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Live life at your own pace

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It’s not often that Isabelle Lightwood finds herself incapable of understanding her own emotions. For all her faults and slight repression caused by years of shadowhunter training, she’s usually great at knowing herself. So the latest development in her life is both unusual and alarming.

She’s happy with Simon. Sure, the vampire is still quite new to the Downworld and sometimes doesn’t understand everything that’s going on around him, but he’s sweet and kind and just what Isabelle needs. Even her brothers have gotten around to liking him. Simon is good , and the last thing Izzy wants to do is ruin things with him.

Which is why, as soon as she realised something was up with her, she called Magnus. Her brother’s boyfriend is a recent addition to their friend group, but there’s something about the warlock that invokes trust in those around him. Izzy likes him and, more than anything, she thinks he’ll be able to help her.

And if not? Well, shadowhunters have always been good at shutting their feelings into little cages and hoping they don’t escape. It’s not the best way of dealing with unwanted emotions, but it’s certainly efficient.

“Isabelle!”

The brunette whips her head up and forces a smile onto her face as she sees Magnus approaching, two cups of coffee in hand. The man is too kind for his own good and, not for the first time, Izzy finds herself hoping Alec and he stay together for a very – very – long time.

“Magnus,” she greets him. “Thank you for the drink.”

“It’s my pleasure, dear,” Magnus grins. “Anything for my friends. Besides, you sounded distressed over the phone, so I thought you could use a pick-me-up. Is everything alright, Isabelle?”

She hums softly, playing with her cup’s sleeve as she tries to figure out how to discuss her problems without having another emotional breakdown. One per week is more than enough.

“Is it Sherman?”

Isabelle snorts, shaking her head fondly as she thinks about Simon. Her boyfriend is probably at his apartment right now, playing video games with his roommate and blissfully unaware of the war waging inside Izzy’s mind. She knows he noticed her strange behaviour, but she’s almost certain he has no idea what’s going on with her. She loves him all the more for not interrogating her.

“No, Simon’s perfect,” she smiles softly. “I couldn’t have asked for a better boyfriend, really. He’s kind, thoughtful, and good for me. The only bad thing about him is his diet, and there’s not much I can do about that.”

“Indeed,” Magnus chuckles. “But if this isn’t about your wonderful boyfriend, then what is it? Alec tells me the city has been strangely quiet lately, so this can’t be a demon issue. Is it a Downworld problem? Has anyone been bothering you? I know things were hard at the beginning of your relationship with Simon, but I thought they’d gotten better…”

“They have!” Izzy exclaims. “Really, this isn’t about the Downworld or anything like that. It’s just about… me, I suppose. I would have gone to see someone else, but you seemed like the best option. There are- My feelings, they’re- Look, I don’t know what’s going on with me exactly. Or I- I do, but I’m worried it’s going to ruin everything good in my life.”

Magnus frowns at her, putting his coffee down and leaning over the café table to stare at her seriously. He’s obviously picked up on her distress. Not difficult, since it’s probably written all over her face.

She closes her eyes and rubs her hands over her face, allowing herself one last moment of weakness before she works up the courage to blurt out what’s been eating at her for weeks now. When she opens her eyes again, she knows her determination shines brightly in her brown depths.

“I think I might be bisexual.”

Magnus’ eyes widen minutely for a second before his features smooth over. He tilts his head to the side thoughtfully, but he doesn’t say anything quite yet. Isabelle doesn’t know whether he’s waiting for her to continue talking or if he’s simply looking for the right answer. She doesn’t know which one would be better.

“I still love Simon,” she adds when he fails to speak up after a minute of silence. “More than anything. We’ve been together for two months, and I wouldn’t throw our relationship away for the world. But I- I don’t know, Magnus, how do you explain attraction?”

“You don’t,” the warlock shrugs, leaning back in his seat elegantly. His eyes, in stark contrast, are warm and understanding. “Attraction isn’t something you can put into words. Whether you’re straight or bisexual or gay, who you like isn’t something you can explain. It isn’t something you should have to explain. I’m not dismissing your sexuality or your relationship, Isabelle. If you say you’re bisexual, then you are. If you say you love Simon, then you do. Simple as that.”

“Right,” the brunette whispers. She furrows her brows for a second, focusing on all the thoughts that have been bothering her since her little… revelation. “Wait no, not right. I just… How can this be alright, Magnus? I have a boyfriend, I can’t- how would I even tell him about this? This isn’t something I can just drop on him without a moment’s notice. And how would I even justify my feelings? It’s not like I’ve ever dated a woman before, maybe I’m just…”

“Maybe you’re just what?” Magnus questions her, his gaze as steady and comforting as it was seconds before. As though she isn’t rambling nonsensically about her emotions. “Isabelle, what’s really bothering you?”

She opens her mouth only to snap it shut an instant later. What is bothering her?

