A/N: Hey guys! This is my first Malec fic (but not my first fan fiction), and it's only the first chapter… I posted this as a kind of trial run to see what people think, so if you like it, review and let me know and I'll keep writing :)
For my Vargas Academy readers, the next chapter should be up very very soon! (as in today or tomorrow)
Anyway, on to the story, and don't forget: REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW!
"No, please, my sibl-" bubbles replaced the boy's voice, as he was forced underwater once again. Minutes later, the bubbles stopped and all signs of a struggle ceased. Winding back the harness, the limp form of the boy rose slowly from the water, and a young girl screamed.
"Alec! No, wake up Alec!" She cried shrilly, tears streaming down her face. A small boy clung to her arm, crying silently as he stared at his brother's body. The boy- Alec's arm twitched, and his chest heaved, coughing the water from his lungs. The girl fell to her knees, wrapping her arms around her brother, a smile on her face.
"Once more!" the governor yelled, and man on the winch started to turn it when he was confronted with my sword at his throat. Glaring at the man, I rewound the winch and secured it, ordering one of my men to pull Alec to shore. Handing Alec my coat, I smiled at him, receiving a look of astonishment and grudging thanks in return. Surprised at my own impulsive actions, I made sure the boy was all right before waving over his siblings. The children stared at me incredulously, hesitating, then ran over to their soaked brother. Stalking over to the governor, my friend Will behind me, I swung my sword up so its tip was touching his nose.
"Is this an unauthorized witch trial?" I asked, struggling to keep the anger out of my voice. The fool of a governor frowned at me, eyes continually flashing back to my sword.
"I don't know who you are, boy, but you have no business interrupting the will of God. We even have a priest overseeing the occasion," he smirked, thinking he had me cornered. Smiling, I lowered my blade, hearing Will chuckle behind me as he guessed what I was about to do.
"You have no idea who you're talking to, do you? My name is Magnus Bane, nephew to the king, and YOU DARE TALK DOWN TO ME!" Shouting the last bit, I saw the crowd gasp and flinch at the mention of my name and status. The governor's eyes widened and he stepped back hurriedly.
"Greatest apologies my lord, I couldn't recognise you in those commoners filth," he said, bowing. Will and I had changed into commoners garb before mingling into the crowd. We were sent by the king to stop unauthorized witch trials in the more widespread towns of the kingdom, when I was drawn by the crowd gathered here. Turning to the spectators, I sent them my most fierce glare and they scattered in a hurry. Focusing back on the governor, I made my face blank.
"Get out of my sight. Don't ever perform witch trials here again, or I will be back with a reservation for you in the castle's dungeon. Go!" I said, tired of his grovelling. Watching him leave, the sound of chattering teeth reminded me of the boy by the lake. Walking over to Alec, I found that he was older than he looked, about 14 rather than my initial guess of 12. He was shivering, and I felt the autumn chill in the air. Snapping at my men to go ask for some blankets, I crouched in front of Alec, looking up into his face. Startling blue eyes met mine, determination and something else, something darker lurked beneath his long lashes. Smiling, I held out my hand.
"Hey, I'm Magnus. I take it you're Alec?" He nodded in confirmation, but ignored my outstretched hand. His sister stepped towards me, a big grin on her face.
"Hello, I'm Isabelle, and this is Max," she said, waving to the younger boy. "Thank you so much for saving Alec, he hasn't talked much since-" she was cut off by Alec clamping a hand over her mouth. His glare directed at me almost made me step back at its ferocity. Standing, I nodded to Will, and he went and collected the horses from the copse of trees nearby. One of the men came back with an armful of fine fur blankets, which I presumed were from they governor's home. Wrapping them around Alec, I gave another to Isabelle and Max to share while waiting for Will to get back. Speaking of the devil, he walked up with our horses, some led by him, others led by our groom. Alec and Isabelle's jaws dropped at the sight of what I thought was the horses, but I was proved wrong.
"Jace!" Isabelle cried, flinging herself into his arms. "Where have you been the past two years? We've been really worried, especially Alec. Did you go to the castle? Are you travelling with Magnus?" Her numerous questions were cut short by Jace's laugh.
