Alec couldn't remember whose idea it had originally been, if truth be told; the whole thing was a fuzzy memory that was tinged with some martinis Magnus had made and a Christmas tune that had been stuck in Alec's head ever since he and Magnus had gone shopping earlier that day and the store's radio had been playing Christmas music already.
They had been lounging about on the couch, Alec perched on Magnus' lap and nuzzling at his neck, whistling the tune under his breath idly as Magnus regaled him with a tale concerning a client he had had to deal with that morning before Alec had come by to pick him up for their shopping date.
And suddenly a whole conversation was sparked, and they got on the subject of Christmas trees.
Alec had never put a Christmas tree up before, he had admitted; he knew of them, of course, knew of the tradition and such, but the Institute had never…
He had never put one up before, had never believed in Santa, had never baked cookies with his siblings and tried to wait up to catch Santa or anything like that. On Christmas Day, the whole Institute exchanged gifts in the ops center, and then they all split off into their own little groups and families for their own little traditions, but in all that Alec had never once seen a Christmas tree anywhere in the building.
Sometimes the Lightwoods had dinner together Christmas evening, but most of the time Robert and Maryse were due back in Idris for something or another not long after presents and pleasantries were exchanged, and Alec, Izzy, and Jace were left to their own devices.
Which was to say, Izzy cooked, Alec and Jace pretended for her for one day that it was an edible meal. They exchanged their own gifts, and spent the evening curled up together in the library or one of their rooms trading war stories and childhood memories, a familiar, nostalgic warmth hanging over them all the while.
And then the next day they went back to hunting demons, and that was all there was to it. No decorations, no trees, no singing or baking or breaking and entering—well, except for that one year, but Jace had been going through A Phase and they didn't talk about it—just them, just whatever they were.
But, ah, the point was that Alec had never decorated a tree, and didn't much see the point in one either, didn't see the point in bringing the outdoors indoors, in decorating something they would have to take down and undecorate sooner rather than later. He didn't see the point in wrapping up their presents weeks ahead of time and leaving them to sit under the tree until Christmas Day.
He really didn't see the point in it, but somehow—somehow he and Magnus were talking and suddenly Alec had agreed to putting up a Christmas tree in the loft for the holidays, though he really wasn't entirely sure how that had happened at all.
All he really knew was that it seemed as though it was going to make Magnus happy to do this together, so do it they were going to. Alec already had Magnus' Christmas present anyway, and if he had to wrap it and stick it under a tree to make him happy, then so fucking be it.
All Alec wanted to do after the long ass day he had had was collapse into his and Magnus' bed and sleep for a million years. Or eight hours. He would settle for the solid, uninterrupted eight hours he was theoretically meant to get in the first place, really. As long as he got to collapse in the middle of their bed he wouldn't complain too much about how much sleep he actually wound up getting.
But today was not the day for that, he remembered just as he shut their front door behind himself, and was hit with the smell of pine, cinnamon, and…
Freshly baked cookies?
He paused where he was and blinked to himself, the soft tinkling of Christmas music hitting his ears just a second before Magnus' voice did, and his boyfriend appeared before him suddenly.
And of course, he remembered then that they had plans to decorate a Christmas tree that night.
(Where were the cookies, though? Were there cookies or was that just a trick to make their home smell Christmas-y?)
"Alexander! Welcome home, darling!" Magnus exclaimed, leaning in close to press a kiss to Alec's lips.
"Hey," Alec murmured, leaning in to kiss Magnus again, thinking that if he couldn't have cookies he would at least steal all the extra kisses that he could to make up for it.
"What kind of surprises do you have waiting for me?" Alec mumbled against Magnus' lips, which turned up into a smile at the question.
"If I told you, then they wouldn't be surprises," Magnus said, pulling back and grabbing for one of Alec's hands to twine their fingers together. "Go get changed so we can begin our evening. Did you want to take a shower first?"
Alec paused, wondering to himself if he should shower now or save it for after their evening activities so Magnus could join him—that would be the most wonderful way to end their evening, if Alec did say so himself.
But on the other hand, he was covered in sweat and ichor and it would probably put a damper on the evening if he walked around with it clinging to him all night. He was no expert, but even he didn't think that ichor mixed well with cinnamon and pine.
"I probably should," he sighed finally.
Magnus gave him a wink at his tone, at the pout on his face, recognizing the want he didn't even need to speak out loud.
"Don't sound so thrilled about it."
"It's just," Alec began, pout deepening ever so slightly. "it's not as fun without you there," he insisted, voice lower now.
