Against his will, Magnus found a smile curving his lips as he rummaged around for his big blue coffee cup that said BETTER THAN GANDALF across the front in sparkly letters. He was besotted; he was officially revolted by himself.
Magnus deeply disliked people who were early to business meetings. It was just as bad as being late, since it put everyone out, and even worse, people who were early always acted terribly superior about their bad timekeeping skills. They acted as though it were morally more righteous to get up early than to stay up late, even if you got the same amount of work done in the exact same amount of time. Magnus found it to be one of the great injustices of life.
“Magnus Bane,” said Magnus. “High Warlock of Brooklyn and Scrabble champion.”
“You come highly recommended. I have heard you are an extremely powerful wizard.”
“Warlock,” said Magnus, “actually.”
“As the destroyer of Marbas, I summon you. I summon you as the demon’s child who can make your seas dry to desert. I summon you by my own power, and by the power of my blood, and you know who my father is, Elyaas. You will not, you dare not, disobey.”
“Well,” said Elyaas. “This is awkward.”
“It’s nothing personal,” said Magnus.
“Maybe if I jogged your memory,” Elyaas suggested helpfully. “You summoned me when you were searching for a demon who cursed a Shadowhunter? Bill Herondale?”
“Will Herondale,” said Magnus.
Elyaas snapped his tentacles as if they were fingers. “I knew it was something like that.”
“Lighting’s important, it’s true,” said Magnus.
“So whatever happened with Bill Herondale and that curse a blue demon put on him?” The cecaelia demon’s interest seemed genuine.
“Will Herondale,” Magnus said again. “It’s actually rather a long story.”
“You know, sometimes we demons pretend we’re cursing people and we don’t really do it,” said Elyaas chattily. “Like, just for kicks? It’s kind of a thing with us. Did you know that?”
“You could have mentioned it a century or two ago,” Magnus observed frostily.
Elyaas shook his head, smiling a slime-bedecked smile. “The old pretend-to-curse. It’s a classic. Very funny.” He appeared to notice Magnus’s unimpressed expression for the first time. “Not from your perspective, of course.”
“It wasn’t funny for Bill Herondale!” said Magnus. “Oh, damn it. Now you’ve got me doing it.”
Magnus had been interested in Clary, the little redheaded scrap who had grown into a— slightly bigger little redheaded scrap, but had not thought he would be terribly interested in the companions she had found for herself. Not the nondescript mundane boy; not golden-eyed Jace Wayland, who reminded Magnus of too much of a past that he would rather forget; and certainly not either of the Lightwood siblings, the dark boy and girl whose parents Magnus had good reason to dislike.
He had striking coloring, the rare combination of black hair and blue eyes that had always been Magnus’s favorite, and Magnus supposed that was why he had looked in Alec’s direction at first. Strange to see the coloring that had so distinguished Will and his sister, so many miles and years gone by, and on someone with an entirely different last name . . .
“Is Alec your lover?” asked Elyaas the tentacle demon. Magnus stared. He was not ready for anyone to say “lover” to him with an oozing note of slime beneath the word. He felt he would never be ready. “You should get him a mixed tape,” said Elyaas. “Kids love mixed tapes. They’re the cool ‘in’ thing right now.”
“Was the last time you were summoned the eighties?” Magnus asked.
“It might have been,” Elyaas said defensively.
“Things have changed.”
“Do people still listen to Fleetwood Mac?” asked the tentacle demon. There was a plaintive note in his voice. “I love the Mac.”
“What is it?” asked Ragnor. “Is it Valentine? I’m in London, and Tessa’s in the Amazon and there’s no way to contact her. All right. Let me wrap this up fast. You call Catarina, and I will be with you in—”
“Ah,” said Magnus. “There’s no need for that. Though thank you for your immediate leaping to my rescue, my sweet emerald prince.”
“Raphael calls me every month,” said Ragnor. “Raphael knows that it is important to preserve good relations and maintain regular communication between the different Downworlder factions. I might add, Raphael always remembers important occasions in my life.”
“I forgot your birthday one time sixty years ago!” said Magnus. “You need to let that go.”
“It was fifty-eight years ago, for the record. And Raphael knows we need to maintain a united front against the Nephilim and not, for instance, sneak around with their underage sons,” Ragnor continued.
