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Devil's Swordsman

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 “Love is a cycle, a cruel whip of fate that leaves hearts bleeding, bruised.

But if you can’t feel, can’t understand, can’t remember what love is; you’ll never feel the pain of heartbreak.

You’ll never have to say goodbye, to turn away and never look back, to feel your very soul slip through your fingers, twisted by a fate that was never yours.”

 

- - - - -

 

BROOKLYN, OCTOBER 16th, 2016

 

Magnus has to come out of the dark eventually. The constant nagging of the Clave to meet their request is driving him up the wall, and there’s no possible way he can change their mind. He even tried sending a letter in reply, politely telling them that he’s rather busy with warlock affairs, but their persistence is a characteristic many have hatred for.

However, it’s not all bad, not when he’s been assigned to his closest Institute for the meeting. At least with the New York Institute, he’s not far from friends if something does inevitably go wrong, or what the Clave ask for is too high of a price-- even for Magnus Bane.

“Magnus?” A voice greets him, and then as he turns around, a lady stands there with her hand outstretched in greeting, “It’s good to see you. I imagine you’re here on request of the Clave?”

Magnus can’t express the same gratitude. “Well, considering I’ve had  frequent messages sent to my door as well as Shadowhunters, I figured there must be a rather important reason as to why.” He takes her hand, firmly shaking it.

Isabelle Lightwood, Head of the New York Institute, has always been a good ally of Magnus, but even her charm and wit can’t fool the Clave for long.

“I’m sorry about that. I insisted that your answer would be the same as every other warlock’s they’ve asked, but as always, there’s no changing their mind. Not until it’s pretty much just a waste of time and they point the blame on someone else.”

He eyes her, walking by her side as she guides him through the Institute, “Someone sounds awfully resentful against their superiors.”

Isabelle sighs, moving her head back. It doesn’t seem as if she’s going to deny that, and she won’t.

“They’re focusing too much on this sword instead of Valentine. If we capture Valentine, the whole thing with the sword won’t be a problem.” She speaks freely, expecting Magnus to understand, but he doesn’t.

“I’m sorry dear, what sword are you speaking of?”

Just as he finishes his question, they arrive at the room where Maryse stands by Isabelle’s desk. Isabelle gives Magnus a smile, gesturing for him to go first, much to Magnus’ dismay as Maryse glares at him, cold and without care for him.

Isabelle may be a delight, but her mother isn’t so open to Downworlders.

“Bane,” she says, her attempt at greeting Magnus falling flat.

“Mrs Lightwood, how lovely to see you again.” There’s no hiding the sarcasm in his tone, and by now Isabelle has learned to ignore their stale back and forth disagreements.  

“I can’t say the feeling is mutual, but alas, we need your help.”

Maryse clicks a few times on the laptop before turning it around, and Magnus’ willingness to be here drops dramatically at the face he sees. Maybe putting up with the persistent letters and knocking would have been better than this.

“Oh, Inquisitor!” His tone shows delight, but his face doesn’t reflect anything but distaste. “You have aged well I see, and is that a new style you’ve done for your hair?”

The Inquisitor clears her throat, as if to say: are you done?

Magnus could go on, but he really doesn’t want to be here any longer than he already has. There’s more interesting things he could be doing, like going to talk to Maia at the Hunter’s Moon, filing bills and planning new events for Pandemonium. In fact, anywhere would be better than here, but if there’s going to be vital information on Valentine, who Magnus knows is the current threat to his people, then he’ll stay and listen.

Of course, there’s no harm in having a few jokes. Otherwise, this would be absolutely miserable to be part of.

After looking to her other superiors behind her on the webcam, the Inquisitor turns back and starts speaking. It’s almost as if she’s checking if Magnus really is the right person for the job.

“Magnus Bane, as the High Warlock of Brooklyn you have a duty to work with the New York Institute and any Clave matters. You may have seen the increased activity and patrols, and this is because of Valentine Morgenstern’s uncovered plan to rid the world of demon blood.”

Well, he wasn’t expecting that, and this is the first Magnus is hearing of it, “I beg your pardon? Why wasn’t I informed about this when you found out?”

“We decided not to tell various leaders to reduce the panic amongst Downworlders. As you can imagine, it’s probably not easy to see why we did, but understand that if word got out, we wouldn’t have been able to focus on our efforts to stop him.”

The crackle of her voice over the laptop speakers makes her sound even more corrupted in her efforts to protect the Downworlders from themselves.

“Continue,” speaks Magnus, sitting himself down, legs crossed as he focus entirely on the Inquisitor, “please explain, as it seems you know me better than I know myself from how you’re speaking.”

She sighs, clearing her throat before speaking. “Valentine is looking for the Soul Sword. As to our knowledge, that’s not in this realm, but in Edom. Many tales and old tomes speak of the instrument being banished along with the angel that was sent with it. If Valentine gets hold of that sword, he’ll be able to summon the angel and grant his wish.”

“He has all of the instruments? How did you manage to give him that much time?”

For a moment, the Inquisitor looks as if she’s going to argue back, but there’s hesitation. Magnus is right, and the inquisitor won’t admit that he is, so she moves on.

“I’m not here to argue, Bane. We called you here so that I can formally request you to summon the greater demon that’s now in possession of the sword.”

“You want me to summon a fallen angel? For what? So that Valentine is one step closer to making his dream come true?” Magnus shakes his head, not believing any of this, how disorganised and one sided this seems to be. What does he expect from none other than the Clave?

“If we are to be in possession of the Soul Sword, Valentine will have to come to us, and we’ll be one step ahead in order to capture him and end this feud once and for all.”

Magnus isn’t buying any of this. “And you’ll have your precious instrument back so that you can force the truth from innocent Downworlders. It belongs where it is, in all honesty, not in the hands of wolves that can’t control their own strays.”

The Inquisitor bites her tongue, wanting Magnus on her side, and being awfully rude towards him isn’t going to ice the cake.

“This is a matter of life or death, Bane.”

“Yes, it is – for Downworlders, not Shadowhunters.” He raises his hands, gesturing towards the laptop, “And if it’s not that important for you to physically be here in person to tell me, then how much does the Clave really care about us? If I’m here to summon the demon, don’t I get a say in what happens to it?”

“The Soul Sword is of angelic property, you have no right to decide what happens to it.”

“And you have no right to hide this from Downworlders. It’s our lives on the line, not yours.”

She can’t argue with that, and how foolish is she to believe that Magnus would simply just nod his head like a donkey to a carrot on the end of a stick.

And the whole thing with the sword being of angelic properties? Magnus would love to tell them it would be possible for him to decide, but that’s Magnus’ secret to keep and for no one else to know.

“Every other warlock has refused to summon him, and so we’ve come to you.”

