Disclaimer: I don't own Shadowhunters or any character which you may recognize from the show, the movie, or books. They belong to Cassandra Clare, her co-writers and the show's producers.


"Ave atque vale."

With tear-veiled face, Alea stared at her mother's grave and ran her hand over the smooth stone on which the unshakable truth was engraved that she was now all alone in this world.

The ceremony had been beautiful. Well, except for the fact that she'd had to pretend to be her mother's great-granddaughter. That had been necessary, however, because it was unthinkable to most human beings that a 103-year-old could have a daughter who looked no older than 20. On the one hand, it was very pleasant not to have to worry about getting wrinkles in the near future, but lately it had been getting on her nerves more and more to be constantly asked for her ID when she wanted to buy alcoholic drinks.

Sighing, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and slowly stood up. Brushing over her pants, she pushed away her sadness and loss and took a deep breath.

"I promised I'll be alright, Mama. Don't worry about it, wherever you are now."

"I'm sorry for your loss," a voice suddenly said behind her and she jolted around. Out of nowhere, a woman stood near the grave, looking at her with a sad expression. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"Thanks. But… who are you?" Alea asked cautiously, unable to shake the sudden feeling that there was something wrong with this woman besides the fact that she hadn't heard her footsteps on the pebbles that filled the narrow path on which she was standing. Where had she come from? But that didn't leave Alea as speechless as the movement that washed over that woman at that moment. It wasn't really tangible, but her face looked like something was softly waving over it like a veil. Attempting to pierce that veil with her gaze, a sharp pain drove into her eyes and made her groan. Quickly, she pressed her thumb and forefinger against her closed eyelids.

'Not now!' she thought, willing the sensation away. She couldn't allow herself to show her special eyes to a complete stranger she had never seen in her life.

"It's okay. Don't be afraid. I'm like you. I too have a mark that identifies me as what we are."

Backing away imperceptibly, Alea swung the strap of her bag over her head so she wouldn't lose it should she need to run away quickly.

"I don't know what you're talking about. And you still haven't told me who you are," she spoke carefully, continuing to try to see through that veil. The brief flash of her eyes hadn't really helped her, except that she now knew for a fact that this woman had veiled herself on purpose to hide something.

"My name is Dorothea Rollins, and I'm here to help you."

"I don't see why I'd need help," she replied defensively, turning to leave. Before she could take a step, however, a sudden change in atmosphere around her caused every hair on her arms to rise. Eyes wide, she immediately dropped to the ground and rolled away. When she straightened up again, a man with a sword in hand had slashed the grass where she had just been standing.

"So much for helping," she growled, instinctively jumping away once more to put more distance between herself and the two strangers.

Unfortunately, her instincts failed her this time, for no sooner had her feet touched the ground again that a hot pain exploded in her back, making her cry out. The next thing she knew, there was a dull thud as she landed face first in the grass. But that was nothing compared to the agonizingly throbbing inside her torso that threatened to tear her apart. Whimpering, she lay there staring at her trembling hand as she tried to think through the pain. This attempt, however, was immediately prevented by a presence leaning over her, stealing her breath with the odor of hatred this person exuded.

"Don't worry, Warlock, I haven't injured any vital organs," whispered the male voice near her ear that belonged to that foul presence and Alea had to pull herself together not to vomit. "After all, I need you alive. Such a young warlock comes in handy for my experiments."

His words made her abruptly forget her nausea.

They were experimenting on us. These were not humans who held us captive in the concentration camp! They were monsters!

Seeing her aunt's sunken, tired face with broken eyes in her mind, who had had to witness the death of her fellow prisoners every day, everything in Alea clenched into a mass, as if she had a heavy stone in her stomach. When the man laughed almost gently and ran his hand through her hair, that stone turned pitch black and a feeling blasted her whole body with what felt like raging fury. She had never felt anything like it before, and for a moment she lost sight of reality as a storm-swept red wasteland slid in front of her field of vision. It was frightening and she felt lost. But only a few moments later, a presence enveloped her whole, this time exuding a pleasant warmth that made her fear subside a little. Then, a face appeared in her mind with eyes that looked like hers, while a powerful energy flooded her body that felt strangely familiar, but alien at the same time.

