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Alexander Lightwood spent his days sheltered, and he was at his whit's ends because of it. 

He ached to leave his lonely dorm at the Idris Asylum. To escape the quiet halls that were lacking in the barest of whispers, footfalls, and general proof that it was graced by anything living in the slightest. 

He wished his family would visit him more. It had been years since he had last seen them, and his youngest brother Max had still been an infant. How old was he now, eleven? Twelve? Had he received his Angelic Rune?

Alas, his family did not really consider him as family. The only thing linking them was blood, and even then Alec wasn't certain how much they associated themselves with him outside of bragging rights.

The eldest son of Robert and Maryse Lightwood, Alec had been born with a rare genetic trait that had 'blessed' him with prominent wings, deeming him the designation of Avian.

Every now and then, a Nephilim would be born with the wings of their ancestors, and Shadowhunter tradition had it that they stayed protected from the harm of the Downworld. Their feathers had incredible magical properties, the powers endowed within them too dangerous within the wrong hands. The Idris Asylum had been established early on, a grand fortress to keep the Avians hidden away. 

They weren't allowed to come and go as they please, which meant that this had been Alec's home for the past 17 years. He had only left the grounds on two separate occasions, and even then he stayed within Idris itself. 

He would've run away long ago if they didn't keep his flight feathers clipped. If his door wasn't locked whenever it wasn't a scheduled mealtime or training session.

There were only three of them. Alec was the oldest, followed by Invy who was barely a year younger. Leo was the third, and being two-years-old was kept tucked away in the nursery. 

Invy, short for Invierno, was the closest thing Alec had to a friend. Even then, their bond was mainly forged on the fact both were subjected to the same torturous fate, prisoners for something they couldn't control. They only say each other during meals and scarcely throughout the week, always supervised by their tutors. They had never had just a conversation between the two of them about how they really felt about being here. 

Their tutor Hodge was currently droning on about the History of the Accords, and how Shadowhunters helped regulate Downworlders that broke the Accords. Alec found it strange that they could hold entire races of people accountable for something that only a few leaders had agreed upon. That, and the Accords seemed to lean in favor of the Nephilim. If he knew anything, it was that the Clave demanded everyone to blindly follow orders no matter the downsides it would bring them. 

Invy had stopped paying attention before the lesson had even started, her eyes completely void of any emotion. She sat ramrod in her chair, yet the rest of her was unkempt. Clothes rumpled, hair not brushed, multiple feathers askew. She had been deteriorating for weeks now. Alec had definitely been in the same boat, but had been afraid to show that side of himself to the tutors, unsure of what they would do to him. 

While his routine gave him structure, Alec wasn't sure if he could do this forever. How did they expect him to do this forever? All this training, education, for what?

Surely they didn't expect him to be content living like this?

Then again, that's how many Avian had lived before him. Spending their days rotting away, serving no purpose other than existing until they died of old age. There had been one named Rose when Alec was growing up. They granted her the freedom of going about the Asylum as she so pleased, and she spent the majority of her waking hours within the confines of the library. She was cold and standoffish to the tutors, but always greeted Alec with soft smiles and smuggled sweets from Angel knows where. 

When she died, the Clave held a grand funeral, Shadowhunters from all over the world coming to Alicante to attend. It was one of the only times Alec had left the asylum, and it was one of the only days where he actually wanted to stay hidden away. Her funeral was awful, at least in Alec's perspective. He had been forced to stand by her side for hours, gawking eyes locked on him as he silently cried. 

It was the last time he had seen his family. The Lightwoods. His sister looked him over as if trying to recognize a face long forgotten. His parents had barely shown him any emotion, although he suspected they were disappointed in him showing weakness in front of so many Nephilim. 

The tutors had tried forcing Invy to go along with Alec, but she had lashed out at them, kicking and screaming like her very life depended on it. It wasn't until she had broken Hodge's ribs and Aldertree's nose that they decided it was best to leave her behind. 

Alec wondered where all that fight had gone as he looked at Invy now, barely a coal in comparison to the raging fire she once was. The girl that had given the tutors a run for their money, stinging words flying from her tongue faster than the punches she threw in combat. Alec envied how unafraid of consequences she was, how she was full of life despite her circumstances. 

But, by standing out as she did, they had worked hard to break her. Alec had the gut-wrenching thought that they had been finally successful. 

They wouldn't do the same to him. He followed orders, didn't talk out of turn. He memorized what they taught him, took their criticisms to heart. He had to be good, because then they didn't have any reason to crack down on him. He hoped that by being good, one day they would give him the same leniency they gave to Rose as she aged. 

Because his withering away was inevitable. Behaving was his only chance at perhaps achieving happiness one day. 

Chapter Text

The air was different when Alec awoke the next day. As he stretched his tight muscles, went about correcting misaligned feathers, he knew that something had changed. At least, something was afoot.

The tutors were late in unlocking his door to bring him to breakfast. They were late in the sense that they didn't come for a whole hour, and when they did, their faces were solemn.

"Alec, did you speak to Invierno at any point yesterday?" Hodge asked immediately.

The question confused him. He shook his head.

"We need your help tracking her, using your parabatai rune," the tutor continued, and who was Alec to disobey?

More often than not, the feelings he got from his parabatai rune were kept in the back of his mind. They honestly were not much different from his own, hardly discernible. At the moment, he felt calmness radiating through the bond, like quiet after a storm. 

"She's in the library," he told them, and they rushed away. Alec followed them, not being given any order to stay and wait. 

She, indeed, was in the library, sat atop of one of the looming shelves. She wasn't doing anything other than staring off into the distance. 

"Invierno, get down from there this instant!" Aldertree yelled, and she promptly ignored him. 

What the hell was she thinking?

Alec sent her some of his confusion over the bond, and was startled at her response.

An apology? 

Before he could question it further, he watched on with terror as his one and only friend proceeded to pick up a long blade and pressed it against her throat.

As he screamed, his literal soul tearing and shredding to pieces, he couldn't help but focus on the eerie calm that came from Invy as she took her last breath. Alec felt like he couldn't breathe, like his lungs were caving in on themselves, like his very heart was being ripped from his chest. The commotion around him was lost to his senses, his brain was pounding in his skull, and everything was too much, so much, Alec was dying.

Everything went black. 

When he woke up, he was in the infirmary. The pain was still there, but it was lesser, a pulsing reminder to what he had just lost. The only breathing person he had been closest to, but had also known nothing of. 

It felt like there was a gaping wound on his very soul, and the will to live was slowly seeping out of him. 

From around the curtain, he could hear the tutors talking. "What are we to tell the Clave? There's no way we could stage this as an accident." 

"We could say it was Valentine. He's back, and all that. It would make sense that he would go after an Avian to send a message."

"If we say that, there'll be mass panic over the fact that not only was he in Idris, but also managed to get within the Asylum walls and past our defenses. Can you not imagine the hellfire that would rain down on us for failing to keep a treasure of Alicante safe?"

