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my forest is dark, my trees are sad and all the butterflies have broken wings

Chapter Text

 

[Halloween, 2021]

“Ops Center. Now”, Alec growled in his office. Jace and Clary looked between each other and hesitantly followed their boss as he stormed through the corridors of the Institute towards the main hall. They knew better than to piss him off. Not only he was the head of the freaking institute, but he was Alexander Gideon Lightwood – the ruthless Nephilim and archer who looked nowhere beyond his work.

Not anymore at least.

Alec gathered his Shadowhunters in the Ops center and took his position. Clary and Jace gulped, taking their positions by the intricately carved pillars of the church that they called their Institute. It was a safe place – away from Alec’s direct line of vision. They had done something really stupid. Not against their nature, but again... incredibly stupid. “How the hell do a bunch of Shadowhunters manager to summon a demon from Edom... again?”, the head growled. Jace and Clary dropped their gaze to the floor. They knew he was referring to them. They had tried to summon Lilith earlier this morning. In the span of two years, they had banished her twice and summoned her the same number of times as well. And for reasons unfathomable to Alec.

“Haven’t we got enough problems originating from that dreadful place already?”, Jace could see Alec gritting his teeth – trying to control his anger. In the past years, he had progressively gotten worse with it though. Ever since... Jace shook his thoughts away. No one ever spoke of that. Of them.

Of him.

“I am done explaining Consul Penhallow why MY Shadowhunters happen to be the only ones breaking the walls of hell, letting Lilith out. But it’s enough. This is the last time something like this is happening on my watch. Jonathan Christopher Herondale, Clarissa Adele Fray and Isabelle Sophia Lightwood – you are hereby transferred from the first line of duty. No missions for you until I deem fit.”

There was a loud gasp from the crowd of Nephilims. The Shadowhunters just punished by their Head had been his family members – his siblings and his almost-sister. And if they were not safe from Alec’s wrath, no one could be. The three Shadowhunters nodded, without looking up. “Underhill, I need you in my office now”, Alec tilted his head, gesturing the named Shadowhunter to his office. “Dismissed, everybody”, he flicked his hand in air. Underhill, New York Institute’s chief of security hopped on to the stairs and followed his boss to his office.

“Come in”, Alec beckoned the man in with his fingers.

“Sir!”, Underhill folded his hands behind his back and tipped his chin.

“I am assigning you the responsibility of Clary. I need you to supervise her... give her duties to finish. She is yours to govern. Put her in the security with you...”, he ordered. The other Nephilim nodded, stepping out of the office. Lilith was walking freely in New York City right now and he had half of his entire force on her look-out. The other half was on duty for patrolling the streets. It was Halloween – the one night demons liked to celebrate just as much as the mundanes did.

Halloween.

Two years since...

Alec cleared his throat and fired up his computer. The case-file titled “M.B” was right on his desktop. He clicked it open and saw the status report – missing.

Last updated – 32 seconds ago.

That status hadn’t changed in two fucking years. Alec placed his fingertips on the photograph on the left side of the screen. The cold LED of the laptop brought him back to reality. This wasn’t him. He could never feel his face again like this even if he wanted to. He could never touch Magnus again.

His Magnus.

Who wasn’t his, anymore.

Magnus Bane had disappeared from the face of this earth a day after Alec broke up with him. Alec had scoured the ends of this earth for his ex-boyfriend and even portaled to Edom to look for the man, but all had been for vain. No one had seen or heard of Magnus. He blamed himself, for every day of his miserable life since, for everything that could have possibly happened to Magnus. Alec didn’t know if Magnus ever got his magic back from his father... or if he is even alive. Though Madzie told him that she could still feel Magnus’ life force. That was the one time when he was allowed to see her after Cat came to know how Alec Lightwood had broken her best friend’s heart.

He had tried to seek her help in tracking Magnus down, but she had refused to share anything she found out about her friend. And for good reason. He hadn’t been entirely honest about the truth of his deal with Magnus’ father and so naturally, Catarina hated him with everything she had.

“Alec, may I come in?”, Alec snapped his eyes up at the door. It was Aline Penhallow – a very close friend from Alicante.

