Revelations – EAD 2021

Revelations – EAD 2021

Title: Shadowwings – Revelations

Author: Claire Watson

Word Count: 11,097

Fandom: Shadowhunters

Relationship(s): Alec/Magnus

Genre: AU, wingfic

Content Rating: Gen

Warnings: None at present

Authors Note: This is the second story of my Shadowwings series, the first part of which can be found in the ‘Complete’ section. That should really be read first in order to understand why things are different than in canon.

 

It was a standard demon hunt that threw Clary Fray in Alec, Izzy and Jace’s path. A shape-shifter demon had been observed preying on Mundanes, so they geared up and set out to stop it. It was a run of the mill mission that generally wouldn’t require all three of them, but Alec and his siblings usually tried to get at least one hunt together each month, and demons had been relatively scarce lately.

The demon they were after was reported to conduct business in the back room of Pandemonium, a trendy warlock-owned and Downworlder friendly nightclub. Jace won the toss, which meant that Izzy was dressed to distract, and Alec was back-up.

The mission took a turn for the interesting when they saw just how many demons were congregating in the area. Shape-shifting demons weren’t known for their sociability, after all.

Despite the increased numbers, it was nothing that three well-trained Shadowhunters in their prime couldn’t handle. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, until the interruption of a whip-thin, red-headed whirlwind into the fight.

Before long, Jace was tearing off after the newcomer, leaving Izzy and Alec to organise clean up.

“You know, this is the third clean-up in a row that Jace has managed to find some reason to get out of.” Izzy grimaced as she inscribed the single remaining corpse with the transportation rune. Brother Samuel had shown it to Alec on his last yearly visit to the City of Bones. A demon that didn’t crumble, combust, or otherwise disappear, needed to be investigated.

Alec still visited the City of Bones every year without fail, spending upwards of a week at a time with the Silent Brothers. Izzy and Jace had standing invitations, but neither of them was as comfortable in the eerie place. For Alec, it was the closest thing to a holiday that he was able to take—not that he stopped training, of course—but instead of demon hunts, there were knowledge hunts. He immensely enjoyed the delightful experience of fossicking through ancient texts that no-one but the Silent Brothers had seen in nearly a millennium.

The fallout from what had come to be colloquially known as ‘The Inquest’ was still being felt in Idris. Many felt that Inquisitor Herondale had overstepped her remit by essentially putting people on trial for a second time. Only the number of people exposed as still belonging to Valentine’s Circle halted the initial plans to have her voted out of her position immediately afterwards.

Even with the results proving The Inquest as justified, a motion was mooted each year to strip Imogen of her rank and elect a replacement. So far, those votes had failed, but the margin of failure was getting slimmer each time.

Imogen had privately told Alec that it would have been worth it even if she had been demoted immediately. Her actions were a prime example of the Clave’s laws’ rigidity and slow decline into a tyranny, and she’d hoped that it would serve as a wake-up call for the more moderate of the Council members. Clave law needed to be changed so that so few people would no longer hold so much power. They were lucky that Imogen had chosen to use the control the Clave had invested in her in service to the Clave, even if people didn’t like it. Another might instead use their power for personal gain or for petty aggrandisement. Most of the council appeared to have missed this point and were trying to oust Imogen instead.

Regardless, at this point, Imogen was looking forward to retirement. She’d been making plans to spend more time with Jace—giving unsubtle hints about her desire to be a great-grandmother—and had made room for all of the Lightwood children in the sprawling Herondale mansion. Alec and Izzy greatly appreciated having somewhere to stay in Alicante that let them avoid Maryse and Robert’s increasingly tense companionship.

Now that the Sword of Damocles that the Clave had been metaphorically holding above their heads had finally fallen, both Robert and Maryse had, individually, relaxed a great deal. The first time that his father had praised Alec’s bow-work without any sort of qualifier was a surprise that was only surpassed by the first time Maryse had said, after grilling Izzy about her love life, “What about you, Alec? Any young men on the horizon?”

There were other concerns, though. It turned out that without the long hours involved in running the Institute to limit the amount of time they spent together, Robert and Maryse were finding it co-habitation a bit wearisome. Alec could see it whenever they were in the same room together; he wanted to help but couldn’t see how. It made for an uncomfortable atmosphere. Since the Herondale residence was closer to the City of Bones, Alec’s usual destination when visiting Alicante, he often stayed with Imogen.

Not that he spent much time in Alicante. Alec’s home had always been the New York Institute, and that hadn’t changed.

There had been some friction when Jace had learned of Hodge’s role in his own birth, which took place after his mother’s death, both events orchestrated by Valentine. Alec had feared that it would drive an insurmountable wedge between Jace and Hodge, even as he recognised his brother’s right to his anger. However, after a rocky period where he trained until he was exhausted, Jace came to view those events with, if not precisely acceptance, a certain amount of understanding.

Never having known his parents made it simultaneously harder and easier. They were more like fairy tales to him than real people, the only things he knew about them were either second-hand, from Imogen or what was in their records. Not to mention, they’d both been Circle members, and Jace would never know the extent of the crimes they committed under Valentine’s leadership.

It was hard and took time, but in the end, Jace recognised that Hodge had submitted to his imprisonment without protest and had served well and faithfully for years. Jace was willing to forgive, if not forget. Their relationship would never be quite the same, but that was inevitable.

Imogen hadn’t been quite so philosophical, and Alec suspected that it was this, rather than justice, that had her forbidding Hodge from living in Idris.

Hodge had no hereditary property in Idris, and habitually avoided having to deal with untrained Nephilim, so he didn’t appear to be at all inconvenienced by Imogen’s dictate.

Now that he was at the Institute on his own terms, Hodge had flourished in his role as senior trainer. New York had gained a reputation for efficiency and effectiveness that was rivalling Institutes worldwide, even those in more settled countries like Denmark and Sweden. Alec often asked his advice, and Hodge had responded to that trust with deep and unwavering loyalty.

With Maryse and Robert no longer at the Head of the New York Institute, a new Head had been appointed. There was a rumour that Imogen had selected him personally for the role, although when Alec asked her, she informed him that he didn’t have clearance to know the inner workings of the Inquisitor’s office. Since Imogen had shared other details of her decisions with him and his siblings, Alec took that to mean that she had no intention of answering the question.

Regardless, following the Inquest, Howard Monteverde had become the Head of the New York Institute. It didn’t take long to establish that Monteverde had no intention of spending any longer in the role than he absolutely had to.

Within a year, Monteverde had delegated most of his day-to-day duties to Alec, which suited everyone just fine. There had been almost a sigh of relief when Monteverde had pulled Alec into his office just after his twenty-first birthday to inform him that he was now officially Assistant to the Head. Monteverde’s leadership had looked great on paper, but those who lived in the building tended to look to Alec’s leadership, despite his young age and lack of formal Clave recognition.

