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Tales from Idris

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Read the tags and the author notes above for warnings!

Chapter 1: A boy’s innocence (Young Alec meets Magnus)

It burns into your heart, the darkness that you fear (And we run, Within Temptation)

Magnus couldn’t believe he had been captured; what a fool he had been! Ragnor Fell had warned him – told him not to trust Valentine, to give up on his hope for a peaceful resolution to the growing conflict with Idris and yet like a 100 year old naive warlock he had gone ahead.

Idris had never been a friend of the Downworld but when Valentine had managed to seize power two years ago the hidden racism Idris had harbored in its dealings with the Downworld had been released full force. Valentine openly advocated for a final solution to the problem with the half-demon population. At first Magnus had dismissed Valentine as a madman for surely no one would listen to such nonsense? Yet he had underestimated the feeling of superiority many Shadowhunters almost seemed born with. He had underestimated the hidden racism of centuries past, centuries of conflict between Nephilim and Downworlders and how it had built an atmosphere of mistrust and disregard. No Downworlders were now allowed into Idris – even diplomats had been expelled.

More and more Downworlders were put on trial for drummed up charges and given a swift trial and an even quicker death – mainly by burning which seemed to be a favorite form of capital punishment in Idris. Rumors started to circulate about how Valentine would treat captured Downworlders, experiment on them, kill them when he no longer had any use for them but only after he had satisfied his sick amusement with breaking them. The rumors of the prisons Valentine supposedly ran were so horrible Magnus could barely listen to them – talks of warlock babies cut from their mother’s womb, werewolves being killed by being cut apart limb by limb while they were still alive, screaming in agony for hours on end. It was too horrible to be true.

The Seelies barricaded themselves in their realm but were willing to help both Valentine and Downworlders – when it suited them and for a price, always betting on both sides. His people in turmoil, lost and confused, Magnus Bane spoke with two Shadowhunters who risked de-runing and much worse to plead with him to try and barter a peace with Valentine. These two Shadowhunters managed to convince Magnus because they were none other than Jocelyn Fray and Lucian Graymark, Valentine’s own wife, mother of his newly born daughter, and his parabatai.

Magnus had gotten an invitation to Idris by Valentine as Jocelyn and Lucian had promised he would. However, the peace talks were never to happen. As soon as Magnus had arrived in Idris with a handful of his people, nine in total, they had been surrounded. With the prospect of seeing most of his people slaughtered and still unable to believe things really were as bad in Idris as rumors had it, Magnus had surrendered, somehow still believing reason would prevail.

Magnus had quickly learned that the rumors about Idris, about what Valentine had made the Shadowhunter nation into – it was all true. The hatred had become institutionalized; violence was a way of life. Love and compassion was weakness now more than it had ever been seen in Idris.

Valentine himself had been in charge of Magnus’s imprisonment. The first thing he had done was inject him with something that made him unable to use his magic. He could maintain a glamour but that was it; he had no magic to use. Valentine ensured the injections continued like clockwork. The physical marks were long black veins on his body. The drugs made him feel tired and weak, a little bit floaty, like he wasn’t quite there. The latter turned out to be a blessing – Valentine had quickly revealed he wanted three things from Magnus: 1. Names of the Shadowhunters who still had not bought into his vision, clearly wanting to clean house once and for all, 2. The whereabouts of all warlocks Magnus knew of; starting with the most powerful ones and 3. A way for Valentine to tap into the powers of Edom. As the son of Asmodeus, Prince of Edom, Valentine believed Magnus might know a way.

An Idris prison was like most things in Idris; lacking in imagination as far as Magnus was concerned. Bare stonewalls, no windows and metal bars facing a seemingly endless hallway. The cell Magnus was in faced another wall so through the metal bars he could only see the people passing by outside. The cell was small but large enough to hold a bed, a sink and a toilet – thank Lilith Idris had made some modern upgrades to the otherwise Middle Age looking architecture. He even had a small blanket; he was amazed how grateful he had been for that as the nights were cold and central heating was apparently a foreign concept in Idris – at least for prisoners. The lights in the hallway were small and always on. This and the lack of windows made it difficult to tell time and there were no clocks. Magnus estimated he had been a prisoner for almost eight weeks now.

The days were starting to blur into one; the food was always the same – bread and water (not very original!) – and on good days that was all that happened. That he got feed and he could sit on the bed, listening to the screams of other prisoners far off, worrying about his own fate, nothing to do, his mind racing and making up more and more horrible scenarios. The bad days, and there were many of those, were when one of Valentine’s men, or several of them, came to question him. They had started off with beatings, a classic after all. Then it had gone from there; by now they had gone through all the five major torture groups: Blunt, sharp, hot, cold, and loud. Idris of course had a supply of quite capable doctors who would keep a prisoner conscious as long as possible for the pain to last way past normal endurance with drugs and if all fails; revival. The doctors would always put him back together again, healing him enough so he could be broken all over again and leaving just enough residual pain for his body to stay in a constant state of discomfort. Valentine himself did the worst torture; the man was nothing if not creative. The last few times he had proven himself the evil mastermind he was; he had executed one of Magnus’s men each hour for 4 hours straight when Magnus still didn’t speak. He had then thrown him back in his cell to think about what might happen tomorrow. Magnus knew what would happen; he was resigned to it. Valentine would kill all the people he had brought with him and in some ways them dying now was a mercy compared to staying alive here, in this living hell Valentine had created.

Magnus couldn’t and wouldn’t talk even though a piece of his heart was dying each time one of his men was killed before his eyes. However, it was getting harder and harder not to break, not to give in. His body and mind were always in flames, being broken and bent out of shape over and over again. He had never known pain like this; he had never known hatred like this. He was losing himself in the darkness, in the pain. There was nothing left but blood, pain, tears and an agony that knew no bounds. Idris had become a land of pain for anyone different, anyone out of place. There was no light here any longer; what little compassion Idris had once held towards Downworlders was dead and buried. Valentine’s rule was supreme. So why fight it? Everything was lost – the Downworld had lost to Idris again and this time…this time they would be lucky if they would only be enslaved. Valentine sought their complete destruction. Oh, Valentine might keep a few Downworlders alive for the novelty value but that was about it. The world was breaking and nothing could ever heal it.

