Word Count: 3061 (Fidipù)
Scritta per il COWT 8, Missione 1 Cerimonia
Riassunto: The life of a Shadowhunter is filled with ceremonies and rites. Alec's isn't an exception, except, along the way, he manages to find some times for himself.
Alec has lived all his life waiting for this moment, As the first born of the Lightwood family he knows his place in the world, he knows the expectations placed on his shoulders by his parents and other shadowhunters.
They look at him and in their eyes he sees the way they study him, judgemental and harsh. He has one possibility with them, just one chance to show the world who he is. The moment he looses this, the moment he fails to meet their expectations, he will be discarded, thought as unfit to fill in the role his family has in the Shadowhunter community. Alec knows that well, lives that reality everyday in his mother's harsh words.
He knows she does this out of love. She wants to make him strong, hard enough to survive anyone's judgement, even her own. It's a harsh world the one they live in, and he's too soft - that's what she says.
A Lightwood can be many things - exceptional, talented, sure, affirmative, a natural - but soft, he cannot be.
This is the chance to prove himself, the moment his real training begins. The day he will receive his first rune and start to prove to the world that he's not only the best of his class on paper.
His father walks beside him, as it is tradition, and Alec doesn't look around himself. He walks straight, his back stiff almost to the point of being uncomfortable. Perfect posture, perfect manners. He needs to be perfect.
"You're going to make us proud," his mother had said to him, fixing his jacket. Hers had been a statement, something set in stone. Sometimes Alec asks himself if he will ever has the freedom to be something he, and only him, whishes to be. Even at his age he already knows the answer to this question.
When he arrives in front of the Silent Brother who will perform the ceremony he doesn't flinch when his cold hand touches the skin of his arm.
"Are you ready?" he asks Alec, his stele firm.
Alec nods immediately, knowing that it doesn't matter if he is or not. A Lightwood has to be ready for anything. The Silent Brother looks at him for a second, but he must find what he's looking for quickly because not a second more passes before the stele touches Alec's skin.
They had warned him. Everyone knows the first time it hurts, your skin not yet used to being marked, but Alec bites his own lip to refrain from making a sound. He needs to show that he's strong, the leader they are raising him to be.
It's over soon and Alec only has a second to admire the black pattern on his skin before he feels his father's hand on his shoulder. Alec turns towards him and sees the proud look, the happy and relaxed stance.
Alec turns again, looks at the entire room. He spots his mother easily, looking stoic in the back. She's smiling as well, something a little smaller than his father, but still a gift. Izzy is at her side, beaming with pride.
The entire Institute is there, clapping to his accomplishment.
Alec feels the solemnity of the occasion and understands that beside the honor, he has a war to fight now. Until now he has been protected, kept in the confine of the institute, but now they are letting him go and face the monsters that hunt in the night.
He's Alec Lightwood and he can't afford not to be up to the challenge.
Jace is nothing like Alec has ever seen.
They are as different as night and day, where Jace is bright and warm and Alec lives in shadows he swears get bigger the more time passes.
In truth Alec has never begrudged Jace the freedom and INCOSCENZA he seems to have; Alec knows where they come from, the pain and loss that Jace had to overcame, and he tries to protect him as much as he can.
Izzy tells him he's too overprotective, that he acts too much like a older brother and has to let Jace face some of the consequences of his brash actions. Alec doesn't know how to tell her that he might act in a lot of ways towards Jace, but none of them are brotherly.
It's a secret he keeps hidden, shamefully relegated to a part of his heart that rarely sees the light of the day. He thinks about it in this bed, when he can't sleep.
What would they say, if they knew?
So Alec hides, but he also keeps Jace close, because he's unable to do otherwise. He knows he shouldn't, should try and put some distance between them.
Honestly, he doesn't have anyone else to blame but himself when Jace comes to him, asking him to be his Parabatai.
Everyone knows how important the bond is, how much of an honor it is to be asked. To be regarded as the missin piece of one's soul, bonded for life from something stronger than blood.
Alec wants to say no.
He can't, he knows he can't. As much as it would make sense to him, if he refuses Jace's offer he'd have to explain why. Show the shameful secrets hiding inside him.
Is he ready to explain? To lose Jace completely?
He tells Jace it would be an honor, that nothing would mean more to him than being his Parabatai. He hopes that his word don't falter, that he's convincing enough.
Izzy had always said that Alec wored his feelings in his eyes, honesto to a fault so he fears, for a second, that the other can read the terrible truth in his gaze.
Jace only smiles, happy and satisfied. He hugs Alec and says how great this is, how incredible this is going to be.
"No one will be able to defeat us," Jace says, with a glint in his eyes. "We'll be unstoppable, brother."
Alec has always been a better liar than they give him credit for.