“Wow, I wonder why they’ve all declined.” Magnus turns his attention to Isabelle, who gives a small smile, almost as if she’s sorry for the Clave’s irresponsible actions. Magnus can’t blame her for not telling him, not when her position is at risk, and Magnus wouldn’t want anyone else to be the head, “But can I ask why I’m the last to know? And why you’ve sworn them to keep secrecy?”

The Inquisitor hesitates. “None of the other warlocks know why we’re asking them to summon the demon. We strictly asked them to, and without reason, they declined. As I’ve said, we wanted to avoid this getting out to Downworlders, and as the oldest warlock we have on record here, you were our last choice for loyalty reasons. If all else failed, we’d have to tell you the truth.”

Magnus’ lips form a tight line, almost laughing to himself.

“Oh, how horrid of you to tell the truth. May the angels forgive you for such a sin.” At least he’s the one to know and not another warlock. Not all warlocks are caring and loving as Magnus, and they’d somehow find a way to turn this quest into greed for their own gain. Perhaps they’d even do it for the title of saving the Downworld.

“Well, Bane, are you going to summon the demon? We’d require you to do it today if possible, and you’ll be with the best of our warriors at the Institute to protect you.”

So, this is it. A decision to decide between a potential mess and potential end to the war.

Magnus takes a second, then a few more, swirling both choices on his tongue even when he’s already decided. Perhaps he just wants the Clave to wait, to be on the edge of their seat like the Downworlders are every day of their life.

“No,” he says, tone strong along with his posture, speaking like a leader would for the benefit of his people, “I won’t summon a greater demon that has the key to our demise.”

“You’re saying no?” even the Inquisitor is as shocked as Isabelle.

“I’m not summoning a greater demon. If you’re speaking of the fallen angel, then there’s no chance a warlock can contain him. He has too much power for you to simply have a conversation with him, and do you have any idea what you’ll trade for such a relic?”

“We were hoping you’d sacrifice something along with us for the greater good.”

“Greater good? When you lied to all of us in the first place? If you think the demon will hand over the weapon he was cursed to fall with, then you’re all fools. Do you really expect him to just give it up?”

They look at each other, whispering something the mic on their laptop won’t pick up. Maryse is shifting almost nervously, looking between Bane and Isabelle to see if they interact. Maryse knows of Isabelle’s friendship with Magnus, not that she approves of it, not when her daughter is a role model to many upcoming Shadowhunters.

Thankfully, she’s not the worst of the parents. Magnus has seen much, much worse.

“You will be paid handsomely, Bane. We won’t have another chance for this, and our time is running out.”

“That demon is still in Edom, and as far as his tale goes, he’s stuck down there unless he breaks out. So, please, don’t give him a reason to and focus your efforts on finding Valentine. Focusing on two enemies at once will thaw your chances of succeeding with anything if your track records prove anything.”

Scoffing, the Inquisitor seems to have broken her glass exterior, frowning as she speaks with a raised voice. “You’re making a mistake. This is for your people as well as ours.”

“No, this is for you and your power. Yes, I’d love to see Valentine behind bars for what he’s done to my people, but summoning this demon isn’t this answer, at least not for you and whatever plan you’ve conjured.”

Magnus stands up, defying the order Maryse gives him to stay.

“We’ll be in contact again, Bane. It seems you need a few days to decide for yourself as to what you want.”

“Thank you.” Even though he isn’t thankful for what he’s just been told, the lies and deceit. “I look forward to it.”

Magnus gives Isabelle a short nod, as well as Maryse who seems a little taken back that he would after such a meeting. Magnus may be annoyed, but he’s not an asshole.

Once Magnus is free of that room, he takes a deep breath, smiling as Isabelle meets him outside, escorting him to the front of the Institute so that he can head home.

“I’m sorry, about all of this,” she says, crossing her arms, “I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”

He can’t help but think the same for her; trying her best to better a world that doesn’t even want to try, drowned out by people above her, with the power to change something.

“There’s no need for you to apologise, dear. We’ll figure this out, for both sides.” Magnus places a hand on her shoulder, squeezing to reassure her. “I promise you that.”

Isabelle would ask if he’s going to agree to summon him, but there’s no reason to push him when his answer is more than clear right now.

When the portal Magnus summons zips shut, she sighs, walking back into the Institute to numerous files from the Clave and their plan to win Magnus over.

 

- - - - -

 

1 HOUR LATER

 

Magnus will admit that’s he’s a little ticked off. Having the Clave rudely address him, to then have the nerve to demand a summoning that will undoubtedly go wrong when the time arrives. Having Shadowhunters handle this when they’ve already made a complete mess of everything already is bound to lead to more disaster.

Fighting fire with fire is probably the only way they can win this war with Valentine, but relying on a greater demon to just simply hand over the instrument is a fools game. If the Shadowhunters think a fallen angel will simply give back what he was damned with, then they’re blind to anything but themselves and their own greed.

A greater demon will attach to anything worth keeping, selfish in their own ways to gain that little bit of happiness heaven won’t let them have. As a fallen angel, surely, that applies to it as well, if not even more than before.

For whatever reason that angel was damned with the sword, they’re never going to give it back even if the sky starts raining with fire. Perhaps they’d just watch as the world burns, thinking that they brought this upon themselves.

In reality, Magnus can’t blame the Clave for pulling at strings, desperate to end this before it costs them any more liberty or control. If people see that the supposed leaders can’t even control their own lone wolves, then how are the Downworlders and their own people meant to trust them? To follow in line after them?

Swirling his wine in his glass, Magnus takes a big sip, feeling it soothe his throat as he tips his head back.

“Cheer up, sunshine.” Ragnor enters his apartment, a smile on his face, aware of what happened but refusing to give the Clave any misery. “Surely it’s not all that bad.”

“Anything involving the Clave is bad, my friend,” turning towards him, Magnus can’t help but smile as Ragnor turns his nose up at the mention of them.

He shrugs, pouring himself a glass, “Go on, then. Tell me what happened.”

As Ragnor makes himself comfortable on the next available chair, sipping his wine, savouring the taste, Magnus sighs. He doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, not when he’s a few sparks away from throwing an object across the room to let some of his anger out. There’s just something about the Clave and their way of leadership that really grinds Magnus’ gears.

“Well, for one, they want me to summon a greater demon.” And already, Ragnor’s face shifts to one of concern.

“Oh, I see.”

“Yes, oh,” Magnus repeats, turning to the wide window of his apartment, to admire the buzz and lights of the busy streets below, “I had the exact same reaction when they told me.”

“I thought the Clave was against something like that. They avoid making direct contact with demons if they can help it because that’s what their colony of ants is for.”

He can’t help but have a little smile at that, Magnus taking another sip of his wine before continuing, “They’re quite desperate if you haven’t already guessed. With Valentine looking for the last instrument, they’re trying to beat him to the punch.”