“Why are you here?” The voice, a young boy’s voice, filed with curiosity and honest puzzlement startled Magnus out of his half slumber and the darkness of his own mind. He sat up on his bed in his cell and went over by the iron bars. It was a small Shadowhunter child, a boy, around four years old. He had brown hair and was nervously biting his lower lip, waiting for Magnus to answer. He had long thick lashes and he looked worried when he saw how frail Magnus looked under the lose prisoner robe he had been forced into. The boy looked almost…angelic and very out of place among the echoing screams of the captured Downworlders.

“Come to look at the freak, young Shadowhunter?” Magnus asked bitterly with a defeated air as he sat down on the floor by the iron bars, wincing when he did so due to the pain in his body, his hands holding around the bars to better look at the boy. Magnus had taken a brutal beating a few days before, his ribs were still bruised, he still had cuts, and bruises the doctors hadn’t healed. However, having watched Valentine kill four of his friends yesterday and knowing as soon as Valentine brought him back the last five would die was more agonizing than any physical pain Valentine had subjected him to.

His expression hardened further when he noticed a rune on the boy’s arm, reminding Magnus of how much he hated the race; every tormenter he had had in this place had had runes and all of them had been cruel and spiteful; even the doctors seemed to enjoy inflicting pain more than mending wounds.

The boy frowned at his question, clearly not sure how to answer it.

“You are bleeding!” the boy gasped in horror, pointing to Magnus’s hands.

Magnus looked surprised at the boy. Weird, he sounded…worried? A Shadowhunter worried for a Downworlder? Not possible.

“Yeah…that happens a lot when you are a guest with Valentine,” Magnus said darkly, flexing his hands around the iron bars, wincing at the pain it brought his bruised and bleeding knuckles.

The boy knelt outside the iron bars and reached out to touch his hands. Magnus tensed, bracing himself for a hit, for pain, but refusing to pull away. However, the boy put a tender hand on his bruised knuckles and gave his palm around the iron bar a small reassuring squeeze, wincing in sympathy before he withdrew his hand and looked straight at Magnus.

“Well…I wouldn’t want to be his guest then,” the boy said with a child’s logic, his voice certain and clear.

Magnus couldn’t help but laugh a little; he had never thought he would laugh in this miserable place; he hadn’t heard laughter here except for the cruel sounds some of his tormenters made when they wanted to humiliate him.

“What are you doing here, youngling?” Magnus asked curiously.

The boy shrugged and looked down for a moment, clearly knowing he had done something he shouldn’t have and now fearful of the consequences. Then he looked back at Magnus.

“My father needed to talk to Valentine. I heard voices from down here…why are there screams?” the boy asked worried, innocently. “Are they…in pain?”

Magnus was again taken back by the compassion in the boy’s face. How was this possible? How could this boy even consider compassion when all he was taught, everything around him, was hatred and darkness?

“Yes, they are,” Magnus replied honestly, briefly closing his eyes in sympathy for his fellow Downworlders. He had been here so long he had almost forgotten about the screams; they were always there and never stopped. When he had first arrived he had not been able to sleep because of the screams and he had been certain he never would. Now….now, he barely heard them. Weird what you can get used to.

“Oh….” The boy said softly, sadly, looking down, clearly distressed by this.

“You don’t like that, do you?” Magnus asked slowly, surprised.

The boy gave him a piercing look. “No, of course not!”

Magnus was again taken back by the passion in the boy, the clarity of his beliefs.

“You do know they are Downworlders, right?” Magnus asked softly pausing before he added, “That I am a Downworlder?”

The boy looked at him again, curiously, searchingly as if trying to find something unusual about him but then shook his head and said, “You look like a man to me.”

“Well, I do have these,” Magnus said and let his glamour fade so his cat eyes appeared. He was expecting the boy now to react the way Magnus had anticipated all along – yell, be disgusted…anything but what he did.

“Oh! Like a cat! I love cats!” the boy said happily and reached out a hand as if he wanted to touch Magnus’ face but then stopped the hand mid-air but still smiled, blushing a little at his own excitement.

Magnus couldn’t have been more shocked at the boy’s reaction. Was he dreaming this? This boy of light in a place of darkness? Was this a trick? Magnus let his glamour return.

“You are not like other Shadowhunters,” Magnus commented thoughtfully.

The boy blushed, looking down, embarrassed. “Sorry. People keep saying that,” he said sadly. “My father says I need to be stronger.”

Magnus shook his head, the smallest of smiles around his lips. “No, young one. You are strong like this. Compassion is strength. Never forget that.” He didn’t know why but he really wanted the boy to remember that. He knew he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, no one could survive this Hell and stay untainted…yet inside his heart he wanted to believe it.

The boy thought about his words and then nodded, his expression serious. “Can I…can I help you?”

Magnus smiled for real now at hearing that, words he had never thought he would ever hear from a Shadowhunter ever again and he was certain he never would again.

Magnus shook his head. “No, little one. No.” There was no escape but death; dragging a little boy into this would not change that.

“Oh…” The boy looked sad. A voice echoed through the hallway, making the boy turn towards it, his body tensing, his hands forming fists. When he turned back to look at Magnus his expression was serious, his eyes piercing, his voice strong.

“Facilis descensus Averno,” the boy told him.

“The descent into Hell is easy,” Magnus translated the words effortlessly. “Why do you say that?” He asked curiously.

“When I mess up and my father beats me I think of it,” the young boy said honestly.

Magnus couldn’t help but wince at the thought of this young boy, so sweet, being beaten. One day they would succeed in beating the kindness out of him and Magnus was happy he had met him before that happened. The thought of this young boy becoming just like the Shadowhunters who enjoyed bringing him pain in ever more imaginative ways was almost more painful than anything else he had experienced or seen here in Idris.

“And it helps?”

The boy nodded. “It reminds me that he should never see my tears,” the boy’s voice was soft, pained, his eyes clouded with remembered pain yet there was an edge of streel, of strength in the boy that was not to be denied.

The voice called again, making the boy wince, something close to panic in his expression. He squeezed Magnus’s nearest hand around the iron bar in comfort.

“Don’t ever let them see your tears,” the boy reminded him, his voice strong but filled with pain he was barely able to hold back.

“Come here! Now!” The voice was louder now, impatient, a male voice, filled with authority, a voice used to being obeyed. The boy gave Magnus a comforting smile before he released his hand and ran off.

