Rewinding the Clock
"A little longer," Clary said. "This one shows too much skin."
"That's the point." Isabelle replied, sighing. "It's New Years for Angel's sake. "
"Okay, so what does that have to do with outfits?"
"Oh, don't play dumb, Clary." Isabelle passed her another dress from her closet. This one was deep purple with designs of roses at the corners. It also had a really low V-neck. Clary tossed it aside in distaste. "I know Jace would be stoked if you wore one of those."
"And he'd be even more stoked if we girls could hurry up and go downstairs already." She rummaged around in her drawers, grabbing handfuls of clothing and throwing them on top Isabelle's bed. "Magnus should already be here, shouldn't he?"
"Puh-lease," the other girl laughed. "He needs more time getting ready than both of us combined. Applying glitter is hard work, actually. Figures."
"I suppose," Clary held up a light-blue dress that went down to her knees, the little fake diamonds crisscrossing over the surface in complicated shapes. "What about this one?"
Clary rolled her eyes and tossed yet another outfit aside. They stood in their undergarments despite the chilly weather, kicking stray socks and digging into piles of clothes to find the perfect one for the night. The Institute was empty of adults. Maryse and Robert had went to Idris a few days ago to attend the last meeting for the year, while Jocelyn and Luke were spending the week at home with the comfort of hot chocolate and romantic movies. Thus, the idea for a party popped up in everybody's minds. It was the changing of years, a brand new start, and they had agreed to spend it together. It was going to be a night full of love and fun. But well, in Isabelle's mind, it was more like love, fun, and sex.
"I found it!" The dark-haired girl screamed suddenly. She pulled out a tight, black leather dress that left little to the imagination, with decorative white buttons at the front and at the back. She hurriedly put it on before standing in front of her long mirror. It looked good on her, Clary had to admit. It wasn't as short as she had feared either, thank goodness. But she was sure that Simon would spend most of the night avoiding eye contact with her for the sake of his sanity. The redhead couldn't help but smile.
Continuing on her search, Clary opened another drawer and examined every fabric she found. One caught her eye, and with a swift tug, she freed it. It was white, strapless, and utterly gorgeous. The brown stitching at the hem portrayed runes – shadowhunter runes – aligned and ordered in such a way that brought a pleasant feeling to the eyes. Holding her breath, she pulled it over her head. "Well?" She asked quietly.
Isabelle didn't say anything. Her black eyes darted all over the clothing as if it were an artwork at a museum. Slowly, she held the shorter girl's shoulders and guided her to the mirror. Through their reflection, Isabelle gave a nod. "It was my mom's." She said. "Dad had it made especially for her."
"Oh," Clary gasped. "I'm sorry, I should take it off−"
"Don't." She smiled. "Consider it an end-of-the-year favor."
After a series of make-up, they finally descended the grand stairs of the church. The boys were at the bottom, looking up at them. It took little time for Clary's eyes to find Jace's. He wore a plain white T-shirt, a thin grey jacket hanging on his shoulders, and ripped jeans. She bit her lip when she stood before him. His arms circled her frame, loose but firm, locking his fingers behind her back. He kissed her ear once, twice before whispering, "Beautiful."
Her heart felt like melting along with the snow. "You don't look half bad yourself." She commented.
"Do you need some help over there, Clary?" Simon called from his spot at the wall, an impatient Izzy kissing his neck. "I could – um, Iz, I don't think you should – shit." At the last word, his eyes almost crossed.
Jace snorted. "The only one needing help around here is you, Lewis. Should I fetch a condom for you?"
Clary pinched his side. "Play nice."
"Great." Alec groaned. "You guys get to kiss while I'm stuck waiting for my slow boyfriend to come over. Just great."
The doorbell rang abruptly.
"I think your slow boyfriend is here." Jace announced.
Alec huffed before stomping over to the door. Magnus had arrived in a swirl of red and white – a red scarf, a white shirt, a red vest, and a colorful pair of glow-in-the-dark pants. He was holding a paper bag in his arms as well. "Sorry I'm late." He grinned. "Fashion called for more time."
Alec crossed his arms.
"Alexander, don't be angry." Magnus pouted. He bent down and planted a kiss on his boyfriend's lips. Alec turned his head to the side, still stubborn. Magnus looked at the gang in dismay. "How long have you guys been waiting, anyways?"
"Like, after the girls were done?" Jace inquired. "About a minute. Maybe less."
"Alexanderrrrr." Magnus purred.
"What do you have in there?" The boy turned the subject. "If it's booze then you should take them back. The others aren't old enough to drink." A chorus of complaints was heard behind him.
