The smiles around the table feel like a goodbye. They shouldn't do; if Alec has anything to do with it his family will be around for another fifty years, or more if he's really lucky. It's not as though this choice he's making is a death knell, stripping him from all the people he loves besides Magnus in the blink of an eye. But finality has set in on everyone's shoulders, leaving wistful smiles on the faces of those he loves every time he looks. Alec tries not to focus on who seems to be trying hardest not to cry.
As always, Magnus is a comfort, and an anchor by his side. That he has now truly accepted that Alec wants to be with him, truly for always, has taken some of the weight from Alec's load. Though even he has a wistfulness to his smile. He doesn't want to deny Alec anything. So many conversations about Alec's impending immortality focus on all the things Alec is giving up. But as he's told him, repeatedly, and with an open-hearted honesty reserved only for Magnus, Alec isn't giving up anything at all. He's gaining; far more than he can yet imagine.
It was Jace, actually, who had helped convince Magnus to accept Alec really meant the decision he was making. How he'd worded things so bluntly, that they would all lose each other in the end anyway, purely to the passage of time. That Alec choosing to be immortal was a legacy, really, and guardianship for all of their family. Because both Alec and Magnus would be there to watch over their families long after they had passed. Though the thought of Clary and Jace's future children, and Simon and Izzy's as well, only makes Alec want his and Magnus' family now. They have agreed to wait a little longer, since truly having a forever together means there is no hurry at all.
"So is there anything—anything at all we need to do, to help prepare for your… for the ceremony?" Maryse asks. Alec sends a grateful look in Luke's direction, pleased for the loose arm he has around his mother's back. His support has meant the world to Alec for how unwavering it is, giving Maryse the reassurance that he can't really give himself.
"No," Alec says, covering Magnus' hand on his thigh turning a quick glance in his direction. "I think we have everything we need."
"The ceremony itself will only take a few short hours," Magnus tells them. "It is the preparation and planning beforehand that has taken so much… effort."
Magnus hasn't stopped. In between doing his various tasks as High Warlock of Alicante, Magnus has spent close to seven months preparing, gathering together all the things they will need for the immortality ceremony as well as preparing Alec himself as much as he possibly can. Alec has been helping too; he's dabbled in potion-making for a couple of years now, so has been able to assist Magnus in some of the things needed. As well as those potions, there have been books to read, incantations to memorize, and plenty of other things besides.
Alec is as ready as he will ever be. In fact, half of him wishes he was already immortal now. In the five years he's been Inquisitor here in Alicante, Alec has achieved more than he could ever have hoped to. There will be new professional challenges for him to take on once his magic has kicked in and he has got used to controlling it, but what he wants more than anything is these next few months with Magnus. The outcome is inevitable, but the process of getting there Alec thinks will mean more to Magnus than he can ever really voice out loud. Alec made Magnus a promise long ago that he would spend his life trying to give him everything. They have even longer for him to keep that promise now.
"Will it hurt?"
Of course that is Max's question, a mixture of curiosity and concern. He's grown so wise, and tall these past few years. Perhaps not quite as tall as Alec, but enough to have Jace almost having to look up. Which Max likes a lot. He is adamant that one day he will be the tallest brother.
"Not at all," Magnus says, his gaze for Maryse with the utmost reassurance. He turns to glimpse at Alec's father, giving a discreet nod. "It will be a challenging process, one where we will all need to focus and give our undivided attention. Alec will require adequate rest following the ceremony, and however many days it takes for his magic to awaken."
"Catarina will be with you?" Maryse asks. There are no more questions from Jace and Clary, or Izzy and Simon, since this is the last in a series of dinners, and they are all asked out. They sit back soaking in the conversation, to just enjoy this last evening together. Not the last evening ever, but the last this side of Alec's immortality ceremony. Alec is still thankful to both Simon and Clary for the unending support they give to his siblings.
"She will," Magnus says, "we are as ready as we can possibly be."