Monteverde’s remaining duties revolved around the political side of the Institute—maintaining relationships with the Downworlder representatives of the Greater New York area—and approving Alec’s decisions around the day-to-day running of things. Initially, he’d meticulously checked everything, but he’d grown to trust Alec enough to just rubber-stamp whatever was put in front of him. Alec was simultaneously disapproving of the laxity and grateful that the process was expedited and that he no longer had to explain the reasoning behind his choices.

Izzy had set up a training programme for the demon dismemberment side of things as well. She made sure that all new Shadowhunters coming through the New York Institute knew what to look for and preserve if they came across new demon species. Her classes were popular and fun. The young, enthusiastic Shadowhunters had supplied her with so many research opportunities in the first year alone that the lab had been extended twice. Izzy was the centre of a dynamic team in a constant state of growth as they were stretched to their limits again.

Jace’s restlessness had increased as the years passed. Alec sometimes wondered whether the parabatai bond had given his adopted brother any stability at all. If it did, then he shuddered to think what Jace would have been like without it.

That was why, when Jace ran off after the strange girl, Alec and Izzy merely rolled their eyes at each other and commenced with clean-up rather than running after him. If any single Shadowhunter in their generation could be said to excel in single combat, Jace Herondale was that person.

“I think we’re done here,” Izzy said once the body had disappeared. She grimaced at ichor stains left behind. “Why couldn’t they more considerate and conduct their business out in a disgusting back-alley?”

Alec rolled his eyes at her and headed towards the door back out into the main area. “I’ll be sure to bring it up with the next demon I see,” he said over his shoulder. “Are you okay advising the on-duty manager that we’ll be sending a clean-up team? I want to have a word with a warlock near here, see if she knows anything about this.”

“Sure thing. I’ll meet you back at the Institute.”

Selena Fury was one of Alec’s best informants. She’d initially approached him to thank him —he’d dispatched a ravener demon that had cornered her one night while she was gathering moon-touched veil-webs. Alec, who wasn’t used to being thanked for fulfilling his duty, had thanked her for her thanks. They’d stared at each other awkwardly for a few moments. Thankfully, Izzy had chosen that moment to text him demanding his help with another trio of raveners several blocks over.

Alec’s baffled rhetorical query, “Where are all these demons coming from, all of a sudden?” had Selena volunteering the info that a new Mundane ‘magic’ store was offering books for sale that contained an alarmingly accurate depiction of a demon summoning.

Alec had thanked her again before heading off to help Izzy. He then made a point of looking her up later—once the matter had been resolved—and bringing her the usual Clave reward for informants.

She’d told him she didn’t need his coin, she just wanted to be kept out of Clave documentation. Alec was happy to comply but felt terrible about not rewarding her in some way. Then he hit on the idea of bringing her samples of some plants that were, to his knowledge, only found within Idris’ borders. She was delighted, and Selena had been an invaluable source of info to him ever since.

Alec stopped by to see her most months, a gift in hand, whether she had any info for him or not. Selena would make her special relaxing herbal tea, and they would sit and talk for half an hour. She wasn’t always home, but tonight she must have been expecting him because she had her door open and was ushering him inside before he could even knock.

“Is it that bad?” Alec asked, noting how agitated she seemed.

“Rumours are flying around that the Mortal Cup is somewhere in New York,” Selena whispered, shoving a mug of ordinary chamomile at him.

Alec blinked. What? The Mortal Cup had disappeared nearly twenty years ago. If it was finally resurfacing, then this could be big news. No wonder things had been restless lately. “Is there any information about who has it?” He sipped his drink politely. He much preferred her special tea, but he didn’t hate the chamomile.

“Only speculation, I’m afraid. Most agree that it’s probably a Circle member who’s been laying low; maybe waiting in the shadows for the right time to step into Valentine’s shoes. I’m just glad that Magnus Bane himself attested to Valentine’s death and destruction. At least we know it’s not him.”

“It’s something to be thankful for,” Alec agreed. There was much discussion in Idris about whether the warlocks had overstepped their bounds by incinerating the bodies of Valentine and his son. The Clave would have preferred to retrieve them for study, but the warlocks did such a thorough job that even the ash was reduced to nothing but powder. Alec and his siblings had always come down firmly on the warlocks’ side in this one. According to the Clave, Valentine and his son were already dead, destroyed years prior in a house fire. The warlocks had grounds for their distrust.

Alec handed over the dried glimmerweed he’d been carrying around for the past few days in the expectation of talking to her. “I appreciate the heads-up.” He finished his drink and said goodbye, mind working over what the re-emergence of the Mortal Cup could mean.

Izzy was waiting for him in the all-night diner one street over; together, they made their way back to the Institute. Jace had already returned, comatose red-head in his arms and another, older, red-head in the morgue.

“Where did she come from? She can’t have just popped up out of nowhere. There’s no such thing as new Shadowhunters,” Alec said, even as the iratze that Jace had burned into her skin gave the lie to his words. “Which means that she’s not new at all. Who is she? Where has she been?” A thought struck him. “The Mortal Cup can make mortals into Nephilim, and a source told me that there’s a rumour that it’s located somewhere in New York. Could this woman be the start of an influx? But if it was purposeful, then why wasn’t she told about us?”

Izzy tilted her Head to one side consideringly. “Maybe they did, in a roundabout way. If the current holder of the Mortal Cup is a Downworlder, they might be wanting to build their own Nephilim army to protect them from Shadowhunters.” At Alec’s sceptical look, she shrugged. “It’s just an idea.”

When Hodge came in, he took one look at their guest and raised his eyebrows. “If she isn’t Jocelyn Fairchild’s daughter, I will be astonished indeed.”

Alec turned to him. “Who is Jocelyn Fairchild?”

A corner of Hodge’s mouth turned down. “You would probably be more familiar with her married name, Morgenstern. At the time of the Uprising, Jocelyn was pregnant with their second child. She hadn’t been involved in raids since the pregnancy was confirmed, so no one was surprised that she sat the invasion out. After that, she disappeared. There were rumours that she took the Mortal Cup with her, but no one has seen her since so we can’t be sure.”

Alec’s eyebrows rose. “This could be Valentines’ daughter?” He turned to look at her again.

If this was Jocelyn Morgenstern’s daughter, that would certainly explain how she seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Jocelyn had been one of the Shadowhunters that had gone to ground in the wake of the Uprising. Few of those who had left Valentine of their own free will had emerged since his death resisting arrest seven years ago, and it was widely believed Valentine himself was the main reason for that scarcity. For someone who’s goal in life was subverting people’s loyalty and fomenting rebellion, he seemed to get very upset about the possibility that others might waver in their devotion to him. Hodge had been a veritable font of knowledge about the various members of his own Circle that Valentine had killed when they were suspected of betrayal.

It was beneficial to have him on hand in times like this. Valentine Morgenstern had been incredibly driven and very smart. While his daughter—if it turned out that it was who she was—wouldn’t be made to pay for his sins, there would be a lot of people who would want to keep an eye on her, just in case.

