If By Chance


Story Notes

Title: If By Chance
Author: Twigen
Fandoms: Shadowhunters
Relationship: Alec Lightwood/Magnus Bane
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance, Post-Break Up/Getting Back Together
Warnings: None
Word Count: 8509
Author Notes: Written for Big Moxie 2022 – Quarter 1: Canon Divergence; Inspired by a prompt from the Malec Discord server.
Link to AO3: Read the story on Archive of Our Own here or on Story Posts.
Summary: Magnus and Alec broke up after the lie about the Soul Sword was revealed, but they didn’t get back together. Harsh words and a missed opportunity have kept them apart for two years. Magnus learns something that he wasn’t expecting when he returns to New York. Not only has Alexander been alone for the last two years, it’s generally acknowledged that he’ll be alone indefinitely. Apparently, when they say “Nephilim only love once,” they mean it.

Story Posts

Alec sighed and looked up at the building he was about to enter. He knew he needed to ask Magnus for help sealing the rift to stop the demons from swarming into New York, but he didn’t want to just then. His emotional state was complete chaos. He felt devastated over the breakup and guilty about not confiding in Magnus about the Soul Sword, but he was also furious about the wards that the warlocks had put up around the city. Wards that would vaporize any Shadowhunter attempting to cross.

Magnus hadn’t informed Alec about the wards, but as High Warlock, it would have been his call to raise them in the first place. Instead, Alec had heard about the deadly wards from a werewolf. The only reason they hadn’t lost any Nephilim to the wards that had been raised was because Luke had taken the time to call and let him know.

It was a close call all the same. A team had been dispatched to a location outside the wards to deal with a demon not associated with the rift. If Luke hadn’t called when he did, that team would have died. It had taken everything he had to compartmentalize the anger he felt over that slight.

And now, here he was, about to knock on Magnus’ door for help with the rift bringing all the demons from Edom.

With one last glance around, Alec stepped into the building and quickly jogged up the stairs to Magnus’ apartment door. He knocked and waited as patiently as he could for Magnus to answer the door. When it finally did, Alec felt his heart lurch at the sight of Magnus’ beloved form.  How had they gotten into such a mess?

Instead of saying anything or even looking directly at Alec, Magnus looked around the vestibule before he started closing the door again.

Alec was taken aback by Magnus’ actions. He was acting like Alec didn’t even exist. Pain shot through his heart at the pettiness of someone who had claimed to love him. He swallowed back the feelings and closed his eyes briefly.

“Magnus,” Alec said, dredging up all the remaining shreds of his composure to keep his voice even.

The door stopped briefly before swinging open again. Alec heard Magnus’ sigh as the door opened enough for them to speak.

“What do you want, Shadowhunter? Is it about the demons?” Magnus asked. His voice was cold and distant.

“There’s something you need to know about the Queen.”

“Well, if you’ve come to tell me that she made a deal with Valentine, I already know,” Magnus said, disdain lacing his words. He started to pull back and close the door again.

Alec reached out to stop it from closing just yet. “Wait.”

The door opened again. Alec thought he saw Magnus roll his eyes.

He shook his head and continued, anyway. “Izzy has located the rift the demons are coming from.

For a moment, Magnus looked incredulous, but the expression quickly morphed into resignation. “Oh, and you want me to seal it. What a surprise!”

“We need a warlock to seal one this severe.”

This time, Magnus really did roll his eyes, and he didn’t hide it. “Duh.”

“Demons don’t discriminate between Downworlder, Shadowhunter, mundane. They kill them all.”

Magnus looked away for a moment. “I’ll seal the rift,” he said, “but not because of you or the Shadowhunters. Because it’ll save lives.”

Alec started to open his mouth to thank Magnus, but Magnus’ next words stole his breath.

“After this, I don’t want you to talk to me again. Send a lackey next time the Institute needs a warlock’s services and stay away from me,” he said, still, in that same distant, cold voice he’d been using since Alec arrived.

As Alec stared, trying to catch his breath from the death knell he could feel coming from his broken heart, the door swung closed with a definitive snap. He’d been holding onto the hope that, once the situation with Valentine was resolved, he and Magnus would be able to take some time to talk about what had happened. If he was fortunate – and Alec’s thoughts on that subject were best left undisturbed – Magnus would be open to reconciling and getting back together.

Now, though, Alec felt that hope crumble into dust. Magnus had just made himself very clear.


Alec had always known he wouldn’t get what he wanted from life, so it made sense that keeping Magnus was, in the end, just a fantasy. There was something especially devastating about finding the person you knew was the love of your life and losing them all within the space of a few months.

Nephilim physiology was a bitch.

* * *

Two Years Later

The first thing Magnus noticed when he stepped through the portal into his loft was the stillness of the air. He glanced around for a moment, checking the wards and spells he’d set when he’d left nearly two years previously. There hadn’t been another living being in his space in all that time. His stasis spell had worked perfectly, of course. Satisfied, Magnus began to work the magic that would remove the stasis and refresh the air, linens, and surfaces in the loft.

If he had to be in New York, at least he was home. Maybe he’d have more success at banishing the memories that lurked here this time around.

