“I don’t mean to be rude, but are you sure it’s a good idea for you to be here?”
Alec stops examining the room –a circle of bare cerrulean walls dominated by a statue of Raziel cast in bronze, complete with the eyes on his wings- in order to look at whoever spoke to him.
It’s a… boy, really, more than a man.
After Alec, the guy is one of the shortest people in the room, being something like… six feet tall, maybe? He’s got broad shoulders and tightly muscled arms, black skin covered in runes and scars, although the most notable one is on his face: a long line falling from eyebrow to jaw which cut an emerald green pupil in two clean halves. Looking closer, Alec notices a ring of shining blue around that eye, something that vaguely looks like handwriting, although Alec can’t read it. Other than that, the kid’s most noticeable feature is his hair, bright red and tied into a multitude of short dreadlocks. Alec takes all of this in, staring up, and finds himself standing straighter, the way he did when confronted with his father.
The realization makes him frown.
“I’m an archer,” he says, bracing himself for the usual dismissal, “I can do my job even like this.”
Alec lets the man look him up and down –lets him watch the way Alec’s hair is barely done growing back, the way his beard still looks brittle, the numerous pounds of muscles he’ll have to develop again soon. The exercize is unpleasant, it’s true, but Alec went through far worse during the first few years after he came out.
By comparison, this boy’s good-natured dismissal is child’s play, and Alec decides if he doesn’t want to have to go through worse, he might have to take a page out of Jace’s book this time.
Attack has always been the best defense.
He takes a step forward, into the boy’s personal space, and feels relieved when said boy steps back. Getting into this was hard enough, even with Isabelle’s support. He doesn’t need to be starting a fight on the first day.
“I’m still surprised Old Lightwood agreed to let you try out,” the kid continues, the shadow of a pout coloring his voice. “Bastard’s got a thing for people built like a brickhouse. He’s been harping on how hard Alliance training is for as long as I can remember.”
Alec, who spent a grand total of three hours in the same room as Balthazar Lightwood and feared Isabelle would tear his throat out the entire time, can only nod before he explains:
“I’ve been with the Corps for five years before coming in.”
“2009 through 2014.”
“Oh,” the boys says, looking Alec over once more, “You’ve been had by an Ice demon, uh?” Alec nods, jaw clenching, but as he tries to find a polite way to change the topic, the kid’s eyes widen and he adds: “Wait, that means you lived through the Mortal War?”
“Were you there for Alexander Lightwood’s coming out?”
Alec clicks his tongue and rolls his eyes.
He can’t fully blame the kid for his reaction: where Jace, Clary, Isabelle and even Simon get whole pages and books dedicated to them, the most he himself has is a couple of paragraphs about how he came out publicly by kissing “his lover of the time” full on the mouth.
There’s never anything about how the very building they’re standing in wouldn’t have existed if not for him –never a word to describe the mess it was, at first, to try and organize a ragtag group of Downworlders and Shadowhunters so they’d at least avoid killing each other long enough to train and teach one another how to best use their strengths… Alec tightens his fingers into fists and breathes in through his nose, biting on his annoyance.
Keep it down for now, Isabelle told him. Keep it down until you’ve seen exactly where they’ve gone wrong, or Balthazar will do everything he can to kick you out.
It fucking figures this should happen to the first thing Alec ever wanted to shout about from the rooftops.
“Wait,” the kid frowns, stepping back, “Were you one of those who disapproved? ‘Cause I know the Clave wasn’t fond of queer people at the time so if you—”
“I almost got banished,” Alec cuts him off, teeth still clenched tight, “And after that, my being gay was all people would ever care about when they met me.” Until the Corps started having better results, that is. Then people started talking about the potential of an organized group of people who knew how to use the Alliance Rune to its full potential. “If my sexuality is the only thing worth remembering about me, I’d prefer not being remembered at all.”
Alec hadn’t realized he was angry enough to shout…but judging from the way people's heads turned to stare at him, he was. At least the kid doesn’t immediately start badgering him with protests of “but queer kids can grow up safe now” the way Aline did. Alec understands the sentiment, especially from her, who got married to a woman who was part faerie –Alec is still bitter he couldn’t be there to see them- but that doesn’t make the attitude any more pleasing.
“Well…I’m still glad to meet you,” the kid says, quietly impressed, as he follows Alec to one of the windows. “And I hope Old Lightwod won’t succeed where the war failed.”
