Stepping through the portal and into the loft was coming home. Alec took a deep breath and relaxed, smiling. He’d moved his things in before they’d left to go on their honeymoon and now here he was. Home .
“Alexander?” Magnus said, glancing at him as he moved towards the drink cart. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” Alec said, smiling. “I’m just... home. ”
“Ah,” Magnus’ eyes crinkled in understanding. “It’s a good feeling, I hope?”
“The best,” Alec admitted, moving to Magnus, wrapping his arms around Magnus’ waist, pressing in close as he poured himself a drink. “This, you , are my home now. And I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Magnus chuckled and finished pouring his drink, adding a cherry to it before turning in Alexander’s arms to look up at him. “And we still have the rest of the day and tomorrow before you go back to work.”
Alec hummed in agreement. “So we do. How do you propose we spend it?”
“Well…” Magnus trailed off with a grin. “There’s certainly one way I want to spend the evening, and most of tomorrow. But for right now, I thought maybe we could have that conversation we’ve been putting off.”
Alec tensed and shut his eyes with a sigh, pressing his face into Magnus’ neck. “Oh. Yeah. That .”
Magnus smiled and put his drink down, reaching up to tuck some of Alec’s hair behind his ear. “Yes, that conversation I’ve been letting you avoid while we’ve been gone.”
“I wasn’t avoiding it!” Alec protested. When Magnus gave him a knowing look, he sighed and dropped his eyes. “I just didn’t want to, you know, ruin our honeymoon.”
“Alexander. Look at me,” Magnus ordered, keeping his voice soft. “We need to talk about it. All of it.”
Alec sighed and tightened his arms around Magnus. “I know.”
“You also know it isn’t going to change anything,” Magnus added. “I”m still going to be Magnus Lightwood-Bane at the end of it, I’m still going to love you at the end of it, and you are still going to be Alexander Lightwood-Bane, and still love me after it’s over.”
Alec nodded and met Magnus’ eyes again. Even the thrill of hearing their married names wasn’t enough to keep the dread from sinking deeper and deeper into his stomach.
Magnus hummed and tangled his fingers into Alec’s hair at the base of his neck. “What are you afraid of, my darling?”
Alec took a deep breath and pressed their foreheads together. Magnus wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t. He just needed to get over himself and focus.
“I…” Alec sighed and tried to gather his thoughts. “I don’t want you to feel guilty. Or bad. For what I feel. It’s...I know it’s too much.”
Magnus tilted his head and leaned up to kiss his husband softly, gently, savoring the touch. “We’ve had this conversation, darling. Too much is my middle name, remember?”
Alec managed a smile at that, and nodded. “Okay.” He exhaled hard and looked at Magnus again. “Okay. Where do we, uh, start?”
Magnus hummed. “Good question. Do you want me to start?”
Alec sighed and stared at Magnus. “Would, is that okay?”
“Of course,” Magnus said, taking Alec’s hand, his free hand grabbing his drink before bringing him over to the couch. His drink went to the coffee table and he leaned back against the arm of the couch, giving Alexander a firm tug until the shadowhunter was stretched out, mostly on top of him. He wrapped both of his arms around Alec and gave him a minute to get comfortable.
Alec sagged into Magnus’ arms and took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m ready,” he said firmly, bracing himself.
Magnus huffed and pressed a kiss to the top of Alec’s head. “We’re not marching into battle, Alexander. You’re here, with me. Relax a little?”
“Right,” Alec muttered, reaching down to rest one of his hands on top of Magnus’, fiddling with his rings. “I’m sorry. Go ahead.”
“Okay. So. Obvious spot to start would be the night you planned to propose,” Magnus said with a low exhale. “But I’m going to go a bit earlier. Giving up my magic.”
Alec tensed, swallowing hard. “You regret it.”
“I, no,” Magnus said, frowning. “And yes.” He gave Alec a small squeeze, trying to sort through his thoughts.
“At its basest, did I save Jace because I knew it would also save you? Yes,” Magnus admitted. “I have no regret, and no shame in that decision. Not for a minute.”
Alec hummed. “There’s a ‘but’ attached to that.”
“Not quite,” Magnus said. “But I realized I made the decision without a single thought of what it would do to me . I don’t regret making the decision. I...I regretted not thinking it through. Would I have made the same choice?” he forced Alec to meet his eyes. “Yes, I would have. But I would have been more prepared for the fallout that happened afterward.”