Magnus looked after him for a long while, missing the warmth of his hands and the kindness of his smile. He hadn’t known a soft touch for weeks.

Magnus could hear the angry voice talk again and could hear the young boy answer but couldn’t make out the words. If he had been able to hear them he would have heard the following exchange.

“Alexander Lightwood! I told you to stay put!”

“Sorry, father, but I heard voices. They are suffering. Father, we must help them.”

The sound of the slap the man gave the young boy echoed in the halls and reached even Magnus’s ears, making him wince in sympathy. This time Magnus could make out the words as the man spoke again. “Never say that again! Ever! They are Downworlders. Such talk is treasonous!”

The voices died out and Magnus was alone with the screams of his follow Downworlders and his thoughts. For the following agonizing months of imprisonment and torture Magnus clung to the young boy’s words of courage, the purity of the boy’s soul a light to hold onto in the mist of darkness and anguish.

Magnus ended up being Valentine’s prisoner for almost five months but never broke. As time would tell Magnus would be the only prisoner Valentine had never been able to break. Little did he know that the strength to carry on had come from one young defiant Shadowhunter – a boy who while being raised in darkness refused to let that darkness touch his heart.

The ordeal taught Magnus to hate like he had never hated before. His freedom claimed the lives of many Downworlders when they made an assault on the prison; the assault had only been possible due to the insider help of Jocelyn Fray and Lucian Graymark who as a consequence also had to flee Alicante with Jocelyn’s daughter – now forever hunted by Valentine and Idris itself for their betrayal.

Magnus Bane rose to become the commander of the Allied Downworld forces in the ongoing war against Valentine, against Idris. The tide of the war started to turn when Magnus managed to unite the Seelies with him against the Nephilim armies.

As years passed and the bitter war dragged on and on, Magnus would at times wonder what fate had befallen the young Nephilim boy. His heart grew darker, grew colder…and he wondered less and less about his fate until one day he was simply a faint memory that the warlock would ever so rarely think about.

When Ragnor Fell was captured Magnus scarified hundreds to save him and the other prisoners. The Allied forces suffered heavy losses but managed to free the prison camp and Ragnor Fell was among the prisoners still alive when the hard-won victory was theirs. However, the warlock who returned to them was never the same as before his capture. He bore the physical and mental scars of the torture and brutality he had been subject to and would never again join the war effort. And Magnus’s hatred grew and his heart started to blacken.

When a group of warlock children were taken captive, among them the little Madzie Loss, adoptive daughter of his dear friend Catarina who had remained a healer throughout the war effort, it was the last straw. By a weird twist of fate only one of the taken warlock children ever returned home; Madzie Loss, with a tale of a young Shadowhunter named Alexander who had saved her. The story had done nothing to cool the gowning hatred inside Magnus when his forces found the mutilated and broken bodies of the other children who had not been as fortunate as Madzie had been.

Magnus now knew for sure that Idris was lost. No mercy, no redemption – this was war, this was survival and either Idris was destroyed forever or there would be no Downworld. While Valentine actively sought the destruction of the Downworld, Magnus now returned the favor and actively sought to destroy Idris and the Nephilim once and for all. It was a battle to the death and no one would be left untouched, unscarred, by this war. And Magnus’s heart turned black and cold as ice, bitterness and hatred fueling him, driving him further towards victory.

Yet fate would have it that Magnus ended up meeting the young boy again when that boy was no longer a boy and no longer innocent. Not knowing who he was the darkness that had invaded Magnus’s soul almost ended up destroying them both.

Chapter Text

Remember to read the tags and the author notes above for warnings!

Chapter 2: Darkness Burns Your Heart (Jace and Alec)

 

Love is a word you've never heard and we run, till we break down (And we run, Within Temptation)

 

Alexander was an unusual boy – curious, insightful, questioning and maybe most surprising of all – sensitive and compassionate. He was the only one to question the instructors at the academy in Alicante and ask why: Why do the Downworlders need to die? Why are they not worthy? Why are we at war? Why do they have to suffer? Why do we treat them so poorly? Why can’t they have the same rights as us? For each why he would get punished, first by his father and later on by the instructors wanting to bleed the insolence and treasonous questions out of him. Each time he bore it and kept wondering, kept questioning.

When Alec was 12 years old his curiosity made a hard life much much harder. He had been with a boy he had been growing up with, sparring with, Andrew Underhill, a boy who, like him, had a softness, a kindness to him, that hadn’t yet been broken. Alec had known for a long time he wasn’t like other boys; girls held no interest for him. He also knew being interested in boys was considered wrong and forbidden – harshly punished as Valentine needed soldiers and saw same-sex relations as weakness and against the will of Heaven. Valentine almost despised same-sex couples more than Downworlders as he felt they tainted the purity of the angel blood and the Heavenly connection Nephilim had. The few Shadowhunters who had been open about their sexuality before Valentine’s rise to power had long ago been captured, broken, used and those who had survived long enough had been executed. The lucky ones had either escaped Idris or chosen suicide over capture; Valentine was not known to be kind to those he hated.

Alec and Andrew had been sparring when Alec had covered for a mistake Andrew had made, earning him the punishment that should have been Andrew’s. No one had ever done that for Andrew before; his family had been killed fighting the Downworlder army and only his family name had kept him on the officer track in Valentine’s army. Alec had long considered if Andrew also held no interest in girls and got his answer when Andrew had visited Alec in his home later that day and, thinking they had been alone, he had surprised Alec by giving him a quick kiss on the lips. The kiss had been chaste and innocent and had not been sexual in any way. Simply Andrew saying thank you in a manner he knew by now he could do with Alec and only Alec. Sadly, Alec’s mother had seen them and that had been when everything had changed.

Maryse Lightwood had needed to save her family name, their position and influence. She had found a solution for Alec’s “problem”; binding him to Valentine’s son as his parabatai was sure to beat the softness out of him. Andrew, on the other hand, had had no one to cover for him. While Alec’s sexual orientation had been hidden to save his family name Andrew had been publically shamed and his life had been forfeited since then. Both boys had lost their freedom, sacrifices in a game much bigger than themselves.

