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we built a dynasty forever couldn’t break up

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Magnus flicks his hand, opening the door to the loft with possibly more force than is warranted, wrangling his magic to catch it before it slams back against the doorstop. The just-completed house call – his last of the evening, thank god – was simple enough, a frankly amusing case of newly-instated warding that upon being modified months ago to permit downworlders was suddenly refusing to admit the owner herself. However, while Magnus had greatly appreciated the irony, the tight-lipped shadowhunter woman who greeted him with a barely-concealed sneer definitely did not. Trust Magnus to get landed with one of the few shadowhunters still bold enough to be blatantly bigoted, stubbornly in denial about the changes of the past couple of years, as a client.

It had almost been a shame to undo such a neat piece of spellwork woven into the warding by whichever warlock last modified them. The woman’s demanding and borderline-scornful attitude hadn’t exactly helped her case, grating on Magnus throughout the entire appointment. In the end, he’d settled for a parting barb that, had she called him in the first place instead of shopping around for lower prices, she wouldn’t have had to contend with this type of unprofessional (albeit well and truly deserved) conduct. And would ultimately be several thousand dollars richer, given she’d had to call Magnus anyway. Even the satisfaction of watching her eyebrows climb into her hairline at his audacity hadn’t been quite enough to make up for how incredibly drained the entire encounter left him.

All in all, it’s been a long day and right now he wants nothing more than to collapse into his husband’s arms and then celebrate their anniversary with a quiet night in. A few drinks, maybe make a nice dinner (or just summon some takeout), he’s not particularly concerned with details as long as he gets to spend the night with the man he adores.

Rounding the corner of the loft’s entrance, the lingering twinges of annoyance fade away as he catches sight of Alec. He’s deep in conversation with Jace, gesturing animatedly in response to whatever doubtless ridiculous goings on his parabatai is relaying from New York.

Alec’s back is to the doorway and he’s not expecting Magnus back for another hour at the very least, so Magnus allows himself a second to just take in the sight – his husband, standing in their home, still half in business-mode yet confident and relaxed enough that he’s not bothering to tamp down his characteristic hand-waving. Then, the short distance between them is suddenly far too much and Magnus is bridging it in eager strides to sidle up next to him. The effect is instantaneous; Alec cuts himself off midsentence and the arm previously waving wildly is immediately redirected to wrap around Magnus’ waist as Alec leans into his side.

“Good evening, Inquisitor Lightwood-Bane,” Magnus murmurs, pressing a kiss against Alec’s jaw.

Alec chuckles, voice deep despite the breathy quality seeping into it. It’s incredibly endearing, Magnus thinks, how Alec still reacts like this whenever anyone refers to him with his full last name, unfailingly delighted despite how long he’s had to get used to it. He turns his body into Magnus’ and his free hand comes up to cup Magnus’ cheek, tilting his face up so their lips meet in a chaste kiss – a kiss that says I love you, I missed you, welcome home. He pulls away after a moment, but not far, letting their foreheads just rest together as they bask in each other’s presence.

“Good evening to you too, High Warlock Lightwood-Bane,” Alec eventually replies, barely above a whisper as he breathes the words against Magnus’ lips.

“– going to get another word out of Alec, I’ll just come back tomorrow then shall I?” Jace’s voice filters through the Alexander-induced fog, and Magnus has to stifle a laugh, Jace’s exasperation at being suddenly and wholly ignored in the middle of a conversation obvious, “Leave you two to your… weird flirting?”

Magnus feels Alec nod distractedly, flapping his hand in Jace’s general direction, utterly unapologetic. It prompts a resignedly amused sigh from his parabatai, followed by the sound of the door easing closed and a sarcastically shouted goodbye. On any other day Magnus would offer to portal Jace back to New York, but tonight… Well, there’s no shortage of permanent portals in Alicante that Jace can walk to. He’s sure his brother-in-law will forgive him just this once.

“Happy anniversary,” Alec murmurs, and the words send a thrill through Magnus, sparks skittering down his spine and making him shiver as he presses impossibly closer to his husband.

