Actions

Work Header

Wage your wars

Chapter Text

Alec stares around himself with a dark frown, bow still in hand, scanning the alley, making sure there aren’t any more demons to take care of.

But it looks like he got them all, ichor oozing down the wall in the alley from the last demon who had tried to run when Alec made an appearance.

He glances down, frown turning into a scowl at the sight of the blood spattered across the ground.

He had been just a little too late to save the demons’ last two victims, husband and wife by what he can see. Two bodies torn apart by the demons they were unlucky enough to come across.

Alec grits his teeth.

He hates it when he is too late, abhors when he can’t save mundanes from the very real threat they never seem to really realize is there until they are already bleeding out on the pavement.

Every mundane killed by demons or Downworlders is a failure on Alec's part. Especially now that his parents have left the running of the Institute to him while they are visiting Idris.

It’s the only thing Alec is here for, it’s his job, the thing he lives for. Killing demons and protecting mundanes. Really, what good is he if he can’t even save a couple of mundanes that are being threatened by the demons Alec is supposed to kill.

But he had been too late.

Sure, there had been no indications of demon activity in this part of town and him coming across these at all is likely only due to Alec having switched up the patrol grids two days ago. But still.

A scuffing sound.

And Alec is immediately on full alert once more.

It's quiet, a barely-there noise, so very easy to miss underneath the noise from the city surrounding this alley.

His bow is already up again, as he listens.

Another sound, a slight ruffling, a body shifting just the barest bit, too large to be that of rat or even a cat or any of the other usual critters found in an alley like this.

It's coming from behind the dumpster only a couple of steps away from him.

Three quick steps around the dumpster, arrow notched and unerringly pointed at the source of that noise.

Two large, frightened, green eyes stare up at him.

A blink. And Alec doesn’t think he has ever lowered his bow faster than he does in that moment.

Because it isn’t a demon at all, but rather a little boy who is hiding in the little gap between dumpster and wall, curled into a tiny ball of thin limbs and far too large clothing.

And strangest of all, the boy is staring right at him. Despite Alec’s very-much-active invisibility rune that should keep any mundanes from ever noticing him.

Alec blinks.

The boy blinks back at him.

Huh.

+++

“Izzy,” Alec says as soon as he hears her pick up at the other end. “I need you to track me and come to my location. Alone.”

There is silence for a moment.

“Alec,” his sister is clearly startled. “What-“

“Now,” he adds, and promptly hangs up again, eyes still fixed on the little boy in front of him.

Who hasn’t taken his eyes off Alec but also seems entirely unwilling to come out of his little hiding place.

And usually, Alec would simply call the police about the three bodies in the alley, stick around until the officers get here to make sure someone finds the little kid, and not even consider involving himself in mundane business beyond that.

Thing is, it seems this boy isn’t a mundane at all.

Because there is a shield shimmering in the air around the dumpster. A shield of magic.

It seems like this boy is a warlock, might have been the actual reason of the demons’ attack, far more of an appealing target than just two random mundanes wandering around.

Ether way, there is definitely some kind of magic and thus the boy is part of the Shadowworld which means Alec can’t very well just leave him here.

He doesn’t even know whether the kid actually belongs with the two mundanes that were killed in the alley. Compared to the clearly well-dressed couple – and especially compared to the clearly well-fed man – this boy looks like he might have been roughing it on the streets for a while.

So, the kid’y presence here might just be a coincidence, maybe just one of those warlock children abandoned by their parents once they realize that their kid is something not entirely normal by their standards.

And if that is the case, then there are Clave protocols to be followed.

Which doesn’t change the fact that Alec first has to get the kid out from behind the dumpster.

The boy is still staring up at him and Alec crouches down to be a little closer to the kid’s level.

“Hey there,” he says gently. Kids are just about the only people on the entire planet Alec can generally stand without getting endlessly annoyed within the first couple of minutes of interacting with them.

The boy blinks at him.

“I’m Alec,” he adds on gently.

Another slight pause.

“Hi,” the boy finally whispers back but doesn’t add his own name.

Alec still smiles at him. “Are you okay?” he asks, hoping the kid might have entirely escaped the demons' attacks.

Another pause. Then the boy gives a careful, slow nod, still watching him with large eyes, clearly not at all certain what to make of Alec.

Well, if he actually saw him kill the demons then Alec can't really blame the boy for his caution.

It's the reason why he decided to call Izzy. Just in case the boy turns out to be too frightened of Alec, then maybe she'll have better luck at coaxing him out of his little hidey-hole.

"You aren't hurt anywhere?" Alec asks again, just to be sure.

The boy shakes his head slowly. But Alec sees the shiver run through the kid as he tightens his thin arms around his knees.

Shit. It is really rather cold out and the kid is just wearing a sweater, as oversized as it may be on him.

Alec is already shrugging out of his own jacket, fully intending to wrap around the kid before he even considers the hindrance of the magical barrier still surrounding the child.

He pauses but in the end still holds his coat out to the kid. “Here,” he says with another smile. “It’s too cold to be out without a jacket. You’ll catch a cold like that.”

So what if having taken care of three younger siblings – as much as Izzy and Jace resent any hints at the fact that they ever needed to be taken care of by him, trust him, Alec knows better – might have turned him into a complete sucker for small children.

And this boy is even younger than Max is right now. Alec would guess he’s maybe around six or seven, although that sort of thing is always hard to judge with kids so thin they lose the chubbiness of their cheeks due to lack of food rather than aging.

That thought alone makes him clench his teeth, even as he keeps his face as free of any negative emotions as he can.

The boy eyes the jacket and then just stares at Alec’s now bare arms. It actually takes Alec a second to realize that the kid isn’t only staring at his runes – although by how his eyes keep lingering on their dark outlines he can definitely see them – but that the boy is also looking rather unimpressed at his logic of it being too cold without a jacket but Alec now only wearing a t-shirt himself.

Alec grins slightly at the non-verbal sass. “I’m fine like this," he says, still holding out his jacket. "I don’t get cold easily.”

The kid’s mouth immediately tilts down in that universal mulish expression of children that Alec knows all too well means ‘me neither’ and that has little to do with fact and much more to do with pure stubbornness.

Alec is honestly relieved to see it. If the boy is already arguing with him – even if non-verbally – it also means he likely isn't hurt. Maybe the kid didn't even see what happened in the alley? Maybe he just hid himself as soon as the demon appeared? Or maybe he’d already been hiding here before?

Still, he keeps holding out his jacket for the kid to take. Another couple of seconds before he reaches out his other hand as well, offering it to the kid and says, "Here, you can feel. I'm still all toasty warm," he lets his lips quirk up into another smile.

It promptly makes him miss the time when his siblings were still so small that using words like 'toasty' and 'snuggly' and 'cozy' was appropriate.

Another second.

Finally the kid is uncurling one of his arms from around his knees. And as the boy reaches past the magical barrier, it simply fizzles out around him. Which is a relief.

A small, far-too-cold hand against Alec's own, even if the kid himself is still very much hidden, just a thin arm stretched out from behind the dumpster to check the truth of Alec’s claim.

"See?" he asks gently. "I don't need the jacket. And it would make me feel better if you took it.”

Then, Alec decides to try his luck by proceeding to hold his jacket open as if to wrap it around the kid himself.

This time, the pause is quite a bit longer.

And then, finally, the kid comes crawling out of his little space.

Alec makes sure to keep his sigh of relief to himself as he immediately wraps the jacket around the boy's shoulders as soon as the kid is all the way out.

And he definitely doesn’t let himself react to how incredibly thin this kid is.

Well, his face remains clear. But he is most certainly scowling on the inside.

Chapter Text

“So, they were his family?” Izzy asks lowly, crouching next to Alec, who only gives a nod in reply.

She is also doing her absolute best to not start cooing at the adorable picture of her stoic big brother holding perfectly still, so as not to disturb the kid currently leaning heavily into his side, practically swimming in Alec’s jacket around his shoulders, eyes heavy-lidded in exhaustion, almost looking like he might fall asleep any second now despite still standing mostly upright.

She got here barely a minute ago, her admittedly rather sudden appearance scaring the boy into almost scrambling right back behind the dumpster in a panic.

Which is kind of fair, seeing as she arrived at full-sprint, barreling around the corner with weapons already drawn.

