When Alexander Lightwood was eight years old, he fell in love with Magnus Bane.
It was an otherwise average day in Day, New York. Alec had risen at four o’clock like he always did, grabbed his coat to fend off the first snow of winter, and his usual bag of equipment. Eight might seem too young to be heading out alone so early in the morning for some, but Alec’s family had stopped being helicopter parents years ago, busy as they were with the family business. Besides, Day was a sleepy town where the local sheriff spent more time settling nearby neighborly disputes than dealing with any real crime.
And so, on that fateful snowy day, Alec had quietly slipped out the back door and wandered out onto the street, the light of the morning already peeking over the horizon. The small boy checked his watch, a gift from his mother for his birthday last year due to his constant inability to be back from practice on time. 4:17. He would make it by 4:30 if he sprinted, which was good for him anyway. Taking a deep breath he sped off in the correct direction, a path he had run hundreds of time in the past already.
No one else was awake as he ran down the streets, the cool morning air hitting his face and turning it red. When he arrived, the doors were locked as they always were. However, the owners were friends of the family (just like everyone else in Day), and had long ago told Alec that the back door was locked only with a padlock. Since then they had simply placed it on the handle to keep up the impression that it was locked but left it open so Alec could practice to his heart’s content.
Despite where he was, inside was still warmer than outside. Alec slipped inside and walked confidently out towards the front, where he flipped on the lights. Looking out over the room, he smiled as the sense of comfort he always felt here washed over him.
Some may have thought that the harsh white light was too blinding that early in the morning, but Alec loved the way it lit up the ice. Smooth, hard, and cold, cleaned last night and untouched since then, and waiting for the thin tracks that would follow every move Alec’s made like a shadow. This was his element, his passion, had been since he was three years old. And while he came every day to practice, it always felt as exciting as the last time.
Making his way to the benches along the outside of the rink, the boy removed the heavy outer coat, leaving him in the breathable jacket skaters preferred. He unzipped his bag and sat down, allowing himself a yawn and a tired rub of the eyes. He checked his watch again as he started to take it off. 4:28. Settling the watch in one of the pockets in the bag, he carefully removed his skates, unlacing them and looking them over to ensure they were in perfect condition. Nodding to himself, he sat them down on the floor and removed his sneakers before pulling on the skates and lacing them up tight, making sure his ankle was as supported as possible before he started working for the morning.
Once everything was in place, Alec removed the skate guards and made his way onto the rink. The moment blade met ice he felt at home. Skating was as easy as breathing to him after 6 yers of nonstop practice, driving himself to do better, improve with every passing day, so that one day he would be able to start competing internationally. He already looked forward to that day more than anything, dreaming of skating on that stage with worthy opponents that would challenge him more than his brother and sister.
For now Alec focused on his warm up. He was far too young to be working on impressive jumps yet, as his body wasn’t strong enough to hold the landings safely. He focused more of his energy on presentation, as grace and poise came to him easily.
For all of Alec’s talent he was incredibly shy and not overly confident. People in his life, his parents included, had not always been supportive of figure skating. Kids from school had called him gay, along with a collection of slurs meaning the same. While he had incredible talent and worked hard, the lack of confidence showed when trying to land jumps, especially new ones. His instructor, a family friend named Luke, drilled them into him and he would eventually get them, but he always felt like he should be learning them much more quickly if he ever wanted to compete professionally.
Alec worked on his steps for a while, keeping an eye on the clock. It was a Saturday, meaning his mother wasn’t going to be laying on the horn in the car outside at 7:25 so he could make it to school on time like she did during the week, but today he had another reason (a more important reason) to not let his rehearsal run too long. Today was the beginning of the Junior Grand Prix.
Alec and his sister Izzy watched the world competitions religiously. She was two years younger than him, but already shaping up to be an impressive dancer if not as comfortable as Alec on the ice. The Junior league was the first step towards participating in the senior division, where many skaters went on to win the world championships and Olympic medals. Every year that Alec got closer to competing meant that some of the skaters he watched might be his competition one day. Both a daunting and thrilling concept, Alec was filled with excitement at the start of competition season, and the first event was going to be broadcast at 8:30am New York time today.
After working a few step sequences from past routines, Alec stretched out his legs and prepared to work his jumps. Some he had down by heart, the movements engraved into his bones. They were far from effortless on the small boy, but he tended to cement jumps after accomplishing it once, even if it took awhile.