“Hmm, that it is,” he quips and can’t resist landing another peck on the soft grin the curves across Alec’s lips, relishing the ever-predictable pout that forms as he pulls away and he walks Alec towards the couch before tugging him down, “Happy anniversary darling.”

They land with Alec practically sitting on his lap, familiar weight pressing Magnus into the cushions. With Alec’s face tucked under Magnus’ jaw, Magnus can feel the warm puffs of Alec’s breath against his neck. Relaxing into the gentle grip Alec has on his hip, Magnus can feel the day’s weariness drifting away. Then, abruptly, Alec pulls back and Magnus’ eyes, which he hadn’t noticed falling closed, flutter open and an unhappy groan leaves him as his husband disentangles himself to stand once more.

At Magnus’ quizzical look Alec only shakes his head and raises a finger, a clear instruction to stay put. He’s only too happy to oblige. Lolling his head back against the back of the couch, Magnus watches his husband make his way to where his jacket is flung carelessly over the kitchen bench and fumble through the pockets. It never fails to be ridiculously endearing how Alec’s supposed shadowhunter coordination all but deserts him when his focus is elsewhere. Apparently finding what he’s looking for Alec’s back sitting half next to and half on Magnus in seconds, pressed up against him in that near-desperate way he has of seeking contact. It’s a habit that hasn’t diminished in the slightest since they first started dating and it still fills Magnus with fondness.

“I have something for you,” he says once he’s settled comfortably, “I had a nice dinner planned to go with it but someone’s home before he said he would be.”

He glares at Magnus half-heartedly, until Magnus’ raised eyebrow causes him to concede with a huff.

“Not that I would have made it through dinner anyway. I seem to severely overestimate my self-control when it comes to you,” he mumbles.

Magnus laughs at his husband’s disgruntled tone, looking down curiously to see what it is that Alec is so keen to give him.

It’s a box, understated black and contrasting with Alec’s pale skin where it’s clutched in his hand. If Magnus didn’t know better his first guess as to its contents would definitely be jewellery of some kind, but Alec refuses to buy that for him on principle. Flowers, chocolates, rare magical artefacts (if Magnus happens mention one in passing), every other kind of gift imaginable, yes. Rings or earrings or necklaces, not so much; Alec likes to tease that there’d be no point when Magnus could single-handedly start his own jewellery store if the fancy struck and probably already owns at least three different variations of any piece Alec would think to buy him. As much as Magnus protests, he may have a point. With this in mind, Magnus looks at his husband with no small amount of puzzlement.

“The idea is that you open it,” Alec prompts, fond impatience sparkling in his hazel eyes, “That way you get to find out what’s inside.”

He doesn’t quite manage to pull off the casual tone he’s obviously aiming for, and Magnus can see the eagerness and trepidation stirring under the playfulness of his words. Shooting his husband a calculating look, Magnus reaches forwards. He knows Alec – god, he’s pretty sure he knows Alec better than he knows himself at this point – and the teasing is definitely a distraction. However, there’s no way Alec isn’t aware that Magnus can see right through him, which means that the distraction is meant for himself, in the same way he used to ramble to psych himself up before making big confessions when they first started dating.

It’s a tactic Magnus hasn’t seen from him a long while, probably not since they got engaged and definitely not while they’ve been married. Marriage has done wonders for his shadowhunter’s confidence; Magnus hadn’t quite realised just how much Alec was holding back until he wasn’t anymore, constantly showering Magnus in compliments that slip off his tongue with relaxed ease and not so much as a second thought. But now, he can feel the tension in the lines of Alec’s body where it’s pressed against his, his husband practically vibrating with anticipation.

Which means that this – whatever ‘this’ is – has to be big.

Not in the business of drawing out Alec’s worry any longer than necessary – he’s dramatic, not cruel – Magnus takes the box from his husband’s grasp and flicks the lid open.

