Magnus first meets Alexander on a veranda outside a glittering spectacular ball in 1852. Everybody is dressed to impress and Magnus who has never shied away from the latest fashion, is no different, choosing something both ostentatious and tactful. It’s a warm night and he’s grateful for the thinner than normal jacket he’s wearing as he leans against the smooth wall lining the small balcony above the gardens. The stuffy alcohol fuelled soirée is beginning to get a little too claustrophobic for Magnus’ liking so he watches the twirling couples through the misty glass, content to swirl his wine with his pinky as his skin cools in the night air.
He misses Alexander’s appearance at first, the young man materialising from the shadows, looking momentarily confused as he surveys his surroundings with a curious eye. The night is quiet and the soft laughter and notes of music filter out of the ballroom and into the garden as Magnus takes him in. When he spots Magnus leaning against the cold wall watching him from under hooded eyelids as he sips his drink, he smiles. Wide and bright and framed in rough stubble, it’s enough to make Magnus’ stomach flip and flutter. He’s dressed in odd clothes, a dark tight silhouette with a shabby jacket that’s lined with cracks like veins, thrown over the his shoulders. His eyes are warm, more warm than they have any right to be for a first meeting and Magnus feels his curiosity peaked.
“Hello gorgeous.” Magnus greets as Alexander comes closer.
“Every time.” He mutters, shaking his head with the hint of a smile.
“Have we met?”
Alexander ducks his head, a playful smile on his lips. “Yes and no.”
“Coy.” He laughs softly and Magnus gets the feeling he’s missing out on the punchline.
“What’s your name?” Magnus asks, a light frown furrowing his brow.
“Alexander to you.”
Magnus mouths the name almost silently, already enjoying the way it feels on his tongue. “How lovely.”
Alexander watches his mouth move around the syllables of his name with avid interest and Magnus figures it won’t take much to convince Alexander to follow him home for the night...or the weekend. Maybe even a month or two. Magnus has always had a soft spot for curious things and Alexander and his ‘coy’ approach to Magnus, so confident in his mannerisms and teasing, is a challenging puzzle Magnus would like to figure out. With his tongue for starters and then…
Alexander winces, a flash of pain across his face before his smile fades into something bittersweet. “I have to go.”
“So soon?” Magnus sighs, already mourning the loss of what Alexander would look like sprawled out on his bed in the dawn light.
“We’ll see each other again.” Alexander promises.
“So sure.” Magnus teases.
“Absolutely.” Alexander says confidently. There’s a clatter of glass followed by whooping laughter that draws Magnus’ eyes back to the ballroom. When he turns back to Alexander, he’s gone.
Alexander first meets Magnus at a Downworlder rave in 2016. There’s more strobe lights and less clothing than Magnus’ first meeting with Alexander but it has a certain ring to it.
Magnus’ flirty “Who are you?” is supposed to be a fun joke over the location but it’s met with silence, barely even a glance, not even the indulgent smile Alexander usually has when Magnus makes a joke he doesn’t get yet. Magnus realises with a sudden certainty that punches him in the chest that this is the beginning. They’ve come full circle. He hasn’t been looking forward to the moment Alec wouldn’t recognise him, two hundred years of memories cherished and suddenly it’s all one sided. It’s too much, on top of everything else.
It’s 1872 when Magnus meets Alec again on a cobbled street in Paris, Magnus is surveying the glazed pastries on display when a sudden shadow looms over him. He looks up and is surprised to see Alexander blinking against the sunlight. He’s clean shaven this time, but his attire still draws curious and disdainful eyes.
“Hello gorgeous.” Magnus says and Alexander turns his attention to him, a crooked shy smile in place. It’s so different from their first meeting, like all the confidence has melted away with the night and in the light of day, something brand new stands in its place. Magnus stalls in his thought process, catching sight of the rune high on Alexander’s neck. In the dark he’d missed it but in the sunlight of Paris, it’s impossible to miss. The man shuffling his feet on the cobbles of the street is a Nephilim. Magnus hasn’t met many children of the Angel over his years but he finds himself more charmed than worried in Alexander’s presence and so he lets himself smile, slow and easy.
Magnus pauses, confused for a brief moment. “I don’t remember giving you my name Alexander.”
Alexander blinks a few times in quick succession. “Oh...maybe that comes later.” He mutters to himself.
“Um...spoilers?” Alexander winces unsure.
“I don’t follow.” Magnus says, smiling indulgently.
“It’s from a show that Simon made us watch...it doesn’t matter.” Alexander tries to explain but as Magnus’ amusement grows he trails off, waving away the half completed sentence.