But excuse her. Her big brother calling for backup on a routine patrol had her expecting nothing short of the apocalypse itself, or at the very least some sort of invasion of truly monstrous, never-seen-before demons or something along those lines.

How was she to know that Alec had called her because he found a little kid and wanted backup just in case something went wrong?

Well. On the other hand, maybe she should have guessed his call wasn't about the patrol itself.

Because the day her big brother needs backup against a demon is the day Izzy is quitting the Shadowhunter business. Because, clearly, the world will have stopped making sense then anyway and she might as well join in on the insanity at that point.

"Yeah," Alec finally murmurs back. “Apparently, his aunt and uncle.”

“And he doesn’t have anyone else?” she asks quietly, just to be sure.

Alec just shakes his head in answer, shifting slightly - most likely to alleviate some of the discomfort from crouching in the same position for so long - but utterly careful not to rouse the kid whose head is by now resting on Alec’s shoulder, barely-there slits of green staring around blearily.

Izzy feels her smile widen at the image in front of her.

Oh, she so wishes she could take a picture without potentially scaring off the kid at the same time.

And going by Alec's rather unimpressed stare her brother knows exactly what she is currently thinking.

She just grins at him unrepentantly.

This little warlock might not know it yet, but he managed to find himself the best protector he could possibly ever have hoped for. Izzy's big brother has all of the more aggressive qualities of a particularly vicious mama bear when it comes to anyone he considers to be under his protection.

And it seems this kid has just been added to that admittedly rather short list.

As signified by the fact that she can practically see Alec’s mind whirling, clearly trying to figure out what to do next.

Despite the fact that there shouldn’t actually be anything to think about, seeing as there are very clear Clave protocols in place for what they are supposed to do.

Namely, the protocols that say after finding a child warlock without any guardians around, they are supposed to take him back to the Institute, notify the Clave, who'll then send someone to pick up the kid and take care of everything.

And, sure, it sounds like a good idea in principle.

But.

This is the Clave they are talking about. And them having decided to officially denounce the Circle at some point – or rather, when the threat of an actual war with the Downworld got too big to ignore any longer – in no way also miraculously got rid of all the bigots milling about Idris.

Izzy really isn't comfortable with the idea of handing over a child warlock to someone who might not have the kid’s best interest in mind at all.

“Alec,” she starts hesitantly, not entirely certain what she is actually planning to say.

Because as much as he is her absolute favorite person in the entire world, her brother also lives by the law of the Clave.

She tilts her head slight. Well, at least he does most of the time.

She sees Alec glance over, something determined in his expression that makes her immediately come to attention.

“Anyone in your contacts who’d know where to find New York’s High Warlock and would also be willing to tell you?” he then asks her almost-but-not-quite casually.

She blinks at him in surprise. Before a grin starts spreading over her face, realizing just how Alec wants to play this. “Yeah,” she is already digging out her phone, scrolling through her contacts. “Let me just…”

Clearly, her brother decided not to 'bother' the Clave with the kid at all and instead they are going to be 'helpful' by sparing everyone the hassle and contacting the High Warlock directly to hand the boy over to his own people. Well, that’s at least how they’ll phrase it if someone ever finds out about them going against Clave protocol.

Because her brother's the-law-is-the-law stance on things is utterly immutable. Except when it isn’t.

And Izzy still hasn't entirely figured out what Alec's criteria are for those rare times when he suddenly decides to simply 'misunderstand' a direct and very clearly phrased order from the Clave. Sure, it’s always done in a way that isn’t quite insubordination, and he always takes whatever punishment is doled out afterwards without complaint.

But still, it’s happened before.

And, apparently, a child warlock with no one else to look out for him more than qualifies in her brother's eyes for him to once more ‘misinterpret’ Clave protocols.

Like she said, all the best protective mama bear qualities.

+++

Alec glances around himself, Izzy right beside him.

They are in the middle of a warehouse district, and not even a particularly nice one at that.

“Why does the High Warlock live in a place like this?” Izzy asks, sounding rather baffled. “Aren’t warlocks supposed to surround themselves with all this endless wealth they accumulate over several lifetimes?”

Alec shrugs. How would he know why someone who is supposedly the most powerful warlock in their entire city would choose to live here of all places?

Although, unless this is simply some sort of personal quirk of this particular warlock or possibly even a glamor on their surroundings making it seem more rundown than it actually is, another excellent reason for choosing to live here might be the fact that no one - including Valentine and  his Circle - would look for the High Warlock in a place like this.

It actually seems pretty reasonable to Alec.

“That’s the door over there, right?” he asks instead of voicing his thoughts, gesturing with his free hand, the other very much occupied with holding a sleeping Harry on his hip.

Alec barely managed to find out his name before the kid just conked out, falling asleep against his shoulder when they had still been back in the alley and he hasn't so much as twitched since. It's honestly starting to worry Alec just how out of it the boy is, because at this point it's looking less like a nap and more like near-unconsciousness.

Izzy glances at him, still looking a little doubtful but nods as she replies, “At least according to Meliorn’s description.”

Alec sighs. Either they are being made fools of by his sister’s seelie ‘contact’ right now or this really is where the High Warlock lives. Either way, they might as well check it out now that they are here.

It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision on his part to contact the High Warlock directly and thereby go against Clave directives on how to deal with a kid warlock.

But as much as Alec might live by the law of the Clave, he also isn't blind to their shortcomings.

Including the fact that while Valentine might certainly be the biggest threat to Downworlders in general, there are still quite a number of people in the Clave whose view on anyone with demon blood – even if not quite as extreme as the Circle’s – still tends to lean towards the good-riddance version of dealing with Downworlders.

And warlocks – as the direct descendents of demons, powerful, immortal, magical – always top those people’s lists of undesirables.

Alec quite simply isn't willing to risk potentially handing a defenseless child over to someone like that.

At this point, no one aside from him and Izzy even knows about the child warlock he came across, which really makes this the best point in time to try and get Harry to his own people, get him to someone who'll have his best interests in mind and who they can be certain will actually be invested in taking care of him.

Sure, they have no way of knowing whether this particular High Warlock is a good choice for handling the matters surrounding a kid, but it is still a much better option than anything else Alec can think of.

Well, aside from just keeping Harry himself. Which Alec knows wouldn't last more than a couple of hours before some well-meaning busybody at the Institute would decide to inform the Clave, who would immediately send someone for Harry, and then it would be out of Alec's hands anyway.

Which brings him full circle.

Thus, going directly to the High Warlock really seems to be the best choice right now.

He breathes out, adjusts his hold on Harry, and finally raises his hand to knock.

There are only a couple of seconds delay before they can hear footsteps on the other side, and then the door in front of them swings open.

Alec blinks.

The man standing in the doorway – Asian features, fancy clothes, makeup, jewelry, and perfectly styled hair – is… well, the only word Alec can think of is dazzling.

Like, really dazzling. Rather breathtakingly so.

Well, damn.

The warlock is watching them with one eyebrow raised, looking rather expectant and with a definite air of impatience around him. “Meliorn told me he decided to hand out my address to the local Institute,” he finally speaks up, voice smooth and almost affable but carrying a definite edge underneath it.

And Alec is suddenly certain that if either he or Izzy so much as twitches wrongly, they’ll regret it immediately. He wouldn’t be at all surprised if the man’s hand that they currently can’t see is already charged with his magic.

But, well, in the time of the Circle a certain level of suspicion when two Shadowhunters seek out a powerful warlock in their home is honestly to be expected.

The warlock tilts his head the slightest bit, dark eyes glinting, power and magic and something so utterly unyielding shimmering through them. And Alec almost has to swallow at the sight.

Because, damn.

And okay, yeah. Suddenly, he can absolutely believe that this really is the High Warlock.

It seems even Izzy doesn't quite know what to say right now as the warlock continues to watch them, clearly assessing them, his scrutiny really rather intense.

But finally, he seems to come to some sort of conclusion – maybe somehow able to tell that Izzy and Alec really aren’t any immediate threat to him – because then his general stance is relaxing at least somewhat, the hand that had been holding the door and thus been invisible to them so far, falling smoothly to his side.

And then, the man finally lets his eyes fall fully on Harry in Alec’s arms, wrapped in his jacket, face tucked against his neck, still sleeping peacefully.

A slight pause. A raised eyebrow.