Carved unmistakeably and meticulously by hand into a polished piece of wood, nestled in a bed of golden satin, is what looks like the Alliance rune. But it’s not the Alliance rune, he realises as he looks closer, not quite. Very similar, but the proportions are different and there’s additional twists that swirl the two parts of the rune together in an intricate knot.

Magnus’ eyes shoot back up to his husband, questions swirling chaotically in his head. Alec opens and then immediately closes his mouth, throat forming words that evidently get lost before they make it any further.

“I’ve… Catarina and I have been working on it for – ever since Clary…” Alec starts and then trails off, wincing with what is undoubtedly the same wave dull pain Magnus feels whenever he thinks about his poor Biscuit. Dulled because everything finally seems to be working itself out, but still aching with the injustice of everything the angels have put her through.

“When I was bonded to Lorenzo I could use magic, right?” Alec continues after composing himself, and Magnus nods, unsure what that has to do with their anniversary when it happened literal years ago, “So I thought maybe there was – that I could maybe… I wondered what else might transfer through too. Long-term.”

Each hesitation is punctuated with an agitated twist of his hands as his wrings them together, betraying how hard Alec is trying to assemble his thoughts into coherent sentences. But Magnus is completely lost now and it must show on his face because Alec sighs, running a hand through his hair in a self-soothing gesture. “I’m not explaining this right.”

God, he’s so nervous. Magnus hasn’t seen him stutter like this in what feels like forever. It’s utterly adorable, but Magnus decides to take pity on his husband, reaching for him with his free hand to intertwine their fingers. The action always seems to ground Alec, and this time is no different if the way he settles and seems to finally draw proper breath is any indication, his lingering agitation evident only in his thumb running absentmindedly over his wedding ring.

“The original Alliance rune binds downworlders and shadowhunters, allows a bit of a transfer of powers and characteristics, but it’s only temporary. This is a permanent rune.”

Magnus inhales sharply. Almost all angelic runes he knows of fade with use, and in his (admittedly not exhaustive) knowledge he can think of only a few that don’t: the Wedded Union rune, Parabatai rune, and a handful that symbolise intense mourning. It’s dawning on Magnus, the incredible gravity of what Alec is offering, the sheer commitment implicit in a permanent rune obvious even if Magnus still has no idea what it means. Alec notices his reaction and must guess what he’s thinking, because when he continues he’s steadier, evidently emboldened Magnus’ comprehension of the significance of what he’s just said.

“Catarina helped me design it – it took a lot of spells to stabilise the rune after we modified it, and her being able to… read its energy signature, in a way, was really helpful considering we can’t actually test it on anyone.”

“So that’s what the two of you have been doing on your little coffee dates,” Magnus blurts out, “I thought for sure you’d be exchanging embarrassing stories, given I’m not there to defend myself.”

The smirk Alec flashes him tells Magnus he’s probably not wrong on that count, but he shelves the thought for later as something more important occurs to him.

“Wait, I thought you couldn’t modify runes…” he hesitates, sifting through memories to see if he can think of any instance where someone has managed such a feat. He’s sure he’d know if they had; the idea of shadowhunters being able to actually edit their angelic tools as the whim strikes is more than a little terrifying.

But Alec is already nodding in confirmation.

“That’d be true it was from the Grey Book. But, to quote Catarina, Clary’s runes are ‘really goddamn weird.’” He shrugs. “We worked out how to cement any changes we made and then just fiddled with it until it should theoretically be a permanent version of the same rune.”

It all sounds absolutely fascinating, and he is going to have to convince Catarina to divulge every marvellous detail of this project of theirs, but there’s clearly more to it that Alec is still dancing around.

“It’s not a rune that should be able to be worn, really, give that it’s kind of… volatile. But Catarina said that it should work for us.”

Only us. The words remain unspoken, but Magnus can read between the lines. He’s intrigued, enough to hear Alec out despite his less than promising description of the rune’s safety.

“The fact that you’ve technically got angel blood running through your veins –”

“Fallen angel blood,” Magnus corrects him automatically, and Alec shrugs again.