Alec’s father had been sure to tell him with his fists just how disappointed he was when he heard from his wife what had happened. Alec had been locked up in his room since the incident as his mother called it, totaling a week until he had been brought to the parabatai ceremony. Alec had met Jace before; he was the golden boy of Idris; Valentine’s pride and glory. Valentine openly bragged about his son’s pure angel blood, a result of the experiments Valentine had done on him. Jace was the best warrior Idris had and Alec had never seen the younger boy show any hints of weakness, sympathy or hesitation in any of the training sessions he was involved in. Alec hadn’t spoken much with him; Andrew and him had shared their own little secret world and had known it was dangerous to let anyone into it. Inside their own little world, you could say ‘sorry’, you could say ‘thank you’, you could be kind and soft and gentle…you could hug. It had been a nice haven compared to the coldness and brutality of the endless training sessions they were put through. Andrew and Alec were both good fighters but nowhere near as good as Jace and their reluctance to be brutal and merciless while in battle earned them many a punishment.

Alec had therefore been fearful of how Jace would react when they became parabatai. The ceremony went as it should and then Valentine had taken him and Jace back to his huge estate in Idris. Jace had barely spoken to him after the ceremony and Alec found that he felt very little through the bond from Jace; he had to be very good at keeping his emotions hidden. Alec himself was certain Jace could feel his nervousness and uncertainty, evident by the half warning and half annoyed look he would cast his way once in a while. Valentine had given him his own room which Alec had been grateful for; bare and simple it had a bed, a desk and a chair and even a book shelf which Alec appreciated as he loved reading and learning even if all the books were on military strategy and war in general.

That afternoon Valentine had wanted to see what Alec could do and together with Jace the three of them had gone to the open courtyard in the estate. A few targets were placed at one end and Jace expertly threw knives at the boards, hitting dead center every time, again and again. Alec did well too but when he for the first time missed the bullseye just a fraction Valentine had raised an eye at his son and told him that weakness could not be tolerated. Jace’s expression had never changed when he had walked over to Alec and taken his hand in his. Alec had been very confused by the gentleness of it until with a suddenness and brutality that tore a scream from his lips Jace broke one of his fingers. Jace made no outward indication doing this had bothered him; he just went back to practicing. However, through the bond Alec could feel a dull ache from Jace’s side. Alec had expected to be allowed to use an iratze but Valentine had confiscated his steele and told him using it now was a sign of feebleness. The training had dragged on, getting increasingly more painful as every missed bullseye meant another broken finger and the more fingers he had broken the worse his aim became until he almost had tears of frustration in his eyes over the complete and utter unfairness of Valentine’s demands. However, he could see Jace seemed to have no problem living up to Valentine’s demands; he had hit dead center for all the hours they had been practicing.

The training ended when Valentine broke Alec’s right wrist after his arrow managed to almost hit the target completely and Alec could now no longer hold onto his bow. That was how Alec’s first day as Jace’s parabatai had ended as he after that had been ordered by Valentine to go to his room and contemplate his failure so it seemed dinner was out of the question. He had hoped he would now be allowed to use iratze’s as the pain was becoming agonizing, making it increasingly more difficult not to voice his pain aloud but no such luck; Valentine seemed determined to keep his steele. As he had left Valentine and Jace behind to go to his bedroom he had heard Valentine complain to Jace that this falcon, clearly meaning Alec, was not much more useful than the previous one. The statement puzzled him; he had expected to be called many things by Valentine but never a falcon.

The agony in his fingers and wrist were almost unbearable and Alec had curled up on his bed, facing the wall, curling into a ball, his hands held protectively and tight against his chest as he tried to think of something other than his own pain. He wondered how Andrew was doing; he had heard rumors of what happened to people who were outed; how they were considered less than even Downworlders, having no rights, no freedoms, living and existing at the will and mercy if one could even call it that of the surrounding Shadowhunters. How they were humiliated, beaten, raped….broken. Last he had heard Andrew had been locked up in his room in the academy at Alicante where he had lived since his family had been killed. Being surrounded by warriors trained to obey Valentine blindly, believing in Valentine’s vision, wanting someone to take their frustrations out on when battles had not gone as expected or they themselves were punished for failing…He wished against all logic somehow Andrew had escaped such horrible treatment but there was a zero to never percent chance of that.

Alec had been so lost in pain and the darkness of his mind that he hadn’t heard someone enter his room. He stiffened when he felt a hand on his shoulder, his whole body shaking. He had hoped against hope it was over now, that he would be left in peace. He wanted to be strong but a treasonous whimper escaped his lips.

“Alec, look at me,” the voice, Jace’s voice. Not unkind but still strong, expecting to be obeyed.

Shit, what have I done now? Alec thought fearfully.

He tried not to panic, tried to be strong as he turned around to face Jace. The younger warrior was as unreadable as always and the parabatai bond was also as expected quiet. Alec couldn’t help but wonder why Valentine had wanted him as Jace’s parabatai; Jace clearly didn’t need any help fighting.

Jace moved so he was sitting on the bed beside him, giving Alec space so he could sit up on the bed next to him. Alec couldn’t help but wince when he moved his arms and hands, cradling them against his chest. He fought to sit more relaxed but he was sweating, his features pained and he kept cradling his injured, broken and bruised hands against his chest, taking extra care of the right hand, his bow hand, which also had the broken wrist.

They sat in silence for a while, Alec too afraid to speak and Jace seeming not to know what to say even though he had been the one to enter the room.

“He will heal them tomorrow,” Jace suddenly said, looking down at Alec’s broken fingers and wrist.

“Oh, goodie!” Alec mumbled sarcastically. “Your dad is so considerate.” The sarcasm was dripping from his voice. With years Alec had learned that the only way to survive was to wrap himself in a thick layer of dry wit and sarcasm; otherwise he would go mad. But then the whole world was mad so that might not have been a bad idea.

Jace gave him a small smile, not seeming to be bothered by the jab at his father, but then he got serious. “You really need to learn to stop doing that.”

“Do what?”

“Talk back like that,” Jace explained, his voice solemn with a clear warning edge to it. “Valentine won’t go easy on you next time.”

“You and I have very different definitions of easy,” Alec said darkly. “Besides, three of my fingers are thanks to you, parabatai,” Alec said bitterly, reminding him that Jace had punished him himself for three of his failings by breaking a finger each time.

Jace raised an eyebrow at him, unfazed by Alec’s not very well hidden accusation.

