This story is about love

This entry is part 29 of 36 in the series Shadowhunter AUs

Author's Note: Not being trans myself, I tried to be respectful in the way I wrote Jace's story. Please feel free to tell me if I messed up somehow.

All titles from "Nature Boy", originally recorded by Nat King Cole but probably best known these days in the versions by David Bowie and Ewan McGregor from the Moulin Rouge OST. Full lyrics at the end.

***

Chapter 1: There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy
Chapter 2: A little shy and sad of eye
Chapter 3: And then one day, one magic day
Chapter 4: While we spoke of many things, fools and kings
Chapter 5: The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Nature Boy (lyrics)

***

Chapter 1: There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy

Ever since his father’s death Jace felt as if he couldn’t breathe, the world a heavy weight on his ten-year-old shoulders. He did his best not to let anyone see, of course, needing to honor Michael Wayland’s teachings now more than ever. However, when he was introduced to his father’s old parabatai, Robert Lightwood, and his wife Maryse, he couldn’t quite stop his voice from wavering.

“Please, can you call me Jace? For Jonathan Christopher?” He hated that it came out like a question, but he couldn’t take it back, so he went back to staring at the adults in front of him.

The couple exchanged a long glance, then Robert leaned forward until he was at eye-level with Jace and asked gently, “Is that what your father called you?”

“No,” Jace admitted, already feeling defeated. He’d been stupid to think things would be different here. “I saw the name in a book, but father didn’t like it, said it was silly make-believe and that I was a… a g....”

He couldn’t bring himself to say it, and Robert looked back at his wife, whose eyes narrowed in anger. Jace fought the urge to take a step back. He’d been told the Lightwoods were considering taking him in, but he felt certain that they wouldn’t now. He should have kept his mouth shut, pretended the way he’d pretended with his father.

Jace was so caught up in his thoughts that the light touch against his shoulder startled him, and he stared at the woman who’d knelt down in front of him. Her words, firm and reassuring, were even more of a surprise: “Of course we’ll call you Jace.” She smiled gently, and Jace tried to return it, struggling to believe her. “It’s a good name.”

Relief washed over Jace, the world suddenly lightening. He still missed his father, but maybe living with the Lightwoods wouldn’t be so bad after all.

“You can share a room with our son Alec when we get back to New York.” Robert’s smile was warm and came more easily than that of his wife, but he appeared no less genuine. Jace found himself smiling back, before registering his words.

“Really?! Will… will you tell him?” he asked, apprehensive again. “About me, I mean -- about my name?”

The adults once again appeared to communicate without words, but it was Maryse who replied decisively, “No. That’s up to you. We’ll just tell him and our daughter Isabelle that Jace, the son of Michael Wayland, will be living with us.” She rested a gentle hand on Jace’s shoulder, and he tried not to flinch, unused to physical contact that wasn’t part of training. “You can trust us, Jace, and that includes Alec and Izzy, I promise. We’ll do our best to give you a good home.”

Looking a bit discomfited Robert added, “Let us know if you need anything. I’ve heard that there are… things doctors can do to stop your body from changing during puberty if that makes you uncomfortable. And in a few years, if you still feel the same, the Silent Brothers have more permanent solutions, although I’d have to research those.”

Jace gaped at the adults in astonishment, dumbfounded. Was this true? Nothing in the way his father had reacted to Jace’s shy mentions about the way he felt deep down had prepared him for this… this openness and acceptance. He’d always considered himself a freak, his certainty of being somehow wrong another sign of the weakness his father had been trying so hard to stamp out. Yet here he was being told that there were doctors and procedures to help him. It was too much, and all Jace could do was nod mutely, unable to express the shock and gratitude that choked him.

Fingers digging into his palms in an attempt to keep his composure, he realized he was desperately hoping the Lightwoods wouldn’t decide he was too much trouble. He would just have to show them that he was worth it, that he could be the best Shadowhunter they’d ever seen, someone they could be proud of.

***

Chapter 2: A little shy and sad of eye

When their parents told him and Izzy about the boy coming to live with them, Alec initially wasn’t exactly thrilled. He knew his father only meant to pave the way when he told them that he’d seen Jace Wayland train. “And he’s good, really good. You’ll be able to learn a lot from him, Alec.”