Ragnor feels something click into place. An instrument possessed by a greater demon, calling Magnus to summon him and trying their best to persuade him, or trying to persuade him-- surely that can only mean one demon in particular.

“You’re joking,” he clicks his tongue, Ragnor not believing it, “they’re going after the Fallen?”

Magnus hums, “Indeed. They call him the Devil’s Swordsman, as do his tales.”

“I’ve only read a few, but that’s enough to know what he’s capable of.” Ragnor almost drinks the entirety of what’s left in his wine glass at the thought of such a summoning going wrong. “God, imagine if he got loose. Now that’s a Clave report no one wants to file.”

Laughing, Magnus turns to face him, watching as he squints from the sharpness of the alcohol. Looks like warlock tolerance doesn’t work 100% of the time.

“Exactly, which is why I said no.”

Ragnor blinks, turning to Magnus. “They wanted you to summon him today?”

Nodding, Magnus lifts one of his hands, gesturing to the air. He was just as stunned as Ragnor is right now.

“They’re afraid of Valentine finding a warlock powerful enough to summon him. Unfortunately, they don’t know anyone else who will agree to do it, let alone have the power. I was their last resort.” Magnus could almost laugh at that, considering he’s aware of the power that drums through his veins, commanding his own demons like puppets to a string.

Now Ragnor is interested, pursing his lips, hand to his chin as he’s lost in thought.

“And they didn’t think to contact me?” he jokes, smiling when Magnus does. “Besides, who lacks the common knowledge that summoning a greater demon with no equal trade for a fallen, angelic instrument isn’t a smart idea?”

“The Clave?” Magnus replies, expected, but it still makes Ragnor laugh.

Which begs the question, one that’s been bugging Ragnor to ask ever since Magnus mentioned other warlocks not having enough power. “So, does that mean no one can summon him but you? I don’t know anyone stronger than yourself, Bane. If no one can summon him, then surely the Clave have no other choice but to send various baskets of free goodies to your door every day for however long.”

“As great as that sounds, I don’t want them knocking on my door every other day. It’s hell already being the only one that can summon him, considering he’s bound to Edom by forces not many can break.” Magnus can because of his bloodline. He is a Prince, after all.

“Well, I’m not going to help you here, friend. I’d love to accept all the free baskets for you, but the London institute is rather busy and I’m rather fond of Aline’s company.”

Magnus raises his glass, glad to take his mind off the nightmare currently haunting him, “You always speak well of her. We must meet one day,” finishing his wine, Magnus places the empty glass back onto the drinks cart.

“Appointing her as the head of the Institute was the best decision the Clave has ever made. She and Helen have helped so many people and they’re willing to risk what’s necessary for the good of the world. Truly, they’re amazing, and I’m sorry you’re left with the worst of the bunch.”

He can’t agree, because Isabelle is rather charming and polite. At least there’s one out of a possible hundred that understand human decency.

“Not all of them are bad,” replies Magnus, walking back to the window, hands in his pockets. “I don’t blame them for being frightened. They’re fighting a war that’s their own fault, and manners are no doubt at the bottom of the list.”

Ragnor shifts in his chair, looking around the room before turning his attention back to Magnus. “Well, you’re not wrong there, my friend.”

“I fear they won’t leave me alone until I either deal with Valentine myself, or I somehow convince the Clave that the Swordsman won’t offer up the instrument.”

“Haven’t you already told them that?” questions Ragnor.

“Yes, but as per usual, the Clave don’t agree. It’ll take me a few months, maybe even years until this whole headache dwindles.”

Oh, the thought of having to deal with the Clave for his eternal lifetime, it’s a horrid thing to imagine. Granted, they probably won’t live as long as Magnus will, but there will always be someone at the reins, pulling their soldiers left and right towards a future no one can visualize.

Every leader that falls, another one takes their place. To get there, they’ll follow the same corrupted footsteps the last one did, avoiding changes as if breathing the wrong way will cause the downfall of all Shadowhunters. They avoid making decisions that will better the future because even they don’t know it themselves, not wanting to solve a problem unless it becomes their own, and usually by then it’s too late to stop the damage.

As an example, Valentine and his crusade to rid the world of demon blood; an exiled wolf from a pack of equally ravenous canines. They’re all as bad as each other, and it’s only when their own image is threatened that they label him as an enemy.

Valentine is an enemy, one that’s caused numerous losses to Magnus’ people, and every day that goes by is another that his plan creeps closer to completion. He just thanks whatever angel that caused the Swordsman’s fall that he’s the most difficult step.

Magnus is the only thing between Valentine and his goal.

Perhaps, he can use that to his advantage.

Ragnor changes the subject completely. Catarina gets off work around twenty minutes later, and she makes her way to Magnus’ apartment via portal where the three warlocks casually talk and drink responsibly.

Of course, there are jokes and casual chatter, but Magnus’ mind is occupied with something else. If he’s the only one who can summon the Swordsman - to his knowledge - then perhaps using that power will bring an end to the war.

However, demons are tricksters, and Magnus has no doubt that there’s going to be something different about the Swordsman. His story is vague to begin with, and then there’s the fact that he possesses an angelic instrument they willingly gave him when he descended from the heavens.

Magnus has even seen mentions that his wings burned when he fell, or that the time he spent in Edom decayed them to the point where he ripped them out himself. The image of a faceless man, tied between anguish and defeat, reaching back to pull out his own wings, a trophy of his past -- Magnus can’t imagine the amount of suffering.

It’s something he needs to be careful of. The demon could be out for revenge, blood, a way back into the mortal realm so that he can laugh at the angels above thinking he’d be punished for all of eternity. Either way, he thinks it may be a risk worth taking, and Magnus is no stranger to fighting a battle.

If anyone has the strength to make a deal with the devil and get away with it, it’s Magnus Bane.

 

- - - - -

 

Catarina and Ragnor stay for a few more hours. They cook a meal together and enjoy a spot of gossip, Catarina sharing her various tales from the mundanes and Ragnor talking about Aline and her advancements at the London institute.

Eventually they part ways, Catarina heading back home to her own apartment and Ragnor back to London. As the last portal zips shut, Magnus finds himself in silence holding an empty wine glass, the taste of the food they made lingering on his tongue.

It’s been the first catch-up they’ve had in a while. Magnus just wishes it was in different times, where his back and forth argument with himself isn’t constant.

He’s going to do something incredibly stupid or possibly genius, but there’s no saying which until it happens. By then, it may be too late, and Magnus still isn’t sure if he wants to take that risk, no matter how desperate he is to knock two birds with one stone.

The Clave and Valentine.

Magnus can defeat Valentine with the very thing he wants, and the corrupt leaders of the Clave will hopefully see Magnus and the Downworlders as a necessity for balance. As of right now, they’re sheep to a herd, not equal allies, no matter how much the Clave sing about their victories and countless years of supposed alliance.