“Doesn’t seem to matter,” he responds matter-of-factly, “Angelic characteristics have a tendency to come out dominant. But that’s not really important. What is important is that apparently there’s an… imprint of your magic on me already. My grasp on magical theory is kind of limited, but from my understanding that’s the only reason we could handle a rune like this one: because it would be feeding off an already-present bond.”

Magnus feels his eyes widen at the revelation. It makes sense. Of course Magnus has noticed the unique way his magic responds to Alec – the way he never had to program the wards to let him in, the way half the time he feels it reaching out for Alec before Magnus is even consciously aware of his presence, the way he recharges so much faster when he’s wrapped in his husband’s arms. He’s found a home in Alexander and it’s only logical that his magic, an extension of Magnus’ emotions, his very being, would find a home there too. He just didn’t realise that meant there was a tangible bond to prove it. Thought it was just the overwhelming depth of his feelings for Alec making his magic react the way it does.

“I don’t… I don’t know if I believe in fate,” Alec is saying, “But it’s almost like this rune was made just for us.”

There’s a note of finality in his voice, but Magnus is still adrift. It’s like there’s something tickling at the edge of his awareness, a connection he should be making here based on everything Alec has said, that Alec has clearly assumed he would make given he hasn’t actually spelled everything out. But he can’t quite manage to grasp it. It feels too big, too heavy, and though he’s sure he has all the pieces he can’t force them to fit together in his mind. The way Alec’s fingers play with his definitely isn’t helping, Magnus’ thoughts scattering with each soft circle rubbed against his palm.

When it becomes clear Alec has said all he intends to for now, Magnus reluctantly frees his hand. Moving to pick up the wooden talisman lying in the box, he pauses briefly to look at Alec for permission. His husband nods encouragingly, barely-contained eagerness bubbling back to the surface now he’s not so focused on trying to articulate his thoughts, so Magnus takes out the token.

Energy, ancient and powerful, immediately rushes through him. It thrums at his fingertips and intermingles with his own magic in a way that is utterly unmistakeable.

“Redwood…” he breathes, incredulous, unable to tear his eyes away from the innocuous object cradled in his palm. He should have realised, the stunning streaks of deep red running through the polished, swirling grain distinctive enough to give it away if he hadn’t been so distracted by the rune itself. His fingers tense involuntarily around it as a pulse of yearning radiates through him. Magnus is all too aware of the mythology associated with the redwood tree; it would be hard not to be when the validity of its bark in enhancing healing or longevity charms is, and has been for as long as Magnus has been involved in warlock academic circles, the subject of endless debate. There’s no reason, however, for Alec to share a similar awareness.

God, it’s such a cruel coincidence – of all the hundreds of types of wood that Alec could have used for his gift, he’s picked the one with a long-intertwined association with immortality. He’s not sure what’s going to be worse: looking up into his husband’s eyes and seeing innocent non-comprehension, or seeing the former morph into confusion when Alec notices the longing Magnus is sure must be written clearly across his face, or inevitably having to explain to Alec the implication (however accidental) of the material he’s chosen.

Magnus looks up anyway, braces himself as he meets his husband’s gaze. But what he sees there makes his heart skip painfully for completely unexpected reasons. It’s utter certainty – tentative and hopeful – a knowing smile playing cautiously on Alec’s lips, and Magnus is struck as if by a physical blow with the sudden realisation that his husband knew exactly what he was implying when he carved the rune into this specific piece of wood.

He feels almost foolish, not sure how he could have thought for a moment that this was an accident on his husband’s part. His Alexander, as thorough and purposeful in this as he is in everything else he does. Tears prick behind his eyes at the thought of Alec diligently researching something that’s so intrinsically part of Magnus’ culture to construct the careful message contained in his gift.  

Slow understanding crashes over him, the final pieces of the puzzle that had been stubbornly eluding him falling into place even as Alec speaks again.

“This rune… it would tie my soul to yours,” Alec swallows, and this time Magnus knows what’s coming a second before the words leave his husband’s lips, “It would let me become immortal.”

Magnus’ world screeches to a halt.

Fuck.