“I think that there’s a strong possibility,” Hodge said. He frowned. “Will it be possible to use the test that proved Jace’s parentage to tell?”

Alec shook his head. “We would need samples of both her parents,” he said. “The woman we believe to be her mother is currently in the morgue, but that only gives us half. There’s not much point unless we have DNA that we know for sure belonged to Valentine. His remains—and those of his son—were incinerated and scattered at sea.”

“Jocelyn’s her more obvious parent,” Hodge said thoughtfully. “The resemblance is striking. If she is the child that Jocelyn was pregnant with all those years ago, Valentine is almost certainly her father. It all depends on how old she is.”

“Protection for her unborn child might have been Jocelyn’s motivation for leaving,” Alec agreed. “Especially after what Valentine had already done to their son.”

“If Jocelyn did manage to take the Mortal Cup with her when she left,” Hodge said slowly. “Then I can’t think that Valentine wouldn’t have exhausted every avenue he could think of to find it. To stay safe, Jocelyn must have had help. That she’s been attacked and killed after all this time…perhaps someone found her.”

Alec frowned at Hodge. “A source told me that the Mortal Cup has surfaced somewhere in New York. If this is Valentine’s daughter, then that can’t be a coincidence. Plus, that would probably explain the reports of increased vampire movement that we’ve been getting. We’ll no doubt be hearing from the Warlocks, Werewolves, and the Seelies, before too long.”

“Logical.”

“I suppose it was too much to ask that the stupid cup would just stay gone,” Alec muttered.

Hodge sent him a sharp glance. “You don’t want to find it?”

Alec sighed. “What I want is for it to stop being a bone of contention between the Downworld and the Clave,” he replied, feeling tired in a way that the demon fight earlier hadn’t managed.

“Downworlders have their own ways to increase their numbers,” Hodge pointed out.

“Not all of them,” Alec countered, rolling his shoulders. “Not that it matters right now. The whole thing is moot until the blasted thing is recovered. In the meantime, the Vampire activity has stirred up some of the other groups. They’re not getting aggressive yet, but if tensions keep rising like this something’s going to break.”

“What do you propose we do?” Hodge asked, following Alec as he made his way back to the Head office.

“First, I need you to take a look at the woman in the morgue,” Alec replied. “Let’s find out if she really is Jocelyn Morgenstern before we make any further plans around their identities.”

v^v^v^v

To Alec’s complete lack of surprise, Hodge positively identified the corpse as Jocelyn Morgenstern.

“We need to inform the Clave that Jocelyn has been killed,” Alec said, already thinking of the best way to word his report. “Her daughter is too young to have been involved in any Circle business, and the Clave has precedents set to ensure that children aren’t punished for the sins of the parents. However, as far as we can tell, she’s all alone now. We know she has the sight, which means that someone will need to come in to give her an overview of the Shadow World, or sponsor her or something. Luckily, that’s beyond my purview.”

“Is it?” Hodge asked. “The whispers on the wind are that you’re being considered for Institute Head. Not before time either, if you ask me. If you’re doing all the work, then it’s only fair you should get the recognition.”

Alec pushed open the door to Monteverde’s office. “There’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?” he murmured. “An official rank increase would mean more work and more overall responsibility. I currently have the option of sending the stuff I really don’t want to deal with up the pipeline. Like right now, for instance.”

“Jace isn’t going to be happy that you went over his head,” Hodge warned.

Alec rolled his eyes. “As soon as Jace stops to think with his brain for a minute, he’ll realise that something as obvious as a recently dead Circle member and her very alive and completely unknown daughter can’t be hidden from the Clave. It only makes sense to get in ahead of the rumour brigade and make sure the story is told the way we want it to be.”

“I’ll let you get to it, then,” Hodge said. He hesitated. “Back in the day, Jocelyn was tight with Lucian Greymark, Valentine’s parabatai. He was bitten by a werewolf and turned, then immediately disowned by pretty much everyone. Last I heard he was a cop, stationed here in New York. It might be something to check out if you’re looking to find out where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing.”

Alec gave Hodge a grateful smile. “Thanks, that sounds sensible.”

“Don’t work too late,” Hodge said over his shoulder as he went out the door, closing it gently behind him.

When Alec was sure Hodge had gone, he took a moment to rest his head in his hands and give voice to the groan of exasperation that he’d been holding in since he’d seen Jace hovering over the comatose red-head. He could already tell that this whole thing was going to be a massive headache.

The first thing to do was to get everything that Jocelyn and her daughter owned packed up safely. Whatever the Clave decided, it was unlikely that the young woman would be returning to her home anytime soon.

v^v^v^v

Jace was pretty pissed off, especially since the Clave representative arrived before his damsel woke up, which meant that he didn’t get the tête a tête he’d intended to have with her. Clary Fray—or Clarissa Fairchild, or Clarissa Morgenstern—was whisked away to Idris as soon as she woke.

“Her mother was just killed right in front of her,” Izzy pointed out while Alec was still trying to find the words to express his disbelief at Jace’s insensitivity. “I doubt she’s interested in bumping uglies right now.”

“It’s not that!” Jace insisted. “I don’t want to have sex with her!” Alec imagined he looked as sceptical as Izzy. Jace rolled his eyes. “Fine, I don’t just want to have sex with her. She’s a mystery, Alec, dropped right into our laps! Don’t you want to investigate it?”

Izzy sighed. “It does sound considerably more fun than our usual. Hunt the demon, kill the demon. Write up a boring report. Hunt the demon, kill the demon. Maybe have the excitement of dismembering a demon body and running experiments on it! Then write up a boring report. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.”

Alec glared at her. “That’s an interesting perspective on our lives, especially since I seem to remember a lot less of the boring report writing than you just mentioned. I could have sworn your usual modus operandi was, ‘Hunt the demon, kill the demon, do the minimum possible reporting required, if anything else is needed Alec can do it!’”

“Well, you do write the best reports,” Izzy said with a smile, hugging his arm and widening her eyes at him. Alec rolled his eyes but was unable to stop smiling back. “There! That’s better. Now, tell me why you decided we had to get the Clave involved in the first exciting business to come our way in years.”

Alec sighed. “I submitted a proposal for the New York Institute to investigate Jocelyn Fairchild, her daughter, and what they’ve been up to since the fall of the Circle. It was approved this morning. We can solve this ‘mystery’ as much as you like.”

Jace folded his arms across his chest, scowl firmly in place. “Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”

Alec raised his eyebrows. “When was I supposed to do that? While you were mooning over her like some creepy stalker, or while you were having a go at me for not letting you run around without sanction, no doubt offending everyone and breaking the Accords left, right and centre, because you didn’t want to risk someone saying ‘no’ to you?”

Izzy snorted. “Big brother has a point. The Clave loves you, you’re their golden boy. They already pretty much let you do whatever you want.”

“They might have said ‘no,’” Jace insisted with a pout that made him look like an adorable toddler being denied his favourite cake.