"Why do we even have to admit that she's dead? It's not like they ask for progress reports or come to see them regularly."

"And when the Clave finally does decide to visit and we can't procure one of the three Avian entrusted in our care? There'll be worse repercussions if we keep it hidden, especially for a prolonged period of time."

Not wanting to hear anymore, Alec quietly climbed out of the infirmary bed, ignoring the ache in his heart as he listened to how carelessly they talked about Invy. As if she was not worthy of any honor or decent respect. As if she was barely deserving of the right to be treated humanely, even after death. 

He snuck towards the exit, rushing down the hall. He kept his wings tucked in tightly, praying to the Angels they wouldn't knock into anything that would draw the attention of the tutors to his absence. 

He needed to get out of here. 

Grateful for having the guard rotations ingrained in his memory, Alec knew the best twists and turns to keep himself undetected as he ran towards the nearest exit: the outdoor training grounds. Once he got out there all he had to do was scale the brick retaining wall, and before he knew it, he was out. 

He was out of the Asylum. 

He ran for the woods, not daring to look back. The second they realized he was awake and out of bed, every single soul would be scouring the grounds for him. 

Invy, whether intentional or not, had distracted them enough for them to let their guard down. It had given Alec enough time to escape, and he wasn't going to let her sacrifice be wasted.

He ran for what must've been hours, and only stopped when he was so bone tired that he was sure he would collapse any given second. Alec had absolutely no clue where he was, or what he was going to do now. But he couldn't go back. He could never go back. 

Shivering, he wrapped his wings around himself, curling into himself as he sat on the unforgiving forest floor. He was so on edge, his heart still hammering, and he was more terrified than he had ever been in all his years of living. 

Yet, the exhaustion crept up on him until he was fruitless in his fight to stay awake. As his eyelids grew heavy, and his consciousness slipped away, the last thing he felt should have startled him awake, but didn't.

A throbbing from his parabatai bond, as if it were stitching itself back together again. A pulse of warmth and comfort being sent his way. 

Invy?

Chapter Text

"Alec?"

He startled awake, eyesight readjusting in the bleary early morning light. His muscles ached, taut from the awkward position he had been curled in. 

Invy was crouched over him, hands outstretched to steady him in his panicked state. 

"What the fuck, Invy?" he grit. 

Eyes watering, she smiled. "I'm sorry, I didn't know what else to do. I had to get us out of there. I can explain everything in depth later, right now we need to move." 

It definitely was her. Leave it to Invierno to always go to the extreme, never do anything half-assed. Staging her death instead of just planning a regular escape? Typical. 

She helped pull him to his feet, and they were off. 

Alec must not have slept for many hours. His bones still weighed him down, his blood still sluggish as he tried to get a move on. It didn't help that he had chosen a bed of dirt and rocks and tree roots to crash for the night. 

Thankful to not have to run anymore, Invy seemed to know where she was going. That, or she was very good at bs-ing her confidence and sense of direction. 

Alec's curiosity got the best of him after a mere few minutes. "Mind telling me where you're taking us?" 

She looked back over her shoulder. "We need to leave the wards encompassing Idris. Once we're outside of them, a warlock is going to come and portal us to a safe house."

"How the hell did you get in contact with a warlock? When did you find the time?"

"You really think I just gave up on life and spent all those months staring at a wall? This isn't 'The Yellow Wallpaper.' While I am depressed as fuck, the less threatening I appeared, the easier it was to sneak around behind the Tutors' backs." Invy's pace had slowed as she talked, her feet dragging and kicking at the rocks beneath her. 

Alec scoffed, "you didn't think once to let me in on your secrets? I thought you were gone, for Angel's sake! I felt you die!" 

She stopped in her tracks, throwing herself into Alec so quickly that it was a miracle he didn't fall to the ground. Invy hugged him like her life depended on it, and he gripped back with just as much force, if not more. 

"It was a resurrection spell. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. But when could I tell you? They never left us alone together. They were trying to prevent exactly this. I'm sorry, Alec, I never wanted to hurt you." 

They only had a few moments before they had to pull away again, to keep moving. 

"If you ever pull a number like that on me ever again, I will kill you," Alec said. Invy's eyes gleamed, giving a nod of acknowledgement to the message conveyed. I can't afford to lose you.

The rest of the way, Alec wasn't sure whether or not to look over his shoulder in paranoia. He had the advantage of slipping past the tutors unnoticed, but he didn't know how much of a head start he had on them. It could be minutes, or even hours. He's lucky they didn't catch up to him when he stopped to rest. 

If he was even luckier, they wouldn't have a clue which direction he was headed. 

They trekked for what must have been an hour or two before Invy came to a slow stop. She pulled a stele out of her pocket, writing a quick fire message. Almost instantaneously a portal opened before them. A man with green skin stepped out, a kind smile that reached his eyes helping to emanate a friendly energy. 

Alec had never met a warlock before in real life, only ever seen pictures. To be honest, he was fairly certain he had never actually met a single Downworlder once in his entire life. 

And yet, here was one before him, willing to help bring them away from the only life they'd ever known, and risk persecution in aiding them. Surely, downworlders couldn't be that awful if here was a stranger willing to risk so much to lend a hand?

"Invierno, how nice to finally meet you. I see you've brought a friend. Ragnor Fell," the man introduced, giving a slight bow. He gestured to the portal, and the two Avians walked through without protest. 

The tutors had warned them about downworlders, but had emphasized how warlocks wanted nothing more but to use them for their feathers. Alec felt some weariness arise at the prospect that Ragnor could be manipulating them and walking them right into a trap, but...

Surely it wouldn't be much worse than being imprisoned at the Asylum? 

On the other side of the portal was a quaint apartment, with very few material objects. Yet, it still had a lived-in feeling, accentuated by some pictures on the wall, a jacket strewn to the side, a hurriedly folded blanket flung over a couch. 

"Cat! We're here!" Ragnor called out, and a mundane looking woman walked around the corner. She was wearing peculiar clothes, some sort of uniform. 

The way she looked them over should have sent an itch under Alec's skin. Instead, he could see the hint of worry set in the tinge of her cheek, as if she was biting her tongue to keep herself from speaking without thought. 

"You both are quite thin. When was the last time you've eaten? I'll heat some soup on the stove." 

At her words, Alec half-expected her to leave the room, and he couldn't help it as his muscles tensed as the tendrils of magic swirled from her fingertips. 

Another warlock, then. If this was a trap, then they were surely screwed. 

It helped that the cozy apartment gave Alec a false sense of security. He shouldn't, but he could feel himself starting to trust the pair already. 

"I'm Catarina Loss. I'm a nurse, and I also specialize in healing magic. Would it be alright if I looked you two over more closely? Ragnor tells me the Asylum did not treat you too kindly."