Despite having drawn that exact conclusion in the split second before Alec spoke the words, it’s like the verbal confirmation throws everything into focus and utter shock steals Magnus’ breath away. Memories of snippets from old conversations are falling over themselves in his mind, every little allusion Alec has made to spending forever together – which Magnus had refused to dwell on for the way they pierced him with shards of premature grief – suddenly cast into new light. There’s countless instances of his husband tossing the idea casually into conversation, so many that it can’t in hindsight have been anything other than Alec testing the waters.

Beneath the shock is disbelieving joy racing through him at the idea that Alec wants to stay. Not even for his entire life, but forever. And weaving through all that, constant and steady, is unbelievable fondness for his husband, who has unflinchingly fought against every challenge the universe has thrown their way. Who, upon being faced with the undeniable reality that one day he will die and Magnus will have to learn to live without him, decided to fight that too. Who found the idea of only loving Magnus for the limited time allotted to him so unacceptable that he’s literally found a way to do the impossible.

For as long as the idea of death has existed, people have been trying in vain to defeat it. Trust Alec to succeed where others have failed when it’s for the sake of someone he cares about. It never ceases to send Magnus reeling, the knowledge that Alec’s endless capacity for love, that unquantifiable devotion, is directed at him.

And it’s all the more painful with the knowledge that there’s no way he can let Alec do this.

Alec must catch at least some of the mess of emotions battling for dominance inside Magnus, reading the conflict in his eyes. He hurries to speak and his words trip over themselves in his haste.

“You don’t have to answer right away – shit, Magnus you don’t… you don’t have to answer at all, I promise it wouldn’t change things between us if you don’t want –”

“Alexander, wait, just stop for a second. You’re not making any sense.”

Magnus likes to consider himself an expert in understanding Alexander Lightwood, can assemble entire conversations based on a few sentence fragments when he has to (which is more often than one would expect, his husband’s inability to properly string words together when he’s flustered as endearing as it is legendary). But whether it’s because his own mind is in complete disarray, or because Alec is especially distressed right now, the words spilling from his husband’s lips are exactly that: words. Individually, Magnus understands each of them perfectly. But as they combine Magnus can’t decipher even an ounce of meaning.

Then Alec’s speaking again and it rushes out of him like an exhale, tone imploring and heart-wrenchingly earnest.

“There’s a big difference between devoting a few decades to someone and promising them eternity. All I’m saying is it’s ok if you need time to mull it over. I would never – could never – hold that against you.”

Oh.

Alec’s apparently correctly read the distress and regret in Magnus’ eyes but jumped headfirst to the wrong conclusion. They’re having two completely different conversations here, and Magnus is overcome with the need to kiss his husband until the furrows of worry between his brows disappear.

But first he needs to set the record straight, because even if Magnus is absolutely not going to stand for Alec condemning himself to immortality of all things, it’s completely unacceptable for Alec not to know that Magnus would throw away everything he has for a chance at forever with him.

Brushing strands of dark hair back from his husband’s forehead and letting his hand cradle Alec’s cheek soothingly, Magnus scrutinises the man before him and is caught off-guard as he has been countless times before by the incredible sincerity he finds. Alec leans helplessly into the contact.

“Alexander, you have to believe me when I say that there’s nothing I want more than to spend eternity with you,” he says, hearing the desperation bleeding through as he tries to convey this fundamental truth that Alec has somehow gone this long without knowing, “But immortality is – it’s really not something that you want. And you have your family to think about –”

“I am thinking about my family.”

Alec cuts him off, fierce intensity stopping Magnus in his tracks. He closes his eyes for a second and exhales shakily, and when he opens them he’s no less resolute for the way his gaze has softened.

“Besides… I’m a shadowhunter, Magnus. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that there’s a fair chance I’ll outlive Izzy and Jace and even Max. And with me being Inquisitor and my siblings still in the field the odds have never been worse.”

The casual way Alec talks about this fills Magnus with indescribable sorrow, and a wounded noise escapes him before he can stop it. Alec offers him a sad smile.