Madzie will be spending the duration of the ceremony with Clary and Jace. Maryse has made several less-than-discreet comments about it being good practice. The demand for grandchildren has been pushed on to them first since Izzy and Simon are yet to marry, and Alec and Magnus have been far too busy changing the Shadow World to start a family of their own. At least, that is how Maryse likes to see things; it is at least half true. The other half involves Magnus and Alec indulging in one another making up for all the difficulties they faced early on in their relationship, and all the hard work that has separated them for so many hours since. Those are things a mother doesn't need to know about, of that Alec is sure.
"Well. If you need us, for anything, just let us know. Alright?"
Alec nods in answer to Luke. "We will. Thank you."
"Well. I think we should propose a toast."
Everyone around the table takes Maryse's lead by raising their glass, turning their attention to her as they wait for her words.
"To my son. My beautiful, brave, wonderful—"
"To Alec," Maryse says, with a teasing smile. "I am so proud of you for making this decision. We will support you every step of the way, whatever you need from us."
"Here's to Alec's new horns," Jace adds, raising his glass higher. Alec refrains from further discussions about the fact that as a new warlock, rather than a born one, he won't have a warlock mark. Jace is supportive, and loves him, and will not falter, but Alec can feel his turmoil through their rune. They don't know how that's going to work from here on out. So he lets Jace have all the fun he wants at his expense while he can still feel that connection.
"To Alec's new horns," is the resounding toast around the table; even from Magnus. Magnus leans in to steal a kiss, swirling a soothing thumb over the back of Alec's hand.
"How are you feeling?"
Magnus' voice has taken on that gentle tone Alec has come to expect whenever they talk about his impending immortality. Alec takes his hands, kissing over the knuckles of both, giving him the most open smile he can.
"Magnus. I'm good. I promise you I am."
Immortality has been a discussion point for them for so long now, Alec can convince himself he doesn't remember what it was like to live without the possibility. When they'd first been together he'd been so swept up in falling for Magnus that the reality of him one day leaving Magnus had knocked the air from his lungs. That divide between them had been a whisper in the background of so many of their conversations afterward, Alec hit with the need to share everything with Magnus, and be everything to Magnus, like he might run out of time.
That brief period when Magnus had lost his magic and immortality Alec now looks back on with frustration at himself. He hadn't meant to be selfish, to feel happy that he and Magnus were on an equal footing. Still, Alec knows he wouldn't want to change a thing, for what all that difficulty has given them both now.
"I know you are," Magnus agrees, squeezing Alec's hands as he leans in to kiss him. "Though no matter how prepared, or ready you are for what is to come, if you were nervous—"
"I'm not. Not really. Magnus, I want this—with you—more than I ever… maybe more than anything I ever have." And it's true. The thought of forever with Magnus is more than just about getting to love and be loved for as long as the universe lets them.
Seeing how quickly they have implemented changes in the last few years gives Alec hope that one day, the Clave will acknowledge Downworlders truly as equals. They have come so far with deputized Downworlders, yet there is still a large divide. He and Magnus can bring about even more peace to their world, do more for acceptance and open equality than possibly any other couple in the history of the Shadow World could ever have.
"I know you do," Magnus agrees again, easy as anything. It's taken a long, long time for Magnus to accept what Alec has been offering him, fearful that he is selfish for wanting him immortal. So to hear the words flow so freely with no hesitance on his face is soothing to Alec, and exactly what he needs this evening.
"Although this is your last free night before we begin. So if you have any last requests for your last mortal evening..."
Magnus gives Alec the world. Quite literally, for all the places he takes him to and all the experiences they share together, but also for just how much he loves him. Being loved by Magnus has allowed Alec to be the freest, most open version of himself.
If Alec wanted him to, Magnus would portal them across the world. They could spend the next few hours chasing sunsets and sunrises, or sharing kisses under the stars on an as-yet-undiscovered beach. He could bring food, and fun, and all sorts of frivolities right here into their apartment in Alicante, with only the snapping of his fingers. And though Alec knows in days, or weeks from now he will be learning to do the same for Magnus, perhaps this one last night for him free of magic, it might be good to take a moment to be Mundane. Or as Mundane as it is possible for two members of the Shadow World to be.