Magnus' eyes widened with desire ever so slightly, and he could see Magnus considering whether they could afford for him to join Alec in the shower or not, could see the temptation chipping away at his self-control and resolve. Alec could see that he almost had him.
"Later," Magnus said finally, squeezing Alec's hand, his promise coursing through Alec's veins.
Alec would hold him to that, he told himself as he surged forward to kiss Magnus once more before he saw himself off to the shower. The sooner they got this evening started, the sooner they could finish it.
When Alec got out of the shower and walked to the bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, he stopped in his tracks when he saw a pair of flannel pajamas laid out on the bed. Magnus had probably left them laying out on the bed for him, not an unusual event in the slightest, as Magnus often took to picking out outfits for Alec when he was planning something for them and didn't want to give Alec all the details.
Alec wasn't usually one to bother with pajamas, though. He either slept naked, or in a pair of boxers, with maybe a thin t-shirt if it was a chilly night, but never actual pajamas. And he could say the same for Magnus, from personal experience. So why Magnus thought putting up a Christmas required putting on clothes meant for sleeping in that Alec absolutely would not be sleeping in that night was beyond him.
He put them on anyway, though, of course; anything to make Magnus happy.
And it wasn't that the pajamas were awful or anything; they were soft and warm and a red plaid design that practically screamed Christmas. And he supposed there were worse things to be stuck wearing for the evening.
Once he had them on, he padded out of the bedroom still towel drying his hair, wanting to find Magnus as soon as he possibly could. And, well, he also wanted to know what Magnus thought of how he looked in the pajama set and, more importantly, if Magnus was wearing one similar or if he had the gall to still be in his black skinny jeans and maroon button up that was always rolled up to the elbow under that black vest with the golden buttons that went with the smoky eyeshadow he had been wearing last Alec had seen him.
Not that Alec would complain too much if he was still in that outfit, he would simply insist upon stripping Magnus down and redressing him himself. And if there happened to be a detour between the undressing and the redressing…
Well, Alec was only human, it was to be expected, he thought.
He was caught so far up in the mental image of undoing every single one of those golden buttons that he was hardly aware of the chattering of voices until he came to the living room and everything, save for the Christmas music, fell silent.
He lowered the towel from his head and ran a hand through it to push his still damp hair from his eyes, eyes sweeping the room aimlessly, hardly taking in his audience until they came to rest on Magnus himself, who sat perched in his usual chair in a matching pair of pajamas.
A grin broke across his face as Magnus smiled at him; he hadn't thought it would be that big of a deal, Magnus matching with him, but… the sight of it, the knowledge of it, made his chest feel warm, heart swelling with unbridled love and fondness for his boyfriend.
"Alexander, don't you just look dashing, darling?" he teased with a wink.
"Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you," Alec replied, throwing the towel he still had in his hands down onto a nearby empty chair.
"Alec!" a tiny voice exclaimed from across the room then, bounding towards him without a word of warning.
And Alec was scooping Madzie up into his arms before he really knew she was coming towards him, her movements so quick, his reflexes so slow when he was so focused on Magnus. He swung her around for a moment before he attached her to his hip, holding her up against him as she grinned up at him in that innocent, adorable way of hers that she always graced him with whenever they greeted. No matter if they had just seen each other the day before, or weeks ago, she always was so excited to see Alec, always met him so enthusiastically, and it never failed to make his day.
"Madzie! Did you come to visit us?" he asked her, giving her a playful shake up his hip.
She giggled before responding.
"Uh-huh! Magnus said we're all gonna decorate a Christmas tree together! He even got us all matching pjs!" she exclaimed.
Alec looked down to what she was wearing for the first time then, and sure enough she was wearing the exact same thing he and Magnus were wearing, only in a much smaller size.
"He did! Wasn't that so thoughtful of him?" Alec asked, looking back to Magnus to give him a meaningful smile.
Fuck, Alec was going to cry, he realized then as their eyes locked, and the night had barely begun. Magnus had put so much thought into all this, into giving Alec a more normal kind of Christmas experience, and fuck, he just loved him so god damn much it made his chest ache, made him want to give Magnus his Christmas present all the sooner.
"Uh-huh!" Madzie nodded. "Even Jacey is wearing them!"
Alec whipped his head around the room then, his attention brought to the fact that it wasn't just him, Magnus, and Madzie in the room, it was the rest of their family, too; it was Jace, and Izzy, and Clary, and Simon.
"Even Jacey, huh?" Alec repeated with a smirk, locking eyes with his brother, who shook his head, unable to repress his own amused grin.
