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Paradise in Between

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The only silver lining of losing the Mortal Cup is that nobody seems to have the time nor interest in gossiping about a scandalous Lightwood wedding.

Weeks pass, and Maryse still isn’t regularly speaking to Alec, but no Clave diplomats are currently trying to take the Institute from the Lightwoods, so Alec’s happy not to think too much about the consequences of making out with a Warlock in front of a horde of important Clave members. It doesn’t matter much anyway. The Angel knows that there’s not much they could do about it now that Alec has an inkling what he really means to Magnus. Clorophia’s words still wake him some nights.

In spite of the panic over the loss of the Cup, when no whisper of Valentine is discovered over the next two months, the Institute starts feeling very… hurry-up-and-wait.

It’s driving Alec mad.

“And, wow , this hand goes to me as well,” Jace says, looking far too gleeful as he scrapes a pile of poker chips towards him.

Magnus sighs and Clary just continues to stare at her cards like they’re tarot cards written in a foreign language instead of simple playing cards.

“Demons fly… thank gods we aren’t playing for anything of substance… Hundreds of years of work, and my entire collection would be in the hands of a Shadowhunter child…” Magnus mumbles absently and summons himself a drink.

“We told you not to play with him,” Isabelle coos from where she sits by the fire, flipping through an old tome.

“I still don’t think I even understand this version of poker,” Clary says, shaking her head.

“Seelie Poker is unique. It has to be complicated, since none of them can flat-out lie,” Alec explains, scraping a whetstone down the edge of his favorite seraph blade.

“Whatever,” Clary says, tossing her cards down. “I officially give up.”

“I must fold as well,” Magnus says, looking apathetic as Jace smiles and shuffles the cards unthinkingly. Magnus’ eyes find Alec’s and he smiles gently. Alec returns the fond look, and doesn’t miss the way Magnus’ fingers brush over his chest, where Alec knows his arrowhead is hiding beneath his clothes. It shocked Alec more than he would admit admit the first time he saw Magnus wearing it, dark and shining against his breast, Alec’s name carved by his heart. Magnus glances down at the sword in Alec’s hands. “If you keep that up much longer, you’ll have no blade left to fight with.”

Alec rolls his eyes but he does set the blade down next to the others.

“Shit!” Isabelle exclaims suddenly. “You were out on patrol, but we got a message from Idris this afternoon. Mom and Dad get back tomorrow morning. I totally forgot to tell you.”

Shoulders rolling forward just a touch, Alec almost slouches as an extra weight settles on him. Isabelle grimaces as she glances between Alec and Magnus.

Magnus comes around the Institute often these days. There are many reasons for a High Warlock to be present in these trying times--not the least of which being the fact that Alec has semi-recently discovered what his skin tastes like. He gets along well with their little group--he did even before Alec finally came around--but even a four hundred year old magician isn’t immune to Maryse’s fury.

“She’ll come around soon,” Jace says unconvincingly as Alec pushes off the desk he was leaning on.

Alec shrugs noncommittally. He isn’t sure if his mother will ever forgive him. He isn’t sure he even sure he wants her forgiveness after everything.

“Angels above, we need a vacation,” Magnus murmurs.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii,” Clary supplies, stealing a handful of Jace’s poker chips and beginning to arrange them into a pattern.

“Nah, it’s all about Australia ,” Jace insists. “I’ve seen photos. It looks sick.”

“You just want to fight every deadly animal on the continent,” Isabelle says, rolling her eyes, and Jace shrugs. “I’ve always wanted to go to South America. Bra sil! I’ve heard the clubs are amazing…”

She sighs and looks up, a wistful smile on her ruby lips.

“I take it the wee Shadowhunters haven’t been out of New York much?” Magnus says, rolling his glass in a circle so the rich liquid swirls around the bottom of the glass.

“Parents didn’t really see much of a point of taking us anywhere besides Idris or some of the other Institutes,” Isabelle says regretfully.

“We got to visit Athens, once,” Alec says.

“Yeah, for like six hours before we got chucked through a portal home again,” Jace says.

“I came from a single parent home. Rent cost more than Mom’s paycheck anyway,” Clary says, typical New York. “Simon and I took the train to D.C. once, though. It was… kinda disappointing.”

Jace laughs and Magnus smiles.

“It is rather uninspiring, considering it’s the current political center of the world…” he agrees, and then looks over his shoulder at Alec. “What about you, my little eyes? Did you have a honeymoon destination in mind when you were planning that heinous wedding of yours?”

Alec feels heat crawling up his cheeks, unsure if he’ll ever be used to Magnus’ liberal use of pet names, directly translated or otherwise. He snorts through his blush, rubbing at the stubborn knot that’s twisted itself into the muscles of his shoulder.

“It wasn’t that kind of wedding,” Alec says.

Magnus nods sagely, glass held aloft.

“Ah, that’s right. I forgot you were planning to eagerly skip to the bitter, sexless stage of marriage,” Magnus mocks.

Alec shakes his head and his lips twitch into a shadow of a self-deprecating smile. He would be offended if he didn’t think Magnus was so damn funny.