There’s no such thing, or this whole ordeal with Valentine wouldn’t exist in the first place.

He’s made up his mind. It’s either this or wait for the Clave to make another questionable decision. Magnus would rather act now than spend another few weeks watching more havoc come to light because of the two sides the Clave is fighting on.

They’re focused on the Swordsman and Valentine. Considering they think the Swordsman stole what was once theirs, given to them by the angels, they want it back no matter the cost. They’re getting too big for their boots as the saying goes, much bigger.

Magnus purses his lips for a moment, looking around his apartment, his glamour fading to see how strong his wards are at this point in time. They’re alright, but for what Magnus needs to do, they need to be much stronger.

Rubbing his hands together, his magic sparks from the friction, making it more volatile as he suddenly spreads his arms wide, blue flames enveloping both of his hands as he speaks a string of words from ages long gone.

The apartment sings back to him, the wards, letterings and symbols on his apartment walls burning as their stability increases tenfold. It takes only a drop of Magnus’ magic, but it’s enough to keep even the most vigorous of demons contained.

He has no idea how the Swordsman is going to react to being summoned, so making sure he has  a plan in case it all goes wrong; there’s no harm in that. None at all.

When Magnus feels the last ward click to a higher frequency, he turns his palms to face towards the floor, as if turning the dial on his powers, the flames simmering to smaller, friendlier flickers. He points two fingers on each hand forward, curling the remaining to his palm. He flicks the two extended fingers away from his chest, pushing various pieces of furniture to the side to make room for the summoning.

Now with his wards stronger and the room to create the sigil, Magnus rolls his shoulders, loosening the tension that’s feeling like talons digging in. There’s no denying his nerves, because there hasn’t been a record of his summoning besides the demon breaking free of Edom.

Magnus will be the first to summon the fallen monster meant to stay in Edom. May his mother watch over him.

Looking around the open space, he deems it adequate, hands curling into fists to silence the flames of his magic. He needs the sigil which is in one of the books of his study.

At the snap of his fingers, the book appears in front of him, caught by a waiting hand which flicks expertly so that the book opens to the page he needs. And there he is.

A black and faceless silhouette, flames rising from his shoulders, gripping a sword dripping with what could only be blood. His eyes are red, like the halo that’s shattered to pieces, but for some reason it’s been drawn above his head, as if he’s latching onto his past.

A devil with a halo; how fitting to be the saviour of the Downworld.

Looking to the next page, the sigil is drawn with what seems to be ash, a circle with the shape of his sword through the middle. There are wings, or the skeletal remains of wings, drawn upside down towards the tip of the sword. Simple enough, even with the usual patterns and the words of a demonic language encircling them.

Simple, but deadly. And as corny as that saying is, it can’t be any more closer to the truth.

Candles pop up one by one, created by the command of Magnus’ magic, igniting with a small, orange flame when Magnus brings his hand back towards himself. A few dozen will do, and soon, his apartment glows with golden light, almost peaceful.

Magnus knows it won’t last for long, as he commands summoned crayons to draw the sigil on the floor, the colours of red and blue mixing together with the rough texture of the wood.

A minute passes, Magnus making sure that the pattern is accurate. There’s no room for mistakes here, not when Magnus could end up summoning something completely different and cause even more of a headache than he has now.

When the crayons draw the last line, they vanish, and Magnus is left with this heavy sense of dread, rethinking his plan and wondering if this really is the right decision. Well, the sigil is drawn, and the magic is already starting to hold onto it, so there’s really no point in turning back now.

Going over the words to summon him, Magnus studies them a few times, committing them to his memory so he can place the book aside. He needs both hands to summon the magic he needs, as well as the demon himself.

Taking a deep breath, Magnus places his hands together, feels the tension build in such a close space before spreading his arms wide. A string of magic connects both of his hands, sparking with potency, blue turning to red as his glamour falls, golden eyes glowing, matching that of the candles.

Not for long, though, as when Magnus begins to speak the words to summon the Fallen, the candles and their flames bleed red, swallowing the room in a red glow that could only resemble the scorch of Edom.

“Swordsman of Edom, the Fallen of past time, hear my call to the confine of these walls.” His hands moves in circular motions, palms down to the sigil as if he’s opening a vault, opening the gate of hell itself. “I summon thee, Swordsman, to hear my request in aid of stopping Valentine Morgenstern.”

And with that, the sigil ignites, burning red, glowing as a noise similar to a canine’s growl starts to rise from the center. It’s working, and Magnus can’t believe it even though he’s more than capable of summoning him.

“I will give you freedom from Edom in exchange, so that your burned wings will no longer carry the burden of your past,” A deep breath, one final line. “Blessed be the fallen, follow the cry, burn the worthy. Devil’s Swordsman, answer my call.”

A howl erupts from the sigil, fires burning brighter as the Swordsman accepts the summon, burning through the realms to make his way to Magnus’ apartment. Flames rise higher, a heat Magnus is familiar with, but which would have any normal mundane instantly start sweating, unbearable, uncomfortable.

The sparks start to warp, elongating and following certain shapes, flames thickening until they solidify. A body appears, kneeling as the magic and flames all concentrate on forming the shape of him . Magnus can’t do anything but watch, his decision forging itself in front of his very eyes, the flames slowly dying down as the figure starts to rise after leaning on the sword that continues to glow bright.

As the figure finally stands up tall, Magnus holds his breath.

Flames are still forging his skin, red eyes burning with the lack of emotion he feels, how the flames don’t even affect him. His tailored suit has no sign of scorch marks, and as the Swordsman lifts the sword from the ground, moving it over his shoulder where the blade cuts through the wards like a hot knife to butter, there’s no emotion to the fact that he’s easily breaking through Magnus’ magic.

The sword now sits against his back, metal cooling down. That’s one part of his story proven true.

So this is him, is it?

Tall, dark hair and handsome, which may be a facade, but a damn good one if the demon has chosen it himself. On the other hand, he is a fallen angel according to his story, or lack thereof; so there’s also a chance this is what he’s looked like all this time.

The room remains bathed in a dull, warm red, and Magnus thinks that the worst of the heat is over; but something else replaces it.

It’s almost as if hands grip his throat, fingertips digging in, the weight of the realm shifting because of the soul it carried with it, as if time doesn’t want the Swordsman to be here. But he is, and he’s silent as he stares at Magnus, waiting.

“Will you do the honour of stating your terms?”

No response, just the demon slightly moving his head, trying to figure Magnus out when he’s only seen him for a few seconds.

“Do you speak?” Magnus asks, watching the demon look around the circle he’s placed in, almost judging his artwork skills.

“Only if they’re handsome.”

Looking up, the demon locks him in a gaze, and only then can Magnus feel the pressure from the aura that swallows the room. His red eyes are no joke, and there’s no guessing the power that dwells beneath his skin.

