Heavy Is the Head

Author's Note: For Lilredlfc42, for the Fandom Loves Puerto Rico auction. They wanted more in this 'verse gave me some prompts: the effects of Jace being a Herondale, the reconfirmation of their parabatai bond and an outside POV. I tried to do it all. 🙂 Hope you like it - and thanks again for bidding!

***

If he’d been able to ever imagine a situation as strange and convoluted as Jace’s family background, Alec would have expected that being thought a Morgenstern would have the greatest effect on his parabatai. Of course, thinking that he was Valentine’s son had affected Jace, had driven him to sacrifice himself by going with him. But Alec had never seen anything quite like the look in his mismatched eyes when Valentine-as-Magnus revealed his true origin.

Herondale. Jace was a Herondale. Grandson to the Inquisitor, the very woman who’d been making their lives so difficult and who was now staring at Jace as if she’d never seen him before. However, he was also once again in the clutches of Valentine, and for Alec that took precedence over anything else.

“We’re coming to get you,” he vowed, aware that they were taking a risk in accepting Valentine’s deal but not seeing any alternative. They needed Magnus back in his body - and Alec, Alec needed Jace.

So when they stormed Magnus’ apartment later, he let Clary and Sebastian deal with Valentine and Magnus, instead following the pull of their bond to find Jace crumpled to the ground in the next room. Kneeling next to his parabatai, Alec gathered him in his arms, relieved when he opened his eyes the moment he activated his iratze.

“Knew you were coming.” Jace’s voice was still a bit weak, but his gaze was clear, and when Alec leaned down for a kiss, he met him halfway. When they separated, Jace sat up, completely recovered, and asked in a more business-like manner, “Did we get Valentine?”

It was Sebastian who replied, “Yes, Clary tackled him through the portal to the Institute. It was… quite a sight!”

The British Shadowhunter sounded impressed, and Alec and Jace exchanged a knowing glance, amused by his obvious interest in Clary. Then Jace sobered, lowering his voice so only Alec could hear him: “Alec, I know I said it before, but I really am sorry I told you not to believe Magnus. Maybe I’m still a bit jealous.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Alec chided, but there was no bite to it. He was too relieved to have Jace back in one piece. It felt as if he hadn’t been able to breathe properly ever since seeing the projection of his parabatai in chains, an image all to reminiscent of the nightmares that had plagued him during Jace’s stint on the Morningstar. Stupid, self-sacrificing fool. Shaking his head fondly, Alec got to his feet and offered Jace a hand up. “Magnus only flirts with me to get a rise out of you.”

“If you say so,” Jace replied placatingly, obviously not believing him, and before Alec could respond, he lifted himself to his toes to plant a lingering kiss on Alec’s lips, which he accepted happily. Then they joined Magnus and Sebastian, hands firmly linked. Alec suspected it would be a while before he felt comfortable enough to let Jace out of his sight.

The need to be alone, to affirm that they were both alright, simmered between them, but they had to content themselves with light touches and reassuring glances. Duty first, as always - and this time, the debrief really couldn’t wait: Back at the Institute, the Inquisitor was waiting for news of her grandson.

The thought was still mind-boggling to Alec, and he knew that Jace felt the same as they stepped through the portal and came face to face with Imogen Herondale. To anyone who didn’t know Jace as well as Alec his parabatai seemed calm enough, but his body was tense and the grip on Alec’s hand turned painfully tight. Alec squeezed back reassuringly and was rewarded with a quick smile before the professional facade slid back into place.

They stopped in front of the Inquisitor, whose usually so composed face still showed traces of the open vulnerability that had overtaken her when Valentine produced Stephen Herondale’s ring. She seemed to struggle for words, as did Jace, and finally it was Alec who reported calmly, “Inquisitor, as I’m sure you have already been informed, Magnus Bane and Valentine completed the switch back before we captured Valentine and freed Jace. The mission was a complete success.”

