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Love makes all hearts gentle - Romanian Proverb

 

The soft grey chaise lounge was perfect for reading. Light filtered in through the cathedral’s stained glass windows. Her small, precocious boy toddled away from where he’d been quietly building with blocks. She smiled over at him, looking at his little village. Her Alec never built something up only to knock it over like other children seemed to take joy in doing. He built, and then he put his blocks away in the bin again, carefully, almost as if he were sorry to take it all apart.

His large blue eyes stared at her a moment before his little smile showed. Without a word, he climbed up onto the chaise, sitting by her hip. He took her hand from the book she’d been reading and set it over his lap. She gave up on reading, and set the tome aside. His index finger touched the tip of her Angelic Power Rune, and he traced it with reverence.

“Angels,” he murmured when his finger touched the end. His finger then touched his own skin, as he pretended to draw the Angelic Rune on himself. This had become his new favourite thing to do as of late.

When he finished moved onto the Clairvoyance Rune on her hand, once again, with great care he traced the sweeping lines of the rune. “Voic-e-ance,” he said, as he finished the swirl in the center, then turned his finger to the back of his own hand.

“Clairvoyance,” Maryse corrected, running her free hand through his hair.

He turned his eyes to her. “That’s what I said, Mama,” he replied seriously.

She smiled, oh, her little boy made her heart nearly burst with a joy she didn’t even know she could feel. She tried to smooth his hair down once again. No matter what she did, it never seemed to stay put. The second her hand moved from his head, bits of his hair curled and flicked back up like a disarrayed little birds nest.

His attention shifted back up her arm and he shifted in his seat to reach. His light touch reminded her of his gentle nature, one she could not continue to protect. Soon, her little boy would start combat training. From there, he would have to learn all about the demons, and the Downworlders, and turmoil of the Shadow World. For now, she’d keep him safe. He didn’t need to know yet, he didn’t need to see the ugliness of the world, the cruelty of the shadows. No, for now, she could still protect him from all that.

“Deflect,” he said. While she wore hers on her arm, he started tracing it on his neck. Vaguely, she wondered why when every other time he’d mirrored the runes onto his own body. He stopped halfway through, looking puzzled as he stared at her Deflect Rune. His hand fell away from his own skin, and he took her bicep in both hands gently turning. “Mama, you have an ouch.”

The word ‘bruise’ caused him great frustration, as he pronounced it ‘br-uss,’ and no matter how many times she corrected him, he couldn’t seem to say it. Instead, he turned to calling them ‘an ouch.’ She turned her arm to see what he did. She had missed her sparring in the morning thanks to a few phone calls with Clave officials. Any longer than that, and even without and Iratze, her Angel blood would have taken care of a bruise that small.

That left only one conclusion.

“It isn’t a bruise,” she said softly, figuring now was as good of a time as any to educate her son on the matter. “It’s a Soulmark.”

He blinked a little owlishly, then smiled, wiggling around until he laid back on the chaise with her, his little body warm as he sat pressed against her. He looked up at her expectantly, and she almost laughed. The boy had always been a sponge for knowledge, he enjoyed learning, and listening to stories. One of his favourite things to do was curl up on this very chaise with her while she read, ‘Tales for Tiny Shadowhunters,’ one of the few Shadowhunter written Children’s books.

His patience ended. “Mama, what’s a Soulmark? Is it a special Rune?”

“No, they’re not Runes. Mundanes don’t receive them, they’re unique to those who walk the Shadow World.”

“What about Werewolves and Vampires?” Alec asked. “They used to be mundane.”

She smiled at the question. Most three year olds wouldn’t have thought to ask. “Yes, they get them too.”

“Why don’t I have any?” Alec asked, looking over his skin. He pouted, likely in disappointment that he couldn’t find a single mark on his own arms.

“You’re too little yet,” Maryse replied, although that wasn’t entirely true. Some children did have Soulmarks, but it tended to be those who had huge life moments when they were still so small- like the death of a parent.  “Soulmarks etch your past, present, and sometimes future on your skin. Some of them are permanent, some are temporary and fade away, some change and grow with time. They don’t just come because you had peanut butter and jelly for lunch.”

He grinned, but it quickly fell away. “I still don’t understand.”

“You are one of my soulmarks,” she said, and then lifted the hem of her shirt a little, there were old runes, scars that were slightly lighter than her natural skin colour. She pointed to the blue gladiolus on her ribcage. He had been the reason she and Robert had gained leniency from the Clave, his life had saved hers, he was the very breath in her lungs. “This was once a tiny little mark, a bud that grew as you did inside of me, and when you were born, it blossomed.”

He looked at the mark in awe, then shook his head. “Why am I a flower?”

“The flower is the mark of a child on a parent. Although, the type of flower often reflects the personality of the child. Gladiolus for instance symbolizes strength and moral integrity.”

He nodded, although she doubted he understood what ‘moral integrity’ meant. “Do you have one for Dad?”

She pulled her knee up to her chest, and pulled her sock down. There on her ankle small, cramped script in bold red; ‘it’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Trueblood.’

