In the end, it was Alec's injury that had allowed them to go home. The arm still caused Alec pain as it was riddled with portal shards. Extracting those from Alec had not been difficult for Magnus, and he'd been able to reconstruct a portal to their realm within a couple of hours, needing to borrow a little of Alec's strength to do so. Holding each other's hands and feeling their power course through one another had made them smile, a memory of very first time they'd ever touched.
Their return to the loft had been an emotional one. Magnus had picked up the photobooth pictures and tucked them back where they'd be visible, they'd taken a shower, intended to be quick but in the end lingering as they got lost in each other, then finally called everyone they needed to call about their return.
Alec learned Clary and Jace had returned with Sebastian, hopeful to break the connection that in turn had allowed Lilith control over Jace. Alec was not eager to talk to either of them when he learned how much they'd been keeping from him since the night Valentine had summoned Raziel.
Izzy had punched Alec hard before hugging him, holding on for a long time as she chided him for doing exactly what he promised not to do. Maryse held onto Alec, too, and told him he'd done well. That she was proud of him for going after the person he loved and for fighting for him. She welcomed Magnus back with open arms, the relief genuine in her face to see him in one piece.
The Clave was less than pleased with Alec's actions. Alec's case was to be reviewed, and until a verdict was reached, he was not to participate in any missions. Alec's patience for the Clave's nonsense had been running thin as it was, and to see Jace and Clary applauded while he went punished didn't help matters.
Plans were in motion to stop Lilith once and for all, Magnus' expertise and magic at the core of it all. Alec helped as much as he could from the sidelines, reluctant to do nothing in spite of his orders to do just that. The final battle against her took a lot from them.
The day she was gone, the demon came for Alec.
"You should never have signed anything," Magnus said as he rushed through his apothecary in a tizzy, fumbling through labelled bottles and containers, going from shelf to shelf with no rhyme or reason.
"I figured the demon would come later and that we'd have time," Alec said, watching Magnus and knowing he was barely holding himself together. Late afternoon sunlight poured in from the shutters at the windows, coloring everything with gold, flashing on the chains of Magnus' jacket.
Alec loved him with every fiber of his being, and so hated to see him like this. It gave Alec something to think about other than his own fear. He couldn't afford being afraid for himself when Magnus was afraid enough for both of them. Besides, he had an idea, from one of the many books he'd perused during his search for a way into Edom.
"Why did you expect anything but the most inconvenient?" Magnus knocked over a box of fangs, gathering them back up with an impatient wave of his hand.
"He didn't sound in a hurry when we made the deal."
"He also didn't make it sound like working for him would involve him taking possession of your body, did he?"
Alec pursed his lips. Magnus was upset. He was right to be. Alec had made a deal with a demon, which was one of the stupidest things a Shadowhunter could ever do. Further proven by his reason for doing it. Magnus could've come home on his own, safe and sound. Most likely would have.
He didn't regret it. He had done what felt right to him then. He had followed his heart. He'd found Magnus in Edom and they'd come home together. They'd gotten engaged. He would do it all over again.
"It'll be okay," Alec said, reaching for Magnus' arm as he brushed past him. He let his hand slide from his elbow to his hand. His thumb touched the ring he'd bought Magnus a week after they'd returned from Edom. It was much simpler than the type of rings Magnus usually wore, a thin but wide textured gold band. Yet it fit on his finger like it had always been there.
Alec held onto Magnus' hand, hoping to calm him, but he was still frazzled.
"You make it sound easy."
Alec shook his head. Not easy, no. Even the best things in life were hard. They didn't come all this way to let that stop them. It's by sticking together that they made it through.
"It won't be easy. But we've made it all this way, right?"
Magnus looked down, then closed his eyes. Alec was struck for the tenth time that day by how beautiful he was. That thought was followed by the reminder that Magnus was his fiancé, soon to be husband, and it doubled in intensity.
Maybe it was time to suggest it now.