"Oh, don't worry. These are special." He held up the bag with pride. "My own brand. Made with the finest ingredients." He went for another kiss again, but this time he lingered. "You wouldn't start the party without me, would you?"
Feigning annoyance, the eldest Lightwood opened the door wider for him.
They made their way to the kitchen where Magnus presented them his gift. It was a large bottle with a golden color to the liquid. It shone in the light like a jewel, and the smell was a mixture of wild flowers and spices. Magnus poured each of them a glass. "I did once tell you that I was a former bar owner back in the day." He was saying. "Well, for this event, I have personally made my own drink! And you all are the first testers."
"I thought you said this wasn't alcohol!" Alec exclaimed.
"Don't fret, my fashion-disaster of a boyfriend," Magnus hooked his arm around the other boy's hip. "There's no drop of alcohol in this drink. But I guess I should warn you that it could have some…" his cat eyes wandered to Isabelle, "sexual effects."
Simon turned a new shade of red while Isabelle laughed. "This is gonna be a wild night." She clapped.
"Magnus!" Alec frowned. He was silenced with yet another kiss. Clary could have sworn she saw some tongue action.
"What are we waiting for, then?" Jace raised up his cup in the air. "Cheers! For a brand new year!"
The others followed suit. "Cheers!"
Magnus's drink tasted really odd. It was sharp for the throat, but it left a sweet trace on their tongues. But there must've been real spices in it because after they had finished their glasses, the faint smell penetrated their noses. Even Alec sneezed. Clary wondered for a moment if the world was literally spinning or if it was just her head. She held her glass up to her face and took a look at the leftovers. At the base was a sprinkle of… feathers? Or what looked like the remains of feathers. It was bright red, with strips of yellow at the middle.
"Another shot!" Isabelle hiccupped.
"Wait!" Clary interjected. She pointed at Magnus's glass. "Are you sure this is for drinking? It doesn't… feel like one."
The man furrowed his brows before snatching the bottle he had brought off the table, turning it over and over like a detective finding a fingerprint. After a minute of hesitation, he looked at them before putting the drink back gently. "First of all, don't be angry." He started.
"How do you expect us not to be angry when you say it like that?" Simon protested. "That's like telling us not to stress when we have finals coming up."
"Let me guess," Jace raised an eyebrow. "This isn't the drink you were talking about."
"I'm afraid it's not." Magnus brought a hand to the back of his head. "Whoops."
"The hell did you make us drink, Magnus?" Alec shouted.
"Now, love, let me explain." Magnus tried a reassuring smile that wasn't so reassuring. "I think I've accidentally switched my drink with one of my potions."
"A potion? Like the one that turned me into a rat?" Simon gulped.
"You could say that. But this is one is a bit… different. It, uhh, makes us younger."
"Is that a good thing?" Isabelle tried. "I mean, people want to look younger all the time, so that's a good thing, right?"
"Not necessarily." Magnus's eyes suddenly widened. "Umm…"
"What?" Isabelle asked. But her voice sounded a little... higher? All eyes darted towards her. Clary was the first to gasp. "Okay, what?" She asked louder.
"You should… take a look." Jace stammered.
Jumping off her stool, she ran over to the fridge. The reflective metal showed herself standing at least four inches shorter than her original height. In horror, Isabelle touched her face. Her cheeks were chubbier, and her hair had somehow shortened to her shoulders. Her make-up vanished, leaving traces of dark flecks on her forehead and chin that were certainly not there before. She brought her hands to her eyes and found that her red nail polish had also been stripped off. Her dress was hanging desperately over her little body and she had to hold it in place to make it stop sliding down. Isabelle Lightwood had gone back to what seemed like her twelve-year-old self.
"C-Calm down!" Magnus reasoned. "You look kinda cute, at least."
She glared at him with her big eyes. "Turn me back!"
"I'm very sorry, but the cure isn't with me at this moment."
"Then go back to your house and get it!"
"It's not at my house either." Magnus gulped. "I haven't found a cure for this yet."
Isabelle looked about ready to faint. She leaned her back against the cool surface of the refrigerator, sighing heavily. "This can't get any worse."
"It gets worse, unfortunately." Magnus stood up from his seat and continued, "You see, this isn't a one-time-transformation. With time, we get younger and younger, to the point where… uhh…"
"To the point where we don't exist?" Alec paled.
Magnus couldn't answer. At first, he thought that he was just afraid to burst everyone's bubble, but he then realized that he was looking all around him – at all of them in turn. Like a blizzard, they raced to where Isabelle stood, fighting and pushing each other out of the way to get a view. Jace, being the strongest, managed to stand in front of the group and looked at his reflection.