Magnus sometimes wondered if he’d made a mistake, leaving as he did so shortly after they’d managed to stop Lilith in her tracks – before she’d been able to carry out her plan to resurrect Jonathan Morgenstern.

There had been a celebration after Valentine had been defeated and a brief moment when he had thought Alec would walk over to talk to him. Magnus had been more than open to seeing if they could work things out, even though nothing had been really resolved. Alec had looked at him like he wanted the same, but there was something dark in his eyes that Magnus couldn’t recall seeing previously. Whatever it had been, Magnus hadn’t discovered. After meeting Magnus’ eyes for a long moment where the sounds of the rest of the bar had faded away, Alec had set his still full drink down and left the bar.

It had honestly surprised Magnus at the time. Alec had been so insistent that they always found their way back to each other. This time was apparently an exception.

Magnus sighed and finished refreshing the loft before heading into his office to send out the notice that he was again in residence. While he hadn’t been available to the same extent he had been previously, Magnus had made several house calls to New York during his absence. As High Warlock, he had duties and responsibilities. Luckily, the Warlock community was accustomed to fire messages, portals, and sabbaticals abroad as part of their lengthy lifetimes. After everything that had happened, he’d badly needed to get away for a time.

Now, he was back in Brooklyn, and he planned to spend the rest of the day catching up with Raphael and visiting his club to see what the Downworld of New York had been up to during his absence.

No more thoughts of Alec Lightwood.

* * *

Magnus sulked slightly as he settled into his seat at the club. Raphael had been unusually taciturn when Magnus had visited. It wasn’t like they hadn’t gone years between seeing each other in the past, so Magnus was honestly puzzled as to what could have gotten to the Vampire during his brief absence.

The updates on Raphael’s personal life had been sparse, but that wasn’t entirely surprising. What had been more surprising was the abruptness with which Raphael talked about the Downworld Cabinet and how much things had improved in the city between the Downworlders and the New York Institute Shadowhunters. It had gotten to the point that even the Clave couldn’t deny how much things had improved for the Shadowhunters of New York.

The pride he felt in Alec’s success was bittersweet. He’d made such an impact since being named Head of the Institute and Magnus hadn’t been around to see it happen. Of course, he forced himself to remember that it was his decision to do so, but he still wondered what would have happened if Alec had come to him just one more time. Once Magnus’ anger had faded, the hurt could have been healed, but Magnus, either through pride or fear, had not been able to take the step that would open him to being hurt again so soon, especially when he wasn’t the party at fault.

Now, though, he stared blankly out over the sea of writhing bodies enjoying the pounding music and pulsing lights that Pandemonium offered. There was something about the whole visit with Raphael that had left Magnus off-balance and unsure. He was not amused.

A black rune on pale skin caught his attention, finally, and Magnus actually looked at the dancing crowd. He sat up abruptly, startled to see such a heavy contingent of Shadowhunters dancing with Downworlders in his club. When had this happened? And why were there so many? In the past, there had been maybe one or two Nephilim in his club on occasion, but nothing like the twelve that he counted now.

He looked over at the bouncer standing near the entrance to the VIP section and beckoned him over. “Why are there so many Shadowhunters here this evening?” he asked when the man finally reached him.

The bouncer frowned slightly, glancing back at the crowds. “Apologies, Mr. Bane, but I’ve only seen a dozen or so Shadowhunters here tonight. Nothing unusual in that, sir.”

Magnus raised an eyebrow. “I see. Thank you,” he said and nodded a dismissal at the bouncer.

Things had obviously changed far more than he realized in New York while he’d been away. His thoughts drifted, as they often did, back to the presumed source of the change. Alexander. He had known that the relations between New Yorker Downworlders and Shadowhunters had improved over the last two years, but to see such profound proof of it in his very own club would likely take some adjustment.

Magnus was interrupted from his thoughts by the approach of a Warlock he was all too familiar with, Lorenzo Rey. While he hadn’t yet taken the time to meet with Lorenzo, he knew he would have to do so soon if only to find out what had been happening with the Warlock community. Raphael had told him that Lorenzo had comported himself well as the Warlock representative to the Downworld Cabinet that Alec had established while Magnus had been away.

Lorenzo walked up the steps and sat when Magnus waved at the couch next to him. “Magnus. Welcome back. I was surprised to hear that you’d taken up residence in the city, again,” Lorenzo said.

There was always something a bit smarmy about the man, but Magnus had to admit that he was biased by the length of their history together.

“Yes, just today. I’ve been away long enough, and I missed this city,” Magnus said, glancing back out over the crowd before returning his attention to the other Warlock. “I hear good things about your presence on the Downworld Cabinet. Thank you again for taking on that role in my absence.”

Lorenzo smiled smugly and nodded in acknowledgment. “Of course. I’ll be happy to continue serving on the Cabinet as long as needed.” He leaned back against the cushion and extended his arms across the back, appearing perfectly at ease. “Have you received an assignment to the Accords delegation?” Lorenzo asked, an eyebrow raised in inquiry.

Magnus inclined his head slightly. “Indeed. That is what prompted my return to New York,” he added, watching Lorenzo as he leaned back in his seat. The beat of the music was dampened by the wards he had set around his VIP section, so there was no need for either of them to shout to be heard. “The Council has asked me to serve as lead for the delegation.”

