“I just can’t believe you, Alexander, you think you know someone and then they break one of the most simple relationship rules.” Magnus’ eyes were downcast and his lips pinched.
Moving forward to wrap his arms around his boyfriend, Alec rested his chin atop Magnus’ head, frowning in confusion. He thought through every moment of their evening so far trying to work out exactly what he could have said to hurt Magnus but nothing was springing to mind. He rubbed soothing circles into Magnus’ shoulder blades, holding him tight even as he felt him trying to pull away.
“I’m sorry,” Alec said softly. “I didn’t mean to spoil our evening together. What can I do to make it up to you?”
“I don’t know that you can,” Magnus stated, voice slightly muffled from where his face was pressed against Alec’s shirt. “I just thought you understood how much this all meant to me. But clearly, I was wrong.”
Alec’s eyebrows knitted even closer together. He was very much lost by this point. To him, it seemed like a normal evening. Well, a normal evening for them usually involved at least one Shadow World related crisis, so maybe not that normal. But a normal relationship evening at least. He’d picked up a bottle of wine on the way over from the Institute, the white that Magnus preferred on a summers evening. They’d had cocktails and talked about their days, soft music playing in the background. Magnus had conjured dinner from a pub in England and told anecdotes about his stay with Ragnor a few years prior. They’d eaten on the balcony and watched the sunset over the city. As far as Alec was aware it didn’t get much better than this?
“I’m sorry,” he repeated. Knowing that the next thing he’d say could make things even worse he inhaled deeply. “I’m also sorry for what I’m about to say. But Magnus, what did I do that’s hurt you so much? Please tell me and I’ll do whatever I can to fix it,” he pleaded, arms still wrapped tight around Magnus.
Magnus pushed at his chest with both hands, forcing them apart. The corners of his lips curled down and eyes widened.
“Really Alexander, you have no idea what you could have done?”
Alec’s heart broke at the hurt in Magnus’ voice. He’d do anything at this point to see him crack even a little smile.
“If I knew, I’d also know how to fix this,” he reached out and cupped Magnus’ face in his hand, caressing the corner of his lips with a tender stroke of his thumb.
“You took the last fry from my plate,” Magnus said, tone serious. Alec froze, hand still on Magnus’ face. This was about food? That was all?
He almost laughed with relief at the sudden weight lifted from his shoulders but thankfully managed to bite it back. Worrying his lower lip between his teeth, he took a second to collect his thoughts. Magnus was clearly upset by this, whatever he said next could either diffuse the situation or dig him a deep, deep hole he’d somehow have to crawl out of.
“Oh. Well as I said, I’m very sorry.” Alec reached out and grabbed Magnus’ hand, running his thumb over the rings decorating his boyfriend’s fingers before rubbing soothing circles into the back of his hands. He looked down at where their hands were intertwined, taking it as a good sign that Magnus hadn’t pulled back just yet. “What can I do to make this right? Let’s not let this cloud our whole evening.”
“I think it’s a bit late for that, Alexander.” Magnus shot him a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, still brimming with unshed tears. “I know it probably seems trivial to you, but this evening was important to me. Those fries were important to me. I was enjoying that I could open up to you, reminisce about the good times I’d shared with Ragnor.”
“I know, and I loved hearing all about your friend. He sounds like a truly great man, I’m sad that I couldn’t get to know him as your friend.” Alec said, sincerity dripping from every single word. “I know you said you’d magicked that food in from a very specific British pub that made you think of him. But I didn’t realise the fries themself were that special and for that I’m sorry.”
“It’s just the last time I stayed with him, we went to this quaint little pub with a thatched roof. We both had burgers with rosemary fries. Yes, the food was delicious and that’s part of the reason why I wanted it this evening. But it’s also the memories the food evokes that are important. When we sat there and the waitress didn’t even bring over cutlery, Ragnor was so disgruntled. You should have seen him, he couldn’t fathom that a burger and fries could be eaten with your bare hands. He went on this whole rant about the rise and fall of civilisations and how many lifetimes it’s been since he last had to suffer the indignity of eating with his bare hands.” He let out a watery chuckle. “He soon shut up when he tasted the food - told me it was the best meal he had had in centuries.” A tear spilt from the corner of one eye, Alec brushed it aside gently, before pulling Magnus into a one-armed hug. Magnus shivered up against him.
“Come on, let’s move inside and you can tell me more about Ragnor’s opinions on other 21st-century developments too.” He suggested
“OK, but that doesn’t mean you’re forgiven,” Magnus said softly, trying to look stern through the tears but only managing to look adorable with his nose scrunched up and his eyeliner smudged around his eyes.
“I wouldn’t dare think I was.” Alec kissed the tip of his nose before leading him back in from the balcony.
They talked long into the evening, Magnus recalling stories from years before. Not just about Ragnor, but about his antics with Cat and Dot and many others too. Alec found himself enraptured by every tale, Magnus was a born storyteller. Though one with a penchant for exaggeration. On a couple of occasions, Alec had made mental notes to fact check some of Magnus’ more ludicrous anecdotes with Cat.
He assumed he was back in Magnus’ good books as when Alec had yawned and they’d realised it was almost midnight, Magnus had offered for him to stay. Promising him a portal back to the institute bright and early for his morning patrol.
However, now he was struggling to sleep. Yes, Magnus seemed to have forgiven him but something so silly as stealing a fry had caused more hurt than intended so Alec wanted to find a way to show that he truly was sorry. Careful not to wake the warlock who was snoring softly next to him, he reached for his phone.
Typing into google “ways to apologise” he scrolled through the endless lists suggesting anything from sticky notes to baked goods, and even one that suggested: “buy them a new car”. There was no way such a small crime as stealing a fry required him to purchase anything so grandiose. He also knew that Magnus would not want anything so cliche as roses as an apology.
Changing his search term to “unique ways to apologise” Alec scrolled through the first page of results, which just seemed to be lists of the same ideas as his previous search, just dressed up a bit fancier. He clicked onto page two of results and was about to give up when towards the bottom a website caught his eye.
It was certainly a unique way to share a message, and would kind of fit the theme of the crime. Sort of. Though maybe it would be inappropriate, given the tone of conversations around the fries in question.
Glancing down at Magnus, who was smiling softly in his sleep, Alec considered for a few minutes before clicking through to the site deciding ‘to hell with it’. Given the stories Magnus had told him about Ragnor this evening, he was sure the British Warlock would find his plan amusing, so Magnus would hopefully see the funny side too.
A few days later, Alec had just finished the daily briefing in the ops centre when his phone rang. Pulling it out to see it was Magnus, whom he hadn’t had the chance to see or speak to since the fateful fries incident. He quickly swiped to answer the call.
“Hello, Alexander. I received some interesting mail today, I couldn’t help but wonder if you had anything to do with it.”
Alec breathed in deeply, suddenly regretting his middle of the night amusement. Though Magnus didn’t sound angry or upset. Maybe he was talking about different mail.
“I don’t know, Magnus. I guess that depends on what you were sent,” he replied, trying to keep calm and play dumb.
His phone pinged in his hand with a message from Magnus which simply read [attachment]. Clicking to open it, Alec burst out laughing, causing the Shadowhunters around him to jump in surprise.
“Yes Magnus, as if it wasn’t 100% obvious. That was from me.”
On his screen was a photo of a potato with the words ‘ I’m sorry I stole your last fry, allow me to make you some more ’ written in black sharpie across it.
Magnus’ answering giggle helped him release the breath he hadn’t even realised he was holding. This could well have been the best fifteen dollars he’d ever spent.