“I have no time for games, Swordsman. Hear my request or be banished once more.”

Straightening his back, the demon smiles a little, not missing his chance to glance Magnus up and down, admiring the gold highlights in his hair, the striped blouse tucked into his trousers. He has style, one the Swordsman isn’t afraid to admire, taking his time with answering questions.

Magnus is about to speak again, but the demon moves his hand, adjusting his tie and loosening it a little, hooking his finger over the knot.

“What is your request, warlock?”

He doesn’t speak down to Magnus, but there’s something that taunts Magnus in the way he says warlock. Perhaps it’s the demon wanting to play tricks, to find a way out of this, but Magnus is no amatuer.

“Are you asking me that to extend your time here, or are you being genuine?”

Magnus is smart, and the demon clicks his tongue at that. “Usually, people would fall for that, considering you say why you’re summoning me when you call for me.”

They both pause, Magnus leaving the floor open for the Swordsman to speak what he wants to say. Magnus is going to be cautious, to not fall into any game he desires to play, to keep himself free of twisted words and warm hands.

“Isn’t this a little naughty? Summoning me behind the Clave’s back?”

Magnus sighs, regretting his choice to do this. “Technically, yes and no.”

“Oh?” He’s curious, tilting his head slightly, the red of his eyes making Magnus feel a little shaken.

Out of every greater demon he’s summoned, this one is different. He’s a complete mystery, his name whispered in the halls of the Institute and written in tales that stretch as far back as time goes.

But the strangest thing is that Magnus hasn’t seen him before. He’s heard of the stories, the few times he’s been here with the mundanes, but never anything bad, nothing demonic that would demand Shadowhunter attention.

“Since when do you know about the Clave? There’s only one, extremely vague report of you at the Institute, and every book I’ve ever read only speaks of you visiting the mundane realm to haunt people’s nightmares.” Magnus takes a sip of the wine he summons, amused by the nose scrunch the demon does at such words.

“A vague report?” he hums, clicking his tongue. “I guess I haven’t made myself that well known to be labelled a nuisance.”

“There’s no doubt that you are,” Magnus quips back, keeping his gaze on the demon as he frowns. “Considering I wouldn’t be talking with you right now if the Shadowhunters didn’t care about you. I’ve been robbed of my peace for over a week now, and frankly, I’ve had enough of it and this war that’s hurting my people.”

The Swordsman purses his lips, readjusting his hands behind his back, connecting the dots himself from Magnus’ words. Well, Magnus isn’t wrong, for one. He is a nuisance, and the Swordsman smirks at that, looking from the floor to Magnus, catching sight of what seems to be a nervous gesture.

He’s rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, distracting himself from the silence.

And the demon leaves the silence to grow, to make it drag on, running his tongue along one side of his teeth, waiting until Magnus speaks again.

“Do greater demons not understand the art of conversation?”

He points to himself, then looks around, mocking Magnus’ words. “Who, me?”

Magnus grips the glass a little harder, his next exhale short as Magnus moves closer to the circle, the blue of his magic shimmering up like a pillar, expecting Magnus to touch it, but he doesn’t.

The Swordsman waits on baited breath, not moving when Magnus stands a few steps away. He can break free, knows he can with the Soul Sword on his back, but he finds Magnus incredibly entertaining. Why rush his dramatic exit when he hasn’t enjoyed the company of another for years?

He’s also not forgetting the fact that he’s extremely handsome, can feel the insane grip of power he holds from the wards that keep him in place; there’s no fooling anyone that this warlock may be the Swordsman’s greatest weakness.

“If you’re not going to cooperate, I’ll send you back.” Magnus lifts his hand not holding his wine, two fingers stretched out, ready to command his magic at will.

“Ah–" finally, the demon moves one of his hands from behind his back, holding it up in mild surrender, “–don’t you need me for something?”

“Yes I do.” Rolling his eyes, Magnus continues, “To agree to not give the Soul Sword to a man named Valentine, or to any Shadowhunter you may bump into on whatever travels you go on.”

Magnus hopes it’s enough, that the greater demon will simply just agree to ignore whatever person summons him next. Maybe he doesn’t have to go through with his initial plan considering the demon is rather tame.

But it’s never that easy, is it?

“You’re lying.” Something in his eyes shines at that, looking around Magnus’ figure as if he can see the demons of Magnus’ past haunting him. “That isn’t what you really want from me, is it?”

Biting his tongue, Magnus lowers his wine glass, placing it on the side. “No.”

That gives the demon even more satisfaction. “Very well. I’m all ears—and I’m very interested in what you have to request.”

Magnus looks at him, really looks at him, takes in the detail of his soft yet sharp features, the way his shoulders are so broad even when he stands relaxed. There’s something about him, something that irks Magnus for absolutely no reason at all.

“I want to make a deal with you.” Magnus doesn’t let himself quake, keeping his voice stern.

The demon nods, feeling something prickle inside his chest. He can’t name it, “I’m listening.”

“For too long, the Clave and their mistakes have cost my people everything. They insist that they’re the key to peace, but every day I’m left wondering what they’re really doing to help us other than drive fear into our hearts. If I end this, once and for all, I can finally do what matters most, to help my people and the Downworlders that end up in this horrid, scary world with no one to call family.”

As Magnus speaks, the demon never takes his eyes away from him, almost admiring how Magnus exudes leadership, the concern for the wellbeing of his people something the Swordsman can’t understand.

He has no people, no followers or legacy that speak good of his name. The Devil’s Swordsman is a name that strikes fear into every heart, a volatile demon mix of every sin that exists, to feed on each one until all that remains is the nightmares he’s woven himself.

Standing there, Magnus can’t see it, can’t see why anyone would label him a monster when there’s no record of him being one. Right now, he’s looking at Magnus, almost sympathetic in how he lowers his gaze.

It’s a start, a showing of something that Magnus never expected in the first place. But as quick as it appears, it’s gone.

“So, you want me to do all your dirty work? I’m no stranger to that, but I fear I must come clean with something before you decide to sell your soul.”

Magnus laughs. “I’ll be giving you no such price, think again.”

The demon hums, thinking fair enough before tilting his head to the other side. “How about you let me out of this prison and I’ll work with you— without a deal?”

“What do you take me for? A fool?” Rearing his head back, Magnus mocks him with the tone of his voice.

“No.” The stern drop of that word shakes Magnus a little. He was flirting with him mere moments ago, but the demon’s demeanor has changed. “I know who you are, and I know what you’re capable of.”

Magnus freezes, a little choked up as it feels like he’s swallowed a stone. But then something kicks in, as if his own magic sparks beneath his skin as a reminder. He doesn’t miss however, how the demon looks away for the first time throughout this whole encounter.

Good. Let him fear Magnus.

“And who am I?” Magnus wants to check, to see if the demon has done his research on the royalty of the realm in which he resides.