The Avians were led to the couch to sit down as Catarina instructed them to lift their arms, flex their wings, look into a pen of light. She was careful to not directly touch their wings as she examined their feathers more closely, and Alec thought it strange that she appeared to know what she was doing. As if this wasn't the first time she had handled this sort of scenario. 

"Other than the slight dehydration and the fact I'd like it if you put on a few more pounds, your condition is acceptable. However, I can hear your heartbeats without having to get too close, and that's something I'm going to want to monitor. High resting heart rates are bad news in the long-term. I know you two are stressed. It's okay to be scared. But I promise that you're safe now, and they won't find you here."

Alec leaned into Invy for comfort. "Where is here, exactly?"

"New York, in the United States."

New York. That's where his family lived. His parents, his sister. He hadn't been this close to them in eons. Yet, for once, he wasn't yearning to see them. 

A part of him hoped that they would never know he was here. By now, the Asylum had likely contacted them to alert them to his escape, which meant the search for him would be on. They would just be looking in the wrong part of the world. 

Oh, how he never would've thought he'd end up here. 

Chapter Text

Catarina was unapologetically kind. She fed them when they were hungry—which was constantly—never once rationing their food or demanding they exercise some self-restraint. If anything, it appeared to make her happier the more she was able to feed them. She was cautious when using her magic around them, but in the few days they had stayed at her apartment, the less skittish they were around it. The once foreign swirls of color became a familiar source of comfort, associated with Catarina's gentle energy.

Ragnor was strange. A character might be a better choice of word. His personality was unpredictable in that it was never constant, his energy coming and going with the tides. 

It was clear that Cat had more experience with handling the wounded. She was predictable, unlike the tides, and was careful and calculated with her movements. 

Don't get Alec wrong, he had no issue with Ragnor. He simply wished the man wouldn't go from calm to passive aggressive to calm to loud within minutes. He supposed, this was how normal people must behave. 

He could tell that Invy was struggling with breaking from routine just as much as he was. To go from always being told how to behave to having no guide as to what to do next. Which, was the biggest question swirling around the Avians at the moment. 

"You're welcome to stay here as long as you need to," Catarina had assured them on more than one occasion. 

While Alec liked it here, liked feeling less like a bird trapped in a cage, he still ached to stretch his wings—both literally and metaphorically. 

He wondered what the tutors had told his family. The Clave. He tried not to obsess over it, but in his defense he had just done the most rebellious thing in his entire rule-abiding life. So, sue him, if he wasn't the least bit curious about what the Shadow World was saying about him. 

He got his answer about a week later, in the response of a thunderous knock on the front door. 

Panicked, he tucked his wings as tightly as he could around himself, and hid behind the couch. 

Catarina opened the door, mumbling something to whoever was on the other side. Alec strained to hear, but didn't dare risk moving as to expose his hiding place. 

"I knew you two were up to something, but low and behold, did I least expect for it to be something so extreme I could barely fathom your recklessness," an airy voice chastised. 

"Please, Magnus, you're just upset you weren't included in all the fun," Ragnor replied, "And we would've, if you hadn't been too busy playing politics-"

The new voice scoffed. "Oh, please! It's not my fault I was elected High Warlock, I have responsibilities. And, such responsibilities are working in your favor in this instance. Robert and Maryse Lightwood contacted me personally because their son is believed to have been kidnapped by the Circle."

At the mention of his parents' names did Alec choose to peer around the couch at the visitor. A self-proclaimed warlock, which meant friend of Catarina's, which meant safe. 

For a second Alec felt like he had forgotten how to breathe. Because, wow, was this man gorgeous. It was like he was the human embodiment of a ray of sunshine, glimmering from across the room. 

Shit. Alec had forgotten how gay he was. 

Invy had already been sitting behind the couch before all this had started (there was a spider, which Alec would later learn, and he would feel betrayed that she hadn't warned him). There was a moment of her pensively looking back-and-forth between Alec and the newcomer before a knowing look quickly spread across her face. 

She mouthed the words, "get some," topping it off with a wink that had Alec blushing profusely. How kind of her to call him out like this. 

The stranger soon noticed them, and his whole demeanor changed instantaneously. "You can come out, I won't hurt you," he said. 

Rolling his shoulders nervously, Alec slowly crawled into his line of sight. It was obvious that the first thing he looked at was Alec's wings, but for once, he really didn't mind.

Because he looked at them like they were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He wondered if it helped make him appear more attractive overall. 

"My name is Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn," Mr. Sunshine introduced himself. 

Alec didn't reply. His heart was pounding out of his chest, and even though he wiped his sweaty palms against the carpet it didn't do much. 

Be seen, not heard. 

Catarina spoke for them. "This is Alexander, but he goes by Alec. And over here is Invierno, but she goes by Invy."

"The Defender, and Winter. It is a pleasure to meet you."

-

The Circle, according to an official announcement from the Clave, had murdered the Avian Invierno Lovelace. Shortly after, they kidnapped the Avian Alexander Lightwood, and it was not clear whether or not they had kept him alive. 

The Clave had then consulted with numerous High Warlocks, convincing threatening them to play a part in helping recover the Avians' bodies, due to the magical potency of their feathers. Surely, the Circle would do nothing good with a handful of plumes. 

Magnus, suspecting his friends to be conspiring given their typical natures, and knowing that the day he openly trusts the Clave is a day he'll never see, began to investigate further into the subject. 

Because, surely, the Avian tutors that had been present at the meeting should've been more concerned for the safety of the student they had practically raised. Should behave as though they have a dire and dangerous situation on their hands. 

Instead, there had been a look of suppressed guilt in their eyes, like they were all in on a secret they wouldn't part with even if they were on their deathbeds. 

Cat and Ragnor had caught him up on their mission, and Magnus caught them up on the cluster that was going down in the Shadow World. 

Apparently, much of the drama originated with some girl named Clary Fray (Valentine's daughter, but that name didn't mean too much to Alec) who was stirring up a storm right here in New York. 

"What is the Circle?" Invy finally asked, tired of hearing the name with no context. 

The warlocks all froze in their seats, blinking owlishly. 

"You... don't know?" Ragnor questioned. 

"We barely know anything about Nephilim. We've never met any Downworlders until you three. And, while we may have runes, they're more for decoration. Heaven forbid they give us steles within the Asylum, we were prisoners. We were never meant to feel empowered."

Alec added, "Avians exist for show, not tell. The Clave parades us around a few times in our entire lives, and then we die a miserable and lonely death. You can't let them take us back. They'll make our lives a living hell."

The anger in the room was palpable, but it clearly was not directed at anyone within its four walls. Then, like a cracking dam, all the warlocks began firing off, one after the other. 

"To treat your own kind in such a way, it's abominable." 

"The wings might has well've been warlock marks, considering they hid you away instead of treasuring you."

