It is almost two in the morning when Magnus begins to stir.
Alec is beside his bed, as he has been every spare second for the past few days. It has been surprisingly uneventful in the institute. Alec suspects the others are hiding his duties from him, taking tasks for themselves so Alec can have more time with his dying boyfriend.
Catarina had been honest with him. Even if it is a terrible truth, Alec values honesty as a trait. It is better than giving him false hope. The truth of the matter is that no one knew if Magnus would ever wake. No one knew anything. Alec knows now, however.
His eyes widen at the soft shift of Magnus's head, the twitch in his otherwise still expression, and he hurriedly grabs the warlock's hand, holds him tight.
"Magnus," he says urgently, free hand moving to cup Magnus's cheek. He isn't as cold now. He's almost a normal temperature. "Magnus, baby, can you hear me…? I'm right here. Can you hear me?"
For a long moment, Magnus doesn't move. Alec begins to think he imagined the initial stir. Just when he's losing hope, and he takes his hand away, Magnus's head leans into the empty space where Alec's palm had been upon his cheek moments before. The shadowhunter holds him again, thumb stroking across his cheekbone, so much more prominent now. He wonders if he's even eaten since before Alicante.
"I'm here," Alec promises, leans in a little so he will be in Magnus's eye line when he wakes. "I'm with you, Magnus. Open your eyes for me."
There's a moment of silence and stillness before Magnus's eyelids slowly prise apart. The irises are gold, pupils dark and slit, and they reach Alec's face immediately. The barest hint of a smile touches his lips.
"Hey," Alec whispers, tears glossing his eyes, struggling to smile in turn. It falls when Magnus's does, when the warlock blinks hard and his glamour comes up and realisation strikes his eyes. "Magnus," Alec says, touching his jaw to coax the now dark eyes to his face. "Magnus, sweetheart—"
"I…" Magnus begins, his eyes flooding with tears. Despite that, despite everything, Alec breathed out in shaky relief, clutching his face with both hands. "Alec…"
"You're okay," Alec says, unable to keep the smile from his lips now. "Oh, Magnus… You're okay. You're back."
"I'm sorry," Magnus whispers, his voice hoarse and grating and the tears threaten to break from his eyes. Alec shakes his head, but doesn't interrupt just yet. "Once the obsidian was in me… I was gone, Alec, I—I was darkness… I couldn't… I couldn't stop…"
Alec is quiet a moment. "You're back now," he says, trying to bring himself some assurance as well as Magnus. "You're safe."
Magnus's eyes fill with tears. "Alec, what did I do?"
Shaking his head slowly, Alec runs his hand through Magnus's hair. "It doesn't matter," he says and a soft sob breaks the warlock's lips. Alec's hand moves repeatedly to stroke through his hair. "Magnus, look at me. It doesn't matter. It wasn't you."
"Just tell me what I did," Magnus sobs shakily, grasping Alec's hand and turning his face to it. "Please, Alec, I need to hear you say it. Tell me I'm a monster."
"No," Alec says firmly, pressing his free hand to the other side of Magnus's face, pushing the tears aside with his thumb. "It wasn't you, Magnus. You're not a monster. None of this is your fault. Lilith was controlling you with her blood, with the obsidian."
"But she wasn't," says Magnus, lifting his tear-filled gaze to Alec. "I chose to drink it. I wanted to do everything I did. Everything was so dark. I—I was bad, Alec. I felt it. I was a monster."
"Stop saying that," Alec whispers, his forehead resting upon Magnus's head. "You are Magnus—my Magnus—and you are good. It was Edom, it just… it twisted you. Made you into something you're not."
Magnus sniffs back a sob, breathing out slowly and turning his head more to face Alec. "I can see it all in my head. I hear every conversation." He lifts his gaze to Alec, a hand cradling his cheek. "Alec, what I said to you… I—I didn't mean any of it. It was just… When I was demonic, I just felt such… anger. I couldn't control it."
"It's okay," Alec says. "I know it wasn't you, not really." He lifts a hand to hold Magnus's own against his cheek. "Just like I know that you're here now. You never have to go back to Edom. You're safe."