“If you hadn’t talked back to Valentine that would have been all you broke,” Jace said disapprovingly. Then he sighed, his features softening only slightly. “He was watching us; I couldn’t be soft just because we’re parabatai.”

Alec nodded; surprisingly enough he actually got that. It didn’t make the pain any less but he understood. Jace had never known kindness or sympathy as anything other than weakness and weakness was punished.

“Why did Valentine call me your falcon?” Alec asked, trying to think of something other than the spasms of pain traveling form his fingers up through his arms to explode inside his brain.

“He gave me a falcon when I was little, around five. I loved it,” Jace said matter of fact, clearly not having any issues with admitting love for the pet. Maybe because it was long ago, maybe, and more likely, because something had happened that meant it wasn’t here any longer.

“What happened?” Alec asked sympathetically. He had always loved cats but had never brought any of the strays he found on the streets of Alicante home with him; afraid of how his parents might use the furry creatures against him. Instead he fed them and made small homes for them on the outskirts of the city.

“He killed it.” Jace’s eyes held a brief moment of pain but it flashed by so quickly Alec barely caught it.

“Oh,” Alec said softly, sadly.

“Love is weakness; compassion is weakness. Never forget that,” Jace reminded him, his voice harsh, driving home a lesson that had been beaten into him repeatedly growing up.

“Yeah,” Alec agreed, unsure what else to say. It wasn’t like the words were new to him.

After a moment of silence Jace reached for Alec’s broken right hand with an air of irritation. “Let me look at that.”

Alec bit his bottom lip to keep from voicing his pain when Jace examined his wrist and broken fingers, turning his hand over in his.

“Iratze?” Alec asked hopefully, frustrated he was even asking but the smallest movement was sending flames of agony through his body.

Jace shook his head. “I can’t. Valentine would notice at breakfast tomorrow.” There was a small hint of regret as he said it but that was all, otherwise he seemed almost businesslike, matter of fact in how he was looking the injuries over.

He looked Alec in the eyes as he said, “There are no bones out of alignment or broken skin. I will show you how to wrap them up so you can barely feel it.”

Alec raised an eyebrow at him. “Really?” he asked sarcastically.

Jace nodded and took something out of a small bag that had been by his feet. Alec hadn’t noticed it before. It held several white bandages and Jace took one out and started to prepare the bandage, holding it and Alec’s right hand.

“Valentine used to break my fingers when I played the piano wrong as a kid. Believe me; I am an expert at this,” Jace said with a small smile but with a hint of pain as he started to bandage him, starting with the wrist.

Damn, that hurt like hell! However, Alec had to admit when Jace had first wrapped the wrist tightly the bandage supported the bones and made the pain more bearable – if he didn’t move his arm at all.

“So I can expect more of this?” Alec got out through clashed teeth when Jace tore the bandage to pieces and started to bind his fingers together in pairs of two for support.

Jace nodded grimly.

“Most definitely,” Jace said darkly. “Unfortunately, Valentine wasn’t very impressed with your skills with the bow today but after more training I am certain he will be.”

The words were meant to be encouraging but they both knew it was a lie; no one but Jace could live up to Valentine’s demands as no one else had pure angel blood.

“So each time I fail… my fingers….” Alec asked softly, pained, trying hard not to panic as he envisioned the pain he would suffer while living here which could very well be for the rest of his life.

“Not always,” Jace assured him as he started to bandage the fingers that needed it on his left hand.

Alec relaxed somewhat despite the pain he was in. Thank the Angel for that!

Jace didn’t seem to have noticed that his words had made Alec feel better but his next words certainly made sure Alec understood just how naive he had been. “I am certain he will break other things, other bones. He loves being creative with his punishments.”

Alec took a deep breath, trying to brace himself. As always he sought comfort and strength in his wit when he replied darkly, dryly, “Just what I always wanted; a creative tormenter.”

Having finished bandaging his fingers Jace put the leftover things back in his bag and looked at him. “I could tell you I am sorry you’re my parabatai but I can’t say that; it wouldn’t be true,” Jace admitted and his voice was as soft and kind as Alec had ever heard it.

As he spoke everything fell into place for Alec and he now understood why Valentine had wanted him as Jace’s parabatai.

“Yeah…Your father has found a convenient outlet and my parents have saved the family name. Good for them they still have one daughter and another son they can hope will do them credit,” Alec said angrily, cradling his now bandaged hands against his chest again. He had to admit they did hurt a little less now.

“What do you mean?” Jace asked, puzzled.

“Well, you haven’t been a boy for some time now. Bruises on you would damage his reputation but me…I am fair game,” Alec said matter of fact, explaining the realization he had just arrived at. He was Jace’s new falcon – something to punish when punishment was needed, something to test Jace’s strength on, to ensure he wasn’t getting weak. Having Jace break his fingers had been evident of that and Alec was sure Valentine would insist Jace delivered many a punishment though there was no doubt that Valentine enjoyed handing out punishments himself, personally.

“Yeah, I guess,” Jace admitted. Unsure what to say he looked from Alec to his bandaged hands. “How does that feel?”

Alec looked at his hands and then back at Jace, smiling a little.

“You’re my hero,” Alec said with false flattery but with a genuine smile of gratitude.

Jace’s expression darkened. “No, Alec, I could never be that. Not out there at least,” Jace nodded towards the door of his room. “I can try and lessen your pain like today but no matter if I am the one hurting you or someone else is I can’t protect you – not completely.” Jace took a deep breath. “It would be seen as a sign of weakness.”

Alec nodded, all hints of humor gone. “I understand.” And he did, kind of.

They sat in silence for a moment before Alec had to say what he had been feeling after hearing everything Jace had just told him. He knew he shouldn’t say it but he couldn’t help him.

“I am sorry Valentine hurt you so badly,” he spoke softly, quietly, not looking at Jace when he said it, hoping he could then accept the words, find comfort in them, without feeling he was being weak.

Jace gave him a piercing look. “Alec, never let anyone hear you use the word sorry, ever, in particularly not my father. He would beat the weakness out of you inch by inch,” Jace warned him.

“Yeah…” Alec sighed, looking at Jace again. “I don’t think I will ever be able to live by your father’s rules.”

Jace frowned. “Try, ok? You live under his roof; he will expect nothing but obedience and perfection. Deviate an inch and he will punish you severely…” Jace paused and for the first time he looked lost and vulnerable but just for a second, then the facade was back in place. “…or I would have to and I would rather prefer not to.”