His face twitching into a grimace for the barest moment, Lorenzo nodded. “Of course they did,” he muttered. “I…look forward to seeing you work,” Lorenzo said. The slight hesitation in his words gave away his feelings, however.

Magnus smiled, part of him still delighted to be able to needle his long-standing friend. At one time, they’d moved in the same circles, but a falling out over a Rembrandt painting, of all things, in the late 18th century had soured their relationship, and they’d been cordially antagonistic towards each other ever since. It was something Magnus had discovered he enjoyed immensely.

“Oh, I am very much looking forward to leading this delegation. It’s so wonderful to hear that you’ll be a part of it,” Magnus said, still genuinely smiling, though it held the edge of a smirk at the situation.


Lorenzo lapsed into silence for a moment, his gaze searching the crowd beyond Magnus. In an instant, his expression changed from neutral to besotted fondness. Magnus raised an eyebrow, intrigued, watching as Lorenzo’s face broke into a true smile at someone approaching. Magnus glanced over his shoulder as Lorenzo stood and saw a Nephilim Shadowhunter approaching, carefully carrying two drinks.

“Thank you, dearest,” Lorenzo murmured as he accepted one of the glasses. He turned back to Magnus, one arm resting on the Shadowhunter’s back. “Andrew, I’m sure you’re aware, but this is Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Magnus, this is my Andrew Underhill. He’s assigned to the New York Institute currently.”

A throb of old pain flared briefly, but Magnus kept the politely interested expression steady on his face as he greeted the Shadowhunter.  “Yes, I believe we’ve met in passing,” Magnus managed. “It’s lovely to meet you.”

Andrew nodded, his own face neutral as he acknowledged Magnus’ words. “I recall. It’s nice to meet you outside of work,” he said. His gaze shifted to Lorenzo, and he smiled softly as he was guided to a seat on the couch next to the other Warlock.

“How long have you been together?” Magnus asked, forcing himself to make small talk.

Lorenzo glanced again at Andrew before tilting his head slightly. “Oh, it’s been nearly two years now,” he said.

Magnus felt the jealously burn brighter in his gut, pulsing in counterpoint to the pain that he hadn’t managed to fully rid himself of. Sometimes, he sincerely doubted he ever would, which perplexed him given the short-lived relationship he’d had with Alec.

“I see! That’s impressive,” Magnus said, the last part quiet, as he reached out for the glass that had appeared on his side table and took a long pull of the amber liquid.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” Andrew offered. “In fact, we’ve had some fairly intense arguments on occasion.” He smiled over at Lorenzo, reaching out to take the Warlock’s hand. “But it’s definitely been worth it to keep working at it.”

Andrew paused a moment and took a sip of his drink before looking back to Magnus. His expression was intense. “And Nephilim tend to only love once. Lorenzo is it for me, now.”

Magnus blinked at that. His heart sank at the implications if it were true. Magnus stood abruptly, barely remembering to put the glass in his hand down. He felt an urgent need to be anywhere other than here just now, despite how rattled it made him look. “Excuse me,” he said, then turned and strode away.

“Magnus?” Lorenzo called after him, but Magnus ignored it and found a tucked-away corner to open a portal.

* * *

Lorenzo stared after Magnus’ retreating form, mildly concerned. He knew the other Warlock tended towards the dramatic, but it was concerning how much he’d let his mask slip in a public setting from just a handful of words. Of course, Lorenzo understood the implications of those words.

He turned to his companion and quirked an eyebrow. “Was that really necessary?” he asked, no judgment in his tone.

Andrew glanced in the direction Magnus had disappeared, then looked back at Lorenzo with a soft smile and love in his eyes. Lorenzo’s heart fluttered slightly at the sight. “Very,” Andrew replied, leaning forward to drop a kiss on the corner of Lorenzo’s mouth. “It was very necessary.”

* * *

In the days that had passed since Lorenzo’s Nephilim had dropped that hammer on him at Pandemonium, Magnus had spent most of his free time in his library, looking through every resource he could find on the Angel-blooded beings. In between all the archaic language, he kept finding threads that supported what Underhill had said, though not nearly so clear. Andrew had been rather abrupt in the way he said it, which left Magnus wondering if there was a deeper message he was trying to convey.

Everything that Magnus could find mentioned a Nephilim pair or it went on to mention who the noteworthy Nephilim in question had later partnered with – but there was always a partner, right back to Jonathan Shadowhunter.  What he couldn’t find reference to were multiple partners for Nephilim or the precise length of time required for a Nephilim to settle on who their solitary love would be. It left Magnus more unsettled than he had been before beginning his research binge.

Had he left Alec pining in solitude after him? Essentially mourning his lost love?

When this thought had crossed his mind, several light bulbs throughout the loft had shattered.

“Of course not. We were only together such a short time,” Magnus muttered to himself, pacing back and forth in his living room. “Surely, he would have said something…”

The sound of a portal opening had Magnus stopping in his tracks and turning around. There were only a few people who could portal directly into the loft, and one of them was his best friend, Catarina Loss. She was based in New York for the time being and had kept a quiet eye on Lorenzo and the Shadow World for Magnus while he’d been away, nursing his own broken heart.

The portal solidified, and Catarina stepped out.

