“The final gift is usually something made by our magic. A piece of us, as it were, gifted to the one we’d like to be ours. It’s our way of showing how serious we are, how much we care, and that we’re willing to be vulnerable by exposing a part of ourselves that could be used against us. It’s our way of saying we trust the other person not to do it.”
This was the one part of the whole thing that Alec had known from the get-go what he would give. Catarina had offered to help him, and Alec knew he’d surprised her when he’d firmly turned her down. As soon as she’d said what was necessary Alec had known what he was going to do. It was the only thing he really could do. He didn’t have magic to make something for Magnus. Nor did he have the typical type of magical signature that he could offer up to show his level of trust in him. Not in the typical way, at least.
What Alec did have was something he hoped would work equally well.
He took his time to do it. After all, this gift was the most meaningful of all, and from what Catarina said he got the impression that he really, really needed to get it right. Since Alec couldn’t do it the traditional way, he had to work extra hard to make sure it was good enough to do the same.
Alec knew that Magnus would probably understand if Alec didn’t do this one. After all, it wasn’t exactly something that someone who wasn’t a warlock could do. But that only made Alec all the more determined to do it.
He was pretty sure that Magnus was beginning to suspect something. The sideways looks he kept giving Alec when he was sure Alec wasn’t looking made it clear Magnus knew something was up. But he didn’t ask and Alec didn’t say. Not yet.
It took days for Alec to do what he wanted. He didn’t want anyone’s help on this, which meant he couldn’t even go to his sister or his brother. But what he wanted to make wasn’t easy, and it took time, a bit of research, and a few messed up attempts. Most of which Alec had to burn so no one would be able to get their hands on them.
In the end, Alec finally had to settle for buying part of his gift and working from there. He justified it to himself by saying that warlocks would likely have to purchase parts of their gift, too, or at least the supplies with which to make it. Alec wasn’t cheating or anything like that. Magnus would still like this. So he bought the supplies, changed his design around a few times, and did his best to put everything he had into making this perfect for Magnus. He deserved nothing less.
Once Alec was done, he boxed it up in another box made to match the first one he’d used, and then he spent another day trying to plan out everything he’d need. Three days off from the Institute, to make sure they’d have time to properly celebrate if this went right, or that he’d be able to go to ground and lick his wounds for a while if it didn’t. To his siblings, Alec played it as just wanting to give Magnus a surprise vacation, and that guaranteed they were kept quiet.
After that, the only planning Alec really needed to do had to be done at the loft, and for that Alec called Catarina to have her get Magnus out of the loft for a while. That left Alec free to come in and set things up before Magnus got home.
Alec took his time doing it. Despite what others said, he wasn’t unromantic. He knew how to set up a beautiful evening for him and his boyfriend. Even if he hadn’t had ideas of his own, time spent with Magnus had helped him to get a general idea of not just what was romantic, but what suited both him and Magnus.
Of course, having money helped. Some of it Alec was able to do on his own. He chose the spot – up where they’d had their little wing-grooming nest – and he was the one to get the furniture up there. A circular table up there, one that Alec very much did not want to try getting up there again without Magnus’ magic to help. Then the fairy lights were turned on, a few candles laid out around them and on the table, and flowers were set up in a beautiful assortment in the middle of the table. A few deliveries from the local flower shop helped provide Alec with the necessary flowers to decorate around them as well.
Alec didn’t try and cook. He was far too nervous to not end up accidentally screwing something up. That was one of the ways that money came in handy. Alec ordered out from one of their favorite Italian places here in New York, and when the food arrived, made sure to use the special charmed dishes Magnus kept around that would keep things warm for them until they were ready.
As Alec looked around him, he had the absent thought that this was almost like he was setting up for a proposal.
In a way, wasn’t it? Wasn’t this just as big, and just as important, to a warlock? Maybe more so, even, considering the length of their lives and the fact that marriage by mundane means was probably a whole lot simpler than a final courtship with a warlock and their magic.
Alec didn’t give himself time to think on it or to get too nervous. There was no time and no room for those kinds of things tonight. To keep himself occupied, he went downstairs and showered, and then spent a little time in the closet picking out something to wear. A few of his own bits of clothes had migrated their way from the Institute to the loft over the duration of their relationship. Plus, there were things that Magnus had bought for Alec in the hopes of getting him to wear them. He was always trying to introduce better quality clothes to Alec on top of a bit more color.