“I doubt it,” Alec mumbles as he looks out.
He’s used to weathering things like scorn and disdain, anyway.
“My name’s Luke, by the way. Luke Fairchild.”
“Uh,” Alec comments as he frowns at the electrum wires embedded in the glass, “You’re one of those… the Six Big, is it?”
“Yeah,” Luke chuckles. “I’ll bet Consul Lightwood told you all about us, uh?”
“Not really. She mostly laughed at the pompous title.”
Alec remembers the way Isabelle crooked her fingers around the “Six Big” nickname attributed to the families Jace and Clary single-handedly brought back to life. Then again, she’d already laughed when Jace told them about his and Clary’s project to give one of their family names to each of their kids…Alec hadn’t believed it either –he wouldn’t have pictured Jace as a father to so many kids. Two, at the most…Although of course, once Amatis Fairchild and Maxwell Herondale were born, he’s had to change his mind.
(Aline and Isabelle showed him pictures of his four other nieces and nephews –Luke Lightwood, Sophia Fray, Alexandria Wayland and Tessa Morgenstern- in an attempt to help him, but the truth is that it hurt more than it soothed him.)
“Well,” Luke admit, “It’s true we didn’t do much to earn it beside having a lot of money and famous ancestors. Or a famous Matriarch, in the Lightwoods’ case, even if she doesn’t look very close to the latest generation.”
Alec nods, remembering the way Isabelle burst out with indignation on the topic of the most recent Lightwoods –how Aline had to calm her down before she stabbed the table in her anger.
After that, Alec stays silent for a while, scratching at the window –but the wire is set so deep there isn’t even a ridge… whoever designed these clearly did so with the risk of someone trying to break them in mind.
“Do you know who built this House?”
“Uh… no,” Luke admits after a surprised pause. He shrugs: “Never really thought about it.”
“And obviously you tuned out every occurrence of Old Lightwood talking about it.”
Alec turns to discover a woman who stands well above him –he estimates her height somewhere around six feet and… maybe seven or eight inches. Possibly nine?
She’s dark-skinned, like Luke and Alec himself, but where Luke is brown and Alec has olive skin, the woman wears more of a golden undertone, closer to Aline’s skin color… the comparison stops there, though. Aside from being considerably taller than Aline ever will be, the woman is also much stockier, with broad shoulders and thick muscles, and a large scar fanning from her right shoulder onto her clavicle, chest and neck.
Her right arm is a prothesis made out of silver, patterned with seven-pointed rising stars and bracelets of runes drawn so thin Alec would doubt their efficientcy if he didn’t know a hunting prothesis when he sees one. The end result is that it looks like her silver arm is tattoed, down to the knuckles, and the woman flashes a brilliant smile when Alec stares, her golden eyes flashing.
“My little sister made that for me. She’s good, isn’t she?” Alec nods, not bothering to hide his appreciation –before he went under, no one knew how to make effective prosthetics out of metal. To him, the material in itself is worth commanding. “I couldn’t help overhear you talking with Lucy over here.” Luke rolls his eyes an pokes his tongue out at her. “It was the Head of Houses Council that commissionned the Houses, around 2120. One for each faction of Downworlders.”
“And the new neighborhoods started appearing after that?”
“Except fo Magitown,” the woman shrugs. “The Warlocks of the House built that one because their Head of House demanded it, and they use the building right in front of the main entrance, but the rest are just empty houses.”
Alec frowns and turns back to the assortment of translucent blue buildings and their bronze doorframes, scarves of various colors hanging above spiralling streets –Warlocks, he learned long ago, have a thing about spirals…most likely because of their Labyrinth.
He was surprised this morning, when he didn’t see anyone in the streets, but it was nearing dawn when he came and he thought he’d just grown too used to the nightly agitation of Fangtown, the Vampire’s neighborhood. Now he’s starting to think maybe he was right to feel disturbed by the obvious vacancy.
“What about the other Warlocks?” He asks, frowning. “They’ve got to live somewhere…why not here?”
It’s true that Warlocks don’t traditionally regroup, probably because of the way they’re born. It’s harder for them to find each other than for Vampires, for example, or even Werewolves. But why wouldn’t they use a place that was, supposedly, designated for them?