Starting with a single toe loop, Alec began running through the jumps and spins he had mastered. Singles were easy now, but doubles were still tricky because he never seemed to get enough air to complete the rotations and land correctly. The most recent jump Luke had been trying to teach him was a double loop, and so he decided to work on it for a while. His first attempt went fairly well, but he had landed on the wrong edge of the skate and been leaning way too forward. Huffing, he skated back to try again. This time he landed correctly, if a little wobbly as his skate hit ice too soon.
Feeling brave, Alec shook out his legs and backed up. He had been able to do a single axle a few times in the past, but it was a tricky jump because a skater had to skate into it head on, meaning there was almost always an extra half rotation from the momentum. Letting himself have a moment to breathe, Alec focused all his energy on the movement necessary to complete the jump. He took off across the ice at a rapid speed, bent his knees, and lept into the air.
He managed the rotation, but tumbled to the ice on his knees when he landed too hard on the inside edge of the skate.
Groaning from his spot on the ice, Alec shakily got to his feet. His hands were red and cold, probably a little bruised from where they had braced him after his fall. He shook them out, biting his lip in frustration and an attempt to hold back treacherous tears of pain. He despised crying after a fall because in his mind it looked as if he were crying due to the failure, not the pain, and there was nothing he hated more than having people pity him.
By chance he glanced up at the clock on the wall as he started to skate back to try the jump again and felt his heart stop. 8:23. He was going to miss the start of the Junior Grand Prix.
Alec had never moved as fast in his life. He threw himself off the ice, scrambling to untie his skates and hastily throwing them in his bag without re-lacing them. He yanked his sneakers on and sprinted towards the back door, stopping to turn off the lights and carefully replace the padlock even in his rush, before taking off down the main street of Day.
People were out and about now, the sun glinting off of the snow as neighbors shoveled it out of their driveways and waved as Alec ran past. Alec winced at the wind, having left his heavy coat at the rink. He would just have to get it later; there was no time to go back. He checked his wrist, forgetting that his watch was still in the bag. The boy groaned and attempted to pick up speed.
Finally he turned onto Idris Road, and ran up the steps of the fourth house on the left, praying that his sister had unlocked the front door. Finally something went right for him as the screen door swung under his frantic pull and the front door itself opened. Alec was met with the face of his six year old sister, hands on her hips and a frown on her face.
“I was gonna be so mad if you were late,” she pouted. Alec glanced at the clock on the door side table with a grin. 8:29. He sighed in relief, throwing his bag over the back of the couch.
“Ow! Watch it!” came a voice from the couch. Alec ruffled his brother’s hair from behind, making Jace scowl and swat. “I’m still annoyed Izzy woke me up for this because she thought you weren’t going to make it home.”
Alec rolled his eyes and settled on the floor in front of the TV, already tuned to the correct channel. Izzy joined him, all annoyance gone as the announcers stated that the Junior Grand Prix was about to begin.
“He’s here now, you can go back to bed,” she sang, sticking her tongue out at Jace. Alec laughed as Jace returned the gesture but didn’t move from his spot on the couch. The other two siblings knew he enjoyed watching as much as they did, but liked to act uninterested.
“It’s alright Jace,” Alec teased, “you are welcome to watch with us.” Jace gave an indignant squawk, but the other two sibling had already turned their attention to the television.
“Did you hear if anyone we like is skating?” Alec questioned his sister. She nodded, face screwing up in thought. “They said Jem Carstairs is second. I think he’s going to win for sure.” Alec smiled, knowing how much Izzy loved Carstairs. She continued, “Will Herondale is competing next event, but Henry Branwell is there today so they said there should still be some competition.”
“There were some new people too, of course,” Jace interjected, voice trying to sound unaffected. “Some kid named Jordan Kyle thats like fifteen and a little old to be joining so late.” Alec bit back another smile as Jace stated his facts. “… and a fourteen year old named Magnus Bane. Won a bunch of medals in Indonesia, lots of buzz around him. But he’s brand new, Carstairs has got this.”
Izzy rolled her eyes, the expression strangely fitting her young face. “For someone I had to “drag” to watch this you seem to have payed a lot of attention.” Alec lost his battle of trying not to laugh as Jace narrowed his eyes at their sister, refusing to respond. Finally pulling himself back together, Alec looked to the TV to see the first skater, the new fifteen year old, take the ice.
Surprisingly, Jordan Kyle did fairly well in his first ever performance. Alec thought his jumps needed work, as he landed badly on one, but his recovery had been smooth and his spins were wonderful. Izzy had fallen in love as soon as he shakily landed a triple salchow, a difficult feat even for a fifteen year old. “Alec, he’s great isn’t he!” she gushed, nose about three inches from the screen.