“I’m not saying it won’t hurt like hell, but me being immortal, me being mortal, it doesn’t really make a difference to that.”

“You’d still be condemning yourself to watching everyone you love die. I can’t ask that of you.”

“Not everyone I love. By the angel Magnus, I’m not sure what else I can say to convince you that you’re the most important person in my life.” He shakes his head slowly, disbelieving, and of course Magnus knows that but it’s not that simple. It can’t be. Even if Alec apparently doesn’t agree, given the disarmingly straightforward way he’s laying all this out. “And anyway, you’re not asking. I am.”

“If you don’t want that, I meant it when I said it’s ok. Just… don’t decide based on some self-sacrificial attempt to protect me. I know what I’m getting into.”

“Alexander I… are you sure?” Magnus knows he’s being difficult, even as he can feel his resolve slipping, but he has to know, “At the risk of stating the obvious, forever is an incomprehensibly long time, and I don’t think I could take it if a few decades or even a few centuries from now you started to resent me.”

“Magnus,” Alec’s hand comes up to grip Magnus’ where it still rests on Alec’s jaw, “When we got married I promised to love you for my entire life. I can’t stress enough that that’s not going to change, no matter how long that life is. You already have my forever, all that’s changing is that it would be your forever too.”

He frowns.

“That’s what I was trying to say before. You’re worried that I’ll end up regretting it, but what about you?”

Magnus opens his mouth to protest – because honestly, as if he could ever – but Alec forges on with characteristic determination.

“I knew from the outset that you were it for me, but it’s sort of a lot to ask for you to suddenly be ok with the same –”

Magnus stops him with a thumb pressed gently to his lips before he can complete the thought. It’s clear where Alec’s going with this and Magnus finds himself already shaking his head resolutely. Because, when it comes down to it, the choice to be made… it’s no choice at all. If he lets go of the worries that cling stubbornly – deeply-ingrained fear that everyone he cares about will get sick of him eventually, that he’s far too much, not enough, best dealt with in small doses lest he become overwhelming – and lets himself be selfish, giving in to Alec is the easiest thing in the world. And maybe, just this once, he can be selfish. Maybe it can be that simple.

“I have never loved anyone, will never love anyone, like I love you Alexander Gideon Lightwood. It would be a privilege to spend eternity by your side.”

His husband’s eyes widen, like Magnus’ words are somehow a surprise despite everything they’ve been through, like despite his insistence that he wants this he didn’t expect Magnus to actually want it too.

“You mean…?”

Magnus nods.

“Looks like we’re going to need your stele,” he manages to say, voice suddenly choked and cracking slightly despite his efforts to remain composed.

Alec laughs lowly, breathlessly, tears building in the corners of his eyes and glinting in the soft light of the loft. He pats his pocket on reflex before looking at Magnus sheepishly as he seems to realise it’s not there, no reason for him to keep it on his person in the safety of their home. Magnus feels his muscles tense as he prepares to stand, probably to stumble around the loft in a daze until he remembers that his stele is tucked away in the draw that holds his patrol gear, where it always is in the evenings. But Magnus doesn’t let him get that far, dropping a hand to Alec’s thigh to anchor him before he can even try to rise and waving the other with no small amount of flourish. In a shower of blue sparks, the stele appears on Alec’s lap. Alec rolls his eyes, and Magnus only shoots him a smug look as he pointedly tightens his grasp on his leg. Then Magnus is raising his eyebrows as Alec starts to unbutton his own shirt, making the shadowhunter blush.

“Runes are more powerful the closer they are to the heart,” Alec hastens to explain, redness creeping up the back of his neck, “And besides…”

The rest of the sentence doesn’t quite make it out, cut off as Alec bites his lip and fiddles with a button, as though deciding whether he wants to actually give voice with whatever he was about to say. Then, he seems to straighten and looks Magnus right in the eyes.

“It’s where the Wedded Union rune would go.”

This man is going to be the death of him.

Shirt hanging loosely from his shoulders now, Alec makes to reach for the stele where it sits between them. Magnus beats him to it though, shushing his husband when he looks alarmed and seems about to object.

