“Another outage,” Magnus tsked, bringing in two mugs emanating moist steam that tickled his fingers. “The powerlines must be frozen again.”
Reaching out to accept the proffered mug, Alec tugged at the string of the tea bag to hasten its steeping. “You can’t do a little…?” He made a wild, circular gesture with his free hand.
Magnus laughed lightly, settling into the couch beside him. “I have to maintain some semblance of discretion, you know.” He took a delicate sip of tea before adding, “I’m only just starting to rekindle my magic; I can’t power the entire building yet. I would appear highly suspicious to be the only apartment with power.”
Although that wasn’t quite the truth—rather a little white lie.
At this stage in his re-immersion, Magnus would be easily capable of restoring power to the whole building—the entire block, just as easy. It wasn’t every day that he got the opportunity to facilitate such an amenable atmosphere.
He’d only been seeing Alec for a little over two months, and Magnus’ skills in romance had certainly been left to dwindle in the time that preluded the night they met. He had grown a bit withdrawn through the decades that had passed, and being close to someone, particularly someone mortal, had become tremendously foreign. Any advantage was welcome, and Magnus wasn’t above pulling a few strings in his favor.
Alec plucked his teabag out and carefully set it aside, avoiding getting any drips on the carpet. “What do we do until then?”
“Well,” Magnus hinted with a smile, “I can still do this.” With a fluid wave of his hand, the candles scattered about the living room blazed to life with tall, strong flames. “Body heat is also a viable option.”
Shifting his arm to rest along the back of the couch to make room for Magnus up against him, Alec made a noise of assent. “I guess there are perks to your limitations, hmm?”
“I knew you’d see it my way.” Magnus threaded the fingers of his free hand through Alec’s and squeezed affectionately. “Your hands are cold, Alexander.”
“Yeah, they tend to be,” Alec apologized, starting to pull his hand from Magnus’.
It caused Magnus to hold to him tighter, bringing his palm to his mouth for a soft kiss. “I didn’t say you needed to do that. Let me help you.” His hands that cupped Alec’s glowed faintly, pale blue waves of heat thrumming against them.
Alec hummed softly, eyelids drooping slightly as he relaxed into the touch. “That’s really nice.”
“You can ask for anything you like, Alexander. I love to do for you, whenever I can.” It had been such an unexpected source of joy for Magnus to realize that something he missed the most about sharing his life with someone was giving of himself to them. To give his time, his effort, his magic—his heart. He wanted Alec to have it all, and to know just how deeply he was cared for.
Alec was quiet for a moment, and Magnus waited for him. “I’m really good at doing casual when it comes to relationships,” he began, “so that was all I ever did. It was easy to just follow what I wanted until it wasn’t fun and simple anymore, and everyone else with me was content to do the same. And then I met you.” A warm, almost secret smile twisted on his lips. “And that feeling I was so used to, that temporary and fleeting pleasure, just never came. Every time we talked or I looked at you, it was a new kind of happy, and I didn’t miss the old feeling. At all.”
“It’s really difficult to get to close to someone in a way you’re not used to.” Magnus tapped on the edge of his mug thoughtfully. “I was scared to let anyone in when I’d gotten comfortable holding people at arm’s length.” The burn against his palms from the heat of the ceramic was grounding, kept him from getting scared and throwing his walls back up again. Old habits did die hard; he had centuries of proof.
“You know,” Alec cast his eyes down coyly, “I think I like being outside of my bubble much more than I thought I would. I don’t even miss how it used to be when I was alone because I know I’m a better me with you.” He laughed in self-deprecation with a shake of his head. “Also I never used to be this cheesy—you bring it out of me.”
Magnus pressed his palm to Alec’s chest in a gesture of reassurance. “I hope you don’t stop; it makes it easier for me to read you, to know what’s in your head. And I enjoy it.”
“If memory serves, I was pursuing you from the moment I laid eyes on you at the Institute party,” Alec pointed out. “I thought my intentions were pretty clear.”
“They were.” Magnus smiled as he finished off the last dregs of his tea before continuing. “The thing is, living the way that I do, and trying to get close to someone from something entirely different, I’m taking a gamble every minute and I’m still figuring out how not to be less than confident about it.”