Rubbing his fingers over the material of the shirt in front of him, Alec couldn’t help but smile. For most of Alec’s life he’d listened to teasing about how he needed to wear more colors, dress better, look better. Even Isabelle said it. Though Alec knew she was only doing it because she cared about him, and she wanted him to look good, it drove him a little crazy that people couldn’t just accept him for how he was. Dark clothes, holy sweaters, and all.
Magnus… Magnus wanted to add color to Alec’s wardrobe, yes, but he didn’t seem to mind that they were darker colors. Nor did he try and completely erase Alec’s own sense of style. He bought Alec things, but they were often things that were still dark the way Alec liked, still practical. He just bought them in a higher quality material. Alec had learned to love the softer things that Magnus liked to get him.
For tonight, however, a bit of color was actually exactly what Alec was going for.
He pulled out a dark green button up that was way more fitted than any of Alec’s other business clothes, and a much softer material. Tight black jeans went with it, and a pair of his nicer black shoes.
Alec didn’t bother trying to tame his hair down. That was a battle he knew he wasn’t going to win. Not to mention, he knew just how much Magnus seemed to love the messiness of it, even going so far as to deliberately mess it up a few times when Isabelle tried to tame it down with product. Anytime she did, Alec would inevitably find Magnus’ hand in his hair at some point, little bits of magic weaving between his fingers while he casually stroked out whatever product Isabelle had put in.
By the time Alec had finished getting ready and made his way back up to the roof, the sun had set, and lighting the candles gave the space a beautiful little glow.
He’d just finished lighting the last candle when Catarina text him. Her message was short and sweet, letting Alec know that Magnus was preparing to portal home. That meant he was going to be there any moment.
The nerves Alec hadn’t been letting himself feel came out full force in that moment. This was it. There was no turning back after this. Magnus would know something was up the minute he saw the whole setup. Alec couldn’t hide from it. All the work he’d put into this courtship, all the efforts he’d made to try and repair their relationship after all the recent troubles, all of that was culminating in this moment.
Alec felt the shiver of magic down his wings that told him Magnus had opened up the portal. He drew in a deep breath and then let it out slowly. You can do this. You can. It’s just Magnus. No matter what happens, whether he accepts this courtship or not, you know he’s not going to walk away. Even if this wasn’t what Magnus wanted for their relationship, if he didn’t want this extra layer of things for them, Alec had no doubt that Magnus would still stick around. He didn’t question Magnus’ love for him.
Then there were footsteps on the stairs, the door to the rooftop was opening, and Alec was out of time.
Where Alec had stationed himself meant that he got to watch Magnus’ face and see his reaction even before Magnus got to see him. He could see the way that Magnus’ eyes went wide as he took in the table, the decorations, the food, the flowers. Alec watched the way that Magnus’ lips parted on a surprised breath, yet how they also were already curving up in a smile of pure delight.
Alec was smiling as well when Magnus’ gaze finally landed on him. The delighted look on Magnus’ face only grew when his eyes ran over Alec. By the time they settled on Alec’s face, his glamour was gone, not just on his eyes but on his wings, and Magnus looked like Christmas had come early. “Well now, if this isn’t a wonderful surprise to come home to.” He walked toward Alec, stopping only when he was close enough to stretch up on his toes and give Alec a kiss. When they pulled back, he smiled. “To what do I owe the pleasure of such a lovely looking evening? We don’t have any important dates I’ve forgotten about, do we?”
“Like you’d forget any of those.” Alec rolled his eyes and almost snorted at the idea. He was pretty sure Magnus kept track of any sort of moment in their relationship somewhere in his office or on his phone. He liked to celebrate little anniversaries. Even ones that Alec hadn’t thought of.
Grinning, Magnus stroked his fingers over Alec’s bicep. “There’s a chance. But if not an anniversary or something like that, what prompted all this?”
“Can’t I just do something nice for my boyfriend?”
Watching Magnus’ eyes light up at the use of the term boyfriend never failed to make Alec smile. Magnus pushed up to give Alec another kiss. “Of course, darling.”
Alec slid his arm around Magnus’ shoulders, getting Magnus’ arm around his waist in turn, and he began to lead them over toward the table. “I hope you’re in the mood for Italian.”
“Always. Though I must admit a preference for Latin.” Magnus slid his hand down from Alec’s hip to give his ass a light squeeze to clearly emphasize what he’d meant. As if the leer in his tone and the smirk on his face hadn’t made it clear enough.