“Perhaps it would be a good idea to stop whining about it and to actually make a plan,” Alec suggested, ignoring the pout with the ease of a lot of practice.

Jace sighed. “We’re going to have to wait to question her.”

Or we could follow this lead that Hodge gave me,” Alec countered, walking over to the nearest display screen and bringing up the file that he’d been working on since the night before. “Lucian Greymark, parabatai to Valentine and close friend of Jocelyn Fairchild. He was turned after being caught in a werewolf attack rumoured to have been a set-up, a direct result of Valentine discovering that his wife and parabatai were having an affair. Disowned and disgraced, he disappeared for a time, re-emerging as werewolf Luke Garroway. He is currently employed as a cop, partnered with another member of the New York Pack.”

“So, he’s in New York, and Jocelyn and her daughter are in New York,” Jace mused. “I see where you’re heading with this, and I agree. Even without the rumours of an affair, that’s too much of a coincidence.”

“It’s not documented, but Hodge also told me that Jocelyn’s disappearance coincided with Valentine losing control of the Mortal Cup,” Alec continued. “She was widely believed to have died, taking the location of the Cup with her. Now that we know that she’s been alive and well all this time…”

“Everyone is going to be ramping up their efforts to get their hands on the Cup,” Izzy finished. “Which I’m sure will be an added layer of delight on top of the recent Vampire activity and the unrest in the Seelie Court.”

Alec looked at her sharply. “What unrest in the Seelie Court?” he asked. “Is it significant enough to affect the political balance?”

Izzy gave a careless shrug. “Meliorn was saying that’s it’s mostly internal posturing,” she replied. “Something that happens every couple of centuries or so.”

“Mostly,” Alec repeated, wondering if the next piece of news was going to be that the warlocks were agitating.

“Don’t worry, big brother,” Izzy said. “I’ll keep an ear to the ground. I’ll pump Meliorn for information every chance I get, just for you.”

Jace snorted with laughter, his good mood completely restored. Alec gave him his best withering stare, but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.

“Just—try to be a little diplomatic when you interrogate Luke Garroway?” Alec suggested. “The last thing we need is open hostilities with the werewolves on top of everything else that’s happening.”

“Sure thing,” Jace said with a wide grin, throwing a salute in Alec’s direction. “Come on Izzy, let’s go and ask Hodge if there’s anything else he knows that might come in handy.”

Alec sighed. Hopefully, they’d lose some of that manic energy before they talked to Officer Garroway.

v^v^v^v

“He doesn’t know where it is,” Jace reported. “He admitted to knowing that Jocelyn and Clary were in New York, but refused to say anything else without Clary present.”

“We told him that Jocelyn died,” Izzy added. “He was pretty shaken up about it. I think it’s probably fair to say that he more than just ‘knew’ that they lived close by.”

“We stopped by Jocelyn’s house to make sure that everything had been taken care of there,” Jace offered. “We ran into a Warlock, name of Dot. She also refused to tell us anything. Said something about talking to Magnus Bane. He’s still the High Warlock of Brooklyn, right?”

“Yes,” Alec confirmed. He flicked through the Institute’s files until the one on Magnus Bane was showing. There was no date of birth, but they had information on him going back far enough to know he was centuries old. He certainly didn’t look his age. Magnus Bane was a handsome man, with Asian features and a lithe build. Even in the photographs, he looked ready to challenge the world. This was not a man to be taken lightly. “I’ve never actually met him. Apparently, he doesn’t particularly like Shadowhunters. Not that I blame him.”

“He was a high-profile target when the Circle was active,” Hodge commented. “Valentine lost several attack groups who went after him.”

“So, he can fight,” Jace mused. He tilted his head slightly. “He certainly looks confident enough.”

“Valentine ordered us all to be on the lookout for something that would give us the upper hand,” Hodge went on. “Tactically, it’s best to get him when he’s in a group of people that he feels responsible for. That way, he can’t use the more destructive elements of his magic.”

Alec grimaced. “You mean that you were looking for hostages. He worried Valentine that much.”

Hodge nodded. “He would never have said so, of course. Valentine regarded most of the Downworld as vermin that needed eradicating. The ones he actually hated…those were the ones that he secretly feared.”

“Do you think he’d talk to us?” Izzy asked. “How would we even find him?”

“We do have something in the vault that would catch his attention,” Hodge mused. “A necklace, showcasing a four-karat, unheated Burmese ruby.” He brought up an image on his tablet. “The story is that he gifted it to his then-lover, Camille Belcourt.”

“It’s beautiful,” Isabelle murmured. “I’m not sure I want to know why we’re holding onto it.”

“It’s more than just beautiful.  The jewel is enchanted to alert the wearer to the presence of demons. Offering it to him should be enough to get an interview.”

Jace’s eyes lit with excitement. “We should send him a fire-message. Arrange to meet him in some seedy dive somewhere.”

Alec rolled his eyes. “Or we could just send him a request for a meeting. This isn’t a secret mission, you know. The Clave can foot the bill for his time; just as they would for any High Warlock we consult.”

Jace elbowed him. “Alec, you’re sucking all the fun out of this.”

“It’s not supposed to be fun.” Alec eyed his parabatai and then turned to look at Izzy. She gave him a brilliant smile that didn’t reassure him in the slightest. “You know what? I think that I’ll come along. It’s only polite; he’s the High Warlock, after all. I’m not exactly the Head of the Institute, but I’m the next best thing.”

Izzy raised an eyebrow. “The fact that he’s a hottie doesn’t factor into it at all, I suppose.”

It hadn’t, but Alec knew that wouldn’t stop her from prodding him about it. He loved Izzy, but he really wished she’d ease up on him about his love life.

He’d gone on a couple of dates to please her; he’d found himself bored, irritated, and had spent the entire time trying not to look at the clock. Izzy seemed to think that he was repressing himself in some fashion. For all her open-mindedness, she found it hard to accept his assurance that his sex drive was perfectly healthy even though he was in no hurry to actually have sex with anyone. The few people who he’d been sexually attracted to were very straight, and for the rest, he just couldn’t be bothered. He was much happier seeing to matters himself.

“I’ll let you know when I’ve confirmed a time and place,” he said, not bothering to answer since it wouldn’t change her mind. “In the meantime, I’ll need your reports.”

Izzy gave an aggrieved sigh and left with Hodge, but Jace hovered in the doorway. “Do you know when she’ll be back from Idris?”

“You mean Clarissa?” Alec asked. “It won’t take long, I imagine. In fact, thanks for reminding me. She was adamant that she be allowed to come back and find out who was responsible for her mother’s death, so she’ll need a room. Take care of that, would you? After your reports are in, of course.”

“What?” Jace asked incredulously.

