Prompt: RT July 2020, Theme: Year of Sentinel – Bonds
Fandom/Genre: Shadowhunters, Sentinel
Relationship(s): Alec Lightwood / Magnus Bane
Content Rating: R
Warnings: canon-level violence, implied child abuse, homophobia, racism
Summary: During a patrol, Alec Lightwood, interim Head of New York Institute, came upon a summoning gone wrong – everyone dead and only one warlock holding back a horde of demons. As warlock’s barrier shattered, he awakened as Raziel’s chosen, something he never expected to do. And now he has a reculantant guide in the warlock he saved to convince they are destined to be together.
AN: Translations: Ziya – Light, Nasya – Immortal
In the Nephilim’s darkest hour a forgotten legacy shall arise from a tainted line. Strong heart led by light and soul bonded to the immortal fire of Fallen’s child, the Gifted shall herald the arrival of a new era.
From the Book of Prophecies
Alec was patrolling. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Except… he was missing his sister and parabatai at his back. With all of his family on the extended trip to Idris, it fell to him to stand up as interim Head of the New York Institute. He found out he loved the responsibility, endless amounts of paperwork notwithstanding. For the first time he was standing alone, no Hodge looking over his shoulder. His parents deemed his almost 20-years-old self mature enough not to need constant supervision. He flourished in the position. Finally, he had the power to change something.
And what changes they were…
In a matter of days, he reworked the patrolling schedule, redistributed the routine tasks in the Institute to get everyone roughly the same amount of work. The new recruits were put through their paces. He set up classes for furthering everyone’s education and made all of his subordinates attend them. And he demanded strict adherence to the Accords and the Law. There were some grumblings at the beginning about the changes he implemented, but as days passed they stopped when all of his hard work finally had results – fewer injuries amongst his Shadowhunters, fewer deaths on patrols, a better relationship with Downworlders.
Alec felt he did a good job so far at the Institute’s helm, so he decided to reward himself with coming on tonight’s patrol. Working with a group of his Nephilims was a very interesting experience. His sister and parabatai often disregarded his orders, which often caused them to fall into trouble quickly and after he got them out of it, he had to justify their actions before their parents, often taking the blame for their behaviour. But not now. His subordinates listened to his orders, no back-talking, no clandestine missions on the sly… Everything was running smoothly.
With a sigh, he glanced up at the shining full-moon and basked in the soothing rays. It was something he secretly loved. Gentle silvery-gold light was something he fell in love when he was just a child. It always gave him a sense of peace. Shaking out of his reverie he waved at his Shadowhunters to get back. The night was silent and peaceful, so he decided to give them a little break for tonight. He wasn’t just a strict and removed leader, religiously following the Clave’s orders. He spent some time on the field too and understood the need for relaxation. Therefore, the next words out of his mouth were: „Attention, guys.” It was satisfying to see how they straightened their backs and looked at him for direction. „You are free for the rest of the night. It’s something you are welcome to take advantage of. Go to a bar, relax, I don’t particularly care what you are going to do, but no provoking fights with Downworlders, no injuries and no bailing you out of jail, guys. I want everyone back in the Institute by two latest. The reports I expect to have on my desk by 10. And don’t forget. We have a weekly sparring session planned for tomorrow afternoon. Dismissed.”
The Shadowhunters looked at each other surprised by their good fortune and in little groups they vanished into the night, leaving their leader standing alone. Alec turned around and walked out of the alley. He wasn’t in a hurry to return back to the Institute. It was time to take a break a little, as he said to his subordinates. For once, the work can wait. He decided.
Walking aimlessly through the deserted streets, he had his eyes open in order to anticipate an ambush, if needed. Alec smirked. A pair of his Shadowhunters were trailing him. They were quite a distance away, but he noticed them almost immediately. It heartened him they were worried about his safety, but it seemed they needed a refresher on stealth tracking.
He didn’t try to shake them off, knowing it wasn’t wise to walk alone. A lone Nephilim was a tempting target for demons or various disgruntled Downworlder’s factions. The Uprising was a black blemish festering on the relations between Shadowhunters and Downworlders. It was one of the things he came to resent in recent years.
Alec frowned suddenly and cocked his head, as he heard a faint scream. Something wasn’t right. Maybe he was a bit hasty in giving his subordinates the leave to enjoy a free night. No matter, he would take care of it. Glancing back at the pair that was tracking him, he realized they were too far away to be of any use to him. A louder scream made a decision for him. He wasn’t going to wait for the reinforcements. It seemed that his sibling’s disregard of rules was finally rubbing off on him. With a seraph blade in his hand, he charged forward, faintly noticing his followers calling for backup.
Magnus poured more power in the barrier, cursing loudly. When a map in his office pinged with an alarm, Magnus didn’t know what he was walking into. He was enjoying a rare quiet night in his loft when it was sounded. The sweat broke out on his forehead as he strained his magic to contain a horde of demons pouring out of the rift caused by a botched summoning ritual. When he portaled in, it was already too late for the unfortunate warlocks. They were ripped apart by the demons who easily broke the apparently shoddily-made summoning circle. Pouring more magic into the barrier, he winced. The rift was spreading. When he got out of this alive, he was going to Spirit Labyrinth to make the Council instate the mandatory education for warlocks, so in the future, he wouldn’t be stuck in cleaning their mess all over again. He might be one of the most powerful warlocks currently alive, but even his power wasn’t infinite.
Not good, he thought, as he saw the barrier weakening, as more and more demons were trying their best to break it. Where are Shadowhunters when you need them? He asked silently. Not that he was a fan of them, after the Uprising twenty-something years ago. But they were at least useful for something – and killing demons came to his mind.
„Ah, hell.” Magnus cursed as one of the demons managed to open a little hole in his barrier and few of them escaped before he managed to seal it again. The demons, recognizing him as a threat, began advancing on him immediately. Magnus closed his eyes, preparing himself for the inevitable. On the bright side, at least with his death, the rest of demons, he was holding captured, would be banished back to Edom and the rift would be permanently closed.
A feral snarl resonated from behind him. Magnus said his good-byes silently to his friends and started to gather his magic for one last assault. A splatter of blood landed on his cheek and he opened his eyes in surprise. Curiously, he wasn’t dead. And there was a Nephilim cutting ruthlessly through the demons with his seraph blade. Poetry in violence in motion. The unnamed warrior made quick work of the escaped demons.
Magnus’s breath hitched when he saw Nephilim flicking demon blood off his blade and grinning ferally at him. A Raziel’s chosen. He didn’t think there were any more of them born amongst the Shadowhunters. There were no news of them for at least a century. He feared the Clave and their careful breeding caused the traits to die out.
The warlock never saw something as beautiful as the Nephilim lost in his feral state. Tousled black hair and fiery golden eyes. Delectable rune was running up his throat and Magnus was stabbed with a desire to mark it. He was startled by near-instant attraction to the Shadowhunter. For almost a century he closed himself against everyone, so the sudden flood of powerful emotions took him by surprise. The object of his fascination was slowly stalking to him and Magnus shuddered under his penetrating gaze.
The Nephilim walked up to him and sniffed his neck, licking it curiously. Magnus closed his eyes, as a desire to take this man flared inside him. A spark of something jumped between them, momentarily strengthening the warlock. Magnus’s concentration wavered a bit before he tightened his hold on the barrier again.
„I really hope your friends are nearby. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to hold the demons back.” Magnus said to the feral Shadowhunter.
„Hopefully not too long.” The Shadowhunter replied promptly, the feral mindset receding. Cocking his head, he said carefully. „Couple of them are almost here. The rest should arrive in a few more minutes.” Frowning suddenly, he asked. „Can you hold demons back for that long?”
Magnus stared at the barrier, considering. The Nephilims would be a great help with getting rid of the demons. Gauging his power levels carefully, he nodded. „I think so.”
„Very well.” The Raziel’s Chosen acknowledged and stood in front of him protectively, a bit aside as not to hinder him in directing his magic.
First reinforcements arrived almost as soon as they finished with their conversation. The pretty Nephilim just gestured a bit and they fanned around him in a protective circle. It seemed he was their leader. What a strange luck. Focusing all of his attention back to the barrier, the warlock let them protect him, strangely believing his Nephilim would not allow others to attack him while his attention was not directed at them.
Before long the street was full of the Shadowhunters, all of them looking at his Nephilim, as he started giving orders, evidently used to their obedience. Magnus found it very compelling and it sent a spark of heat through him, even if he wasn’t in any state to do anything about it. His Nephilim’s lovely voice was simply sinful.
The Shadowhunters spread around in a tight formation, all of them prepared to take on the demons when his lovely Nephilim leaned to him and said. „I’m counting down. On one drop the barrier. My men and I will take care of the demons. You will concentrate on the rift and close it.”
Magnus nodded. He could see what his Shadowhunter had in mind.
His Nephilim drew a bow and aimed at the horde of demons, counting down quickly. „Three. Two. One.”