"How would you feel, if we took a walk through Idris? I'm sure there are parts I haven't shown you yet, and it would be good to… there are some places I haven't seen in a while. And we could go into that square in Alicante you like so much for something to eat when we're done."
"A walk it is," Magnus agrees, proving yet again his willingness to give Alec everything.
Even the air bristles with anticipation when Alec wakes on the morning of the last day of his mortal life. It's dramatic, and more than a little unnecessary, but Alec rests his palm over his chest to feel his heart thudding beneath. This heart, that powers this body, has a set number of beats before its power goes out. But his new heart, the one that will begin forming before they even reach the evening, has an infinite number of beats that magic will replenish and regenerate, so its spark will never fade.
Alec wants that magic. He can't deny his interest wasn't piqued back in Edom sharing Lorenzo's magic. Though it hasn't been the thing at the forefront of his mind about gaining immortality, which Alec has often reminded himself when feeling himself selfish for the choice he is making. That has always involved love first, and the chance to make real change in the Shadow World second. Though his fascination with magic has grown stronger over the years, Alec finding himself watching Magnus, Catarina, and even Madzie using theirs, and needing to know more. To have more.
So although the ceremony sounds complex beyond anything Alec has experienced, and no one is completely sure how quickly it will take for his magic to set in, Alec can't wait to finally begin this process. Just as soon as Magnus wakes up.
Should he wake him? Alec loves to watch Magnus sleep, relishing in the peacefulness that takes over his expression. He'll never get over how pliant Magnus is with him, how he responds to his touch even when not awake. Alec is honored, really, that only with him is Magnus not permanently on guard. And he'll get to see this beautiful view forever now, quite literally. Surely a little nudging to see if he responds won't hurt?
"I can feel you watching me."
Alec smiles both for Magnus' words and the way the corners of his eyes start to crinkle. He smiles harder still in echo to Magnus' own when he opens his eyes, leaning in to kiss him the moment Magnus tilts his chin for it.
"Good morning. You couldn't sleep?" Magnus asks, running his hand down Alec's arm then humming when he drops his face into his neck, wrapping his arms around him.
"I did. I just… woke early."
"I suppose today of all days, it is to be expected."
"I can't wait," Alec says, brushing his lips against Magnus'. "I feel like I've been waiting for this day my whole life."
"It is the start of a new one," Magnus agrees, pushing hair back from Alec's forehead and closing his eyes when Alec gets a kiss to his palm.
Whenever you're ready, Alec thinks to say, but knows he doesn't need to say a word at all. Magnus stretches and yawns, nods to say he's using the bathroom. Alec pulls himself upright and settles back against the headboard, ready for this ceremony to begin.
Magnus grabs Alec's hand and raises it to cradle between his own, kissing over his knuckles without breaking eye contact. He does this sometimes, when Alec's nervous habit of shaking his hand down by his side becomes so visible there is no way for those around him not to notice.
Alec forces a long breath from his lungs, reminding himself there is little he needs to be nervous about at all. They have been over the details of this ceremony so many times, done practice runs to ensure the words are perfect, and made back up plans in case any of the procedures go wrong.
"You can do this," Magnus says with such faith in him, and such love, that those tendrils of panic threatening to barb themselves in his heart fall away again ineffectively. Magnus is his anchor, his goal, and his reason. This is a new beginning, not an end. There is nothing to fear from this at all.
"You can," Catarina agrees, standing from where she has drawn the specific markings needed on the floor. They have converted one of the spare rooms in the loft for this specific purpose. All Alec needs to do now is add the touches to the markings that need to be by his hand, and they can begin.
The chalk is dusty in his fingers as he kneels, drawing the symbols from memory having practiced with Clary a dozen times. He repeats in his mind the words for each, using that focus to steady his hand. When he's done he gets to his feet surveying his work, smiling for Catarina's nod of encouragement and Magnus' proud gaze.