Alec raised his eyebrows. “Oh, you’re still looking for things to do? We can always use more bodies on ichor duty…”

“No, no, I’m fine,” Jace said hastily. “I’ll get right to it.” He slammed the door on his way out. Alec let himself smirk and then started composing a letter designed to pique the curiosity of a High Warlock that had made his disdain for the Clave obvious.

v^v^v^v

Izzy had once tried to explain to Alec that there were people who photographed well, and there were others who a static image could never adequately capture. He’d never known quite what she meant until he met Magnus Bane.

High Warlock Bane had suggested using Pandemonium—in the afternoon, several hours before it opened—as a meeting place. Alec didn’t know if it was a test of some kind, since everyone knew that Pandemonium was owned by a Warlock, but was willing enough to concede the home territory advantage. It wasn’t usual Clave policy—which was to ensure that Shadowhunters should always have the upper hand—but Alec figured that Warlock Bane had already given them a concession by even agreeing to the interview. That meant that it was the Institute’s turn to comprise.

As Alec was going to be acting as the representative for both the Clave and the Institute, he took more care with what he was wearing than he would have if it were a hunt or a patrol, or if he were visiting one of his usual contacts. Nothing fancy, of course—Alec didn’t really do fancy, except under duress—but the dark green shirt that Izzy had insisted that he buy was definitely a step above his usual well-worn black.

When he finally met High Warlock Bane, he was glad that he’d made an effort.

The door to the club was unlocked when they arrived, and Alec felt the familiar tingle of Warlock magic on his skin as he crossed the threshold. No doubt Magnus Bane was already notified of their arrival.

Alec waited just inside the door, his siblings at his side, taking a good look around. It was strange to see Pandemonium in the light of day, empty of its usual mass of writhing bodies. The space looked a lot smaller. It was also a lot cleaner than he had thought it would be, with none of the spilt alcohol and baked on sweat smell that he’d been expecting.

“Wow, I always thought that a nightclub viewed during the day would feel seedy,” Jace said with a whistle. “This actually isn’t all that bad.”

“I’m thrilled to hear you say so.”

The unexpected voice had Alec, Jace and Isabelle spinning to face the speaker, who’d entered behind them.

“High Warlock Magnus Bane, at your service. And I’d like to say how delightful it is that the local Institute obviously values punctuality.”

There was a hidden message in there somewhere, but for once, Alec didn’t care about trying to figure out what it was. He was entirely distracted because High Warlock Magnus Bane was possibly the most magnetically stunning man Alec had ever met. His mouth went dry, and he felt his face heat as High Warlock Bane gave him a swift once-over, followed by a second, more leisurely perusal.

“So, this is the young Lightwood I’ve been hearing so much about,” High Warlock Bane murmured after the usual introductions had been taken care of. “I have to say, you’re not quite what I was expecting.”

Alec blinked. Was there a typical response to an opening like that? Wishing he were more socially adept, he fell back on the mission. “Thank you for agreeing to see us on such short notice, High Warlock Bane.” He hoped that he wasn’t coming across as breathless as he felt.

“I assure you, it’s a pleasure,” High Warlock Bane replied. “And please, High Warlock Bane is such a mouthful. Call me Magnus.”

“Sure,” Alec agreed. “I mean, of course! Please call me Alec.” He tried to banish the images that Magnus saying the word ‘mouthful’ had conjured into his brain.

“I would be delighted to.” Magnus snapped his fingers, and a table and four chairs dragged themselves over and arranged themselves invitingly. “Please, sit.” He turned to Alec. “Would Alec be short for Alexander, by any chance?”

Alec nodded and sat, feeling gratified when Magnus immediately took the chair next to him. “Most people call me Alec, although you can call me whatever you want.”

Jace’s kick to his ankle made him drag his eyes away from the way Magnus’ eyeliner made his eyes look all smoky and mysterious. Jace was frowning at him. Alec frowned back. “What?”

“Remember the mission?” Jace said pointedly. “You can flirt later.”

Alec kicked Jace back. “We’re here because Dot Rollins mentioned your name,” he said, trying to remember why they needed Magnus’ help in the first place. “Jocelyn Fray, also known as Jocelyn Fairchild or Jocelyn Morgenstern, was killed a couple of days ago. Her daughter, Clarissa, was attacked as well. Luckily, my brother, Jace, arrived in time to dispatch the demon. Unfortunately, Clarissa was wounded; Jace applied treatment, and she was subsequently moved to the Institute.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Magnus bowed his Head slightly. “Did Clarissa make a full recovery?”

“She’s fine,” Jace said impatiently. “She’s in Alicante right now, but we expect her back at the Institute after she’s learned a bit about her heritage. From the way she reacted, she was completely in the dark about the Downworld.”

“Did you know that Jocelyn was in New York?” Izzy asked, leaning forward. “Dot Rollins clearly knew they were here.”

Magnus sighed. “Yes, I knew. Jocelyn approached a friend of mine some time ago about acquiring protection for herself and her unborn child. She no longer wished to have anything to do with her husband or his Circle and knew that he would not tolerate her defection.”

“What did she offer you?” Jace asked, narrowing his eyes. “I mean, come on. A Circle member suddenly wants out, and you just jump to her bidding? Did she offer you the Mortal Cup?”

Magnus’ mouth twisted. “Yes…and no.” He played with the rings on his right hand. “Jocelyn informed us that Valentine had…acquired the Cup, and then left his probable plans for it up to our imaginations. She promised to remove it from him if we could provide safety. She refused to hand it over to us, and truthfully, we did not want it. After some discussion, we agreed that Jocelyn should hide the Cup in a place and manner of her choosing. It was to be her guarantee that we wouldn’t sell her out because no one in their right mind wanted to risk Valentine getting his hands on it again.”

“How sure are you that she had the Cup?” Alec asked.

“She brought it to us,” Magnus admitted. “Two of us were familiar enough with it to make a positive identification.”

Alec nodded. That seemed reasonable, in the circumstances. “If Jocelyn and Clarissa had been safe and hidden with the Cup all this time, then what changed? Why is all this happening now?”

Magnus sighed. “Clarissa was a bright child. The angelic blood runs strong in her and, coupled with her innate curiosity…well. After one too many close calls, Jocelyn brought her to me. She demanded that I cloud both Clarissa’s sight and her ability to be recognised as ‘other.’ It’s a simple spell. Still, to make sure that she didn’t go searching for anything she remembered, it required removing any memories of the Downworld. The spell was set to break on her eighteenth birthday. I would say that that was probably recently, going by what you’ve told me.”

Izzy frowned. “What’s the significance of her eighteenth birthday?”

“That’s the longest her mother could convince me to keep the spell on her for,” Magnus replied. “Warlocks are largely ungoverned, as far as ethics are concerned. We technically fall under the auspices of the Spiral Labyrinth. Still, the truth is that so long as we don’t cause a lot of strife that might inconvenience other warlocks or get ourselves noticed by the Shadowhunters—and providing we don’t expose the Shadow World to Mundanes—we’re largely left to our own devices. That doesn’t mean that we don’t develop our own codes. Like any group, we gravitate towards those that share similar values. It might be said that if you want to know the value of a Warlock’s ethics, then look to his friends.” Magnus nodded at Izzy. “Or her friends, as the case may be.”