Magnus dropped the barrier. The demons poured out immediately, directly on the prepared seraph blades of the Shadowhunters. His Nephilim was taking care of any stragglers with his exceptional aim. Clicking his fingers, Magnus called up his magic back to the surface. Breathing deeply, in and out, and again, in and out, he spread his arms, as a blue orb of magic formed. The warlock poured his magic into the orb until he was satisfied it would be enough to seal the rift. „Everyone out of way,” Magnus shouted as he let his power loose. The Shadowhunters deftly ducked out of the sphere’s path, staring in surprise as the gathered magic vaporized the demons on its way to the rift.
The orb collided with the breach, opposing powers fighting violently, before both dissipated in the air, leaving a group of stranded demons behind. The Shadowhunters efficiently disposed of them.
„Well done.” His Nephilim complimented him as he joined him with a crooked smile on his lips.
„More like medium-rare.” Magnus quipped back, not able to resist a bit of teasing, now that the danger passed. Straightening his back, the warlock smirked invitingly and shook his hand. „I don’t think we were formally introduced. I am Magnus Bane.”
His Nephilim blushed attractively and stuttered out. “Alexander… Alec Lightwood.”
Well, well, well. What a surprise. An heir to the regional Institute? Magnus trailed his gaze up and down, noticing as his Nephilim’s blush deepened. He is adorable. Magnus was suddenly overcome with a desire to take the Nephilim home and take care of him. There was something about him…
Suddenly, Magnus swayed, feeling completely drained. His Nephilim… Alexander caught him before he did something undignified like falling on the ground, for example. A spark of Alexander’s power leapt eagerly between them and jump-started the replenishing of warlock’s magic. It was all very strange.
Blushing Nephilim steadied him before he turned attention on his Shadowhunters and sighed. „I’m sorry you lost your free night. Sweep up the surrounding streets and if you won’t find anything, it’s back to the Institute for you.” Glancing at the tired warlock who saved them with their magic, he continued. „I’m going to escort warlock Bane back to his home.” Seeing the disquiet amongst his people he sharply ordered. „Warlock Bane saved the city from demon invasion at the expense of his health. He is entitled to feel in his weakened state. I don’t want to hear anymore back-talking. Patrol and back to Institute. No exceptions. Darkwing, Branwell. That goes for you too. Don’t think I didn’t notice you trailed me. Chop. Chop. The sooner you finish the patrol, the sooner you will get your rest.”
The Shadowhunters disappeared in the night in a few following moments, leaving their leader alone with the warlock. „You have a good team, pretty boy,” Magnus observed tiredly.
„Thanks,” Alec replied bashfully. „Do you need anything?”
„Just my loft.” Magnus gestured, opening a portal with his sparkling blue magic. Cocking an eyebrow in challenge, he asked. „Coming?”
„Yes.” The Nephilim said breathlessly, putting his hand on Magnus’s small back and leading them through.
Magnus stumbled inelegantly into his loft with Alexander’s hand still resting at his back to steady him. If he was more alert, he sure would be mortified. But.. He was too tired to worry about such inconsequential things. With a little gesture, he keyed his Nephilim to the wards and collapsed on his couch, closing his eyes in exhaustion. A small boost he got from touching Alexander was depleted by portalling them into his home. A hand touched his forehead and he got another little boost, so he was able to drag his eyes open. Alexander was staring at him in concern.
„What can I do for you?” the Nephilim asked.
„A martini, a steak and a bed,” Magnus said, closing his eyes again. „I’m so tired.”
„Ok,” Alexander whispered and fished his phone out of his pocket.
Magnus had to fall asleep because next time he opened his eyes he was covered by a blanket with his cat curled in his lap. There was a drink, probably that martini he asked for, in front of him, the dinner, still streaming and his beautiful Nephilim drinking coffee and reading some book.
The warlock yawned and shrugged down the blanket, as he reached for the drink and the meal, drawing the attention of his Alexander. „Oh. You are awake.” The Nephilim said when he looked up from his reading.
Magnus managed to smile at the concern poorly hidden in Nephilim’s eyes and bit into his dinner with gusto. He moaned as it hit taste buds. It was exquisite and exactly what he needed for replenishing his magic after depleting it in the earlier fight. He hid a smirk as he noticed Alexander’s eyes darkened, sending an answering bolt of heat through him. Only very rarely he encountered one of the angel-blooded warriors that didn’t immediately think poorly of him because of his own demon blood.
Eating his dinner and sipping the drink leisurely, Magnus was finally relaxing. It was hard not to, when he was in the presence of a Raziel’s Chosen. They were hardwired to protect their territory and people, Downworlders included, living in it. Their connection to the divine was unparalleled and enviable. And maybe that was one of the reasons the Clave worked so hard to purge their precious bloodlines of the potential to be Chosen. They didn’t want to admit they weren’t better than Downworlders just because of their ancestry.
The Clave had to miss at least one line. Magnus mused staring scrutinizingly at Alexander, as he finished his meal and vanished the empty plate to the kitchen. He sipped from his drink and asked finally. „So, Alexander. How long was it when you first became a Raziel’s Chosen? And where is your mate?”
„I don’t know what you are talking about.” The Nephilim denied immediately. He was quite content to forget the blackout rage he felt earlier when he came upon the struggling warlock. It shamed him to admit he lost control over himself so spectacularly. It was like something long-hidden bubbled on the surface and he didn’t have enough knowledge to control it.
Magnus just raised an eyebrow and poked at him with his magic playfully. Blue sparkles danced across Alec’s skin, calling out a golden shine out of him. Magnus smiled enraptured as the aura flashed brightly and turned sentinel’s eyes completely golden, strangely similar to his warlock mark. „I mean this…” Magnus motioned at him.
Alec sat up in his chair, the book falling from his hands, completely forgotten. He keened, shutting his eyes tightly and clapped his hands on his ears. All of his senses sharpened in an instant and he was lost in the sea of various sensations bombarding him. Similarly to the state, he found himself in that Raziel forsaken alley, where he found Magnus holding back the demons, he was lost. Not quite as feral as before, but still lost. Taking a deep breath, Alec fell back on his training. Instinctively, he wrangled his spiking senses back under his control, focusing them on the warlock. He was the only thing making sense in the hurricane of sensations assaulting him relentlessly.
Magnus kneeled in front of him, taking Alec’s hands in his, whispering apologetically. „Sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were so new. So unknowing. And unbonded.”
Centring his out-of-control senses on Magnus, Alec breathed out, pushing the pain to the corner of his mind and squeezed warlock’s hands in acknowledgement of the apology. „Raziel’s chosen, you say?” He rasped out in disbelief although the truth of Magnus’s words were resonating in him. „Impossible. They died out more than a century ago. The Clave… They were just not needed anymore.”
Caressing Alexander’s hand, Magnus captured his eyes and said seriously. „If there was any time they were desperately needed, it was during Uprising.”
Taking a hiccuping breath, Alec forced out. „Why me? Why now?”
„I don’t know, Alexander,” Magnus admitted and let go of Nephilim’s hands. „I have only a vague idea, what you are going through. Last time I met someone with heightened senses it was in London more than centuries ago. Curiously, the man was a mundane through-and-through, although exceptionally observant, but still a mundane, not a drop of angelic blood in his entire body. The man’s guide was a doctor and it was beautiful to watch them come together. When they bonded they gained the ability to see Shadow World and they crashed one of my parties. It was a bit funny to see them flounder in the presence of the Downworlders.” He summoned an ancient book with a graceful motion of his hand and a blue spark of his magic. „They lived a long life for the mundanes in that era, full of excitement. I should know, I checked on them from time to time. When they died, it was sudden. They left me this book.” Magnus tapped it, deep in thought. „If I remember correctly, the good doctor was positive, I’ll need it someday. I think we can find some answers here.”
„The Sentinel.” Alec read aloud the title, a strange weight settling on his shoulders. Magnus’s blue magic enveloped the book and the pages flipped rapidly until it stopped and his magic highlighted a relevant passage. „The purpose of sentinel’s awakening is two-fold. Firstly – the sentinel gains conscious control of the abilities he was born with – his enhanced senses. Secondly – he is driven by a need to find a compatible mate, his guide whom he centres on and whom he shelters in return.”
Alec closed his eyes, shuddering as he sifted through the memories from his childhood, and noticed the new information contained in them he wasn’t previously consciously aware of. The book was right. He had always been a sentinel. Locking the memories away to investigate them fully at a later date, he paled when he realized that bit about needing mate. Surging up from his seat, Alec backed up from the warlock and started pacing, mulling that thought in his mind.
Magnus frowned. That reaction was unexpected. The sentinel was pacing in his loft, behaving like a caged animal, turmoil in his mind clearly reflected on his face.
Alec stopped in front of the warlock, seemingly coming to a decision. The sentinel inside of him refused to bow to the centuries of prejudice and demanded of Alec the same. „I… I…” Closing his eyes he admitted quietly. „I’m not attracted to women.”