"I'm fine. Two years ago I was taken while hunting, and sold to some idiot noble who tried to kill me before this guy here saved my sorry self. Now I pay him back by looking after his horses." When he had finished, Izzy gave him another hug, then dragged Alec up to him. A strange expression crossed his face as he gave Jace a hug, pulling away with a slight blush. Frowning, I gave a slight glare to Jace, the turned on my heel and headed to the edge of the road.
"Will, hurry up you idiot," I muttered, unimpressed with the situation. He had gone off to collect the rest of the men from the village while Jace was talking. Glancing back at Alec, I felt my heart clench, and I wondered at the strange feeling.
Finally, Will arrived, Simon and Jem right behind him. They were wearing the blue and gold uniform of the kingdom squires, but instead of it being relatively clean, it was filthy and covered in muck and food scraps.
"What in earth were you two doing? Your uniforms were clean this morning," I asked, shaking my head in disbelief. Only these two could get that dirty in 15 minutes.
"We were um... mobbed, sir. By the villagers. They didn't take kindly to having the King's Guard in their midst," reported Jem, eyes flicking over my shoulder to Will. I knew he had a thing for his knight, but he really should be more careful to not get caught looking. The kingdom didn't take kindly to people outside the norm, and Jem was already borderline unusual, with his mysterious sickness. Turning to Alec and his siblings, I took a deep breath.
"You three should know that it is no longer safe for you here. The people want to 'trial' Alec for witchcraft, and if you stay here one more night, you might end up dead." Pausing, I glanced at their faces. Alec had a hard acceptance in his eyes, as if he knew his fate. Isabelle looked sad yet excited, and Max appeared bored, playing in the dirt at his feet.
"I propose a deal." Alec perked up at this. "In return for food and a bed, you work for me at my manor. I'll also teach you older ones to fight, to protect yourselves, as well as Max when he gets older." Smiling, I held out my hand.
"Do we have a deal?" I asked. Alec, Isabelle and Max all looked at each other, then nodded.
"We'll do it." I grinned. This would make life a lot more fun. Gesturing to Will and the squires, I divided out people per horse. Isabelle and Max would ride Jace's pony, and Jace would double with Simon. Alec would ride with me. Helping Alec onto my black mare, I made sure he was comfortable before swinging up behind him. Reaching around him for the reins, I tried in vain to refrain from touching him but my arms weren't quite long enough, resulting in my chest pressing against his back, my chin hovering over his shoulder. Small shivers ran through him, and I realised that we needed to get him to a physician before he became any more ill.
"Where do you live? We need to collect your things and get you to a physician soon or you will get more sick," I told Alec hurriedly, concerned for his health. Frowning, he told me that all they owned were the clothes on their backs, and how their parents abandoned them soon after Max was born. I felt a flash of anger at this. What kind of parents abandon their children? Shaking my head to rid myself of the unsettling feeling growing in my mind, I called out to Will and the others.
"Head for the castle at full speed. Will, Jem, ride slower for Isabelle and Max. If one hair on their heads is harmed..." I trailed off, knowing that they would understand the threat behind my words. As they nodded in confirmation, I spurred my horse on, thundering down the road.
Two hours and a storm later, we arrived at the castle, soaked to the bone. Dismounting first, I helped Alec down, setting him on his feet. Simon and Jace took the horses to the stable, Jace grumbling all the while, and I helped Alec up the stairs. Reaching the main hall, I sent a servant to fetch Luke and Jocelyn. The girl ran off and I turned to Alec just as he collapsed. Sweeping him up in my arms, I called out to the servant to send them to my room and headed there with Alec. Laying him on my bed, I pressed a hand to his forehead, only to snatch it back as it was almost burned. Alec was on fire, fever running wild in his body. Making a swift decision, I peeled his wet clothes off, dropping them in the floor. Hand covering my mouth in shock, I stared at the old burns and scars covering his body. Heat creeping up my cheeks, I pulled the covers up over him and waited for the physicians to arrive. I had just pulled up a chair and sat down when someone knocked in the door.