The Parabatai Ceremony is a private but solemn affair.
Alec arrives late, still torn between what it's right for his heart and what he has to do for the sake of the Lightwood legacy.
Only the two Parabatais, close friends and the one who will draw the rune are permitted to assist, so there aren't many people watching them. Alec does his best not to watch them.
He feels Izzy's eyes on him, and knows that he had showed his hand with her. That she knows his secret now, but if someone had to discover it, she would have been his first choice.
"I was worried you were going to bail on me," Jace says with a cocky smile, but Alec can see the crack in his mask. He had been worried, really worried, that Alec had chosen to discard him.
That Alec had abbandoned him.
He remembers, now, why he lets Jace get away with so many of his fuck ups. Why he always capitulates in front of him.
Jace is a lonely boy at heart, too scared of being alone. Alec, who found his saving grace in Izzy, doesn't want him to ever feel like he's really and truly alone.
And if the only price to make Jace happy are Alec's feelings, he's going to murder them viciously.
"I would never," he replies with a smile. "We're brothers."
When the ceremony starts Alec repeats the words and they come easily to him. Even if he's not sure about this, even if he knows that he's deceiving Jace, the Parabatai bond words only make him say things that he already feels.
He will follow Jace, he will protect him. There are no lies in his voice.
Soon it's over, and Alec can feel their bond, burning with some kind of energy.
They tell them it will take time to settle, that in the beginning they might feel the need to be even closer than usual, then in time they will be able to feel each other. Apart, but never divided.
"You carry each other inside of you now," they say, "this bond will never be broken."
Alec wants to say that Jace has been inside him all along, but he stays silent.
If this is all he can ever get from the other, he guesses it's as good as it can get.
Marriage has never been a topic that interested him. He knew that sooner or later he might be forced to do it, and to someone he didn't feel attraction to, but it feels surreal now that he's living it.
He's going to get married soon and his entire life is crumbling in front of him. Lydia might be the only thing that makes sense, actually, in all this mess.
"Are you sure, Alec?" Izzy asks him, and he hears what she doesn't say. Is he sure?
"Yes," he replies, but they both know he's lying. What he doesn't tell Izzy is that he has never been sure of anything in his life.
The day he received his first rune he hadn't been sure. The day he sealed his Parabatai bond he hadn't been sure.
Everything turned out well in the end, so why shouldn't this work out?
"I'm just worried for you, big brother," she says. He had noticed her change, lately. The way she dresses, almost a carbon copy of mom; her increasing interest in taking on responsabilities inside the institute.
He knows what she's doing, and as much as he wants to tell her there's no need - because he will fix this, he will fix everything - he's grateful.
"I'm going to be fine," he reassures her. And pretends he's saying the truth.
Lydia's dress is stunning. Gold really lookd incredible on her, and she looks happy - as happy as she can be.
They both know this isn't a union born out of love. It's convenience, and mutual respect. It's more than Alec had thought he would get.
He tries not to think about what it could have been, had Alec been braver. Had Alec not have responsabilities.
He tries not to think about Mangus, and his magic. And the way Alec's heart decides to dance in his ribcage, almost as if he wants to finally break free of the chains that have always kept it in place.
Lydia looks stunning in gold, but Alec can only think of the glitter in Magnus' hair and the shine in his eyes. He sees her eyes, blue, and thinks of Magnus' nails.
Alec wonders if he will be haunted all his life by the ghost of what it could have been; by the regret of what he could never have.
"Alec?" Lydia whispers and he notics that the ceremony is going, even while he was lost in his own head. He raises a hand, takes Lydia's in his, and gets ready to draw the rune.
Marriage runes almost never fades, even after the couple split. But after all he has to take responsabilities for his decision.
Just as he's about to draw, the doors of the church sprang open with a flare and a taste for the dramatic that Alec immediately recognizes.
He looks at Magnus, as beautiful as Alec rememberd him, and wonders why nothing in his life can go according to plan.
His mother rises and advances towards the warlock, she's stiff and she looks ready to fight.
Magnus, however, doesn't even look at her. He's looking at Alec, with an intensity that leaves him breathless.
"Alec invited Magnus?" he hears Jace ask, and Izzy's immediate reply of, "No, I did, but I didn't think he'd show."
There is blood roaring in his ears, as loud as a torrent.
Lydia's hand is still in his and he's shocked when she holds him a little harder. He looks at her, trying to make sense of what's happening, but she just smiles.
"It's okay, Alec," she assures him, with a kindness he doesn't deserve. "Go to him."
He wants to say that he doesn't need to, that he shouldn't. But for once his head is silent.
"I'm sorry," he admits, because he is. Lydia doesn't deserve this. He genuinely likes her.
She just shakes her head and pushes him a little.