„Oh.” That was really an unexpected revelation, considering who was in his loft. The Lightwoods were the closest thing to royals in the Nephilim society, that little mishap with Uprising notwithstanding. And for one of them to admit, to a warlock to boot, he was unlike what was considered normal by Nephilims… It took a lot of courage to admit being different in the light of the Clave’s long-standing politics. Magnus suddenly knew what he had to do. Clasping Alexander’s arm in support, he whispered. „You have nothing to be ashamed of, Alec. There is nothing wrong with you.”
Shuddering, Alec collapsed back onto the couch like a puppet with its strings cut, revelling in Magnus’s soothing words. The last barrier inside him shattered and the golden light filled the loft bleeding seamlessly into a blue forest. The light coalesced into a juvenile dragon in front of the Nephilim. Reflexively, Alec caught the dragonling in his arms, still a little bit shell-shocked Magnus was right – that he was a sentinel, one of fabled Raziel’s Chosen, and his unexpected confession. The dragon nuzzled against his Deflect rune, trying to comfort him. Alec scratched lightly the dragonling between its horns and slid on the ground, holding it tightly against his chest. „Ziya.”
Magnus smiled, helplessly charmed by Alexander’s interaction with what he assumed was his spirit animal. The dragonling snuggled deeper into Alexander’s chest and yawned cutely, releasing its connection to the divine and the blue forest receded from his loft. The sentinel was entirely enraptured by a golden dragon in his arms. The name Alexander called it, was ridiculously suitable for a little one. „So, why Ziya?”
Alec glared balefully at Magnus, finally tearing his eyes from the miracle nesting on his chest. „It’s her name,” Alec answered like it was obvious. And for him it kind of was. The spirit animal fell asleep on his chest, effectively trapping him in the warlock’s loft.
„No need to be testy. I was just making conversation.” Magnus smirked, finding his Nephilim’s glares rather adorable. Dishevelled and relaxed was a good look on him, the warlock decided. He looked like he belonged. And that realization hit him like a wrecking ball. Stunned Magnus gripped the back of the couch to steady himself, as something stirred inside his chest.
„I am not testy.” Alexander pouted, eyes trained on his dragon. The dragonling was warm and shined like a miniature sun, its mere presence was settling down Alec like nothing he experienced before. He nuzzled Ziya curled on his chest, paying no attention to the warlock and his sudden preoccupation with an unexpected revelation.
Magnus cleared his throat trying to wrangle his wayward feelings back under a lock and key. „Did I thank you for saving my life?” He inquired softly trying to fill an uncomfortable silence.
Alec looked up from his spirit animal. „No?” He asked, not quite understanding what Magnus was getting at. „Anyways, I don’t think thanks is necessary. It was a team effort. More so, I think you had everything under control and I have to admit your magic was instrumental in closing that rift.”
Magnus shifted uncomfortably under Alexander’s gaze and clicked his fingers to summon a drink to his hand, just to take his mind off the pretty Nephilim. „Not quite. I got there too late to save the poor misguided fools that thought it was a good idea to summon a demon without taking proper precautions. And I was almost killed when some demons managed to breach the barrier, shortly before you came. Therefore, I think you deserve my thanks.”
Alec cocked his head. The warlock wasn’t going to leave it alone. „I’ll accept it only if you accept my gratefulness in return. We saved each other after all.”
Magnus nodded his head and decided to drop the matter. It seemed his Nephilim was a stubbornly righteous one. An exception amongst his species. How could the Clave not to notice young Alexander’s nature, Magnus couldn’t fathom. He was betting, the sentinel nature, even in its latent state, shone rather blatantly through younger man’s actions. Magnus took a sip from his drink, hiding a soft smile at the sight of Nephilim and his spirit animal curled together.
„It’s getting late. I should be going.” Alec murmured, while he carefully shifted his hold on Ziya. He didn’t want to wake up poor dragonling. Her sudden appearance at Magnus’s loft had to exhaust Ziya immensely. But it was getting late, or early, depending on the point of view, and he was needed in the Institute. He sat back on the couch, taking care not to disturb Ziya.
„No. Stay.” Magnus cried out, his chest suddenly tight at the thought of sentinel leaving him.
The Nephilim relaxed back and drew the warlock to sit beside him. „Ok. Ok. Calm down. I’m not going anywhere.” The sentinel murmured soothingly, as Magnus’s heartbeat returned back to normal and his scent calmed down gradually.
The warlock buried his face in Alec’s neck, embarrassed by his over-the-top reaction. He was still exhausted by the magical depletion. It didn’t happen to him often, but he knew the signs. The need for companionship, for reassurance, for human contact. It all heightened when he was at his most vulnerable.
A little inquiring chirp caused him to lift his head. The dragonling’s sleepy golden eyes peered at him curiously. A sense of peace flooded to Magnus from the little one. With a sigh, the warlock relaxed against the sentinel’s side, utterly done with the entire night.
„I’m not going anywhere,” Alec repeated and the warlock let himself believe. At least for a little while.
The next morning was rushed. If you call that ungodly early hour a morning. Magnus grumbled when he woke up in his bed, alone, unfortunately, at the loud curse. Barely-awake warlock stumbled out of bed and headed towards his living room where the sentinel and his young spirit animal fell asleep last night.
Alec was running about in the loft, cursing loudly as he tripped over his own feet. It never happened to him in the Institute where he knew the exact position of every piece of furniture. There were a lot of distracting knick-knacks in Magnus’s loft, smells and noises that forced him to turn down his senses as much as possible if he didn’t want to end up in sensory overload. It was dangerous for him, at least as the stories he half-remembered went. That was one of the reasons why every sentinel needed his guide.
Huffing at Ziya’s obvious amusement at his antics, Alec folded a blanket and put it on the couch he used for sleeping. His dragon climbed back on the couch, trying to make a nest. She squirmed to find a comfortable position and promptly laid down, her eyes dropping down.
„No, Ziya. Down. We are going away.” Alec tried to shoo her away without any success. The dragon put her head on her forelegs and glared at him as if to dare him to move her.
Magnus leaned against the door frame, grinning at the endearing sight of young Nephilim and his Ziya in the faint light of dawn. He couldn’t resist and said. „Good morning, Alexander.”
Ziya lifted her head at hearing Magnus’s voice and squawked in greeting. She left the safety of Alec‘s bedding and stumbled cutely towards the warlock, tangling against his feet.
Magnus swooped the spirit animal in his arms and petted her gently. „Good morning to you too, Ziya.”
„Ouch.” Alec hopped on one leg after he hit his shin on the table when he turned around abruptly at the unexpected greeting. The warlock was gorgeous. Half-asleep, free from the makeup and glitter and his eye-catching clothes, he looked soft and approachable. „Morning, Magnus. You scared me. I thought you were still sleeping.”
„I was until I heard you up and moving.” The warlock complained playfully, his eyes roving up and down Nephilim’s body. He was as attractive as he remembered from the last night. He cocked his head and smirked. „Shouldn’t you be more alert? I mean… Didn’t your senses warn you someone was in the room?”
Alec flushed, as he felt Magnus’s touch resonating through his bond with Ziya. It felt like the warlock dipped his fingers in his soul. Alec was tempted to forget his intentions to return to the Institute and stay in the loft with Magnus. He mumbled. „I’m not used to the input I’m getting from my senses. I think I’ll need my guide to fully utilize my potential. I’ve just turned everything down as much as possible. I don’t want to get overwhelmed.”
„Good thinking.” Magnus praised. „I didn’t realize it was bothering you so much.”
Alec fidgeted. „I don’t think I have many choices in that department. Also, that reminds me. Could you, perhaps, be amenable to lending me that book. The Sentinel.”
„Hmm. Maybe. For a price.” The warlock proposed suggestively. He came up to the shy Nephilim, with Ziya comfortably laid in his arms.
Alec went red, as the warlock’s voice sent a bolt of arousal through him, and he stammered out. „What price?”
Magnus cocked his head and smirked. „What about a date?”
Alec zeroed on the warlock’s neck. Magnus was temptation personified. His newly awakened side was urging him to mark the caramel skin with a bruise. To show everyone, Magnus was off-limits. Alec clenched his hands in fists to resist the urge to fasten his mouth on the temping patch of skin.
Ziya decided to interrupt the charged moment. Her human and his mate were ignoring her and she didn’t like it. She clumsily slipped out of Magnus’s embrace, flapped her wings in an attempt to fly and collided with Alec’s chest. The sentinel swiftly caught her before she could crash down.
Steadying the dragonling in his arms, Alec shook his head to clear it from the arousal clouding it and said. „I’m sorry. I have to go. I’m needed in the Institute. Does it mean you won’t let me borrow it?”
Magnus clicked his fingers, and the book materialized in his hands. With another snap, a piece of paper appeared in a place of a bookmark. The warlock winked flirtatiously and handed the book to the Nephilim. „Raincheck then. Call me.”