This is Magnus Bane. You will be safe with him. Reach out to his presence and you will find him.

"Grab her. Dorothea, open the portal."

Do it now!

Remembering the fire she had once accidentally lit in her anger as a child, she embraced the hate and rage within and tried with all her might to grab this man, this Magnus Bane, with her mind. Alea had never seen him before and didn't know where he was supposed to be, but with all her remaining strength she focused on his eyes.

'Magnus Bane! Magnus Bane! Magnus Bane!' she chanted into the infinite vastness of the universe, feeling a slight tremor ripple through the ground beneath her.

Good! Focus only on him!

Then hands grabbed her and began to lift her up, causing the pain in her back to flare up again. But with another cry, something opened up under her and she knew that was her only chance to escape these people.

Throwing herself around with all her might, she lunged with her elbow and hit the man's throat, causing him to let go of her with a gurgling sound and stumble away from her. Alea fell. But before everything blurred into nothingness, she saw four men with strange drawings on their arms and the woman who looked both sad and relieved at the same time.

Then she hit the ground hard and the blinding pain swept her consciousness away.

"Walk me out, will you? We have some business to settle."

On the way to the armory, a lot of thoughts went through Alec's mind. Relief, first of all. The whole trial had been a farce, and if Jace and Clary hadn't handed over the Cup in time, his sister would have lost a part of her identity forever. Sure, Jace and he would have visited Isabelle outside the Institute and participated in her life, but Izzy was a Shadowhunter with body and soul and would have found herself in a situation where Alec wasn't sure if he and Izzy's friends could have really given her the support she needed to get back on her feet. His sister was strong, no question, but without her runes and coming to live in the mundane world she hadn't grown up in, she would be very vulnerable!

He was all the more grateful to his brother and Clary. But also to the man who walked right by his side that moment with eloquent silence. In many ways he was grateful to Magnus - not only that he had acted as Izzy's advocate despite the current edgy tension between them. Alec was sure that Magnus would have done so even if they had been unable to agree on a price. The warlock and his sister were too close for Magnus' sense of justice to allow that. Even Lydia had recognized that immediately, although she hardly knew him. No, Alec was grateful to Magnus for fighting for him with his bargaining for the prize and showing him that he should not give up on himself and potential happiness. He was well aware that Magnus was trying to bring him out of his shell, and if Alec was perfectly honest with himself, he immensely enjoyed having the attention of the charming, infinitely attractive, sassy and caring warlock. He liked their conversations a lot and felt inspired by Magnus.

But he had so many plans for the future, and even though he might sometimes seem like a naïve young child next to century-old Magnus, he wasn't stupid. The changes in relations between Alicante and the Downworld that he sought would take time and influence. Marrying Lydia Branwell would give him that influence, and in her he would have a friend at his side who fought for the same ideas and ideals. She had made that clear to Alec once again with her testimony. He was grateful for that, too. And with her friendship, in time, he may be even able to calm his heart, which started beating treacherously whenever Magnus appeared near him...

Emotions are nothing but a distraction.

The last few weeks had clearly shown him how true it was, what his parents and the trainers had preached to him throughout his life. Therefore, he would go through with the wedding, come what may.

That this thought caused a painful twinge in his chest he consequently pushed aside. Surely it was only exhaustion. He had hardly had any time for himself these last weeks, let alone getting enough rest. Hopefully, that would change now that Lydia would be taking the Cup to the Council in a few hours.

When they reached the armory, Alec sighed inwardly and pushed aside the oppressive feeling that threatened to spread through him as he took his weapon, which he had been using for years, out of its holster. A promise was a promise and he was nothing if not a man of his word! Saying a silent thank you to his bow and quiver, he turned to Magnus, who was looking at him with his inscrutable gaze.

"As promised, payment in full," Alec said and swallowed heavily. "Thank you," he nonetheless added and meant it wholeheartedly.

Their fingers briefly met when Magnus accepted both and, like every time they touched before, that skin contact let a feeling ran through Alec that he could hardly describe, but that made him hold his breath for a brief moment. This time, however, he forced himself to continue breathing calmly and Magnus, surprisingly, left this feeling uncommented. But then, instead of walking away, he turned around again after a few steps.