“My darling Catarina! Can I fix you a drink?” Magnus said, whirling around to head back to his drinks cart. He really wasn’t looking forward to starting the conversation he’d asked Cat over for.

“Thank you, Magnus, that would be lovely,” Cat said as she moved towards one of the couches and sat heavily.

She was still in her scrubs from her shift working as a nurse at one of the area hospitals, telling Magnus she’d come here straight away. His hands shook slightly at the implication that this conversation required some degree of urgency, what with the Accords meetings starting the following morning.

“You took your time telling me about this,” Cat said as Magnus handed over her preferred cocktail.

Magnus shrugged and gracefully draped himself across the chair next to her. “I had some research to do,” he said.

Catarina took a deep sip of the drink in her hand. “And did you find what you’d hoped to find?” she asked.

“Not even remotely,” Magnus admitted, letting his head drop back against the chair. “I’m not sure if I’m hoping you had the same level of success or not.”

Raising a brow slightly, Catarina shifted to kick off her shoes and curl her legs underneath her on the couch. She was settling in, meaning this conversation was going to take a while.

Magnus swallowed and took a sip of his drink to cover his discomfort.

“Well, I am not sure if I had more luck or not,” she said, sighing slightly. “From what I gathered, there have been several Downworlders, both male and female, who have offered companionship to Mr. Lightwood.” She paused a moment and eyed Magnus carefully. “He’s turned them all down,” she said.  “Without exception or showing any level of even being tempted by the offer. All of my sources said he was very polite about his dismissal but essentially said he isn’t looking for a relationship just now.”

The silence stretched as Magnus pondered what she’d discovered. It could honestly mean any number of things. Either Alec really was pining after his one life love, or he legitimately was not looking for a relationship at the present time.

“But it’s been over two years!” he exclaimed. “Surely, he’s gotten over our relationship by now. It only lasted a few months! It’s not like he has eternity to get over it, either,” Magnus said. He could tell the expression on his face was distressed if the concern on Catarina’s was anything to go by.

“I don’t think it works like that, Magnus. Your reaction in itself is showing the truth of that. If it was only a few months, and it’s been two years, why aren’t you over the Shadowhunter yet?” Catarina asked, her bluntness, as always, putting things into perspective for Magnus.

“Because I love him,” Magnus said, his voice quiet as he put into words the feelings he hadn’t been able to deny.

“No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t seem to get past the few months we spent together.” He shook his head and looked at his friend sadly. “I’ve never been that happy or felt that kind of connection with someone before. I’ve never been so devastated after a breakup, either,” he added.

Catarina let the silence linger for a moment and Magnus got lost in his thoughts. Her voice startled him when she asked, “Have you considered the possibility that he’s your One?”

Magnus scoffed. “That’s a myth.”

“Is it?” she asked, eyebrow raised. “Or have we just become such a cynical lot that we’ve given up on the small chance that we’ll one day find the other half of our soul in our very long existence?”

The thought had Magnus pausing before he responded. His romantic heart fluttered at the idea that he’d possibly found the other half of himself in Alexander Lightwood. It would make so much sense, actually, particularly with how he hadn’t been able to get over the other man in the two years that had passed.

Magnus stared at Catarina, hope and sorrow sharing space in his gaze. “He’s mortal. And I’ve wasted two years.”

She raised that eyebrow at him again. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

“But, what if he doesn’t want anything to do with me?” Magnus asked, hearing the whine in his voice and cringing at himself. He knew it was based on a real fear, but he was acting like a child.

Catarina rolled her eyes at him. “Then, you’ll grow up and deal with it, Magnus. But, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that, not if you’re truly his one love. I can’t imagine anyone would choose to spend their lives mourning lost love when it’s there in front of them, ready for the taking.”

Magnus nodded slowly. “Of course, you’re right, as always.” He swallowed then straightened in his chair. “I’ll see if he’ll speak with me at the negotiations,” he decided. “Maybe he’ll be open to getting coffee.”

Raising her glass to him in a sardonic toast, Catarina smirked. “That sounds like a plan, Magnus. I’m  proud of you.”

* * *

Alec sighed imperceptibly as his sister, Isabelle, sidled up next to him at the station he was working at in the Operations center. The way she approached told him she had something to say that he probably wasn’t going to like.

“Izzy,” he said in neutral greeting.

“Alec,” she replied in the same tone.

He quirked an eyebrow and changed the screen he was working on. “What are you up to?”

“Me? I’m not up to anything,” she said, her voice laced with innocence.


There was movement on his other side, and suddenly he was bracketed by two of his siblings. He glanced at Jace and then at Izzy before refocusing on the preparations he was making for the beginnings of the Accords Negotiations.



Alec continued to work in silence, trying to get a feel for what might be going on via the parabatai bond he shared with Jace. Whatever it was, Jace was feeling a bit unsettled. Perhaps trepidation, even. He continued to let them stew in silence. Whatever it was, they would tell him eventually, especially if he just waited them out. Alec had always been the most patient of the three, so he knew, and he knew they knew, that he could out-wait them without any particular hardship.

Finally, Izzy cracked. “Magnus is back in town,” she said in a quiet rush.