So Alec goes to Magnus and kisses him, the way he wanted to do since the first time they saw each other.
His wedding is ruined, and he can feel the way everyone stares at him. They are judging him and finding him lacking.
For the first time in his life, he finds that he doesn't care.
There is no official ceremony when Jace appoints him head of the institute. It's strange, to have something he had wanted for so long, so easily given to him.
Alec feels there should be something more. Shadowhunters have ancient rituals and ceremony for almost everything, it seems like an oversight.
Instead it happens like that: one moment Jace is head of the instute, the next the burden falls onto Alec's shoulders.
It's a little anticlimatic, if he's being honest with himself.
He doesn't remember saying so, but he must have, because that night Magnus invites him to his house.
It isn't that strange, Alec has spent a lot of time into the warlock's lair recently, but when he gets there he finds the dining room completely decorated with candles.
Magnus is smiling, a soft expression that talks of affection and love.
It's such an incredible sight that it steals Alec's breath away.
"I think, this deserves a celebration. Just the two of us," Magnus says, making two glasses of wine appear out of thin air.
Alec smiles, a little pleased and takes one of the glasses from his boyfriend's hand.
He thinks that he may prefer this to another stuffy celebration in pure Shadowhunter style. Times are changing, after all, and Alec likes it.
"Are you happy?" Magnus asks, but there is a little twinkle in his eyes like he already knows the answer to his question.
For once Alec doesn't mind being an open book.
"I think it's perfect," he answers honestly, "and probably a fire hazard."
Magnus laughs at that, moving his free hand. Alec looks at the blue sparks flowing between his fingers, feeling completely captivated. It doesn't matter how many times he sees Magnus do magic, it still feels like the first time.
"There, you spoilsport, the whole apartment is fire proof. I don't know what they have taught you, but it isn't a real party without at least one fire," Magnus says, with a fake put upon sigh.
Alec looks around and smiles, taking Magnus' hand in his. He wants to kiss him, if he's being honest, but he settles for that.
"I think this is just enough," he says. He means for it to come out playful, but his voice breaks in the middle.
Magnus drops any pretense then and brings their entertwined hands to Alec's cheek. "I'm very proud of you, Alexander."
And Alec finally feels settled, content.
Maybe he will never make his parents proud the way he wanted when he was little, but it doesn't mean that he's not going to make other people proud.
He can live with that.
"You're wearing gold," Magnus says. He's looking at Alec like he can't really believe him, and Alec looks down at his own clothes with a little worried frown.
He had asked Izzy to help him and he had been proud of his choice. Izzy had told him he looked so handsome Magnus would have probably swoon.
Magnus doesn't look ready to swoon. He looks... unsure.
Does Magnus really hate Alec dressing in gold so much?
"I... Yeah," Alec says, before shrugging, "I mean, I thought... this is our wedding." He regrets now following Clary's stupid mundane tradition and agreeing not to see Magnus for the entire day before. Maybe they could have done something to prevent this.
"You hate it?" he can't help but ask. He knows that, even if Magnus has come to peace with Alec's job, sometimes his hate towards the Clave resurfaces, but Alec had hoped that today politics could have just stayed outside.
"It's not like I hate it," Magnus replies, but he's talking slowly, almost as if he's measuring his words. It makes Alec itchy. "But you do realize this..." he gestures around them, where some of their friends are reunited, looking at them curiously.
Alec wonders what it must look like to them, him and Magnus almost wispering in front of the makeshift altar.
"You mean our wedding?" Alec can't help but point out. He doesn't like the way Magnus says this, almost as if it's something unimportant.
"That's what I mean. Your Shadowhunters laws don't really recognize this as a wedding," Magnus points out, looking at him with a strange expression, "you realize that, right?"
It takes a minute for Alec to figure it out. He recognizes now the look on Magnus' face, it's not disgust, or annoyance. It's fear and worry.
Alec would kill to wipe that look from Magnus' eyes.
"I know," he replies instead, keeping his voice soft. "But who cares. This is my wedding, the only one I'll ever have. I want to dress in gold for it, show to the Angel that I found an incredible husband."
Magnus looks stunned for a second before he smiles, a wild and incredible look. "God, Alexander, you're remarkable. I forget sometimes."
Alec blushes a little but he smiles as well unable to resist, "I'll just have to remind you for the rest of our life together, won't I?"
They don't talk about the time after. About why this will never be recognized by the clave. About the tatoo appointment Clary has booked for Alec for that afternoon and the neckless that Izzy had created for Magnus with a pendant that matched almost perfectly the marriage rune.
They just look back at Luke, who's waiting with a smile to officiate the wedding and let each other live in the moment.
It might not be the most grandiose of ceremonies, with Jace and Simon making faces at each other from across the room, but Alec can't help but think that he wouldn't want this any other way.