“If you say so, would you like to get some lunch with me?” Magnus inquires and Alexander looks relieved and happy all at once.
They find a tiny bistro with chairs too small for Alexander’s lanky frame and Magnus’ is charmed by the delicate way Alexander handles the small cups and dainty cutlery. He’s an enigma and Magnus wants desperately to unravel him but the chance doesn’t come, Alexander doesn’t come back from the bathroom and Magnus feels a little deflated sitting in the dimming light of a tiny bistro in Paris.
Alexander’s arrow finds its target without hesitation and Magnus gets a chance to introduce himself, technically for the first time.
Alexander smiles at him, unguarded and wide like he just can’t help himself and Magnus thinks to himself that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so bad.
It’s 1883 and Ragnor is not speaking to him, convinced that his relationship with Camille is doomed and he shouldn’t have gotten involved with her in the first place. Magnus thinks he’s cynical, too many centuries alone has turned Ragnor bitter. Magnus is in love and nobody, not even Alexander’s appearance can convince him otherwise.
“You seem happy.” Alexander greets and Magnus twirls around in his parlour. The sale for his townhouse has gone through and Magnus knows exactly what he’s spending the small pile of papers on.
“How did you get in here?” Magnus asks though he’s not particularly worried about the small criminal act of breaking into his home.
Alexander winces, hands tucked into his pockets. He looks a little worn out to Magnus. “It’s complicated.”
“Summarise for me Alexander.” Magnus says, waving his hand in the air as he sits on the edge of his marble table.
Alexander opens and closes his mouth a few times, he’s starts and stops more than one sentence and actually removes his hands from his pockets to illustrate his aborted explanations. Eventually he drops his hands hard against his thighs and sighs. “Time travel curse.”
It’s Magnus’ turn to wince, he’s only heard of the curse and never seen it in action before but it explains Alexander’s sudden disappearances and changing looks despite him attachment to the same outfit. “Ouch.”
“Yeah...it’s a little difficult to predict where and when I’ll show up.” Alexander says wearily.
Magnus pushes himself upright and wanders over to Alexander. “The people you left behind?” Because Magnus knows the impact of the curse if not the cause and the loved ones left behind never get over the loss. It’s the tease of the possibility that the one they lost will return or appear, even briefly, that leaves everyone in a state of limbo. Unable to grieve and move on because they’re not dead and unable to live because the one they love isn’t there.
Alexander shrugs one shoulder loosely. “I’m sure they’re fine, they’ll figure out a way to stop this.”
“It’s okay Magnus...Besides I’m not alone, not really anyway. I seem to be dropping in and out of your life.” Alexander assures him quickly, his smile soft.
“Why mine?” Magnus asks and Alexander’s cheeks darken as he rubs a hand over the back of his neck.
Magnus rolls his eyes and saunters back over his money with a pout. “Fine, have it your way.”
“So what’s got you so happy?” Alexander asks, cheerfully changing the subject.
Alexander flinches sharply in his peripheral. “...Camille.” He mutters.
“Not you too. You and Ragnor clearly have been talking.” Magnus whines, throwing his head back and staring heavenward, clearly the angel’s are punishing him.
“No it’s...” Alexander’s fingers twist into fists and he bites down on his lip, groaning in frustration. The outburst is enough to pique his curiosity.
“What does my future hold Nephilim?” Magnus requests cautiously.
Alexander looks tempted but he runs a hand down his face and then he just looks devastated. “I- I can’t, I’m sorry....Just be careful.”
It’s not an answer but it’s enough and suddenly Magnus is angry, angry at this Shadowhunter flitting through his life and ruining something precious. He can’t look at Alexander, he turns away. “Get out.” Magnus demands quietly.
“Magnus...please...” Alexander begs and Magnus feels the air displace near his shoulder in Alexander’s aborted attempt to comfort him.
“I said get out!” Magnus shouts, pushing his power into his voice enough to shake the walls of the townhouse. He stares down at the rumpled papers of payment, the silence behind him deafening.
When Magnus dares to turn around Alexander is gone and Magnus doesn’t feel vindicated, he just feels empty and cold standing in his empty townhouse, the odd feeling of standing on a knife edge unsettling his gut.
He’s not sure how things are supposed to go, Alexander was never very forthcoming about their future. So he makes up an excuse and surprisingly, despite its obvious lie, it works and Alexander comes running.
Which he’s rather grateful for as it turns out because Alexander’s strength is enough to help him save Luke’s life.
