Hello! It's marshmallownose from AO3! Though it should also post my works from there onto here! Hope you enjoy! (Definitely go check out my AO3 page though bc AO3 is just better lol)
The Names were as old as time itself, evidence of their existence stretching back as far as the Ancients and even further. For eons, the mystery of the Names etched onto the skin of human beings puzzled the great minds of society; some proposed the Names were a person's gravest enemy, while others disputed such claims with tales of the Names on their bodies belonging to their greatest loves. Others still asserted that the Names were those individuals who would cause the most heartache. Eventually, there came an agreement: the Names could mean all three depending on the individual. The only problem was it was impossible to know whether the Name was that of a Soulmate, a Nemesis, or a Heartbreak until they met.
That wasn't a problem, though. Somehow, someway, they always met.
Sarah knew her parents had each other's Names. Her mother showed her once, lifting her hair to show off the Robert that curled around her ear in her father's elegant handwriting. Sarah had gazed at it in wonder, reaching out with her small hands to trace the letters.
Her father had come in and grinned at the sight, settling down beside them on the chaise and rolling up his sleeve. He brandished the Name Louisa with pride, and Sarah's mother had smiled softly at him as though for the first time.
Even at that young age, Sarah knew she wanted a Soulmate like her parents had each other, and she was quite certain she did. Victor was scrawled across the back of her neck, and every night before bed, Sarah would angle her mirror just so, so that she could admire the Name and fantasize about when she and the house-master's son were old enough to marry.
But to Sarah's puzzlement, Victor did not have her Name. He instead had Rufus painted on the inside of his wrist. In tears, Sarah fled to her father's study and crawled into his arms.
"Whatever is the matter, my dear?" Robert asked in surprise, stroking his sobbing daughter's hair.
"I have Victor as my Name," she hiccuped into his shoulder, "but he doesn't have me! He's got Rufus as his Name, and it's n-not f-fair!" Sarah wailed, burrowing deeper into her father's embrace.
"Oh, is that all?" Robert soothed. "Sarah, my dear, that doesn't mean anything. Many people do not have each other's Names. Remember when I told you once that I was married before I met your mother?"
Sarah sniffled and nodded.
"She had my Name, right along her finger just here." He lifted his ring finger and showed her. "As you know, though, I did not have hers, but we did love each other for a time. We thought perhaps we were Soulmates, and your mother's Name might be my Enemy." Her father's eyes grew sad and a little misty; gently, Sarah reached up and wiped a stray tear from his eye. "I was her Heartbreak, and she was mine…but it's alright, now, isn't it, my dear? I found my Soulmate, and now I have you too."
"Did she ever find her Soulmate?" Sarah asked, sobs now subsided into ragged breathing.
Robert smiled, but his expression was melancholy. "If I know Hattie, I do believe she made sure to."
Satisfied with the conclusion to Robert's tale, the little girl was ready to move on. "So Victor might still be my Soulmate?" she asked hopefully; Robert nodded. "That means Rufus must be his Enemy!" She frowned, readjusting herself in her father's lap. "Oh, but that's no good either. We're all the best of friends, see, and I don't want them to fight," she explained, tiny brow furrowed at this new dilemma. "I must do something about this!"
Robert only chuckled and shook his head. "Let destiny run its course, my dear," he said. "There are some things that can't be changed."
"Nonsense!" the five year old declared, hopping off his lap. "Like you told me, I'm the Chosen One! That means I can do anything I put my mind to."
Her father's smile faltered, and he cut a glance at his papers and journals. "Yes, my dear," he sighed, "I suppose it does."
But time passed and the three of them were happy in each other's company, and Sarah rarely noticed any bad blood between the two boys. Still, it was only after her parents were gone for good did Sarah begin to wonder if Victor was her Soulmate. His father, ever cruel, seemed to have finally poisoned his son's gentle heart, and he would snap at her, pressure her about her late parents' secrets. Soulmates weren't supposed to do that, were they?
For a while, before the Zenos took her in officially, her home became nothing more than a house, a prison with only the boy she thought was her Soulmate and the man she despised the most for company.
Rufus assured her that Victor still cared for her, holding her as she spilled all her fears to him in the dead of night. He was always good like that and he was truly the best adopted brother Sarah could have been granted. At the end of the day, though, he was far closer to Victor than he was to her.
It only occurred to her years later when she was a grown woman and he was gone from her life, that Rufus never showed her the Name on his skin. She could guess, though, because while she may have been a dreamer, Sarah was far from stupid.
As they grew older, the three of them, she tried not to grow bitter over Rufus and Victor's closeness, but it was difficult. Resentment gnashed at her heart with sharp teeth when they'd whisper to each other when they didn't think she could hear and how they'd stop when she'd enter the room.
She still looked at the Name on the back of her neck every night before bed, but instead of admiring it, she'd scratch away at it, trying to erase it from her flesh. It never worked.
Her relationship with them, especially Victor, continued to strain, the threads in the tapestry she'd woven of their imagined future together unraveling each time he asked her about the Cup of Ankh or the Elixir.
She was aware of every wasted moment each time he took her hand in his or when he kissed her, and Sarah knew that Victor was aware too, especially when she'd catch him watching after Rufus when he'd leave a room.
There was no name that could be ascribed to the feelings in her chest—Sarah was tired of Names. For a time, Victor had seemed to grow warmer to her, closer, but like perpendicular lines their hearts met for one brief moment and then departed again, moving further and further from each other until they were practically strangers. He'd always looked like his father, but never had his eyes looked so hard and cold as they did then.
So no, they were not Soulmates.
For a very long time, Sarah would say they were Enemies to anyone who asked about the name on her neck. It certainly felt like it, even as she grew older and frailer, and the memories faded into distant bad dreams. She could still taste the bile in the back of her throat when she thought about those eyes, and she'd wake up with blood under her fingernails and a searing fire at the base of her neck.
One last time, she saw him, and he looked as he did when she'd last seen him many years before; the fog of age and time cleared enough for her to finally tell him what she hadn't even known she needed to say. She could hear the house crying, and that was what she wanted to do as well.
But the time for crying was long over. With a frail, shaking hand, she touched the back of her neck and looked him in the eye—eyes that behind the coldness she could see a lifetime of regret—and said in a voice that hadn't had such strength in over six decades:
"I forgive you."
Her father had been right: destiny had run its course and all was as it should be. However, 'as it should be' did not always mean a happy ending.
That was the trouble with the Names: one could never tell what they signified until it was over. As she turned her back on him for the last time and let Mrs. Mulligan lead her away from Anubis House, Sarah accepted her lot in life and played the last card in her tragic hand; there was a reason Heartbreaks were the most dreaded of all the Names.