And then, an almost resignedly amused sigh, the slightest smile, and suddenly everything about the warlock seems to just soften, the threat in his eyes pretty much disappearing, and his expression turning quite a bit warmer and definitely more welcoming.

Clearly, Izzy can see the change in the man as well because she is already speaking up, “You’re the High Warlock of New York?” she asks. She doesn't necessarily sound disbelieving as such but Alec can still hear her slight surprise. Not that he can blame her. This man certainly isn't what Alec had been expecting either.

"Hm," the warlock hums, giving both of them another assessing glance – well, Alec gets two, top to bottom and back, the second once-over much slower than the first and accompanied by a slight upwards curve of the man's lips, almost making Alec flush in reaction, even if he so isn't thinking about just why that might be – before finally gesturing for them to enter as he turns to lead the way inside.

They follow, not really having much of a choice and that’s why they came here anyway, coming to a stop in the middle of what seems to be the living room of this really rather lavish apartment. And, yes, Izzy was clearly right about that whole ‘surrounded by wealth’ thing.

“I prefer ‘High Warlock of Brooklyn’," the man continues. "But, yes, my dear, that is in fact my title. I usually go by Magnus Bane, however.”

“Izzy and Alec Lightwood,” Izzy introduces, gesturing between them. "And that's Harry."

Alec himself stays silent.

He’s a little too caught up in his own thoughts right now.

So.

Apparently, the High Warlock does live here.

A High Warlock who – going by his reaction to seeing Harry – seems to care about little children, and whose intense regard earlier had sent a thrilled shiver down Alec's spine.

Not to even mention that he is also just about the absolute prettiest person Alec has ever seen.

In all honesty, it just makes him want to sigh inwardly.

Just my luck.

Chapter Text

“I assume little Harry is the reason you decided to turn up on my literal doorstep?” Magnus asks quietly, the three of them having moved over to the dining room table while the boy in question is currently sleeping on one of the sofas, still not having so much as twitched despite the transfer.

Alec nods but does his best to keep his face neutral as he confirms, “I found him during a patrol. A demon killed his family and he himself was hiding behind a magical shield.”

"Ah," Magnus says thoughtfully. "That explains his magical exhaustion at least."

Alec raises an eyebrow at him, even as Izzy promptly asks, "Magical exhaustion? That's why he's so out of it?"

Magnus nods easily. "He is certainly too young to have received formal instruction, meaning any shield he cast would have been instinctual and thus cast with his core magic. And that sort of thing is rather draining, even more so for someone as young as Harry."

Alec frowns slightly, eyes automatically flitting back to the small form curled into a tiny ball under the soft-looking green blanket Magnus had snapped into existence earlier. He'd been worried there might be something more to the boy's near-unconsciousness but he'd still only been considering physical exhaustion, not anything beyond that.

From the corner of his eye, he can see Magnus watching the two of them – briefly considering on Alec's mostly impassive expression where he is mostly focused on Harry, then Izzy's worried frown – before the warlock finally gives them a slight smile and reassures, "But do not worry, this sort of thing is entirely natural, actually happens fairly regularly in younger children who are still getting used to their magic, and he will easily recover with some rest."

Alec can't help but breathe out in honest relief, can see Izzy mirroring him at his side.

And with the reassurance that Harry will be alright, he can also finally make himself look away from the little boy sleeping on the couch, instead focuses on the warlock across from him.

Only to find Magnus already watching him rather intently.

Alec blinks.

The warlock's regard is not necessarily uncomfortable, even if pretty intense. Eyes considering and attentive, but also something almost soft in his gaze.

Which honestly doesn't make much sense to him. Why would the warlock be looking at him like this? Approving and appreciative and something almost intrigued in his eyes as he watches Alec.

It honestly flusters him. And also has him utterly incapable of looking away.

But even as Magnus keeps their gazes locked, he can see some last bit of remaining tension bleeding out of the warlock’s frame as the corner of his mouth curls up into a slight smile, eyes warm on Alec as he says lowly, gratefully, "Thank you for bringing him to me."

It takes him a moment to react, but then Alec just nods in reply. He can hear the implied 'instead of risking something going wrong by letting the Clave deal with a child warlock' just fine even without it actually being said out loud.

There are a couple of moments of silence, as Magnus continues to watch him, and Alec returns his gaze. Can’t not. Even as he does his utter best to ignore his little sister at his side, now glancing between the two of them, like she just had an epiphany of some sort. Alec so isn't looking forward to what she might have to say about this entire encounter later.

But finally, Magnus is leaning back in his seat with a slight sigh, glancing over at the sofa and the little boy sleeping there curled up into a tiny ball. "Did he see his family get killed by the demons?" he asks carefully.

Alec shakes his head. "I don't think so. When I asked, he said he saw them coming and immediately hid himself. We made sure he didn't see the bodies when we left the alley and I only know that those were in fact his aunt and uncle because Harry described them down to their clothes when I asked." He pauses, before a sigh escapes him. "I'm fairly certain he must have heard at least some of it, though."

Magnus nods slowly, expression somber, but Alec can also see the relief in his eyes at Harry not having had to actually witness his family being brutally murdered.

On the note of family, though...

Alec hesitates for barely a moment, before he just comes out of it. "I actually first thought, Harry might not really have anything to do with the two mundanes at all because both his aunt and uncle were dressed quite well, and the man was..." He falters, trying to think of a word to adequately describe the sheer size of Harry's uncle.

"Fat," Izzy promptly chimes in, something harsh in her voice. "Ridiculously fat, is the term you are looking for."

Which is a rather apt description, even though Alec doesn't think the word 'fat' even covers it. The man had been beyond fat, large to the point of physical impediment.

Which is one of those mundane things that he honestly doesn't get. That sort of indulgence is utterly incomprehensible to any Shadowhunter, really. They devote their entire lives to fighting and training and perfect physical health so as to be in their best shape in order to fight demons.

Still, the reason he is mentioning it now, is because of the included implications of Harry being dressed as he is and so very thin, despite his relatives apparently being able to afford differently for themselves.

The mere thought of it honestly makes Alec want to grind his teeth in fury.

And going by his rather grim expression, Magnus clearly understands immediately just what they are trying to say. But the warlock also just nods. Like the idea of a child not being treated well by their family isn't really anything new or particularly surprising to him.

But then again, it isn't just any child they are talking about, is it. It's a warlock child. And maybe that's really all the explanation needed for the less-than-stellar treatment Harry clearly received at the hands of his relatives.

Which promptly brings him to the next part and the actual reason why they came here at all.

"Harry also said that he doesn't have anyone else to stay with," Alec says straightforward, doesn't know how to beat around the bush in this. "And I also think he might not actually be from around here." Alec is actually fairly certain he heard some sort of accent from the boy earlier, but with Harry having been doing his best to disappear behind the collar of Alec's far-too-large jacket, while shyly mumbling his answers into the fabric, it had been rather hard to distinguish any specifics.

Magnus, however, just seems to take the information in stride, simply nodding slightly. "Well, that will be easy enough to figure out once he wakes again and I'll be happy to use my contacts to figure out whether there is any family remaining or not."

And then, the man hesitates.

It makes Alec frown.

Because somehow he can tell that the warlock is currently debating whether to add something else, something possibly rather important going by the way Magnus' gaze has once more turned assessing, almost piercing in its intensity as he watches Alec and his sister where they sit across from him, seemingly searching their expressions for something.

But thankfully, it seems as though he finds whatever he might have been looking for, as he finally leans back in his chair and adds on with almost disturbing nonchalance, “Although, I will have to go through mundane channels. My Downworld contacts aren’t going to be of much help in this, seeing as Harry isn’t actually part of the Shadowworld.”

Alec blinks, can see his surprise mirrored on Izzy's face as her eyebrows jump up on her forehead.

“He’s not?” she asks, sounding honestly confused. "But we saw him do magic. How can a warlock not be part of the Shadowworld?"

Now, Magnus sighs slightly but concedes with a nod, “He does have magic, quite a bit of it actually if the read I’m getting on him is correct.” Another slight pause, before he then casually shatters Alec’s world view by adding, “But having magic doesn’t necessarily make him a warlock. In his case, the term is ‘wizard’. Mundane-born magic users.”

Alec chokes. “Mundane-born?”