Alec blushed, grabbed the book and stuffed the phone number in his pocket. „Ok. I’ll call you.” The agreement settled between him and Magnus tying him to his vow in blue sparks. The sentinel shivered at the fleeting taste of Magnus’s playful magic. He was always told not to let the warlock’s power to touch him. He wondered why. It was an odd but not unpleasant feeling, as Magnus’s magic retreated back leaving behind tingling where it touched him.
Taking a look at the clock, Alec hastily bundled Ziya and manuscript underneath his jacket. „I really have to go, now. ”
The Nephilim hesitated at the door. His newly awakened instincts were pushing him to stay in the loft, in the warlock’s vicinity. There was something in the play he didn’t quite understand. Hence the book. It would be his priority to read it, as soon as he returned back to the Institute. Steeling his resolve against temptation, Alec muttered reluctantly. „Bye, Magnus.” And he left quickly.
„Bye, Alexander,” Magnus spoke quietly feeling a loss of something, as he stared at the closing door. He sighed and relaxed. His wards let him know Alexander left the building. He summoned a coffee from his favourite place into his hand. „Well, fuck. That was unexpected.” He commented idly to no one. That intense near-instant attraction towards someone – it was something he almost forgot how it felt, preferring meaningless one-night-stands in recent years. He had more than enough experience to know where his obvious interest in the Nephilim sentinel was heading. He was just hoping it wouldn’t end with his heart broken again. He had a feeling he wouldn’t get over it easily. If ever.
„What’s this?” Magnus asked out loud and vanished his empty cup when he noticed something was hidden under the blankets his Nephilim folded neatly and put on the couch. Carefully, the warlock kneeled and pushed the blanket away. Curiously enough, his magic was practically dancing happily at his fingertips.
The fabric slid down, revealing a fairly large egg. Magnus took it in his hands and inspected it thoroughly. His magic calmed down, almost purring contentedly. The egg was beautiful, glowing in the morning sun – colours ranging from the lightest yellow to darkest red. Strangely, it was radiating warmth.
„How did you get here?” Magnus inquired and sent out his magic to check out the wards around his loft. They were intact. He couldn’t detect any disturbance. It was a mystery how the egg got into his loft without either him or Alexander noticing. But he found out he was unable to part with it. And his magic agreed wholeheartedly. Swaddling the egg in the blanket, he took it back into his bedroom, his magic wrapping protectively around it.
Sneaking inside the Institute shouldn’t be that easy. Alec frowned when he deftly evaded the guards with Ziya trotting behind him obediently. No matter he was a sentinel now, his Shadowhunters shouldn’t be so easily avoided. It showed him the holes in their defences any hostile force could exploit. Not a good reflection on current Institute management, himself included. Alec winced. He couldn’t believe he didn’t notice those issues when he took over his parents.
Groaning, Alec directed his steps to his temporary office. The amount of work he had to do to improve the Institute’s security was daunting. He wished suddenly he was back with Magnus. And immediately, he turned bright red. The sentinel inside him might have forced him to come out of the closet quite unexpectedly but he was still a bit uneasy about openly admitting his attraction to the certain warlock.
Alec entered his office and closed the door firmly. There was no need for anyone to see him so unsettled by last night’s events. He grimaced as the opulence of the Head’s office assaulted his senses. Holding Magnus’s book for dear life, he ambled down to the table. He couldn’t believe what his life had turned into in just a few hours.
Ziya, sensing her sentinel was getting overwhelmed again, flapped her wings experimentally and flew up on her own. Her first flight. She squawked proudly and plopped on Alec’s desk, nosing the keyboard curiously.
„Good girl.” Alec scratched her head gently, the tension finally easing from his frame. The dragonling’s presence was helping with her presence at his side. He sat down behind the desk and turned on his computer. There was something he was dying to check out.
Magnus Bane? Where did I hear that name? It was familiar. Signing in, he called up Clave’s database of prominent Downworlders and typed Magnus’s full name. Ziya chirped excitedly when Magnus’s photo appeared on the screen. Alec was taken aback. Oh. He is High Warlock of Brooklyn. So, that’s why he was at the scene, trying to contain failed summoning. And then complaining about shoddy training.
Alec scrolled down the information about the gorgeous warlock, carefully reading through it. He was very curious about Magnus. His newly awakened side was completely in agreement, as was Ziya. The little dragon became very fond of the warlock in the few short hours she appeared in the loft, even allowing him to pet her. It was one of the things that were niggling at his mind. He thought the spirit animals, the Chosen’s companions, didn’t tolerate just anyone touching them.
Eying the book in apprehension, Alec came to realize there were a lot of things he didn’t understand yet. Shaking off the daydreams, the sentinel returned to reading the information, strangely excited about learning of the High Warlock. Then he frowned. The data concerning Magnus didn’t seem to mesh with what he observed of him. The sentinel in him bristled at the rather obvious bias evident in the most comments. Alec sat up in alarm, as he read through the recent information.
Circle? He was targeted by the Circle? My parents…
Suddenly, a lot of things became clear in the context of what he just learnt. The memories of half-whispered conversations, he pushed back at Magnus’s, came back to the front with vengeance, assaulting his mostly-unprepared mind. Ziya chirped and butted her head against his chin, trying to mitigate his obvious distress. Alec sat back, closing his eyes and tried to hold on the only thing that was making sense in this mess. Ziya hopped on his chest and snuggled up to him, relieving the worst of the turmoil he found himself in.
The anger faded out quickly, leaving Alec with a sense of deep disappointment. In his parents, in the Clave, in the Accords. Everything he thought he knew was turned upside down. His parents were the racist assholes that were given only a slap on the wrist by the Clave. It was an insult to every victim of the Uprising. And Clave’s hypocrisy smarted the worst. Outwardly, they presented a fair and reasonable stance, while being lenient with Nephilim offenders and severely punishing Downworlders at the slightest infraction.
It’s a miracle the Downworlders didn’t force the dissolution of the Accords after the Uprising. Alec mused silently, taking comfort in petting Ziya. Or didn’t lobby for the more extensive revisions granting them more protection. And that begs the question. Why were the Accords even signed?
His fingers spasmed causing Ziya to squawk in indignation. An uncomfortable feeling clenched his insides when he remembered Magnus’s throwaway comment about last Raziel Chosen awakening more than a century ago, around the time the First Accords were signed. Maybe it was only a strange coincidence, but Alec didn’t think so. Not after he realized where his earlier conclusions led.
My parents can’t be allowed to return. Alec decided, immediately starting to plot how to make that happen. His new instincts rebelled at the thought of letting such a threat to his territory, to Magnus, returning to New York. It could be couched in the new security measures I’ll be enforcing in the Institute. Alec mused. Hmm. It could work. Maybe.
His sight was drawn back to the borrowed book he put carelessly on the desk. It glowed in the morning sun beckoning him to discover the forgotten knowledge. The Nephilim grabbed it and shuffled it out of sight. His subordinates should be in his office with their reports in a few minutes, and he couldn’t afford to be distracted. His heightened hearing caught first arrivals loitering just outside of his office. He bundled Ziya in his jacket and put her gently on the ground, hiding her out of sight.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed back everything not relevant to the last night events out of his mind and called out. „Enter.”
Alec fiddled with his phone. Since the recent revelations about the difficult past his parents and the warlock, he was taken with, shared, he was constantly on the edge – torn between his desire to meet up with Magnus again and an uncomfortable realization the warlock had every reason to refuse him. He was uncharacteristically hesitant about contacting Magnus, although the warlock made his interest in him rather obvious, judging by the lengths he went to secure a promise of a date.
Not to mention the literal mountains of work he was swamped with. His poking at the Institute’s security opened a larger can of worms than he imagined. The sentinel scowled darkly. It was unseemly how his Institute was turned into some kind of penitentiary for Circle members, starting with his parents. The Clave pushed all of those ”troubled children” to New York, more-or-less washing their hands off them. It caused his instincts to be in a constant state of readiness to head off a potential attack. It was exhausting. That he didn’t feel safe in his own home, was something that grated.
And the worst of all was an ominous silence from his absent parents. They had to realize by now, he found out about their non-Clave approved past, considering he started to make waves about former Circle members in his Institute. There was no call, no fire-message, no sudden return. He expected them to do some damage control. But there was nothing. And Alec didn’t like it. In his experience, it didn’t bode well for him.
On top of it, Ziya decided to take upon herself to haunt the headquarters, making messes left and right. Alec took a great delight by assigning the resident ex-Circle members to clean them up. For some reason, Ziya was invisible to the other Nephilims and it was funny to watch her randomly targeting her victims. Some of her favourite targets were getting convinced the Institute was besieged by angry spirits and were on the verge of mental breakdown. At least they didn’t have time to plot something nefarious. And while Alec certainly appreciated Ziya’s efforts to make ex-Circle members’ life difficult, the paperwork it generated piled up on his desk alarmingly fast.