Placing his hand over Magnus’, Alec leaned in close enough that their noses were a hair’s breadth away from brushing against each other. His eyes were closed, dark eyelashes casting shadows on his cheekbones from the candlelight.
There were plenty of things that required no magic at all that Magnus had become incredibly fond of in the time he spent with his powers practically extinguished, but none of them made a whole other kind of magic bloom and grow in his chest like being with Alec did.
“Magnus…” Alec’s whisper was reverential and so tender that Magnus felt just that one word, an exhalation of his name, deep in his heart. “I love you.”
Love. Magnus rolled it around carefully in his mind, inspecting it. Neither one of them had uttered the word yet, but as he pondered it, it felt comfortable. It had been a very long time since Magnus had felt something as complex as true, resounding love for someone new, but that old familiar hesitation was somehow nowhere to be found inside himself.
“I love you too, Alexander.” It just feels right, the way it caresses his tongue before it leaves his mouth. Maybe it was something he had intrinsically known and just needed the time and space to figure out for himself.
The tentative smile on Alec’s face was surely reflected on Magnus’ own. This was such a fragile thing, a new and growing love acknowledged. It felt like something that required one to tread carefully, making them both uncharacteristically shy with one another.
They stayed awake for another hour, making their way through another mug of tea and plate of shortbread squares as worked on the remaining half of a massive landscape puzzle Alec had brought over on their last date night at the loft. It was just before midnight when they unearthed themselves from beneath the soft throw they’d been tucked under and made their way to the cold bedroom.
With a purposeful flexing of his fingers, Magnus’ magic set the wicks of all the purposefully arranged candles in the room ablaze. Immediately, gentle warmth began to permeate the air and seep beneath their skin.
“Under the covers, come on,” Alec insisted, yanking Magnus down onto the mattress as he kicked the layers of bedding out of the way for them to crawl beneath.
“What about pajamas?” Magnus asked, eyebrows raised playfully.
Alec gave a dissenting grumble. “I’m too cold to care.”
Magic began to coalesce in Magnus’ palms as pale blue tendrils of warmth that reached out for Alec. It caressed him as lovingly as if it were Magnus himself touching Alec; as an appendage of his own for all intents and purposes, he supposed it shouldn’t catch him by surprise the way that it did. Nonetheless, he’d never seen his magic respond to someone like this. Its primary purpose was to protect Magnus, to help keep him sustained and safe, above all else. It was admittedly strange, therefore, that there was a longing that came not directly from Magnus himself but rather from the magic that resided within him. The realization made him smile, pressing a kiss to Alec’s skin in the wake of the touch of magic.
“You’re going to spoil me rotten.” Alec nuzzled against Magnus’ neck to kiss the spot where his pulse was the strongest. “Not that I’m going to complain but…you should be warned.”
Snorting lightheartedly, Magnus replied, “You know, that’s not really a pressing concern.”
“Mm,” was the noncommittal response he received.
They laid in silence, bathed in the orange glow of candle flame and cut by the pale silver moonlight that made its way through the curtains. Alec’s breathing was slowing, and his eyes were closed, which further encouraged Magnus closer to slumber as well.
“Alexander,” he whispered so softly. “I lied about something.”
“I could have easily restored power to the apartment,” Magnus explained carefully, voice still a quiet murmur. “But I wanted an excuse to spend a night in with you like this.”
“Mm.” Short, unbothered. “’S okay. I figured.”
“You figured?” The surprise was evident in Magnus’ tone.
Alec finally cracked one eye open to look at him. “You’re pretty fucking powerful, Magnus. You’re a warlock, for God’s sake. I wanted to spend time with you too, like that. It was nice.” He paused for a moment to yawn before adding, “I can pretend to have been surprised in the morning if you’d like, though.”
Unable to cover the chuckle that rose in his throat, Magnus tipped his forehead against Alec’s fondly. “I love you.”
“I love you,” Alec echoed, syrupy slow and gentle.
Maybe a power outage was a blessing in disguise, Magnus thought to himself. Some frozen toes and having to miss a new episode of his favorite show was a very acceptable price to pay for an evening he wouldn’t soon forget.