“Hm, more or less,” Magnus hums in agreement, still seeming far too nonchalant in Alec's opinion, considering that he just threw out a pull-the-rug-out-from-under-your-feet revelation for him and his sister.

Because, isn’t that wonderfully mindboggling. There are mundanes out there who can use magic?

Well, at least Alec isn't alone is his bafflement.

“So, Harry doesn’t have demon blood?” Izzy is asking incredulously.

“Oh, he does,” Magnus denies cheerfully, and Alec thinks he might actually be enjoying their clear surprise. “Wielded magic is always demonic in nature. Channeling, molding, borrowing magic from somewhere else? Sure, there are other ways to do that. But there is no magic born from within oneself without a demonic heritage. Harry's demonic blood is just... thinner than that of your average Downworlder.”

“But how does that work?” Izzy asks, going by her voice just as caught between intrigue and absolute bafflement as Alec is. “Demon blood is demon blood, right?”

“Well, yes,” Magnus quirks a grin at her. “But you have to remember that demons have been visiting our realm pretty much ever since its creation and they've had offspring with mundanes for just as long. As have angels, for that matter. Goes to reason that after a couple of millennia of them and then their offspring reproducing with mundanes, the effect of their bloodlines might be slightly wider spread than just the few clear-cut, Clave-recognized groups of nephilim, warlocks, and seelies, would it not?"

Alec blinks. Okay, that actually does make a disturbing amount of sense.

Magnus glances between the two of them and Alec can see the man’s definite amusement at their obvious shock as he adds on, “Not to even mention any other sort of interference with earth's creatures, by angels and demons alike. I mean, surely you know that lycanthropy is originally a demonic disease that was somehow transmitted to a human, or that vampirism is a curse laid upon man by a demon, just like the boon of Shadowhunter abilities were granted to nephilim by angels themselves. Sure, those three are the most concrete examples of angels and demons seeking to widen their influence on humanity.” He quirks a grin. “But they are most certainly not the only ones.”

Alec and Izzy just stare. Because, what?

"But if they are like us, why aren't they part of the Shadowworld, then?" Izzy finally asks.

"Ah," Magnus nods. "Because that is where things get complicated."

At that, Alec almost wants to snort. Because the idea of there being an unidentified number of additional not-quite-mundane races out there isn't complicated enough already?

Magnus throws him a grin, almost as though he can read Alec's sardonic amusement in his eyes.

Which he shouldn't be able to do at all. Alec has been told multiple times, by multiple people, on multiple occasions that his facial expressions are about as lively as a block of ice. Namely, not at all.

But Magnus is leaning slightly forward in his seat now, clearly rather enthusiastic about the topic as he continues, "First, you have to consider that a couple of millennia back, before Shadowhunters were ever created, angels themselves still used to fight demons on earth. Our realm has always been the middle ground, the balance between heaven and earth. And, thus, also the battleground. Just try to imagine it. Angels and demons forever locked in battle, entire wars between the heavenly host and hell's army fought on earth, angelic grace and demonic fury clashing, the incorruptible tainted, the irredeemable absolved, immortal blood spilled, eternal lives lost, and all of it seeping into the earth of this realm, steeping it in power, saturating it." He glances between them, eyes bright in his enthusiasm, "And at some point, our earth itself gained a form of magic, balanced between angelic grace and demonic power, now perpetuated within itself, forever both and at the same time neither."

And, okay, at this point even Alec is listening with rapt attention. Because the worst thing about this whole having-the-rug-pulled-out-from-underneath-his-feet-revelations thing? It actually makes a whole lot of sense, thinking about it.

He glances at Izzy, who is by now leaning forward in interest, watching the warlock bright-eyed. And Alec feels nothing but utter fondness for his sister and her constant need to learn everything there is to know about every single topic she can find. A nerd if ever there was one.

And it seems like she found someone who might be just as much of a nerd as she is, going by the rather delighted gleam in Magnus' eyes as he continues, "Earth's magic is powerful. Truly powerful. And she has long since passed the point where she requires angelic or demonic interference in order to create her own children, to bestow her own gifts or to take any dues owed to her."

"Okay," Alec says. And while he can admit that this history lesson is honestly rather fascinating, he is also getting the feeling that if he himself doesn’t make sure they stay on topic, the other two will just continue cheerfully drifting off on tangents before Alec finally gets his answers. So, he repeats their original question, "So, what about ‘wizards’, then? You said they have magic, they have demonic blood, but they are not actually warlocks. So, how are they different?"

"Ah, right," Magnus blinks. And Alec thinks the warlock suddenly looks almost a little abashed at having gotten sidetracked by his own enthusiasm for talking about their realm's history.

Which is... not endearing. Really, it isn't.

"Well, everyone born in this realm has an inherent connection to earth's own magic," Manus continues, immediately getting back to their original topic. "But like I said, truly wielding magic does require at least some amount of demonic blood in your ancestry.”

“Which brings me right back to my first point and the fact that nephilim, werewolves, seelies, unseelies have been having children with mundanes for millennia now." He pauses briefly, before he once more cheerfully continues, "So, thin out your average Shadowworlder blood by a couple of centuries, bloodlines mixing freely with each new generation. Then, throw in a couple of rituals gone wrong, a few demonic curses cast upon entire races and just as many angelic boons granted to others, wars and blood feuds sworn in blood and magic twisting inherent gifts beyond recognition, a few fantasy creatures accidentally brought to life, some not-so-smart warlocks' forays into forbidden fields of magic conjuring things far beyond anyone’s control, a couple of dimension travelers from other realities where ‘magic’ is something else entirely, and finally add our earth's natural magic putting her own twist on everything. And what you get is a wonderfully intricate, inextricable mixture of bloodlines, which are then also thinned out to various degrees by reproducing with mundanes.”

There is a slight pause, before Magnus adds on, "The magical world, as they like to call themselves collectively, is kind of like a melting pot of all those various bloodlines. They are like the step in between Shadowworld and mundanes, slightly more normal than us in some regards and twisted beyond recognition in others." A fluid shrug. "There are entire races of creatures, well-established and contained within themselves, with their own cultures and histories and societies at this point. Wizards are only one of them."

Izzy is almost vibrating in her chair now with excitement. Alec knows that as soon as they get back to the Institute, she will be digging through the archives in order to prove or disprove what they are being told here right now. Although, quite honestly, as fantastical as Magnus' description sounds, nothing of what he has said so far seems particularly farfetched. Just a little further out-of-the-box than the Clave's teachings tend to be.

Magnus just continues, undeterred by their silence, "It is admittedly not one of my main fields of study, but as far as I recall wizards supposedly come about whenever direct descendents from two Downworlder bloodlines reproduce. There is also something about that relation having to be a certain number of generations removed from their original, full-blood ancestors so as to not make them fall into their original category, but not too diluted so as to still be sufficiently magical to kick-start the child’s inherent magic once more.”

Alec blinks, can see Izzy look just as baffled where she is sitting beside him.

Magnus finally leans back in his chair once more and concludes with, "So, to answer your original question. Harry does have demon blood, but he has likely just as much angel blood in his veins, both of which possibly even from the same ancestors." A slight grin. "Not to even mention the rather random combination of other bloodlines on top of it which even the most zealous genealogical archivists amongst immortals have given up on entirely dissecting at this point. All the while Harry's blood is actually still mostly mundane.”

Alec honestly tries to wrap his head around all of that, tries to make sense of it within the scope of what he has been taught about different races on earth by the Clave.

But in the end he just kind of gives up.

Well. There goes the Clave's narrative of Shadowhunters, Downworlders, and Mundanes being all there is to be found on earth.

Chapter Text

Alec tiredly runs a hand down his face, even as he can't help but interestedly glancing around the living room he is still in from where he is now seated on the other end of the couch Harry is sleeping on.

Magnus isn't back yet, having disappeared briefly to what appears to be some sort of study, saying something about asking a friend whether she knows anything at all that might pertain to Harry or his family or anything really.

Izzy actually left a couple of minutes ago to go back to the Institute, saying she would take care of the mission logs and also letting Jace in on what is currently happening with Alec.

Something that Alec could honestly have done himself.

But he simply hadn't been able to make himself leave. Not while Harry is still asleep.

Sure, Magnus had told them that he can't be entirely certain just how long Harry will still be asleep, how long it might take him to recover from the drain on his magic, and the warlock had even offered to call him as soon as Harry wakes in case Alec needed to leave as well.