"I just want you to know Lydia was wonderful in court. She's great."

"So you get it." A small smile was already about to curl his lips which would further combat the awkward tension between them, but Magnus' next words smashed that seed of hope in his chest once more.

"No, Alexander. I get her. I like her. But you don't have to marry her."

Magnus' intense gaze didn't leave him for one second, and the gentle desire he recognized in it mirrored his own. But he had obligations, damn it. Couldn't that warlock just stop making eyes at him?

"Yes, I do, Magnus."

"You'll be lonely all your life, and so will she. Neither of you deserve it. And I don't either." Sighing, he shook his head slightly before finally breaking their eye contact and looking down. "I don't know what to do with these. You keep them for me," he spoke quietly and lifted the bow and quiver to Alec, who accepted them back after an inviting nod.

But Alec didn't feel good about it. Magnus sounded... defeated. Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, lost his spark because of him? He couldn't and wouldn't let that happen. Especially not after he had just really taken Izzy's case pro bono with that gesture. He had to make him understand why he had asked Lydia to marry him. He quickly put his weapon back in its place and hurried after the man to whom he owed so much since he had met him just a few weeks ago.

"Magnus, wait." Just in time, before the latter set foot outside the armory, he grabbed his arm and pulled him back inside. Looking quickly around, Alec made sure no one was near them before pulling the door to the armory closed and then, breathing heavily, turned to the warlock and looked at him imploringly.

He was met with a surprised expression that quickly morphed into one of expectation.

"Look, Magnus. You have to understand. You and I, we understand marriage very differently. I'm a Shadowhunter. This is about family, and tradition, honor."

"Honor? Where's the honor in living a lie?"

The question came quietly and gently. Alec could have handled it better if Magnus had yelled at him, been angry with him. But that unmistakable sadness in his eyes sent his insides into a swirling chaos of feelings he had just managed to suppress.

"What about love?" he continued, lifting his arm as if to place his hand on Alec's. "Even Shadowhunters fall in love, Alec. Tell me you're in love with Lydia, really, truly in love, and I'll stop."

Swallowing hard, he stared at the warlock. If he had really made skin contact with him again, Alec couldn't say how he would have reacted. "I don't know," he pressed out. "But… Why do you keep pushing? It- It's-" he stammered and fell silent. Against better judgment, he sought Magnus' gaze again and managed to maintain eye contact for a few moments. The chaos inside him now felt like a whirlwind threatening to swallow him. "You're confusing me," he then confessed weakly before he stumbled a few steps backwards.

"Confusion is part of it. That's how you find out if something's there," Magnus replied and approached him again. "Emotions are never black and white. They're more like symptoms."

With his beautiful smile he began to slowly walk around Alec and the latter had to pull himself together not to reach for him.

"You lose your breath every time they enter a room…"

Inhaling deeply the young man had to close his eyes for a moment, but Magnus ignored his discomfort with the situation, which he was sure was evident on his face, and continued bluntly.

"Your heart beats faster when they walk by… Your skin tingles when they stand close enough to feel their breath…"

The warlock's voice was now a whispery velvet that once more made Alec's heart beat even faster. But damn it, he was a Shadowhunter! He was trained to resist temptations of all kinds!

"I know you feel what I feel, Alec."

"You don't have any clue what I feel…" he replied harsher than intended because of his frustration. "So back off. You know, you flirt, you laugh, you use magic, but at the end of the day, I think that's all just a game for you. Even if I did feel something for you, you want me to give up my life for you? I have to do what's right for me. I could lose my family, my career, everything," he spoke imploringly and could hardly bear the sudden hurt expression in the eyes of his counterpart. "You…" With a heavy sigh, he left the sentence unfinished and looked down.

Silence spread between them, which was downright tangible. It really hurt. Alec was almost relieved when it was interrupted by a sudden loud noise. But then he recognized it for what it meant.

"That's the Greater Demon alarm! We're under attack," he stated the obvious and immediately set about arming himself.

"Well, good luck with that," he heard Magnus mutter quietly before the warlock left the armory when the door was yanked open and more Shadowhunters rushed in to arm themselves.