“Anyway,” Magnus continues. “I think you and I should take a trip to my flat in London. Get out of New York for a few days… The weather is actually supposed to be beautiful there for the next week. It would be a shame to waste any number of the ten sunny days they get in a year…”

“I can’t leave while Valentine has the Cup,” Alec says pragmatically--it isn’t the first time Magnus has tried to spirit him away.

“Besides… pretty sure you two have been honeymooning enough for a dozen newlyweds, right from home,” Jace says as he shuffles the cards and grins evilly at the hickey that Alec completely forgot to ask Magnus to remove that morning. “On that note, I’d really appreciate it if you’d remember that we share a bedroom wall, Alec. We are parabatai, but we are not that close.”

Isabelle laughs openly and Clary hides an embarrassed smile behind her hand. Alec knows his face is even redder but he diligently pretends it isn’t as Magnus smiles and unhelpfully avoids his gaze.

“Magnus is right, though,” Isabelle says, thankfully drawing the attention away from Alec’s lovebite. “You’ve been so tense that at this rate you’re going to be useless when Valentine does make a move.”

Alec’s brow furrows as he crosses his arms over his chest.

“Jesus, Izzy, I’m not useless . And I can’t be halfway around the world when Valentine decides to show his face again,” Alec argues.

“Don’t underestimate me, Alexander. I could have us back from England like that ,” Magnus says, snapping his fingers and releasing a puff of blue light, “if the situation called for it.”

Alec opens his mouth to continue fighting, but Isabelle is too quick.

“And all four of us can wear SOS runes. Any one of us activates it and you’ll know we need you,” she says.

Alec looks to Jace for support, but his traitorous parabatai only shrugs, humor in his eyes.

“I don’t see anything wrong with this plan,” He says and laughs, knowing how this must be prickling.

“Plus…” Clary muses. “If you leave tonight, you’ll totally miss Maryse and Robert…”

 

They arrive just as the sun is rising, stepping out of a portal onto a foot path running parallel to the Thames. Already, fog is burning away, and it’s easy to see the intricate buildings across the water. Magnus inhales deeply--the familiar smell of smog, like New York’s but flavored just a bit differently.

“Where are we?” Alec says, craning his head up to look towards the clearing sky, pale purple being overtaken by orange.

“South Bank, just north of Waterloo Bridge,” Magnus says, dusting off his hands.

“I thought we were going to your apartment here,” Alec says, still inspecting his surroundings.

“This is a vacation, Alec. I thought this felt more realistic. We’ll see my flat later; getting there is part of the journey,” Magnus says and, well, if magicking their bags straight there ruined the effect, Magnus only cares so much about verisimilitude. “I thought we could go on a walk, see the Museums before everything gets too crowded. Then we can do brunch at this gorgeous place I know—lovely view of both the Eye and the Palace.”

Alec’s still glancing around, not looking nearly as excited as Magnus had hoped. He sighs. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering Alec was basically coerced into the trip. Alec’s thumb is digging into his forearm where Isabelle had drawn the siren rune before they left. Magnus takes a step forward and cups Alec’s cheek in his palm.

“Hey. We can go home, if you really don’t want to do this.”

Alec finally looks at Magnus. His eyes are searching, face considering.

“No, no. No… let’s just… just us for a while is good. They’ll call if they need me,” Alec says.

“That’s the spirit, darling. Just promise you’ll try and keep this ,” Magnus says, eyes crinkling at the corners as he taps Alec’s forehead, “here with me, okay?”

Alec nods, returning the smile.

“Okay.”

“I’m going to kiss you now, Alexander,” Magnus says, unable to help himself.

It’s not an unusual occurrence when it comes to Alec. His lips are soft and damp from his nervous nibbling when Magnus meets them. They’re irresistible.

Alec leans fully into it, lets Magnus coax his tongue out to tease and play a little. Magnus slows the kiss before he can regret not transporting them straight to his flat. Alec follows when he pulls back and Magnus presses a finger against his lips, holding him in place.

“Do not tempt me,” Magnus warns and earns himself a little grin from Alec. “Now, let’s get you into something more appropriate. As much as I appreciate your trademarked Shadowhunter leather fetish, this is London, not a downworld rave.”

Alec gives him a look but doesn’t argue or move. As long as Magnus doesn’t go totally crazy, he’s been surprisingly tolerant of Magnus taking the reins on his looks when they go out. He actually let Magnus put a little bit of stain on his lips last week. He’d looked positively sinful.

Now, though, Magnus has very conservative plans. He snaps his fingers and Alec’s leather jacket and usual battle tack disappears, replaced by a stylish black trench coat and a matching burgundy scarf and glove set. Even with the sun rearing its head, the air was still frigid enough to cloud their breaths.

Alec glances down, appraising himself as best he can, probably making sure Magnus hasn’t put him in anything pink—one day, Magnus thinks. One day.

“Don’t worry, gazelle. The most ostentatious thing I’ve put you in are your boots. Very sensible,” Magnus assures—they’re honey colored leather, nothing crazy.

Alec blushes, but then his brow furrows as he fiddles with the cuff of his new coat, catching sight of the lining.

“Magnus, is this Burberry?” he asks, sounding a little shocked.

Magnus is frankly surprised he knows that that is , let alone that he knows how to recognize it. His Alec, so full of surprises. Magnus is charmed. He reaches out and twines their fingers together.