"Come in," I called, and the door swung open, the serving girl poking her head around the door frame.
"The physicians to see you, my lord," she bowed. Telling her to send them in, I smiled grimly as the pair approached Alec.
"He has an extremely high fever, and possibly water in his lungs. If there is anything you can do‚Ä¶" I trailed off uncertainly. Jocelyn sat next to Alec on the bed, brushing his hair from his forehead before leaning down to press her lips to his head. Drawing back quickly, she turned to me.
"What happened to the poor child? He has the highest fever I have encountered for years," she asked in broken English. Luke appeared shocked and deathly worried at the news. Starting from when I first laid my eyes on the boy, I told them about the witch trials, and how he had nearly drowned- now that I think about it, he had drowned and was unconscious before-
"Is everything alright?" Luke asked. Realising I had stopped speaking, I filed away the notion before continuing my tale. Jocelyn frowned as I mentioned it had been about two and a half hours since Alec was dunked.
"I'm sorry Magnus, but we have to ask you to wait outside. We'll be about 15 minutes." I frowned, but did as they asked. Closing the door gently behind me, I wandered through the castle, lost in thought. Alec was unconscious when he came out of the water, and was probably drowned, yet when Isabelle called out to him to wake up, he did. Maybe Isabelle was the one with powers, not Alec, so why was he the one being 'trialled'? Looking up, I realised I was standing outside the stables. Walking in, I saw Will helping Max off of Jace's pony, Isabelle standing next to him. She turned around and spotted me, and ran over.
"Magnus, Magnus, is Alec alright? Why aren't you with him?" She glared at me. Chuckling at her bluntness, I told her how Alec was currently being seen to by the castle physicians, and that they kicked me out of the room.
"They're probably done by now, do you two want to come see him?" I asked, smiling at the pair jumping in excitement.
"All right, all right, lets go." Holding out my hands to them, we left Will in the stables and headed back to my room. Walking up to the door, it swung open before I had a chance to knock, and Luke poked his head around the door.
"Ah, Magnus, right on time. Alec was asking for you." Looking at the children holding my hands, he raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"This is Isabelle and Max, Alec's siblings," I explained, as Luke pulled the door completely open. Alec was sitting up, propped against some pillows, one of my nightshirts covering his scars. Letting go of my hands, Isabelle and Max ran over to the bed, climbing up on it and hugging Alec.
"Be gentle," I called, not wanting to hurt Alec, but he seemed content to be squeezed to death by his sister. Thanking Luke and an exhausted looking Jocelyn, I suggested they get some rest. Bowing, they handed me a potion, saying it was for if Alec's cough came back, and left. Walking over to the bed, I sat down in my chair and smiled at Alec, his siblings now snuggled under the covers with him. I felt flash of envy, then blushed lightly and looked away.
"Magnus?" Alec whispered tentatively. Glancing up at him, I saw tears in his eyes. Moving over to him, I asked what was wrong, worry clouding my thoughts.
"Will told us how the king hates witches. Will he kill us if he finds out what we can do?" My jaw dropped. They were actually witches. My suspicions about Isabelle were correct, and Alec wasn't covering for her, he was one himself? Recovering my composure, I thought about his question. The king might have some leniency due to the fact that they're orphans and working for me, but then I would be punished in their stead. Coming to a decision, I told him the honest truth.
"I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. All of you," I promised, bowing my head, long black hair falling down to hide my face. A hand came into view and it pulled a sheet of hair out of the way.
"You really should tie this back, or I could braid it for you, I'm used to doing Izzy's hair all the time," Alec offered as his face came into view. Staring unto his eyes, I nodded.
"I'd like that." Rearranging the now sleeping Max and Izzy, we ended up with Alec kneeling behind me on the bed. Passing him a leather tie I procured from one of my drawers, I settled down. When he ran his fingers through my hair, I sighed. The sensation if his fingers pressing lightly in my scalp and the slight tugging as he unknotted the tangles was strangely soothing, and I felt myself relax into his touch. Time seemed to race by as Alec's fingers flew through my hair, weaving it into a thick rope hanging down my back. A few strands hung loose, framing my face. Turning me to face him, Alec studied his handiwork.