The Inquisitor blinked, visibly regaining control over herself. “Very well, Mr. Lightwood. Now, if you would excuse me and Mr…” She trailed off uncertainly, eyes darting to Jace, before correcting herself, “Jace for a moment?”

Although it was phrased as a question, Alec knew it was a command, but instead of obeying immediately, he looked to Jace, who had yet to let go of his hand. A minute shake of Jace’s head was all he needed to remain where he was, while Jace addressed his grandmother for the first time, voice deceptively firm, “I’d like my parabatai to stay. It’s… been an eventful day, and I feel better with him by my side.”

For a moment Imogen looked as if she wanted to protest, but in the end she subsided graciously enough. Alec was glad, because it meant that he got to see the look of shy joy blooming on Jace’s face when his only living blood relative named him a Herondale and gave him his father’s ring. It was what he deserved, but Alec knew all too well what insecurities his parabatai hid underneath the mask he showed in public.

Alec’s feelings towards the Inquisitor were still somewhat ambivalent, remembering all too clearly that not too long ago they had to use the Mortal Cup as leverage to stop her from having Meliorn tortured. Alec also had yet to forgive her for installing Victor Aldertree as Head of the Institute after Hodge had stolen the Cup. The memory of Jace locked up in the City of Bones still haunted Alec, and it would take more than a smile and a ring for him to completely trust Imogen Herondale’s intentions when it came to Clave politics. However, there was no mistaking the depth of her emotions for her newly discovered grandson, and Alec decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, for Jace’s sake.

As if reading his thoughts, Imogen turned to him. “Mr. Lightwood, I doubt that this needs saying, since I was present at both your parabatai ceremony and your reevaluation four years ago and am aware that you two are everything parabatai should be. But I want you to know that I’m grateful that my grandson has you in his life. Please, continue to look out for him.”

“We look out for each other, ma’am.” Touched almost in spite of himself, Alec found himself exchanging a smile with the usually so severe politician. Nodding at them both, Imogen left them, and Alec immediately opened his arms. Jace stepped into them immediately, and Alec smiled into his parabatai’s hair. “Jace Herondale, huh? Think that one will stick?”

“I sure hope so.” Jace chuckled, sounding suspiciously choked up, and buried himself even deeper into Alec’s embrace. For a moment they both closed their eyes and just breathed each other in, their heartbeats falling into sync easily.

Later that night, in their room, they reaffirmed their bond in other ways, too. Alec covered Jace in kisses, caressed his fading bruises, made him sigh in pleasure as the last of the tension of that long, long day left their bodies. They moved together slowly, languidly, melting into one another until they reached that moment of oneness, when the boundaries between their bodies and souls became porous, disappeared. It didn’t happen every time they had sex, but when it did, it always felt like all-consuming joy, like Alec imagined heaven would be like.

Jace had laughed when Alec had confessed this to him, in the early hours of the morning before their reevaluation, but his eyes had been soft, and he’d kissed Alec with a gentleness that made his toes curl. When they separated, they’d rested their foreheads against one another, sharing air as their bond pulsed steady and strong between them. Despite being alone, Jace’s voice had been barely above a whisper, “You’re my heaven, Alec Lightwood.”

Needless to say they had passed their reevaluation with flying colors, both of them as certain of their bond as they had been on the day of their parabatai ceremony. Maybe even more so, after three years of sharing each other’s lives, their bodies, their souls. Maryse, Robert, Izzy and Max had all been there, smiling proudly, but Alec had only eyes for Jace as they clasped hands and repeated their oath, their parabatai runes glowing golden.

It was the same gold that illuminated the darkness of their room now, and Alec stopped moving against Jace, unsurprised to see his eyes glow up at him. Pushing aside some stray hairs, he lost himself in them, the feeling of Jace’s body surrounding him fading into the background as their runes started glowing as well. It was warmth and love and life, binding them together, and it lingered even after Jace’s eyes were back to their usual mismatched hues.