“We’re in London, Alexander. I couldn’t dress you in Saint Laurent …”

 

Magnus leads him towards Waterloo Bridge, the sounds of a waking city beginning to swell around them, and wonders if Alec will notice that his boots are Alexander McQueen.

Alec and Magnus spend most of the morning traipsing through museums. The paintings are impressive, but the most notable part of the experience is of course Magnus himself, who keeps up a steady stream of chatter, regaling everything from epic tales to general gossip concerning each of the artists—many of whom he’d met personally.

“And I know I mentioned that Michelangelo was good in bed but I want you to know he doesn’t hold a candle to you, sweetheart,” he says as they duck into a new hall. It’s slipped in, between a story about the lengths artists used to go to get paints and a story about an escaped goat. It makes Alec’s breath catch, startles a little laugh out of him. “Ah, look, Monet…”

So, yes. The paintings are nice, but they’re nothing in comparison to Magnus’ words, or the feeling of his hand laced into Alec’s. That part in particular is making Alec’s stomach flop back and forth every time he thinks about it. They don’t exactly do a lot of hand-holding around the Institute, and with current events being what they are, they haven’t exactly found themselves in a lot of appropriate venues. It’s odd, seeing Magnus’ painted fingers in his, feeling his warm palm pressed to Alec’s, knowing the power they often channel. It feels normal and nice in a way that Alec can barely remember feeling before—perhaps if he digs way back, to when Izzy was five or so and they played hide and seek for hours, her bell-laugh resounding around the Institute as Alec pulled her out of the laundry bin.

“Alexander?” Magnus’ voice cuts into Alec’s reverie. He shakes his head a bit, looking away from Magnus’ hands and back up to his face. He hadn’t heard a word Magnus was saying in the past few minutes. He feels bad, especially when a little line appears between Magnus’ brows, worry clear. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, sorry,” Alec rushes to apologize. “I just remembered something from a really long time ago.”

“A good memory, I hope,” Magnus says, shoulders relaxing.

Alec smiles and takes a step closer to Magnus’ side.

“Yeah. It was.”

“Good,” Magnus says. “Shall we move on then? I wouldn’t want us to miss our reservations,”

“Yeah,” Alec says, and then an impulse strikes him, in the spirit of things they can’t normally do. “Let’s go.”

He leans down and presses a kiss to Magnus’ cheek, lingering just enough to be romantic. To Alec’s delight, Magnus looks a little taken aback when they part, cheeks a bit rosy, and atypically silent.

He clears his throat after a second, and Alec can only grin wider.

“Right. Right, follow me,” he says.

Alec does.

 

Bunch is lovely. The owner is a good friend of Magnus’, so they get exceptional treatment as always. Magnus tells Alec about the history of the place over perfectly cooked eggs benedict and crisp mimosas. Magnus notes that Alec actually likes those, having a second when offered, and getting adorably smiley afterwards. He would say Alec is  giggly, if Alec giggled , which he doesn’t. He does however grin a lot, looking down with his ears pink.

Afterwards, they stop by the Natural History Museum and Magnus is treated to an Alec he’s never seen before. He looks young as they weave through the massive bones and specimens.

“For someone who has fought actual demons, werewolves, and various other monstrous creatures, I wouldn’t have pegged you as someone who would get this excited about a dinosaur,” Magnus remarks as he follows Alec through the wide open hall.

Alec just shrugs, still looking around with wide eyes, reading all the little plaques and informational signs. He runs his fingertips over a cast of a spinosaurus footprint.

Magnus runs through his connections in his head, trying to figure out if he can acquire something particularly ancient for Alec’s birthday.

After the Natural History Museum, Magnus hails a cab that only drives them a few blocks before dropping them off. Magnus is refusing to tell Alec where they’re heading next.

“It’s a surprise. Be patient, gazelle,” Magnus says leading them into Hyde Park.

They wander through lazy paths and under rustling trees. They’re still recovering from winter, hungrily drinking up the rare sunlight. One hand is still twined with Magnus’ and the other is in his pocket, tucked next to his discarded gloves and wrapped around a tiny plastic dinosaur. Magnus picked it out and purchased it in spite of Alec’s protests. He still has no idea what he’s going to do with it. Still… he gets happy every time he pulls it out to take a look at it.

They round a corner and Alec’s eyebrows rise at the sight of a gorgeous building peeking out of the trees. Nobody on the path near them seems to see it, passing it by without a sideways glance.

“It’s glamoured,” Alec comes to the conclusion easily. What he doesn’t know is why a building in such a popular location would be hidden from Mundanes. “Why—”

He begins to ask but cuts himself off as he promptly gets an answer to his question. There’s the muffled sound of hooves and then a herd breaks around the side of the building, which Alec suddenly realizes is an ornate stable. Their bodies are white, silver, and gold, all even and pure down to their shining hooves. One spiral horn adorns each of their perfectly proportioned heads.

“Unicorns?”

Magnus smiles knowingly.