"I love you, Magnus. I've been thinking about this a lot, and… hold on." He held up his hand, then headed to one of the bookshelves. It took him a minute to find the book again, but he did, tugging it out by the top of its spine with a finger. "Here. In here."
Magnus looked dubious, but came closer. Alec flipped through the book until he found the page. His heart began to race. He hadn't said anything about this to Magnus yet. He'd been waiting until things quieted down, which was ridiculous, in hindsight. Things had not been calm in either of their lives since they'd met. The moment of peace Alec was waiting for was likely never coming.
Still, he wished they could have spoken about it in different circumstances.
"Alec, did you read through this?" Magnus said when he finished the page, looking up at him with a guarded expression. Magnus took the book from Alec's hands as he nodded.
"I did." Alec put his hands behind his back, watching Magnus stare down at the page. He slammed the book shut and placed it on his work table, pushing aside a mortar and a vial of some sort to make room for it amidst the mess.
"No. You didn't."
"Magnus… I've been thinking about this since I first thought of marrying you," Alec said. "I want this. I can't imagine ever having enough of you."
Magnus looked at him sharply then with that expression he often got when Alec said something that took him completely by surprise. It had taken a while for Alec to grasp that it was because no one else had ever said anything like that to him before. Most of the time Alec found it confusing. It was so clear to him that Magnus was someone he was lucky to be with, lucky to love, lucky to know. And he would be all the more lucky if he got to spend an infinity of time with him.
Between dying and leaving Magnus alone and heartbroken and living forever, the answer was almost stupidly simple. Alec would do anything to make sure Magnus was okay, happy, and doing well.
Maybe Magnus was not ready for that. He could imagine it required some thinking to go from wanting to marry a man for his lifetime to wanting to marry a man forever.
Alec wasn't stupid. Becoming immortal for someone else was a bad idea. There had to be more, or at least some understanding that this person might not want the same forever, an acceptance that things might change, decades down the road. He had to want to be immortal for himself.
It had been a tough thing to think about. A part of Alec had been so tired and miserable for so long, he'd more than once felt so exhausted he'd wanted everything to end. Never to the point of thinking about doing something about it, but enough to take risks. Enough to put his life in danger with no regard for his own at any opportunity.
But since meeting Magnus, Alec had changed. And since meeting him, Alec wanted to be more than he'd ever allowed himself to be. He wanted to live, because he now got to have the life he thought he would never have. He wanted to change things, like with the cabinet meetings. He wanted to show other Shadowhunters what it was like, when they allied their strengths to the Downworlder's. It would take decades, centuries, to rid the Clave of it's outdated, warped thinking.
He wanted to be there for it.
"It's not just you, Magnus. I've thought about it a while, and I think… I want to change things. I want to teach new generations of Shadowhunters to think more than the Clave likes them to. I want to work however long it takes to help kids like Madzie, to make sure things like that don't have to happen again."
Magnus was frowning, his mouth in a line. Alec was worried, but he was also so sure of what he wanted, had thought about it so much. Doing it for Magnus was an immediate yes. Doing it for himself had required some thought, but he'd come to the same conclusion. Why wouldn't he want more time, more opportunities for change, more of everything? He could see all the parts of the world he'd yet to see. He could do things he couldn't do before, they could get married in a new country for every anniversary, celebrate each new breakthrough in the laws for it. They could make their family a bigger one, eventually.
Alec thought of this choice and saw a life fuller than he'd ever dared imagine for himself. He saw change, progress, hardship and strife at times, but love and happiness, a peace within himself, with Magnus at his side.
It was the most evident, obvious choice.
Magnus' hand came to Alec's chest, and he looked smaller than usual right now, the furrow in his brow deep, something furtive in his eyes. Alec had no idea what he was thinking. He wanted to smooth his forehead over, to kiss his face until all of Magnus' worries eased away.
"Alexander. What about your family?"