To Alec, however, it sounded very much as if he’d have to compete with a ten-year-old for his parents’ approval from now on. Loosening arrow after arrow at the target, he tried to center himself in the familiar motion, seeking the calm focus he only ever achieved when holding a bow. He did manage to get lost enough to end up almost spearing a blonde boy he’d never seen before.

There weren’t that many kids their age around the Institute, and Alec knew them all, so of course he knew who it was even before the boy introduced himself as Jace. He was taller than Alec despite being younger, and his knife skills were undoubtedly better. He also seemed much more confident, and Alec felt torn between awe and resentment.

“Once you believe you’re the best… you’ll be unstoppable.” It was the conspiratorial smile Jace gave him that tipped the scale, and Alec found himself smiling back uncertainly. Jace made it sound so easy, but there was an intensity to him that made Alec suspect there was more to him than cockiness. In any case, he suspected his life would be much more interesting from now on.

“Would you like to see my… our room?” he offered impulsively. He hadn’t been happy when he heard that his room wouldn’t be his own anymore, but at least it meant his parents wouldn’t be able to make him share with Max when he was older. For a second apprehension passed over Jace’s features, which surprised Alec and made him warm further towards the other boy. Then the confident mask was back, and Jace nodded and graciously allowed Alec to show him not only to their quarters but around the Institute.

At supper Izzy peppered Jace with a million questions, apparently having already decided to adopt him, and if Jace at first appeared a bit nervous, that was a pretty normal reaction to Isabelle Lightwood, at least in Alec’s experience. Normally their parents tried to curb Izzy’s enthusiasm, but they seemed to have decided that Jace’s first day with them was an exception, and even Max joined in, gurgling happily when Jace carefully offered him a finger to grip. The look of awe that brought to Jace’s face melted away the last of Alec’s concerns, and they went to bed already well on their way to becoming friends.

Being on the shy side himself, at first Alec didn’t even notice that Jace always disappeared into the bathroom to change. He did ask once about the pills Jace started taking soon after his arrival, but when Jace averted his eyes and mumbled something about supplements, he accepted it readily enough. Much more important was the easy way in which Jace fit into Alec’s life, somehow making everything more interesting, more alive, from training to studying to just exploring every nook and cranny of the Institute.

Sometimes Izzy tagged along, but for the first time Alec had a friend to call his own. He’d never been close with any of the Nephilim boys his age, too reticent and serious in addition to being the son of the Heads of the Institute, and he’d told himself that having their respect was better than their friendship. The other children soon grew to admire the newcomer, his quick reflexes and even quicker mouth, but for some reason Jace had picked Alec as his constant companion, actively seeking him out until people began to refer to them as a unit, “Jace-and-Alec” or “those Lightwood boys”.

However, as happy as Alec was that Jace had found a home with them, he never called Jace his brother. He wasn’t quite sure why, except that it didn’t feel right. Jace might be family, but not in the way Izzy and Max were. Still, when he woke one night to hear Jace crying out in his sleep, Alec’s first instinct was to comfort him like he would his siblings. He was already by the side of Jace’s bed before he hesitated, suddenly wondering if his interference would be welcome. They might be inseparable, but there were moments when Alec felt clearly that there were parts of himself that Jace kept separate, hidden under his easygoing banter.

Jace whimpered, a small, distressed sound so unlike his usual self, and Alec swallowed down his doubts and laid a careful hand on the younger boy’s shoulder.

***

Chapter 3: And then one day, one magic day

For as long as Jace remembered, there had never been anyone offering him comfort and acceptance the way the Lightwoods did. It had always been just his father and Jace, and it took Jace a while to believe that he truly was part of a real family. It made him feel disloyal, somehow, as if he was betraying Michael Wayland’s memory, yet he couldn’t help but bask in Maryse’s and Robert’s approval, in Izzy’s admiration and sisterly teasing, which he got used to returning in kind, in Max’s toddler hugs. And then there was Alec, who simply seemed to fit, as if there’d been a hole in Jace’s life just waiting to be filled by this serious boy with his bow, his unwavering friendship and the warmth and flashes of humor that few people got to see.