Alec’s typing paused momentarily as the shock of hearing that name rushed through him, unlocking feelings he’d tried to closet away for the last two years. A stab of grief hit him before he did his best to shove it back. Alec knew he’d pay for this later when he was on his own again, but he was used to that.

He cleared his throat, the only other outward expression of his discomfort. “Oh?” he asked quietly.

“For the Negotiations,” Jace added, leaning his shoulder against Alec’s briefly. He’d undoubtedly felt the painful jolt through their shared bond at the mention of Magnus.

“Of course. That makes sense,” Alec replied and carried on with his work. Surely, this wasn’t all they’d come to tell him.

“Alec…” Izzy started.

Jace jumped in. “You should talk to him,” he said.

For a long moment, Alec said nothing in response, just continued working. Maybe if he ignored them, they’d get the idea and drift away. When they didn’t, he sighed and stopped typing. “We’ve had this conversation before,” he said.

“I know, but…” Izzy trailed off.

“He made himself perfectly clear when we broke up that he doesn’t want me to speak to him again,” Alec said, feeling the far too familiar ache at the situation he’d found himself in with the love of his life.

“This isn’t going away, Alec,” Jace said. “You need to make sure he at least knows.” He paused, and Alec glanced his way, feeling the mix of frustration and sorrow coming through the bond.

“I don’t want him to be with me out of some sense of obligation, Jace. I’d rather he never found out if it’s all the same to you.”

“But what if it isn’t, Alec?” Izzy asked, reaching out to grip his arm.

Alec pressed his lips together, wishing they would let this conversation go. It was digging the knife in with a little twist with every moment. “It doesn’t work like that, Izzy. He’s immortal. We were together for a few months. That’s a drop in the bucket in the course of his life.”

He sighed and decided he’d had enough. If they wouldn’t stop, he’d remove himself from the conversation, but he needed to make it clear that they shouldn’t bring this up again. “I highly doubt he’s even thought about me since we broke up. It’s better this way, anyway. I won’t be able to stay with him, not that he’d necessarily want that anyway, but at least…” Alec trailed off and shook his head, unable to put into words everything he was feeling.

“Please don’t bring this up again,” he asked and pushed away from the desk.

“Alec,” Jace said, reaching out to stop him with a hand on his shoulder. “Just promise us that if he talks to you first, you won’t do something stupid out of whatever self-sacrificing urge you have. You don’t know how he feels. If he talks to you, give him a chance?” Jace asked.

Alec sighed and nodded, desperate for a retreat to his office where he could try to bundle these emotions back into their box. “Yes, all right? If Magnus talks to me, I’ll talk to him. Happy?” he asked, glancing between the pair of his siblings.

They nodded.

“Good. I’ll be in my office,” he said and, without another word, turned on his heel and walked away, deliberately avoiding anyone else’s gaze so he wouldn’t be stopped. He really needed some time to himself, and his office was his only sanctuary at the moment.

He stepped inside and closed the door behind him, grabbing his stele and locking it with a quick rune that would hopefully ward off any visitors, at least for the moment.

Alec pressed his back to the door, and his head dropped back with a light thud. Rationally, he’d known that Magnus was going to be at the Negotiations. Of course, he would – he was still one of the most powerful warlocks that they were aware of and he was the High Warlock of Brooklyn. The Negotiations were happening on his doorstep. Of course, he’d be at the Negotiations.

But Alec hadn’t really thought through the full implications of that. He’d tried to avoid thinking about Magnus as much as possible in the last two years, only letting himself dwell on the memories of their too-brief time together when he had time to wallow.

His heart had found its match and he’d fully gone along with it, not thinking that it would be over in such a short time, leaving him with nothing but the grief of a broken heart and guilt over his part in their breakup.

When he’d first realized that he’d fallen in love, Alec had been elated. And then he’d felt guilty for letting his heart latch on to someone with such a vastly different lifespan. If he was lucky, he’d have had Magnus for the rest of his life, but he was going to be yet another person to leave Magnus. That guilt had threaded its way through most of his thoughts when they’d still been together. He’d wondered how to tell Magnus everything.

It had ended up a moot point, anyway. Their relationship had dissolved spectacularly after the Soul Sword lie. The only silver lining Alec could find in the whole situation was that he’d spared Magnus being the one who was left yet again.

Alec sighed and pushed off the door. At least he could drown himself in the never-ending paperwork that seemed to accompany being the Head of an Institute.

* * *

The first day of the Accords Negotiations dawns bright and beautiful. Alec hoped it was a sign of good things to come, at least for the Negotiations. He wasn’t holding onto a lot of hope for his own situation, despite his sibling’s urgings. Magnus would either speak to him or avoid him outright. Either way, Alec would deal with it, just as he’d been dealing with Magnus’ absence in his life for the last two years. Today was no different.

The lies he told himself were weak.

Everything about today was different. It was the first time he’d see the love of his life in person in two years. Of course, it was different.

Sighing, Alec pushed himself out of bed and started getting ready. There was more at stake here than just his relationship with Magnus. In the grand scheme of things, that wasn’t even really an issue he should be worrying about. This was the first time in a very long time that the chance to make real change in the Shadow World was possible. If things went well, they were on the verge of a new era of peace and cooperation between the Downworld and the Nephilim. So much could happen, and Alec knew he needed to focus on the job at hand and worry about Magnus another time.