"My — " Alec blinked, confused, then cupped Magnus' face in both hands. He would grieve his parents, Izzy and Jace and Max. It would be hard. He spent so much of his life living for them, doing everything for them. Now he's a different person. Now he's living for himself, and that means making choices for himself. No matter what happened, they were Shadowhunters. Jace and Izzy could die on any mission, this was something they accepted at a young age. Even if the Parabatai bond was still in place, he would make this choice. Luke was fine, wasn't he? In fact, Luke was one of Alec's favorite people, now part of his family as well.
"Magnus. We're getting married. You're my family."
One second Magnus was looking at him in shock, then there were tears running down his cheeks. Alec was startled, taken aback by the display of emotion. All of this was so evident to him, he didn't expect it to be a shock that not only he would want this, but that he considered Magnus his family.
"Magnus — Hey," he put his arms around Magnus, pulled him into a tight embrace as a hand ran up and down his back. "Magnus. It's okay."
"I didn't think you could surpass proposing to me," Magnus mumbled against his shoulder. His voice was thick with tears, hoarse. "I should know by now not to underestimate you," he added with a sniff and a soft laugh. It made Alec's heart soar, that sound. He held onto Magnus more tightly, laughed against his ear as he pressed a kiss at Magnus' temple.
"I love you so much, Magnus." Alec felt it, a squeeze in his chest, like a hand around his heart. It came with no pain whatsoever, a heartache that he welcomed, a heartache that made him want to give Magnus everything in the world he might want, from the moon to the stars to the oceans to eternity.
Magnus nodded against Alec's shoulder.
"I know," he answered after another sniff. He eased back, enough to look into Alec's eyes. "I love you too, Alexander."
Then he smiled, beautiful and bright and bittersweet and Alec's heart just about burst from his chest.
"So… are we doing this?" Alec asked, his lips curling into his crooked smile. He asked the question as if he was asking Magnus whether they were really going to go skinny dipping in broad daylight. Magnus laughed again in an exhale, shaking his head.
"This isn't like choosing which outfit to wear!"
"Considering you've kept me on the phone for an hour while you tried to figure out what shirt to wear with which shoes, definitely not."
"I didn't say I didn't like it," he countered, locking his arms around Magnus so he wouldn't leave his grip. "I told you, I've thought this through."
Magnus' expression sobered. He nodded, lifting his hand to bring it to Alec's cheek.
"I know you have. You wouldn't have brought it up if you hadn't."
Alec nodded, then leaned into the touch.
"I want forever with you," he said in a sigh. It sounded like the most perfect way to spend forever. There was so much about Magnus he wanted to know and discover, and so much about the world he wanted to share with Magnus and Magnus alone.
Magnus' breath hitched audibly again, and Alec pressed a soft kiss to his lips.
It was okay if Magnus didn't have words. It was also okay if Magnus wanted time to think about it.
"Do you want to think about it?" Alec asked, and Magnus looked away, considering. When he looked back to Alec, he shook his head.
Alec grinned wide and swept Magnus up in his arms, lifting him with the enthusiasm of his hug. Magnus yelped out in half-protest, and Alec put him down, red faced and beaming.
"Sorry. I'm just -- I'm happy."
"Me too, Alexander. More than I ever thought possible," Magnus said, sounding breathless. All Alec could think was good, that's all I ever wanted, that's all I'll ever need. As long as Magnus was happy, Alec would be.
Alec tipped his head down to kiss Magnus, a soft press of his lips that quickly became another, and another.
Eventually they talked more. About this forever together, about what it meant to them individually and together. They kept coming back to it as they worked on the ritual of the book, the conversation flickering from planning to overcome the demon and their projected future in the outcome.
By sunrise, they were ready.
Alec was meeting the demon alone at dusk, and Magnus was to listen carefully and intervene at just the right time.
He had less than five seconds. Between the moment Alec was Alec and the moment the demon took over, and that was all. If Magnus missed the mark, it would be too late. If he did it too soon, it wouldn't work. They needed the demon to do half of the work.