Alec could listen to Magnus talk all day. He had a light, smooth voice, and an expressive way of speaking that caught his attention and held it. He was annoyed when Jace interrupted what was proving to be a fascinating insight into Warlock culture.

“What does that have to do with Clary?”

Magnus rolled his eyes, but it was so quick that Alec wondered if he was imagining it. “While she was still a child, Clarissa wasn’t able to legally consent to having magic cast on her,” he explained. The rhythm of his speech slowed slightly. “Some Warlocks might not have a problem with that, but my friends and I believe in a person’s right to make their own choices about their own body and their own life. I was originally going to set the spell to end on her seventeenth birthday, but Jocelyn argued that the discovery of the Shadow World might disrupt Clarissa’s last year of High School.” He shrugged. “It was a small enough delay, and Jocelyn was a very determined woman.”

“To your knowledge, did Jocelyn reveal where she planned to hide the Mortal Cup to anyone?” Alec asked, more for completion’s sake than because he expected a helpful answer.

Magnus shook his head. “No, I’m afraid not.”

Jace frowned suspiciously, but Izzy was nodding her head.

Alec had run out of questions to ask. “Thank you for your assistance,” he said, squaring his shoulders. When he’d planned this next bit, back in the Institute, it hadn’t seemed nearly as fraught as it appeared now. “The agreed-upon fee has already been transferred, of course, but it’s come to my attention that the Institute was holding something of yours, and I thought you might like it back.” He pulled the case containing the necklace out of his pocket and offered it to the man next to him.

Magnus’ eyebrows were high on his forehead. He gave Alec an assessing look that was quite different from that first appreciative appraisal and took the case. He opened it carefully.

The vibrant ruby within almost glowed. Izzy’s sigh was audible in the silence; she’d more than once expressed her admiration of the necklace to Alec but had agreed that handing it over was the right thing to do.

Magnus lifted the stone from the case, turning it over to read the engraving on the back. “Amor verus numquam moritur. I had wondered if I would ever hold this again. Thank you, Alexander.” He got to his feet, still holding the necklace. “If that’s all, I do have many things that require my attention. If I think of anything further that might assist your investigation, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Alec, Izzy, and Jace rose to their feet too.

“Of course,” Alec said. “We’ll see ourselves out.”

Magnus directed a swift, slightly pained looking smile to him and then retreated.

v^v^v^v

“That was a waste of time,” Jace commented, expression sour, as they passed back through the wards.

“Alec doesn’t think so, do you, big brother?” Izzy teased.

Alec ignored the innuendo in her voice. “We’ve confirmed that Jocelyn did have the Cup and was planning to hide it. We know that she was in touch with more than one Warlock, which means that there might be others who have more information, and we’ve opened up an amicable dialogue with the local High Warlock.”

Jace was still pouting. “We didn’t need to give him the necklace. We should have held onto it and used it later.”

Izzy sighed. “If we’re going to promote equality within the Shadow World, then we need friends as well as allies. That necklace was only being held as a lever against Magnus Bane, and I, for one, am much happier to have him looking kindly upon us than otherwise.” She nudged Alec in the ribs. “Aren’t you glad I got you to wear the green shirt? He couldn’t take his eyes off you.”

“Not that you were any better,” Jace said, looking less gloomy. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you looking quite so smitten. He’s not that good looking, is he?”

Izzy looked at Jace as though he was crazy. “Excuse me? Were you not looking at the same epic hotness that Alec and I were seeing? That is one extremely edible example of restrained masculinity. If Alec hadn’t made his own interest quite so blatant, I would be in on that already.”

Alec felt his face heat up. “Was I that obvious?”

“Uh, yes,” Jace replied. “I wouldn’t worry about it; he wasn’t particularly subtle either. In fact, how much do you want to bet that he’ll call you in the next couple of days with something that he just ‘remembered’ that you might want to know?”

Izzy laughed. “That’s a sucker bet. No thanks.”

Alec frowned. “I’m due at the City of Bones over the weekend, and my phone doesn’t get reception there. What if he calls and then thinks that I’m ignoring him?”

“You can always call him first,” Izzy pointed out. “Casually drop it into conversation.”

“Can we focus on the mission, rather than Alec’s dating prospects?” Jace asked, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “How has it come to this? How is it that I’m the one pulling Alec back on task? The world is topsy-turvy!”

Alec rolled his eyes. “You’ll get over it. Fine. What do you think our next step should be?”

“The Warlock admitted that he’d removed Clary’s memories as they related to the Shadow World,” Jace said. “What if those memories contain information on where Jocelyn hid the Mortal Cup?”

Alec eyed Jace dubiously. “You think that Jocelyn wasn’t already doing her best to keep that information from her daughter? What kind of information are you expecting to find?”

“There might be something,” Jace pointed out. “It’s a lead, at least, which is better than nothing.”

“Jade is right,” Izzy agreed. “Look on the bright side, big brother. You get to be the one to call Magnus Bane and ask him how to go about getting her memories back!”

“He’s already told us that he’s concerned about consent,” Alec reminded him. “He’s not going to do anything without her request.”

“That doesn’t mean that you can’t give him a heads-up that we’ll probably be there asking for it,” Izzy said. “Thank your parabatai for giving you such a good excuse, Alec!”

Alec gave a long-suffering sigh. “Thank you, Jace.”

Jace clapped him companionably on the shoulder. “No problem. Always happy to be your wingman.”

v^v^v^v

Alec called Magnus as soon as they made it back to the Institute. Izzy and Jace had cautioned him to wait, saying that it was important not to look too eager, but Alec ignored their advice. He wasn’t calling to ask for a date, he was providing information. It was a different kind of phone call altogether.

Magnus sounded delighted to hear from him and immediately asked him out for coffee. Alec relayed his upcoming visit to the City of Bones, suggesting a meeting the morning following his return. Magnus agreed, and Alec left for Idris in the best mood he’d been in for a while.

Brother Samuel noticed at once. ‘What has you in such high spirits, my young friend?

Lying to a Silent Brother was useless, and Alec wasn’t ashamed of his feelings. “I’ve got a date for Monday. Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn, asked me for coffee.”

How is Magnus these days? We don’t see him as often as we used to.

Alec blinked. “Magnus Bane visits with you? Why?”

The nature of his association with us is for him to speak of,’ Brother Samuel rebuked him gently. ‘But when you see him, let him know that we remember him fondly.’

“I will,” Alec agreed. “Now, I’ve been thinking about the discussion we had on the effectiveness of adding the strength rune to a chain with Mnemosyne to enhance recall. What about if we switched them around? Or what if we included awareness? We know that clarity has no effect, and eidetic memory is only useful if you use it in advance, but has anyone done tests with awareness?”

The next couple of days involved the usual mix of research and debate, although Alec was aware that he’d garnered slightly more attention than he was used to. In particular, the youngest of the Silent Brothers, Brother Zachariah, took every opportunity to engage him in conversation.