“I don’t know,” Luke shrugs, and the woman makes a noncommital noise.
“Maybe there’s something here they didn’t like.”
Electrum burns Warlocks, Alec remembers. And they don’t heal from it as fast as Vampires heal from silver burns, either.
“Aren’t you going to ask for my name?” Alec turns to look at the woman, then glances away, cheeks growing warm as she sighs.
“I would say ‘kids these days’ but I guess it’d be a little pointless.”
“I’m twenty-five,” Alec protests. “I’m short is all.” More now than he felt before the ice, but still.
“Oh—we’re the same age then. I thought you were nineteen or something, like Luke.” She grins, cheeks dimpling. “Anyway, I’m Belle Morgenstern. Short for Isabelle.”
Alec shakes the hand Belle is holding out –the silver one- and wonders when people started introducing themselves to him instead of the reverse. The change is…unsettingly nice, he won’t deny it. Still, there’s something useful about being unnoticeable. People are truer when they don’t realize you’re there.
“Alec,” Alec says, deciding on impulse to keep to his first name. “Nice to meet you.”
On the side, Luke looks surprised, but doesn’t say anything –hopefully, he put Alec’s attitude down to his reaction upon learning about his identity. Belle doesn’t remark on the omition either, and asks instead:
“Is it your first time trying for an Alliance?”
“Not really. I was in the Mortal War, and I was Allied with a Warlock there. Then I joined the Alliance Corps when it was created.”
“Ah,” Belle nods, “so that’s why Balthy let you try out despite….”
She gestures to Alec’s still whithered body, and he nods soberly, resolving to get back to his original weight as soon as possible.
He’s got a feeling that can only help him get by around here.
“Do you have any tips?” Luke asks –he glares at Belle when she pokes him in the ribs. “What? Everyone knows Allying with a Warlock is more risky than it is with other types of Downworlders…Remember what happened to Clarissa Wayland when she tried out last year? She’s still limping!”
“That was her fault for picking a witch with too much power,” Belle snaps. “And it doesn’t change the fact that you’re being too demanding.”
“Wait,” Alec steps in before Luke can reply to that, “What do you mean, too powerful?”
Both of the other Shadowhunters look at him with surprise, before exchanging a glance. Their families might not be as close as they once were anymore, but it’s obvious the two of them know each other well anyway. Maybe they went to summer camp together? Alec knows the one Clary founded is still in activity.
“Maybe they didn’t know that when he was in the Corps,” Luke mutters.
It takes Alec a second to realize why he’s slower to understand what Luke said, and he pulls his stele out of his pocket to draw a new Translation Rune on his forearm.
“I’m not that good with neo-Alicanti yet,” he explains when Belle’s eyebrows rise in question. “Why did you say your cousin picked too powerful a witch?”
“Because in order to Ally with a Warlock,” Luke explains, “You have to be able to fight their magic off from you vulnerable parts. Otherwise it can get pretty bad.”
“When you’re not strong enough, the Warlock’s magic takes control of you, and it can hurt you.” Belle clarifies.
“Old Lightwood says one of the Houses’ Warlock stayed un-Allied for almost four centuries,” Luke adds. “Said he’s so powerful he burned a man alive once.”
“Now, that you remember,” Belle sighs. “Oh, Lucy, you’re hopeless.”
Alec tunes the two of them out as they engage in a mock fight, biting on the skin around his thumbnail and playing with his family ring instead. None of what he’s just learned makes sense to him. In five years of pairing Shadowhunters and Downworlders together –the Corps weren’t big enough to divide the factions at the time- the only time he’s heard of an attempted Alliance ending in pain was when they got their first Fae on the team, and it all turned out okay once they re-paired her with someone who wasn’t convinced he’d get killed in his sleep.
Besides, the Rune was created to further trust between Nephilims and Downworlders. The Alliance being compromised by defiance makes more sense even on a philosophical level, so how come everybody here –now?- seems convinced it’s a matter of magical power and physical strength?
“Are you trying for meditative trance?” Alec blinks at Luke and his gap-toothed grin. “Old Lightwood’s going to be in any minute now…then he’ll ask if someone wants to try for the House’s biggest prize!”
Alec frowns again. This isn’t the first time Luke refers to the Corps’ Warlock members like they’re property. He’d have thought things would change more than that in the future, and in all honesty, the fact that it hasn’t is more than a little disappointing.