But.

Magnus had clearly been able to see his hesitation and had then promptly offered to let Alec stick around, saying he was more than welcome to wait for Harry to wake.

It hadn't been much of a decision at all and Alec's agreement to that particular offer might have been rather embarrassingly quick.

For one, there is a slight chance that Harry might recall having some other family after all once he wakes, and what if Magnus contacts them and then hands Harry over before Alec manages to make his way back here?

He wants to at least have the chance to say goodbye.

Not to even mention that Alec simply doesn't want to leave Harry after dropping him off with a stranger while the boy is asleep. He really thinks the kid has been through enough upheavals within one day that he deserves to be spared this particular one.

And, well, it's not like Alec is in any sort of hurry to leave here anyway.

Because... reasons.

+++

Magnus is in his study, just jotting down a Fire Message to London's High Warlock to ask her whether she might have any information regarding the little wizard currently asleep on Magnus' couch. Earlier, a quick call to a friend at the NYPD about the bodies of the two mundanes - Harry's aunt and uncle - left behind in that back alley, had revealed that not only had the police already figured out their identities but also that Harry isn't from around here at all but rather from the UK.

Which renders most of Magnus' contacts in the Mundane World ineffective, seeing as it has been literally decades since he spent any real amount of time in London, back when Ragnor still held the position of High Warlock there.

Well, for now he'll write to London's current High Warlock, as much as he doubts she'll know anything - what with the general separation between the Magical World and the Shadowworld, not to even mention that England's magical community always having been a little more on the extreme end of the isolationism spectrum - but, well, one can hope. And if this doesn't turn up anything, then Magnus can always ask Ragnor whether he still has any relevant contacts over in good old Britain that might be able to help.

Magnus also very much tries not to think too closely about the Shadowhunter - and a particularly fine specimen of nephilim at that - currently camping out that same couch right next to the child in question.

Let him just say, that whole incredibly-gorgeous-Shadowhunter-standing-on-his-doorstep-all-protectively-and-caringly-holding-a-little-kid-in-his-arms thing? That's quite simply not playing fair.

Because how in the world is Magnus supposed to resist that?

Not to even mention how clearly the nephilim had been trying to keep a neutral expression throughout their entire discussion about magical bloodlines, how clearly he had been trying to seem impassive, all the while apparently incapable of keeping himself from regularly glancing towards the couch and checking on the kid sleeping there, his face an utterly impassive mask while his eyes gave everything he might be thinking away.... Honestly, that's just the height of adorableness.

Yeah. The universe definitely isn't playing fair.

Well, it's not like Magnus is actually complaining. Not at all.

It's been a long time since he came across someone he found so instantly fascinating, since he felt such an immediate draw to someone, a draw that keeps reeling his attention back in, making it difficult to so much as even look away from the lovely Shadowhunter for any extended amount of time.

And as much as one Alexander Lightwood had been trying to seem unaffected by Magnus' presence, his interest in him has really been clear as day.

He feels a smile tugging at his lips, something halfway between smug and endlessly delighted as he considers that particular epiphany.

Now, how to go about catching himself an adorable, apparently somewhat skittish, breathtakingly gorgeous Shadowhunter?

Well, I'm certainly not going to get anywhere by standing around here, now am I, he think, even as he finally makes his way out of his study.

His appearance in the doorway to his living room immediately garners him the full attention from the lovely Shadowhunter on his couch, eyes attentively, intently on fixed him. It almost sends something of a jolt through Magnus.

Which is... Yeah. Magnus is so making sure that something comes of this.

And, okay, he definitely needs to remember that this one appears to be a little shy, if not skittish, so it might be best to not come on too strongly right from the start. On the other hand, a little bit of harmless flirting never hurt anyone.

So, he lets a warm - admittedly slightly coy - smile spread over his face as he comes to a stop next to his drink cart, "Would you like something to drink while we wait?"

A slight pause.

"Coffee?" Alexander then finally says, more of a question than a statement.

The hopeful note in his voice makes Magnus grin. Still, he can't help but tease slightly, "Hm, am I right in assuming that you do not mean coffee of the Irish variety?"

Alexander just blinks at him for a couple of seconds before asking, "Just black?" His obvious confusion just what 'Irish' in regards to coffee might mean is really rather endearing.

Well, Shadowhunters do tend to be a little sheltered. Just, usually they don't wear their confusion quite as adorably as this one.

Just his luck.

Magnus can't help the slightly fond smile tugging at his lips in reaction, even as he twirls his fingers, magic easily jumping to do his bidding, making a cup of steaming, fresh coffee appear on the side table next to Alexander, while also summoning a glass with the wonderful concoction that is Irish coffee to his own hand.

To his credit, the Shadowhunter doesn't so much as blink at the casual use of magic, already reaching for the mug.

"Thanks," Alexander nods, the corner of his mouth tugging into a slight smile and hands already curling around the cup in his hands, all the while giving Magnus' long-stemmed glass an almost suspicious glance, apparently not at all tempted by the rather fancy makeup of the drink.

But before Magnus has a chance to lead this conversation anywhere, there is a slight rustling from the couch, immediately making both of them glance over at the third person in the room.

Only to be met with the sight of two large green eyes blinking at them slowly.

And as soon as the child realizes that he is the focus of their attention, he is already ducking his head again to mostly hide behind the blanket again. The mess of fuzzy black hair over the pair of large green eyes blinking at them over the edge of the blanket curiously is so very adorable it honestly makes Magnus want to coo.

He refrains. Barely.

And he most certainly ignores the edge of definite caution he can read in the way the child holds himself, the wariness in the boy's eyes. It's the sort of careful assessment normal children don't learn to carry with themselves, but that is regrettably far too common for children born with magic who are forced to grow up amongst those who neither understand nor welcome those gifts.

Alexander's brief summary of his suspicions concerning the boy's well-dressed and well-fed family members had in no way been any sort of surprise.

Magnus might not regularly come into contact with wizarding children, but amongst the many warlocks he knows, barely a handful had anything even resembling a truly good childhood.

Being different has its price. Magnus would know.

But for now, he just watches the pair on the couch, listens as the lovely Shadowhunter goes about reassuring the little wizard next to him as best he can. And after his initial caution passes, the child just continues staring up at the Shadowhunter, all the while not-so-surreptitiously continuing to scoot closer and closer to Alexander, closing the gap between them in the barest increments until he is finally close enough to hesitantly reach out and carefully twist the fingers of one of his hands in the fabric of the Shadowhunter's t-shirt.

Who pretends not to notice a thing and just keeps talking to the child.

So damn adorable.

+++

Alec doesn't even pause when he feels small fingers grasp carefully at the edge of his t-shirt.

If physical contact is what Harry needs to reassure himself that he is safe, then Alec is perfectly happy to provide that.

And now - apparently having assured himself that Alec isn't just going to disappear if he so much as glances away - the boy finally starts looking around himself. Only for his eyes to promptly widen slightly as he takes in the rather lavish, colorful, and - even in Alec's opinion - rather interesting living space they are currently in.

And, then, finally Harry's eyes land on the warlock still standing barely a couple of steps away from their couch.

A pause.

"This is a friend of mine," Alec supplies gently, reassuringly, immediately recapturing Harry's attention. "He is going to help us figure out what to do now." Alec really isn't sure how he is supposed to tell the boy that he plans to leave him here with a complete stranger.

But at his explanation, Harry glances over at the warlock again rather shyly, who promptly smiles at the child. And then, Magnus is suddenly - and rather unexpectedly - down in a crouch in front of Harry who is still seated on the couch.

“Hello there, little one,” he smiles, bright and warm, and even Alec is left staring a little dumbfounded at the expression the warlock is suddenly wearing.

Sure, Magnus dropped his standoffish facade ever since he let Alec and Izzy inside his loft, has even been rather welcoming and open, but he'd also been throwing sparklingly bright smiles their way like they were going out of style. Clearly a mask, but so well-crafted that despite knowing it was a mask, Alec still hadn't been able to actually see past it.

But now? That expression right there, that soft and gentle and caring smile? That's something else entirely.

Thankfully, the man seems too busy focusing on Harry right now to give Alec's own staring any mind.

There is barely a pause as Harry clearly considers the man crouching in front of him.