Though Alec couldn’t stop the hint of color from warming his cheeks, he also rolled his eyes. Then he used his arm and wing to nudge Magnus away from his side and toward his chair. “You’re terrible.”
“We both know you don’t mean that,” Magnus teased back, adding in a wink for good measure. He was clearly in a playful sort of mood tonight. Alec could only hope that stuck around after everything was said and done. This mood was one of Alec’s favorites. He adored a playful Magnus. It usually meant over-the-top flirting, some light teasing, plus bright smiles and warm laughter that always carried over into the bedroom with them. Alec hadn’t known laughing with sex was possible until Magnus.
If Alec wanted any of that they had to get through this first.
Thank the angel he’d made the decision to do the gift first and get it out of the way. There was no way he’d be able to sit through the whole dinner wondering and worrying about what was going to happen. Neither one of them would’ve enjoyed that, and it would’ve inevitably ended up ruining Magnus’ good mood.
Still, that didn’t mean that Alec’s nerves didn’t grow when Magnus looked down at the table while reaching for his chair and he caught sight of the box sitting there. His whole face lit up with a grin. “Presents, too! Alexander, you’re spoiling me!”
“You deserve it.” The words were a blunt truth Alec had no shame in admitting. Magnus deserved so much more than anything Alec had ever offered him. He deserved the world. He just hoped that what little he was able to offer his boyfriend would be enough.
Alec pulled back Magnus’ chair, getting another smile and a quick kiss before Magnus sank down into it. However, he waited until Alec took the chair beside him to reach for the box. Alec felt like he was holding his breath as he watched Magnus untie the ribbon, gently setting the bits off to the side, and then Magnus was reaching forward to lift the lid. There was no turning back now.
The awe on Magnus’ face eased some of Alec’s tension. Still, he found himself speechless for the moment. All Alec could do was sit there and watch as Magnus reached down into box and pulled out the carefully crafted necklace Alec had put inside. Magnus’ eyes were wide while they seemed to take in every single detail.
For most people the necklace probably didn’t look like that much of a work of art. It was nothing in comparison to some of the beautiful silver and gold pieces that Magnus had, with countless precious jewels that even Alec’s untrained eye knew were expensive. This was more… personal. Yet priceless in a way the others wouldn’t be.
The top of the necklace was a choker, with one long bit that would hang low, breaking off into three pieces at the bottom.
Most of the necklace itself was leather that Alec had very carefully acquired, cut, braided into the shape he wanted, and then carved with a small knife. There were runes and protective symbols put into the leather that were almost unnoticeable unless one looked closely the way that Magnus currently was.
Though Alec was proud of the leatherwork he’d done, it wasn’t that part that made the necklace so special. Nor was it the gold and silver beads he’d so carefully chosen and added. No, what made the necklace so special, so very priceless, were the feathers.
From the front of the choker dangled one of Alec’s smallest feathers. No larger than Alec’s index finger, the feather was dark black, with the lightest of flecks in it that Magnus often compared to the hint of stars hiding behind clouds in the night sky.
Three more feathers dangled down the longer bits of leather on the back. The middle one being the largest, though not the largest Alec had, with two on either side of it that were about half its size.
“It’s, uh, it’s a back necklace,” Alec said when the silence got to be a bit too oppressive. “The choker hooks in the back, and the other bits will, um, they’ll dangle down between your wings.”
Magnus wore plenty of backless shirts when he was hanging out in Pandemonium. But, despite all the jewelry he so frequently wore, he’d never worn any back jewelry. Not like Alec had seen Isabelle do. For the longest time Alec had wanted to see what Magnus would look like wearing something there. Just the thought of jewelry dangling down the long expanse of his back – a bit of something pretty, soft, amidst the muscled planes of his back and wing joints – Alec knew he’d be beautiful. And that said nothing for the feeling it gave Alec just thinking about Magnus wearing his feathers so boldly.
“It’s stunning,” Magnus’ voice was low and almost reverent. He knew the importance of nephilim feathers. They were almost as good as actual angel feathers. The things they could be used for in spellwork, the things a warlock could use them for, were immense. But, more than that, the amount of power that it put in Magnus’ hands – he could do so much to Alec with even just a piece of a feather. To have a necklace that held four of them was a gesture that Alec hoped was on par with the offering of magic between warlocks. It was, in a sense, giving Magnus a very piece of Alec’s soul.