He doesn’t have time to think on it too much though, as the ring of a gong signals the arrival of Balthazar Lightwood.
He’s still the same white-haired brickhouse of a man Alec met three days ago, ramrod straight and paler than even Clary was, one of his eyes golden and the other a dark shade of green… Alec remembers he spent the entirety of their interview with his hands tightly clasped in front of him and his lips pursed.
Alec can’t say he’s very eager to talk with him again.
“Good morning, Aspirant Allied, and welcome to the Warlocks’ House of Alliances….”
Balthazar Lightwood’s voice fades in the background of Alec’s mind when he notices the man standing behind him, in the shadow of the Angel's statue.
Compared to the rest of the assistance, he’s in the short-ish range, but he’s still taller than Alec, with golden skin, spiked black hair dyed blue at the tip, and eyes that flare like a cat’s when the man moves his head. Stepping closer –and ignoring Luke and Belle’s whisper of “what are you doing”- Alec notices a dog collar-like necklace of shimmering metal at his throat…and on his hand, shining even in the dim light, a cat ring.
“Please don’t make fun of me okay? I know it’s stupid.”
Alec should have done this differently.
It’s ridiculous, really, he’s had the ring with him for a month now, all ready for when he’d visit home –for when he’d see Magnus again- and yet somehow he didn’t get it out until the night before he has to go back to San Francisco.
At two in the morning.
Buck naked and covered in sex-induced sweat.
Oh Angel, he’s the worst.
“Do I get a hint?” Magnus chuckles as he unwraps the silk paper from around the satchel Alec got from the saleswoman, “Or do I have to wait for the surprise?”
“It’s made of ebony,” Alec tells him.
Except the eyes. Those are chrysoberyl.
Magnus chuckles again, muttering in something that sounds like Greek –something about stubborn people, which Alec ignores in profit of watching Magnus’ eyes widen when he finally sees his present.
The top of the ring was sculpted into the bust of a cat, who might be yowling or yawning –depending on how you look at it- its front paws extended as if to pounce on a prey, or possibly pawing at someone’s chest before they settle against it. The animal in itself is beautiful already, but it’s the eyes, bright and piercing, that motivated Alec’s decision to buy it.
Magnus has fallen silent.
“It doesn’t have to mean anything!” Alec blurts out when he sees how still the warlock has gone, how lax his jaw looks. Then, when he realizes what he’s said: “I mean, it doesn’t! It doesn’t mean anything it’s just…it’s just—the eyes made me think of you and I figured—oh Angel, are you crying?”
Alec’s heart is practically in his throat at this point, beating hard enough that it feels like it’s trying to choke him before Magnus’ teary eyes have a chance to turn into full-on crying…but they don’t.
Instead, Magnus grins, wide and almost surprised, and he pulls Alec in for a kiss. It’s calm, and gentle, and so full of care and love Alec feels like they’ve kissed for the very first time again –like his heart is pumping hot water in his vein, making him feel warm all over as he stares at Magnus in wonder, brushing tears off his cheek with his thumb.
“In all of my life,” Magnus says, voice slightly wet and eyes looking down at the red satin bedlinen, “never has anyone thought of my eyes and seen something that wasn’t related to magic or demons. Or both.”
The tilt of his mouth when he smiles after that is unusually self-depreciative and sunrise, filtering through the curtains, paints the tears tracks on his cheeks golden.
Alec wonders how anyone can see Magnus and think of Demons first –wonders how anyone can look at him, and think the blue flames in his hands are more magical than the fact that, after over five centuries, he’s still willing to open up to a mortal kid like Alec.
Sure, it’s hard, and it takes some prying and more than a little patience…but he did open up, and he still is, and in all honesty, Alec doesn’t think he’d be able to do that after half a millenium.
He’s got enough trouble trusting people after barely twenty-five years as it is.
“That’s because they weren’t looking properly,” he tells Magnus, who chuckles and presses Alec’s hand against his cheek, kissing the inside of his palm. Then, using his free hand, he puts the ring back into Alec’s palm and asks, still in the same oddly quiet voice: “Will you put it on me?”
Alec honestly can’t tell who, between the two of them, is trembling the most as he takes Magnus’ offered left hand, and slips the ring onto Magnus’ ringfinger. It’s a little loose, but it fits, and Alec realizes he’s been holding his breath when his exhale comes out shakier than intended.