The Institute had been transformed from the normal, every-day setup that it usually had to one where the training rooms had been converted to meeting rooms and the largest room they had available, one they only rarely used for formal occasions, had been opened up and set up for the full group and observers.

Alec watched as Nephilim quickly made last-minute adjustments to the setup while the delegations were starting to arrive. Everything was ready; now, it was up to the delegates to actually negotiate – hopefully in good faith – a plan that would bring them all together against the forces that posed a threat to them all.

Glancing at the time, Alec saw that they still had nearly an hour before everyone was expected to be seated and ready to start. He nodded to himself, looking around one last time to make sure there was nothing he needed to do, before he started to turn back to his office.

“Alexander,” a quiet voice, one that had once been so familiar and was still so loved, called to him, stopping him mid-turn.

Swallowing and trying desperately to bundle away his emotions, Alec slowly turned back the other way. Standing there was the one person he’d both dreaded and anticipated seeing today and the grief of his loss hit him all over again. Alec clenched his jaw for a moment, tamping down everything that wanted to claw its way out of him. This was not the time or place to fall to his knees, begging for forgiveness and another chance.

He cleared his throat before he spoke, trying to dislodge the lump that seemed to have settled there. It didn’t help much. “Magnus,” Alec said in greeting, but it came out as a strangled rasp.

Magnus was smiling at him.

That was a bit of a shock, considering the last time they’d spoken to each other. Alec cleared his throat again. “How have you been?” he asked, managing to make awkward small talk with his ex without sounding like his vocal cords were being grated.

Magnus tilted his head, the red highlights in his hair shining in the light from the high windows of the room they were in. He looked magnificent…and like no time at all had passed. Alec was only two years older, and he saw the signs of age on his face every day. One day, Magnus would look exactly as he did now, but Alec would be old and on his death bed.

“I’ve been well,” Magnus said, pulling Alec out of that morbid train of thought. “And you’ve done very well, haven’t you, Alexander?” he continued, gesturing around at the delegations and observers who were arriving for the Accords Negotiations. “I’m impressed.”

Alec shook his head. “Thank you, but I’m just doing what needs to be done,” he said. “A better relationship between the Downworld and the Nephilim, one where we’re striving for equality, will help us prevent another Morgenstern from happening.” He shook his head, thinking again of all the Downworlders that had been killed as a result of Valentine’s prejudice and bigotry. “It’s the least I can do after everything that happened.”

Magnus nodded, looking at Alec with an inscrutable expression. “Would you have coffee with me later?” he asked.

“Um,” Alec started, completely taken aback by the abrupt shift in the conversation. “Um, yeah, sure. That would be nice,” he said, wondering what was happening. First, Magnus spoke to him after two years of silence and now, he was asking him out for coffee? Alec was discombobulated by the events of the day and it had barely even started.

Smiling brightly, Magnus said, “Excellent. After today’s session is over?” he asked.

Alec nodded. “Yes.”

“All right, then. I’ll come find you.” He looked around for a moment before apparently spotting his delegation. “They’re urgently trying to get my attention, so I’d better head over,” he said and began moving away. Before he took more than a couple of steps, Magnus stopped and looked back over his shoulder, black-lined eyes looking at him earnestly. “It was very nice to see you, Alexander.”

All Alec could do was nod in response, the lump having resumed residence in his throat. He smiled wanly at Magnus one last time as the Warlock left to join his delegation. Alec stared after him, still having trouble believing he was in the same room again after so long.

Jace popped up at his side, wrapping a hand around his elbow and gently steering him in the other direction. Concern was written on his face as he glanced at Alec. “You okay, there, bro? I’m getting a lot of…something…from you right now.”

Alec nodded tightly, but said nothing. What could he say?

“Did he say something to you?” Jace asked, more than a hint of protectiveness in his words.

Alec swallowed and cleared his throat a couple of times before he managed to speak. “Yeah. Yeah, he asked me to get coffee.”

Izzy had appeared in front of them by this point as they reached the alcove leading towards the Operations Center. “What happened?” she asked, looking concerned, as well.

Alec wondered what his expression looked like.

“Magnus asked Alec to get coffee with him.”

Izzy squealed. There was no other word to describe the sound that came out of his sister. “Yay! I’m so happy for you, Alec!”

He shook his head vigorously. “Nothing has changed!”

Jace bumped him with his shoulder. “It’s a start. Take it for what it is, Alec. This is good.” He smiled softly.

“We don’t have time for this right now. The Negotiations are starting,” Alec said. He cleared his throat yet again and looked at Izzy. “Is everything ready?”

Seeing his seriousness, Isabelle at least managed to contain her giddiness for the moment. “Yes, everything’s in place. Andrew has security stationed everywhere, and there are patrols going continuously. We’ve got everything as ready as we can make it.”

Taking a deep breath, Alec closed his eyes for a moment, trying to center himself. “By the Angel, please let everything go all right,” he murmured under his breath, then turned and headed for the Clave’s delegation table.

* * *

The day of negotiations went generally well, for the most part. Everything was fine until they got to the part where the Downworlder delegations, en masse, decided that they wanted equal representation within the Clave on the council. That was, honestly, the part that Alec had feared would cause the most issues. He was also confident that an agreement would be reached as the general consensus among most Nephilim these days was that there should be greater equality with the Downworlders.