“My friend owns this place. Have you ever seen a unicorn before, Alexander?” Magnus asks. Alec shakes his head, still mystified as they disappear into the trees again. “They’re amazing creatures. Come on, let’s go see Hyde Park in style…”

Magnus’ friend is named Eccanus, and he’s definitely one of the most laid back Warlocks Alec has ever met. He also doesn’t even take more than a perfunctory glance at Alec’s runes before greeting him warmly. He leads them out into the pasture and blows on a small horn to call the herd.

They rush back out of the forest, tossing their heads and stamping their thin legs. To Alec’s surprise, they immediately make for him. At least four surrounding him, ruffling him with hot breath and soft wickering.

“By the gods,” Eccanus exclaims. “I didn’t expect that…”

“Expect what?” Alec asks, hands running over silken coats, trying to appease the creatures as they seem to clamor for his attention.

Eccanus leans against the fence.

“Magnus’ consorts rarely attract special attention from the herd,” he says, not leaving Alec much less confused.

Magnus coughs, eyes to the sky and lips curling up in amusement, serving only to confuse Alec more.

“What do you mean?” Alec presses, jumping as a silver unicorn blows out a breath across his neck.

“Well… the unicorns have a preference for virgins. Magnus and his friends very rarely…”

“That’ll do, Eccanus,” Magnus cuts in, looking far from apologetic as the realization finally settles on Alec.

His jaw drops and red crawls all the way up his neck. His face burns.

“I’m—I’ve—I mean we’ve—”

Alec doesn’t know how his life has progressed to convincing a strange Warlock that he’s not a virgin. It’s definitely not what he envisioned during countless hours of battle training. Eccanus shrugs.

“It’s not a perfect science. It’s all relative. Maybe there’s something you want that you’ve been denying yourself. The unicorns love that, all about restraint and purity,” Eccanus says fondly. “Silly beasts.”

The unicorns skitter off a bit as Magnus approaches. He cups Alec’s face.

“Oh, we’re definitely talking about this,” Magnus murmurs.

“I thought we were here to ride,” Alec says, steadfastly avoiding eye contact.

“Oh… we’re very much here to ride,” Magnus replies. Alec’s eyes widen and he looks up and counts to ten.

“I’m ignoring that.”

“It’s okay, darling,” Magnus says, leaning up so his lips are brushing the shell of Alec’s ear. “We’ll have time later.”

Alec holds his ground, even as a shiver rolls down his entire body.

 

The unicorns choose the path through the park. They wear no tack and seem to have a plan in mind, leaving Magnus and Alec free to fully take in their surroundings. Occasionally, Magnus will lean forward and make a suggestion to the unicorns in old language of beasts. Alec is a little quiet as they go, but seems happy, so Magnus doesn’t press him—he guesses by the frequent pinking of his cheeks, Eccanus’ words aren’t leaving him quickly.

They pad along the bank of the Serpentine and the Long Water, and Magnus is content to just watch Alec as they ride. It’s definitely not the first time he’s been on horseback, and Magnus wonders at which Institute he learned. He looks princely atop his mount, right out of a modern fairytale, shoulders squared with his scarf tight around his neck, eyelashes casting shadows over his cheeks. He’s beautiful like this and Magnus has to fight every urge in him not to stop their journey in the depths of Kensington Gardens and pull Alec into the bushes.

He knows from experience that such behavior would result in the unicorns abandoning them, disgusted, forcing them to walk all the way back to Eccanus’. So Magnus keeps himself in check.

 

Borough Market is bustling by the time they arrive, a sea of people washing through the upscale stalls. They try honeys and teas and cheeses and foreign wines. Alec only likes about half of what he tastes, but it’s hard to refuse anything when it’s offered on Magnus’ deliberate fingers.

Alec doesn’t care for Mundanes, but in this moment he can sort of admit resentment might be the cause. Alec thrives in battle; he has no interest in shying away from it, but as he watches Magnus take a sip of Italian wine and close his eyes in apparent ecstasy, Alec thinks a Mundane life wouldn’t be such a bad way to live if it was like this. At least, maybe a Shadowhunter’s life isn’t the only way to live.

Magnus’ way isn’t so bad either.

“Taste it, Alexander. This vintage is absolutely divine. Chocolate and pomegranate undertones, pleasantly full of tannins on the back end,” Magnus says as Alec takes a sip from the little glass.

He lets it roll over his tongue, swallows.

“It… tastes like wine,” Alec says, little smirk on his face.

Magnus sighs heavily.

“One day you will learn… one day,” he says and glances up at the clock hanging over the market. “Ah, they should be closing down soon. Would it be too forward of me to invite you to my flat, Alexander?”

Alec snorts.

“Well, I don’t want to sleep on the street, so… actually, that reminds me, I thought you sold your London Townhouse to buy Izzy’s ruby,” Alec says--he calls it Izzy’s and not Camille’s… he knows that Magnus had many lives before Alec was ever born. He is completely at peace with it, and is usually amused by his various romantic anecdotes. He never doubts the way Magnus seems to feel about him, not anymore. He’s not a saint, though, and the idea of that vampire and Magnus is… not something Alec loves thinking about.

It’s too crowded to walk side by side, so Alec is a little surprised when Magnus slides an arm around his, hand coming to rest on his bicep. It feels old fashioned, but nice. Alec turns his arm so Magnus can rest his in the crook of his elbow. It keeps them close enough that, even through their coats, Alec can feel a shadow of Magnus’ bodyheat.