And the demon keeps Magnus hanging on, his smile slowly growing back into that smirk, the one that makes his eyes dangerously attractive from how he frowns a little.

“You’re Magnus Bane.” He pauses, watching the slight twitch in Magnus’ fingers before continuing,  “Prince of Edom.”

The very mention of that place makes Magnus uneasy. Just because he’s royalty of that realm doesn’t mean he loves it. If anything, he despises everything about that place, even if the embers fuel every pulse of his magic. He’s as powerful as he is because of Edom, his very own furnace similar to the one below their feet inside his soul, almost as if he’s carrying the power of the realm with him every step he takes.

“I should be bowing to you, no?” The Swordsman tips a little forward, hand to his stomach as he bows.

He’s royalty, after all.

“My blood does not reflect who I am.”

“I didn’t say it does,” and his smirk grows as he straightens up again, “only that you’re of royalty. Must be satisfying having all that power at your fingertips, being able to let the world drown in fire, to warp fate with your very hands; it’s rather attractive.”

“It would be, in the eyes of demons like you.” Such an insult makes the demon lose his amused expression, almost offended.

“That’s a little harsh, isn’t it, Bane? You don’t know my story, so who are you to judge?” The Swordsman is twisting his words, and Magnus won’t fall for it.

“If you know who I am, why do you joke and flirt?”

“Why do you return it?” Questioning Magnus with the sly tip of his smile, almost smirking but not quite, the demon puts his hand behind his back again.

For a moment, Magnus doesn’t know why. He still doesn’t know why when he answers the demon. “Can’t I have a little fun, too?”

The demon knows he’s getting to him, the twist and sly roll of his words, listening to everything Magnus says to use it against him. Magnus likes his voice, but not that much.

“If I’m not mistaken, it was you who said that if I didn’t cooperate you’d send me back.”

“Still can,” replies Magnus, moving the hand he has outstretched to further prove his point. “All it takes is a little flick— and you’ll be gone.”

Well, he can’t argue with that.

“Alright.” He clicks his tongue, flicking his head up as if to say; get on with it. “Go on.”

Magnus adjusts his jacket, clearing his throat so that every word he speaks is one that clearly conveys his message. If there’s one slip up, the demon is going to take advantage of that.

“I want to change things, specifically how the Clave works and their continuous corruption of every generation, because they still believe they’re not doing anything wrong. To do that, I have to stop Valentine, because I don’t want my people to suffer through another war caused by a man who insists we’re monsters. Our blood is not our choice, and to have the choice of living taken away from us?” Magnus shakes his head, sickened by the speech he once heard from Valentine the last time they met, “It’s an evil worse than you right now.”

“Shouldn’t you be saying we?” His jokes don’t amuse Magnus, so he sighs and continues regardless, “And what do you plan to do after we send this Valentine to whatever hell he belongs too?”

“Well, the Clave will come looking for you, and that means despite whatever freedom I give you as part of our deal, they’ll chase you down for as long as time will tick. You have an instrument that once belonged to them.”

“Once being the keyword here. If they think I’m going to hand it over, especially with the power it has when they’re already playing with power they can’t control, they’re more egocentric than I once thought.”

Magnus finally smiles, and the demon squints, his body not sure why it tingles at seeing such an expression. He can’t name the emotion, can’t feel it.

“I’m afraid you’re correct. If it comes to it, I may have to find a way to blend you into their ranks–”

The demon interrupts him quickly, almost afraid of Magnus continuing that sentence. “No.”

“I don’t blame you for thinking that.” Magnus walks to his drink cart, picking up another glass, intending to give one to the demon. “So, we’ll think of how to deal with the Clave when the time comes. First, we’ll deal with Valentine and any other strays that want to cause more than a headache.”

Having dropped his somewhat stone cold tone, the demon returns to his devilish smirk when Magnus turns around, and the two pause.

Magnus looks at him, finally taking in the sharp fit of his black suit, the scar in his eyebrow that either has the most interesting or bland story attached to it. He also didn’t fail to notice his ringed hands when he gestured to him earlier. Being dressed in all black, he really is the definition of business, void of any colour and personality. There’s only the burning, luring red of his eyes to warn people of the simmering power underneath, the thousands of souls and sins he’s feasted on fueling the catalyst inside whatever remains of his hollow, demonic heart.

Annoyingly, he interests Magnus. So much so that he’s not afraid to look him up and down, completely questioning the depiction of him in the greater demon book, as to why he’s painted to be such a monster when he’s so devilishly handsome. Maybe that’s the reason why, to warn people of the true nature that hides beneath a facade.

“Since we’re going to be working together,” Magnus starts, tilting his head, “may I have your name?”

The question shocks the demon, not expecting it.

But alas, he answers, not seeing why he should hold it back when he’s going to be stuck with Magnus for the foreseeable future.

“Alec.”

Short, simple.

“Alec.” Magnus tests his name on his tongue, and for a second, the demon parts his lips, almost as if he’s going to reply with something, but he stops himself. “Is that your real name or is it a trick?”

“No tricks. You already know of my other name.” And Alec winks, actually winks.

Magnus can’t see any reason for that to be a lie, and there’s no twitches or gestures in his body language that say otherwise. Why would he avoid speaking his real name anyway? What does he have left to lose?

He’s already fallen, wings burned beyond repair, a past that even he himself can’t make sense of or remember; there’s nothing worse than that.

It’s not like Magnus isn’t in the same boat. He too, has nothing to lose. There’s no love waiting for him to come home after a day’s work, and his friends all have their own lives. Magnus is somewhat of a fallen angel too, because he follows in the bloodline of one, a man who haunts the realm below.

“I believe you,” says Magnus, turning around to fill the wine glass for Alec.

As far as this is from a normal business deal, it doesn’t hurt to be a little friendly.

“Are you sure that’s smart? To believe a demon?”

“You could say the same for me.” Pouring the wine, Magnus doesn’t dare look at him until he turns around again. “As you said, I’m royalty, and not of a heavenly kind.”

Alec enjoys that, considering he has that amused little smirk again, soon shifting his attention to the wine glass offered to him. He’s about to ask if Magnus is being serious, but the ward around Alec suddenly drops, giving him freedom.

He’s not sure how to deal with this, and so, Alec looks back up to Magnus, swallowing at how Magnus simply dares him to do something stupid. Alec doesn’t want any express trips back to Edom, so he’ll behave.

For now, at least.

Taking the wine glass, Alec avoids any skin contact, fragile as he takes it, expression dropping to one of nerves for a split second. Magnus doesn’t catch it, too busy looking at the exchange.

“What a gentleman,” coos Alec, raising his glass in a gesture of thanks before taking a sip. His face contorts a little, not expecting the kick, licking his lips. “This is rather strong, isn’t it?”

“Can’t handle your liquor?”