“Hi,” he finally murmurs back shyly, but at least untucks himself slightly from where he had seemingly been trying to meld with Alec’s arm.

The warlock's smile widens. “I’m Magnus,” he offers, expression still so very warm and gentle. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

Another pause.

“Harry,” the boy mumbles in return, one hand still twisted in the fabric of Alec's shirt, but the child is now wearing the slightest smile of his own as he watches the man crouching in front of him, which is already more of a reaction than Alec had been able to get out of him before the child fell asleep on their way here.

Not that he can blame Harry. Alec is fairly certain he would be helplessly smiling as well, if Magnus were to direct that particular expression at him.

He continues to watch as the warlock then stretches out one of his hands to shake Harry's, smile widening even further at how carefully the boy considers it for a couple of seconds, before finally reaching out as well for a tentative handshake.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Harry,” he says, smile full of warmth and care and genuine welcome.

The smile on Harry’s face gets just the tiniest bit brighter.

However, Alec frowns slightly when he sees something truly intent, something careful and worried, flash through Magnus' eyes as he watches Harry. It has Alec immediately coming to attention as well even though he really has no idea why.

But the reason becomes perfectly clear only a second later with Magnus' next sentence, the man's smile still warm, his voice soft and gentle as he announces brightly, “You have very pretty magic, sweetie.”

The change in Harry's demeanor is abrupt and almost a little disturbing to see, the child's eyes growing wide, almost fearful, something definitely afraid in the way he immediately hunches his shoulders. “Magic isn’t real,” the boy supplies urgently, voice lowered, something almost panicked in his expression as he glances around himself.

Alec promptly feels his brows draw together in a frown. Because that's just such an odd thing for someone with magic to say.

He doesn't think he has ever heard someone with magic deny its existence. And he really doesn't like how Harry is glancing around himself, eyes catching on the corners of the room, on the shadows beneath various pieces of furniture, as though either expecting something to jump out at him or possibly looking for a place to hide. All because of the mere mention of magic.

No, Alec doesn't like seeing it at all.

Although, where he is still crouching in front of them, Magnus seems entirely calm, doesn’t even seem all that surprised by Harry's response to the mention of magic. Almost like he might have expected something exactly like this to happen before he even brought it up.

Instead, the warlock just lets his smile brighten, projecting calm and a cheerful lack of worry, his entire demeanor clearly designed to put Harry at ease. By the way the child is watching Magnus, eyes still wide but also something so very desperately hopeful in his eyes as he almost seems to sway slightly towards the warlock projecting such nonchalant ease, it seems to be working rather well.

Finally, Magnus just contradicts cheerfully, “Oh, I assure you, magic most definitely is real.” His smile widens as he lifts one of his hands to hover in the space between them, “See?”

And suddenly there are wisps of blue fire dancing along the man’s fingers, the flames bright and oddly enough somehow seeming almost cheerful in the way they flicker in and out of existence.

Harry breathes in a shocked gasp, eyes going wide in a way that would be absolutely comical if it weren’t for the boy's immediate and absolutely delighted question of, “You do freakish nonsense, too?" Then, a furtive glance around, the boy's voice dropping into a barely audible whisper as he leans in and asks with so much hope in his voice it's more than a little heartbreaking, "Like me?”

Alec makes sure to keep his face entirely clear of the utter fury ripping through him, just like Magnus’ expression that is still utterly cheerful. But at the same time something so menacingly, malevolently dark flashes through the warlock's eyes, the sight sends something almost like a shiver through Alec.

He suddenly has a feeling that if Harry’s family wasn’t already dead at this point, they’d soon be getting a visit from a rather pissed off High Warlock. Quite possibly in the company of a just-as-furious Shadowhunter.

But clearly, for now Magnus is still absolutely focused on reassuring the little wizard watching him with such heartbreaking hope in his eyes.

“Yes, exactly like you,” he replies with a cheerful nod as though nothing were wrong at all. Before he adds the calm and nonchalant question of, “Although, I think ‘magical’ sounds much better than 'freakish', don’t you?”

Harry's smile is heartrendingly bright as he nods immediately, expression eager as his eyes flit between Magnus' face and the flames still dancing along the warlock's fingers.

Alec doesn't let himself react to the implications of everything that isn't actually being said out loud but that is most definitely implied in the child's reactions.

Then, Magnus is leaning in, holding up his free hand to the side of his mouth in the universal sign of someone about to whisper something in confidence, “You want to know a secret?” Magnus show-whispers to Harry, faux-furtively glancing around the room as though someone might be trying to listen in on what he is about to say next, and the boy is immediately nodding, leaning in as well with wide eager eyes.

Alec watches as Magnus' lips quirk up a little further, as he obligingly leans in a little further as well.

Angel, the two of them are adorable.

“In this room?" Magnus finally not-quite-whispers. "Everyone has powers, so if your aunt and uncle were here? They’d be the ones who wouldn't fit in. For being ordinary.”

There is a pause as Harry blinks at him rapidly. Like the mere idea that he could fit in anywhere better than his family could is an entirely novel concept. Which, admittedly, it likely is.

And then the boy shyly glances over at Alec, the question of whether he can do magic as well almost humorously obvious on the boy's face.

Alec smiles, “I can't do magic like you two," he says, easily leaning in a little to join their whisper-circle. "But these symbols?" he points at one of his runes on his forearms. "They give me special powers."

For some reason, Harry's eyes go even wider. "Powers? Like Superman?" he asks, his voice lowered into something that is probably supposed to be a whisper as well but misses by about a mile.

Alec just blinks, quite honestly having absolutely no idea who or what a 'superman' is.

But before his hesitation becomes too obvious, Magnus is already adding in, "Yes, exactly like Superman." The slightest pause. An impish grin. "And definitely a little like Batman as well, all things considered." There is something playful in his eyes as he says it, eyes suddenly focused on Alec once more and the slightly teasing expression is honestly making Alec rather suspicious.

Well, Harry apparently misses the byplay entirely. "Oh, Batman is my favorite!" he enthuses bright-eyed.

Magnus' smile just widens as he watches the child. "He really is the coolest out of all of them, isn't he?" he asks warmly, finally reaching over to fondly run a hand through Harry's absolute mess of hair as the boy nods enthusiastically.

And, sure, it's incredibly reassuring to see that Harry has apparently lost any and all reservations about Magnus at this point. But Alec is rather focused on the fact that he honestly doesn't even have the slightest clue just what in angel's name they are talking about.

On the other hand, it's not like he is going to protest being called a 'superman' or a 'batman'. Not when Harry is now staring at him like Alec is the absolute coolest person he has ever come across in his life.

Instead he just smiles gently at the boy.

And resolves to figure out as quickly as possible just what sort of powers and... other characteristics might just have been assigned to him by way of those monikers.

Chapter Text

Magnus barely blinks when he hears the door that leads to his guest bedroom down the hall open slowly, quietly, ever so carefully, only making the barest sound.

He takes absolute care not to react outwardly, instead pretending to be fully engrossed in his book, sitting on the couch and calmly sipping his drink. He is happy to pretend ignorance as he waits for little Harry to sneak through the corridor, to stick his head into the living room, to assure himself that he hasn't been left behind in this strange place, that nothing of of the past two days' events was a dream. That Magnus is still right there.

Where he has been the last two times Harry woke and then promptly did the exact same thing, sneaking out of his room to check that Magnus hasn't decided to leave while Harry slept.

It's actually pretty late already, nearing 2am in the morning at this point, and Magnus himself would likely be getting ready for bed by now. Well, he would. If only he had the heart to leave the living room, to risk Harry waking once more, coming to look for him, and then panicking at not finding Magnus where the child last saw him.

It’s the second night Harry has been staying with him, so Magnus knows the routine by now. 

The first night had actually much more… dramatic, to be honest. With Harry also waking several times, but entirely panicking every time at finding himself in an unfamiliar room - where Alexander had originally tucked him into bed after the boy had fallen asleep over dinner - and with no one he knew around, coming scrambling out of the room, eyes wide and frightened and so clearly afraid that he might have been left behind.