It was Alec who woke Jace from his nightmares of fire and death, and because it was Alec, Jace allowed himself to roll over and curl himself around the older boy. His head resting safely in Alec’s lap, Alec’s hands carding gently through his hair and petting his back, Jace found himself talking about his father’s death for the first time. And once he’d started talking, he couldn’t stop, and it became something of a nighttime ritual.

While he didn’t wake every night, when he did, Alec was always there, and always willing to listen as Jace slowly shared more and more details about his childhood. Jace never cried, the lessons he’d been taught too ingrained, but his memories lost some of their terror and sadness, smoothed away by Alec’s warm hands.

There was just one secret Jace didn’t tell, because unlike the others it wasn’t in the past, and he couldn’t help but hear his father call him a liar. If he ever told Alec, Jace was sure he’d lose him - or at least lose their closeness, because surely Alec finding out what Jace had been hiding from him would change everything. The prospect made Jace falter, and so time passed, and he said nothing.

As they got older it got harder to hide, Alec’s voice dropping, his muscles growing, while Jace grew taller but remained otherwise unchanged. Gathering his courage, Jace went to see the Silent Brothers - and he’d rarely wished more that he’d confided in Alec than now, braving the City of Bones alone. Still, it needed to be done, and Jace didn’t waver when Brother Jeremiah’s voice boomed in his head: Are you certain? This is powerful magic, and in the mundane world you would be considered much too young for such a choice.

“But we’re not mundanes, are we?” Jace asked back and soldiered on determinedly, “We’ve already been sent on missions, Alec and I, and I -- my body needs to change if I am to be the best Shadowhunter I can be. I need to be able to have his back, don’t you see, and I can’t do that if I’m stuck in this weird half-state, not a child but not growing up either.”

You are talking about young Alexander Lightwood. It wasn’t a question, but Jace nodded anyway, heart in his throat. Brother Jeremiah seemed to weigh his next words carefully, and Jace couldn’t help but wonder why the Brother had focused on that part of his speech. Even more surprising were the next words that echoed through his mind: Are you thinking of asking him to be your parabatai, then?

Jace stared at the strange face with its sown-shut lips, at a loss for words, because this option had never even occurred to him. Now that the idea was out there, however, he was surprised how natural it felt, how right. Of course they were supposed to be parabatai - that explained Alec’s place in Jace’s view of the world, part of his family but somehow different, more.

“Yes,” he burst out unthinkingly. “Yes, that’s what I want. We’re already good, but together, as parabatai, we’ll be even better!”

Brother Jeremiah regarded him solemnly, and Jace held his breath. Finally, he released it with a sigh, when the Brother nodded. Your motives are acceptable for a Nephilim.

“That’s all I want to be,” Jace replied, feeling as if he’d taken the biggest hurdle. “I know I can be the best Shadowhunter of the Institute, maybe even one of the best you’ve ever seen. Just… help me fix what’s wrong with my body, so I can stop being distracted by it.”

Just be aware that, should you change your mind later and wish to reverse this process, it will be dangerous. Even if it is a success, you will never be able to bear children.

Jace’s instinctive reaction was to scoff, but he caught himself just in time. Silent Brothers were always serious and lacking a sense of humor, but he had the distinct impression that he really shouldn’t appear to be taking this lightly. So instead he squared his shoulders, looked the Brother straight into his unsettling face and said firmly, “I’m aware of the risks. But I’ve known who I am for as long as I can remember, it’s not going to change.”

And that was it. Maryse and Robert were informed of Jace’s intentions, but their consent wasn’t needed. Not that Jace had any doubt of their support, but after Robert had told him that there were others like him, he’d read up on mundane procedures, and it all seemed much too complicated to him. Yet another way in which Shadowhunters were superior, an opinion Alec would surely share, if Jace could have told him.

It was hard not to, but Jace just focused on the fact that, once this was done, once he no longer had anything to hide, they could become parabatai. The thought sustained him through the painful magical ritual performed by the High Warlock of London, Ragnor Fell, under the supervision of the Silent Brothers.