“Forgive me, Edom doesn’t have a local bar. If there was one, I’m sure the screaming souls would drive all the customers away, including me.” Despite voicing his distaste for it, Alec takes another sip, and then downs the entire thing.

Magnus won’t answer back to that, simply sighing, because he’s going to need that alcohol for what’s to come. “Shall we discuss terms?”

Alec chooses not to speak, nodding as he savours the sweet taste on his tongue.

“As you already know, I’ve summoned you so that you can help me take down Valentine, and in the process, weed out the corrupted leaders of the Clave so that they’re not going to chase your tail for as long as I live.”

“This all seems… a bit much, don’t you think? Can’t you just track Valentine yourself, considering your status and power?” He scrunches his nose, and Alec doesn’t realise he’s hunching his shoulders until they drop to their normal height again.

“Don’t you think I would have done that already?”

“I’m only asking, Bane. Why go through the effort of  summoning me, allowing him to be one step closer?”

“He’s a man that doesn’t want to be found. With the sword in my possession”–and Alec frowns at that–“this will be dealt with in a manner that’s beneficial for both Downworlders and Shadowhunters. There won’t be deals or exchanges apart from this one.”

“A selfless man, I see.” Alec shakes his head, in disagreement with Magnus’ willingness to sacrifice what could be his reputation for the good of his people, no matter if they spit on his name afterwards.

“I’m willing to do what must be done,” Magnus replies, firm, no hesitation even though his heart squeezes from the words, “and sometimes, it’s not what we want.”

Alec parts his lips, and Magnus thinks he’s going to say something, the way his jaw shifts from left to right an obvious sign that he wants to; but he doesn’t. He closes his lips, eyes darting around the room before ending up at his own feet. He really seems to be arguing with himself on something, torn between keeping it and speaking out loud.

Either way, the silence wins.

“So, the terms?”

Magnus is disappointed that Alec doesn’t speak his mind, because sue him for being interested in Alec. This is a greater demon born from the angels and their hatred for whatever he did, forged and made powerful in the furnace of Edom, swallowed by sins and nightmares that he’ll never shed. They’re part of him now, and seeing a break in that exterior, as little and as short as it is; it’s something.

Something is better than nothing, especially if he’s going to be partners with him until this awful war ends.

“You’ll be under contract, magical of course, so any ill intentions or breaking the terms set will result in your banishment back to Edom.”

He pauses, allowing Alec to agree.

Alec does, nodding.

“You won’t feed on any mundane, show yourself to any mundane, especially not a Shadowhunter. This deal is not to be shared, not to anyone but us.”

“Hmm, secretive.” Alec rolls the word on his tongue. “Right up my alley. I can stick to the shadows, no problem.”

“Good.” Magnus doesn’t linger on that fact any longer. “You will take no lives during this, do you understand? Even if I let you feed, if the circumstances ask for it, you won’t push far enough that it causes a loss.”

Alec nods again, hanging on to the maybe more than he should.

“Also, I don’t require you to hang around like a lost puppy. You’ll answer to my call when I need your assistance and nothing more. There’s no casual chat or bonding because of this, and that’s final.”

Magnus might be fooling himself with that one, because Alec isn’t having any of it, and he’s already offered him a glass of wine. If he’s being truthful about his plans to keep this strictly business, then Alec is going to be devastated. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun.

“I don’t mind answering calls if you’re the one making them.” Even with the very subtle look he gives Magnus, the warlock doesn’t budge, and that sparks something inside the demon that wants a little tension, a little competition.

“Well, will you?”

“Yes, considering you’re going to make me sign a contract?” Alec leaves the question hanging in the air.

He ponders, pursing his lips, but Magnus comes to a conclusion quickly. “How about a warlock rune?”

Well, he wasn’t expecting that.

“A rune?” Laughing a little, it calms when Magnus’ expression doesn’t shift.

Holy shit, he’s being serious.

“Forgive me, Alec, but I’m not going to entrust you with a contract when you have the power to break it. Words can be warped, but magic sigils can’t, once they’re inked into your skin.” He’s absolutely calm when he speaks, Magnus almost amused by how tense the demon seems to be holding himself now.

What happened to all that oozing confidence he had moments ago?

“Alright,” either way, Alec agrees, albeit not completely, “I see your point. Can’t blame you for not trusting me when at any moment, I could turn around and – well, you know the rest.”

There’s that smirk. Magnus almost missed it. He quickly shoves that thought into the back of his mind, locking it tight and throwing away the key.

“Do you agree to the terms?” asks Magnus, fingertips growing cold with the weight of what he’s just asked.

Alec thinks through it, sees a future that proves to be entertaining. If he follows the rules, does as he’s asked, then he’ll get freedom from Edom for a period of time and perhaps even eternity. There’s no better payment than that, not when he’s so used to the cooler, silent air of the mundane realm already.

“Deal.”

Magnus heart sinks, and he has no idea why.

He’s the one that came up with this plan, no one else. Why is it suddenly so hard for him to come to terms with making this deal – a deal with the Swordsman?

Swallowing his nerves, Magnus takes a step forward, keeping his eyes on the demon as he raises one hand. His magic sparks from his palm, rich in blues that shine on Alec’s face. There’s no beating that warm, violent red shining from the demon’s eyes, even with Magnus’ magic within touching distance.

Alec doesn’t shake his grip on Magnus, keeping his eyes locked with his until Magnus goes to reach for his jaw with one hand. He speaks quickly before Magnus can make contact.

“Wear a glove, preferably one with magic.” His tone is nothing short of concern.

“Why is that?”

There’s doubt in his eyes, a moment of slim sadness. “I have a curse.”

Magnus would press more about it, but Alec seems determined not to break, almost as if admitting that is a weakness on its own. The least Magnus can do is be thankful that he told him, summoning a pair of gloves that slide over his skin like waves reaching across a shore.

Alec seems less tense now, and he breathes out, trying to keep it soundless so Magnus doesn’t realise he was holding his breath – but Magnus felt it.

“Better?”

He affirms Magnus’ question with a nod, not moving when Magnus holds his jaw with his fingers.  Alec feels something well up in his chest, an echo of what he feels he should know.

Allowing the flames in his palm to grow, Magnus extends one finger out, letting all of that potent magic focus itself on one point. The end of his forefinger glows blue, burning hot as it steams, Magnus tipping Alec’s head to the right so he get a clear view of his neck.

“Not this side,” Alec jerks his head back, away from Magnus’ fingers that held his face, “the other one.”

Magnus isn’t completely sure if this is more time being wasted so Alec can conjure up a plan B, but the way he jolted under the burning sensation of his finger speaks something else to Magnus. He also felt something there, a magic of Alec’s own creation.

Alec is looking directly at him, something distant in his eyes.

“As you wish.” He can’t deny him comfort, since this is going to hurt.