Alec sighed and shifted, pressing a kiss to the hand cupping his cheek.
“As I got older, one of the things I learned was that it was easier to accept terrible things coming if you have time to prepare yourself for them,” Magnus explained. “I lost, in that moment, I lost more than I had ever wanted to, and I was not prepared for it. To say I reacted poorly to that lack of preparation is an understatement.”
“And I didn’t help with that,” Alec muttered, sighing again, pressing his face to Magnus’ chest.
“Alexander.” Magnus reached out and combed his fingers through Alec’s hair. “My reactions are not your guilt to carry. It, continued to be thrown in my face over and over again. And then when the transfusion failed…”
Alec tightened his hand on Magnus’ and sighed. “I, it was torture seeing you like that. Realizing that I’d...I’d been happy while you were falling apart.”
Magnus huffed out a laugh and looked up at the ceiling. “I wish I could explain to you, how terrified I was, after it failed and I knew, I knew I was going to be like that forever.” He took a deep breath. “I was so scared that you were going to leave me.”
“And then I did,” Alec whispered, clenching his eyes shut.
“Yes,” Magnus agreed, poking Alexander in the side, trying to bring them both back out of the emotional quagmire, just a little. “But you’re hopping ahead.”
Alec frowned. “Okay.”
“I, when Lorenzo demanded my loft as the payment for the transfusion, I would have given up anything, almost anything, to have my magic back,” Magnus swallowed. “To be useful to you, to others, again.”
“No, no,” Magnus said, giving Alec another poke. “Let me finish. I didn’t mind. It’s a place to live. And I was fine, because I still had you, and I’d have magic. I could build another home.” He blew out a hard breath. “However, a problem was immediately apparent as soon as we finished the transfusion. Lorenzo’s magic felt so wrong, Alexander.”
Alec swallowed hard and took another deep breath. “What do you mean?”
Magnus sighed. “I knew the transfusion wasn’t going to take after the first day. I tried to ignore it, but I knew, I knew, deep down, the magic rejected me. His magic, it felt like…” Magnus hesitated. “My magic feels like water, rushing through my body at all times. His felt like sand. It hurt, and went against how magic has always felt for me. The only reason I could wield it at all was because of how much I’ve studied magic.”
“And forcing yourself to use it nearly killed you,” Alec whispered, shifting a little to wrap an arm around Magnus’ waist, kissing his collarbone where he was resting his head.
“Yes,” Magnus said. “Then I had to face the reality of never using magic again. Of never having it again. And the price I’d paid, something else I’d lost, and I didn’t even get the payment demanded out of it?” He gave a harsh laugh. “Then I made the biggest mistake out of it all.”
Alec flinched and took a deep breath, pressing closer to Magnus when he was given another hug. “Which was?”
Magnus shifted and pressed a kiss to Alec’s forehead. “Remember. We’re here. Married . I love you.”
“I love you too,” Alec whispered, leaning into Magnus. If nothing else, he was glad they’d decided to have the conversation pressed together like this. Neither of them could run away.
Magnus nodded. “My mistake was putting everything else on you. Not blaming you, I’d never blame you for what happened. But I put all of my remaining happiness, all that I could possibly enjoy left in this life, I tied to you.”
Alec blinked in surprise. “I don’t…”
“Understand?” Magnus supplied when Alec trailed off. “That is too much pressure for one person to bear, Alexander. To be solely responsible for another person’s happiness? Not only is that unfair to you, it is abusive.”
Magnus chuckled. “Yes, it is. Think of it this way. If we fought, and you walked out, needing to cool your head, and maybe you needed space for a few days? Would you have come back because you wanted to? Or would you have come back because you knew how much I’d lost and that I couldn’t bear to lose you too?”
Alec fell silent, sighing. “I see your point.”
“That’s not healthy or sustainable, for any relationship,” Magnus said, shifting so he could rub a hand up and down Alec’s back slowly. “I know that, but I couldn’t stop myself from falling into the trap regardless.”
“And I….” Alec took a deep breath, knowing it was his turn to talk. He looked up at Magnus. They were going to be all right after this. They were okay.
“I didn’t know how to feel after you gave up your magic for Jace. On one hand, I was happy, because I had my parabatai back, but the sacrifice it took from you?” Alec exhaled hard, clenching his eyes shut. “I would have given up my runes for you to have your magic back.”