"We promise, they won't be able to get within a hundred feet of you, or I'll personally blow their heads clean off their torsos."

"They're afraid of your power, so they raise you to feel powerless."

And, yeah. All of the above. Alec couldn't have agreed more. 

Didn't make him any less afraid of the tutors trying to take him back. 

Chapter Text

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Alec, even if I hadn't known you my whole life, I would've been able to recognize you having the hots for the High Warlock."

"Stop."

"Sorry, Captain Obvious excuses herself." Invy had her hands mockingly raised in defeat, and Alec wanted to smack them down.

"This is harassment."

Invy hummed, not saying another word despite the fact she was smiling like a cat that got the cream. 

"C'mon, it wasn't that obvious, was it?

"Invy... Invy!" 

She began humming an old tune, some childhood song that Alec recognized but couldn't tell you the words if his life depended on it. 

They were sat on their shared bed in their makeshift bedroom, eating some exotic fruits conjured by Catarina, and flipping through historic Nephilim texts. They would've been sitting outside on her small balcony if the weather had been working in their favor. But, to be honest, the pounding rain had a certain way of calming one's nerves. 

Magnus' protection had helped soothe many worries about the Avians' safety. He had consulted with other High Warlocks and something called the Spiral Labyrinth, which meant much of the Downworld was flocking to their support. It had become clear on part of the Clave that there was going to be a fun-on war between them and Valentine for what they believed to be his handiwork. 

Catarina and Ragnor had also been advocating as well, sharing stories of their mistreatment and spreading it as gossip. It likely would not be long before said gossip left the Downworld and reach the Shadowhunters themselves. 

What were Robert and Maryse going to think when they found out how their eldest son had been treated? Like nothing more than an animal in captivity? Were they aware of what was going on behind the Asylum walls?

Would Isabelle regret not getting to know her brother better? Not visiting him more often? Then again, the only thing connecting them was their blood, it was likely she felt nothing towards him at all. There wasn't much in the world that could change that. 

Alec's only value to his family, after all, were the wings on his back. If he had been born without them, they likely would've disowned him at this point for his sexuality. 

His sexuality that he figured was known by the tutors that raised him, despite his efforts to hide it. It was something that had become clear when both Invierno and he had gone through puberty, and nothing had changed between them. There had been a few lectures on sex and where babies came from, but it didn't take too long for Hodge to realize that there was no point in giving said lectures to two teenagers that would never touch each other in such a way. 

Yeah. If Alec had really wanted to hide it, he should've done a better job at pretending to be straight. 

"Invy? Do you think that if I were straight, we would've..." Alec started but found his mouth to become very dry very suddenly as he tried to phrase his thoughts. 

She snorted. "What, a couple? The tutors tried encouraging it, so that might've been enough to deter us."

He started at his parabatai's words. "Encourage?"

"Duh, Alec, why do you think they explained to us how to have sex? It may have seemed as discouragement, but they gave us plenty of chances to start something we couldn't stop. Two Avians getting it on gives them such a high chance of us producing another one that they couldn't resist themselves."

"When...?"

"Them leaving the room to go grab something? Having us spar together at night, out under the fucking stars? Don't tell me you were too gay to notice the heteronormativity being pushed onto us."

There was a moment's silence as he processed her words. "But what about us being parabatai? Wouldn't that be weird if we were together too?"

"I'm sure they would've made an exception," Invy said, "besides, it doesn't matter now. You have your eyes set on someone who I think is a real catch."

The bowl of fruit was almost empty now, books long forgotten. Alec reached to grab the last piece of pineapple, but Invy was fast to pluck it from his fingers with a smirk. 

"You never did say if you were attracted to men or women." He phrased it more as a question than a statement.

Invy sighed, moving the empty bowl over to the bedside table. She started moving the books out of the way as well, almost as if she could avoid answering. She laid down, patting the space next to her for Alec to do the same. 

"Is neither an option?" 

-

They talked for quite some time after that, until the pouring rain lulled them to sleep. They were awoken later by a light knock on the door, which stirred Alec more than Invy, who mumbled something before cuddling further into Alec's side, her wing tightening itself around him. She had always been resistance to waking up right away.

It was Magnus who peered his head in, and Alec wished he could've sat up upon seeing him, to be level with him. 

"Ah, sorry, I can come back later," the warlock apologized, beginning to leave.

"No, wait!" Alec wanted to hit himself for sounding so desperate. He rolled Invy off of him, and she opened one eye to glare at him. Said glare softened when she realized who else was in the room. Both moved to sit up, and Magnus cautiously approached. Looking over at Invy, Alec couldn't help but subconsciously move to straighten out some rumpled feathers. 

Invy turned to do the same, except her eyes zeroed in on one that was particularly askew, and she gently wrapped her fingertips around its base before quickly ripping it out. It stung, but wouldn't been more painful in the long-run if left unattended. 

Magnus seemed even more weary to approach at the sight of the two grooming each other—as if he were intruding on something intimate—and moved slowly to sit on the end of the bed. 

"We won't bite, you know," Invy teased.

"Sorry, I just don't want to intrude."

"You're not really intruding on anything," Alec stated. 

Magnus still seemed unsure. It was at this choice moment that Invy decided to get up and excuse herself to use the restroom in a matter of seconds, gone before Alec could try and force her to stay. He was going to kill her for abandoning him like this. 

"You two seem close," Magnus said. 

Alec nodded absentmindedly. "That's kind of what happens when you have no choice in who you get to be friends with. She's like a sister to me, at this point. I'd say she's the sister I never had, but, I do have one. Even if I barely know her at all."

Magnus inched a bit closer. "So, you two are like siblings then? For what it's worth, I'm glad you have someone in your life that knows what you're going through. It may not seem like it, but it makes it easier knowing you're not alone in your battles."

Alec nervously combed his fingers through his right wing. He hoped his face wasn't as red as he imagined it was in this moment. 

"I don't know if this is too forward of me, or if there are customs against it... May I?" Magnus gestured at Alec's wing, right where his own fingers were threaded. Throat dry, Alec mumbled his agreement, forcing a nod when it looked like Magnus hadn't heard him. 

The best way to describe another person touching your wings would be to compare it to someone running their fingers through your hair. His wings were sturdier than many would expect them to be, his hollow bones thrumming with angelic grace to protect them from being crushed. 

As Magnus gently prodded at a feather, marveling at its soft texture, Alec was certain that if Magnus wanted to crush his wings and rip out each feather one by one, Alec would gladly let him. He probably should feel more anxious about a warlock coming so close to the thing that the tutors told him would be used against him. The thing that he would be exploited for, because his feathers were the only reason for his worth.

Yet, the thumping in his chest and the sweat on his brow was due to the proximity between Magnus' and Alec's face. How he could feel the warlock's breath with each exhale, the heat radiating off his skin. 

Alec's eyes closed involuntarily as Magnus combed through the feathers, lightly scratching the skin underneath. By the Angel. 