For a moment, it’s all he can do to keep Magnus’ hand in his and stare at the new ring there…it’s not like Magnus usually keeps his fingers bare, far from it, and most of his jewelry is a lot more noticeable than even the cat ring.
But in all the time Alec had known Magnus, he’s never seen him wear anything on his left ringfinger until now.
Leaning forward, Alec raises his head to catch Magnus’ lips in another kiss, soft and almost chaste –just a press of lips, really- and when he rests his forehead against Magnus’ he hears:
“When you come back for good next month, I’ll have something for you to wear, too.”
“You can’t just ignore Balthy while he’s talking,” Luke hisses in Alec’s ear while Belle’s metal hand settles on his left shoulder, “he’s been giving you the stink-eye for a good half minute now!”
Alec, whose stomach feels like it’s trying to burn out of his chest, doesn’t reply, clenching his fists and glaring straight at Magnus while Balthazar Lightwood expands on how dangerous the Alliance can be, and how brave the Shadowhunters present are.
Still, when he notices Luke is starting to fidget and fiddle with his family ring, Alec turns to him and says:
“It’s not true you know. A Warlock’s power doesn’t have any influence on whether or not an Alliance works.”
“Then how do you explain the deaths?” Belle hisses in his ear. “The people he burned weren’t the chosen ones?”
“Power doesn’t change anything,” Alec insists, “trust does. If you don’t trust your partner, then their power starts hurting you…and I’m pretty sure the reverse is true, too.”
At least it would explain why so many Downworlders complained the Alliance was painful at the begining…it was always easier for Shadowhunters to be confident their Downworlder partners wouldn’t hurt them. They wouldn’t have had the Covenant on their side if they’d tried it.
Before either Luke or Belle can reply, a tense silence falls on the room, people straightening their backs as they step away from the podium.
I’m passing up the opportunity, but that doesn’t mean I’m afraid is what they’re trying to say.
In a way, Alec doesn’t blame them. If he didn’t know how the Alliance Rune works better than them, he’d be begging out, too.
But as it is….
“Alec!” Luke protests, “Are you mad? Belle, tell him he’s mad!”
“Looks to me like he knows what he’s doing,” Belle replies, her voice cautious.
“I doubt,” Balthazar Lightwood starts in a gravelly voice, narrowing his eyes down at Alec, “that you would survive the attempt.”
“With all due respect,” Alec says, breathing in deep to steady himself, “I think I can, and I'd like to try.”
“Like I said,” the man insists, crossing his arms on his chest, “You have no chance of success.”
Alec has to restrain himself from mimicking Lightwood’s posture and keep his stance confident instead.
Fake it, ‘till you make it. That’s what Amandine used to say, and it’s served him well so far.
“Then, considering I have been extensively warned about the risks, you have nothing to lose by letting me try.”
Alec can hear people whisper around him, and sweat fills the inside of his palms even as he schools his features into careful neutrality. Whispers are familiar. Whispers, he can handle. Luke is still hissing for him to stop and come back, but he stops when Belle tells him to shut up.
Alec watches ‘Old Lightwood’ take a sweeping glance around the room and frown, lips pursing, before he nods.
“Very well. You will not be the first to fall victim to their greed between these walls.”
Alec wants to roll his eyes at the formality…but then, he reminds himself, that’s the Clave for you.
They’ve always been fond of their fomal tone. With a nod, Alec pulls his stele out of his pocket again and waits for the Head of House to call the warlock forward.
For a moment, Alec thinks he’s misidentified him, and that Magnus’ ring somehow got lost and went to someone else.
The man standing in front of him looks like he is around thirty –something Alec didn’t think possible for a warlock or witch, considering they supposedly stop aging in their twentieth year. His jaw is strong, if thin, and his face is entirely devoid of make-up –not even the smallest hint of lip balm. His eyes, however, are still the same, and when Alec comes closer they widen in astonishment, just before Magnus starts shaking his head.
“Oh no,” he whispers in the English Alec is used to, “No, I don’t want you to do that. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Stop fidgeting, Bane.”
Balthazar Lightwood’s voice carries out well despite his age. Even so, Alec is surprised to see how fast Magnus goes still, especially when he notices his eyes are still wide open, pupils contracting to thin lines with his anxiety.
