magnus.

Slightly damp, Magnus strode into the foyer, running a hand through his hair to disperse some of the rain drops that glistened against the onyx spikes. “Alexander,” was the very first thing out of his mouth. Leaning over to press a kiss to Alec’s temple, his lips were curved into a smile.

“Hey. You’re early,” Alec murmured, taking one of Magnus’ cold hands in both of his that were still hot from holding the mug of tea.

“Mmm, that feels nice.” Magnus’ voice was practically a purr.

“All thanks to you.” Nodding at the empty cup, he smiled. “I really appreciate it.”

Magnus waved his free hand dismissively. “It was nothing. Just a little something for you.” He extracted his hand from Alec’s grip carefully so that he could shrug off his coat and hang it in the hall closet. “So, what have you been reading today?”

Holding up the book, Alec shook it slightly. “Your favorite.”

“Are you enjoying it?”

“Dark honesty is something I can appreciate.”

“Which one were you on?” Magnus joined Alec on the couch, pulling Alec’s legs onto his lap. He absently slid his hand up the leg of his sweatpants, caressing the inside of his ankle with a soft touch.

“‘Lo! Death has reared himself a throne in a strange city lying alone,’” Alec quoted with a grin.

The City in the Sea,” Magnus immediately identified, nodding. “I’ve always liked that one. Why don’t you read it to me? You know how much I love the sound of your voice.”

Alec rolled his eyes, but there was too much affection in his expression to do the action justice. He looked back down at the page, running his thumb along the inside of it. “‘Far down within the dim West, where the good and the bad and the worst and the best have gone to their eternal rest.’”

The slow, syrupy movements of Magnus’ fingers made his skin tingle, and when his hand moved up his leg to stroke the soft downy hairs on his shin, he shivered slightly.

“‘There shrines and palaces and towers (time-eaten towers that tremble not!) resemble nothing that is ours.’”

On the last word, Magnus started to tug on the bottom of Alec’s sweatpants, pulling them down his hips a few inches.

“What are you doing?” Alec laughed, though he complied and lifted up to allow them to be tossed aside.

“Keep reading,” was all Magnus said in reply, scooting down the couch to lie on his stomach between Alec’s legs.

“‘A-around, by lifting winds forgot, resignedly beneath the sky the melancholy waters lie. No rays from the holy heaven come down on the long night-time of that town; but light from out the lurid sea streams up the turrets silently-’”  Alec paused, inhaling sharply as Magnus’ lips started to trail up his legs ever so slowly. Warm lips left wet kisses starting on the top of his ankle, and then slowly up his calf. “Magnus—”

“‘Streams up the turrets silently,’” he prompted Alec along.

“‘Gleams up the pinnacles far and free- Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls- Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-’” Alec knew he couldn’t let himself spare a glance at Magnus or else he would be completely incapable of thinking of anything else. Nothing could be more distracting that seeing Magnus, in all his glory, stretched out above his body, worshipping him with touches and kisses so gentle, they each caused a spark of electricity in his bloodstream.

Alec swallowed when Magnus’ hands splayed across his thigh, sucking on the delicate skin there. The sensation lasted only a moment, however, before he switched to the previously untouched side and started with the ankle again, showering his skin with more kisses.

“…Resignedly beneath the sky the m-melancholy waters lie. So blend the turrets and shadows there that all seem pendulous in air, while from a proud tower in the town, Death looks gigantically down.” His mind felt hazy as Magnus’ touches were unrelenting on his body. Only a few of the words he was speaking stuck with him. Some just felt like they rolled off his tongue and disappeared. Keeping his hands on the book to steady it was difficult, given that his hands were shaking slightly from the oversaturation of sensation buzzing under his skin.

A delicate scraping of teeth over his kneecap made Alec jerk slightly. Magnus soothed the sting by laving his tongue over it, broad and flat. “You’re doing beautifully, Alexander,” he praised, stroking the inside of Alec’s thigh with his thumb. The drag of his cold rings made Alec shiver.

“‘…Along that wilderness of glass- No swellings tell that winds may be upon some far-off happier sea- No heavings hint that winds have been on seas less hideously serene.’” Alec’s eyelids dipped for a moment but immediately reopened when he registered that Magnus’ ministrations had stopped. He tilted the book down to look at him. “Why’d you stop?”