Magnus hummed and tightened his arms around Alec.
Alec hesitated. “I knew you were hurting. How could you not be, all things considered? But I couldn’t stop this voice, this voice in the back of my head that was...was quietly glad. That told me I’d get to grow old with you. That I wouldn’t become a burden to you, or, or a memento in your box.”
“We’re going to talk about that, by the way,” Magnus interrupted. “The box. When we get to it.”
He couldn’t stop the wince from escaping. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Magnus said, keeping his voice soft. “But you have to understand that a memory of you will not go in that box, Alexander. You are a part of my life in a way that they never were, and never could be.”
Alec blinked and stared up at Magnus. “I’m...wha?”
Magnus smiled and kissed Alec on the forehead again. “ Later . Back to the quietly glad voice you felt guilty about.”
“Right,” Alec said, clearing his throat. “I, I hated myself for thinking that. Fucking, made me so angry, so upset, because I could see how much you were hurting, and I couldn’t help, I couldn’t do anything! But here’s this small part of me that’s glad, that’s happy, and in the face of your pain…” he clenched his eyes shut and took a shaky breath. “Angels above I hated myself for that.”
“I know, I could see it,” Magnus said. “And I thought talking to you about how I was feeling would only make it worse.”
Alec swallowed. “It probably would have, but, I wouldn’t have let you see it. Or I would have tried to keep it hidden.”
“When,” Alec sighed. “When you got your magic back, I realized, for the first time, how much it was a part of you. And that when it was gone, you were still you, but it was like you’d lost a limb. I still loved you, no matter what. But I could see what you’d lost.”
Magnus hummed. “What do you mean?”
“You,” Alec hesitated. “When you have magic, compared to when you don’t. You, you talked differently, acted differently. Hell, Magnus, you walked differently. It wasn’t just confidence, it was a part of you that was so, so, necessary, that being without it was…”
“Ah,” Magnus whispered. “So that’s where the comment came from.”
“What comment?” Alec asked, shifting to look at Magnus.
Magnus smiled down at him. “When your mother came to see me, yes, I’ll tell you about that in a moment, and she saw that I had my magic again, she mentioned that I was whole again. She figured out what had happened before I did.” He gave Alexander a look. “I am guessing that she got that from you?”
Alec swallowed and broke the contact between their eyes and gave a small nod.
“Darling,” Magnus whispered. “Remember where we are. It’s okay. We made it here.”
Alec took another deep breath. “So, when you lost your magic again, and I saw you spiraling, and we had that, that shouting match about how could I still love you, I knew I had to do something.” He paused and looked down at Magnus’ hands, smiling at the sight of the Lightwood family ring. “I couldn’t imagine a better way to convince you I still wanted to spend my life with you, so I decided to propose.”
“Fuck,” Magnus whispered. “I...after I found out what you’d planned that evening…”
Alec reached up, wiping a tear off Magnus’ cheek. “Hey. Look at me.” When golden eyes blinked at him, he smiled. “If I’m not allowed to beat myself up over what we just talked about, you are not allowed to feel guilty about that night.”
Magnus swallowed hard. “Okay,” he whispered.
“Tell me what happened before you came home,” Alec said, lifting Magnus’ hand to press a kiss to it. “I knew you were depressed and upset, but something would have...have made you want to get that drunk.”
“Catarina,” Magnus managed. “She…” he took a deep breath and let it out. “She took me to her place, to try, to try to get me to talk, I think. Or check on me. Or both.”
“Ah,” Alec said quietly.
“Of course,” Magnus continued. “After going through the normal pleasantries, we both had a horrifying moment of realization. She, now that Ragnor is gone, is my oldest living friend, and she was going to watch me die over the next several decades.”
Alec winced. “Fuck.”
“Right,” Magnus agreed. “So, I proceeded to leave Catarina’s house, rather than face that realization for both of us, and drank anything I could get my hands on, on the way home.”
Alec took a deep breath. “And then…?”
“Then I showed up drunk, yelled at you, made you unhappy, upset and angry. Then I proceeded to pass out for fifteen hours, starting a chain of events that, while horrible, did lead to our eventual wedding and subsequent honeymoon!” Magnus waved a hand. “Sums it up, right?”
“It does,” Alec agreed. “But I think we need to talk about that night. Especially some of the stuff...uh, said.”