He was as short as Isabelle then, with his blond hair less wavy and a lot messier, his previously sharp cheekbones now filled in with flesh. Even his hands disappeared into the sleeves of his jacket. The stun of it all made him get pushed back by Alec. The other boy looked even more ridiculous. His hair that was usually neat now hung over his forehead, nearly covering his blue eyes. The baggy sweater that he was wearing swallowed up his frame and made him look even smaller than he was.
"I didn't know you wore braces, Alec." Clary giggled.
"Shut up." He said while licking the metal self-consciously. He was thrilled when he had gotten them off a couple of years ago, and now they were back without a hint of absence.
Using his confusion to her advantage, Clary knocked him to the side and quickly looked over at her body. She was tinier than the rest, she realized in terror. Her hair had magically gotten into a braid, the way Jocelyn used to tie back when she was in middle school. Her freckles stood out more on her fair skin, too. And to top it off, her old gap appeared between her front teeth.
"Brings back memories, now move," Simon pulled her back and examined his own appearance. He blanched visibly. His hair was dorkier, with little curls sticking out on his head like broken antlers. His face was dotted with zits. His arms were skinnier, and, surprisingly, there were bandages decorating his knees.
"I know you're all upset," Magnus stepped forward. "But I can fix this. Maybe."
The warlock wasn't spared either. Even though he was immortal, but the magic had converted his features back to his old teens. He looked about fifteen, his hair longer and free of glitter, a few scratches lined his cheeks as if he had been attacked by a kitten, and he was, of course, shorter. His clothes were too big for him, the sleeves of his shirt covering his elbows and his pants threatening to slip off his hips. When he spoke, the usual deep-voice-of-an-adult was gone and was replaced by a higher-teenager-voice.
"And how are you going to fix this, Maggie?" Little Jace questioned. "I thought you said you didn't know how."
"I don't. But maybe there's something in your library, perhaps an old spell book or an encyclopedia about potions. Anything could be of help."
"And here I thought you were diligent in your studies." Alec spat. It wasn't meant to be a sneer; rather his braces made him difficult to speak so he had to spray it not say it.
"Even the highest warlock has a limit to his collection of books. The Institute should have something that I missed. Let's try it."
"But before we do," Isabelle tugged the front of her dress higher. "We need a change of clothes."
Clary and Isabelle had to come back ten minutes later with random band shirts and shorts that Clary had gotten a few months ago. They were still over-sized, but at least it covered what had to be covered. The boys didn't even bother to change, although Jace had lost his jacket. They made their way to the grand library, pulling out random books whenever they see a weird-looking cover. There were some about potions and magic, but it contained nothing about reverse aging. Even if it did, it had almost zero information, just bits of trivia that they already knew.
Clary was standing on a ladder when she found a large green book up high in one of the shelves. Her arms were too short to reach it. She didn't feel the need to ask for help from the others seeing as they were busy with their own, so she tried reaching for it again, one of her legs in the air. Just a few more centimeters…
She grabbed the book successfully. She yelled in victory, but when she attempted to put her leg back on the ladder, she missed her footing, sending her spiraling down. She screamed as the floor came closer, but she never touched it. Slowly, she opened her eyes and saw a proud Jace smirking at her. His arms were supporting her thigh and back, keeping her from falling to her death. Even small Jace was strong, she thought. That was sort of hot and cute at the same time.
"Even when you were a kid you were still a damsel in distress." Jace kissed her before setting her down. "What'cha got there?"
"I don't really know but…" She turned the book in her hands and read the title. "Magic and Its Madness,by the High Warlock of Greece."
All of them gathered around the book, with Magnus holding it to the table. He flipped pages after pages, studying the drawings and words for anything important, until he stopped at one certain page. It was in shreds, as if someone had violently stabbed it with a butcher knife. "I think someone was angry while reading this." Magnus commented breezily.
"It must've been that damn cat Church." Izzy fumed. "He sometimes comes in here when he's especially in a bad mood."
"Some other pages are torn, too." Magnus turned a few more pages, the damage still carrying on. "What's this…?" He unexpectedly lifted the book onto his lap, his expression shocked. "Guys, this is it! It's the potion!"
He pointed to a broken drawing that looked like a drinking bottle, with feathers floating around it. The title at the top was shredded, but they could still read it. "A Rewinding potion." Magnus said out loud. "It says that the person who drinks it will continue to grow younger until he or she vanishes from time forever."
"We know that!" Simon said. "Does it say anything about a cure?"
"I-I'm not sure, the ink is really faded here, and the torn bits…"
"I think it does have a cure, right there at the bottom, but I can't make it out…" Isabelle clicked her tongue. "When I find that cat I'm gonna shave its fur off and make it into a pair of mittens."