Alec asked Brother Samuel about it.

‘Brother Zachariah just wishes to get to know you,’ Brother Samuel replied. Alec got the distinct impression he was being laughed at. ‘There’s nothing to worry about, young Lightwood.’

On his way back through Alicante, Alec took the opportunity to stop by and see how Clarrisa was doing. It turned out that she and Marion Greenlaw, the instructor the Clave had appointed for her, weren’t precisely seeing eye-to-eye.

“You!” Clarissa shouted as soon as she saw Alec. “What have you learned about the death of my mother? Have you caught the murderers?”

Alec raised his eyebrows at Marion, waiting for her nod before answering. “Your mother died in a demon attack. Demons aren’t considered murderers in the same way that bears, and sharks aren’t considered murderers. However, we know it wasn’t a random attack because your home was warded, which means that someone helped them get inside. Therefore, we’re investigating. We’ve hit a couple of obstacles. We have at least two people of interest that we’d like to question, and neither of them will give us any information until they see that you’re alive and well.”

“Then, I need to come back!” Clarissa whirled on Marion. “See? I told you that I don’t have time for all this nonsense! I have to find out who killed her!”

Marion sighed and rolled her eyes at Alec. “I haven’t had much luck getting her to listen to me, I’m afraid.”

Alec regarded Clarissa with disapproval. “As soon as you prove yourself competent enough to function without someone watching over you all the time, we’ll consider allowing you to contribute to the investigation.”

Clarissa glared at him. “Stop treating me like a child!”

“According to our laws, you are a child,” he pointed out. “You’ve been given some leeway because of your upbringing and your recent trauma, but that won’t last forever. All this shouting and insisting isn’t going to prove that you can be trusted out on your own.”

“You can’t keep me here!”

“By our laws we can,” Alec pointed out. “Your mother knew our laws when she gifted you with a stele. The only thing that a stele is used for is for Shadowhunter rune work, and your possession of it is a tacit admission of Clave authority, which is also written into our laws.” He raised his eyebrows. “There’s also the matter of the Mortal Cup.”

Clarissa folded her arms and glowered at him. “I don’t care about your stupid Cup or your stupid laws. I care about finding out who murdered my mother!”

Alec sighed. “Yes, you’ve already made your intentions clear. How, exactly, are you planning to find the culprits?”

Marion shook her head and left the room.

Clarissa opened her mouth and then closed it again. Her defiant posture loosened slightly.

Alec pressed the point. “If someone sends demons after you, how are you intending to defend yourself from them? You’d already be dead twice over if it weren’t for my parabatai.”

Clarissa’s chin lifted. “Luke would help me. He’s a cop, he knows how to fight. He’s practically my father. And Dot!”She shook her head. Her tone became pleading, almost coaxing. Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, and she opened them wide. “Dot must be going out of her mind with worry! How have you explained my disappearance to her? What about my friends? Simon…”

Alec was unimpressed. “Luke Garroway was born and raised as a Shadowhunter before he became a Werewolf. He’s subject to the Accords, which state that Shadowhunters have jurisdiction over a Shadowhunter murder. If he helped you and you interfered in our investigation, then he would be breaking the Accords. He, and his pack, would be subject to various penalties.”

“What?” Clarissa’s tears disappeared, and she was back to looking furious. “He loved my mother, he loves me! He has every right to help me find her killer!”

Alec snorted. “Is that how it works in the Mundane world? Family members of murdered people are given free rein to bring their killers to justice?”

Clarissa wilted. “No. But Dot, Simon…I still need to go back. I need to tell them what’s going on.”

Alec shook his head. “Dot is a Warlock. She knows more about what happened than you do, in fact, she’s one of the people we want to question.”

Clarissa’s mouth dropped open, before closing with a snap. “And Simon? What manner of strange being is he then?”

“I haven’t met your friend Simon, but given his absence from the investigation so far, he’s probably an ordinary Mundane. You can’t tell him about the Shadow World.” Alec raised a hand, forestalling the objection that she’d already opened her mouth to voice. “He doesn’t have the sight, and right now that keeps him safe. The moment you bring him into this world, your friend will be on the radar of every dangerous thing that walks the streets. All it would take is the wrong person or thing realising that he can see them, and he’d be dead. He can’t defend himself. Is that what you want for him?”

“That’s not fair; you can’t know that!”

“Life isn’t fair! Please rid yourself of the notion that any of us owe you anything, including answers! We’re not heartless, which is why we’re trying to help you! You’re barely eighteen years old; you have no knowledge of the world that you’ve just entered. You think you know better than those of us who’ve been here our whole lives? Stop reacting and try to think!”

Clarissa was crying, but this time her tears seemed genuine.

He gentled his voice. “We want to find your mother’s killer too. We have no intention of separating you from your loved ones, I promise. Jace—the blond man who saved you from the demon—has begun the process of getting accommodations ready for you in the New York Institute. Right now, the fastest way for you to make your way back to Luke and Dot is to pay attention, learn, and show us that you’re capable of thinking things through before taking action.”

Clarissa threw herself into his arms. Alec patted her on the back awkwardly, wishing that Izzy were here. He’d never been good with crying.

“I’m sorry,” Clarissa said, drawing back after a few minutes. “You’re right, I don’t have a plan. It’s just…all my life it’s been my mother and me, and now she’s gone. I’ve been focussing on finding her killer so that I don’t have to think about it.”

Alec went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of paper towels, which he handed to her. “I know that it’s hard. I understand wanting to do something. But the situation is…complicated. That’s one of the reasons why we hustled you out of New York so quickly. Here in Idris, there’s only Nephilim to consider. Out in the rest of the world, there are Werewolves, Vampires, Seelies, and Warlocks. There’s a lot of room for small mistakes to turn into huge issues. It hasn’t been all that long since the Downworld and Idris were on the brink of war.”

“But that’s got nothing to do with me,” Clarissa said. “Why would they care, unless they were helping whoever killed my mother?”

Alec sighed. He really didn’t want to be the one to have to tell her all of this. “As a Nephilim, your actions are a reflection on Idris and the Clave. There’s also the issue of your parentage.”

Clarissa’s fingers tightened around the now rather soggy paper towels. “I’m not going to like this, am I?”

v^v^v^v

In the end, Alec felt the best way for Clary—as she had asked to be called—to understand the full scope of the situation was for her to see the trial transcripts. Marion had all but run the other way as soon as Alec had suggested it, leaving him to take her to the library himself.

He settled Clary in place with a box of tissues and records both from the trials that directly followed the Uprising and those comprising the Inquest. Then he notified Monteverde, Jace and Izzy that he’d been delayed in Alicante. He pulled up some of his less confidential paperwork to work on while she read, doing his best to ignore the sniffling sounds she made. He looked up at the sound of the book closing.

Clary’s eyes and nose were both red, and there was a pile of used tissues by her right hand. “Valentine was really my father?”