Alec, too small to read demanded she recite it for him. He listened, nodded. “And what did you say to him?”

It always hurt a little to think about, that her little, ‘you too,’ didn’t show up on his skin. Instead, the words, ‘hey, are you alright?’ marked her husband’s forearm, forever mocking her. He was her soulmate, but she was not his. They loved one another though, if he ever figured out who his soulmate was, he never mentioned it. “My words are not on his arm,” she confessed, wanting him to understand. “The system is flawed. Just because you’re someone’s soulmate doesn’t mean they’re yours. Just because there are words written in their hand on your body doesn’t mean you can’t be in love with someone else. These marks… they complicate things.”

“But you still love Dad, and he loves you too,” his innocent eyes stared up at her, begging. “Right?”

She kissed his temple. “Yes.”

“Okay.” His frame relaxed from the stressed posture it held. “What other ones do you have?”

“My others were temporary,” she lied. She had a few others, like the harsh black swatch that came with regret that had failed to leave her after her time with The Circle, and the ‘x’ in the center of her chest that came when her brother had severed ties with the Clave, and gone to live as a mundane.

He mulled over this information and then went back to the small mark on her arm. “What do you think this one means?”

“I don’t know yet,” she admitted. Small, almost an oval in shape. Her eyes widened when she realized it looked just like the mark on her ribs had before it settled in with a faint green of a fresh bud in the spring time. Could it be possible? Could she be pregnant again?

He kissed the mark. “It’s a good mark. I can tell.”

“Can you?” she smirked, raising a brow.

“Yes, it’s a good mark,” the boy said with a nod. “A very good mark.”

:::

When he was nearly seven, Alec’s first soulmark came in. Maryse had taken him and little Isabelle to the park. Alec had tried to keep his sister in the sandbox, after all, at three she was too little and couldn’t climb up on the jungle gym. This didn’t stop her from trying though, and so she’d start clamoring and he’d push her butt up until she could get a knee on the next stair.

It was slow going, but she was triumphant at the top before sitting down and taking the slide all by herself, giggling all the way. She scooted to the end of the slide, her legs dangling a moment before she pushed herself down then ran around to the stairs again. Alec quickly slid down, less amused by the action, and followed his sister who was already trying to get upon the step, a couple of bigger kids standing behind her.

“Move, kid!” And when the boy went to push his sister off the first step, Alec shoved the kid’s arm away and put himself between them.

“Don’t touch my sister!” Alec said, his hands loose but ready at his sides. The taller boy looked to his friends and they laughed. Izzy had given up momentarily, stunned and watching the older kids. Alec stood firmly between them. “She’s just playing. Leave her alone.”

The boy shoved Alec back a step. Alec recovered quickly, and shot out with a punch to the stomach, without waiting, he brought his knee up to the kid’s face, knocking him on his back. He glared at the other two boys who backed up, one of them staying on his feet while the other crouched down to see the damage. The boy on the ground cried, big ugly tears, blood pouring from his nose. “Mom! Mom!”

A blonde woman rushed over with shock written on her face. “Thomas!” She then glared at Alec. “You little monster, where are your parents?”

As if on cue, Maryse walked around the jungle gym and took in the scene. “What happened here, Alec?”

“Your child broke my Thomas’s nose!” The woman shrieked. “You’re going to be paying the medical expenses!”

Maryse practically ignored the woman, her eyes staring down at her son. “He was gonna hurt Izzy, Mama.” He felt Isabelle’s little hands gripping the fabric of the back of his shirt.

While Maryse had little choice but to pay for the mundane boy’s injuries, she didn’t scold Alec. However, she did make a point of telling the woman it wouldn’t have happened if her child was properly behaved.

That night, getting ready for bed, Alec discovered the purpling lines on the wrist of his dominate hand. It was so small, and by morning it had come in strong and black. The top two pieces of a triangle, a circle in the center. He tried to figure it out. It looked a little like the triangle bits were a house, and the little circle was a person.

He rushed off to his mother, who he found in the Institute kitchen whisking eggs. “Mama, look!”

When she glanced down at his wrist she gasped. “Oh my.”

“What is it?” Alec wondered, a little worriedly. “Is it a bad mark?”

“No, no, not at all, Alexander,” she assured. “It’s a good mark, I just didn’t expect you to get one so young.”

“What does it mean?” he asked.

“This is one of the known glyphs, there is a book of them in the library,” she informed him, tracing the lines of his first soulmark with her finger, much like how he did with her runes as a child. “This is the protect glyph.”

“It’s like a little hut,” he said, taking a minute to explain his earlier theory.

“Or.” She turned to stand in front of him, her back to him, her arms bent back. Her body effectively shielding him. He understood the lines of her arms as the triangle, and him being the little circle. She dropped her arms and turned to face him once more.  “You stood between those bullies and your sister. You protected her. And this is a priority for you. So long as it is, you’ll have the mark.”

“I’ll have it forever then,” he promised.