As a result, he was constantly in a foul mood. His subordinates gave him a wide breadth because of it. It didn’t help that he itched to go on a patrol to release some of his pent up aggression on the demons. Which he couldn’t do, as he was still chained to his desk by the insane amounts of paperwork. While he initiated the process of replacing the critical posts with his own people in the last few days, there was still a long way to go. He was rapidly losing his patience with the Clave and their politics, the longer it took them to answer his requests.
„Ah. Fuck it.” Alec cursed, pushing back all of his doubts, and dialled the number. If the warlock didn’t want him to call, he wouldn’t have given him his number. Alec didn’t have to wait for long for a familiar voice to respond.
„Magnus Bane, speaking.”
The warlock’s voice soothed his nerves and calmed down his jittery newly awakened instincts, leaving behind a deep sense of longing he didn’t want to delve too deeply at that moment. Alec cleared his throat and spoke tentatively. „Hello, Magnus. This is Alec. Alec Lightwood. We met a few days ago?”
„Ah. Alec. I wondered when you are going to call.” Magnus smiled, his delight was clearly heard through the flimsy connection. He was afraid Alexander would talk himself out of calling him. He was never so glad to be wrong.
„I wonder if… I mean… You and I.” Alec blushed brightly, thanking Raziel nobody was in his office to witness their calm and collected Institute Head stammering. He would have never lived it down.
Magnus decided to take pity on the endearing Nephilim and helped him out. „Would you like to go for a drink sometime?”
„Thank angels.” The sentinel blurted out and asked eagerly. „When?”
Magnus laughed a little at Alec’s bluntness, suddenly looking forward to seeing him. The pesky feelings reared their heads through the barriers he built around his heart randomly during last few days, mostly when he was thinking about his Nephilim. And Magnus was getting tired of constantly fighting against them. „How about tonight?” The warlock suggested. He was done with his consults for the day and his club would survive one evening without him to take care of things.
Alec’s face fell and muttered. „I have a patrol scheduled for tonight. How about tomorrow?” He had some pent up aggression to vent on the demons, and his punching bag wasn’t enough anymore.
„Perfect. I have a place in mind. Can you pick me up?” Magnus purred his agreement into his phone quickly, not letting Alexander to stop and think and angels forbid to change his mind.
„Around eight?” Alec asked, his good mood returning when he managed to secure a date with the gorgeous warlock.
„That’s fine with me.” Magnus twirled around, giddy with a heady feeling of something beautiful growing between them. „See you tomorrow.”
„See you.” Alec murmured and ended the call. He dropped the phone on his desk and leaned back in his chair. The piles of paperwork were no longer daunting. His parents and their disappointment was only a distant afterthought. The Clave and the Circle, and everything else didn’t even enter his thoughts.
„I have a date.” Alec smiled goofily, the sentinel in him finally settling back in some semblance of contentment. Ziya chirped happily in agreement and nudged his hand to pet her.
Alec tugged the sleeves on his leather jacket self-consciously, as he stood in front of Magnus’s door. The time between their conversation and this evening was a blur. He wasn’t able to concentrate on anything. For Raziel’s sake. It was a minor miracle he got through last night’s patrol in one piece. His subordinates noticed his preoccupation with something, but no one was brave enough to call him on it.
When he ended the call yesterday, he was giddy with the excitement. However, it occurred to him soon after he hadn’t the faintest idea of how to date, especially someone as fabulous as Magnus. He was so desperate for any advice he conscripted Ziya to play a fashion consultant for him. At that moment, he missed his sister immensely. She would have ribbed him incessantly but she would have helped him. It was going to be a disaster. What was he thinking about when he agreed to go out with the gorgeous warlock.
At least Ziya agreed, although reluctantly, to go back to the spirit world for the duration of the evening. The dragonling was pouting when she retreated. Alec got the impression she adored Magnus. It was something he could get behind. But he couldn’t afford to split his attention tonight between his still very young dragon and his date. Especially since he decided to leave most of his weapons back in the Institute as not to make a wrong impression on Magnus. He felt naked without them but if he wanted to build something meaningful with the warlock he had to make a gesture of trust, particularly in the light of his parents’ activities in the Uprising. In the end, Alec took only a pair of easily concealed daggers and his stele. Just in case. Although, it was shaping to be a quiet night. He had made sure of it when he checked up the current situation in the Operations shortly before he left.
Alec scraped up his courage and rang. Magnus’s wards greeted him warmly. It seemed the warlock didn’t change the configuration and left him keyed in. It implied something he wasn’t prepared to confront right now. Not when he was waiting impatiently for the warlock to appear. Straining his senses to their limit, he could hear a rustling of clothes nearing the door. Even through the wards.
The anticipation was killing Alec. To say he was looking forward to seeing the warlock, was an understatement. The door opened and his date glided out. Alec sucked in a deep breath, taking in the other man’s appearance – the glitter, the make-up, flamboyant clothes and the jewellery – and stammered out a greeting. „Good evening.”
„Evening, Alec.” Magnus purred, satisfied with Alexander’s reaction to him. Honestly. It was very flattering to be subjected to the sentinel’s intense regard. It made him feel the time, he devoted to preparing for tonight’s date, was well spent. „You look great.”
„You are one to talk.” Flustered Alec mumbled when he finally found the words to make a compliment, while he waved his hand up and down. „You are gorgeous.”
Magnus inclined his head in appreciation of Alexander’s compliment and summoned a light jacket to complete his look. With another wave of his hand, he locked down the wards on his loft. Alec shivered when blue sparkles bounced playfully around him, teasing out his golden aura, he greatly invested himself in suppressing. It wouldn’t do for a Head of the Institute to glow randomly. The warlock smirked at sentinel’s reaction to his magic, boldly grabbed his hand and intertwined their fingers. „Let’s go.”
„That wasn’t the first date I had in mind,” Magnus commented dryly, as he exerted his magic to hold the barrier up. They were barely ten minutes in their walk to his favourite Downworld bar when Alexander went on alert. His magic pinged with a warning and rose up to the surface of his skin, in the same instant as a rift opened and blocked their path.
Magnus was exasperated by it all. Was it really too much to ask to want to spend one pleasant uninterrupted evening with his Nephilim? Why did the demons have to choose to attack tonight of all days? The warlock narrowed his eyes dangerously. In a span of a week, it was already a second major incursion. It wasn’t natural. Not by far. Something was afoot.
„Really? I wouldn’t have guessed it. Considering how our first meeting went.” Alec bantered back, keeping an eye on the pack of demons that climbed out of the rift. Just his luck. One evening he was free and had a date with a gorgeous man and they had to stumble upon an invasion.
Magnus smirked at him, twisting his left wrist, calling up for more power. „Let’s get this over, so we can continue with our evening.”
„Yes, let’s.” Alec agreed eagerly, the stele already in his hand, as he activated his runes in quick succession.
„That brings back memories,” Magnus muttered under his breath. Outloud he called out to the sentinel. „I’ll take care of the rift. Try to keep the demons out of my back.”
„Fine.” Alec agreed, his dagger flashing through the night. He mourned that he left most of his weapons back at the Institute. Mainly, he missed his bow. There was nothing to indicate that the demons would choose this night to make an attempt on the incursion. And interrupt his date. Alec gritted his teeth and twirled the second dagger in his left hand and targeted another demon. Thankfully, they stumbled upon the rift before more demons could get through.
„Magnus. Look out.” Alec called out and sliced through the pair of Raveners converging onto warlock’s location. The sentinel snarled and turned his senses up. From what he recalled from the Codex, the Raveners were used mainly as foot soldiers and assassins. They weren’t prone to making complicated plans on their own. That suggested they had a master. And he had to be somewhere near. He just had to find him.
Magnus ignored his warning. He trusted the Nephilim sentinel would deal with the demons in short order, so he put his best effort into shutting the rift. Magnus frowned and pushed more of his magic into the sealing. It was much more difficult than he expected. No matter. He wasn’t some second-rated warlock with delusions of grandeur. He was High Warlock of Brooklyn. He wouldn’t be defeated by some measly rift. Little by little the breach shrunk. The sweat beaded on his forehead and his hands shook with fatigue, but Magnus refused to admit defeat. Channelling that much of his magic was dangerous. That he knew. He sucked in a breath, sent out the last blast of power and the rift was closed. Magnus relaxed and let his magic sink back into his skin.
„MAGNUS!” The Nephilim cried out in alarm and threw himself against their foes.
Magnus turned around just to see Alec killing last demons sneaking up on him before he was impaled by one of them. His magic exploded in anger, shattering his glamour in the process and instantly vaporizing the demon. Something dangerous writhed inside of him, trying to break through his fraying control, to lash out at everything. The warlock collapsed on the ground beside the grievously injured Nephilim. Tapping into his last reserves, he called up healing magic, blue power swirling around his hands weakly.