Alexander stays for drinks and talks about himself, Magnus barely realised how little Alexander mentioned of himself over the last two hundred years. He wonders if it was meant to protect the future or as a gift, that the two of them could truly get to know one another without Alexander disappearing in between. Knowing Alexander, it was probably a mix of both.
It also means he finally gets the punchline from all those years ago. It makes him chuckle.
“What year is it?”
“1904 darling.” Magnus slurs, huddled down in his chair and in a state of complete disarray. His hair is an absolute mess, his clothes are wrinkled and his make-up is splotchy against his skin but Magnus could care less about it all. There’s a dusty glass with an inch of golden scotch swirling around it, dangling from Magnus’ finger tips and the floor is littered with empty bottles. He was well on his way to alcohol poisoning but Magnus ceased drinking a few hours ago and now just feels sick.
“Ah, Camille...that explains things.” Alexander mutters as he taps a empty bottle with his toe of his show. It rolls away but the curve of the floorboards brings it back with a clink against his boot.
“You could have warned me.” Magnus mutters. Alexander sighs as he approaches, he crouches down at Magnus’ side and slips the glass out of his fingers putting on the nearby coffee table.
“I wanted to but...time travel is...difficult.”
Magnus snorts, loud and undignified. “Of course it is.”
“I’m sorry Magnus.” Alexander says quietly.
“Answer me Nephilim. Does it stop hurting?” Magnus asks, his voice too broken even to his own ears.
Alexander’s fingers tangle with his own. “One day.”
“One day...” Magnus whispers, a new mantra to practice. He stares at the light filtering through the curtains and repeats the words again as he watches the dust twinkle in the dull beams.
Alexander stays for a time, hand strong and sure in Magnus’ grip. Magnus slips into a dreamless sleep eventually and wakes to a painful crick in his neck, one hell of a hangover and no Alexander.
A glass of water at his elbow and a blanket tucked around him the only evidence Alexander was even there.
The war comes and goes without a sign of his wayward time traveller which Magnus is grateful for, living through a World War, even a Mundane one is a trail on his soul. Another war follows on the heels of the first and it’s worse than anything Magnus could imagine. He shelters as many as he can, hides his own people in fear of the Nazi’s and prays for an end. Someone is clearly listening to him and the war’s end but not before it leaves a generation scarred.
The years roll by and Alexander makes a brief appearance at a dance hall where he lets Magnus pull him into a wonky waltz. People stare at them but Magnus and Alexander only have eyes for one another, except when Alexander steps on Magnus’ toes. Not that Magnus really notices.
Alexander twirls Magnus away and when the room stops spinning, Alexander is once again gone leaving Magnus feeling bereft. Magnus leaves the dancehall soon after, the party seeming washed out with Alexander’s smile to warm the room.
It’s a few years later again that Alexander rings his doorbell and Magnus greets him with a smile welcoming him into his loft.
“When am I?” Alexander asks after Magnus fixes him some coffee, he hands the cup over to Alexander and settles on the edge of the coffee table with his own cup.
“1952.” Magnus offers up and Alexander almost drops the cup, his fingers going lax.
“Oh...” Recognition and pain flashes across his face.
Magnus frowns. “Something wrong?”
“Its...nothing.” Alexander dismisses weakly, pushing the cup on the table beside Magnus. He stands and Magnus grabs at Alexander’s wrist.
“Spoilers?” Magnus says, a weak smile tugging at his lips but it twitches into nothing as Alexander avoids his eyes.
“It’s bad?” Magnus asks rhetorically.
Alexander rubs at his chest. “I have to go again.” He pulls away from Magnus.
“Alexander...” Magnus stands following him as Alexander heads towards the door.
Alexander pauses and turns round, his eyes wet. “Please don’t hate me.”
Magnus watches Alexander fade away again wondering what exactly is so bad that Alexander would even think that Magnus could ever hate him.
It’s decades later and Magnus learns what hate really means.
Valentine rises to power and slaughters with impunity and Magnus hates him, a boiling rage that burns beneath his skin and makes Magnus want to lose control over his demonic blood and smite them all.
He does hate Alec, for a sickening moment he does.
But logic wins out eventually because he knows how fickle and frail time can be and he remembers the unguarded grief on Alexander’s face and no...no he doesn’t hate him. Alexander wanted to warn him, fought against logic and the universe to protect him from Camille and the massacre. Even it ultimately he let things play out, he struggled with it. Magnus is rather touched that Alexander would risk the fabric of reality for him.
Despite everything...eventually Magnus learns to hope again.