It's actually more than understandable. Harry went through a lot of upheavals within a rather short amount of time. Going from being dragged around the city by his aunt and uncle - who apparently cared so very little they couldn't even be bothered to get him a coat to protect the child against New York's late fall weather - all the way to losing said family to a demon and finding himself amongst strangers in a rather strange place. Strangers who then promptly proceeded to upend his worldview and everything he had been taught about what 'normal' was supposed to look like.

Magnus had honestly been expecting the boy to wake at least once during the night and then come looking for someone familiar.

Well, the first time Harry woke during that first night could admittedly have gone better. Because Harry had not only fallen out of bed in his haste to check he wasn't alone, but also accidentally swiped everything off the bedside table in the process, including a lamp falling and shattering on the floor, only distressing Harry further, and Magnus barely arriving in time to stop the child from scrambling barefoot across the shards in his haste. It had ended with Harry tucked against Magnus' chest, crying distressed tears as he apologized almost incoherently for breaking said lamp, even while Magnus tried to assure him it was no big deal, tried to calm him down again.

Although, the child's fear of being left behind most certainly also wasn't helped when he realized the next morning that Alexander had indeed left while Harry had been asleep, even if the Shadowhunter really didn't have a choice about having to return to the Institute at some point. But adult reasoning rarely ever makes sense to small children.

So, it's really no surprise that the combination of it all now has the kid apparently waking in almost regular intervals, and after the rather turbulent first time he woke, it also now has Harry all the more quiet, so very careful not to cause any disturbance whatsoever, but still unable to help wanting to check that Magnus is still around...

Just thinking about the clearly engrained behaviors he is observing in Harry makes Magnus grind his teeth, so angry at a world that so rarely seems to have a happy childhood to spare for those who carry magic in their blood.

Still, right now, he makes sure to keep his face absolutely clear of his anger, pretends to be focused on his book, not reacting to the small shadow he can see appear in the doorway from the corner of his eye, calmly flipping to the next page, not reacting until he sees the shadow once more disappear from the doorway.

Magnus only glances up again when he can hear small feet quietly making their way back towards the guest bedroom once more, barely making a sound at all as the door is pulled almost shut again.

Then he leans back in his seat, closes his eyes as he lets his mind drift.

The last two days have been stressful between getting Harry settled, a couple of things to deal with in New York, and also contacting various people in the UK and in Magical Britain, trying to figure out whether there is any family remaining for Harry. London’s High Warlock wasn’t able to really help him at all, as much as she seemed absolutely willing, seeing as Harry really isn’t under her jurisdiction. But she at least gave Magnus a couple of names of people to contact around mundane Great Britain and even a few who at least have some contacts to their magical world as well. Though, Magnus is still waiting to hear back from most of them.

Either way, whether there is still family remaining or not, Magnus has already vowed to himself that he will do everything within his power to find this little wizard a true home, a true family, a chance at a truly happy childhood as any child deserves.

He won't accept any other outcome.

+++

Alec knows the scowl he is wearing right now must be rather impressive, as evidenced by the way the other Shadowhunters keep clearing out of his way as soon as they get a glance of his face.

But he just can't help it.

Two days ago, he found Harry behind that dumpster. Two days since he brought him to the High Warlock, hoping the kid might be taken care of there. Two days ago, Alec had to leave Harry behind because his duties were calling him away. And he hasn’t heard from warlock or wizard since.

A fact that now has him in a mood, something Izzy keeps cheerfully needling him about, recently also joined by his parabatai who keeps insisting he should get to meet the little wizard Alec decided to take under his wing at least once before he is shipped off across the pond again.

A reminder which only has Alec’s mood ever-souring.

Sure, he isn't worried about Harry as such, isn't bothered by where he had to leave Harry behind, something about Magnus’ entire demeanor telling Alec that as long as Harry is under Magnus’ watch no harm of any kind is going to befall the kid.

There had just been something about Magnus. Something about him, about the way the warlock acted around Harry, reacted to him, the ease with which he handled the boy, anticipated any potential problems… All of it told Alec that the warlock is definitely more than comfortable taking care of a child. And Alec can even admit that the utter warmth Magnus exuded whenever he so much as glanced at Harry, had Alec - rather helplessly - spellbound as he watched the two of them. Still has, even now.

And there had just been something about those few hours that Alec had spent at the loft with the two magic users, after Izzy left. When it had just been the three of them.

Once they had calmed Harry down, had assured the child that he was safe at the strange place he had found himself in, the three of them had eaten dinner together, mostly to help Harry get even more accustomed to Magnus and to his surroundings.

Throughout dinner, Magnus had entertained Harry with some more magic tricks. Just small things, passing the salt by magic, pouring their water without actually touching the bottle, making the flames of the candles on the table dance in different colors all throughout the meal. Harry had been fully entranced. As had Alec, admittedly.

And when Harry had finally been unable to stay awake any longer, simply falling asleep at the table, Magnus had just directed Alec to the guest bedroom, letting him be the one to tuck the little wizard into bed before Alec finally had to take his leave.

Point is, despite the truly odd situation, the entire evening had been comfortable, easy, relaxed in a way Alec is fairly certain he has never had before. Possibly not ever.

Sure, maybe it was different when he was really young, but he can’t really remember that far back. And ever since he turned eight, he has always been the Lightwood heir first, everything else second. He hadn’t even realized that he has kind of forgotten what it was even like not to be the Lightwood heir, the ideal Shadowhunter, the obedient soldier, the perfect son. And he most certainly hadn't realized how exhausting it was to constantly present that front.

Not until those few hours at Magnus’ place, where Alec had suddenly been none of that. Where he'd just been himself.

He kind of adored it.

Hence, his subsequent rather abysmal mood at having to leave that little bubble of content happiness behind, as briefly as it might have lasted. Not at all helped by the fact that he hasn't heard from Magnus or Harry since, can’t even be sure whether the kid is even still in New York or might have gone back to the UK already.

Because Alec kind of forgot to ask for Magnus' number - even if he had given the warlock his own number, asking for Magnus call him in case something happens with Harry - so the only way for Alec to find out what might be going on, would be to actually visit the High Warlock’s apartment again.

Which Alec hasn’t found the time for, yet.

Honestly, he had kind of been hoping Magnus might just call him. Although, being his usual awkward self and not wanting to come across as hitting on the pretty pretty warlock, Alec might admittedly have also been a little too specific about his supposed reasons for giving Magnus his number and how it was solely so the warlock could call him in case something happens with Harry.

The memory alone just kind of makes him want to sigh at his own awkwardness.

Which doesn't change the fact that if nothing has happened with Harry yet, then Magnus wouldn’t really have had any reason to call, right?

And at this point, the uncertainty of it all is kind of driving Alec insane.

Maybe he should just man up and go stop by the apartment, maybe just go tomorrow morning before his first patrol shift. He can always claim to have been patrolling that area anyway and just wanting to check in, or something along those lines.

That sounds reasonable enough, right?

So, he’ll stop by Magnus’ place tomorrow morning.

Just to check in on Harry. And maybe also to clarify that Magnus is quite welcome to make use of Alec’s number… well, whenever he’d like, to be entirely honest.

Yeah.

Chapter Text

Magnus leans back against his kitchen counter as he sips on his coffee, waiting for Harry to reappear from brushing his teeth.

It's the third morning since the little wizard came to stay with him. And Magnus knows, something has got to give.

They spent yet another night playing the Harry-peeking-into-the-living-room-at-regular-intervals-all-throughout-the-night-while-Magnus-pretends-not-to-notice game, and at this point he is rather glad for those energy potions he always has in stock, because – used to pulling all-nighters or not – even he would be lagging a little after not really sleeping more than an hour or two for three nights in a row now.

Well, not like he'd be able to get much sleep even if he hadn’t spent those nights camped out on the couch, for the sole reason of reassuring Harry whenever the child comes to check on him still being there once more.

He knows he’d likely be lying awake in bed either way, thoughts circling around the little wizard and everything Magnus is observing, all the things that make it so very clear that Harry’s previous situation with his ‘family’ was apparently on the rather grim end of the spectrum of what Magnus had already been expecting to be faced with for a magical child from a previously less-than-optimal home life.

He’d expected a few issues to pop up right from the start.

But he’s known ever since Harry’s first morning here, when Magnus had decided to take a quick shower while Harry was still sleeping, only for his wards to alert him barely a few minutes later before he ever made it under the shower, having him hurry back into the kitchen. Only to find Harry balancing precariously on a chair in front of the stove, apparently intent on cooking breakfast, sharp knife in one hand, spatula in the other.