„Stop, Magnus. Please, stop.” Alec pleaded, blood bubbling out of his mouth. The Ravener got him really good. With the warlock depleted there wasn’t much of a chance he would get out of this alive.
„Don’t you dare, Alexander.” Magnus pleaded softly, his magic straining to its limits as he attempted to heal the Nephilim.
„It was worth it. You are worth it, Magnus. Don’t ever doubt it. I just wish we’ve got to that date.” Alec smiled contentedly and closed his eyes. He felt the call of the spirit world to return to its embrace. His sentinel side came to fore and Alec started glowing. Ziya shimmered in and nosed Alec’s palm inquiringly, screeching mournfully.
„NO,” Magnus yelled in denial, his heart breaking at the thought of losing his chance with Alexander. The last dregs of his magic swelled inside of him and shrieked out desperately calling for help. Any kind of help.
The egg that was supposed to be in his loft, safely hidden under his formidable wards, appeared in front of him in a blaze of angelic power. His skin prickled uncomfortably with that amount of holy energy in the air. Unconsciously Magnus drew a shield around himself and the dying sentinel.
You have a choice to make, son of my fallen brother. An ethereal voice whispered in his mind sending unpleasant shivers down his back. His magic was dragging sluggishly itself from the deepest parts of his soul in desperation to save his life. The angels were never kind to the children of their fallen brethren. But for Alexander, he was prepared to pay the price. Any price.
Open your heart to your sentinel or let him die. The voice continued mercilessly, not taking consideration of Magnus’s plea.
Flicking his eyes at the downed Alexander and his keening spirit animal, Magnus didn’t hesitate and said flatly. „Alec. I choose Alec.”
Very well, Magnus. The voice gentled into a soothing purr and withdrew. A heavenly power filled him abruptly. His own demonic magic rose and valiantly tried to put up a fight against foreign power spreading through him, but it was all for nought.
The warlock cried out in pain as a centuries-old block on his guide abilities, built on pain and fear, shattered and he was flooded with foreign emotions. Ruthlessly, the newly-awakened guide dismissed the concern and rising fear from his Nephilim, the remnants of bloodlust and anger from the demons, and everything else that distracted him from his purpose and concentrated on Alexander’s shining mind to regain equilibrium.
The golden-red egg floating in front of him caught on fire and cracked open. A little phoenix chick fell out of it, right into Magnus’s waiting hands. Staring at the spirit animal, his spirit animal, in wonder, the warlock whispered. „Nasya.”
The phoenix chirped encouragingly and hopped on Alex’s chest. The sentinel shuddered. The phoenix was the best representation of his guide’s soul. Immortal fire.
„Alec. Alec. Give me your hand.” Magnus cried out desperately. The sentinel… His sentinel obeyed. With some difficulties, he reached out and dropped his shaking hand in Magnus’s one.
The bond flared between them, bright and beautiful, exploding in golden sparks around them. Ziya and Nasya blended into the souls of their chosen companions, glowing faintly with blue spirit energy, lending them their strength.
Magnus took in the combined power of their spirit animals, instinctively knowing what to do. He put his hand over Alec’s injury and pushed the acquired power right into Alec’s wound, healing it in moments. Both youngling spirit animals slumped tiredly against their charges, completely drained, because of what they were asked to do.
„There you are,” Alec whispered, cupping Magnus’s cheek.
The warlock’s cat eyes flooded with tears. „Oh, you.” His voice broke. „Alexander, you are absolutely forbidden to die on me. Do you hear me, sentinel.”
„I hear you, Magnus.” Alec hushed the warlock gently and added reverently. „My guide.”
„The danger posed to the city and to us accelerated the creation and development of our bond, Alec,” Magnus whispered, voice hoarse from the passionate kiss they shared, as he pushed back an unruly curl out of his sentinel’s forehead. Alexander was still too new to the physical aspect of their relationship, eager to try everything with one person he felt safe with, after years spent in the closet. Magnus was worried they were rushing into this relationship, and their newly-formed bond only exacerbated the neediness. He spent hours after his awakening and subsequent bonding smoothing down intense feelings bouncing between the Nephilim and him. „According to the manuscript, our bond was formed too quickly in our desperation to stay together, when we’ve just met and almost lost each other. We owe it to ourselves to take it slowly. To let ourselves fall in love and build our relationship on more than just an attraction and angels’ notion of our compatibility.”
Alexander burst into his life like a hurricane, completely turning it upside down. For more than a century the warlock drowned himself in meaningless relationships, guarding his heart zealously. In just one evening, he was a lost cause. It might have been a bit early, but Magnus knew his heart. He was going to fall in love with his Nephilim so deeply, he was afraid he wouldn’t recover if he ever lost him.
The sentinel nuzzled his neck mouthing at his pulse, sending bolts of heat down Magnus’s spine, making it hard to resist. Alec took his fill of his guide’s lovely scent and drew back. He was aware his warlock had a lot of baggage on the emotional front. That was clear to him, as soon as they bonded. „I’m not going to pressure you to something you don’t feel you are ready for, Magnus. We have time.”
The strange dichotomy between forward sentinel and innocent Nephilim was beguiling. Magnus smiled, his cat eyes shining with happiness. It was rare that someone put his needs and wants first. He leaned up to steal a soft kiss from Alexander’s lips. Last one for that evening.
Magnus smiled softly at the memory, as he stirred a potion for his next client. It was nothing too complicated, just time-consuming, so he allowed his thoughts to wander. In the last few weeks, he was the happiest he ever was. He knew, with the bond tying him to his brave Nephilim and Nasya’s constant warm presence nestled deep in his magic and his soul, he would be never alone in the world. It was a balm on his weary heart.
However, there were times, when old hurts and broken promises, hidden in his complicated past, reared their heads and caused his insecurities to flare up. But for one so inexperienced in relationships, his Alexander was sweet and patient with him, as he worked through his issues. As time went, using their bond to gauge their moods was becoming as easy as breathing for both of them. As a result, they were content in the other’s presence, soothed by their growing feelings for each other.
Still… Sometimes, he felt like he was forgetting something ímportant. And for his life, he couldn’t figure out what it was. He just hoped it wouldn’t bite him in the ass at the most inopportune moment. His alarm blared out, startling Magnus out of his musings. The potion was ready. Magnus turned off the stove and looked at the clock. He still had a bit of time before his client was scheduled to arrive. He filled the vials with a sparkling liquid, careful not to let the potion interact with his magic anymore, or it would be spoilt and he would have to start another batch.
And today he didn’t feel very patient about it. Alexander promised he would stop tonight after his patrol. And he wanted to be free to enjoy the evening with him. Magnus pouted. Their time together was sparse in the last few days, both of them too busy with their duties to steal away even a few moments to spend together. Not that he wasn’t tempted to just portal into Institute to visit his sentinel. But between the Clave finally coming through with Alexander’s requests and the clients seeking out the solutions for their petty little problems from the High Warlock, it just wasn’t possible. Therefore, tonight’s date.
Magnus smiled dreamily at the thought of the sentinel and snapped his fingers. The mess disappeared, leaving his loft pristine. Just like he liked it.
Suddenly, his wards rippled in a warning. Magnus narrowed his eyes. An unsettlingly familiar dark power swelled up, and the wards worked up to their limits in their effort to bar the intruder from entering before they were brought down violently. The warlock wavered, as the backlash hit him.
A highly unwelcomed presence appeared in the middle of the room, making Magnus pale and take a step back in shock. „Hmm. Impressive ward work. But what else should I expect from my son?” The demon commented lazily, as his oppressive power spread out through the entire apartment. Turning around to face the warlock, he smirked. „Hello, Magnus. It had been a truly long time since I saw you last.”
„Not long enough, father,” Magnus said through his gritted teeth, as he hastily locked down his empathy, trying not to drown under the amount of malicious power the demon let out. He didn’t want Nasya to get in contact with it. „Which fool let you out?” The answer came to him in the next instant and he recoiled, remembering the failed summoning a few weeks ago that pushed Alexander Lightwood into his path.
Asmodeus shrugged dismissively at the warlock’s discomfort. „Now. Now, Magnus. That’s not how to greet your father after not seeing him for centuries.” The demon’s face darkened, as his power thickened threateningly in the air. „Especially, since you were instrumental in trapping me in Edom for as long.”
Magnus cautiously took another step back from his father, to create a bit of distance between them, surreptitiously calling his magic to the surface, and spat out. „You had it coming.”
„Are you still hanged up on that mortal?” Asmodeus asked, radiating smugness. „I stand by what I did. I wasn’t going to let you waste all of my hard work to make a worthy heir of you on some unworthy mortal. So, he had to go.”
„You had no right to interfere. It was my choice.” Magnus replied, his voice quivering, the old wound of losing his first lover aching fiercely. Only the permanent bond to his Alexander managed to somewhat soothe the hurt.