"Are you ready, Alexander?" Magnus says, taking his hand for the final time on this side of mortality.
Alec runs his thumb over Magnus' knuckles and squares his shoulders, nodding in determination. "I am."
As he steps into the chalk-drawn circle, Alec swears he can feel the hair standing up on his skin. A thousand whispers blast in at him from every direction; imagined or otherwise he gives quiet, respectful thanks to those few who have performed this ritual before him, for giving him the opportunity to do the same.
A glow begins to spread out from beneath his bare feet as he steps into the innermost circle. Alec watches the way the glow travels, wicking into each of the carefully-drawn lines. When the final circle is lit Alec feels a charge up his back that makes him stand taller still and raise his head up.
Alec focuses his gaze across the room hearing Magnus and Catarina begin their chanting. Even without looking he can feel the difference between their magic, the way it coils and shifts around him both in anticipation of change and to protect him. He doesn't flinch as Catarina takes his hand, runs her thumb pad over his palm before pricking the skin there and turning it over for his blood to drop. It is only a drop, though Alec imagines feeling his Angel essence begin to seep from him, and a heavier, more solid presence rush in to take its place.
There is more chanting, a whirling of emotions and sensations so difficult to understand and separate that he has to close his eyes. Alec pictures a coiling, spiraling thread, of light streaming in from one side and dark creeping its way back out. He knows it is far different than light and dark, that there are just as many good qualities about the demonic side he is about to take on as there are bad ones of the angelic he's leaving behind. Though there will be all the time in the world to overanalyze all he's experiencing. For now, Alec keeps it simple, just enough to understand what is happening in his mind.
A wind whips up around them, enough to make his skin feel like it is being blasted with dust. Once again Alec's mind wanders taking him back to that blast of power he'd borrowed from Lorenzo when in Edom searching for Magnus. He is determined to do all he can to not lose control again like he did back then, making silent promises to both Magnus and Catarina that he will observe all their lessons.
A pressure begins to seep into his forehead, and then throat, and sternum before settling just behind his pelvis. Alec sucks in a breath, bargaining with his words to come out right.
"Okay, Alec," Catarina says, "it's your turn."
Alec opens his eyes and takes the offered potion, repeating the long-practiced words he needs to speak before swallowing it down. From memory he recalls the symbols he needs to focus on as a new power—still not his—sparks itself to light in his core. With his arm raised high Alec draws those symbols in the air in front of him, sparks of light spilling from his palm to form the shapes. From the looks of things, Alec's core magic will be green.
"Perfect," he hears Magnus mumble in encouragement. They all decided for this part of the ceremony that Catarina would be the one to guide him, for Magnus needing to emotionally distance himself if Alec experiences any difficulty.
"You're doing great, Alec," Catarina adds, handing him a stone that instantly heats in his grip. Alec holds it between his hands and over his sternum, chanting the words needed to accompany it for the next part of his transformation.
Every vein and artery in Alec's body sings with a new life force leaving Alec half-convinced he's either trembling or floating. There are pulses of energy rippling over him in waves, and a secondary source of power trickling out from the stone. When it grows too hot Alec crouches down to put it in place in his circle, carefully rising back to his feet with his arms out for balance since he feels faint.
Alec convulses for a sickening wave that then roars through him, his heart beating faster in protest for all these changes. He straightens up again, won't look at Magnus for not wanting to see fear in his eyes, holding his hand out to Catarina for the final spell to perform.
The air crackles as he starts, shoots of brightness sparking amongst clouds of dark, Alec's ears ringing for the volume of that wind enveloping him in a cocoon. A swell of tightness begins to form in his gut and Alec knows without needing to ask that this is the beginning of the end. That tightness warps and swirls within him, around him, until he is consumed, dropping to his knees with a croaky gasp.
The wind settles, the lights fade, the chalk-drawn circle is a strewn sand drawing, blasts of color in every direction just as if an explosion has gone off.
He is the explosion. Rising to his feet made new, a charged energy pulsing through him like none he has ever known. Alec Lightwood-Bane is reborn.