Alec knew what he was saying was true but he didn’t know what to say to it; he was who he was. Nothing could change that.

“Gee, thanks!” Alec said dryly instead, making Jace smile a little as he had hoped. “But I don’t think I can ever be what your father wants,” he admitted more seriously.

Jace almost looked annoyed, as if it was just because Alec wasn’t trying hard enough.

“Then your stay here will be very painful and you are to stay here for life,” Jace warned.

Now Alec felt annoyed too, “Or my life might just be very brief.” Alec paused, wanting to calm things down before it escalated.

They sat in silence for a few moments before Alec took a deep breath, his voice soft, “If I never get the chance to tell you this again then I forgive you.”

“Whatever for?” Jace asked surprised and shocked.

Alec shrugged and would have made a hand gesture only to recall he couldn’t, wincing when pain shot through him.

“For breaking my fingers today. For whatever else you may need to do to me in the future. I forgive you,” Alec said seriously, softly, looking down for a moment. “I just wanted you to know that.” He wanted Jace to know that because he knew he would have wanted to hear those words and because he wanted Jace to know it. Though he hid it well Alec could see there were still flickers of light left in Jace and Alec wanted him to know it was ok to feel something.

“Don’t say that! Don’t ever fucking say that!” Jace yelled furiously, his eyes shooting daggers. The hit to his face was both expected and unexpected, sending Alec’s head flying to the side. Jace jumped to his feet, agitated and hurt.

“Ouch!” Alec complained, the pain from the hit momentarily blocked out the pain from his hands. He started instinctively to try and rub his cheek with one of his hands but quickly brought the bandaged hand back down again as pain shot through him. He gave Jace a searching look, seeing the pain in the boy’s eyes.

“Don’t you dare say you forgive me! Don’t you dare forgive any of this! Ever!” Jace yelled at him, waving a warning finger in his face, his expression furious.

Alec was puzzled by the strong reaction; he had expected Jace to just ignore his words. His cheek was stinging; Jace hit hard though that was to be expected.

“Sorry…” Alec started to say, wanting Jace to calm down.

“And don’t say that either! Ever!” Jace warned hotly, interrupting him, going towards the door. He put a hand on the handle, about to open it but hesitated. Then he added softly, still facing away from Alec, “Hang on to your anger, Alec, your hatred. It is the only thing that will get you through this.”

Then he left the room. Alec looked after him for a while. He knew Jace was right, he knew it was the sensible thing to do. He sighed. But then he hadn’t really been sensible, had he? That was what had landed him here in the first place. He was different, might as well own it. He would not purposely push Valentine, that was too dangerous, but no way in Edom would he let that man break him, ever!

Chapter Text

Read the tags and the author's notes. This chapter refers to/mentions rape but doesn't show it. The chapter does show Alec trying to help Andrew heal after he was raped though.

Chapter 3: Mercy Mirror (Alec and Andrew/confrontation with Valentine and Jace)

 

The desire to leave the mind… And we run till we fall apart (And we run, Within Temptation)

“Andrew?” Someone’s voice, soft, echoing in Andrew’s barely lit room. He had hoped they would leave him alone now, just for a little while. He instinctively curled up further on the bed, his body a mess of blood and bruises, his mind in flames, his body broken. His shirt was torn and his pants and underwear had long ago been discarded somewhere. He looked like the used, broken and discarded toy he was.

“Please, please,” Andrew mumbled incoherently, hiding his face in his arms, facing the wall, away from the door. He didn’t want to see their faces, he didn’t want to take part in this. They so often wanted him to react to what they said; to see if they couldn’t break him just a bit more, humiliate him just that bit more.

He felt the bed give as the person sat down next to him and Andrew unconsciously stiffened, tears coming to his eyes. He was begging and beyond caring of how weak that was, how they laughed at his pleas; pleading was all he had left.

“Please, no more. No more,” his voice was soft and hoarse, drowning in tears and pain.

“Oh, Andrew! What have they done to you?” The voice again sounded soft, compassionate, even sympathetic but Andrew was too far gone in the pain of his own body and mind to register it.

“No!” Andrew whimpered despite himself, tensing, ready for the unwanted touch or the brutal hit they often gave when he faced away from them.

“It’s just me. Shh,” the voice tried to call him, reach him. “Here, let me draw some iratze.” The man started drawing one on each of his butt cheeks, clearly hoping it would stop the bleeding and the swelling inside. Damn; they had been brutal this time. Mostly they just beat him; when they raped him it was often with such hatred that it left him unable to move, bleeding and shattered.

“No…” Andrew begged again, still caught up in his nightmare memories and only registered the pain added to his butt from the runes drawn there.

“Shh. It’s ok, my friend. I will make it better,” the voice promised, surprising Andrew when it was clear there were tears and affection in the voice. It was difficult to find unmarked skin to draw iratze on; Andrew had been cut into and burned in most places and there were bruises and welts; he had been beaten and held down and there were marks everywhere. Andrew had often wondered why they bothered with holding him down; he had stopped resisting weeks ago as it often just made it worse. Often it helped when he didn’t resist; other times they didn’t care.

“I would hold you but I think it will cause you more pain. Here,” the voice was soft, agonized with shared pain. Andrew still didn’t dare to look at the man, afraid to truly believe in this vision of kindness after so much pain. The man held his head up gently and tried to get water into his mouth but Andrew was avoiding the glass, afraid it was something else being forced down his throat. His eyes were glassy and unfocused, not seeing what was happening, caught up in his nightmare memories.

“No, please. I will be good,” Andrew begged, feverishly trying to avoid the water glass.

“It’s ok, my friend. It’s just water,” He held Andrew’s head more forcefully and managed to get some water down his throat. When Andrew realized it was indeed just water he tried to drink but swallowing was difficult and painful. He was unaware that his difficulties made it evident to his rescuer how abused his mouth and throat was; red, swollen, with bites and welts on his neck. Having finished the water his rescuer drew an itraze on his neck, making Andrew wince and pull away from him from the pain of having a rune applied such a sensitive place.

“No,” Andrew moaned but found he was already feeling a bit better, the pain starting to lessen all the places the healing rune had been applied.