“Yes. I owned a beautiful little place near the Royal Opera House, but the ruby was worth it. Afterwards I invested in a horrible little neighborhood called Soho. My instincts were definitely right there,” Magnus says, and Alec looks down and smils. Even he knows Soho’s reputation. “However, it has lost a bit of its charm in recent years. The party has definitely moved on to the Hoxton-Shoreditch area… I was looking into places there for a while. Though, recently I’ve been thinking of settling down a bit, renting a place in Knightsbridge…”

Magnus’ eyes take on a bit of a bittersweet hue and Alec looks at him questioningly.

“Just a thought, darling. Just a thought…”

 

When they reach Magnus’ loft, Alec doesn’t say anything at first. His eyes trace over the chandelier, the gilt curtains, the lampshades adorned with jewels, a million tiny facets staring back from almost every surface. Magnus puts their coats and scarves way, neck prickling when Alec says nothing.

Suddenly Magnus feels a little concerned, self-conscious in a way he hasn’t experienced in decades. Oh, it’s amazing what love can do to a person.

“Um, I felt very committed to the theme at the time. I’ve been thinking of redecorating for years but…”

Alec smiles, eyes lighting up at mobile of hummingbirds made entirely of topaz and amethyst.

“No. You shouldn’t. I like it. It suits you,” Alec says.

Magnus twists one of his rings around his fingers, letting off a bit of the energy that built up. He needs a drink, Angel above.

“Wine?” Magnus asks as he leads them into the parlor. He gestures to the couch, but Alec seems too interested in exploring to sit down. He picks up a small crystal dragon from a side table as Magnus looks on. He speaks without meaning to. “It was a gift from a German princess. Her name was Elke. History books have forgotten her, but I haven’t...”

Alec stares at Magnus curiously, and Magnus has no idea why he’s feeling so momentarily thrown. They were supposed to be here as an escape. He probably should have known seeing Alec in a place so full of bittersweet memories would serve as a reminder of things Magnus tried not to think about—things like mortality and the careless passage of time. He summons the bottle of wine he purchased at Borough Market—a lovely Bordeaux cabernet sauvignon, with a shining silver label--and looks away.  

“Did you love her?” Alec asks, joining Magnus by the little bar set up in the corner of the parlor.

Magnus pours them each a glass.

“Oh, we only had a summer together. She married a Norwegian prince and lived out the rest of her days there,” Magnus says, and Alec seems to notice he that he didn’t answer the question.

Once again, he surprises Magnus by taking his face in his hands and slowly pulling their lips together. It feels like an apology—they still aren’t making promises, but an apology isn’t so bad if it comes in this form. The sounds of their lips meeting and parting are loud in the silence of the flat. Magnus sets the wine bottle down and lets Alec kiss him, head tipped backwards, heart thumping hard in his chest.

His brows furrow as Magnus sucks on his tongue. Alec pulls away, releasing cooling puffs of breath against Magnus’ lips. He presses their foreheads together.

“I think I know why the unicorns liked me,” he breathes.

“Oh?” Magnus smiles, happy for the shift in topics. “I was going to wait to ask, you know. I wanted you to want it so badly that it was all you’d be thinking about…”

Alec laughs, still close enough that their noses bump.

“We can wait… if you want,” Alec says.

“No, no, no, by all means,” Magnus says, leaning forward to press kisses to the corners of Alec’s mouth, to his lightly stubbled jaw.

Alec tucks his head into the crook of Magnus’ neck, and the warlock can hear him swallow. His fingers play nervously with the hem of Magnus’ tunic.

“It’s… I want you to fuck me,” Alec says, clean and simple.

Magnus goes very quiet. Somewhere in the depths of his mind a whole pride of lions is roaring and he’s not totally sure what that means except his fingers are digging into Alec’s hips a bit too hard. It shouldn’t be surprising, but for whatever reason, Magnus hadn’t expected that. See, Magnus has made an effort to steer clear of that whole area while they’re naked together, settling for a few happy gropes while Alec has been buried deep inside him. They haven’t even done that very many times yet. In spite of Alec’s enthusiasm, Magnus isn’t insensitive to his inexperience, or the fact that he’d been semi-pretending to be straight for the first twenty two years of his life. He hadn’t wanted to scare him away with… well, assplay.

Fuck , Magnus…” Alec curses as Magnus’ fingers dig deeper, and it takes all of his power not to throw Alec right onto the settee and—

“You know you don’t have to want to do it that way, Alexander,” Magnus forces himself to say. “It’s not a requirement for virginity loss, unicorns be damned. I assure you plenty of people happily, albeit tragically, go through life without taking anything up the—”

Magnus, ” Alec gasps and then starts laughing, pulling back to meet Magnus’ eyes. “It’s not the first time I’ve thought about it… I just haven’t had the… I didn’t know how to ask.”

Magnus blinks once, feeling like his feet are settling back on the ground. He’s acting ridiculous. Totally unlike himself.

“Right. Right. I’m sorry, sweetheart. You just surprised me a little. In a very, very good way I might add,” Magnus says, leaning in to kiss Alec’s neck, knowing how it makes him melt and needing to take back a bit of control. “So, you want me to fuck you?”