“Stop being stupid,” Alec mutters, careful to speak too low for anyone but Magnus to hear, “we’ve done this before and it went fine, didn’t it?”
Clicking his tongue, he takes Magnus right hand in his left one, and draws the first half of the Alliance Rune on his palm. Then, turning to face the room, he uses his stele to draw the other half inside his own hand.
There’s the familiar rush of needles in his limbs, as if he’d stayed in the same position for too long, and then he yelps as the word bursts with color.
“Angel damnit!” He swears, stopping those who came forward to help him dead in their tracks, “I always forget about the fireworks.”
Well, they’re not fireworks per se…it just so happens that Warlocks can, apparently, perceive sort of…flame-like auras that other species can’t see. Well, possibly, the Fae folk can. Regardless, Nephilims definitely don’t see those, usually, and Alec has never quite managed to brace himself enough to avoid being blindsided by them.
“Alec,” Belle starts carefully while Alec rubs at his eyes, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” he answers, clearing his throat, “peachy.”
Alec finishes rubbing his eyes, smiles at Belle, whose tabby hair looks like it’s on fire with the light of her aura, then turns to Magnus… who, he’s surprised to find, is staring at Balthazar Lightwood.
When Alec turns around, he finds the old man whith his lips pressed into the thinnest of smile, shoulders tense, hands fisted at his sides.
“Congratulations,” he says, tone carrying a very different message, “You are the first of our recruits to ever tame Warlock Bane.”
Alec feels a muscle twitch at the side of his mouth, but doesn’t react to Balthazar’s wording. Instead, he bows a little, makes himself smile, and then holds the man’s gaze as he says:
“Thank you. We will strive to make our collaboration as efficient as possible.”
There’s a short pause, then someone starts clapping, and in less than a minute the entire room is applauding. Alec sees confusion on some faces when he looks around him, frowns on others, and while Balthazar is busy convincing everyone he’s delighted by the outcome of the day –which, Alec notes, is working fairly well, considering- Alec wonders if, maybe, he didn’t just make a terrible mistake.
He shakes Balthazar Lightwood’s hand in a daze, purposefully not pressing back as hard as he gets, then thanks each and every one of the Shadowhunters who come to congratulate him on his ‘catch’ –but barely acknowledge Magnus- until, at last, it’s only the two of them left in the preliminary waiting room, while the others go try to find their matches in less powerful warlocks.
Silence falls between them, thick and heavy, and for a while they both search for something to say, Alec painfully aware of Magnus’ proximity –of the way his Aura paints the room in turquoise blue- until Magnus opens his mouth to speak.
“I don’t like the way they deal with the Corps,” Alec cuts him off, heart hammering as he realizes he really does not want to hear anything Magnus could have to say right now. “I volunteered because I knew you wouldn’t kill me, and I wanted to make a point.”
“If I knew I’d tell you, Izzy.”
“Well if it turns out he’s pulling the ‘I won’t answer your calls until you’ve groveled long enough for my taste’ card again, you tell me and I’ll kick his ass until he's the one doing the groveling, okay?”
“Okay,” Alec chuckles, “I’ll do that. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time I found out what happened to him exactly.”
“Sure thing. See you for dinner?”
Alec chuckles to himself as he bypasses the buzzers –recently renovated, it seems- and climbs the stairs up to Magnus’ loft.
He’s greeted by the smell of beef lasagna when he comes in, which surprises him because Magnus isn’t very fond of the dish. The bigger surprise, though, comes when he all but stumbles on a toddler in small shorts and a bright red T-Shirt.
“Who the hell are you?”
“I’m sorry!” Alec apologizes, raising his hands in a placating gesture and stepping away from the woman who just came in, “I just… This is number five, right?”
“Yes,” the woman answers, picking up the toddler with a cautious look on her face. “Who are you?”
“I… I knew the previous owner and—” Alec raises a hand when she tries to speak again –she’s obviously a Mundane, and Alec doubts Magnus got his loft through any of their agencies. He doesn't think he can handle hearing there was no previous owner. Not just now. “Can I just ask… how long have you been living here?”
Alec nods, heart sinking, then makes a vague thank-you gesture and leaves the appartment. It’s been a little over three weeks since Magnus last answered one of his calls.
Somehow, he feels like he should have seen it coming.