“Here, I managed to get you a blanket,” his rescuer said softly. Andrew didn’t know it was his rescuer’s own blanket he had managed to smuggle out of his room. His rescuer felt he could always cover himself with the sheet from his bed when winter came. He also had a coat; that would work too.

Andrew felt himself being covered in a warm blanket from the waist up; it was heavenly. He was left alone for a moment before he felt himself being carefully but clinically washed with a wet cloth. He tensed at the touch but the touch was so soft and medical he soon relaxed, too happy for the relief from the pain the healing runes were bringing and for being clean again to have much strength left for being frightened. Feeling better Andrew almost crashed from exhaustion but having someone else in the room kept him alert. The blanket was moved so his upper body could be washed the same way until it was all done and he was fully covered with the blanket.

Then Andrew saw he was being given as many nourishment runes as his body could possibly hold and they made him feel better, stronger. His pain and fear was starting to fade and he was able to see his rescuer, really see him.

“You…Alec?” Andrew whispered as he really saw him, recognized him, for the first time. He smiled a little but his abused lips and battered up face made the smile seem sad and agonized.

Alec smiled back, the smile soft but pained, giving Andrew’s nearest hand a small squeeze, tears of sympathy in his eyes as he looked at his friend.

“Yes, it’s me.”

Suddenly Andrew frowned. Why was Alec here? He was never here. He was always off with his parabatai being given impossible training tasks or sent on missions against the Downworlder army. People these days only came to him for three things; to get him to do something they didn’t like doing like clean all the weapons (actually among Andrew’s favorite things to do these days as it was the least painful), to use him as their own personal punching bag when they were frustrated or to relieve the stress of going to or from a battle; what should be called rape, if not someone had decided that didn’t quite have the right air of nonchalance to it.

“Are you here to…” He couldn’t help but voice his fear; fear was by now etched into him the same way his runes were. He didn’t know any other way to react when someone entered his room in the middle of the night any longer.

Alec shook his head, his face twisted in disgust and horror at the very idea.

“No, by the Angel, no!” Alec protested strongly. “I would never.”

Andrew visibly relaxed. “I….I know. I know you now.” Andrew tried to smile again but it turned into a painful grimace.

Alec sat on his bedside, holding his hand for a few moments, not knowing what to say. Andrew was simply happy to finally feel a soft touch, a kind touch.

“I am so sorry for all of this,” Alec finally said, his voice broken and devastated.

“Don’t,” Andrew begged of him softly.

“Don’t what?” Alec asked puzzled.

“Don’t ever let them do this to you. Don’t break. Don’t give in. For me, please?” Andrew pleaded.

Alec nodded grimly. He wasn’t sure it was something he could indeed promise but he would certainly try; however, he knew well that everyone eventually reached their breaking point.

“I promise.”

Andrew gave him a relieved look. “Thank you.”

Alec smiled sadly, squeezed his hand as tightly as he dared without injuring him further, “I wish I could do more.”

Andrew nodded as much as he could given how tired and pained he felt. “I know.”

They sat in silence a while longer before Alec reluctantly let go of Andrew’s hand and got up from the bed. “I need to go before they discover I am gone.”

Andrew tried again to nod but was in too much pain to do so. He followed Alec with his eyes as he went to the door.

“Alec….” He began softly, hesitantly.

Alec turned back to look at him, his eyes filled with sadness and compassion. “Yes?”

“What’s…” Andrew blushed, looking down, before looking at him again. “What’s my name?”

Alec frowned, looking surprised and worried at him. “You don’t know?”

“I…I am not sure,” he admitted softly, pained. “No one ever uses it anymore.” Andrew paused, looking at him with eyes filled with hurt. “Will you say it?” He paused, tears clouding his vision. “Please?”

“Of course and you never have to use that word with me,” Alec said softly, knowing how the others would enjoy making him beg and plea…to show weakness. “It’s Andrew. Your name is Andrew Underhill and you are an amazing person.”

Andrew tried to taste the name on his tongue as he smiled sadly.

“I am broken,” he said softly, sadly. Tears fell freely from his eyes. “Alec…they broke me,” he got out anguished.

“I know, I know…It’s ok,” Alec reassured him, tears in his own eyes, fighting to stay calm, fighting to breathe. “You are alive; that’s all that matters. Do whatever it takes to survive. Let that be your revenge.”

Andrew sniffed, his eyes filled with anguish and his voice soft and trembling, “I have nothing left, Alec, not even my name.”

Alec was unsure how to help him; how could anyone survive this? Fact was no one could but he wanted Andrew to hang in there as long as he could. He knew it was selfish and he knew there was no chance of escape and yet he kept hoping this would all end; he often wondered if people could tell that he was a warrior who fiercely was hoping the enemy army would soon come and blow this whole hellish place off the face of the planet!

“When things get really bad for me I find a place within my mind and I go there. Can you do that?” Alec asked softly, his voice almost pleading with him to try and find a way to keep going for just a little longer.

Andrew looked doubtful. “I am not sure….”

“Try. Do whatever you have to do but survive,” Alec begged.

Andrew gave a weak smile, sniffing against his tears. “I….I will try.”

Alec smiled back. “I will do whatever I can for you,” he vowed, knowing that vow was basically meaningless as he was little more than a prisoner in Valentine’s mansion.

Andrew gave him a look filled with agony and pain as he spoke again, his voice barely above a whisper, “One day….One day I will ask you to kill me. I am still too much of a coward for that day to be now.”

Alec shook his head, tears falling down his cheeks in shared pain with his friend. “Andrew, you are never a coward and if that’s your wish….I will understand and I will make it painless and peaceful and beautiful…..Everything this life is not. I promise you that,” Alec said softly, determined. It might seem like a weird thing to promise your friend but in this place it was a gift.

“Thank you,” Andrew said gratefully, smiling softly up at him.

Alec smiled sadly back before he with a last encouraging look left the room, locking it behind him so hopefully no one would be the wiser.

* * * * * *

Alec was proud of himself when he snuck back into his darkened room at Valentine’s mansion; he had done it. He had managed to sneak out during the night and see Andrew and had even managed to steal his steele from Valentine before going.

He had just managed to get back through the only window in his room and was standing in the middle of the room when suddenly the lights came back on. He gave a jerk in fear and surprise as he turned around to see Valentine enter the room before he stopped in front of Alec, Jace following behind him with an unreadable expression. Valentine was easy to read; he was pissed. Fuck!

