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Universally Acknowledged

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Having never gotten to town to visit the Monteverdes the day before, Alec knew they would have to do it now.  Lydia left early to visit John once more, something that perplexed and worried Maryse, though not as much as Alec would have expected.  Thankfully, his siblings offered to join them.  Even Max, who wanted to see the soldiers again.  They promised him they would go right there after they were done calling on the Monteverdes.  

Which was how they found themselves seated in their parlor, sipping tea and making small talk.  The way Lydia and John were looking at each other, Alec knew without a doubt that his plan had worked, possibly even better than expected.  “Would you all mind if Lydia, John and I took a walk?”, he asked.  His siblings gave him knowing smiles and shook their heads, shooing the three of them from the house.

Lydia and John looked worried but Alec tried to calm their nerves with a small smile.  “Lydia, I thought that marrying you...  We were trying to do the right thing, but this isn’t it.  It is obvious that you two are crazy about each other.  John, you’ve been my best friend for so many years.  If you two will let me, I would like to call off our engagement so that Lydia can marry someone who truly loves her the way she deserves.”

As both of their faces lit up with brilliant smiles, Alec knew he’d done well.  He’d have to face the wrath of his mother but that was nothing new.  Considering he made both Lydia and John happy, it made anything his mother threw at him worth it.  John hugged him and Lydia kissed his cheek.  When she looked at John, Alec could see why his friend was falling for her.  They were very much alike and he knew that this would work out for the both of them.

Particularly when John dropped to his knee and proposed, right there on the spot.  Lydia accepted immediately, of course, and Alec smiled as he witnessed his friend get engaged only a few moments after calling off his own.  While some people might feel bitter, Alec felt nothing but relief and joy.  

“I’ll go get my siblings and we will be on our way,” Alec smiled.  “Go tell your mother and we can talk later in the week, alright?”

Soon enough, the Lightwoods were heading toward town while John explained the happy situation to his mother who was more than excited for her only child.  “That was nice what you did for them,” Izzy smiled, nudging Alec lightly with her elbow.  “I always knew you were a romantic at heart but ever since he came into your life, you’ve really been showing it.”

“Who?” Max asked, prompting Alec to glare at his sister.  “John?  You’ve known him his whole life.”  While he was significantly younger than the rest of his siblings, Max was by no means dumb and looked between all of them - reading Izzy and Jace’s amused expressions along with Alec’s mortified one - before coming to some conclusion and nodding.  “You really shouldn’t talk about adult things outside.  You’re going to get Alec in trouble.”  That shut all three of them up, sharing horrified glances.  

“Max, you know you can’t say anything about that to anyone, right?” Izzy’s grip on Alec’s arm was nearing too tight and while he appreciated her desire to protect him, cutting off the feeling in his hand was not the way to do it.

Max rolled his eyes, “Of course.  I’m not an idiot.  But you all are.  Don’t talk about it.  I don’t want anyone to hurt Alec because then I would have to hurt him and Mom would be mad at me.”

The logic of a child, Alec thought with a chuckle.  He appreciated his brother’s willingness to stick up for him, even if he was too little to actually do anything.  “Thanks, Max.  I’ll make sure that I keep it quiet so you don’t get into trouble.”

“That’s all I ask,” Max said solemnly before turning his attention back to the soldiers who were just up the road.  While he would deny it, Jace looked just as interested as Max was, and Alec smiled at his brothers as they launched into a deep conversation about the ranks of the men they passed. Though, Alec knew Jace's interest in them was far more personal these days.  Most likely it wasn’t the soldiers that had Jace’s attention, as much as he was looking for the mysterious Clary.  Alec hoped they would finally meet her since she was all Jace could talk about whenever they were alone.

“There she is!” he blurted out after they’d been walking for some time. There were soldiers everywhere and Alec briefly wondered how Jace could spot her in the crowd. When she approached them, however, he understood as her bright red hair would have been noticeable no matter how many people were around her.

Or how short she was. Which was very, VERY short.

“Clary,”Jace grinned and Alec knew then and there that this was different for his brother. He’d seen him chase girls in the past but he’d never seen him so breathless at just the sight of one of his prospects.

Clary smiled, bright and angelic. “Hello, Jace. I was hoping you would come by today. I want to hear all about the ball. I bet it was marvelous. DuMort is positively gorgeous. I would love to see inside someday.”

Happy to have something to offer her, Jace nodded. “It was fun but it would have been better if you were there. If you want, though, I bet my sister or brother could arrange a meeting for you.  They are both close to Mr. Lewis and his brothers.”

Only after Jace mentioned them did Clary look in their direction, smiling politely. “You must be Jace's siblings. I have heard so much about you.”  Max, she had met before so Jace introduced the other two. “This is my brother, Mr. Alec Lightwood and my sister, Miss Isabelle Lightwood. Alec and Izzy, this is Miss Fairchild.  She’s the one I have told you so much about.”

Izzy grinned and offered Clary her hand.  “I have heard so much about you.  Wait until we get rid of these two and I will be happy to tell you all of Jace’s darkest secrets.”  Glancing around as if to tell something monumental, Izzy leaned in.  “Did you know that he is afraid of ducks ?”  Clary giggled, Jace glared and Alec desperately tried to hide his amusement behind his hand.  