He couldn't believe he'd agreed to this. It was insane. Risking Alec's life like that - it went against everything in his heart. Yet when it was that or his soon to be husband being possessed for an indeterminate amount of time, the choice was easy.
To some, the consequences may have been a curse. Magnus wonders if the Alec he'd first met would rather have died than live the way he would live now. A quasi-warlock, his life's energy intertwined forever with the demon who thought he was his captor. It would be the other way around, in the end. Alec would take the demon's immortality for himself and gain some of its strength.
If it worked. Which it had to.
Magnus heard the dull thump of a body falling and ignored his heart's cry that it was Alec. He knew this. It was part of the plan, part of everything. He ran into the clearing, startling the demon long enough that it stopped midway into Alec's mouth. Magnus' hands snapped up, creating a field around them, a cage from which the demon would not be able to escape.
He could feel Alec in that space, a living, thriving strength. He took comfort in it as mumbled the incantation, breaking down the demon piece by piece.
Magnus didn't dare blink. As he held the demon and Alec's life forces within his magic, as he felt Alec's soul respond to him like it knew him, as he felt it fight the demon's force to win over, he held his breath. He had to keep them both alive, which was a herculean feat.
Just behind the light of his magic, just behind the glow of what was happening, he could see Alec's body on the ground. Motionless. It made his heart race. If he failed, Alec would not wake up.
So he would not fail.
He took a breath and gave another push of his magic, his hands trembling, the familiar buzzing electricity of it filling his limbs. Alec would survive, and he would be immortal, and they were going to change the world.
Magnus shouted as he felt pushes against his magic, the demon trying to break out of it. He doubled his efforts, giving more of his magic than he should, pouring everything into it. He was sweating, his vision clouding. He was going to pass out. Spots swam in his field of vision. With another shout, he gave another push of magic. The light of the magic flowing from his hands filled the clearing with more red hues than the sunset.
It would work. He believed it. He believed it because he knew what he was capable of, knew his strength, believed in his control of his magic. He believed it because Alec did. He believed it because after Edom, after Lilith, he knew he had enough power in him to overcome anything, that this strength was an asset, that he didn't have to be afraid of it.
Alec trusted him. Magnus wanted to give him everything. This would work, and then Magnus would be able to give him everything, because he would have centuries of life to share with the love of his life.
He needed to tell Alec that. He should have told him that before they did this. He should have told Alec that he'd changed his life, made it better. He should have told Alec that he made Magnus want to be better, want to see in himself what Alec saw in him. He should have told Alec that he did see. He always believed there was more to him than the rumours or the prejudice. Always flaunted it easily, even. Sometimes it was armour. Sometimes it hid away that he was afraid those things were true, that what he'd done would forever make it true. That every mistake he made proved it.
What did Alec do, when he made a mistake? He did whatever he could to repair it, and did better next time. Did that make him less incredible in Magnus' eyes? Absolutely not. It made him more so.
Magnus closed his eyes, concentrating. He thought of Alec's smile, his hands, the faces he made as he rifled through his things in the apothecary, the way he sneezed when opening a particularly dusty book, his snores, the way his arm went around him in the middle of the night and held on so tight he could barely breathe, his voice saying I love you, and a thousand wonderful things he'd never dreamed of hearing, his eyes and the way they closed when he laughed really hard, and he thought of how badly he wanted this forever and how much he deserved it, too, how much Alec helped him see that he could be both a frightful and powerful and intimidating warlock and a caring, thoughtful person who deserved to be loved fully and wholly.
When he opened his eyes, he looked at Alec's unconscious form, whimpered his name, and collapsed onto dewy grass.
It was dark in the bedroom when Alec woke up. The curtains were drawn and the lights shut, which made it difficult for him to tell how long he'd been asleep, or what time of the day it was. He blinked and reached out an arm, smiling when it met a warm back. Turning over onto his side, he pressed his chest against Magnus' back and wormed both his arms around his middle. After a second his hand came back up and swept at the air. The curtains parted, just enough to let in some sunlight.