Jace grumbled from the couch, but Alec could tell he was also impressed by the new skater.
“He sure is. I couldn’t look away,” Alec replies, carefully pulling his sister back from the TV so her eyes wouldn’t start to hurt. “It probably won’t be enough to beat out Carstairs, but he might win second!”
Izzy turned to him, big smile on her face. “I know he will, cause he’s the best skater ever,” she replied confidently, before frowning and grabbing her brother’s hand. “Besides you of course.”
“You two better keep it down, or you’re gonna miss Carstairs,” Jace interjected. Izzy screamed and scuttled back to her perch too close to the TV, leaving Alec to sigh and scoot back to lean against the couch, head near his brother’s.
“Mom’s gonna yell at me if Izzy needs glasses,” Alec whispered. Jace giggled and responded, “Like you or anyone else could ever tell her what to do.”
Jordan Kyle finished receiving his scores, shockingly high for a new skater, and the cameras turned to focus on Jem Carstairs.
At sixteen years old he could have made the jump this year to the senior division, but had decided to remain for one more season. His coach has already announced that he would be moving up next year, and from his past performances it seemed like he would be a skater to be reckoned with even at only seventeen. While Izzy was desperately in love with Jem, Alec also saw the pure skill he performed with. He was known for his excellently executed jumps, and his friendly rivalry with Will Herondale was all the gossip of skating world.
As Jem began his short program, Alec focused intently on his footwork. He wanted to watch every jump to see the landings, hoping to pick up something to improve his own performance.
As expected, Jem completed a strong program. He had flawlessly pulled off a triple lutz and a double axle, and while he had fudged some of his step sequence, he had still skated well enough for his scores to put him over Kyle. Izzy cheered as the scores were announced, bouncing up and down on her knees and clapping.
“He’s gonna win, I know he’s gonna win!” she sang. Jace rolled his eyes and tucked his arms behind his head.
“I don’t know Izzy. Those announcers before talked up this next skater pretty good.” Alec frowned, turning to his brother as the channel went to a commercial.
“Who is it?” he questioned. Jace launched into his stats rundown of the upcoming skater. “Magnus Bane. Even though he’s fourteen now this is the first year he’s entered the international stage. He won big in local competitions in Indonesia apparently, and the announcers seem to think he’s got a shot of placing,” he concluded with a flourish.
Alec continued to focus of Jace despite hearing the music of the competition broadcast announce the return of the show. “Did they say what he was going to attempt during his routine yet?” Jace grinned.
“A quadruple salchow.”
Alec’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open in surprise. While it wasn’t unheard of for junior skaters to successfully complete quads in their routines, it wasn’t super common either, especially not for a brand new skater on the international circuit.
Suddenly he heard his sister gasp, and turned his attention back towards her. Her eyes were wide and focused on the screen, her hands over her mouth. Alec returned his eyes to the TV to see what she was looking at, and his heart stopped.
The camera was focused on a young man at the edge of the rink, about ready to skate out onto the ice. He was tall, with bronze skin and black hair. The tips of his hair, which was carefully curled, was dyed bright green. His costume was a pair of pants in deep forest green, with a lighter green tight shirt with gold embroidery and sequins with a neck line so low it almost reaches his belly button. The camera cut to a closer shot of his face, and at that moment he seemed to have noticed and looked directly into the lens, smiling and waving. His eyes were green, maybe with some gold, and were lined with black and gold liner. His smile was positively blinding.
And Alexander Lightwood couldn’t look away.
Faintly he heard his sister gushing. “He’s soooo pretty, I’ve never seen anyone that pretty in my whole life!” she squealed, rocking back on her bottom to hug her knees to her chest, nearly sitting on her hair in the process. She looked even more excited now than when Jem had come on.
From behind him Jace heaved a sigh. “You fall in love every time you see a new skater Isabelle.” She turned quickly, eyes narrowed. “ Why do you always have to be such a jerk- Alec?” she cut off, “Are you okay?”
Alec hadn’t taken his eyes off of Magnus Bane since that first moment and he hadn't realized how intently he had been staring. Up until this moment, Alec had always loved to watch the competitors skate, liked to see how the held up in the one thing that mattered most in Alec's life. He knew many of them were attractive, mostly because Izzy had always been vocal, but never before had he been so transfixed by someone without them even being on the ice yet.