Invy could take a backseat. The only person Alec wanted grooming him from now on was one Magnus Bane.

Magnus cleared his throat but didn't stop in his ministrations. Alec opened his eyes. 

"Catarina thinks it would be best to move Invierno and you to my loft, where the wards are stronger. By now, the Clave has assumed that Valentine has you, and is in pursuit of the Mortal Cup. They believe he is experimenting ways to create new shadowhunters using the grace from your feathers and downworlder blood. While the Downworld leaders are already well-aware of the truth, Valentine is still very much a threat. And, he knows that he does not have you in his possession, but with the Clave openly announcing you're not in their protection..."

"Means he knows I'm out there."

Magnus nodded, pulling his hand away. Alec wished he could pull it back. "I think it's best we move sooner rather than later. The good news is my loft is only a portal away. The bad news is that I have no idea what is in store for us."

"It's okay. I trust you."

---At the New York Institute

"Izzy, you're really going to take Meliorn's word over the Clave's?" Jace chastised.

"Seelies can't lie, and you know that! He said so much, there's no way he's making it up."

"What does this mean?"

"It means that all this time I've been letting my own blood be mistreated! I thought he, I thought he was spending his days pampered or some shit! Not locked away to rot! Mom and Dad always said it was for the best, that he needed special training, but, but..."

Izzy found herself spiraling, even with her parabatai grabbing onto her shoulders, trying to ground her. 

"Hey, we're going to save him. Valentine needs him alive, or he would've killed him already with that other girl," Jace pointed out. Meanwhile, the silent observer in the corner finally decided to speak up.

"I don't understand, I thought Jace was your older brother," Clary said. 

Izzy furiously wiped at her own tears. "He is. I have another brother, Alec. He's an Avian, so he grew up at the Asylum in Alicante."

"An Avian?"

Jace stepped toward her, stepping from foot to foot as he tried to find his next words. "A Shadowhunter born with angelic wings. It's extremely rare, but when it happens, they're not allowed to hunt like we do. They're protected from the Downworld because their feathers contain highly concentrated angelic grace that can be weaponized against us."

"You two haven't talked about him much."

"That's because the last time I saw him was at the funeral of another Avian. He was so upset, and I didn't know how to comfort him or what to even say to him to begin with. By the Angel, I'm such a fool." Izzy continued to beat herself up, and it was clear much couldn't be said that would make her think otherwise. 

"We'll save him, Izzy, I promise," Clary declared, "and you'll make it up to him."

Izzy weakly smiled. "I just hope it's not too late." 

Chapter Text

There was a banging on the door to Magnus' loft, and Alec froze where he was standing. Magnus wasn't home, he had to go run a few errands at something called Pandemonium, telling them that the wards would protect them and wouldn't allow anyone through that had the intent to harm. 

Alec's thoughts began to spiral with panic. How did the wards know if someone intended harm or not? Could they temporarily tell themselves they came with peace and they change their minds once they got through? 

Were the wards only to the front door, or did they encompass the whole building? 

He wished he had asked these sorts of questions sooner. 

The banging continued, with an angry voice beginning to call for Magnus. 

"Goddammit, Magnus! Open up!" 

There were other voices muttering to each other from the other side of the door. If Alec had to guess, there were four individuals based off the voices alone. 

He felt a presence behind him, and he spun on his heel so fast it's a miracle he didn't trip and fall on his ass. 

Alec let out a sigh of relief at the sight of Invierno, holding a blade in hand and a stele in the other. She glamoured her wings, a trick she learned from a copy of the Grey Book Magnus had in his apartment (which they didn't ask about how he had obtained it, simply grateful to have access to the runes within). 

She motioned for Alec to hide out of sight of the door, tossing him the stele. He swung around the corner into the kitchen, listening intently as Invy opened the door. 

"You're not Magnus Bane," a female voice pointed out. Yeah, no shit

"He's not here at the moment. Come back later."

The female voice spoke again, "I'm not going anywhere. He has my memories, and I'll wait here for him, thank you very much."

There was a noise of scuffle, which Alec took to be as Invy pulling the knife she had on the unexpected visitors. 

"Trust me when I say you don't want to piss me off," Invy spat, "I'm under the High Warlock's protection, and a bunch of Shadowhunters coming and harming me will not sit well with the Spiral Labyrinth."

Peering around the corner, Alec stiffened as Invy turned the knife on herself, poising it to stab herself. He had a horrid flashback to the last time he had seen her in such a position. Taking the stele, he glamoured his own wings in case he needed to intervene. 

It was at that moment that a portal opened, and the warlock in question stepped out and quickly took in the scene before him. 

"Raphael, what's this?" Magnus asked incredulously, "you should know better than to bring a bunch of Nephilim here."

Invy let the knife come to a rest at her side, but kept a vigilant watch on the Shadowhunters. Alec couldn't see them from his vantage point, but he had made brief eye contact with Magnus. 

"You have something of the redhead's."

"I have no such thing, and if you haven't heard, we're on the brink of war. This is the worst of times to expose my living quarters to their kind." 

"Wait! You knew my mother-"

Magnus held a hand up, the room being commanded into silence with the gesture. 

"Clarrisa Fairchild. You want your memories back. Sadly, I don't have them, I fed them to a memory demon with no chance of getting them back. I also owe nothing to you, your mother paid me to erase your memories. Now, if that's all, leave."

Invy had slowly inched to stand behind Magnus, trusting him to handle the situation. 

"We're trying to stop Valentine! He's after the Mortal Cup-"

"I am well aware. But the Downworld is handling themselves just fine, thank you."

"Hey!" a new voice, male, decided to interject. "What's your fucking deal? If you haven't heard, Valentine has an Avian, my brother! Don't you see what's at stake here?"

Invy squinted her eyes in confusion, as if trying to solve some sort of puzzle in front of her. "You're not Alec's brother. You're too old."

The room paused at her words. 

"You know my brother?" Isabelle Lightwood's voice broke through the silence. 

Invy looked slightly offended at not being recognized by the Shadowhunters that were supposed to revere her, and Alec had the right mind to try and snuff his snort at the sight, even though he was slightly terrified that his biological sister was right around the corner. His cover was inches away from being blown out of the water. 

"He stopped being your brother the second your family decided to abandon him and leave him to rot." Invy's voice was calm, as if she was simply stating a fact.

"Wait, how do you know him?" Isabelle rephrased her question, and Invy scoffed. 

Magnus decided to step in. "The Downworld has an invested interest in keeping the Avians protected from Valentine. We've been in... communication with people working as double agents under Valentine. He has no Avians in his hold whatsoever. Your brother ran away from the Asylum, Devil knows where. I suggest you re-calibrate your focus. Now, leave."

With that, they were shoved out the door. 

"Guess it's time to relocate," Magnus muttered under his breath, whisking away to his study. 