He hears Alec’s breath catch, grounding him for fully. Alec nods.

“You want it now? You want me to show you how good it can be?”

Alec sags into him.

“Yes…” he says, and then gasps as his whole body lurches.

Magnus magically drops them beside the bed, taking advantage of the shadowhunter’s rare confusion to push sharply on his chest, sending him sprawling back onto the duvet. He blinks up at Magnus, shocked. The warlock wastes no time crawling over him, bringing their lips back together. It’s easy, something they both know well at this point. It’s something that Alec is comfortable with, a natural talent, in Magnus’ opinion.

Magnus drags his hands down from Alec’s face, down to his neck, over his shoulders to his wrists. He takes them and pulls them up, pinning them beside his head. Alec groans into Magnus’ mouth when he squeezes a little, feeling tendons and Alec’s pulse beneath his palms.

He slips one leg between Alec’s, pressing down where he’s growing harder by the second. Magnus forces his magic into submission, checking it where it wants to reach out and claim, burn into Alec until he never wants to leave their— Magnus’ bedroom. The slide of their mouths is slick and open, growing more so as Magnus becomes determined to swallow each of the little breathy noises he’s pulling out of Alec’s throat. Magnus nips Alec’s full bottom lip and his hips jolt upwards. Magnus takes it as an opportunity.

He rolls his hips downward, hard and deliberate. Alec gasps, wild and deep, eyes opening wide before it turns into a low groan. Magnus repeats the motion and Alec follows it.

“That’s it, Alexander. Yes, ” Magnus hisses and thrusts against Alec’s hip.

He drops his mouth to the crook between Alec’s neck and shoulder, sinking his teeth in just a little before kissing, open mouthed, over the spot in apology. He feels Alec’s hands open and close by the twitching of his tendons under Magnus’ hands, and it’s just exquisite. Magnus pulls back, hovering over Alec’s face, keeping his hips going, mimicking the way he plans to fuck him later.

Alec’s russet brown irises are almost swallowed by blown pupils, and his lips are kiss-abused. Magnus holds his eyes and continues to move against him, feels his hips moving in response, helpless and erratic.

Alec finally tears his eyes away, squeezing them shut and moaning lasciviously.

“Magnus, please , you have to stop or it’s not going to—I won’t be able to…”

Magnus smiles, loving how quickly Alec gets worked up. He releases Alec’s wrists and snaps his fingers, discarding them all at once. Alec starts at the feeling of the duvet beneath his skin, but it morphs quickly into a smile and soft laugh.

“If you keep doing that, I’m going to forget how to undress completely,” Alec says, using his newly free hands to touch Magnus’ exposed skin, petting down his back, stopping just shy of his ass.

“Would that be so bad?” Magnus speaks without thinking, ducking his head to kiss Alec’s chest, mouth at one nipple and then the other. “I’ll just have the pleasure of being the one to undress you forever…”

Magnus sometimes forgets to filter himself, he knows, and is only alerted to the potential self-betrayal in his words when he feels Alec tense momentarily beneath him.

He doesn’t want to ruin this moment, doesn’t want Alec to think about the inevitable tragedy in the words, and so he redoubles his efforts and releases a pulse of magic through his lips.

Ohh… ” Alec groans, pressing himself into Magnus’ touch, back arching. “ Please …”

“Well… since you asked nicely,” Magnus says and pulls away, using the element of surprise—and a touch of magic—to grab Alec by the hips and flip him onto his belly.

“What are you—” Alec starts to ask, but Magnus cuts him off by running his hands firmly from Alec’s shoulders down to the flare of his hips.

“I have to make sure you’re relaxed, darling,” Magnus explains, taking his place between Alec’s legs.

He leans up to press his lips to the back of Alec’s neck, then to the center-point between his shoulder blades, to the deepest part of the small of his back. He traces the runes, the subtle scars, that are drawn into Alec’s body. His breath is faster each time Magnus’ lips meet skin. His hands ghost over Alec’s ass, gentle, but hinting at intent.

Alec writhes a little into the covers as Magnus’ lips press into his tail bone.

“Oh my god,” he breathes, voice dropped a whole octave. “What are you—”

“Do you trust me?”

Yes .”

Magnus is momentarily stunned by the quickness and depth of Alec’s response. He dares to believe that it extends beyond what they’re doing here in the quiet of the bedroom—he dares to hope. It softens him.

“Good… good, my sweet mousebear,” Magnus whispers and Alec almost giggles, a stuttering breath, as Magnus’ hands press firmly into his arse, and then spreads him.

Oh!”

Magnus hushes him, rolling the beautiful globes in his palms. It’s a painful shame that it’s taken Magnus so long to get his hands on this remarkable part of Alec’s anatomy. Now, he’s exposed to Magnus, fluttering as he shifts nervously.

“Thank the heavens above for Shadowhunter training regimens,” Magnus muses, thumbs tracing the divots where Alec’s gorgeous ass meets his thighs.

“Magnus--” Alec begins, but Magnus doesn’t let him finish.