What fairness could there be when the laws are made by one of the five species that made up the Shadow World, especially when that same species served as judge, jury, and executioner? It was an unfair system, and Alec had been hell-bent on making sure that as many Nephilim as possible at least acknowledged that it was unfair.

Change was going to happen. It was just a matter of time and willingness to bend.

The day finally drew to a close, with discussions tabled to resume the following morning. Alec stood from his seat, gathered his notes, and pushed in the chair. He backed away, exchanging small talk with other Nephilim delegates as he went, wondering if he should head back to the Operations Center to check on things or go straight to his office. It was going to be a long night, regardless, between reports to review and plans to make for the following day.

It had been incredibly difficult to concentrate all day. Alec’s seat had, thankfully, not been directly across from the Warlock delegation, at least, but he’d been able to see Magnus down the line of tables, sunlight slowly moving over him as the angle changed with the passing hours. Alec had spent most of the morning dwelling on the all too brief exchange of words he’d shared with Magnus. It had taken the first hints of anger from the Downworlder delegation for him to get his head off his personal life and back in the game.

“Have a good evening,” he said, finally breaking free of the last of the Nephilim that were trying to talk to him. He spun on his heel and promptly walked into someone.

Someone that happened to be Magnus.

“Oh! Sorry about that,” Alec said, scrambling to keep the loose papers in his hands from flying away.

Magnus reached out to help, and Alec’s heart stopped for a timeless moment as their hands brushed. He sucked in a breath, and Magnus quickly pulled back, looking uncharacteristically unsure of himself.

“Nothing to worry about,” Magnus said. He cleared his throat and pasted on a smile. “So, are you free for that coffee?” he asked.

There was a very brief moment where Alec almost cowardly ran away to do paperwork instead of going to talk with Magnus. He didn’t know why he was so afraid of the potential conversation, but the last two years without had been…endless and full of the numbness of grief. He had finally gotten to at least a stable place where he was able to not dwell on his grief, and, now, he risked ripping the would freshly open again.

“Um. Yeah. Yeah, coffee would be great,” Alec said, looking down at the stack of papers in his hands. “Let me just drop this in my office.” He glanced around, avoiding looking directly at Magnus for fear that he wouldn’t actually be able to leave. “I’ll meet you at the entrance?” he said with a quick glance before he started edging away.

Magnus nodded, looking at him with a blend of concern and sadness. “Yes, Alexander. I’ll meet you at the entrance.”

Once upon a time, Alec knew Magnus would have just accompanied him back to his office. But that was before. He smiled tightly at the Warlock and hurried away to drop off his things, grateful for the moment to gather himself.

* * *

Magnus frowned as he stood in the setting sun of the vestibule. Watching Alexander practically run away from him had driven home just how far apart they were. As if he needed the reminder, though. Over the last two years, Alexander had never been far from his mind. Magnus had managed to avoid thinking about him incessantly, but he was still there, lurking below the surface. That was part of the reason Magnus had needed to leave New York; every time he turned around, another reminder of his lost love slapped him in the face.

Waiting here for Alexander was almost surreal. Alexander’s abrupt and awkward departure had left Magnus wondering if there was any chance for the two of them to get back to where they had been. Would Alec even be interested in trying to rekindle their relationship or was it something lost to both of them forever?

Footsteps approaching from behind him had Magnus spinning around. He spotted Alexander and smiled at him, hoping to put him at something approaching ease and, ideally, breaking some of the awkwardness that lingered between them.

“Sorry that took so long,” Alexander said, running a hand through his hair. It was reassuring that he hadn’t lost all of his nervous tics.  “I got waylaid about an incident earlier.”

“Not at all!” Magnus said, shaking his head. “It’s all part of being Head of the Institute.”

Alec nodded and linked his hands behind his back, moving to stand at parade rest like he usually did in uncomfortable situations.

Magnus felt a pang that he had let their relationship go and was not an “uncomfortable situation” for someone that he loved. Pushing the discomfort aside, he smiled brightly at Alexander. “Shall we go?” he asked, gesturing towards the door when there was no further response from the other man.

With another nod, Alec moved to pull the door open, stepping back for Magnus to pass through first. “Where would you like to go?” Alexander asked quietly.

Magnus scrambled for a moment, thinking about what was nearby but not too nearby. He wanted a chance to walk with Alexander. “The cafe around the corner?” he suggested.

Alec shook his head in the negative. “That one closed about a year ago. There’s a new place that opened a block past that, though,” he offered.

“Well, that’s a shame. I always enjoyed their chocolate croissants. Let’s go to the new place, then,” Magnus said and followed as Alexander nodded and began heading towards the street and sidewalk.

The silence stretched between them, and Magnus wondered for a moment if this was a fool’s errand. “How have you been?” Magnus asked to break the silence and winced at the banality of the question.

Alexander huffed a sound that was somewhere between amused and frustrated. “More small talk?” he asked, voice quiet.

“It’s been a while since we last talked,” Magnus pointed out.