The significance of that wasn’t lost on Magnus. He looked up at Alec, and his heart was right there in his eyes. The walls that he so often put up around others – even sometimes still around Alec – were all gone. In that look was the heart of the man that Alec had fallen so much in love with as well as a tentative hope that said that even now he wasn’t sure about what Alec was doing. If this was really what he was hoping for.
Seeing that gave Alec the courage that had seemed to be evading him for most of the evening. Suddenly, the nerves he felt weren’t as important. The only important thing here was Magnus and making damn sure he understood just how loved he truly was.
“Catarina said the final courtship gift needed to be made by magic,” Alec said, his voice low yet steady in the soft quiet of the evening. The sounds of the city seemed to have faded away around them. The two of them could’ve been the only people in the whole of the city at that moment. Nothing and no one else mattered. Just Magnus and the slowly growing hope in his eyes. “I know that I don’t have any magic to offer you, not like another warlock might, but I was hoping this might be close enough to count. It’s a piece of me, something I wouldn’t give to anyone else.”
‘It’s our way of showing how serious we are,’ Catarina had said. ‘How much we care, and that we’re willing to be vulnerable by exposing a part of ourselves that could be used against us. It’s our way of saying we trust the other person not to do it.’
“You’ve…” Magnus paused, emotion clogging his throat. It made his voice a bit huskier than normal even when he tried to clear it away. “I wasn’t sure if you were really doing this intentionally or not. But you… you really were, weren’t you? The gifts, and Raphael, and the grooming…”
Alec met and held Magnus’ eyes, needing him to see just how serious Alec was. Wanting him to know that this was real. “You’ve always been so considerate to me and how I feel. From the very get go, you were there for me, coaxing me out of my shell, showing me what it was like to be loved and respected for who I am, not who you wanted me to be.”
“I don’t want you to be anyone but you.”
The honesty in that had Alec smiling softly. “I know.” Reaching out, he caught hold of Magnus’ free hand, holding it in his. Neither one of them looked away as they gripped tightly to each other. “You’ve always loved me for me, Magnus. Something no one else in my life has ever offered me. In some way or another, they always want me to change. You give me the option of it, but you never make me feel like I have to just to keep you happy with me. You give me everything, and you don’t ask for anything in return. I wanted to do something to give you even just half of what you’ve given me. I wanted you to know you were loved, more than anything and anyone in this world, and I wanted to do it in a way you deserve.”
Tears built in Magnus’ eyes. He had no shame in letting them slide down his cheeks. Not when it was just him and Alec alone. He let the tears fall and kept his tight hold on Alec.
Alec reached up with his free hand and used one of his knuckles to brush away a few tears. “You deserve more than I can ever give you, Magnus Bane. I’m not always good at saying that or showing it. But I… I wanted to give you this. So I went and talked to Catarina.”
A watery chuckle burst from Magnus. He used the wrist of the hand holding the necklace to reach up and cover his mouth for a moment. When he lowered it, he was still smiling. “Of course she helped you.”
“Who else would talk me through warlock courtship rituals?”
“I can’t believe you never said anything.” Magnus shook his head, but his smile grew bigger. He wasn’t mad. More than anything, he sounded stunned and… elated. “When you gave me the focus stone, I thought maybe it was just a coincidence. But then I went out with Madzie and saw her new dress, and then the grooming…”
Alec twisted their hands enough that he could run his thumb over Magnus’ knuckles. “Cat and I figured you’d only try to talk me out of it if I said anything. Plus, it’s not like it’s something people openly discuss beforehand.” That was what Catarina had said, anyway.
Magnus shook his head, still smiling. His eyes finally broke away from Alec only to drift down to the necklace he still held. A necklace made by Alec’s own hands, with the magic of his runes and the magic of his feathers right there, freely given to the person he loved more than anything.
When Magnus looked back up, a few more tears had fallen, smearing his makeup just a little, but his smile was brighter than Alec had ever seen it before. “Will you put it on me?”
The soft words had Alec moving. He rose to his feet and took the necklace when Magnus offered it to him. By the time he got behind Magnus a quick bit of magic had already changed Magnus’ shirt and vest to a shimmering golden low-backed shirt that left almost all of his back exposed. Alec smiled at the sight of it. Then he carefully lifted the necklace up over Magnus’ head. A touch settled it against his throat, and then Alec’s hands slid to the back to close the clasp on the choker and to carefully arrange the feathers so that they dangled perfect between Magnus’ wing joints. The top of the feathers reached just below them, with the tip of the longest feather stopping just shy of Magnus’ pants.