“Wait. Let me try something.”

The mention of the Wedded Union rune – something that Magnus already knew was important to the other man, no matter his insistence otherwise when Magnus has expressed regret at not being able to give it to him – combined with Alec’s comment about the nature of his blood has sparked the glimmer of an idea. It’s distantly familiar. A hunch he remembers toying with decades ago before he’d dismissed it as not worth the effort it would take to follow up on given its complete irrelevance to his life. How times change.  

Feeling Alec’s curious eyes on him, Magnus grips the stele gingerly. It lights up with a soft, pulsing glow from the adamas tip and illuminates them both. Alec chokes on a gasp, fingers stilling where they were toying with the hem of his shirt as he stares transfixed.

Wordlessly, Magnus pushes the shirt down his husband’s shoulders, baring his chest. The wooden talisman still sits between them. He glances quickly at the rune carved into it before pressing the stele reverently to the skin over Alec’s heart, soft and pale and unmarred even by rune-scars, and carefully copies the rune there. His husband’s heart-beat accelerates under his hand.

“How does it feel?” he breathes, unwilling to break the moment by speaking louder than absolutely necessary.

Alec reaches for his hand blindly, finding it and gripping tightly like Magnus is his only tether as the sensation rushing over him threatens to overwhelm him. What that sensation is Magnus has no idea. But the fact that it has his normally-collected husband reacting like this, deeply affected even without Magnus bearing the rune’s pair, without the bond fully formed… it’s both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

It takes Alec a few seconds to ground himself enough to respond to Magnus’ whispered question.

“Like it’s missing something,” he finally rasps, fingertips trailing over Magnus’ palm as he relinquishes his desperate grip to make short work of Magnus’ many layers, practised fingers expertly undoing the complicated buttons and ties even as his hands shake. In no time at all, he’s pressing the stele over Magnus’ heart with a tenderness that makes Magnus ache.

It stings a little. That’s the first impression the Magnus gets, but it’s quickly overtaken by an all-consuming feeling of completeness. It’s like nothing Magnus has ever experienced before, like someone’s taken the exact feeling of falling into his husband’s arms after a long day and amplified it a hundred times over before injecting it directly into his bloodstream. It’s enough to make the (gradually shrinking) rational part of his mind very grateful that they’re already sitting down, certain his knees would have completely given out under even the slightest weight.

Part of him was braced for the clash of demonic and angelic magic, of Alec’s very essence being torn between recoiling from and surging towards his as it had been when they’d shared strength so long ago. But it never comes. Instead, the angelic energy flows through him and intertwines with his magic in a gentle caress (and really, he has to ask Catarina how they managed to construct a rune that allows such fundamental opposites to not just coexist but harmonise), until all he can feel as the initial wave of emotion subsides is a bone-deep warmth.

Something about it is slightly jarring, not exactly foreign but not exactly recognisable either. It’s not until he matches it to the familiar mix of awe and love and adoration shining in Alec’s eyes as they meet his that Magnus realises that what he’s experiencing is his husband’s emotions.

Faced with that realisation he’s powerless to do anything other than haul Alec in and kiss him senseless, like he’s been wanting to since he first walked in the door. It rips a harsh moan from Alec’s throat, and Magnus is wracked by a full-body shudder as his husband’s hands scramble at his shoulders, gripping and releasing and tugging him closer and sweeping across his collar bone then down to the planes of his back with a desperation Magnus can feel rushing restlessly under his own skin.

It’s like something between them shifts that final inch, snapping into place with the meeting of their lips. And god, they’ve always been in sync, but the rush of shared sensation gives the concept new meaning altogether with the way it amplifies each point of contact between their bodies in a near-unbearable feedback loop.

Then, gradually, the raw desperation fades into something steadier. They pull away as one, stealing kisses that turn slow and languid and gentle until their mouths are just barely brushing together.

They can afford to savour this, Magnus marvels as contentment settles soft in his chest. They have nothing but time, decades upon decades upon precious golden centuries unfolding before them. They have forever.