“Of course, why would he, when you two are in loooove?” Magnus asked. “‘ Oooh, Raphael is always so professional.’ ‘Oooh, Raphael brought up the most interesting points in that meeting you forgot to attend.’ ‘Oooh, Raphael and I are planning a June wedding.’ Besides, Raphael would never date a Shadowhunter because Raphael has a policy of never doing anything that is awesome.”
She wasn’t the only one who liked Jace, Magnus knew that. He didn’t see what all the fuss was about, personally. Other than the fact that Jace had a face like an angel’s and abs for days.
“Nope, nope, nope, and also no,” Raphael said, and he actually took several steps back toward the door. “Turn around, everybody. I do not wish to know this. I refuse to be aware of this.”
Magnus was the High Warlock of Brooklyn, and for centuries had been powerful beyond the dreams of not only mundanes but most of Downworld. Magnus certainly did not need protection, and nobody had ever even thought to offer it, certainly not a Shadowhunter. The best one could hope for from Shadowhunters, if you were a Downworlder, was to be left alone. Nobody had tried to protect him, that he could remember, since he was very young. He had never wanted anybody to do so, not since he’d been a child who’d had to run to the cold mercy of the Silent Brothers’ sanctuary. That had been long ago in a country far away, and Magnus had never wanted to be so weak ever again. Yet seeing Alec spring to defend him caused Magnus to feel a pang in the center of his chest, at once sweet and painful.
In the only piece of luck in a terrible day filled with slime and cruel friends, at that very moment the buzzer rang. Magnus crossed the floor in three easy strides and boomed into the intercom: “WHO DARES DISTURB THE HIGH WARLOCK AT WORK?” There was a pause. “Seriously, if you are Jehovah’s Witnesses . . .”
“Ah, no,” said a girl’s voice, light, self-confident, and with the slight, odd inflection of Idris. “This is Isabelle Lightwood. Mind if I come up?”
“Not at all,” said Magnus, and he pressed the button to let her in.
Magnus had known a lot of Lightwoods, and he had not been terribly impressed by most of them. Not until one.
She was wearing tailored jeans and boots with spike heels, and a deep red silk tank top that matched the ruby necklace at her throat, which Magnus had bought for the price of a London town house more than a hundred years before. Magnus rather liked seeing her wear it. It felt like watching Will’s niece, brash, laughing, cheroot-smoking Anna Lightwood— one of the few Lightwoods he had liked— wearing it a hundred years before. It charmed him, made him feel as if he had mattered in that space of time, to those people. He wondered how horrified the Lightwoods would be if they knew that the necklace had once been a dissolute warlock’s love gift to a murderous vampire.
You might as well have asked why Clary hadn’t created a hilarious love triangle by getting a crush on Alec, since he was- in Magnus’s admittedly biased opinion- extremely handsome, and had been consistently sullen in her direction, which some girls liked.
“What did you do to it?” Isabelle asked.
“I gave it a little extra kick,” said Magnus.
Isabelle regarded him with narrowed eyes. “And why would you do that?”
“Why did you come to tell me that you know about me and Alec?” asked Magnus. “It’s his birthday. That means that the people who care about him want to give him what he wishes for most. In your case, acceptance. In min, I know that the most important thing to him in the world is that you be safe.”
Time was something that moved in fits and starts for Magnus, dissipating like mist or dragging like chains, but when Alec was here, Magnus’s time seemed to fall into an easy rhythm with Alec’s, like two heartbeats falling into sync. He felt anchored by Alec, and his who self felt restless and mutinous when Alec was not there, because he knew how different it would be when Alec was there, how the tumultuous world would quiet at the sound of Alec’s voice.
“Good luck with one of the Angel’s chosen, demon’s son,” said Elyaas, his voice sudden considerably sharper and less slimy. “You think he will ever do anything but despise you, in his heart of hearts? He knows where you belong. We all know it too. Your father will have you in the end. Someday your life here will seem like a dream, like a stupid child’s game. Someday the Great Dark One will come and drag you down and down, with ussss…”
“It might have crossed my mind once or twice during the day,” said Magnus. “So have you been having a wonderful Shadowhunter time? Did someone give you a giant axe in a cake? Where are you, off the celebrate?”
“Er,” said Alec. “I’m kind of… outside your apartment?”