“Where have you been?” Valentine’s voice was booming in the room, his eyes dark with anger.

“I went for a run, Sir,” Alec lied, turning his whole body to face him, looking down, and bowing his head, hoping this show of submission would help calm Valentine’s temper a little. He moved the steele so it was behind his back, feverishly needing a way to get rid of it before Valentine noticed. Sneaking out was one thing but stealing from Valentine…that would be so much worse.

“Really?” Valentine said disbelieving, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Yes, Sir,” Alec insisted, nodding, fighting to keep calm. “Just in the gardens but yes, really. Well, I did walk in between too. I can give you a detailed description if you wish, Sir.” While his tone and body language was soft and submissive fear was making him try and seek comfort in sarcasm; the closest to defiance he would ever be able to show. Unknown to him Jace stood at just the right angle to see the steele behind his back catch the moonlight and reflect the light.

“Don’t talk back!” Jace voice suddenly boomed and he reached him in one strike, hitting him hard in the face, so hard Alec fell on one knee. Jace was standing in front of him, blocking Valentine’s view. Alec touched his abused cheek with his hand; he was used to Jace punishing him when he needed to but this had been unexpected. He gave him a questioning look. Jace reached down to pull Alec back to his feet and while doing so he moved so he managed to get Alec’s steele from his hand quickly, unnoticed, slid it into a pocket on his pants below the knee. Hidden from Valentine’s eyes Alec cast him a grateful look which Jace repaid with an annoyed look, clearly unhappy Alec had chosen to leave the mansion for any reason. He pulled Alec to his feet before moving a bit away from him.

Valentine seemed pleased with the display, having thankfully not noticed the steele change hands.

“Come here,” Valentine ordered, waving Alec closer to him with a hand gesture.

Alec tried to hide his fear but his hands were trembling slightly when he walked over to Valentine, knowing he would punish him, just not sure how.

“Stretch out your hand,” Valentine commanded, his voice cold.

Alec felt proud his hand was only shaking slightly. He knew better than to beg for mercy; Valentine had none.

“Tell me, why are you being punished?” Valentine asked as he took the riding crop he had been hiding behind his back forth, showing it to Alec who did his best not to wince at what was to come. So that was what he had in mind for today’s punishment.

“I left without permission, Sir.” Alec was proud of himself that his voice only trembled slightly but was otherwise clear in the silent room.

The hit was expected and yet still sudden, making Alec give a small noise of agony when the riding crop fell on his hand in a hard hit, leaving an angry red mark. Jace was giving him a piercing look behind Valentine’s back; clearly silently begging him to just grin and bear it.

“You moved your hand,” Valentine said disapprovingly.

“S…Sorry, Sir,” Alec got out, putting his hand back up in the same position as before for another hit. The red welt was already starting to turn an angry color and it was throbbing painfully. At the second hit Alec still moved his hand a bit, his instinct to pull away too strong. Valentine only had to raise an eyebrow at him and Alec moved his hand back in position, knowing what he wanted. Alec noticing his hand was now visibly shaking. By the twentieth hit, his hand was bleeding and he was yelling aloud with each hit, the pain becoming unbearable.

“It seems you can’t keep your hand still. Maybe we should stop then,” Valentine mushed out loud, disappointment clear in his voice.

“Thank you,” Alec breathed a sigh of relief, wanting so much for this to end he forgot for a moment who he was dealing with.

“Jace…what do you think?” Valentine asked him as casually as if they were discussing the weather, looking at his face intensely to see his reaction.

Jace fought to put on a bored expression, knowing Valentine was trying to spot any weaknesses in him.

“Well, he can barely feel his hand by now. No need to continue,” Jace said evenly. This was as much mercy as Jace could should him in public but Alec was still grateful.

“True,” Valentine agreed, nodding. “Alec, go face the wall, hands flat. Let’s see if you can at least manage not to move then,” Valentine ordered, his disapproval and disappointment at what he saw as Alec’s weakness clear in his voice.

“Y….Yes, Sir,” Alec got out through a throat already hoarse from screaming. He was thinking of Andrew and everything he had to endure. He could endure this. He went to the wall, his hands flat on the surface, his head between his arms as he bent over slightly, exposing his back. He had to bite his lower lip hard, tasting blood, to prevent himself from screaming in pain at the strain put on his abused and bleeding hand. He put his feet a little apart to gain a better footing. He tried not to shake, he tried not to think, he tried hard not to show his fear.

“Now, I want you to count them,” Valentine said darkly as he came to stand behind him. “And you, son, pay attention to how you should treat disobedience.”

“Yes, father,” Jace’s voice was emotionless and matter of fact and thankfully sounded further away than Valentine.

Of course he would want them counted, Alec thought darkly, trying to do what Jace had told him that first evening; hold on to his hatred.

“One,” Alec got out through clashed teeth, pain in his voice, fighting for breath, when the first hit fell.

Valentine first seemed satisfied when he again had worked his way up to twenty, promising that if he felt Alec had learned his lesson he would let him do iratze’s in the morning. Alec was left standing by the wall until Valentine existed the room, blood running down his back and legs from the wounds on his back, his body trembling from the strain and pain. Jace followed mutely behind Valentine, giving Alec a small encouraging look when Valentine was not looking. Finally alone Alec allowed himself to sink to the floor and finally he could let the tears of pain and agony fall; tears for the pain in his body, tears for Andrew and how he was suffering. After a long time Alec managed to literally crawl into bed and nothing else, exhausted and hurting.

Jace managed to return later that night and helped bandage Alec’s wounds. That night, for one of the few times ever, Jace let Alec embrace him and he let Alec rest his head in his lap as he cried softly while Jace wordlessly stroked his hair. When Alec finally sat back up Jace gave him an encouraging smile before leaving the room and they never spoke of it again.

The end – This series continues in “Captive Angels; Victorious Demons” which focuses on the fall of Idris and starts when Idris is under heavy siege, Idris’s forces are in retreat and Andrew, Jace, Izzy and Alec are all captured by Magnus Bane’s forces and brought before Magnus himself for questioning. Be warned that “Captive Angels; Victorious Demons” is a much darker story than this one although that story does have a happy ending after the darkness so there’s that. But do read the warnings very carefully! So...would anyone want to read “Captive Angels; Victorious Demons”?