“Fuck,” Magnus breathed, closing his eyes. “I was so cruel to you. Here you were, trying to help, and I just…”
“Hey,” Alec interrupted. “Don’t. We’ve each had our times doing horrible things. We made it through each of them.”
Magnus sighed and relaxed when he felt Alec brushing away the tears rolling slowly down his cheeks.
“I’m right here,” Alec whispered. “I love you, and I’m not going anywhere.” He looked at the couch and then back to Magnus. “But we’re going to switch. I think we need to for this next part.”
Magnus didn’t bother protesting when Alec pulled him up and off the couch, only for him to settle back down in the same spot he’d just been occupying. “How do you want me?”
Alec tugged Magnus into his lap, wrapping his arms around his waist, and guiding Magnus’ head to his shoulder. “Right here,” he whispered. “Where you belong, in my arms.”
Magnus gave a wet chuckle and pressed his lips to Alexander’s deflect rune. “Perfect.”
Alec let the silence stretch on for a few minutes before quietly prompting Magnus. “Whenever you’re ready.”
“I didn’t want to feel anything, anymore,” Magnus whispered. “Every time I did, the hurt, the fear, all of it came back and it was worse than the time before. Everything was different, and everything was a reminder.” He shuddered and pressed his face against Alec’s neck, a few tears escaping.
“I knew you’d leave me. I was convinced that you were only staying with me because of what I’d done for you. And when you realized I couldn’t do anything more for you, you’d leave,” Magnus continued, swallowing hard. “So I drank, because, fuck. It hurt. Everything hurt.”
Alec breathed out hard and tightened his arms around Magnus, pressing his face towards soft hair. “We made it through,” he whispered. “We’re on the other side now. I’m here, and I love you.”
Magnus pulled his mouth away from Alec’s neck long enough to keep talking. “A recurring nightmare I have…” his shoulders shook for a moment before he forced them to steady. “Is that after I say, after I say that you’ve always wanted me to be a mundane, instead of saying you want me to be happy, you, fuck, you agree and I just…”
“But I didn’t say that,” Alec whispered, rubbing Magnus’ back in slow, broad strokes, just like Magnus had done for him. “Because it’s not true. It’s never been true and never will be true.”
“Do you know,” Magnus whispered, looking at the ring on his finger. “After I banished my father, I broke down and cried? Because I knew what I’d ruined that night. What I’d lost, because it was more than just you. I’d lost a future I actually wanted to live to see.” He pushed himself up and out of Alec’s arms, pacing across the loft. “I made you think you weren’t enough! That you aren’t always, always enough!”
Alec swallowed and stood up slowly, watching Magnus pace. “This has been eating at you, hasn’t it?”
Magnus stopped mid-stride and froze in the middle of the room, looking at Alec. “I have made that rather obvious, I suppose.”
Stopping in front of Magnus, Alec reached out and wiped away a tear with his thumb. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Magnus took a deep breath. “Because I thought that this, this didn’t…” He glanced up at Alexander. “Because I have you, now. This shouldn’t still hurt.”
Alec wrapped one arm around Magnus’ waist, pulling him in close, pressing their foreheads together. “Magnus. We’re married now. That doesn’t mean that the journey we took to get here is erased. If this still hurts, then we’re going to talk about it.”
Magnus huffed. “When did you get so wise?”
“Perks of having an immortal boyfriend,” Alec shot back, kissing Magnus’ temple. “You pick some stuff up here and there.” He rocked Magnus carefully in his arms before tugging him towards the kitchen. “I’m going to get us both cups of tea, and if we feel like talking more, we will, okay?”
Magnus nodded and kept himself pressed against Alec as he got them both tea, waving his fingers to magically heat up the glasses, even as Alec gave him an exasperated look.
He watched their tea steep on the counter, leaning into Alec’s arm that was wrapped around his shoulders. “I don’t know if I will ever stop hating myself for telling you I wasn’t happy, and that I...likely never would be, like that. That wasn’t fair to you. And on the night you’d planned to propose...I can’t imagine how much that hurt you.”
Alec breathed out slowly. “That...that was the moment I played over and over in my head when I went to Asmodeus. When I agreed to his deal.” He finished making their mugs and offered Magnus his, leading him back to the living room. He put his mug down on the table and was about to ask Magnus how he wanted to sit when he found Magnus looking at him.