 

Chapter Text

Magnus' loft had been relocated to a new corner of Brooklyn, the wards further strengthened and its address given out to only a select few (see: Catarina and Ragnor). 

Raphael had also received a firm scolding, and was warned about the dangers of fraternizing with the exact people Magnus was trying to hide the Avians from.

"Aren't they his siblings? Surely they wouldn't hurt him?" The vampire had scoffed.

"Who do you think put him in that prison in the first place?" Had been Catarina's retort. 

Magnus had much fewer visitors after the move. Only other warlocks, and they were always led through portals by Magnus and escorted out the same way. It was strange, though, how so many warlocks had a vested interest in hiding Alec and Invy from the Clave. 

"We know what it is like to be hunted, to only be seen for what sets us apart and not trusted because of it," they would say, "The Clave still treats us like dirt, so they shan't be surprised that we are comfortable in working against them. The Accords be damned."

- - -

Invy plucked one of her feathers, twirling it between her fingers as she waited for Alec to do the same. 

"The magic from our feathers only works if used with consent, which means feathers plucked with force do zilch. And, because their power is angelic in nature, Ragnor's found that when he performs spells with them it's not quite powerful after mixed with his demonic energy," she explained. 

Magnus had cleared the living room of all furniture for their little experiment, whilst making a comment about protecting priceless artifacts from being 'blown to smithereens.' 

It seemed he was still bitter from Invy accidentally destroying some old Chinese vase when experimenting with Ragnor a few days prior. 

"I still think this isn't going to do anything," Alec couldn't help but comment as they swapped respective feathers with each other. 

Invy seemed to ignore him, closing her eyes and going about her spellwork. Deciding it wouldn't help to do anything else but follow along, he closed his eyes as well. 

At the Asylum, practicing angelic magic was not something included in their curriculum. In fact, other than grooming, they weren't taught much about the properties of their wings at all. Alec had done more and learned more about the practice while under a warlock's roof than he ever had in the place he had been raised. 

It was a strange experience at first. Plucking feathers wasn't usually necessary (otherwise he would surely go bald from all this experimenting). The first spell he had done was a simple healing spell to mend a purposely self-given paper cut. It had sent a chill through his veins, as if Alec had glacial water running alongside his blood, as he called on the grace in his wings and focused it on healing his skin. Once he was done, he was flooded with warmth, like the kind your skin radiates after falling asleep in front of the fireplace. 

He could heal others as well. And send people crashing across the room, or cause things to tip over. The last one wasn't as impressive, but Alec was building up to trying to levitate them. 

Invy, ever the rebellious one, had been practicing with her grace a little while longer. Her faked suicide came very close to the real thing had it not been for a significant healing spell. Although, Alec suspected it was more along the lines of a resurrection spell, but he stopped pushing after it became clear Invy wasn't ready to talk about it. 

Concentrating on the snowy white feather in his hand, he thought about drawing out its grace instead of drawing from his own. Unlike the other times performing magic, there was no rush throughout his body. Instead there was just a faint warmth in his fingers where they made contact with the feather, such a minuscule difference that he almost didn't notice it. 

Within an instant, the feather lit ablaze with a blue flame, illuminating the room more brightly than the overheard lights. Neither the vane nor the shaft of the feather itself burned, but the fire flared with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

It was beautiful, like holding a burning star. Something wild tamed to be marveled at in a way that seemed unjust. A power forbidden for a reason. 

Looking across he saw Invy had opened her eyes. Instead of just using the grace from Alec's feather, she had decided to combine it with her own grace. 

Alec could see now why the Clave had locked them away to make them feel powerless, as though they weren't capable of protecting themselves and therefore needed their own protection. Because, as they were coming into their power, they rivaled everything that a Shadowhunter was. While they had their runes, Avians had something omnipotent. 

Invy's eyes glowed bright blue to the point where they were almost white. But that wasn't the first thing Alec had noticed, it was just a minor detail taken in as he absorbed the whole picture. Invierno was ablaze, engulfed in the same blue fire that Alec held in the palm of his hand. It wrapped around and hugged her like a blanket. She even looked relaxed enough to take a nap then and there. 

Deciding to combine his own power with his flame, embracing the rush through his veins was an experience tenfold. He could taste starlight on his tongue, could feel his very bones vibrating with the strength of his ancestors, hear their cries of battle echoing through his ears. 

Alexander Lightwood felt invincible. 

Chapter Text

Izzy had returned to Magnus' loft the next day to demand answers, only to find that it had vanished. The building was still there, but after making the climb up the stairs, the floor itself had been refurbished into something entirely different. 

At first, she believed she had gotten the floors mixed up, and ended up scouting the whole building to right the supposed mistake. Then, she came to the realization that Magnus and his loft had vanished with all its contents, the High Warlock having gone into hiding. 

In hindsight, they shouldn't have imposed last night. Forcing Raphael to take them to Magnus had been a last resort. The warlock had a reputation for partying, so at first they thought they could lure him out with some bait given to them by Hodge. 

Except, that had failed tremendously, with Magnus never showing his face. They ended up scouting his club Pandemonium a few nights in a row to no avail. Then, things started getting dicey between the Clave representatives sent to the New York Institute and Isabelle's parents, and they had been forced to step up their game to move things along. 

It didn't help that Clary herself was the human embodiment of reckless and impulsive decisions. It also didn't help that Jace was magnetized to her, ready to throw himself to the wolves if that's what she wanted to do. 

Izzy prided herself in being a good Shadowhunter, and part of that came with having a parabatai at her side that she could trust and vice versa. The only problem was, she felt like a dog on a leash being tugged this way and that as Jace dragged her along on his excursions with the new object of his affections. 

But, she liked Clary, and wanted to help (she just wished people put a little bit more thoughts into their actions before they acted). It must've been hard to have everything you've ever known be ripped out from underneath you, and the girl was desperate to save her mother from Valentine. Izzy could feel equal desperation beginning to claw its way up her throat at wanting to save her brother from the same man. 

Except, Valentine didn't have Alec. 

At least, that's what Magnus and his friend had said. Izzy was just hesitant to accept that information, especially from two Downworlders. She wasn't prejudice or anything, but what did they know about the affairs of Avians? They were kept under lock and key in Alicante, far, far away from the Downworld and its grasp. 

What if it was all a ploy, a wrench in their plans to find Valentine? 

It was always said that warlocks wanted Avians' feathers for themselves, unable to resist the value of their magical properties. But up until a few weeks ago, the Clave was supposed to be the ones protected the Avians, and they were the ones who said such things in the first place. What were the chances that it was they who were the liars?

Knowing who she could and couldn't trust was getting much harder to decipher nowadays. 

- - -

"So, what, he just vanished? Isn't there some sort of tracking spell we can do?" Clary demanded. 