Magnus swallows hard, takes in a forcibly deep breath, broken with a hitch of tears. "I want to sleep," he utters, so defeated, and Alec's eyes narrow.
"I can stay with you," he offers softly.
Magnus shakes his head, not even possessing the energy to fake a smile. "I'm fine… I'm tired."
Alec doesn't try to push him. "Okay," is all he says, letting Magnus's hand back to the bed. "Sleep will… it'll do you good. I'll get a medic in to check on you. I'll send Catarina in."
Again, Magnus just shakes his head. "I just want to sleep," he whispers, already closing his eyes. "I don't want Cat. I just…"
"It's okay," Alec says when the warlock trails. He fights back the concern, forcing his voice to remain calm. "You can sleep. I'll… I'll go if that's what you want, but I need to send a medic in to check on you. They won't be in here for long. They just want to make sure you're okay. One of them will bring you something to eat."
Magnus doesn't reply, simply turns over on the bed so his back is to Alec, his eyes remaining stubbornly closed. Alec strokes once more through his hair, closing his eyes briefly as a wave of grief crashes into him, but he forces collection and stands, leaves the room without another word. If Magnus doesn't want him there, Alec won't push to stay.
So, he does what he can. He finds a medic, tells them of Magnus's consciousness, watches them hurry into the room. Although he aches to follow them, he forces himself to walk away. He hides out in his office. He doesn't want to be disturbed right now. His mind is too preoccupied with Magnus to think of anything else.
He's never seen Magnus so weak, so defeated, like he's given up. He hates seeing his boyfriend like that, hates being reminded that even someone as strong and as powerful as Magnus can be hurt. All he wants is for the warlock to be safe and content. That would be enough. That would be more than enough.
Mere hours pass before Alec is called back to the medical room. Apparently, Magnus is refusing the food that the medics are offering him. Apparently, he is complaining of sleeplessness. Apparently, he seems somehow worse than before. During his hurry back to the room, Alec can't imagine anything being worse than seeing Magnus comatose like that, but he understands it when he hesitates in the doorway.
Magnus is sat on the bed, his knees drawn up to his chest, staring blankly at the blanket that covers his legs. He doesn't react at Alec's approach. His skin is ashen grey, his eyes darkly shadowed, his entire body racked with soft tremors. He just seems empty. Alec hates that. He hates seeing Magnus like this.
He comes to the bedside, sitting himself on the edge. Still, Magnus doesn't look at him.
"Magnus," Alec says, guilt flooding him when the warlock startles.
Dark eyes look to him in panic, easing when he sees who it is. "Oh, I… Sorry, I—I didn't hear you come in."
"It's okay," Alec says slowly, lifting a hand to comb back the strands of hair loose over Magnus's forehead. "I thought you said you were going to sleep… You don't look well, Magnus. You're really pale." The warlock doesn't reply. Alec's hand comes to his back. "The medics tell me you haven't been eating."
Magnus's throat convulses as he swallows, lifting a hand to his head, refusing to meet Alec's eyes. Alec presses his lips together briefly, unsure of the best approach. He has never seen Magnus like this before.
"Sweetheart, you have to eat something. It's not safe for you to go on like this. You've been sleeping too long. You're making yourself sick."
Magnus simply shakes his head, his arm curling tighter around his raised knee. He doesn't want to talk about it, that is clear. Alec can't just let it pass, however; he needs to get through somehow.
"You need to stop punishing yourself," says Alec, his words causing Magnus to blink unsteadily. "Do you remember what you said to me when I hurt my hands?"
Magnus hesitates a moment. "Don't push me away," he mutters obediently.
"Yeah," Alec says, touches Magnus's head and brings his fingers through Magnus's hair. "It's important, okay? It's really important that you don't push me away. You can't take care of yourself right now, so you need to let me take care of you." Magnus nods slowly and Alec forces a weak smile. "I'm going to get you something to eat, okay? What do you want?"
Magnus shrugs. "I'm sorry, I don't… I don't know. I'm just tired…"
"I know," says Alec, nods softly and offers Magnus his hand. The warlock takes it. "I need you to try and eat something before you sleep again though…"
Magnus swallows hard, closes his eyes. "Alec," he says slowly, "what happens if I… if I'm never right again?"