“Come in, Aline”, Alec cleared his throat, slapping his laptop shut.

“I came in to drop this status report. There’s been no updates on Magnus Bane in the last month.”, she sighed, shaking her head. Aline had been running an off-the-books mission for Alec – using her access to the City of Glass. She was using the Clave’s technology to track changes in the ley lines to detect Magnus’ magic across the planet – observing any unusual activity per month. “Radio silence”, she shrugged, handing over the file to the man.

“Thank you very much, Aline”, Alec nodded. He took a deep breath and opened the file. “I apologize for the trouble I put you through every month. Its Halloween. You shouldn’t be working tonight...”, he muttered, going through the reports.

You are working too?”, Aline deadpanned, pulling a chair out for herself.

“The Institute won’t run itself”, Alec swallowed.

“Fair enough”, Aline shrugged.

“How is Helen?”, he asked, not bothering to lift his gaze up.

“She’s doing fine.”, Aline smiled. Or Alec assumed she did. He would have too, if he were talking about the love of his life. Magnus. Alec’s heart sank, and he shoved the thoughts away. It had been two years too long to be brooding over the love of his life. But Magnus had been it for the Nephilim and never again he could have anything even remotely as good as what he had with Magnus.

“I am glad”, he answered.

“We’re all going out for drinks tonight. Do you want to join us?”, Aline asked.

“We?”, Alec looked up from the reports.

“Your siblings, Clary, Helen and I?”, Aline shrugged.

“Oh.”, Alec nodded. “I am going to pass. There’s a lot of paperwork to be finished here... and there’s a delegation from Clave due to visit next week and I haven’t done shit about that...”, he added, pointing his index finger at the stack of files on his right.

“Okay”, Aline mumbled.

“That will be all then?”, he took a deep breath, closing the status report and pushing it aside. Aline scanned his face – his sunken and tired eyes with dark circles below them and his lips peering out of a thick stubble. Until two years ago, Aline had never seen Alec with a beard and now, there had been no day where she’d seen without one. He had stopped caring about living. She stood up and so did Alec. They were not just colleagues but also close friends. Aline was possibly the only person Alec now spoke to. He had closed himself off to his siblings, his parents and his friends. Everyone. Aline walked around the table and held out her arms. Alec gave her a short hug and hummed as they parted.

“I will see you tomorrow morning?”, she asked.

“Yeah. 5am?”, he mumbled.

“Open-air?”, she arched a brow.

“You got it”, Alec tipped his head. Aline walked out of his office and Alec settled back on his desk. He leaned back on his chair and crossed his right leg over his thigh. Placing his file on his lap – he pulled out a pen from the stand and started reading. His computer screen flared up with an alert. “Meeting with the High Warlock of Brooklyn – T-2 hours”, it said. Alec lifted up his wrist. It was 10:30pm in the night and the High Warlock of Brooklyn wanted to meet him right after midnight?

Pressing a confirmation on his screen, he returned to his reading.

“I saw Aline leave your office.”, he heard his sister’s voice at the door. “Is everything alright? Did she find something about where Magnus is?”, Izzy fired a series of questions at her brother. Rolling his eyes at the number of times he had been disturbed in the last 5 minutes, he looked up from his file. Again.

“Come in?”, Alec straightened himself, gesturing his sister to take a seat.

Izzy clenched her jaw noticing how strangely Alec was behaving like. But it wasn’t so strange after all. If she didn’t have first-hand information of what Alec had been through in the last two years, she wouldn’t believe that it was the same Alec Lightwood who would tell his sister every little thing about his life. “Aline?”, she asked again knowing very well that Alec would never say anything to her anymore. She had lost that power over him so many nights ago.

“She did”, he answered.

“Was she here to discuss Magnus’ whereabouts?”, she asked, leaning her elbows on the glass top of the table.

“That information is above your paygrade”, Alec deadpanned.

“Alec”, she sighed.

“I can’t tell you, Isabelle. It is confidential.”, he said as a matter-of-factly. She nervously shuffled in her seat, finding it hard to continue talking. How had they come to this? How had it become so difficult for her to talk to her own brother. Her Alec. “Is there something you want to talk about?”, he asked. “Because I have a lot of work that I would like to finish before calling it a day...”