The first touch is like an electric shock, Alec’s whole body going taught as he inhales wildly. Magnus simply kisses his rim, lazy and wet. He makes sure to keep it relaxed--a sharp contrast to the way Alec is already responding.

“Magnus! Oh-- I’ve --I don’t--” he says as his hips twitch back towards Magnus’ mouth of their own accord.

“Hush, mon chou ,” Magnus quiets him, running a soothing hand into the dip of his spine, over knotted muscles and marked skin.

Alec’s head is craned to the side as he tries to look over his shoulder with wide-eyes. Magnus hasn’t seen him look so shocked by his own pleasure since the first time he’d been given a hickey. Magnus holds his gaze, and then licks, flat and wet, over Alec’s hole.

Alec’s face drops to the sheets and a beautiful little nnh of a sound is almost stifled in the sheets, almost . Magnus does it again, and again, delighting in the way Alec loses more control with each stroke. Magnus kneads at him, digging dark nails into pale flesh, encouraging it when Alec’s hips begin to roll back into Magnus’ mouth. He shudders and groans, long and low, when Magnus points his tongue and breaches him for the first time.

He’s actually wiggling , and Magnus is enchanted, so thankful that nobody ever had the chance to teach Alec to hide his responses to pleasure. God knows that Magnus never will.

Magnus traces shapes around his center, before thrusting in again and again, foreshadowing. Magnus waits until he starts to hear Alec’s breath speeding up, feels that sudden shift in his movements, and then he slows to a stop. Alec whines when Magnus pulls his head back.

“I know, I know, but we had a plan,” Magnus reminds him. “Another day, darling, and I’ll let you come right into the sheets, writhing on my tongue.”

Alec presses his face into the duvet, moaning mournfully. Magnus runs his fingers down his strong thighs in comfort.

“Turn over,” Magnus instructs, moving out of the way. Alec does, twisting in the sheets before settling on his back. There’s a flush high on his cheek, and his eyelashes are dark and clumped with wetness. “Gods, you’re a vision, Alexander.”

It may have been easier to leave Alec on his stomach for what Magnus plans next, but he can’t deny himself the spectacle. He wants to see Alec’s face. He hooks Alec under his knees, planting his feet and spreading his legs. Alec’s face goes a deeper red and his eyes bore into the ceiling as he tries to control his breathing.

Magnus wills his fingers slick, making sure it’s warm before scooting closer to Alec, perched between his pale thighs. He takes Alec in hand, stroking him firmly to distract him as he drops his fingers to where he’s still wet with spit. Alec’s knees pull inwards when Magnus makes contact. Magnus hushes him, rubbing a thumb over the tip of his cock and making him sag into the bed.

He starts by simply rubbing slowly in circles, getting him wetter, undoing some of the tension that’s crept back into his body.

“Relax, darling. It’s going to feel good. I’m going to make it feel so good for you,” Magnus babbles, pressing just the tip of his finger in.

Alec jolts but then visibly drops his shoulders back.

“That’s it, sweetheart.” Magnus pulls out before pressing in, just a little deeper, repeating the motion until Alec’s body stops resisting him. “There we go…”

Magnus.

Magnus’ movements become a little more confident, going deeper with deliberate rolls of his wrist. He draws a hand up Alec’s side, drawing his thumb in hard circles around a nipple, making Alec cry out as Magnus pushes his finger all the way in.

“Magnus, please ,” he begs when Magnus doesn’t immediately move.

Magnus obliges him, pulling almost all the way out before pressing back in. Alec groans as Magnus begins to fuck in and out of him, his own dick painfully hard between his legs. Magnus can’t quite wrap his head around the tight heat surrounding him. It’s all too much, and Magnus smirks when he adds a second finger and Alec simply bears down.

“You love it, don’t you, Alexander?” Magnus asks, and Alec just stares at him, like a mouse in front of a cobra, like he knows there’s more coming. “Just wait…”

Then Magnus crooks his fingers with deadly precision, and Alec cries out, hips twitching erratically.

“Oh-- oh my god--

Magnus smiles, pressing into his prostate again, thrusting up against it. Low cries, strained oh, ohh, ohhs, start bubbling up out of Alec, like he can’t stop. Magnus has never heard him make so much noise. He adds a third finger, wanting to make sure that Alec doesn’t feel more that a single second of discomfort through this new experience.

Alec’s cock is dribbling onto his stomach, leaving pearly wet trails over his abs. Magnus bites his lip at the sight and realizes he needs to move things along if he doesn’t want to embarrass himself.

Still, Magnus has always been weak to temptation.

“Alec, is your stamina rune activated?” Magnus asks, faux-casual.

“Wha--n-no, I haven’t--” Alec says, words floating on labored exhales.

Magnus wraps the base of Alec’s cock with his thumb and forefinger, locking him in a tight grip.

“Activate it,” Magnus says.

Then he thrusts all three of his fingers deep, right up against Alec’s sweet spot, and releases a pulse of magic, forcing nerves to fire, lighting Alec on fire. Alec shouts, shocked and overwhelmed, as his body convulses in pleasure. Only the combination of his rune and Magnus’ hand stops him from coming on the spot. Magnus keeps his fingers pressed deep, sending out little waves to ride him out.