Izzy shook her head. "It's just like why we couldn't find him easily in the first place. He clearly was uncomfortable that we came barging into his place uninvited, so we shouldn't be surprised that he spooked. He had an obvious distrust of Shadowhunters."

"What about Raphael?"

"Him and Magnus had a falling out, I already asked him about it. Apparently, the entire Downworld knows about the mistreatment of Avians within the Idris Asylum. You know how the Clave said Valentine killed the one Avian? She committed suicide." Izzy felt choked up at the idea of feeling so trapped that there was no other way out. Had Alec ever felt that way? 

"It caused a bunch of commotion, and that's when Alec slipped past the guards and ran away. The Clave lied to us," she finished. 

Clary shook her head, as if to shake away the bad things she was hearing. "God, that's awful. But, why would the Downworld care so much about how the Avians were being treated? They have angel blood, they're nothing alike." 

"Because," Jace said, "they know that the Avians don't trust other Nephilim after what happened to them. If they spread the word they're against the Clave and what they've done, the Avians will go running to the other side for protection."

"And then they can use them against us," Clary finished for him. 

Of course, it was all a bunch of manipulation. It couldn't just be because they cared about their well-being and fair treatment. Magnus Bane had lied straight to their faces—

That didn't make sense. The Downworld want Valentine's defeat just as badly as the Clave does. Unless...

"What if on top of defeating Valentine, Downworlders want to take over Alicante? What if it's another war because they feel the Accords are too controlling?" Izzy supplied.

"But my mom trusted Magnus. Surely he can't hate Shadowhunters that much." Clary seemed somewhat doubtful at the conspiracies brewing before her.

"He was a cold jerk to us at his loft. He literally told Raphael he should know better than to bring our 'kind' around. He wanted us out of there as soon as possible, and that wouldn't be for no reason," Jace explained. 

The trio seemingly in agreement, they were unsure of where to go from here. They couldn't go to Maryse or Robert, because it would implicate them of conspiring against the Clave, seeing as every Nephilim everywhere was being lied to. 

And, they couldn't go to any Downworlders, because it was impossible to know whose side anyone was on anymore. 

Looks like it's just the three of them, from here on out. 

Izzy hoped Alec was safe, and that the Downworld hadn't gotten to him yet. If that was the case, she had no idea how to save him. 

Chapter Text

"Remember, the Seelie Queen cannot be trusted," Magnus warned them for the umpteenth time. In order to assure their alliance with the Seelies, the Queen had demanded requested a meeting with the Avians. 

"Magnus, it will be alright. We now know that their feathers don't have any magical potency if taken without consent," Ragnor said. Magnus did not seem comforted at all by his friend's words. He had a history with the Queen, and was in a position of political limbo with her thanks to his position as High Warlock. 

Magnus huffed, "and what if she forces them to willingly give them some feathers in exchange for their protection?"

Invy stopped them both from their squabble. "Then we tell her to fuck off."

Alec raised his eyebrows at her word choice, but said nothing. 

Invy continued, "don't make it seem like we desperately need this alliance. I'm not weak, and my friendship will benefit her in the long-run. Besides, it's either us or the Shadowhunters, she knows she's going to have to pick a side in this fight. The whole Downworld will be looking at her in a bad light if she decides it's not worth it to protect us."

Since when did Invy become well-versed in politics? 

Ragnor looked at everyone where they stood to make sure the conversation was over before summoning a portal to the Seelie Realm. Magnus and Catarina stepped through first, and then the Avians, with Ragnor last. 

The whole court was waiting for them, the atmosphere full of uncertainty and suspense. Alec tucked his wings tighter behind himself, his skin itching from all the eyes directed at him. His eyes darted towards the ground, and he was forced to relax his clenched jaw. Out of the corner of his eye, Invy had rolled her shoulders back, maintaining strong eye contact straight ahead. He could feel her feathers brushing against his shirt and the bare skin of his arm, meaning she held them at attention. 

He exhaled, and then copied her posture. They were a united front. 

"Welcome," the Seelie Queen greeted as they approached her throne. She held the appearance of a young adult, despite being hundreds of years old (according to Magnus). 

"Your Highness," Magnus greeted in turn, before gesturing to the guests of honor, "this is Alexander and Invierno."

"So I've heard. It's a pleasure to have you here. Can I entice you to a snack? Beverage?" Suddenly, as if out of thin air, trays of teapots and cakes appeared. 

Magnus shook his head, "We ate before we came. I would rather we skipped the formalities and discussed the real reason why we are gathered here."

"That seems unlike you, my dear. But alas, if that is what you choose," the Queen said, "You wish for a treaty of protection, do you not?"

Invy poked Alec's hand discreetly, tapping his lower back with her fingertips to indicate for him to take a step forward. He did, trying to mask his hesitancy in doing so, and she mirrored his movement. 

"The Clave are hunting us," Alec started, "because both of us escaped their prison for Avians in Alicante. Angel knows what their punishment for us will be, but they already mistreated us gravely. All we want is basic rights. The freedom to breathe fresh air when we so chose. To not be kept in a cage like some sort of domestic bird, only leaving once or twice in our entire lives to be paraded around like a prized possession. To be treated like a living, breathing being, and not property. To not be fed lies or live in fear. To be able to make our own opinions on the world. To be an individual."

Alec was so glad they had rehearsed this. 

The Queen seemed momentarily taken aback by Alec's little monologue, as if she wasn't expecting that from him. The surprise was for barely a millisecond before she masked her face once more, but it was there nonetheless. 

Invy cleared her throat. "All we ask is for you to stand with us against the Clave, because it is the right thing to do. All we want, all I want, is for no other Avian to be treated this way ever again. I grew up oppressed for something as simple as my genes, and I know that's a concept that's not unfamiliar to you as well. The Clave told us we had to live the way we did because they told us to, and that we were powerless and defenseless in comparison to other Nephilim. But, that's not true. The Clave is afraid of Avians and our power, and if the Downworld in its entirely stands with us, they will have no choice but to listen to our demands. It's time for change, and we need your help to enact it."

Once she finished, Alec felt like his heart was going to explode out of his chest from the stress he was feeling in that moment. It took a lot of effort to conceal what he was feeling from his facial expressions. They needed this alliance. They just couldn't let it show how badly they needed it. They couldn't let the Seelies hold a bargaining chip over their heads.

"Very well. With all the Spiral Labyrinth and such on your side, it would be foolish of me to not agree to your demands. However, in exchange, there's something I must know."

No one said anything, but Magnus had a look on his face that read, "get on with it already."

"Is it true that your feathers contain traces of angelic grace?"

Alec, in some random moment of courage, chose to be the one to answer that question. "Yes. Like warlocks, we can do angelic magic. But, because it's angelic in nature, it doesn't seem like others with non-angelic blood can do anything with our feathers."

It was a small lie, but an easy one. 

"May I try?" The Queen decided to push. 