Jocelyn carries her dizzy daughter away and Magnus closes the door, resting his forehead against the wood and cursing under his breath. He can’t turn her away but also he hates letting her in. Jocelyn’s greatest fear is Valentine and Magnus cannot and will not subject an innocent child to that monster even if he knows one day, it’ll come back to haunt him.
“This looks closer to my time.” Alexander greats and Magnus laughs lightly, turning to give Alexander a wide smile.
“2005, the millennium is in full swing. The fashion leaves much to be desired but I guess it improves?” Magnus says, sauntering over to Alexander. He swings from side to side, a flutter behind his sternum.
“You’d have to ask Izzy, I’m not the most fashionable person.” Alexander chuckles and at the mention of the future Magnus sobers for a moment.
“The last time I saw you was 1952...you knew it would be awhile before I saw you next didn’t you?” Magnus says and Alexander blinks and then frowns.
“I do now. I haven’t been there yet.”
“And where are you popping in from?” Magnus questions beckoning Alexander to follow him into the kitchen. He flips the kettle on and snaps some cups into existence.
“The dance hall in 1948.” Alexander rubs at the back of his neck as he leans against the door frame.
Magnus waggles his eyebrows as he peeks at Alexander over his shoulder. “Our first waltz.”
“I stepped on your toes and didn’t get a chance to apologise.” Alexander points out and Magnus finishes up making the tea, twirling around to hand Alexander one of the cups.
“Forgiven and forgotten I assure you.”
Alexander’s cheeks burn as he ducks his head with a crooked smile. He takes the cup from Magnus, their fingers brushing gently.
Alexander stays for a while, relaxed and loose on the sofa as they talk quietly about anything and nothing until the sun dips below the horizon and Alexander winces in apology, fading away shortly after, leaving Magnus alone in the dark with a cup of cooling tea.
Alexan- Alec says goodbye in a way that Magnus can’t fault, can’t even truly rage against because it’s a part of the reason he loves him so much. But it leaves Magnus questioning two hundred years of his life as he inspects the bottom of one his rarest whiskey bottles.
Magnus collects a book from his many shelves and his colourful cocktail and makes his way to his favourite chair in the living room. Something catches his eye by the door and when Magnus turns he’s surprised to see Alexander but not unhappy. “Ah Alexander, a pleasure as always.”
“What happened?” Alexander asks, he twists round and round looking around the living room with a frown. Magnus watches him with mild concern wondering where Alexander’s popped in from. He can’t recall anything strenuous or dangerous from the last two hundred years that would cause this kind of behaviour.
“It’s 2014 darling.” Magnus provides.
“What?” Alexander stops searching for an enemy and stares at Magnus with confusion.
Magnus puts his cocktail and book down on the table and slowly approaches Alexander. “2014, year of the X-factor and thank god the nylon revolution ended. You could have warned me about that.”
“What?” Alexander repeats.
“Alexander? What is it?” Magnus asks cautiously.
“I don’t...there was a warlock and now I’m here. In your flat and it’s 2014...how?” Alexander mumbles as he looks around himself, the initial adrenaline draining away and leaving him looking lost in the entryway of Magnus’ home.
Magnus’ face falls. “This is the first time for you isn’t it?”
“First?!” Alexander demands, eyes wide. Magnus rushes over the final feet to Alexander, he gently guides a plaint Alexander over to the sofa. Magnus settles on the arm next to Alexander.
“Alexander, shh. I promise it’s alright. You never show up in the right order but you’re always safe. I promise.” Magnus assures him, a hand petting at Alexander’s hair softly.
“Magnus, I don’t understand.” Alexander says.
“Time travel is a tricky business darling.” Magnus smiles sadly.
“Time travel? Right.” Alexander’s laugh is a humourless huff, more tired than anything else, there’s a shake to his hands as he rubs them along his thighs nervously. “Of course, any hints.”
“Remember what Simon made you watch?” Magnus tries and Alexander frowns at him again.
“Doctor Who, yes? You slipped up a few times and told me.” Magnus prompts and recognition flashes in Alexander’s eyes.
“Doctor Who? Wait...River song...wait, am I River?” Alexander looks like he doesn’t know what to do with that analogy and Magnus makes a mental note to actually watch the show so he can better understand where Alexander’s coming from.
They fall into silence. Magnus gently running his fingers through Alexander’s hair as he hums old lullabies under his breath hoping to soothe Alexander.
“...Magnus.” Alexander whispers, the weight of the curse beginning to settle on him and Magnus draws him closer, wrapping an arm around his shoulder.
“Shush darling, you’ll be okay.”
