Alec Lightwood. It was a name Magnus had repeated endlessly to himself. Obsessively. The name of a Shadowhunter teen who shouldn’t be any different from all the lives who had come before-who wasn’t different, wasn’t special, was totally, spectacularly normal. Magnus had been telling himself this for . . . god, had he really been telling himself this for so long he’d lost track of how much time he’d wasted on this lie? Magnus kept telling himself: Alec wasn’t special. He wasn’t different. He was just an ordinary Shadowhunter in an extraordinary world. God, lies, all of it lies. . . Magnus could not help but think despairingly. Every time he saw Alec, a vision of Will flashed across his sight-an unneeded, unwanted vision. Will and Alec, who could be near identical twins, if not separated by a century and a half (more or less; Magnus preferred not to be too specific about time-keeping. Immortality did that to you). But for all their similar looks, their personalities could not be more different.
Will was-had been-a spark. He had been like a flame rising up out of the ashes. Everything he had touched seemed to have a glow, everywhere he had gone seemed to have some sort of imprint of his. Alec was not the same way. He was gentle, sweet, dependable. He was very good at what he did, but he was not memorable. But he was a leader in his own way; many Council members respected him and what he had to say, though they would never admit it. Alec was so like Jem, the Jem before the Brotherhood, that it sent a slow, deep ache through Magnus every time he thought of it, every time he saw the parallel between them. Alec and Jem were so alike in personality, but Alec and Will were near identical physically, despite not being from the same bloodline. Magnus could not believe he was crying over (well, mourning; that was the more appropriate term) two Shadowhunters long past. Will had been dead for some time, and although Jem was still living, still had time enough here, the Brotherhood had forever changed him, scarring him in ways that were unchangeable. It had made Jem more grave, more serious, more old beyond his aging years, more, well. . . silent, though he was in their service no more.
Though much time had passed, Alec had come about so suddenly, and Magnus felt like he had not had enough time to prepare for the arrival of seventeen year old Alec Lightwood. Alec had happened, had suddenly and unexpectedly come into his life that before had mostly been a picture told in smokey pastels. He was. . . this boy was the living incarnation of both Will and Jem. Will in looks, as a happy, nineteen year old who had just married Tessa, and Jem before the Brotherhood.
How was it possible that for all appearances, Magnus wondered, Alec seemed to look, act, and speak like the English parabati Magnus had once known, and was still somehow different, somehow his own person? The warlock didn’t know. He wanted to know. Or maybe he just wanted Alec so that through him, Magnus could relive a few of the best years of his life.
Magnus was not sure, in all honesty, why it was Alec Lightwood that he was so attracted to, why it was this Shadowhunter his mind kept coming back to. Yes, he had a few theories, but he still had no concrete answer. Why did he want Alec? Was it from boredom? Lust? Nostalgia? Loneliness? Curiosity (he’d never been with a Shadowhunter before), or was it just infatuation? Or was it just because unlike so many, Alec had treated him like an equal?
And then, of course, Magnus had to ask himself: What exactly did he want from Alec? Did he expect some cliched romantic relationship? Or did he want a friendship? A conversation? A one-night stand? He didn’t know what he wanted, what he expected, just that he needed Alec in his life.
That brought back the fact that, again, Magnus didn’t know. He’d never not been at least fairly sure about how he felt, what he wanted, never not been sure about something like this. Right now he could not be more confused, like he was spinning around in circles trying to make sense of everything. This not knowing made him feel agitated, constantly on edge, like he could scream and scream his frustration into an abyss and the turbulence of his feelings still wouldn’t go away. . .
All of this, it had to stop. Magnus knew he had to stop pretending like Alec was just like all the other lives he’d known. Had to stop being in denial, though that was easier said than done. He knew that something about Alec made him special, made him different. Magnus could not remember the last time he’d felt like this: a whirlwind of excitement and curiosity to try dating someone, confusion, nostalgia, attraction. All of it was addictive in its own way, and he couldn’t seem to get enough, despite his general loathing of the confusion these almost paradoxical feelings brought. Magnus wasn’t sure where he’d end up, deciding to wear this curious infatuation like a badge of honor on his chest. Most likely, he’d end up heart-broken. That was how most of his relationships had ended up. Maybe it would just be a simple, no strings attached fling between them. That was what Magnus was used to, after all-brief flings that were hidden away in a box, clinging to shadows and eaten away by forgetfulness as he went about his daily life.
No matter what happened, Magnus was determined to have some kind of interaction with Alec. And after that, he supposed some sort of friendship (or relationship?) would follow. He would clear up exactly how he felt, and that would be that, and then perhaps they could both go about their lives as if they’d never met. But whatever happened, at the end of the day, Magnus knew he wouldn’t cry over Alec and whatever brief relationship, romantic or not, that they’d share with each other. Alec was just a human boy in the end Nothing special (even though Magnus knew this wasn’t quite true). Magnus had survived much harder losses; the loss of a potential relationship was nothing compared to other things, the hardest perhaps being his immortality, his inability to die, the cruel trick of fate that made him watch nearly all he came to care about whither away and die.
Of course, later on, Magnus would realize how wrong he was. Because of course Alec would be worth all the pain, all the heart-break Magnus suffered, all the tears the warlock would shed, and all the unshed, mournful ones he held in his heart.