Alec shakes his head. "What do you mean by that?"
"I just…" Magnus breathes out. "I feel wrong, Alec. I was bad and I hurt you and I can still feel it. I remember doing it and I remember bruising your lungs and cracking your ribs and I remember not even caring—"
"Magnus," Alec interrupts him, just hoping to calm Magnus's hurried rambles. "It wasn't you."
"But it was," Magnus whispers, stares up at him. "I can't stay with you after that. I can't—"
"I hurt you!" Magnus insists, tears glossing his eyes and he tilts his head slightly. "Alec, you can't still love me after that—after what you saw." He takes a shaking breath, ducks his gaze. "My step-father was right… I'm a monster."
Alec is quiet a moment. He thinks through it all, through what had happened since Alicante, through Magnus's actions under Lilith's influence. He decides, then and there, that it doesn't matter.
Slipping a hand into his pocket, Alec takes out a circular silver box, holding it in the centre of his palm so Magnus can see. It shines in the artificial lights of the medical room. The warlock wipes a hand to his unshed tears, a soft frown pinching his brow.
"What is that?" he asks, glancing between Alec's eyes and the box.
Alec cants his head a little and places his other hand over the lid. "Magnus Bane," he says, prising it open to reveal his family ring. "Will you marry me?"
The tears slip from Magnus's eyes and race down his cheeks. A soft sob breaks his lips, his head ducking and a hand lifting to shelter his tears. Alec almost closes the box.
"Oh, hey, hey," he utters, lifts a hand to push the tears back with his thumb. "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."
"Alec," Magnus says, shakes his head, and when he turns his face to Alec again, there is softness in his teary eyes. "Oh, my Alexander… My beautiful Alexander, you're so certain. I thought I understood you, but I don't think I can this time… After everything that's happened, why would you do this? Why would you still want me?"
Alec presses his hand to Magnus's cheek. "You are everything to me," he says firmly, continuing even when Magnus's lower lip trembles. "You are my world and I can't lose you again. I want to spend the rest of my life at your side because you are not a monster, Magnus. You're beautiful. I love you."
Magnus chokes on a sob and lifts a hand to hold Alec's wrist. "I love you too, Alexander. I love you so much."
Leaning forward, Alec captures his lips in a soft kiss. He rests their foreheads together when they break. Neither dare to open their eyes.
"Marry me?" Alec asks again, barely a whisper.
Magnus takes a deep and trembling breath, lets it out in a breathy sigh. "Yes," he says, still a little choked. "Yes, of course I'll marry you, Alexander."
It is Alec's turn to cry now. He doesn't fully understand why the tears come, but he does know that he is so happy he feels his heart may burst. Cupping Magnus's hand in his own, Alec gently slips the Lightwood family ring onto his finger.
"Is it okay?" Alec asks, runs the pad of his thumb over the surface of the ring, the capital 'L' imprinted in a circle of flame. "I know it's a shadowhunter thing and you're a warlock, but—"
"Alec," Magnus interrupts him gently. "I love it… I love you."
Alec leans forward, presses his forehead against Magnus's own, his eyes closed. "I love you too, Magnus."
The darkness in Magnus had been terrifying to witness, but nothing was worse than seeing the aftermath, seeing him so feeble and defeated. Alec vows to himself that he will never allow Magnus to be taken from him ever again.
"I won't let anyone hurt you again," he promises aloud. "Not ever. I'll never leave you. I'm going to keep you safe. I will."
"I know, Alexander," Magnus whispers, his hands coming to clutch the nape of Alec's neck. "I know you will."
Alec kisses him again, just desperate to have him close, to have him safe. Magnus's lips are chapped beneath his own, too thin and fragile in his embrace. Alec will get him eating and drinking again soon enough. They have stared darkness in the face and walked away victorious.
Magnus will need time to recover, of course he will, but Alec will help him through it. Maybe things would never go back to how they once were, but they will be together. It wouldn't be perfect, but it would be them. Perhaps that could be enough.
Alec is going to be here for him. Though all of the inevitable nightmares and flashbacks, all the panic attacks that will more than likely haunt Magnus after this turbulent time, Alec will stay with him. They will fight this together. Until the end.