"Morning," he mumbled.
"Hmm," was the only response, a relatively discontent sound that turned into a much happier one when Magnus squirmed and got himself even more squarely in Alec's hold. Magnus' hand found Alec's, and his fingers traced the wedding ring there. Alec smiled against the skin of Magnus' shoulder, pressing a kiss there.
"Yeah, that happened," he whispered. "I'm your husband."
"You are," Magnus said, lifting that hand to kiss Alec's knuckles. "Took long enough."
"Five years isn't that long," he said, though there was a note of amusement to it. The five year wait had only been for the official Clave approved wedding. And it had seemed long. Alec had complained about it enough. "I can't believe none of them figured it out."
"What, that we got mundane married the day we woke up in that clearing?" Magnus looked back over his shoulder, Alec laying back a little to look at him with a cheeky grin.
"I think they might have been humouring us, Alexander. I recall you referring to me as your husband more than once." Magnus ran a hand over the hair on Alec's chest, raising an eyebrow. Alec did not even look sheepish, the grin firmly in place. He had no reason to regret that. He assumed most thought it was pre-emptive. Izzy and Raphael had both kept their promise not to say a word after signing as witnesses, though Alec had let his mother know, in order not to shake up the peace they'd rebuilt.
As amazing as the ceremony yesterday had been, that day had been as well. He had signed his name with a trembling hand, holding Magnus' with the other, and then they'd clutched at each other as Izzy wiped proud tears from her eyes and Raphael had smiled, genuine and warm.
It was the first best day of Alec's new life. He had a list of those now, ongoing. Like the day Magnus was so good to Alec in bed he made a couple of light bulbs blow. It was a funny way to discover he'd inherited a small amount of magic as well as immortality, a story they loved reminding each other of.
For now, that magic was their secret. It wasn't significant enough for him to do real damage, not powerful enough to be a risk, and the Clave still had him under a close eye in spite of having promoted him to be on the Council. Maybe this was a way to keep an even more watchful eye on him, but frankly, Alec didn't give a shit. He could have more of an effect at that rank, could change things in a broader scale. It worked out.
"Now I get to sign my name Alec Lightwood-Bane on official Clave documents, though."
"Oh. Does that mean I need to replace all my stationary so it says Magnus Lightwood-Bane?" Magnus wrinkled his nose.
"Only if you want to."
"I'll have to see how it looks," Magnus teased. "I might have to have a whole batch redesigned."
Alec, who knew Magnus was joking but could also be completely serious, only kissed his forehead. Then leaned back, as if remembering something.
"Actually, I should get back to the Institute."
A pair of feet nudged at his leg, and Alec laughed with an unnecessary ow.
"That only worked once."
"I can't believe you really got a whole month off." Magnus' expression softened, his hand going from Alec's chest to his cheek, brushing against the stubble there. "Where to, for our first day of honeymoon?"
The sunlight was hitting Magnus' eyes and making them look all the more golden than ever. Alec loved that sight, every morning he was lucky enough to see it. Knowing he would have forever with those eyes didn't make it any less special.
"Paris," he said at once, thinking of their favorite terrace cafes, of Magnus' apartment with a wonderful view of the Champs Élysée, of delicious food to eat in bed completely naked. Magnus smiled and kissed Alec's cheek.
"Tokyo?" Alec offered, this time thinking of other types of food, of kissing on balconies, of photobooth pictures and sushi belts and shrines and kisses up high in Tokyo Tower. Magnus kissed his other cheek.
"And after that?"
Alec smiled. They could go on like this forever. He would list place after place without thinking about it much. There was no place he didn't want to be with Magnus. As long as he was with him, as long as he got to see his husband's face, to touch him, to see him alive and happy next to him, he would go wherever.
"Anywhere, Magnus. With you, I'd go anywhere."
This time Magnus kissed him for real, and it was a long, long while before they got out of bed.
But that was okay. They had forever.