Magnus chuckled, a deep rumble from the back of his throat. The tip of his nose traced the inside of Alec’s free hand. “You stopped first.”

“Baby, I—I can’t—”

“Think straight?” Magnus supplied with a smirk, looking up at Alec through his eyelashes as he gently sucked on the tip of Alec’s forefinger before trailing his tongue up to the back of his hand.

“This is really unfair, you know,” Alec valiantly attempted to argue. They both knew, however, that it was fruitless.

“Oh?”

“I can’t touch you like this.” He looked pointedly at the arm Magnus was carefully mapping with his mouth, and then at the other, the hand of which was holding the book.

“Believe me, I’m perfectly content with the situation as is.” Magnus had reached his shoulder, tracing runes with his finger while he used his mouth to suck at Alec’s neck. “You’re almost done,” he added offhandedly.

“Sorry?”

“With the passage. You’re on the last part.” Magnus put two fingers on the side of Alec’s jaw and pushed lightly, turning his head to expose the bold deflect rune.

Alec hummed in assent, lost in the intimacy of Magnus’ touch. He lifted the book back up and forced his eyes to focus on the words. “‘But lo, a stir is in the air! The wave- there is a movement there! As if the towers had thrust aside, in slightly sinking, the dull tide- As if their tops had feebly given a void within the filmy Heaven.’”

When Magnus pulled off of his neck with a wet sound, his fingers walked down Alec’s sternum to open a few buttons on his shirt. A breath caught in Alec’s chest when Magnus pushed aside the lapels and started pressing kisses to his exposed collarbones.

“‘The waves have now a redder glow- The hours are breathing faint and low- And when, amid no earthly moans, down, down that town shall settle hence, Hell rising from a thousand thrones, shall do it reverence.’”

Alec set the book aside immediately when he was finished and looked down at Magnus whose eyelashes were tickling his skin as he moved his cheek over Alec’s heart. Magnus’ ear pressed against it, listening to the steady but quick beating.

“Magnus,” Alec breathed softly, reaching down to tangle his fingers in his hair.

When Magnus’ eyes flicked up to meet his, they were unglamored, warm and deep like molten gold. The black slit pupils were sharp in contrast. 

Instead of using words to convey his need, Alec simply dug his fingers into Magnus’ shoulders, blunt nails scratching at the fabric of his shirt.

After a few insistent tugs, Magnus indulged him and craned his neck up to allow Alec to kiss him.

Alec’s hands immediately travelled down to Magnus’ hips, pulling their bodies flush against each other. His lips tingled with the bruising intensity of his kissing, but it was a satisfying sensation, confirmation that he was getting exactly what he’d needed.

One of Magnus’ hands cradled the side of his face, thumb stroking at the top of his cheekbone reverently.

Eventually, as Alec felt increasingly satiated, the kissing slowed to a soft press of lips and gentle strokes of tongue that were luxurious and languid. Magnus pulled back slowly, tipping their foreheads together for a moment as he caught his breath, then slowly slid back down Alec’s body to lie his head against his chest, listening to the deep thump of his heartbeats.

“I heard Poe read that piece aloud once, and I must say your rendition is my favorite.”

“Did you hang out with all the writers of the time?” Alec teased, resting his head back on the arm of the couch.

“Only some. A handful of the most recognized were horribly dreadful people. Poe was a tortured man. People say he was simply morbid and disturbed, but what would you expect from a man who had the love of his life for only a moment before she was lost to tuberculosis.” He paused for a moment. “There was a time when I…I believed it was inevitable that I would follow the same path. After all the love I’d lost that was never really love at all, it seemed fitting that when I did find someone extraordinary who loved me too, they would be taken away.”

Alec was quiet, unsure how to even say what he felt. Apologizing was the wrong response, but there was sorrow in his heart that bled for Magnus’ pain.

Magnus tapped lightly on Alec’s chest. “But this… I have this. And it’s all I’ve ever really wanted.”

“Always.” Alec whispered. It felt like a small offering in return for what Magnus had confided in him, but the sincerity in his soul made up for it. He reached down to intertwine the fingers of their free hands and lifted them to rest against Magnus’ heart, which was beating the same rhythm as his own.