"Not bad for such thick hair," he muttered, a pleased look in his face. Standing, I walked over to where a small mirror was sitting on my desk, and peered into it. Alec had done a good job of capturing most of my normally stubborn hair, and the style was surprisingly masculine. Thanking Alec, I jumped as a loud knock rang in the door. Opening the door slightly, I saw it was my cousin Ragnor and let him in. Alec immediately tensed and I wondered if they had met before. Glancing back at Ragnor, I just caught a look of anger before his expression became neutral.
"Alec, meet my cousin Ragnor. Ragnor, this is Alec, and his brother and sister." An awkward silence stretched out, until Ragnor turned to me.
"Where'd you find them?" He asked, an almost disgusted tone in his voice. This was unusual. Normally Ragnor would be one of my main supporters whenever I brought in orphans, but he seemed to hate Alec and his siblings on sight. Maybe they knew each other previously, though as far as I knew, Ragnor had rarely been farther than an hour's ride from the castle. Frowning, I told him about the village performing witch trials and how Alec nearly died. At that, he scoffed muttering under his breath about how all witches deserved to die. Unable to control my anger anymore, I stood, unsheathing my sword and pointing it at him.
"Take it back," I said, anger making my voice dangerously quiet. Shocked, Ragnor looked down at my sword, over to Alec then back to me.
"I'm sorry," he spat reluctantly, knowing full well that I could easily defeat him in a duel. Satisfied for now, I sheathed my sword and sat back down.
"So, did you come here for a reason other than wanting to kill my new page and his family?" I questioned, senses still on high alert. I hadn't formally made a request to the king about Alec, but it was as good as done. Ragnor stared at me incredulously.
"You are making that, that witch, your page?" He asked, spitting out the word 'witch' like it was poisonous. If looks could kill, then my glare would have murdered Ragnor a while ago.
"Yes, if Uncle allows me, then Alec will be my new page. The knighting ceremonies for Simon and Jem will be within the month, so instead of receiving a new squire, I will take Alec on as my page." Smirking, I looked over to Alec.
"If you like, we could go see the King before lunch?" I asked, then laughed as his stomach rumbled in supressed hunger. Looking up at me sheepishly, I grinned.
"After lunch then."
Walking with Alec to the mess hall, I listened silently as he told me tales of Izzy and Jace getting in trouble with the villagers, and laughed when it was required, but I was deep in thought about how Ragnor knew Alec. Not realising Alec had stopped, I walked right into him, nearly knocking him over. Catching him around the waist, our eyes met and I couldn't breathe or look away. The resounding footsteps of the guards patrolling startled us and I let go, straightening his rumpled tunic. A light shade of pink dusted Alec's cheeks and I grabbed his arm, ducking into a dark alcove. Pulling his body flush against mine, I waited for the guards to find us. While I was thinking, we had wandered into the forbidden wing of the castle, where only the king and Guard were allowed. If Alec was discovered here, then he would be punished severely, maybe even killed. Hearing Alec mutter into my shoulder, I looked down to see his eyes shut tight in concentration. Words that made no sense and a strange feeling of a blanket being laid over us, I looked around, seeing only darkness. The footsteps of the guards paused for a moment, and my heart leapt into my chest, but they moved on quickly. Waiting until I could no longer hear them, I tried to step out of the alcove, but Alec held onto me. Raising an eyebrow, I wrapped my arms around him.
"That was you, wasn't it? You protected us from the guards, but why?" I asked. He risked being caught and possibly killed, just to protect us. Glancing down, I was surprised to find his eyes glistening with unshed tears.
"You don't hate me?" he asked, voice wobbling. Pulling him as close as possible, I rested my chin on his head.
"How could I Alec? You're perfect," I murmured. Staring down into his eyes, I smiled before gently pressing my lips to his, pulling away after a moment. Alec's cheeks flushed a dark red, and I grinned.
