The woods were eerily dark, the moon peeking through the trees high above the forest floor, leaves scattered across the dirt. The trees stood like soldiers, guarding their home, each one glaring down at the frightened 14 year old boy with shocking blue eyes. Every sound echoed in his mind, much louder than it actually was because fear made everything seems amplified. He jumped as a small animal darted past him, its fur brushing his exposed ankle.
Alec Lightwood wasn't scared of the dark, and he wasn't scared of the woods, but he was scared of dark woods, especially when he was all alone.
He hadn't always been alone; in fact, he had come out hunting- his first hunting trip- with both of his parents and his tutor, because they'd all wanted to make sure he was safe. He wasn't safe now. He was only in possession of one blade, and he was in a stretch of woods crawling with demons that would kill a young, frightened Shadowhunter like him with a flick of their wrists (if they had wrists).
It had been hours since he'd last seen his parents, and anxiety crawled in his body. It was probably midnight by now, he thought.
It didn't matter that he was trained, or that he fought well with his siblings, because they weren't here. Alec could imagine his 12 year-old sister Isabelle and his adoptive brother Jace sat at home, filled with anxiety as to the whereabouts of their brother was. Alec had found it funny when his parents said they couldn't go but now it wasn't so funny. He wished they were here, with their unwavering confidence which he didn't have.
His parents were probably still looking for him, and Hodge had undoubtedly gone home to look after Izzy, Jace and Max. By the Angel, he wished Jace were here; he'd know what to do. Jace always knew what to do. This was both a cause for consternation and admiration in Alec; admiration in Jace's infallible strength, and jealousy that Alec himself did not possess this. He'd give anything for his father to be proud of him the way he was of Jace.
He prayed that they were okay; when the demons had attacked out of nowhere, his father had been thrown into a tree whilst his mother had fought them off with Hodge. Alec had tried to take some of the smaller ones, but as he fought back, he had been separated from Maryse and Robert. Alec had cried out for them but he hadn't managed to find them. It was okay, they'd be okay. His parents were the strongest people he knew, aside from Jace.
By the Angel, it was so dark and he was so scared.
The fear inside of him made him want to scream in anger, at himself and at the demons for doing this to him. He wasn't supposed to be afraid. Shadowhunters weren't allowed to be scared, or he would be laughed at and mocked, and no one would take him seriously. He was supposed to be the brave big brother to little Max, and Izzy, not the cowering, whining one who couldn't handle himself. Why he couldn't he just be more like Jace?
A sudden crack from behind alerted him to the presence of something else in the forest. The moon now seemed menacing to him, gleefully lighting the sinister scene and stretching the trees out of proportion. They were elongated, it seemed, to tower over him like enormous centurions of the forest, ready to be done with trespassers like him. There sounded another crack, and his heart lurched in his chest. His small hand reached for the blade around his waist, holding it out in front of him in defence and loathing the way his hands shook.
"Who's there?" He called, voice clearly trembling. "I can take care of myself, and I can fight." He willed some confidence into his tone, despising himself for his fear.
Another crack, a movement from in front of him. He gasped in fright, and staggered backwards. Where were his parents, where was Jace, oh Raziel, Jace-
Letting out a tiny sob, he stepped back- into someone. Yelping, he spun around to see a tall man with cat eyes looming over him. The man, if he even was a man based on his eyes, was wearing a leopard print jumper, tight black jeans and fitting, brown gloves. He was tall and slender, with tanned skin and a face that seemed around nineteen. He was rather beautiful, Alec's traitorous mind supplied.
No, no, he could be the enemy. He's not beautiful. Alec hoisted his blade up to his chest, and pointed at the man distrustfully, eyeing him in case he made any sudden movements. The man, watching carefully, seemed amused, as he laughed aloud. Alec glared furiously, which only made him laugh more.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Alec asked swiftly, swallowing hard. He must have looked sufficiently afraid, what was wrong with him, for the man's eyes softened as he looked at him.