"What can I say? I had to make sure you all knew these could be worn with style," he said, teasing.
Alec rolled his eyes at Jace as Clary shoved at his shoulder playfully, and Simon rolled his eyes as well.
"You say that as if you're a person with actual style," Simon said, earning a scowl from Jace himself.
"Hey! I will have you know that I have plenty of style, thank you very much."
"That's exactly what someone with no style would say," Izzy interjected, shooting her eyes to Alec to make sure he caught her amused smile before she turned her attention back to Jace and joining in on poking more fun at him for a moment.
Which was just as well, because Alec needed a moment to wander over with Madzie to Magnus, who rose from his seat when they stood in front of him.
Wordlessly, Alec passed Madzie over to Magnus, who in turn leaned down to put her in his seat.
"Keep my seat warm for a moment, sweet pea?" he asked her, pinching one of her cheeks gently before he turned his attention back to Alec, her giggle bouncing off the room as they drew close to one another.
Alec wrapped his arms around Magnus' waist, and tugged him as close as he could without actually kissing him, without actually hugging him. That would come shortly enough.
"Magnus…" he shook his head, speechless despite himself, despite everything he wanted to say, despite all the feelings he had welling up inside his chest that were just begging to be let out.
There was so much, though, how could he settle on any one thing to say to Magnus when everything deserved to be said, to be heard by the other?
"I love you," he decided on then, voice cracking despite his best efforts. "So much. I… you got our family here, you got Madzie here, you got them all to wear matching pajamas—how the hell did you get them all to wear matching pajamas, Magnus? I…" he trailed off, shook his head again.
Magnus was simply too amazing for words, he was reminded then. And he was all Alec's.
"That was far easier than you would think it would be," Magnus shrugged, voice low, answer almost too vague to be acceptable at all.
"You didn't have to…"
"It's Christmas time, Alexander," Magnus said then, voice still soft. "It's about family, and we both deserve to be with our family. I… well, I've never had much of a family to do this with. Every decade or so me, Ragnor, Cat, and Dot would get together for the holidays but it has been quite some time now, and with Ragnor… well, let's just say I needed this just as much as you did, darling."
Alec shook his head, completely at a loss for words before he surged forward to kiss Magnus finally, hoping to convey without words just how much this all meant to him, how much he hoped it meant to Magnus himself. They had a whole evening ahead of them to make memories and new traditions, and Alec was looking forward to every single one of them, of course, but…
All he wanted was to kiss Magnus for a few more hours, and then they could get to the Christmas decorating. In an ideal world, anyway.
"There is a child present!" a scandalized voice exclaimed suddenly, though Alec didn't give it—Jace—the satisfaction of breaking the kiss just yet, choosing instead to slow it down, to deepen it for another moment as Jace grumbled to himself about it.
That would teach him to interrupt his Magnus time.
He hoped, anyway.
"Don't talk about yourself that way, Jacey," Simon quipped, and the idea of Simon coming to his defense did make Alec pull back from the kiss, sure that he was losing oxygen and was hallucinating due to deprivation.
It was Christmas time, sure, but surely it was too soon for a Christmas miracle?
"I was talking about you, actually, don't want your innocence to be ruined any sooner than necessary, now do we?"
"Come on, you two, if Madzie can be mature about them kissing in front of her, why can't you?" Clary asked, her voice demanding and leaving little room for argument from either of them, though Alec heard both of them grumble at her all the same, as was in both of their natures.
Alec didn't care though, not then, not when he was staring into Magnus' eyes like that, not when Magnus had just stolen his breath like that, not when his heart was swelling with happiness. It was so… nice, to have them all there, bickering playfully about nothing that really mattered at all.
He was looking forward to a lifetime of memories like this, to year after year of Christmases like this. He would always treasure the time he had spent with Izzy and Jace locked away in the Institute library together as children, would always look back fondly on those years, but…
The Institute library didn't have a single thing in the world on Magnus' loft.
"You know girls are way more mature than boys are, though," Izzy said. "Right, Madzie?"
"Yep!" Madzie giggled, her voice brimming with pride at Izzy's insinuation that she was mature, that she was better than the boys in their presence.
Alec and Magnus both looked over in enough time to see Simon and Jace share in a conspiring look over Clary's head, the anti-boy comments spurring them into a sort of partnership that Alec knew wouldn't last beyond the threshold of the loft. For years, Alec had always been the one on the receiving end of that look from Jace, and he was sure Clary had been on the receiving end of it from Simon more times than she could count, and he also knew he should have put a stop to whatever they were about to do…
But he wanted to see just what they were going to do. With his head so wrapped up in Magnus, his head still fuzzy and his heart still swelling… it was hard for him to pick up on anyone else's wavelengths other than Magnus', even his own parabatai's.