It was… he looked stunning, just as Alec had known he would. Not just with the jewelry, but with that bit of Alec hanging there off him. A little possessive thrill ran down Alec’s spine at the sight.
“How does it look?” Magnus asked, breaking Alec’s thoughts.
There was only one answer Alec could give, and that was: “Gorgeous.”
When Alec finally dragged himself away and moved to go back to his chair, he found Magnus watched him and smiling. He had his chin up, clearly showing off the choker and the feather that dangled down in the hollow of his throat. One of his hands was up, a finger stroking over it in a way that made Alec shiver.
Alec knew what was supposed to come next, knew the words that they were to say to one another, only he hadn’t let himself think about that part. Hadn’t let himself hope. This whole thing had come to mean a lot to Alec; more than he’d expected it to.
He should’ve known better.
Magnus looked right at him with those beautiful, shining eyes, and a smile far happier than anything Alec had ever seen on him, and he spoke the words so easily, like there was no doubt in his mind what he wanted. “Alexander Gideon Lightwood, I accept this piece of you and promise to guard and cherish it, as I will guard and cherish the rest of you.”
The words had Alec’s heart swelling. He felt a lump building in his throat.
Then Magnus surprised him further by letting go of Alec’s hands and holding his own out, one palm up and the other overtop of it. A snap brought to life a bit of blue magic in Magnus’ palm. Magic that he twisted and turned to reveal a leather bracelet. Alec watched with wide eyes as Magnus drew his free hand back and held the other out Alec’s way.
Most of the bracelet was flat, and about three fingers wide. Overtop the flat part were a few twisting bands that were broken here and there by small flecks of what looked like blue-green stones.
Alec knew even before Magnus spoke what those little stones were.
“I was working on this earlier, just in case,” Magnus said. He didn’t look anywhere near as nervous as Alec had felt before. If anything, he looked at peace, and so sure of himself and them both. “I wasn’t sure if this was where we were going, but I wanted to be ready. I picked the leather because it was something I knew you’d wear, though I’m even more glad now because it means we match.”
A low chuckle slid from Alec at that. “Yeah.” Drawing in a breath, he lifted his left hand out, intending on taking the bracelet.
Grinning even more, Magnus twisted his hand the instant Alec was close enough. Instead of handing it to him, he wrapped it around Alec’s wrist for him, turning his hand palm up so that he could tie the bracelet off over Alec’s pulse point. The leather felt warm against Alec’s skin. Not just from body heat, but from something else. Something he was intimately familiar with.
Magnus turned Alec’s hand over once the bracelet was in place. He traced his fingers over the leather and those little bits of stone. “I put my magic in these stones, and I keyed it to you. No one else will be able to touch it, so you don’t have to worry about that. Even if it falls off while you’re on patrol, it’s spelled to return to you, or to my jewelry box.” The wrinkles around Magnus’ eyes deepened a little. He looked up at Alec, and he winked. “I put a few extra spells on there, too. A sort of… warning, to others.”
Possessive, over-protective brat. Raziel, Alec loved this man!
It took a second for Alec to be able to speak past the lump of emotion clogging his throat. He knew what he had to say, though. The words he needed to give back to Magnus. “Magnus Bane, I accept this piece of you and promise to guard and cherish it, as I will guard and cherish the rest of you.”
Something warm flared up in Alec’s chest at that. He felt it like a tingle deep down inside him, almost like where the parabatai bond had settled, only… deeper.
Magnus leaned in and Alec met him halfway, the two of them coming together in a kiss that said all the things they couldn’t say right then. All the feelings that they were working on being able to say more often.
When they drew apart, Magnus kept his hand where it’d ended up curled over the side of Alec’s neck. That hold allowed him to keep Alec in place so that their foreheads were pressed together. “I love you, Alexander. More than I’ve ever loved anyone.”
Alec smiled and brushed their noses together. “I love you, too.”
There was no one else in the world that Alec wanted to spend his life with. No one else that he would ever love as much as he loved this man right here. Magnus was everything he wanted, everything he needed, in ways Alec hadn’t ever anticipated. Ways that he hadn’t even know he’d wanted.
And Alec was going to spend the rest of his life making sure Magnus knew exactly how loved he was.