“No, you can’t get rid of me.  I want in on this.  I know even more than Izzy does.  Trust me, there are some things only brothers know about one another.”

“Like how he sometimes uses some of Izzy’s hairpins to make sure his hair looks perfect and then gets upset because he forgets about them and finds them in bed the next day.”  Max grinned at Jace, who could only smile in return, despite his face burning with embarrassment.  Max had that effect on people.

“Hairpins, Jace?  Really?” Clary laughed and Alec could see in his brother’s face that he didn’t mind it so much when Clary was the one teasing him.  Alec liked Clary.  She could hold her own with his brother and put Jace in his place.  Plus, seeing how soft it made Jace, Alec couldn’t find anything to really fault her on.

Jace being Jace, he put up his fake bravado that Alec had seen ever since Jace came into his life, and preened, “Do you think this comes naturally?  My sort of beauty takes a lot of effort.  Something some people wouldn’t understand.”  He faux glared at Alec who simply shrugged.  No, he wouldn’t understand that.  But he was also the one who had his hair styled by someone beautiful and interested in him the morning prior, so he was pretty sure he was winning at life.  

Speaking of, Alec grinned when a familiar voice sounded behind him.  “Well, I would know those two beauties anywhere.  Oh, and Blondie.”

Alec spun around, taking in the sight of his lover in front of him.  While he preferred the Magnus he saw yesterday, relaxed and naked, perfectly content in his own skin while in Alec’s company, there was something to be said for the way he looked all dressed up for a day on the town.  His fashion was unlike anything Idris had ever seen and he noticed many people staring at him as he walked by.  Not that Magnus seemed to care.  He made his wealth off making people look their best and making them stand out.  If he didn’t do that for himself, what kind of a businessman would he be?  “Magnus,” he breathed, before remembering himself and nodding to Simon as well.  “And Simon.  A pleasure to see you both today.”

“And you as well, Mr. Lightwood.  A little exercise has done wonders for your complexion.”  Magnus gave him a quick wink and Alec choked while his siblings and Simon laughed behind his back.  Magnus was going to get them in trouble and yet, Alec couldn’t find it in himself to be too worried.    

Simon and Izzy quickly wandered off together, his sister so focused on the love of her life that she didn’t even notice she never said goodbye.  Alec rolled his eyes, knowing he would go need to find them sooner rather than later.  But he would give Izzy her happiness for now.  If anyone deserved it, it was her.

His good mood vanished when Clary stepped around him to see who they were all talking to.  He realized that she was so tiny, no one would have seen her behind him.  “Hi, I’m,” she started to say, though the rest of the words died in her throat.

“Miss Morgenstern,” Magnus said tightly, his eyes never leaving Clary’s.  “I didn’t know you traveled this far north.  I would have made arrangements for my family and myself to be elsewhere while you were in town.”  It was by far the most impolite thing Alec had ever heard Magnus say to someone and he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why he said it.  

Alec shook his head, confused, “Magnus, I think you are mistaken.  This is Miss Clary Fairchild, not Morgenstern like you said.”  Torn between his desire to support his boyfriend but his knowledge that he should always stand up for what was right, Alec prayed that this was some misunderstanding.  That he wouldn’t have to stand up to his lover, not about this.

Magnus turned his attention to Alec, eyes softening slightly and he sighed, “No, her name is Clarissa Morgenstern.  I’ve had the misfortune of knowing the family for years.”

Tears pooled in Clary’s eyes as she looked from Magnus to Jace and Alec.  “I don’t know why he is saying that.  Mr. Bane?  My mother used to hire you to come watch me when she had to go into the city.  We used to play fun games and you would do my hair.  I adored you.  Why would you say such cruel things?”  Jace wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders, glaring daggers at Magnus.

“Yes, and then ten years later, your father tried to destroy my business, you tried to seduce Simon for his money, and Ragnor nearly got killed.”  

Alec’s eyes went wide, trying to imagine this girl in the family of someone so heartless.  It didn’t fit with what he’d seen, and considering the tears streaming down Clary’s cheeks, he was pretty sure there was something wrong here. “Magnus, I think that is enough,” he said gently.  “She’s obviously upset.”

“Don’t trust that family, Alexander.  They are only after money and status, nothing more.  People like that, they aren’t people you want to spend time with.”  

Gritting his teeth, Alec remembered that was something Magnus had accused his own family of, and while it was true of their mother, it certainly wasn’t for the rest of them.  He thought Magnus understood that and was over it, but here was the accusation once more, this time directed at someone else.  “Did you ever think the problem might be you?” he asked before letting himself overthink it too much.  “Hers is the second family you have accused of that crime which is obviously horrendous in your mind.  Do you think it might be possible that not everyone is out to get you?”

“Alexander, please.  You don’t know what you are talking about.  But please, keep your voice down.  You are causing a scene.”  Something Alec would normally avidly avoid but right now, his righteous indignation overpowered every other sense.  

“Is that how you see me, Magnus?  Is it?  Someone just out for money and power, obviously unable to actually love another without seeing how much currency they have to their name?”  He was getting close to a line he shouldn’t cross in public but he was so angry.  “Jace, can you see Miss Fairchild back to her family?  I think I have had enough of town for the day.  Good day, Mr. Bane.”  

Taking Max by the hand, Alec turned for home, ignoring the way his heart was breaking inside his chest.