(Magnus' wavelength was really the only one worth being on anyway.)
So he would let this play out, just to see where they were going with this.
He gave Magnus' waist a squeeze and looked back to him to give him a look of his own, seeing in his eyes that he was on board with seeing where this was going to go as well.
That split moment of his attention being on Magnus was all it took for Simon and Jace to pounce, it seemed, because the next moment the air was filled with Madzie's high pitched screams and giggles, and Alec whipped his head back around in half a second, panic surging through him before he realized what the source of such a sound was.
It was just Simon and Jace on either side of the chair, each of them tickling Madzie relentlessly. Nothing too dangerous or deadly at all.
"The tickle monster doesn't care how mature his victims are!"
"Stop it! Stop it!" she giggled, not making any real movements with her magic to put an end to their assault on her, which they had to have known could have been a real possibility at any moment.
"The tickle monster only stops when he has gotten his fill of giggles from his victim!"
The room around them erupted into laughter suddenly, joining in Madzie in her giggles, Jace and Simon themselves laughing as they continued to tickle her, her giggles and screams of amusement the melody that they all seemed to be singing along to.
In the middle of all their laughter, and Jace and Simon's teasing taunts about the tickle monster, Alec turned back to Magnus, who was laughing just as much as he was, as they all were, tears prickling the corners of his eyes, and Alec wondered if that was from laughing so much, or if it was from the same soft, overwhelming feeling in the chest that Alec was feeling too.
Magnus' eyes shot from the spectacle over to Alec instead, and his gaze softened, laugher dying slowly until there was just a smile on his face. A smile just for Alec that Alec returned, that Alec hoped to see every day for the rest of forever. A smile that said this was their family, and it was perfect, and this moment was perfect, and he loved them so, so much, and he loved Alec, and he wanted this to be his life just as much as Alec did.
At least, Alec certainly hoped that that was what that look meant, anyway.
Alec brought a hand up to Magnus' cheek, stroked it softly before he lost himself to the moment, and lowered himself down to one knee in front of Magnus, thinking that this had not been the plan at all, but, well.
It was perfect anyway, wasn't it? It was…
God, it was just perfect.
It was all so perfect and so what if it wasn't the plan? It would do just as well as the original plan would have done. Hell, maybe this was even better, really, because they were surrounded by their family, and would share this moment with them, have them in this important memory for the rest of forever.
Even with all the giggling going on around them, all Alec could hear in that moment was Magnus' breath catching in his throat, and suddenly time slowed down as Alec reached for one of Magnus' hands in lieu of the ring box he was meant to be holding when he did this. Details, he supposed. They didn't really matter at all sometimes.
"Magnus Bane, I… well, I do have a ring, I promise," he assured him, voice low and teasing, and he was vaguely aware of the rest of the room falling still suddenly, of Izzy and Clary shushing the boys, of Madzie letting out a squeak of surprise. But he couldn't give any of that any of his attention or he would lose his god damn nerve, he already knew. "It's in the bedroom, it was supposed to be your Christmas present, but… I guess I'll just have to go shopping again," he shrugged, not bothered by that in the slightest.
"I love you so much, Magnus. And I can't believe that you would do something like this for me, for us. I… well, I already knew that I wanted to spend the rest of forever with you, but right now, surrounded by our family, I can't wait another second to make it official, to ask you if you would do me the honor of being mine for the rest of eternity, because the Angel knows I can't wait to be yours. Will you marry me, Magnus Bane, and let me spend the rest of my existence proving to you just how amazing you are, and how much I love you?" Alec finished finally, every single one of his nerves absolutely shaking as he did, as he looked up into Magnus' eyes and awaited his answer.
He didn't realize that he was actually physically shaking as well until Magnus sandwiched his hand between both of his to steady it and gave him the softest fucking look Alec thought he had ever seen in his life. It wasn't exactly an answer, of course, but… if Magnus were about to rip his heart out, surely he wouldn't be looking at him like he had hung the stars themselves? Surely he wouldn't be looking at Alec like he had just made him the happiest man alive?
"Jesus Christ, Bane, he's terrified, would you just say yes already?" Jace demanded from the side, reminding Alec then that they actually had an audience, that Jace would be feeling how scared and nervous he was even if he hadn't been in the same room as them.
Magnus turned to shoot him a look, but Alec's eyes never left Magnus' face for even a moment, not willing to risk missing a single emotion that passed across his face. He wanted to remember all of this, every single little detail.