"Lets get some food, don't want to keep your stomach waiting," I laughed, grabbing his hand and running to the mess hall. As we exited the forbidden wing, I felt a pair of eyes following us, but I paid them no mind and let go of his hand. Slowing to a walk as we approached the double doors, I pushed the left one open and gestured for Alec to walk in first. Smiling grimly as he walked past, he stopped and stared at the sheer mass of people eating and talking. Will spotted us from one of the central tables and waved us over. Sitting Alec next to him, I told him to wait there and stood in line for lunch. Finally reaching the front of the line, I smirked at Simon's disgruntled face as he messily poured a hearty-looking stew into two bowls.
"What'd you do this time? Steal Clary from Camille again?" Clary, or Clarissa, is the daughter of Jocelyn, and maid to my fiancé, Camille de Belcourt. Clary is also Simon's best friend, and as much as he didn't want to admit it, he was in love with her, and had been for a long time. Shaking his head, he scowled.
"Got into a fight with stupid Jace. Apparently I don't know when to 'give up', and that it's more likely for him to kiss a pig than for Clary to like me," he muttered angrily, dropping two bread rolls into my hands. Murmuring something sympathetically, I looked over at Alec to find him almost red while Jace had his arm around him, whispering something in his ear. Frowning, I carried our food over to the table, only to have Alec sitting awkwardly in front of a bowl of rapidly cooling stew. Looking up at me apologetically, I glanced away.
"You may want to eat that before it gets cold," I shot at him, turning on my heel and stalking out of the hall to my room. Kicking my door open, I almost dropped the bowls in surprise as Isabelle screamed, sitting up in my bed. I had forgotten that the younger siblings were still in my room, while Alec and I had gone to get lunch. Losing my appetite at thoughts of Jace's arm around Alec, I handed a bowl of stew and a spoon from the table to Izzy, and sat the other on the table. Staring at the food in astonishment, Izzy looked up at me, as if to ask if it was really alright to eat it.
"I thought you might be hungry," I said, nodding reassuringly. Glancing at Max's sleeping form, I continued. "Give the other one to Max when he wakes up, I'm going for a walk." Picking up an apple out of the dish on my table, I left the room, closing the door gently after me.
Selecting another dagger from the pile next to me, I threw it at the target, hitting dead center. Repeating the action over and over again, I let my frustration out, sighing as I missed once, the dagger slamming into the wooden wall with a thud.
"Now that's a rare occurrence as any," Will commented from behind me, making me jump. Whirling around to face him, I was surprised to find a look of concern on his face. Scowling, I turned my back on him and went to collect the dagger that missed.
"It won't be easy," he called after me, making me freeze. Turning to face him, I kept an expressionless face and answered, "I'm not sure what you mean." Irritated, he stalked after me.
"I'm talking about your feelings for Alec. Surely you know how much danger he'll be in if you get found out, especially if Camille hears of it," he sighed, seemingly saddened by the turn of events. Narrowing my eyes at him, I told him I had no intentions of making anything of the way I felt about a boy whom I had only known for half a day. Folding my legs, I sat on the ground, Will following suit.
"Look, I don't even know what I feel for him, whether it is lust, pity, admiration, hell even love!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air. "I know it's wrong for two males to‚Ä¶ be lovers, but I can't help but be drawn to him," I sighed. Will smirked and chuckled at the last bit, and I shot a glare at him.
"What are you laughing at?" I said angrily.
"Oh, nothing, just the fact that you are obviously in love with him," he muttered, grinning at my shocked expression.
"I- what- how could you tell?" I spluttered out, oblivious to the footsteps cautiously approaching. Smiling knowingly, Will nodded and walked off, leaving me rather bewildered.
"Magnus?" A small voice spoke from behind me. Standing, I winced to see Clary there. Flinching under my hard gaze, she managed to rush out that Camille wanted to see me in her rooms immediately. Frowning, I told her to let Camille know that I would be there in about an hour, saying I had to go see the king. Watching Clarissa's retreating back, I sighed, slumping against the wall.
"What am I going to do?"