“I... I wanted to apologize?”, she blurted out.

“For?”, Alec arched a brow.

“For...”, she stuttered. “We shouldn’t have summoned Lilith behind your back. It was against the rules... and also against the fact that as a family, we don’t hide things from each other...”, she gulped, scanning his face for anger.

“You shouldn’t have summoned Lilith. Period.”, Alec deadpanned – his lips pressed flat together. “...and you should have told me if when you were planning this idiocy”, he grumbled.

“Alec, would you have let us?”, Izzy tilted her head.

“No... which is precisely why I should have known.”, Alec snapped.

“I am sorry, but we thought that it was the best idea to-”, she gulped.

“...to put your brother in a position where he has to defend his family again. Where he has to explain why his institute is the only one doing ridiculous things... over and over again. Why my Shadowhunters don’t listen to my orders...”, Alec almost yelled, making Izzy gasp in her chair and jerk back slightly. “...it’s only a testament to how incompetent I am”, he gritted his teeth.

Izzy’s heart sank. “That’s not true, Alec. You’re one of the best leaders I have ever...”, she swallowed her tears.

“...and yet the number of felonies people commit under my regime are far higher than any of my predecessors...”, he arched a brow.

“I am so sorry...”, she closed her eyes and dropped her gaze.

“You should be”, Alec rolled his eyes. “Is that all?”, he deadpanned.

“Why don’t you talk to me anymore?”, Izzy flicked the tears away from her eyes and sniffled. She couldn’t take his cold attitude for one more second.

“Excuse me?”, Alec furrowed his brows.

Isabelle stood up from her chair and walked over to the space next to Alec. The Shadowhunter turned his chair to face his sister who dropped in a squat in front of him with bloodshot eyes. “Why don’t you come to me? Tell me how you feel. It has been two years and I-I have lost you Alec. I have lost my big brother.”, she mumbled, clasping Alec’s big palms in her tiny ones.

“Isabelle?”.  Alec whispered, swallowing the lump in his throat.

“I have had enough...”, she shook her head. “I need my brother back, please”, she shook their hands, urging her brother.

“I am here”, Alec sighed.

“You’re not. You know you’re not.”, she sobbed. “You’re far away from me... and I don’t know how to find you anymore”

“Isabelle”, he widened his eyes and grabbed her slumped shoulders. She wasn’t wrong. He had pulled himself away from her... and from Jace. Consciously. A part of him couldn’t stand to see her happy with Simon and Jace with Clary when he couldn’t have the same in his life. He stood up from his desk and pulled his sister up in a hug. There was a lot they needed to talk about and reconnect with each other but at that moment, he just wanted to give her a hug... and maybe just let it beknown to her that deep down, buried behind all his pain, he still loved her.

And he always would.

...

Madzie and Catarina walked into their apartment in the evening. There was a huge bag of candies and treats that they had collected earlier in the evening. Halloween was the one night they didn’t have to glamour themselves to the mundanes and both of them absolutely enjoyed it to their fullest. Catarina could show off her beautiful and flawless blue skin and Madzie’s gills could breathe in the air.

Their apartment was drowning in darkness when they walked inside. Madzie frowned because she hated dark spaces. With a soft flick of her hand, the little warlock lit it up with fairy lights all around.

“Did you have fun?”, Catarina chuckled as she saw Madzie rummage through the sack of treats.

“I did”, Madzie gleamed. She continued searching for her favorite sour candy strip when her senses alerted in the presence of strangely familiar magic. Catarina saw Madzie’s expression and she flared up her magic in her hands. “It’s...”, the little girl gasped. “Can you feel it...”, the little girl whispered.

“I do”, Cat sighed. Protectively enough, Cat cast a shield around them and waited as a shadow appeared on their balcony.

“Magnus”, Madzie gasped. The fairy lights cast a blue hue on the face of the familiar warlock as he stepped inside his best friend’s apartment. His eyes were glowing golden with the cat-slits and his magic... his magic was a deep shade of purple. Madzie frowned as the purple magic resented hers. It was not familiar to the girl. It wasn’t something she would associate with Magnus. It was dark.