Taking hold of his jaw again, Magnus tilts his head to the other side so he can see the right side of Alec’s neck, clicking his thumb and forefinger together again so the sparks concentrate on the tip of his finger, almost as if he’s lighting a match.

As his fingertip makes contact with Alec’s skin, the demon releases a harsh breath, tensing beneath his hold as Magnus starts drawing. But then he just stands there, as if the burning of his skin is a walk in  the park.

He can’t feel it.

Alec can’t feel the pain, or it’s not hot enough for him to feel it. Perhaps only Edom’s flames can cause him any feeling.

Magnus concentrates on the sigil, forming one of his own creation so that it’s engineered for this specific deal, one where Alec is blocked from entering Edom until he breaks a rule or the deal is over. He can’t see Alec going back once he has a taste of freedom, and Magnus is very aware, if not extremely familiar with how dark, depressing and how much of a literal nightmare Edom is.

It’s similar to his summoning design, but without all the demonic language. When it’s complete, Magnus moves his finger away, watching as it still glows orange from the heat, steaming slightly.

“That’s not a sigil I know,” Alec breathes out, wanting to move his jaw away from Magnus’ fingers, but something echoes in his chest, telling him to keep still.

“It wouldn’t be.” Magnus inspects the rune is burning correctly, lingering close to check over the design, making sure he’s done it without backdoors. “I’ve made it just now, that’s why.”

“Wow. Colour me impressed, Bane.”

As Magnus steps back, Alec lifts his hand to feel for the warlock rune, the drawing substantially hotter than the surrounding skin. Magnus watches him as he stands there in thought, almost at ease that the drawing is there and not a figment of some wicked imagination.

“Does it feel strange?” Magnus asks, drawing the same rune onto the wrist of his right arm, hissing through his teeth at the burning sensation.

When the sigil is finished, they both feel a jolt between them, a string pulled taut; confirmation that the contract is sealed. The deal is struck.

“No. Just admiring your work.” Something shifts in Alec’s voice, and even the sly tone he uses can’t fool Magnus. “I hope you don’t mind me glamouring it.”

“Not at all.” Magnus glamours his own mark as he speaks, waving his palm over the sigil. “I’ll have to hide this from everyone, even my closest friends.”

“How exciting is that? Going against the rules, summoning a greater demon to partner up with him on some secret mission to save the world. It’s all pretty amusing, if you ask me.”

“You may be my partner, but you’re still my enemy,” Magnus warns him, takes the blank expression Alec gives as an answer that he also agrees with such a statement.

“A deal is a deal, Bane.” But there’s room for teasing, and Alec can’t help himself. “But if you ever want to explore, to feel something new, there’s no harm in asking.”

He’s not demanding it, at least. Alec is leaving an option for him, a one night only or maybe a few more card that Magnus secretly tucks into his back pocket. Magnus won’t show him his subtle interest in that, because even despite this deal being just business, Magnus is not a man to shy away from luxury.

And there’s no denying the secrets hidden behind those red eyes, the touches that find their way into the night, images that forge from his own desire, forgotten and decayed from heartbreak. The longer he looks at Alec, eyes locked, the more those images start to warm, to curl into something else inside his stomach.

Magnus clears his throat, the demon running his tongue along the bottom row of his teeth, obviously amused that his little trick of magic worked somehow. He honestly didn’t expect Magnus to even think of what he meant, but he’s satisfied either way.

“Are you done?”

“Are you?” Alec replies, putting his hands into the pockets of his trousers.

“Quite.” Magnus places down Alec’s wine glass, turning his back to him, half expecting the demon to make a move or escape. Much to Magnus’ relief, he doesn’t move an inch, just simply watching him.

“So, do I wait here like a good little demon if you have a task for me now, or am I allowed to explore at will?” asks Alec, looking around the apartment for the first time, settling into his small moment of freedom from wards and Edom.

“I have no use for you, yet,” states Magnus, turning back to him, “until I do, you’re free to roam the mundane world. But remember our deal, because if you break it, that sigil will send you straight back to Edom without a second chance. Do you understand?”

“You’re telling me to behave?” Alec huffs, entertained that Magnus would even think otherwise. Of course he’s going to play some tricks, feed on some sins – he’s a greater demon.

“Yes,” simply put, and Alec just blinks, “because if you don’t, then I’ll act every part of my royal blood.”

Oh, now that makes Alec interested. Either way, he complies, simply nodding which seems to be enough to satisfy Magnus. That is, until Magnus proves him wrong.

“Do you understand?”

A pause, but then Alec replies, “Yes, Bane.”

Just like that, the strengthened wards shift, and Alec feels the change, rolls his shoulders. The weight he felt before is gone, and Magnus keeps his eyes on him, waiting for his next move.

“Pleasure doing business with you, I hope your investment proves successful.” Alec takes a step towards Magnus, pulling a black card from his pocket, the material still forming as he summons it from his own magic. “Here’s my card.”

“Greater demons have their own business cards now?” Magnus hovers his hand near the card Alec offers, waiting for him to explain himself.

“Not all of us. I don’t.” He shrugs, “I thought it’d be fitting since this is a business deal. My number is on there.”

Alec must talk to various other demons when he’s in Edom, otherwise how would he be aware of such mundane things without prior knowledge? No demon understands human culture unless they live amongst it, so Alec must know very little.

“Charming.” Magnus takes the card, frowning at the blank sides.

“I’m sure you’ll figure that one out.” Alec starts stepping backwards, hands in his trouser pockets again. “Keep you entertained while I’m gone.”

“The Clave is enough to deal with. I don’t need you bothering me too.”

He doesn’t seem to take that well, but Alec can’t help but turn it into a joke. “Oh? It’s only a matter of time, though.”

“And whatever do you mean by that?” asks Magnus, putting the business card into his waistcoat chest pocket.

“You’ll know.”

He’s being cryptic, and usually, that’s Magnus’ job. Still, he can’t help but want to know why he says such a thing. Surely, Alec can’t see how broken and jaded his heart is, how he desperately wants someone that stays, not abandons and poisons.

“See you around, Bane.” He salutes Magnus, fading to ash and small embers that catch fire before dwindling to nothing. “Don’t be afraid of the dark.”

And the air settles, the squeezing power of his aura gone, and Magnus breathes.

Closing his eyes, Magnus reaches back into his chest pocket, taking out the card and flipping it over multiple times. There’s still no number or any lettering, not until Magnus summons his magic to his palm.

Only then, when the blue magic fades to red, switching to the mixture and potency of Edom’s flames does the text burn itself onto the card. There’s a number on one side, Alec’s summoning sigil underneath, and on the other side a message waits for Magnus to read.

 

‘i look forward to working with you, Bane. call me when you need me. no price needed.’

 

- - -

“And when the snakes sing, you’ll know right from wrong,

But no one ever knows when they will,

And whether it will be too late or not soon enough is up to fate itself.”