It had been Maryse’s suggestion to use a warlock that wasn’t local, to minimize the risk of Jace being outed, and Jace was incredibly grateful for her thoughtfulness. The support he received from the Lightwoods never failed to amaze him, and when it was done, Jace got up on wobbly legs, every inch of his changed body in pain but a weight lifted from his shoulders, and embraced the only mother he’d ever known.

Feeling the need to show her how much he trusted her, he only waited until they were outside the City of Bones to say impulsively, “I’m going to ask Alec to be my parabatai.”

“Oh, Jace, that’s wonderful,” Maryse exclaimed, her pride warming Jace’s aching bones. He’d been told it would take for a while for the pain to subside, because he had been altered not just out on the outside but on a cellular level, so deep not even mundane science would be able to tell. He was now exactly as he would have been, had he been born what he considered right. Getting lost in the still-strange sensation of his body, with its myriad of differences, some small some significant, Jace missed Maryse’s next words, until she attracted his attention with a hand on his arm. “When you ask him… You should tell him everything. Alec would never judge you.”

Flinching away from her touch, Jace averted his eyes and asked sullenly, “Why should I, though? It doesn’t make a difference, not after today.”

“Not physically, of course, and I know you’ve always been you on the inside,” Maryse replied seriously, stopping until Jace met her eyes again, which were warm but firm. “But ask Robert what happens when parabatai keep secrets from one another. It’s one of his greatest regrets that his bond with your father had been damaged so badly that he didn’t even feel his death.”

Jace returned her gaze helplessly, feeling outmanoeuvred, his instinct to keep his secret warring with the knowledge that Maryse had only spoken the truth. Finally, he sighed and relented, “I’ll think about it.” Maryse made as if to protest, and he quickly cut her off, “I really will. I want Alec to be my parabatai, and I want to do it right.”

***

Chapter 4: While we spoke of many things, fools and kings

Alec noticed the difference right away. He was good at noticing details in the first place, and Jace had always held his attention in a special way. How special was something Alec had only recently begun to realize, if not accept. It was hard to remain in denial when he kept dreaming of kissing, of touching, and woke up to undeniable proof of his body’s entirely non-platonic interest in his best friend.

Luckily Alec had always been good at compartmentalizing, so so far he’d managed to keep those annoying feelings firmly locked down, had not let them affect his behavior. Of course it hurt when Jace flirted with girls, and he’d readied himself for the inevitable day when Jace would let things go further than smiles and teasing jokes. Jace could have anyone he wanted, with his potential, his good looks and undeniable charm. Alec told himself what mattered was that Jace seemed to treasure their friendship just as much as he did.

However, when Jace carelessly stripped off his shirt one night, after recovering from what Maryse had called a virulent flu, Alec couldn’t help but notice. He considered saying something, but he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. It shouldn’t be a big deal, after all, just two teenaged boys sharing a room, and Alec tried his very best not to stare at all that bare skin, at the play of muscles while Jace grabbed a towel and disappeared into the bathroom. The water was turned on, and Alec fell back onto his bed with a thud, squeezing his eyes shut as his brain supplied him with tantalizing images of Jace in the shower. As much as he’d always wished Jace would feel comfortable enough to undress in front of him, knowing what he looked like now made things so much worse.

Still, when Jace returned, Alec managed to compose himself enough so he could return Jace’s smile without blushing. Grabbing The Chronicles of Jonathan Shadowhunter, his favorite history book, from the nightstand, Alec tried to read, but as always he remained peripherally aware of Jace’s presence, especially since the younger boy seemed unable to settle down. Instead he paced around the room, randomly picking up stuff and setting it back down almost immediately, and Alec’s skin began to prickle as a weird tension settled over the room.

Was this it, Alec wondered, the moment of truth? He shifted nervously, scared what Jace would say, how Alec should react, how much honesty would be too much. Nothing in Alec’s life had prepared him for this. One didn’t talk about emotions in the Lightwood family. Or about secrets. Both were facts of life, and both had to be kept in check in order for them to function optimally as Shadowhunters.