He turned his attention back to Alec, then, and tugged at his hands until he was standing up once again, and Magnus pulled him into a tight hug when he was. The tears finally escaped from Alec's eyes, because God, what was taking Magnus so long to say yes? Why was he torturing Alec like this? Why was he taking so god damn long?
What if he was going to say no? he thought suddenly, his chest tightening in the worst kind of way, and he heard Jace gasp, and he sent a silent apology his parabatai's way. Maybe Alec was rushing into things, maybe—
"Oh, Alexander," Magnus sighed in his ear, squeezing him tightly. "Of course I will marry you," he said finally, the sweetest kind of relief that made his heart pound all the more in his chest rushing through him then. Magnus… "I just…" he pulled back from the hug then to look Alec in the eye, an amused, mischievous look in his own eyes. "I can't believe you were going to propose on Christmas, because I was going to propose on Christmas, too," he admitted, and Alec grinned madly at that.
That was why he had been hesitating, then, he would assume. God, how could he have thought for even a moment that Magnus was going to say no?
"I guess I'm just more impatient than you are," Alec teased, surging forward without another word to kiss Magnus—his fiancé now, his everything.
They were going to get married, he thought as their family erupted into a round of applause and cooing, chatterings about wedding planning on Izzy and Clary's lips as Alec and Magnus kissed and kissed and kissed, and Madzie asked Jace and Simon what had just happened, and the two of them were left to explain that her uncles Magnus and Alec were going to get married now. Which meant, they told her, that they loved each other more than anyone else in the universe, and they wanted to spend all their time together for the rest of their lives, and they wanted everyone else to know how much they loved each other.
"I thought they were already married," Madzie said, sounding so confused.
Alec and Magnus finally broke apart at that, and Alec couldn't help but chuckle at her words. He supposed, based on the explanation she had been given, one could fairly assume they were already married, but God, it was so much more than that, Alec thought to himself.
One day, she would understand the true meaning of the word, of the fact that it was more than just loving each other more than anyone else in the universe. It was doing whatever it took to make the other person happy, and safe, and suffering through things one didn't like to do because the other person did. It was feeling like home in Magnus' arms, and craving his kiss when they were worlds and time zones apart because of work. It was sending goodnight texts that never really ended until one of them fell asleep, it was phone calls in the middle of the afternoon to check on one another, to hear the sound of each other's voice and check and see how their day was going.
It was feeling like his soul, his heart, was safe when Magnus was nearby, when they were laying in bed together doing nothing at all but thinking and cuddling.
It was a million tiny things that made life worthwhile, and that Alec wanted to spend the rest of his life doing, and feeling.
It was everything. Magnus was everything.
"We wanna see the rings!" Izzy exclaimed then.
Alec grinned all the wider at the demand, and he and Magnus exchanged a look. Far be it from them to deny anyone any detail of this whole experience, he supposed.
Magnus snapped his fingers, and a small black box in a puff of blue smoke appeared in his hand, and he raised a waiting eyebrow at Alec, teasing as he did, in his own way.
"Show off," Alec grumbled, untangling himself from Magnus' grip, though Magnus caught his left hand at the last second before he could dart off to the bedroom to retrieve the ring he had hidden away for Magnus.
"I think it's only fair," he began slowly, opening the small box and removing the silver band from within it. "that I get to put my ring on you first, since you got to propose first, wouldn't you say?" he asked lowly, sliding the ring onto Alec's left ring finger, easy as that.
Alec could only nod at him, breath caught in his throat as the cool metal settled onto his finger, and Magnus' long fingers played at his other ones, eyes locked together as Alec got used to the feeling of it on his finger, though that wasn't a hard task to do in the slightest. It felt like he had been wearing that ring his entire life already, it felt so natural and right to have it there.
"Marry me, Alec?" Magnus asked needlessly, though still hopefully all the same.
And Alec was sure he had had a speech of his own planned out that Alec had ruined by proposing first and proposing early, but he would ask to hear it later, when everyone was gone and it was just the two of them laying together in bed. He would hear it, because they both deserved for him to.
"A million times yes, Magnus," Alec replied, the words barely leaving his mouth before Magnus was kissing him sweetly and slowly.
"Merry Christmas, Alexander," Magnus murmured when he pulled away a breath.
"Merry Christmas, Magnus," Alec replied, pecking Magnus on the lips once more before he was turning to bound into the bedroom to get his ring, dodging his family and the way they made grabby hands to see the ring.
As far as Christmases went, Alec thought this one was off to a great start already.