Alexander exhales slowly. “How do we stop this?”
Magnus kisses the top of Alexander’s head, hiding the sad smile in his hair. “Don’t worry darling, I’ve already got that figured out. A simple spell I’ve been working on for a while.”
It’s a little lie, there’s nothing simple about the spell and he’s been working on it, on and off since he found out about Alexander’s curse. He never mentioned it, worried that there was no reversal or counter curse. He didn’t want to get Alexander’s hopes up only to break him down.
“But not right now?” Alexander checks looking up at Magnus.
“No, I’m sorry.” Magnus says.
“Don’t be...How...?” Alexander falters but Magnus hears the question. How long?
“Two hundred years-ish.” Magnus replies.
“By the Angel.” Alexander says in a shocked whisper, his head falling against Magnus’ chest.
“It’s alright...You seemed tied to my life and baring a few arguments it’s pretty much smooth sailing. Though you never did answer me as to why-?”
“I was thinking of you...When the spell hit. I was thinking of you...” Alexander admits almost silently and it punches the air out of Magnus’ chest. There’s no way Alexander could have known he’d survive...so his last thought or what he thought was his last...Somewhere down the line, Alexander meets Magnus technically for the first time and things develop in such a way that in his supposed final moments, Magnus was his most important thought.
Magnus tilts Alexander’s head up and cups his face, he rubs his thumbs along Alexander’s cheeks before ducking down to kiss him. A gentle press of their lips that holds so much behind it, it leaves Magnus and Alexander shaking when Magnus angles away to rest his forehead against Alexander’s.
They stay like that until Alexander complains of a pain in his chest and Magnus holds his hand as Alexander fades into history leaving nothing behind.
It’s 2016 and Clary calls him, Jace is screaming in anger and grief in the background and Clary’s voice is shaking. Alexander is gone, lost in a cloud of magic from a vengeful amateur warlock. They don’t even have a body to bury. Magnus demands to put on speaker, he shouts down Jace and when he has their attention he assures them that Alexander’s fine and they should make their way to his loft as soon as they’re finished booking the Voldemort fan. Izzy admits quietly over the line that might take a while...Jace wasn’t kind to the fool who messed with his brother.
“He’s really okay?” Izzy asks, her voice too soft and cracked.
Magnus shuts his eyes and breathes out slowly. “He will be Isabelle, I promise.”
“We’ll be thirty minutes, tops.” She says, sounding more sure of herself.
Magnus knows they’ll be at his door in half that.
He wastes no time standing just outside the circle he’s spent days drawing across the floor. Intricate weaves and whirls mix with age old runes and words of power. It’s not as good as Clary’s work but it’s enough for his purpose. Magnus snaps his fingers and pushes his power into the chalked lines, setting them aflame. The spark chases each line, burning the outline into the floor and sucking down his energy into a vast dark tunnel.
Time is endless and so is the tunnel.
Magnus struggles against the lure, the edge coaxing him over, seducing him with eternity. The spell is hungry, it feeds on time. The years Alexander has are a snack compared to an immortal warlock and it wants him bad. Magnus holds his ground, pushes more of his power into the ritual, sparking and snapping into the void and-
Magnus launches his magic towards the light of Alexander’s soul. It curls around him, both desperate and gentle and Magnus pulls him back through the ages. The spell rebels but Magnus has won, he has Alexander and with one final crack, the power expels like ripples in a pond through his flat. He shuts his eyes against the roar of it. When the final wave rocks up back on his heels he opens his eyes again.
Alexander stands in his flat, dark stubble cradling his jaw and jacket worn down to cracked leather, he looks exactly the same as when they first meet and when Alexander turns to him, familiar warm smile on his lips, Magnus smiles back, feeling a little giddy with relief.
“I’m back.” Alexander says quietly.
“About time gorgeous.” Magnus replies and Alexander strides over the burn marks and grabs Magnus yanking him into a harsh breath stealing kiss. Magnus lets Alexander draw him impossibly closer, wrapping a hand through Alexander’s hair as he licks the seam of Alexander’s lips. Alexander doesn’t waste time in opening up for him, practically folding himself over Magnus as his hands move to cup Magnus’ cheeks. Magnus' hands clench around Alexander's shoulder blades as he bites at Alexander's bottom lip, tugging at it before kissing and licking away the pain. It's desperation and years of separation boiling over in one single act and Magnus whines against Alexander's lips.
Alexander pulls back just a breath away, still cradling Magnus' face close to his own. "Missed you." He whispers and Magnus smiles softly, drawing Alexander into a softer kiss.