But Alec would do anything to keep Jace in his life, even face the secret he’d been keeping, so he squared his jaw and asked in a deliberately wry voice, “Jace, what’s going on? Your caged tiger routine is disrupting my reading.”

“Sorry, dude.” Jace’s reply should have been flippant, instead it came out sincere, and he stopped moving, which Alec noticed despite keeping his eyes fixed on the page in front of him. Yes, he was definitely working up the courage for something, and Alec swallowed and silently counted the seconds before his life changed.

When Jace sat down next to him, their thighs not quite touching, close enough that Alec could smell the shower gel and shampoo they shared, as well as Jace’s own clean, warm scent, Alec took a steadying breath and looked up. Jace’s eyes were darting around with uncharacteristic nervousness, and a surge of fondness flooded Alec, so strong that he had to clench his fists to stop himself from reaching out.

Instead he tried to look calm, and he must have succeeded, because Jace visibly took a deep breath and burst out, “Thing is, I’ve been meaning to ask--” Alec forced himself to nod reassuringly, blunt nails digging painfully into his palms, and Jace continued, “--do you want to be my parabatai?”

“What?!” Alec knew it was a dumb thing to say, because he’d heard Jace perfectly well. However, of all the things he had braced himself to hear, this wasn’t one of them, and his voice sounded strangled in his own ears as he repeated stupidly, “Parabatai? You want us to be--”

“--parabatai, yes.” Jace’s laugh was weak, but in typical Jace fashion he soldiered on, “Come on, Alec, don’t look as if I’ve just… propositioned you or something.” Alec almost scoffed at the unfortunate choice of words but managed to bite his tongue. Jace sounded more more certain, now that he’d spelled it out. “You must have noticed that we’re good together, and as parabatai we’d be even better!”

Alec realized he would have to answer, and he cast around for the right thing to say, torn between shock and disbelief. Jace’s face began to fall, and Alec settled on the simple truth: “Of course I’ve noticed.” Jace began to smile, and Alec hated having to squash it, yet he felt he had no choice. “But Jace, being parabatai, that’s not something to do lightly, just because it seems like fun. It’s a soulbond, it’d mean we’d be connected by more than friendship, more than blood, more than… more than marriage runes--”

Alec swallowed hard and trailed off, hoping to have made his point. That last one hurt more than it had any right to hurt a fifteen-year-old boy, especially one who was pretty sure he was never going to get married, at least not out of love. However, one look into Jace’s oh-so-captivating eyes, bright and determined, told Alec that he’d failed to change Jace’s mind.

He did, at least, appear to mull over his words, before coming to a decision and saying softly, “I get it. For us to be parabatai, for you to say yes, there can’t be any secrets.”

“No, I… I didn’t...” Alec stammered, remembering with a start that that was what he’d expected this encounter to be about in the first place - secrets, and the revealing thereof. However, Jace didn’t seem to hear him, too caught up in whatever he was planning to say. He looked scared, reminding Alec of the boy he’d once comforted after his nightmares, but unlike then, now Alec couldn’t simply hug him until the darkness passed.

He could still listen, though, while Jace fixed his eyes on the bedspread separating them and pulled nervously at a loose thread, and finally croaked in barely more than a whisper, “I didn’t not tell you because I don’t trust you, I need you to know that. It’s just… I never told anyone. But you deserve to know, if we’re to be parabatai.”

“Jace, it’s alright, you don’t have to…” Acting entirely on instinct, Alec did reach out now, covering Jace’s hand with his own, a thrill running through him when Jace immediately became calmer.

He still didn’t look at Alec, though, and continued in the same hoarse whisper, “Yes I do.” With visible effort he forced himself to look up, and Alec was caught in his eyes, glittering almost feverishly as he ground out, “When I was born… I was born wrong.” A quick breath, then the words just tumbled out, “A girl. That’s what my father said, but I always knew, I knew that I wasn’t her, that I was me, and when I came to live with you, your parents said it was okay for me to be… to be Jace. And last week the Silent Brothers and a warlock fixed my body, so I can grow up like you. Like… like a man.”