It’s not her sexuality, because she has no issues with being bisexual. In fact, it explains a lot of things about her that she didn’t understand before. It’s not what others will think about her sexuality either, because she doesn’t care about what anyone has to say about her. It’s not even her family, because she knows they’ll always love her. The only thing that’s really worrying her is…

“I’m with Simon,” she says, as though Magnus isn’t aware of that already. “I’m with Simon and have been for a while now. What if he thinks I don’t love him anymore? What if he doesn’t understand?”

“As irrational as your fears are in this case,” Magnus sighs. “I get where you’re coming from. The heart is rarely a logical organ, especially not when we’re afraid someone has the power to break it. You love Simon, and you’re worried he’ll leave you if you tell him about this. Maybe someday you’ll feel ready, but that day isn’t today. There’s nothing wrong with that. You could always start by telling your brothers about it.”

She could. She knows telling someone would be beneficial, especially someone like Alec who knows what she’s going through. She knows that, and part of her wants to act on it. But…

“It wouldn’t be fair to Simon,” she murmurs. “This, me, my… sexuality. It concerns him more than it does anyone else. He’s the one who shares his life with me, cares about me, and I feel like telling someone else before him would be disrespectful and wrong and yet another thing for him to hold against me.”

Her boyfriend is a kind soul, kinder than almost anyone she’s ever met, but he’s only human. Well, not completely, but enough so that he would probably be offended if Isabelle started telling people about her sexuality but kept him in the dark. Opening up to Magnus is already a huge leap for her, and she’s not sure she can handle much more right now.

“I want to tell him,” she continues quietly, staring down at the dark drink in front of her. “Sometimes the words are on the tip of my tongue, begging to be let out. But I just- I don’t know why I can’t come out and say it, Magnus. What’s so wrong with me that I can’t even discuss things with the one person I trust with my life?”

When she looks up, the warmth in Magnus’ eyes has been replaced by complete and utter sadness. Izzy hates knowing she’s the one who put that look there, but there’s nothing she can do about it. Except maybe stop hating herself for her inability to speak up, and she’s not sure that’s going to happen any time soon.

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” her friend eventually tells her, covering one of her hands with both his own. His rings feel cool to the touch, and Isabelle lets the feeling ground her. “My dear Isabelle, talking about sexuality, especially when you’ve only recently discovered your own, isn’t easy. It should be, but it rarely is. I’m not saying you should keep this a secret forever, because secrets have a way of creeping up on you when you least want them to, but if that’s what you want? No one’s forcing you to come out. Tell me, why did you ask me to come here today?”

“Well, because I- I needed your help,” Isabelle stammers. Magnus levels her with one of his unimpressed looks at her lacklustre answer and she immediately deflates. “And because I wanted to talk to someone who would understand and know how to help me. You’ve been through this before, though I’m not sure if your circumstances were anything like mine, and I thought it might help me.”

“I see,” Magnus hums. “And is this helping? Do you feel better now that you’ve talked to someone about your sexuality? Or do you feel as heavy as you did when you first called me over.”

Isabelle cocks her head to the side, considering. When she called Magnus, she was in a frenzy. A pretty girl had just walked past her and she hadn’t known what to do about it. She knew what she felt was attraction, but she couldn’t tell anyone about it, least of all Simon – who had been with her. So, she asked Magnus for help instead.

Magnus, who clearly doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with her for being bisexual even though she’s in a committed relationship with a man. Magnus, who listened to her but isn’t trying to force her into doing something she’s terrified of doing. Magnus, who’s barely said anything at all but who knows what she’s dealing with.

“It… is,” she admits, smiling shakily at her friend. “I mean, I don’t feel like all my worries have been lifted off my chest, but this… Thank you, Magnus. For understanding.”

“Oh, Isabelle,” Magnus mutters, shaking his head exasperatedly at her. “You don’t need to thank me. I’m your friend, helping you is what I’m supposed to do. I’m sure the rest of our little crew would have done the exact same thing. And when you tell them, they will. They’ll listen, remind you it’s okay to come out at your own pace, and maybe even hug you if it’s Clarissa we’re talking about.”

“So you really don’t think I have to tell Simon about this yet?”

“I really don’t,” the warlock huffs. “Sherman will have to be patient with you. Though, if you want to make sure your relationship doesn’t suffer because of this, maybe tell him there’s something on your mind that you don’t feel ready to talk about yet. The boy might be a bit immature sometimes, but I promise he’ll be just as supportive as ever.”

Izzy laughs lightly, although she nods at her friend’s suggestion. She might not want to tell Simon about her sexuality quite yet, but he deserves to know something’s bothering her. The foolish vampire will probably insist on making her watch sappy movies and then shower her in terrible food. It’s one of the reasons she loves him.

“You’re a good friend, Magnus,” she tells the warlock, squeezing his hands in hers and grinning sincerely at him. “I’m glad I have you in my life.”

“And I’m glad I have you in mine, Isabelle.”

Really, her brother has impeccable taste in men. She can only hope he keeps Magnus around, because they could all use some 400-year-old wisdom in their lives.