"Are you Alexander Lightwood?" he enquired, his voice strangely calming. Alec stared hard at him, scrutinising his appearance, unsure of whether to trust him or not. When the man only spread his hands in a peaceful gesture, Alec nodded. He kept his blade trained on him.
The man took this in stride, still seeming to find the situation amusing. Alec didn't. "I'm Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn." He said, as if that explained anything. "Your parents hired me to find you." Mr Bane's expression hardened into something of disgust when he mentioned Alec's parents, and had he not been distracted by news of his family, Alec would have bristled.
"My parents? They're looking for me?" He asked instead, frantically looking around as if expecting them to walk out from behind a tree.
Mr Bane nodded. "They searched for you for hours, but couldn't find you. So they made me do it. For a nice price, of course."
Alec didn't care about this. He opened his mouth to ask after their well-being, when a sudden thought struck him. He hadn't realised tat he'd lowered his blade until he forced it back up again, and underneath Mr Bane's chin. Mr Bane seemed to be fighting a smile. "Wait- what are their names and what's my little brother's name?"
Mr Bane sighed, lips quirking upwards. "Children." He said the word with all the fondness of a parent, but Alec was in no mood for jokes. He was cold, afraid and just wanted to go home, which meant he had no qualms with stepping forwards and stepping on Mr Bane's foot. Hard. The man grunted in surprise, no longer amused, and bent down to rub his foot.
"What are their names?" Alec tried to growl, but it came as more of a rasp.
Mr Bane glared at him, still rubbing his foot. "I'll have you know that these shoes are Prada, and I don't appreciate you stepping on them." Alec vaguely noticed that his shoes were, in fact, high-heeled (and rather nice), but then again, he shouldn't have been wearing them in a forest now, should he? "Fine, annoying yet amusing little boy. Your parents are called Maryse and Robert Lightwood. You have a little brother called Max, and a sister called Isabelle, and your adoptive brother is called Jace. You live in the New York Institute, and you're out here because it's your first hunting trip, and it went sideways. Is that enough for you?"
Alec stared at him with wide eyes, blade falling to his side. So the man really was here to save him, not to kill him. "Oh." Was all he said.
They stood in silence, Mr Bane clearly hiding a smile again- which irked him to no end- and Alec contemplating what to say. Then, he remembered his parents, and reached forwards to grab Mr Bane's wrist with his spare hand.
"Mr Bane, are my parents okay? Were they hurt after the demons came?" He asked frantically, staring up into the man's large, strange eyes. He was a warlock, Alec belatedly realised.
The man seemed more confused by the way Alec had addressed him than by the urgency of his question. "Mr Ba- It's just Magnus." He laughed. "And your parents are fine now. Your father was injured initially, demon poison and all that, but I healed him, not that I was thanked..." He continued talking, but his voice faded into Alec's mind. Panic surged inside of him, and a high-pitched buzz set off in his ears. His father had been injured? And Alec had just left him? What if he'd died and it had been his fault? Raziel, he couldn't live without his father. He knew that Shadowhunters often died young, as was an unfortunate side-effect of the job, but not his father. He thought the world of his father, and if he'd died because of Alec-
His breath was coming out in harsh pants, panic clawing at his throat. He barely realised that he'd dropped his blade, and that he was clutching Mr Bane's thin shirt between his pale hands, like a lifeline.
"Oh hey, don't panic, it's alright-" Mr Bane had noticed Alec's rising panic and glanced around him, careful not to dislodge the hands clutching at him.
Grabbing the nearest flower, a striking blue rose, he crouched down to look Alec in the eye. Because Alec was unusually tall for his age, Mr Bane ended up looking up at Alec, who swallowed hard and tried to focus on something else. He placed the rose in Alec's hands, and as he did so, Alec felt the strangest sensation of calmness flood him. He gazed down at the rose; the petals were an astonishing sapphire colour, luminous, fragrant and alive. The fear in his mind washed away like a gentle wave, vacating as swiftly as it had come and leaving all of his fears and insecurities a distant memory. He began to feel slightly woozy, swaying on his feet slightly.