Running out of steam, Jace looked emotionally and physically exhausted, his chest heaving with panicked breaths, but he also seemed relieved, and Alec felt the corner of his mouth quirk upwards. Seeing Jace’s face cloud over in confusion, he tightened his grip on Jace’s hand, and said with quiet amusement, “Because you are a man.”

“No, I just told you--” Jace looked hurt now, and Alec had to strain to keep a hold of him.

Shaking his head in annoyance, because he was making a mess of this, he talked quickly, “I know what you told me. And I know what… how you were born. Just like I know that you’re a man, or a boy, just like me.” Feeling Jace relax slightly, he met wide blue-and-brown eyes seriously, gently touching his shoulder with his other hand. “I figured it out a long time ago, but I always thought you’d tell me when you were ready.” He shrugged, feeling strangely light. “Or never, it didn’t make a difference to me. Because you’re Jace, you’ve always been Jace.”

The next moment he was knocked backwards when Jace basically tacklehugged him to the mattress. Breath leaving him in a gasp of laughter, Alec’s arms came up automatically as he wrapped them around the younger boy. The next moment his chuckle died on his lips, however, when he realized that Jace was basically lying on top of him, his face, red-cheeked and wearing a wide, relieved grin, only a few inches from Alec’s.

Pushing Jace away, Alec scrambled up and with a sinking heart saw Jace’s smile turn to confusion. Alec sighed and readied himself. His turn to share his secret.

***

Chapter 5: The greatest thing you'll ever learn

“You’re right,” Alec said in a small voice. “We have to be honest with each other. No more secrets.”

Jace felt as if he was getting whiplash from all the emotions that had been racing through him that night: one moment he was nervous, then scared, then shocked, then filled with a relief so profound it left him breathless, only to circle back to confused and nervous. A part of him was tired, too tired for more, but he’d started this, and he would see it through. Also, Alec still hadn’t given him his answer, and if anything Jace now wanted him even more.

Catching how that sounded, Jace corrected himself automatically - he now wanted Alec to be his parabatai even more. He’d known, and he’d never once looked at Jace like he was different. So the least Jace could do in return was to listen to whatever had Alec look so conflicted.

“Just tell me,” Jace sighed when Alec seemed to struggle to find words. “Whatever it is, it can’t possibly be bigger than what I just told you.”

This coaxed a wry chuckle out of Alec, and Jace found himself smiling back automatically. He loved that he was the person most likely to get Alec to smile, with the possible exception of Max, who was barely more than a baby and therefore had an unfair advantage. Alec quickly sobered, however, and said quietly, “I guess it depends on how disappointed you’d be if I told you that I couldn’t be your parabatai.”

Couldn’t be my… Alec, what do you mean?” Jace gaped at his friend in astonishment, feeling suddenly cold.

“Anyone would be lucky to be your parabatai.” Jace snorted derisively at this platitude, but Alec didn’t look up. He was staring at his hands as if they were the most fascinating thing in the room, long fingers twisting around each other, making Jace twitch with the desire to reach out, which he ruthlessly suppressed. If Alec was going to turn him down, he would have to spell it out. Finally, Alec continued, sounding dejected, “I’m not parabatai material. Definitely not for you.”

When he looked up, his eyes were haunted, and, feeling himself relent a little, Jace nodded in encouragement. Alec never did anything without reason, he deserved for Jace to hear him out with an open mind.

Haltingly, Alec went on, “Jace, I’ve been hiding, too - not just from you, from everyone, but especially from you.”

“Alec Lightwood, just come to the fucking point,” Jace groaned, unable to stand the tension any longer. “You’re my best friend, and if my earlier confession proved anything, it’s that nothing can tear us apart.”

Alec’s eyes widened at this outburst, a grin flickering over his face, although it disappeared quickly. He took a shuddering breath, and Jace steeled himself for whatever revelation was to come. Not looking away from him, Alec said quickly, his words tumbling over each other, “I can’t be your parabatai because I’m in love with you, Jace.” When Jace just stared at him, he elaborated, “I’m gay, that’s what the mundanes call it. And I’ve been in love with you forever, I don’t think it’s going to go away. That’s why I don’t think I can say yes.”