„You were young and stupid. It can be excused.” Asmodeus continued, taking a vicious pleasure in Magnus’s pain. „But what cannot be ever excused is you turning on me. And for that, you are going to pay.”
„You meant to kill me,” Magnus whispered as the events of his interrupted first date with Alexander came to his mind.
Asmodeus rolled his eyes. „Maybe. But I should have known better than to leave the bunch of Raveners unsupervised.”
„Then I’m glad you failed,” Magnus muttered under his breath, his magic coiling under his skin, begging him to use it to dispose of the demon.
The demon just raised an eyebrow condescendingly. „If I learnt something in my forced exile, it’s patience. I used some of my spies and found out some interesting news. A Nephilim, Magnus? Really?”
„Leave him alone.” Magnus snarled, blue magic sparkling around his fingers threateningly.
The demon, sensing a weakness in his child waiting for exploitation, smirked malevolently. Finally, he would get back at Magnus. Noone, not even his son, was allowed to make a fool of him, and not expect to pay a price for it. He eyed his riled up son and his agitated magic, pleased with himself how he managed to get under Magnus’s skin. He couldn’t resist and inquired snidely. „Or what?”
The warlock’s magic exploded impressively in an unseemly display, immobilizing the demon for a moment. It was all Magnus needed and snarled. „Begone, Asmodeus.” He summoned a portal and pushed his father inside. With a whoosh, the portal closed and Magnus could finally breathe freely, as the suffocating demonic power was lifted.
Nasya appeared in the next moment with an inquiring chirp, flapping her wings wildly. Magnus caught little phoenix in his hands carefully. The firebird was still so small it fitted into his palms. Quickly sweeping his loft with magic, Magnus was relieved. Asmodeus was gone. Fortunately, it was highly probable the demon was unaware of his new gifts.
Cradling the chick on his chest protectively, Magnus wrote a fire message. To deal with his father he would need all the help he could get. He needed Catarina and Ragnor.
Alec held Ziya in his arms, as he leaned against the doorframe, frowning at the sight that greeted him. Magnus was doing his favourite Tai-chi exercise on the balcony. He observed how his guide fluidly went through the sequence, deep concentration painted on his face. A blue ball of Magnus’s magic floated free, following warlock’s movements. Nasya playfully flew around the ball, trying to catch it. It was enthralling to watch, even if Magnus used that particular routine to ground himself after he received bad news.
Feeling eyes on him, Magnus finished and with a flourish he let the magic dissipate. He was still on the edge from the unexpected visit from his father. The news he got from his friends didn’t help to improve his mood. „Hey, Alec.” Magnus tried to smile, but what came out was more of a grimace. Ziya flew out of Alec’s arms to greet the warlock and the phoenix.
„Magnus?” The Nephilim asked worriedly, when even Ziya’s antics didn’t manage to coax a genuine smile from Magnus, and proceed to envelop the warlock in his embrace. The feelings leaking from his guide’s side were troubling. Like he was gearing to something. „Did something happen?” Alec muttered into Magnus’s neck.
The warlock sighed and pulled a bit away from the hug he desperately needed after the day he had. Magnus pushed an unruly curl out of Alexander’s forehead, trailing his fingers down Nephilim’s cheek gently as if trying to memorize his face. „I… It’s complicated.” He started hesitantly. „There are things you don’t know about me, yet.”
Alec leaned his forehead against Magnus and whispered, the heavy burden of the centuries his guide lived, settling on them. „I know, Magnus. I know. You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to.”
The warlock curled his shaking hand into Alexander’s hair and admitted quietly. „I had a visit a few hours ago. I’m not sure if you are aware, but there is a greater demon on the loose. Shh. Let me explain.” Magnus shushed Alec after he opened his mouth to talk. „The demon in question is known to me. His name is Asmodeus and… He is my father.”
„Asmodeus?” Alec repeated incredulously. „Prince of Hell? Fallen Angel? That Asmodeus? And he is your father?”
Magnus cringed at the barrage of questions, ashamed of what he was forced to disclose. „Yes, he is. It’s something I’ve always struggled with since I sealed him into Edom centuries ago.”
„You are who you are, Magnus,” Alec said gently, the phoenix chick and the dragonling chirping in agreement. „I don’t care who your father is. What I care about is… That you are my guide.”
„Alexander?” Magnus lifted his head, hope blooming inside him when he heard his sentinel’s reassurance. Overwhelmed by his emotions, Magnus lost control and his magic sparkled across his skin. The glamour fell from his suspiciously teary eyes, revealing their true golden colour.
The Nephilim just dipped his head and captured Magnus’s lips in a kiss. He treasured those moments when his warlock let his guard down around him. It always got to him – the display of Magnus’s trust – and he welcomed the privilege.
Reluctantly, Magnus broke their kiss and took in the much-needed breath. Borrowing Alexander’s tactics, he blurted out the information he was just coming to terms. „I can seal Asmodeus back into Edom, but it’s very dangerous. And it can’t be done from here.”
Alec shook his head to clear it from the lingering arousal and glared at Magnus as he worked out what the warlock was hinting at. „No, Magnus. You are not going to Edom. I forbid it. We’ll find another way.”
„There isn’t another way,” Magnus shouted agitatedly and started pacing along the balcony. Then he added softly. „Do you think I didn’t try to find it? I’ve looked all over my books and I’ve asked my friends for help. I’ve even gone to Spirit Labyrinth for advice, which I’ve always loathed to do. But it was all for nought. The first time I banished him was a fluke. I don’t know who was more taken aback I’ve managed it – him or me – but I won’t be able to replicate it. My friends and I came to the conclusion that the only real method to get rid of him that might, and I stress might, work needs a powerful warlock to go to Edom, draw a perpetual summoning circle in some forgotten corner of the demon realm and trap him in it.”
„Ok. Ok, Magnus. Calm down.” Alec tried to soothe the agitated warlock by rubbing his back. Their spirit animals hopped into Magnus’s arms and refused to be put down, chirping cutely at the guide. „However, I’m not letting you go alone. I’m going with you.”
„No, Alexander.” Magus immediately shot down Nephilim’s suggestion. „It’s too dangerous for you.”
The gold bled into Alec’s eyes and he rumbled. „You are my guide. My mate. Where you go, I will go. Even to Edom. I don’t care about the dangers. Only that I’m there, right beside you. Because you are mine to protect and shelter, Magnus.”
Magnus acquiesced with a nod. „Very well, sentinel.”
When the day came their journey to Edom was about to commence, Alec wasn’t nervous. The Institute was in tip-top shape and the sentinel didn’t have any doubts he left it in good hands. His second, Underhill, stepped up after the Clave confirmed his appointment as the Head of New York Institute. With his siblings still in Idris with his parents, he turned to the older man, sensing there was something more to him. It was comforting when Ziya approved of his choice.
Magnus’s friends, Catarina and Ragnor, were great help with making preparations, cutting down the time needed for it from weeks to only a few measly days. They were a bit sceptical when they first met, at Magnus’s insistence he might add, but they found a common ground with their caring for the glittery warlock. Although he could do without the shovel talk from both of them. For a healer, Catarina could be very scary. As for Ragnor, well, his ex-professor from the Academy cheerfully threatened him with feeding him to the pack of starving hellhounds, he would summon especially for him, should he ever be so callous to hurt Magnus.
Both warlocks agreed to split up Magnus’s duties until they returned back, so New York, aka demon central of the East Coast, wouldn’t be left unguarded in their absence. Alec put them in touch with his second and hoped it would be enough. He refused to even entertain the notion they wouldn’t return from the Edom.
Smiling softly at his guide, Alec let himself be led to the centre of the pentagram, Magnus painstakingly drew on the ground. He had a hard time to contain his feelings towards his warlock. He didn’t want to distract him before the spell. But… He adored Magnus, magic and all, and that was his only motive why he was prepared to follow the warlock to the ends of Edom. Maybe it was too early for him to know, but, well… there was a reason they said Nephilim loved once and fiercely.
Magnus clasped the hands of his sentinel and called up his magic. While he travelled through the portals innumerable times, he’d never voluntarily used them to visit his father’s realm. He layered protection after protection onto his Nephilim who was firm in his decision to follow him and plied him with potions designed to help him to adjust to Edom. Magnus hoped it would be enough. Taking a deep breath he channelled his magic into the pentagram. The image flared red and a portal opened under their feet.
Alec fell out of the portal rather ungraciously and immediately proceed to trip over an inconveniently placed stone. Magnus steadied him before he managed to make an intimate acquaintance with the ground. „Very graceful, Alexander.” He smirked.
The Nephilim blushed in embarrassment and murmured. „Thanks.”
The demon realm rebelled at their abrupt arrival, as it detected an unwelcome intruder and immediately started to press upon the Nephilim, Magnus’s protections notwithstanding. Magnus was somewhat protected with his partly demon blood, but Alec was not. The sentinel choked out and staggered. Ziya appeared with a squawk trailing blue energy on the tips of her wings, flying in circles around her sentinel in an attempt to shield him against the realm’s undue influence.