It was negative.

It felt apocalyptic.

“You’re back?”, Cat shielded her daughter but stepped out of it herself.

“You don’t look happy to see me?”, the warlock chuckled. Catarina pursed her lips and then curved them into a smile.

“I am”, her eyes gleamed with moisture as she stepped forward to embrace her friend. “I am delighted... Magnus”, she commented as the warlock hugged her back. “Where were you?”

“Edom”, Magnus responded. “...with my father”, he added.

Catarina pulled back and squeezed his biceps. “With him... are you alright?”, she widened her eyes.

“Never been better, my dear”, Magnus gave her a smile. He looked different. He had a sharp undercut hairstyle now, with front-swept hair that covered half of his right-eye. The hair covering his forehead was colored a dark shade of red with white and golden undertones. She scanned his face. There was metallic bead on his left brow and his eyes were lined with a thick black liner and a dark ash-grey eyeshadow.

“Are you sure?”, she asked him.

“Positive”, Magnus replied, dryly.

“How are you back?”, she gasped. Knowing Asmodeus, she was sure that he would never let Magnus go... Magnus was his trump card – his most prized possession. “How did he let you go?”

“I simply told him that I am going back”, Magnus shrugged.

“...and he let you?”

“Are we gonna keep discussing my father, Cat? I have had enough of him in the last 10 days.”, Magnus flicked his head and stepped away from his friend. He took a few steps forward and knelt on the ground to greet little Madzie who hugged him with a huge grin on her face.

“No, I just... 10 days?”, Cat furrowed her brows. Did he say ten days? “Where were you before Edom then...?”, she asked.

“I was here... in New York?”, Magnus was confused.

“Then why didn’t you contact me?”

“Cat... I met you... you helped me get better after Lorenzo’s magic rejected me... you were there. What is up with you?”, he frowned.

“That was... Magnus?”, Cat couldn’t understand. Those events... the ones Magnus had been describing had occurred two years ago. “Those happened... two years ago!”, she informed. Magnus paled as he turned to look at his best friend.

“Two years?”, he asked.

“Yeah... you were gone for two whole years...”

“But I only... Asmodeus only took me ten days ago... how did...”, he licked his lips and paused as realization dawned upon him. “Time passes differently in Edom”, he murmured. “I was gone for 10 days and two years passed away here”, he explained with a wave of his hand. Two years. “It doesn’t matter though... does it? I don’t think anyone noticed my absence”

“Yeah, right!”, Cat scoffed. “Anyway. You’re back now and that’s all that matters.”, she feigned a smile on her face. “Although... you might have to watch out. Lorenzo still hates you...”

“He’s no longer in a position to do anything about it...”, Magnus rolled his eyes, dusting his leather pants as he stood up from the floor.

“How do you mean?”, Cat widened her eyes.

“You’re looking at the re-elected High Warlock of Brooklyn”, Magnus spread his arms and smirked. His stance projecting power and glory that he was.

“He resigned?”, Cat gasped again.

“He didn’t have a choice”, Magnus shrugged. He looked over at his best friend who didn’t look happy. “Are you not excited that Lorenzo is gone?”, he arched a brow. Cat looked at back at him and shook her head.

“I am... he was a douche...”, she whispered. “But...”

“Pray tell, Catarina”, Magnus growled. The other warlock looked at him and saw his eyes change color to red – blood red and she had never seen Magnus like that before. So emotionless and dark. He looked so dark.

“It’s nothing. I am still processing the fact that you’re back...”, she lied. “It feels surreal” Magnus looked at her as he if he knew she was lying – and he would. He had known her for centuries, but he let it go.

“In a good way, I hope?”, he taunted.

“Obviously”, she shrugged. “Come on... Madzie and I were just going to summon some ice-cream. Join us”, she offered.

“Sure... but I have a meeting right now.”

“Meeting... so late in the night? With who?”, Cat opened a bottle of water and poured it in a glass.

“With the Head of the New York Institute”