There was an edge of exasperation in his voice, and for some reason that made Jace giggle, because it was such an Alec thing, to be annoyed when making a declaration of love. The next moment his amusement died, however, when the meaning of Alec’s words crashed over him.

Love. Alec loved him, was in love with him. Jace knew little about love, and what he knew he’d learned from his father in some bitter, very effective lessons. He’d told Alec about those lessons, the only person alive who knew, and for the first time Jace figured that that meant something.

“Say yes anyway,” he blurted out impulsively, grabbing Alec’s hand in a mirror image of their earlier position. Leaning forward, so close that he could see Alec’s rapid pulse beating in his neck, he explained, “I want you to be my parabatai, Alec Lightwood. What people call love, that scares me, but being your parabatai? That doesn’t.”

Despite his bravado, Jace could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears. Alec’s pupils were huge, darkening his hazel eyes, and when he wrenched them away, Jace felt strangely bereft. Even more so when Alec stated thoughtfully, “Love won’t always scare you, though. And I just don’t know if I can share my soul with you, knowing you’re going to fall in love one day. I’ll be happy for you, stand by your side, be your suggenes, but if we’re parabatai, I’ll feel how you love her, instead of me, and I don’t think I could bear that.”

A thousand thoughts whirled through Jace’s head, too many emotions for him to make sense of, but in the end his voice didn’t waver as he said quietly, “Angel knows what the future will bring, but I can’t imagine any version of it where you won’t be the person that matters most to me…” He trailed off, took a deep breath, and cupped Alec’s cheek with the hand that wasn’t still holding Alec’s. “The person I love the most. In every way.”

Jace hadn’t known that Alec could blush, but he did so now, knowing better than anyone that Jace had never said those words before, had never even dared to think them. A part of Jace’s mind observed calmly that he should be terrified, that he was leaving everything he’d ever learned far behind, but that voice was drowned out by the smile like a sunrise breaking out on Alec’s face.

“Are… are you sure? You’re not just saying that?” he asked wonderingly, and Jace couldn’t suppress a bark of laughter. Instead of a reply he scooted even closer and pressed his lips to Alec’s.

They were stiff at first, but they yielded quickly, and then they were kissing for real, two boys on a bed, with no experience but boundless enthusiasm, and nothing had ever felt more right. They ended up lying entwined, Jace on top of Alec, his hands under Alec’s shirt, on top of his heart, while Alec had one palm resting at the small of Jace’s back, the fingers of his other hand carding through his hair. It reminded Jace a little of all those nights Alec had comforted him, the nights when Jace had shared his secrets, all except one.

Smirking, Jace caught one of Alec’s earlobes with his teeth and pulled gently, warmth spreading through him when Alec gasped and shivered, before turning his head and catching Jace in a kiss that left him breathless in return. They were a perfect match, in this as well as on the battlefield, and when they broke for air, Jace repeated seriously, “So. Will you be my parabatai?”

“Jace, we can’t, it’s against the Law!” Alec did his best to sound stern, but Jace could hear the longing now, even if he hadn’t before.

Smiling softly, in the way he’d always reserved for Alec, he emphasized every word with a kiss: “I want you to be mine, Alec Lightwood, in every way.” A helpless smile lit up Alec’s face, and Jace added with a grin, “Lex mala lex nulla, if you want to be technical about it.”

"How can I resist such a compelling legal argument?" This time it was Alec who surged up for another kiss, his fingers digging into Jace's scalp, sending tingles racing down his spine.

Before they got completely side-tracked, Jace whispered hotly into Alec's ear, "You can't. You're mine, and I'm yours, and soon our souls will be bound together forever."

There was no more need for discussion after that, and when the day of the ceremony dawned, Jonathan Christopher Wayland had a secret. One that his soon-to-be parabatai shared, one that had nothing to do with accidents of birth and everything to do with love.

***

End Note: Lex mala lex nulla: a bad law is no law. Originating with St. Augustine, Blackthorn family motto.

***

Nature Boy

This story is about love
The woman I loved is dead

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea
A little shy, and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day
One magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me

The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love...
And be loved in return

***

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