Alec nodded. “As far as we’re aware. Do you see now why it might not be a good idea for you to go running through our world without consideration? It’s another one of those things that’s not fair, but people are going to be watching you extra closely. You’re not going to have quite the same leeway as someone else—someone with a different family history—who found themselves in your situation would get.”

Clary nodded and blew her nose. “The Lightwoods in there, Robert and Maryse,” she said hesitantly. “Are they…”

Alec sighed. “My parents, yes.” He hesitated. His and Izzy’s situation was different from Clary’s, but there were enough similarities that sharing it with her might help her see him as someone to empathise with rather than a problem to overcome. “I was the child whose existence meant their sentences were lenient. My sister and I grew up under the same type of scrutiny that’s now falling on you. At least you have the advantage of knowing why.”

“You mean, you didn’t know?”

Alec shook his head. “Not until I visited Alicante on my own when I was nine. It was a shock, but it also made a lot of our childhood make sense. I finally understood why my parents insisted that Izzy and I had to be perfect, that nothing—not even death—was worse than bringing dishonour to the family name.”

Clary reached out and gave his hand a compassionate squeeze. “That must have been terrible.”

Alec cleared his throat, uncomfortably. “It’s not fair on you, just like it wasn’t fair for Izzy and me. But I think that we can agree that the Downworlders who were hunted, murdered, tortured, and mutilated, had it worse, right?”

Clary nodded. “The things the Circle did to them…it was horrific and barbaric. And the way that the questioning in those trials was done…was I imagining it, or was the Clave far more concerned about the relatively few Nephilim deaths than they were about the many Downworlders tortured and killed?”

“You weren’t imagining it,” Alec said, sitting forward and dropping his voice slightly. “Things are a little better now. My siblings and I are working on improving relations, in the greater New York area, at least. The Downworld doesn’t really trust Shadowhunters, not that I blame them, and it’s an uphill battle to find common ground that isn’t already seeded with landmines. I want to help you get closure for your mother’s death, Clary. We will find out who was responsible, I promise. But it might take longer than you like because I can’t just consider what you want, I have to consider what’s best for the whole New York area.”

Clary nodded, looking downcast. Now that she wasn’t trying to obviously manipulate him, Alec could empathise with her a lot more. Hopefully, this was enough of a wake-up call to get her to take her situation seriously.

“Come on,” Alec said, rising to his feet and signalling to the librarian that they were done. “Izzy tells me that the best cure for anything emotional is chocolate, and Idris has some very skilled chocolatiers. Why don’t we stop by and see what they’ve got?”

v^v^v^v

Alec got back to New York just before 2.00am on Monday morning. It took two hours to clear his desk, then he had two hours before he was due to supervise the morning drills.

“I could have taken care of it,” Isabelle said with exasperation when she realised that he hadn’t bothered going to bed. “You are allowed to ask us to help you, you know.”

Alec shrugged. “It’s fine.” He didn’t want to tell her that the thought of seeing Magnus again would probably have kept him awake anyway. “Clary recorded a message for us to take to Dot Rollins and Luke Garroway, asking them to help with the investigation. Want to take Jace with you and see if you can discover anything?”

Izzy raised one eyebrow. “Fine. Send it to my phone. When we get back, we can have storytime. Have you picked out an outfit for your date?”

Alec frowned at her. “I’ll be wearing my usual work gear.”

“Oh, Alec,” Izzy sighed. “You can do better than that. He’ll think you don’t care what he thinks!”

“I don’t see the point in pretending to be someone I’m not,” Alec replied, irritated. “Magnus will understand me, or he won’t. Besides, there’s a work-related reason for this meeting.”

Izzy lifted her hands in surrender. “Fine, fine. I’ll stop pushing you. If you ever want fashion advice, let me know. I’ve been dying to dress you up.”

Alec relented slightly. “I promise that you’ll get the opportunity someday. Did you need anything else? I don’t want to be late.”

“Go,” she shooed him away. “We can deal with it, Alec, go!” She winked at him. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Alec gave her a quick half-hug. “Thanks.”

He got to the café with ten minutes to spare. He decided to wait inside—maybe take the opportunity to peruse what was on offer—and found that Magnus had already arrived.

Magnus’ initial look of surprise melted into a welcoming smile. “Alexander!”

Alec really liked the way Magnus said his name. “Hi,” he replied, feeling a little breathless. Somehow, he’d managed to forget just how gorgeous the man was.

Magnus’ smile widened. “Take a seat, please. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve asked the barista here to provide us with a small plate of their best-sellers.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Your sister informed me that you take your coffee black and strong. I do hope she wasn’t misleading me?”

Alec felt his face heat as he sat down. Magnus had asked Izzy what he liked? “No,” he replied. “I mean, yes. Yes, that’s how I take my coffee, no, she wasn’t misleading you.”

“I’m delighted to hear it,” Magnus replied. A server arrived with a plate full of little cakes and pastries, followed by another who dropped off their drinks. Magnus thanked them gracefully and waited for them to depart before fixing his gaze on Alec’s face. “I hear the pets-de-nonne here are delightful.”

“It all looks great,” Alec replied. He cradled his drink in his hands and cleared his throat. “I should probably get the official stuff over and done with first.”

Magnus made a graceful ‘after you’ gesture with one hand. “By all means.”

“Clarissa Morgenstern’s memories,” Alec said. “Are they able to be returned? If so, what is involved?”

“Ah,” Magnus replied. “They can be returned, although the process to do so is both difficult and risky. The truth is that those memories are no longer under my control. I fed them to a memory demon almost as soon as I acquired them.”

Alec blinked. “Okay. Why?”

Magnus shrugged. “I was concerned that Valentine might discover my possession of them. Given some of Jocelyn’s concerns about what her daughter might have witnessed, I thought it best that her memories be placed somewhere unreachable. That way, even if I were somehow captured, I couldn’t be tortured into revealing their location.”

Alec nodded. “Good point.” He picked up a mini chocolate éclair and nibbled at the end. It was delicious.

Magnus watched him through slightly narrowed eyes. “You’re not offended by my obvious distrust of the Clave’s assurances that he was dead?”

“Given that Valentine was later discovered alive and well, anyone telling you that your precautions were unreasonable is either an idiot or…a bigger idiot, I suppose. Or a member of the Circle who we’ve yet to uncover.”

Magnus tilted his head slightly. “You’re a very unusual Shadowhunter, Alexander Lightwood.”

4 Comments

  1. Hildegunn Urdahl

    Thanks for the update 😀 Is this the final update of this story or will you publish the finished product at a later time? (it doesn’t feel done in a way basically which makes me hope for the latter? The first was and is a personal favorite and this part is also absolutely brilliant 😀

      1. Hildegunn Urdahl

        Thanks for replying 🙂 (.. and sorry for asking; but the first was one of those I kept rereading and rereading and so a sequel was absolutely awesome). Have fun writing and I hope you and yours are safe and healthy and remain so.

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