Magnus! Magnus, please, I--I need--”

Magnus releases him, and slowly slides his fingers out, leaving Alec moaning sadly.

“I know what you need, darling,” Magnus says, moving up Alec’s body to seal their lips together.

He pulls on Alec’s tongue, kisses and nips at his already bitten lips. He tips Alec’s face up and runs a thumb over one sharp cheekbone.

“Are you ready?” Magnus needs to make sure.

Alec nods loosely, like he’s not even fully in control of his own body anymore. He’s slicked with sweat, they both are, and it’s dirty and beautiful and it’s everything .

“Alright, darling. Alright,” Magnus says, own breath feeling thick in his chest.

He loops his arm under one of Alec’s knees, thanking Shadowhunter training for a second time that evening. He kisses Alec’s face as he reaches down to position himself. It feels even quieter than silent for a second as they both stop breathing.

The silence is broken by Alec, moaning long and loud as Magnus presses inside with one single slow movement. Magnus curls his hips, sparks crackling in the air around them, as he tries to watch for any sign of discomfort from Alec. He pauses when his hips are flush against Alec.

He breathes harshly, pressing wet, uncoordinated kisses to Alec’s neck and chest. He’s so tight that Magnus can barely think.

“Magnus. Magnus , please,” Alec whimpers, hips shifting.

Magnus braces himself, and then pulls almost all the way out, then pushes back in deep. Their moans harmonize when Magnus bottoms out.

“So good, Alexander. You’re so good,” Magnus starts talking, finding it hard to stop praising when he starts. “You’re amazing--beautiful--so tight…

He thrusts harder as he speaks, building up a rhythm. Alec almost sobs when the first slap of skin resonates around the room.

“That’s it, my darling. There you go. Let yourself feel it…”

Alec’s fingers dig deeply into the muscles of Magnus’ back.

“Please, please …” he begs like he’s not quite sure what he’s asking for.

Magnus thinks he knows, though. He hitches Alec’s leg higher, changing the angle, so he presses right up into Alec’s prostate. Alec loses it a little bit, shaking in Magnus’ arms, as the assault continues. Heat builds in Magnus’ body, trying to escape into the air. He’s never had this problem before, never had to worry about sending Soho into summer six months early. His magic has never been so wild as it is when he’s with Alec, like it needs to express itself in the form of a million shimmering butterflies. They’d look so beautiful in the sunset cityscape.

Magnus restrains himself, but only just.

It all breaks down from there. Two bodies move together, lips meeting slackly. Alec gasps and buries his fingers in Magnus’ hair when his hips start to lose their rhythm.

“I’m-- Magnus --I’m close, I…”

“Shh, shh , let go, sweetheart. Let go,” Magnus says, nipping at his earlobe.

He snaps his hips harder, forcing a beautiful little uhn! from Alec with each thrust. He means to shift his weight and reach between them to finish Alec off, but before he can, Alec’s spine bows and his cries rise to a fever pitch. He twists his hips up and then his whole body tenses. He moans out a sob as he starts spilling between them.

Magnus lips part in shock and he grinds deep, drawing Alec’s pleasure out, feeling his body clench. Magnus reaches out with his magic to see what Alec is feeling, and it’s all too much. He squeezes his eyes shut as his orgasm hits him and he comes with his hips flush against Alec’s body.

Wounded little noises float between them as they’re suspended in the aftermath, aftershocks drawing soft sounds from their throats. Alec groans when Magnus pulls out. He shifts up to occupy the space next to Alec’s overheated body. Their chests rise and fall and Magnus rests his head momentarily on Alec’s shoulder.

“So?” He asks, uncharacteristically inarticulate.

Mmm ,” Alec responds with equal eloquence, letting his head flop to the side so he can press his face into Magnus’ hair.

It reminds Magnus that they’re covered in sweat and come. It’s its own kind of beauty, but…

“We should shower, my darling,” Magnus suggests.

Mmm ,” Alec repeats, with a clearly different meaning than before.

He lifts one hand and rolls it around lazily. Magnus laughs.

Fine ,” he says, and flicks his wrist, willing away the mess.

Alec sighs and curls onto his side, pulling Magnus closer. The intimacy nearly brings a lump to his throat.

“Thank you,” Alec says, voice deep and still a little wrecked.

“It was my pleasure,” Magnus says, smiling softly. “Well, both of our pleasure… but you know what I mean.”

Alec snorts, keeping his eyes closed. He does open them in question when Magnus suddenly moves away. Magnus sits up, opening his palm and calling on his magic. The obsidian necklace appears in his hand, summoned from the pile of their clothes on the floor. He lifts his arms to drop it around his neck before tucking himself back into Alec’s arms, face to face--or, well, face to clavicles. Magnus is still getting used to the fact that this boy is tall .

Alec reaches out to brush seemingly-hesitant fingers over the arrowhead, over his own name. Magnus sighs, letting himself bask in silence for once.

Alec presses a lingering kiss to Magnus’ forehead. It says enough for now.

 

The next day they visit Eccanus again, this time for a picnic lunch. The sun sits high in the sky, watching over them as the Warlocks tell old stories and Alec practices thinking about nothing beyond the second he’s living in. Magnus’ fingers are warm in his hand.

And the unicorns don’t look at him twice.