Alec held out one of his wings, gesturing to a nearby Seelie. If he wasn't the one to pluck the feather, he would be fine. 

The Seelie hesitated for too long, because out of the blue, Alec felt a sharp sting on his opposite wing. Hissing loudly, he spun to see Invy giving him a smug look, before sauntering over to the Queen with the black feather in hand.

"It is quite painful to remove our own feathers, which means it's easier to have someone else do it for you," she explained as she handed it over to the Queen.

The Queen spun the feather between her fingertips, looking upon it with great interest. What was likely some form of Seelie magic, she attempted to do Angel knows what with it in hand, but her magic curiously sparked out in spurts. 

And then, she squealed, throwing the feather away from her as quickly as possible. As it slowly drifted towards the ground, Alec could see that it had caught on fire, a blue flame alight on the quill. 

Invierno still had that smug look in her eyes, but it was more discreet this time, only for Alec to notice. 

Well, whatever sells the lie, right?

Chapter Text

"No, nononono, get that thing away from me!"

"It's a friend, Alec! Friend!" 

"Invy, I swear to the Angel- Magnus! MAGNUS!" 

Alec's voice trembled with fear, and Magnus dropped what he was doing in his study to rush to the kitchen, almost crashing into a mountain of white feathers. 

Alec had been backed into the far corner, Invy standing a few feet away, her back to Magnus. She began to crouch down, allowing Magnus to see what was causing so much commotion. 

On the floor was a small spider, stood motionless. Magnus almost found the situation funny, except for when he looked up and saw how pale Alec was, eyes clenched shut and trembling from head to toe. 

Invy was quick to scoop up the spider in hand, standing and spinning on her heel in an instant to make a break for the balcony. Alec didn't move from his spot. Magnus approached him with caution, making sure to keep his voice low and gentle to not startle the avian any further. 

"It's alright, Alexander, it's gone."

Alec seemed hesitant to open his eyes. He was breathing quite heavily, chest rising and falling quickly. He looked at Magnus skeptically, but scanned the floor nonetheless to find it bare of the offending monstrosity. 

Invy returned, making a show of washing her hands in the sink. She turned to Magnus and said, "he's been like this around s-p-i-d-e-r-s since we were little."

"I know how to spell, asshole."

Invy squinted her eyes at Alec. "Thanks, Invierno," she mocked, "You're my hero, I don't know what I would do without you and your spider-removing abilities."

Alec relented. "Thank you," he muttered, slightly ashamed of himself. 

"Is that all?" Magnus asked, finding it slightly adorable that in his panic Alec had called out for him, even though Invy had the whole situation under control from the start. 

They were interrupted by a pounding on the door, startling all three of them. Out of instinct, Alec and Invy automatically glamoured their wings from sight. 

"Magnus Bane, by the Order of the Clave, I demand you open this door!" 

How had the Nephilim managed to find him now? Did spontaneous relocation mean nothing to anybody nowadays? Whoever had given out his new location was in deep shit. 

Invy brushed past him, motioning for him to step aside. Magnus had to stifle a laugh at her brazenness. While Alec was more thoughtful and reserved, Invy liked to think on her feet, and was prone to violence as Magnus had come to learn. She loved to get a rise out of people, having the upper-hand by being the one with her emotions in check. 

Alec liked to observe and consider his options, preferring to have as much information possible to throw together a plan. The two Avians worked together like clockwork that way. Neither were in charge of the other, but in the heat of the moment they would only listen to each other. It likely stemmed from their deep-seated trust issues, but they used that weakness to their advantage at times. 

Invy swung open the door, and Magnus strolled over to stand behind her. Robert Lightwood stood flanked by two other shadowhunters that Magnus didn't particularly recognize. 

But both those shadowhunters paled at the sight of Invy.

"Invierno," the one spoke, taking a step back, "this isn't, you're... you died!"

"Technically," she agreed, "but turns out I'm a lot more capable of handling myself than you ever bothered to tell me." 

Alec chose to make his presence known as well, walking to stand so his shoulder was brushing Magnus'. 

Robert automatically took a step forward, raising a hand to reach towards his son, but Alec smacked it away. Robert took it as though Alec had stabbed him and then spat in his face. 

"Alec, what are you doing here?" his father asked. 

"I broke out of the prison you stuck me in. And, I'm not going back, ever."

At his indignation, Robert grew irritated. "What is all of this? Has this warlock brainwashed you?"

"No! This warlock," Alec spat, "has been helping us learn to be our own person."

Alec deglamoured his wings, which began to spark with blue flames. The shadowhunters' eyes grew with fear, glancing between Alec's wings and Invy's cold expression, unsure of how to process everything. 

"We'd like to request a meeting with the Consul, if you don't mind. I'm sure you can arrange that, right, Aldertree?" Invy's tone was condescending to say the least. 

Aldertree stuttered, unable to form a coherent and timely response. 

"Well, come back when you get all of that sorted, since you have our address now," Alec said, raising a hand. Out of nowhere, a gust of wind blew into the loft, forcing the Nephilim out the door and slamming it behind them. 

- - -

 "That was terrifying, if I'm being honest," Alec would later to admit to Magnus as they sat on the couch. Invy had disappeared after dinner (Alec knew for a fact she was in her room asleep, cuddling with Chairman Meow), so it was just the two of them.

"You've grown a lot since coming here. It's been almost two months, and what you said was very admirable, Alexander."

"I doubt me from two months ago could've mustered up the courage to be so... brazen with Aldertree. That man was the thing of my nightmares for the longest time. Well, I doubt he stopped being the thing of my nightmares, but..."

"I'm proud of you," Magnus supplied when the Avian trailed off. 

Alec startled a bit at the phrase, turning to Magnus with an unreadable expression on his face. It took Magnus a few seconds, but as Alec's eyes became a bit misty...

"No one's ever said that to me before."

And, oh.

"Well, they should've said it more often. You're a highly admirable person, Alexander, and you're so strong. You've persevered through so much, and you give me hope," Magnus said. 

The second he finished, Alec scanned his face for something. His eyes darted from Magnus' mouth to his eyes, and Magnus leaned forward in hopes he was reading the situation right. 

Alec closed the final gap. The moment their lips met felt right. Like Magnus had been missing some vital piece of information all of his long life and this was it. There were no sparks flying or fireworks going off, but things were good. The way they were supposed to be. 

They were both forced to pull away for air before they connected with each other once more. While Alec was inexperienced, he was a quick learner, and an eager one at that. 

When they pulled away for the second time, Magnus put a hand to Alec's chest to stop him momentarily. 

Alec spoke first. "Magnus, I like you. I, uh, I like you a lot."

"I like you as well, Alexander."

There was a pause of comfortable silence as they stared into each other's eyes, smiles beaming on their faces.

"I don't know what's going to happen next, with the Clave," Alec said, "but I'd like for you to be by my side, if you're willing."

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

They kissed once more.