"ALLLLEC," whined Jace, poking him in the head when he still hadn't responded. "What's wrong with you?" Alec shook him off with a huff, eyes still not leaving the screen where Magnus had finally started to make his way onto the ice.
"Shut up," he snapped, not caring how harsh he sounded. Now that Magnus was skating Alec was even more enthralled. He was simply skating towards the center of the rink, but it was like watching the embodiment of grace and agility, making the most simple of movements look like he was floating.
Izzy crawled over to sit next to Alec, frown on her face, but did not say anything as the crowd at the competition grew silent and the music started.
If watching him skate to the center had captured Alec's attention, Magnus' routine tilted his whole world on a new axis. It was the most emotionally driven performance Alec had ever seen. He could feel what Magnus was trying to show, his theme being loss for the season. His heart ached at the look on the skater's face, the way his movements were heavy with sorrow but also graceful and unbelievably beautiful.
Not only this, but his technique was unquestionably outstanding as well. He completed a jump combination with ease, an ease that not even Carstairs had pulled off with his earlier performance, and his sit spin was flawless from where Alec was watching.
Finally, the announcer stated that the next large jump would be the quad salchow the audience had been promised. All three of the siblings held their breath, Jace propping himself up on his elbow to get a better look as Magnus geared up to enter the jump. The camera focused on his face, which was still as emotional as before, and suddenly he was in the air.
Four complete rotations and a perfect landing on the outside edge of his skate later, and both the audience on screen and in the Lightwood home in New York screamed.
"OH MY GOD!" Izzy squealed, jumping up from the floor and bouncing around the room. "That was INCREDIBLE!"
Jace had sat up too, his face broken into a smile. "I gotta agree with you on that one Iz. That was really something."
Alec remained on the floor, but he was absolutely beaming. Magnus was finishing up his performance, one of the best ones the young skater had ever witnessed. "Wow," he breathed, pulling his knees up to his chest and resting his chin on them.
After Magnus had struck his final pose, the audience had again roared with approval. As the camera cut to a close up of his face, his expression had gone from emotional to thrilled in moments, unable to stop smiling as he took a bow and drifted off the ice to await his scores.
When the scores were announced they were just points below Jem's. Izzy yelled at the TV, saying that Magnus had clearly performed better. Jace laughed, collapsing back on the couch.
"What happened to your undying love for Carstairs, huh Izzy?" She turned to him fuming.
"Shut up Jace, you know Bane did better than him." Jace shrugged, pulling his legs up to sit criss cross.
"Tell that to the judges. His step sequence was wobbly according to them, and some of his jumps landed on the wrong foot." Izzy huffed, looking at Alec. "What do you think?"
Alec was focused again on the beautiful young man now waving goodbye to the camera as it prepared to cut away to the next skater.
"I think that was the most beautiful performance I've ever seen," he replied honestly, blushing to the tips of his ears as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Jace's face appeared in front of him, looking at him from upside down from his perch. He squinted at his brother for a moment before getting Alec's least favorite look in his eyes; mischievous.
"Somebody has a crush on Magnus Bane, don't they?" He whispered, clearly fighting back laughter. Alec pushed him out of the way as he lost of the fight, collapsing on the couch in a fit of giggles. Izzy joined him as she fell to the floor in front of Alec, who grabbed a pillow from above him to fend her off.
"Awww big brother, you're in LOOOVVEE!" she crooned, getting a smack to the head with the pillow for her efforts. She squealed and tried to grab it from him. "Admiiit it, you lovveee him!"
"Shut up Izzy!" Alec groaned as he attempted to free the pillow from her grasp. When he failed and the two siblings continued to tease him he dropped the object and scurried to his feet and up the stairs to his room.
"Alec, the show's not over!" he heard Jace call when he could stop laughing, but Alec didn't respond, instead closing the door to his room and collapsing on his bed.
He knew he was right though. Magnus Bane had just performed the most moving and beautiful piece of figure skating Alec had ever seen, technically perfect or not. He had never been so transfixed, so enthralled, by another skater, and over the years he had seen plenty. Nothing came close in his mind.
And Magnus Bane himself. He was striking, outrageously so with his colored hair and eye makeup. That first glimpse, before he was even on the ice, kept coming back to Alec as he stared at the ceiling. Even at eight years old, he knew he had never seen anyone like Magnus before, and that he could spend hours watching him smile, watching him move on the ice like he belonged there.
Maybe his siblings were right.
Maybe Alexander Lightwood had just fallen in love with Magnus Bane.