It started at breakfast.

She felt it, the burning and slow searing pain into the skin above her heart, while she was reaching for her second bit of toast.

She freezes. It can't be.

The scent of magic in the air would disagree, it's tangy and metallic and strong, stronger than even the most difficult charms.

She knew what it was- how could she not- having read what felt like hundreds if not thousands of books on the subject since that night in the dormitory.

It was only their third night of their first year and her roommates were discussing love and marriage- honestly- of all things, when Lavender brought up the idea of soulmates.

"Soulmates couldn't possibly be real Lavender, the amount of people in the world makes it statistically impossible, I mean honestly one true love for everyone on the planet is a ridiculous concept. It does stem from the earliest myths however, did you know the greeks had a myth where-"

Lavender's reply was snappish but informative.

"- I forgot you don't know anything about the wizarding world Hermione, soulmates are very real, not that you would ever get one, it's quite rare and it might not even work on Muggle-borns, but you see I have soul bonds in my family so it's almost guaranteed for me."

Lavender was unfortunately right, although from what she could determine it was almost never inherited genetically, a fact which made her undeniably pleased if only to save her from Lavender's infernal bragging had she been gifted with a mark.

Muttering her apologies and something about an overdue book she hurried out of the great hall, her blood pounding in her ears to the beat of her steps and her nails digging into her palms- the pain keeping her present- as her thoughts thump against the inside of her skull

I never thought this would happen to me

I never thought I would be chosen

The door to the bathroom is pushed open and slammed closed immediately, the room echoes with the sound and she slumps against the wood. The name is still being scratched into her skin- she thinks it is writing the surname now but she can't be sure.

This is it.

Her hands shake as she unbuttons her shirt.

The pain fades as she looks down.

No.

This isn't it.

This can't be it.

She expected a harsh messy scrawl. She expected Ron's impossible handwriting that slanted too far to the right to be readable and whose letters were sharp and overlapped each other in places so she sometimes spent longer deciphering the words in his essay rather than editing it. From the moment she first felt the burn and the surge of magic she expected to see the name Ron Weasley permanently etched into her skin, a sign they were meant to be - because they were- their story was perfect, friends since eleven, bonded by adventures and the terrors they faced- it was what she had wanted. It was what she had expected.

Yes it was the beginning of their fifth year and he still hadn't seen her as more than his bookish best friend- but he would have- eventually.

Instead the handwriting is flawless and curved and flourished in a way that she knows is from practice.

She is angry. It can't be him. Not for her.

I never thought this would happen to me

The name Draco Malfoy is tattooed on her heart.