"It matches your eyes." Mr Bane spoke softly. Alec glanced down at him again, as if in a trance, his breathing slow and steady, his hands no longer shaking. "As long as you have that rose," the man began, "you won't be frightened. It will never die. Can you keep it for me?"
Alec nodded slowly, his gaze open and vulnerable, as he took Mr Bane's now outstretched hand.
"Now, let's take you back." He nodded. "Your parents and your siblings are very worried about you, so let's calm them down, shall we?" Yes, he wanted to see his family again. That would be nice.
A sudden outbreak of glowing energy burst into the clearing in front of them. A Portal stood in front of them, its power crackling and metamorphosing into numerous colours that Alec had never witnessed in such a kaleidoscope before. He went towards the Portal, and stepped through it as if hypnotised. He was only vaguely surprised to find himself back in the Institute, hand still in the other man's.
Alec turned to Mr Bane. He was about to thank him for finding him when scarlet sparks shot from Mr Bane's fingers and into his head. Confusion immediately clouded his mind, before overwhelming tiredness took its place. Alec looked around again but this time he was alone, and he couldn't remember anyone ever being with him. How had he got home again?
It didn't matter, he reasoned sluggishly. All that mattered was that he was home and safe.
His movements slow, he pushed the door open with next to no energy, only to find his parents and his siblings in the entryway, pacing back and forth. Jace was there, golden hair bright and wonderful in the light, eyes uncharacteristically panicked while his body was taut with tension. Izzy was sat on the great staircase, tear tracks on her young face and paler than usual. His parents were arguing loudly, voices harsh and afraid.
Maryse was saying something about calling different warlocks when Izzy cut across her,
"Alec!" she cried. Alec stumbled forwards with heavy-lidded eyes before falling forwards. Maryse, darting closer, caught him and pulled him close to her chest, caressing his back soothingly. He could hear her murmuring to him, words of safety and relief, but his vision and hearing were failing in his tiredness. He could feel Izzy holding his hand tightly whilst Jace kept his hand protectively on Alec's back. Robert wrapped his arms around his wife and his son, exhaling deeply.
"Oh, by the Angel." Maryse breathed, "Thank you Magnus Bane. Oh Alec, thank the angel you're okay." Alec nestled into his mother's chest, feeling warm and safe in the comfort of his family. When she pulled away in order for Robert to carry him to bed, Izzy and Jace charged in and hugged him tightly. He smiled.
"Don't do that again." Jace whispered, eyes still wary as if he expected Alec to dissolve in his arms. "Please don't scare me like that again."
Alec shook his head, and closed his eyes, sagging against his siblings.
Robert carefully lifted Alec and brought him to his room, placing him down gently onto his bed. Maryse pulled the covers over her son, but not before Jace and Izzy burrowed in as well, ensconcing him in a cocoon of safety. Alec slumbered between them, mind drifting away to visions of cat eyes, and blue flowers, and forest, with no real tangible thought.
Maryse noticed the blue rose in his hands, unexpectedly un-dented and still as perfect as if it were still in the ground. She took it from his grasp, smiled, and placed it in a clear vase by his bed. She recognised Magnus Bane's work, and kept the rose as a symbol of her gratitude.
"Alec, where did you get that rose from?" His voice caught as he looked at his boyfriend, who glanced up with a frown. Magnus couldn't believe that Alec had kept it, even with no memory of being given it.
"Uh- I can't really remember." his Shadowhunter responded casually, his tone confused, "I'm not actually sure where, I just- I think I woke up once and I found it by my bed. I never thought, or really wanted, to get rid of it. Why?"
Magnus merely smiled knowingly, and pulled him in for a gentle kiss.