„Nasya,” Magnus called his phoenix when he saw Ziya was quickly weakening. The young dragon was in grave danger, as the realm hooked its claws into the spirit animal to siphon as much of the heavenly power as possible. The phoenix chic appeared in the whirlwind of gold and blue sparks and landed on his shoulder. Butting her head against Magnus’s neck in greeting, Nasya sent him a picture of something he couldn’t conceive was possible.
„Are you sure?” Magnus asked. The phoenix sent a wave of reassurance through their bond. The warlock nodded and took a deep breath. He would have never attempted it if Nasya didn’t show him how. Drawing upon the power of Edom, Magnus twisted it in his hands and Nasya breathed a cleansing fire into it. The fiery red of the hell realm lightened into the blue of warlock’s magic.
Magnus channelled clean magic into Alec and Ziya, using himself and Nasya as a conduit. Edom was fighting back. Magnus snarled. His glamour fell and his cat eyes flashed golden, then blue. Nasya trilled in alarm and tightened her hold warlock’s shoulder, drawing blood, in her effort to support the guide. Magnus refused to give up and redoubled his efforts to tame the violence inherent in the demon dimension. He was the heir to the realm’s ruler. In Asmodeus’s absence, Edom was bound to obey him. On the other hand, his bonded was everything the realm and its inhabitants despised. So, the realm rebelled and fought back.
Alec closed his eyes trustingly and let Magnus’s magic sink into his skin. His guide’s protectiveness enveloped him in a cocoon of warmth, and it spread through his body, lifting the demon realm’s influence from his mind and body. Alec breathed out in relief, as the power transferred through his bond to Ziya. The dragon roared joyously and took a flight. Alec opened his eyes in alarm to see Ziya circling high above their heads, growing rapidly from an adolescent dragon to the full-grown one.
Nasya, feeling Magnus had managed to subdue the wild power of Edom, took off, following after Ziya. The magic bounced back along with the bond from the sentinel and his spirit animal to Magnus and his phoenix. The chic trilled happily and invited the change to come. Between one breath and another, an adult phoenix soared alongside the dragon playfully.
„Well, that was an interesting welcome. Now that we’ve got over this little hurdle…” Alec said, trying to lighten a mood.
„A little hurdle? ALEC!” Magnus cried out indignantly. „You were almost devoured by the demon realm. Could you not take it lightly, perhaps?” And he added softly. „I don’t want you to lose you.”
The Nephilim looked down at the ground and said contritely. „Sorry, Magnus.”
Ziya landed nearby and cocked her head inquiringly. She sent Alec a picture of the landscape of the region, the portal spat them out. A desolate plain for as far as one could see, with a rather dangerously-looking castle in the distance, sitting on the edge of a cliff. Nasya flew a few more circles around Magnus, till she decided to land on his shoulder and started preening his hair.
Alec raised an eyebrow at the picture he was getting from Ziya and posed a rather interesting question to his guide. „Isn’t it a bit risky to trap Asmodeus in his own castle?”
Magnus scratched Nasya thoughtfully and explained. „Of course, it is. This entire operation is very dangerous. And while I am loath to admit it, Asmodeus is very powerful. On the bright side, this is Edom. Since the realm’s creation, it’s a law that the strongest rules. It breeds resentment and fierce competition in the demons residing here. I doubt there is anyone, even amongst his fellow Princes, who would be inclined to help him. And no lesser demon dares to venture so deep into a greater demon’s domain without explicit permission. I think, and Catarina and Ragnor agree with me, the permanent summoning circle should prevent both – Asmodeus’s escape using his own power or using the intermediary for disrupting the runes, as we designed them to be lethal for any demon attempting it.”
„If you are sure… Lead the way.” Alec drew out his knives. Ziya huffed and nudged the Nephilim, almost sending him crashing to the ground, and bent down. „Nevermind.” Alec corrected, as he climbed up on the dragon’s back and pulled Magnus up. Ziya took off in the direction of the castle, with Nasya following after them.
In Magnus’s opinion, the gruelling and nerve-wracking hours were well-spend in making sure the rune circle was perfectly done. Alexander stood in his defence while he worked, killing quite a number of demons attempting to enter the castle drawn to the smell of Nephilim blood. As soon as Ziya deposited them at the front gates, both – the dragon and the phoenix – flew back in the air. They took it upon themselves to monitor the wider surroundings of Asmodeus’s seat of power, so if something happened their charges wouldn’t be caught off guard.
All that was left was to activate the circle and trap the demon inside. Easier said than done. Tightening his hold on Alec’s hands, Magnus took a deep breath in preparation for the fight of his life. Trying not to think about the implications of what he was hoping to accomplish, he drew his magic to surface. In response, Alec’s golden aura rose up, as he pulled power from Ziya and sent it to his guide. The runes lit one by one, blue and golden sparks forming a transparent wall.
The dark malevolent power fought viciously against the forcible summoning. A bead of sweat rolled down Magnus’s forehead, as he pushed more power into the runes. The struggles ceased abruptly, and a presence coalesced inside the circle.
„Magnus. And the company. What an… unexpected surprise.” Asmodeus purred out, calculatingly taking in the situation.
„Father.” Magnus nodded curtly in greeting, as he threaded his fingers with Alec’s defiantly.
„So, you had awakened,” Asmodeus observed idly, taking great delight at reactions he managed to incite. „I had thought I had smelled the heavenly taint lingering around you.” Flicking his eyes on the Nephilim, standing at Magnus’s side. „I assumed it rubbed on you from the company you started to keep. But no… What a waste.”
Magnus went ramrod straight, glaring at the demon at the insinuation he made. His sentinel’s hackles were up at his obvious agitation. “What is it to you?”
„Ah, Magnus, Magnus.” The demon said patronizingly, unobtrusively checking the summoning circle he was trapped in. „You didn’t think I wouldn’t recognize your gift as soon as I laid my eyes on you? Me, who was once counted amongst the greatest of the heavenly warriors? Where do you think you got your gift from? And really? A phoenix? Couldn’t you be more clichéed?”
Magnus snarled and Nasya squawked angrily. „You lie. If I was ever a guide I wouldn’t be able to spend time in Edom. Unless…” The realization drew upon the guide’s face. „You. You did something.” Alec grabbed his guide around his waist to stop him from going after Asmodeus and disturb the summoning circle.
Asmodeus smirked proudly, „I have to admit it was one of my better ideas. And it was so easy. You, a child starved for attention, freshly traumatized from coming into his powers so unexpectedly. A concerned father saving you from life on the streets. Taking you into Edom and suppressing your budding empathy was a child-play. And it did help me, you were already so powerful for your age. You would have been a worthy heir to my throne.” Then he flashed an angry gaze at the Nephilim sentinel standing beside his son. „I didn’t count on you meeting your mate after the Clave made away with their Chosen.”
„Fortunately for all of us, you are going to spend the rest of eternity in this circle. You won’t be able to hurt anyone anymore.” Alec chimed in vindictively. His more feral side was all for making the demon pay for the pain he caused to his guide.
„When I get out of this trap – and don’t assume I won’t – you’ll regret it, Magnus.” Asmodeus snarled angrily. His pleasant mask shattered, giving way to the demon to assume his true, monstrous form. Alec startled at the sight of his guide’s cat eyes staring at him malevolently from the demon’s face.
Magnus stepped in front of his sentinel bravely to shield him from his father’s hate. „You’ll never get away. I secured this place in such a way, it’s impossible.”
„Nothing is impossible given enough time. And I’ve already proved I can wait.” The demon hissed threateningly, clawing at the barrier confining him in the ritual circle. „There will come a time, I’ll be freed again. And then, Magnus, I’ll make sure you lose everything dear to you. Just wait.”
Alec grabbed his guide’s hand to pull him away from the greater demon. „Come on, Magnus. We are done here. Let’s leave.” He cajoled the warlock while glaring at the snarling demon.
Magnus slumped against him, suddenly feeling drained. With the last glance at his father, he said. „Yes, let’s go home, Alexander.”
The portal opened up and the sentinel-guide pair walked out of it confidently, if tired. After angels-know-how-long-time they spent in Edom, even the looming structure of the New York Institute was a welcomed sight for the warlock and his Nephilim. The familiar pulse of the city energized Magnus. He grinned wildly at Alexander, happy with new-found freedom, as the burden of his cursed ancestry fell from his shoulders.
Alec hugged Magnus tightly in relief; they made it back to New York in one piece. The familiar smells and noises grounded him, as he attuned back to his city. Not caring in the slightest, he was literally standing at the steps of the Institute, Alec rested his forehead against his guide’s and whispered, stealing the air from Magnus’s lips. „I love you.”
Giddily, Magnus answered with. „I love you, too.” And leaned up for a kiss. Their bond brightened between them, shining with a promise of happiness and love.
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