Again, Alexander made that huffing noise, only this time there was a different edge to the sound, one that Magnus wasn’t sure how to classify. “That was your decision,” he murmured, looking straight ahead, hands clasped behind his back as if to avoid accidentally touching Magnus.

Magnus frowned. “You had a part in it, as well, Alexander. I had hoped you’d come to speak with me after everything finished, but you left instead. And that was that.”

The silence stretched again, and Magnus finally glanced over to see what expression was on Alexander’s face. What he found was empty air. He spun back, and Alexander was standing on the pathway, staring at him with incredulity and possibly anger on his face.

“Alexander?” Magnus said, taking a careful step back towards him.

The silence lingered for another moment before Alexander’s emotions burst forth. “You told me to stay away from you!” he ground out.

Magnus frowned. “Excuse me? I most certainly did not.”

Alexander shook his head fiercely. “‘After this, I don’t want you to talk to me again. Send a lackey next time the Institute needs a warlock’s services and stay away from me’,” he said, voice strained. “That was the last thing you said to me before you slammed the door to the loft in my face when I came to you about the rift.

“No,” Magnus whispered, wracking his memory for the day Alexander was talking about. “I wouldn’t — ”

“You did,” Alexander insisted quietly. He looked away, staring into the distance. “I tried to respect that. I gave you your space for as long as I could. And then, when I finally broke down and went back to the loft to see you, you were gone.” He dropped his head, shaking it slightly. “I thought you’d be back. But every time I went back to the loft, the wards kept me out. Lorenzo finally told me you’d taken something of a sabbatical.”

Magnus was shocked. All this time he’d wasted. “My fault,” he whispered to himself, eyes wide. “I thought you’d given up on me. Decided I was too much.” He shook his head. “I forgot I said that to you. My head was a mess, which is no excuse.”

He paused then and swallowed past the lump that had formed in his throat. “I’m so sorry, Alexander.”

Alec shook his head and looked back out to the distance. “I don’t know what to say to that, Magnus. I’m sorry for my part in the mess with the Soul Sword. I was in a difficult spot with the Clave. They were on the verge of arresting me for treason. Dieudonne was looking for any excuse to try to get a Circle member installed as the leader of the New York Institute.

“If I’d told you and they found out, I would have either been deruned and exiled or executed. At the time, I honestly expected they would opt for the latter.”

Magnus swallowed, shaken at the idea. “Our communication skills were definitely lacking. Perhaps mine most of all,” he said, taking a step towards Alec. “But you also didn’t tell me about Nephilim love.”

Alec sighed and closed his eyes. “I didn’t want you to know about that,” he admitted.

“Why?” Magnus asked, frowning as he shook his head. “You don’t think it’s important that I know things like this?”

“Of course, it’s important,” Alec said. “I just…I didn’t want you to be in a relationship with me out of obligation.”

“Oh, Alexander,” Magnus said, taking another step forward. “You were never an obligation.” He reached out with a slow hand, holding it palm up in invitation. “Has it been too long, Alexander?”

The Shadowhunter drew in a deep breath before looking at Magnus, heart lodged in his mournful expression. “I don’t know, Magnus. I don’t want it to be too long, but I don’t think I could stand it if you were just doing this out of pity. I’d rather live the rest of my life alone than have you pretend.”

“We have so much work to do, don’t we?” Magnus asked, hand still outstretched. “I’ve missed you every day that we’ve been apart, Alexander.” He smiled slightly. “Catarina is convinced you’re my One.”

Alexander looked at him sharply, a frown on his face. “Your one?”

Magnus swallowed. “It’s very similar to what you’re experiencing, I think, but it’s practically a myth amongst Warlocks. That we might find that one person who so complements us at some point in the vastness of our lives? It’s only been documented to have happened a few times, but it opens some interesting doors,” Magnus said. His arm was starting to get weary, but he was going to wait until Alec made a decision, one way or the other.

“Please say we can try again,” Magnus urged. “Please, Alexander.” He knew he was practically begging, but he had no shame in this situation.

Alec looked at him for another long moment before he finally nodded and slowly stretched his hand out to take the one Magnus was still holding out to him.

“We can try again,” he said, and Magnus broke. He surged forward, pulling Alec into a hug that he’d needed for two years.

“I’m so sorry,” he repeatedly murmured into the cloth-covered shoulder beneath him. “I’m sorry.”

“Shh. I know,” Alexander soothed. “I’m sorry, too. We’ll talk. We have to if we’re going to do this.”

“So much talking! You will be sick of hearing my voice with how much we’ll talk,” Magnus promised.

Alexander finally gave a truly mirthful chuckle. “Not a chance. I’ll never be sick of you, Magnus.” He pulled back slightly, eyes searching Magnus’ before he slowly leaned in to press a kiss to Magnus’ lips.

Magnus returned the kiss with just as much feeling, grateful beyond measure to finally have this chance again. When they broke apart, he reached a hand up to touch Alec’s cheek and smiled softly at him. “We should take this slowly,” he suggested. “I don’t want to mess anything up with you.”

Alec nodded and pressed a kiss to Magnus’ temple. “That sounds good. We should do that.”

“Would you join me for our second first date?” Magnus asked, stepping back and holding a hand out to Alexander again.

This time, he took it without hesitation. “As long as it’s the first of many,” Alexander said, grinning at him.

* * *