Alec, for one, had not been surprised to learn that Jace had angelic rather than demon blood, although he wished that they’d figured it out in a different way. Jace still woke from nightmares of the devastation the Soul Sword had wreaked, shivering in Alec’s arms with the knowledge of the deaths he had caused. This, more than anything, had been why Alec had gone along with the Inquisitor’s torture of the prisoner they thought of as Valentine. He wasn’t proud of it, and he didn’t relish the thought of telling his parabatai what scene he had interrupted in the dungeon, but Alec had always been merciless when it came to people who hurt Jace.

“I’d have done the same,” Jace replied simply when Alec had confessed. They were resting side by side after making love, and Jace lifted himself on one elbow to meet Alec eyes. “I almost did, when he toyed with Clary, taunted her with Jocelyn’s death.” Alec couldn’t quite suppress the pained wince at this reminder, but Jace quickly soothed him, gently cupping his face in one hand. “Stop it. We’ve been over this. It was not your fault, it was Valentine and his pet demon.”

Alec nodded and let himself be kissed, although he knew that a part of him would always feel guilty, just like Jace would probably never completely let go of his pain about the Soul Sword. They would just have to continue sharing their burdens and supporting one another, but Alec felt confident that together, they could weather any storm.

It was a confidence that was tested shortly after, when the Inquisitor, in a return to true form, resorted to measures that tested the already-strained relations with the Downworld to the breaking point. Alec could tell how hard it was for Jace, caught in the middle between his grandmother’s orders and what they themselves thought was the right thing to do. He knew the feeling all too well, but just as Jace had always had his back when he’d felt the pressure from his parents, now Alec had his. In the end they managed to convince Imogen to refrain from using the tracking chips, while Luke convinced the Downworlders to give DNA samples.

They managed to capture Kaelie, but at the end of the day Clary was injured, and Max was lucky to get away with a scare. Alec expected Imogen to put the blame on them, maybe bring back Aldertree - or Lydia Branwell, if they were lucky. Instead she confirmed that Jace would be the next Head of the Institute. Out of the corner of his eyes, Alec could see Jace gearing up to protest, but Imogen cut him off by adding with what Alec could have sworn was a twinkle in her eye, “My grandson will share these duties with his parabatai, Alec Lightwood.”

The room broke into applause, and Alec could hear Izzy whooping somewhere in the background, but he was too surprised to do more than stare at the Inquisitor in shock. Then Jace squeezed his shoulder, anchoring him, and they shared a smile, wide and happy, as the realization set in. They had dreamed of this moment for years, and now it was going to happen: Jace Herondale and Alec Lightwood, co-heads of the New York Institute.

***

Imogen

Law and order were everything for Imogen Herondale. It hadn’t always been like that, but since losing Stephen, cold duty had been what drove her. Duty and the wish to avenge herself on Valentine, for robbing her of her son - not just once, but twice: when he convinced him to join the Circle, and later again, this time permanently, when he caused his death.

And now they had captured Valentine - and she had a grandson. Jace, whose career she’d been aware of ever since the Lightwoods took in the orphaned son of Michael Wayland. He’d always been a promising Shadowhunter, especially after finding a parabatai in Alec Lightwood, who tempered some of his impulsiveness. However, when Valentine had claimed him as his son, Imogen had felt forced to take control of the New York Institute from the Lightwoods.

They were former Circle members, after all, and she had witnessed the strength of the bond their oldest son shared with his parabatai. Imogen couldn’t trust any Lightwood to make the hard decisions when it came down to choosing between Jace or the Clave. Parabatai were the elite of the Shadowhunters, their devotion to one another making them better warriors for the Clave, but she’d seen the way Alec and Jace looked at one another. She hadn’t been surprised in the least when they both risked their lives, and the wrath of the Clave, to get back to each other after Jace’s suspected defection.

Except it had been revealed that Jace wasn’t a Morgenstern at all but a Herondale. Her blood. Stephen’s blood. It was only right that control of the New York Institute should go to him - and to the man who completed him.

For the first time in years Imogen felt warm, watching her grandson share a joyous smile with his parabatai.

***

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