"It says something about another person…" Magnus squinted. "…and a clock, I think?"
"So what you're saying is that we just turn the clocks here back so we can be normal again?" Clary asked. "Can that even work?"
"I don't know, but it's worth a try." Magnus closed the book and turned to them. His appearance had changed again. The scratches were gone, leaving the smooth skin of a child's, his eyes seemed bigger on his shrunken face, his cheeks puffier and his hair shorter. His nails were uneven and dirty as if he'd just finished building a sand castle in a muddy beach. He looked about ten years old. "I'm younger again, aren't I?" He asked in defeat.
They nodded in response.
"Well, I'm not the only one. You should see yourselves."
They looked at each other in panic before grabbing the closest mirror they could find. Isabelle was the first to use it. Her hair was even shorter – a boyish cut – and her cheeks were even bigger. The dark flecks were gone, much to her relief, but she looked to be at least Max's age. She whimpered before passing the mirror to Clary. The other girl wasn't doing as good. Her hair changed into childish pigtails, her gaps summing up to three in total, and her freckles dotted all the way to her ears. Simon had longer hair that tickled the back of his neck, his bandages gone from his knees, his cheeks reddish and plump. Alec's braces were gone, but his teeth became uneven, and his hair made him look like a puppy that needed to get a trim. Jace, to his surprise, had bruises on his hands, and a freshly chipped tooth.
"We have to hurry." Magnus said. "Alexander, how many clocks are there in the Institute?"
"I don't keep count on them," he said. "But there are a lot. We won't have enough time to turn them all back."
"Maybe turning just one would work." Clary suggested. "The closest clock should be in Jace's room."
In the boy's room, Magnus took a chair and climbed on top of it, snatching the clock off the wall and holding it in his unsure hand. "In all my years of immortality," he was saying. "Never have I been scared of dying of young age." He flipped the contraption and turned the knob. He set it a few hours back. Afterwards, he returned it to its spot on the wall.
"Nothing's happening!" Isabelle screamed. "What do we do now?"
"I guess we miss interpreted the cure." Magnus said dejectedly. "It wasn't clear to begin with."
"You talked about another person." Clary reminded quickly. "What do you mean by that?"
"I don't know. That part was completely torn. It could be anything."
"So we're stuck in a dead end." Alec concluded sadly.
"We can still try!" Simon suggested. "We could patch the book back and−"
"We've run out of time!" Magnus suddenly yelled. His tiny shoulders shook with anger and fear. From inside his pockets, they could see how his fists were trembling. His cat-like eyes shone in the moonlight, tearless but still filled with sorrow. "I am sorry."
"We won't die because of this." Jace said. "We've literally been to Hell and back, Magnus. Do you think we're gonna go down because of one of your dumb potions? My deceased father, Stephen, would be ashamed of me if we did."
Clary couldn't help but tweak her lips a bit. She reached up and touched his cheek. He replied her gesture with a kiss. She gripped the front of his shirt, savoring the taste, because despite his words, this could be their last. She pulled him closer, letting his hands hold her in a way a child would hold his most precious possession. When they parted, Clary's heart stopped beating.
Jace had transformed again.
And he was normal. His hair, his cheeks, his height, everything was back to as they were a few hours ago. Joy filled her soul and she jumped up, engulfing him in her embrace, and only when he returned her hug did she comprehend the fact that she too was back. Her hair brushed her backside in familiar curls, the feeling of Jace's chin on her head, the feeling of how her shorts were a bit too tight for her, it was relieving. Clary hid her sob in his shirt.
The others had copied their actions, it seemed. Everyone was back to their respectful ages. Isabelle was the most ecstatic, screaming her delight and flinging herself into Simon's arms. Alec held a shaking Magnus to his shoulder, caressing his hair and whispering words of comfort.
"So, the cure for this is a kiss from one's true love?" Jace scoffed. "That is so pathetically cliché that it's not even funny."
"And Magnus," Alec whispered. "If you ever bring another drink here again, I will personally kick you out and let you freeze in the streets."
The man only managed a nod, never letting go of his grip.
From far off, they heard the shouts of people, the sounds of trumpets, and the unmistakable countdown.
"Three… Two… One… Happy New Years!"
The explosion of fireworks could be seen from the window. Colors erupted in the sky, creating paintings of fire and stars in its wake, igniting the start of a fresh new year. After one ended, another came, never letting the light die out in the dark night. Even below, the cold earth and its buildings, accepted this light, bouncing off the surface in mixtures of white, blue, red, purple, and gold.
Each of them smiled. Isabelle was right. Tonight was a wild night. And from the way the boys kissed their own lovers, the way they held them, Clary knew that it was going to get wilder from then on.