Magnus’ heart just about stopped.

Never mind that Harry would have had to use magic in order to even get the stove running or to open the drawer with the knives in his kitchen.

Magnus knows very well how to childproof his kitchen, thank you very much.

However, he had neither expected Harry's desperation to ‘earn his keep’ nor how the child’s accidental magic would react to his increasing anxiety at not being able to do so.

It’s actually been an ongoing struggle between the two of them to somehow make Harry believe that he is truly welcome here, that he doesn’t have to ‘be useful’ in order to be allowed to stay.

Everything about that - the mere idea itself - has Magnus absolutely furious.

Sure, he’s seen worse things done to children, has seen children be treated so much worse by their own flesh and blood, knows that true abuse can reach entirely different levels of cruelty. But it also doesn’t matter.

Abuse is abuse, no matter what sort. And there is nothing on this earth that sparks Magnus' wrath like any sort of mistreatment of children. Harry’s aunt and uncle should be glad that they are already dead. Because Magnus has no mercy for anyone who dares abuse those they are supposed to protect, to shelter, to keep safe. Once he finds out who was responsible for leaving Harry with his aunt and uncle, only to then either neglect to check up on him or to simply not care enough to remove Harry from that situation… Well, Magnus thinks he might be making a few trips across pond in the very near future.

But the point is, things can't keep going as they are, even if it hasn’t been all that long yet.

Watching Harry - the child forever trying to make himself useful, the one thing children are never supposed to be, moving about his loft quiet-as-a-mouse, so very worried about being any sort of disturbance to Magnus, never asking for anything, not even something to drink or to use the bathroom unless Magnus asks him first - is honestly heartbreaking.

And he knows that those sorts of behaviors aren't easily broken, knows it will take weeks or months or even years to make Harry abandon these lessons that he likely learned rather painfully in his previous home, to make him let go of behaviors that have so clearly been conditioned into Harry's entire demeanor.

And the first step for that to happen at all is to make Harry believe that he is not only free of his previous situation, that he will not be sent back, but also that he is truly welcome here that he won’t find himself suddenly alone once more, so very afraid to be left behind every time he so much as closes his eyes.

Something needs to change.

Which brings Magnus here, considering options of things for them to do together, trying to come up with something that will make Harry feel less like a temporary guest and more like he is truly welcome here, like this is really a place he can stay for however long it takes. Because until there is a better option, there is no way Magnus will ever even consider letting anyone else take the little wizard.

Well, either way, whoever his contacts in good old England might dig up as possible relations for Harry, they better be prepared to receive regular visits from Magnus. There is no way he'll agree to just hand Harry over to anyone, blood relation or not, without at least checking that he has found somewhere to be safe, to be happy, to belong. A place to call home.

Hm, maybe that's the answer.

Maybe they could relocate, move his apartment to one of the other lots Magnus still owns in Brooklyn, somewhere more child-friendly than an abandoned warehouse. And while he relocates, redesigning his apartment layout will be easy, so he might as well give Harry his very own room in the process.

Nothing says welcome, says home like being given a place that is all your own within.

Magnus tilts his head slightly, even as he hears the tab in the bathroom finally shut off, little Harry apparently done with brushing his teeth, little feet already scampering back towards the kitchen where Magnus is waiting.

He smiles rather helplessly as the little wizard appears in the doorway moment later, Harry clearly trying to stay subdued but eyes still wide and excited as they focus on him. Because Magnus promised him waffles for breakfast this morning, which has Harry rather excited since he apparently never got to try anything sweet for breakfast before.

So, they are going to make waffles together, which – not so coincidentally – is also a good way to start getting Harry used to the idea of how children are supposed to be involved in the kitchen. Namely, by taste-testing the ingredients – such as the blueberries and strawberries and chocolate chips that go on the waffles – while Magnus as the adult is the one who actually handles the cooking.

You know, the way it’s supposed to be.

+++

Alec blinks around himself, unsure whether to feel angry, or confused, or even worried as he glances around the abandoned space stretching out around him.

It's going on noon at this point, sunlight streaming through the dusty windows from the outside, and Alec came to the warehouse to stop by Magnus' place after his first patrol shift, fully intending to at least figure out how Harry is doing and maybe even get up the nerve to ask Magnus for his number. So, Alec would be able to call him as well. Just to inquire about Harry. And maybe also for other reasons.

He’d even run through the dialogue a couple of times in his head, hoping he'd manage to get through that conversation without once more making an utter fool out of himself.

Which, it seems now, had been entirely unnecessary. Because the warehouse is empty.

The space where Magnus' apartment had been less than seventy-two hours ago is now abandoned, no trace of any apartment – much less of its occupants – to be seen.

As though, it had never been there in the first place.

+++

Magnus glances around himself, rather satisfied with how his apartment is looking after the relocation.

He’ll have to check the shelves in his study later, make sure all of his ingredients and ancient tomes and magical knickknacks survived the transport along the ley lines intact, but that’s more of a formality than a true necessity. This really isn’t the first time he relocated his apartment and he has yet to lose any of his possessions along the way.

"Magnus?" a small voice asks from beside him.

He glances down at Harry who is standing next to him, little hand twisted in the fabric of Magnus’ pants, having been rather endlessly excited at the idea of moving somewhere by using magic and taking the entire apartment with them.

"Yes, sweetie?" Magnus asks with a smile.

There is a pause, the boy clearly needing a bit to gather his courage to actually ask any questions at all.

“Did we move really far away from before?” the boy finally asks shyly.

Magnus tilts his head, turning slightly and crouching down in front of Harry to get to his level. "A little bit," he replies, voice cheerful but watching Harry carefully, not entirely certain what it is that has the child so clearly hesitant right now. "But we are still in the same city as before," he adds on.

Another pause, and it's rather clear that Harry has yet to get to the point of what seems to suddenly be bothering him about their move.

So, Magnus just lets a warm smile tilt his lips, voice gentling even further as he asks, “What’s the matter, sweetie?”

The boy still has his head lowered and it takes him a couple of seconds to shyly peek up at Magnus. "If we are far away from before..." he trails off and Magnus nods encouragingly. Which appears to give Harry the courage to finally almost-whisper, "How is Alec going to find us?"

Magnus blinks.

He's been so preoccupied over the past couple of days with Harry, trying to figure out a way to somehow make the child even the slightest bit more comfortable, he honestly hadn't been able to spare the Shadowhunter more than a couple of thoughts, thoughts that admittedly tend to circle around how ridiculously gorgeous, how breathtakingly attractive Alexander is, how wonderfully comfortable it had been to have him here, spending the evening with Harry and Magnus a couple of days ago.

But Harry actually has a point.

Sure, Magnus doesn’t know whether the Shadowhunter even intends to show up again at any point, but it certainly won’t hurt to tell him where to find them in case he does want to stop by. Magnus certainly isn’t opposed to sharing another evening in the company of the gorgeous Shadowhunter and the adorable little wizard.

And he also rejoices internally at hearing Harry actually say ‘we’, say ‘us’, like the idea of him truly having a place here is finally starting to sink in.

“You’re absolutely right,” Magnus confirms cheerfully. “So, how about we call him right after we are done settling in? You can invite him over. I’m sure he’d love to see your new room.”

Harry’s head snaps up, eyes wide. “Really? I can?” A pause, as Magnus watches the child’s eyes widening even further, mouth dropping slightly open as what he just said fully sinks in. “My room?” the boy finally whispers, breathtaking hope in his voice.

“Of course, sweetie,” he just smiles, pretends there is nothing off about that reaction, pretends it doesn’t tug at every single one of Magnus’ heartstrings.

Instead, he smiles. And wonders just how he is ever going to cope with letting this child leave again once those contacts over in Great Britain get back to him, possibly with news of actual family to take Harry in. Because Magnus would never have the heart to keep Harry away from his actual family, as much as he honestly just wants to keep him close.

Still, the knowledge of that coming pain does nothing to deter him from continuing to fully open himself up to this child, letting Harry in, making the little wizard feel truly wanted, quite likely for the first time in his life.

The smile it gets him is absolutely breathtaking, so fragile and hopeful in the way only children know how to hope, and so very heartrendingly bright.

And what’s another crack in Magnus’ heart compared to that?