Evie had never wanted a soulmate. She supposed that there was something romantic to it, some twist of fate that would lead her to being in love for the rest of her life, but there were so many things to do. She was to marry a prince, become a Queen and pull her mother back into fame, to let her mother overshadow her as the Queen Mother, and nothing Evie wanted truly mattered. But, marrying a prince didn’t seem half bad. It was only… her soulmark couldn’t be the thoughts of a prince upon seeing her.
Gods, I’m gay.
She had never shown the mark to her mother. Like all other people with soulmarks (because some didn’t have any at all, but rather they were blanks who got to choose they’re destiny; that’s what Evie had convinced her mother she was), Evie had received her mark on her thirteenth birthday, long after she was bathing and dressing herself without her mother’s help. It was a relatively short soulmark, thankfully - her best friend, Carlos de Vil, had three lines of text beneath his shoulder blades in the center of his back, which, while a lot, was at least easy to hide. Evie’s own mark was on her collarbones, hidden constantly beneath concealer and the high necks of modest dresses.
She had to wonder where the mark of her soulmate was; everyone knew that the seal of soulmates was done through the touch of the marks. With Carlos’s, it was easy to imagine the mark on the chest of his soulmate, sealed by holding him, closeness a prerequisite. With Evie’s, she just didn’t know. Maybe on the hands, or on the collarbone too, or maybe on the chin for resting one’s head.
For someone who never wanted a soulmate, Evie thought about her’s quite a bit.
She was meant to be meeting Carlos today, but he was around twenty-seven minutes late. He was the only person on the island that Evie knew owned a watch, but with the way that his mother would occasionally attempt to destroy all semblance of normalcy in his life, Evie could only be so surprised when he was late. The cafe was nearly empty, as it nearly always was, with only Evie sitting unaccompanied in the corner while a group sat at the coffee bar, the rest of the tables vacant. That’s why she looked up when the bell above the door rang, and immediately all of the moisture in her mouth leached out.
Oh no, she thought, and she actively forced herself to keep breathing. Standing in the doorway, looking for all the world like a dragon sealed in human skin, was the most beautiful girl that Evie had ever seen. Her hair was an almost violent violet, cascading down to her shoulders not in the way of Evie’s slight curls, but in an unkempt way that said readily that she cared much less about appearances than about practicality. She was decked out in leathers rather than any sort of dress like Evie, and she had makeup on, but her nails were unpainted. She had the sharpest smile as she chatted with the girl behind the counter, so obviously false that Evie wasn’t sure how no one called her out for it. Things were worse when the girl turned around, noticing Evie for the first time.
The pull. There was a pull that true soulmates felt when they saw one another, mutual and startling, and Evie wanted to cry. She had never wanted a soulmate, and here was this beautiful girl, this firecracker who Evie was already half in love with just from looking at. All the princes and knights Evie had taken a crack at in her life, and she had never felt like this, never felt so big and so small all at once. The girl was walking towards Evie’s table and Evie once again had to remind herself to breathe, and will herself not to tear up. It would surely have ruined her mascara.
“Hey. I’m Mal,” the girl said before crashing into the seat across from Evie, no sense of decorum in sight. Evie sat up a little straighter and moved her hair away from her face, sticking her hand out to shake.
“Evie,” she replied, forcing a smile that she hoped looked real, for Mal’s sake if not for anything else. Mal gave a smile that was much more real than the one she gave at the counter, and some parts of Evie preen at the fact that this girl gave out real smiles for her. She wanted to get rid of that part immediately, long before it took root and bloomed in the cavern of her chest, long before the blooms bore fruit.
"This wasn't what I planned on," Evie blurted out, uncharacteristic in her impulse. She normally flirted, primped and preened with the best of them, but already her disorientation got the best of her. When the smile fell off of Mal’s face, it felt like a storm cloud was gathering over their table, and Evie felt for the magic mirror in her pocket. She would ask it about her soulmate later, when they were separated and the lover in Evie needed to know more about her, but not now.
"Well, I knew it wasn't gonna be all sunshine and daisies, Bluebell, not with a soulmark like mine," Mal said, and she smiled again but it was bitter now, less somehow. Evie wondered who had already hurt her soulmate, who had taken the optimistic child that had to have sometime occupied Mal and turned it into something else. She held in the parts of her that wanted to reach out and comfort; she was not meant to want a soulmate, and wanting Mal would only hurt. Mother would not appreciate Mal, would not appreciate the fact that Evie had lied to her for six years, would not appreciate that Mal was not a boy and not a prince and not so many things.
“My mother,” Evie started, but she cut herself off early; there was no way to make a clean break if she gave Mal pieces of herself, parts that Mal would remember. Evie sighed, looking toward the table before she looked back at Mal with a watery kind of smile. Mal’s shoulders had fallen, making her look so much smaller than the dragon that had first walked into the cafe, and Evie wondered at how quickly her presence could break people.
“I get it. Just… wow. I didn’t know I was that easy to clock as not much to write home about after, like, one fuckin’ minute. It’s kinda funny.” Evie started protesting nearly before Mal was done speaking.
“No! That’s not what I meant! She’s - she wouldn’t - I’m not - I’m not supposed to be gay. I’m supposed to marry a prince. You’re really pretty, and I think I could really like you, but… she has expectations for me. I’m supposed to be someone,” Evie explained, stopping and starting throughout, all while looking at some point over Mal’s left shoulder. It was too hard to look her in the eye, to pretend any of this was okay.
“Bluebell, I hate to be the one to say this, but your mom is full of horseshit,” Mal dropped unceremoniously, the look in her eyes blank honesty when Evie snapped up to look at her. “You can be gay and be someone, you can be you and be someone, and dear fuckin’ god, please don’t make me say more inspirational shit, because this is completely not my brand.” Mal fingered at the lapels of her leather jacket, looking vaguely uncomfortable at her own words as she slumped down in her seat more.
“Maleficent! Come get your drink!” Freddie Facilier screamed from behind the counter, and Mal was up like a shot. Maleficent. Mal-eficent. Maleficent's daughter. Her soulmate was Maleficent’s daughter. Maleficent’s daughter was a leather-wearing, latte-drinking, sarcastic, self-deprecating, beautiful girl, and she was Evie’s soulmate. Evie had barely wrapped her head around it when Mal sat back down, propping her foot up on the seat next to Evie.
“You know, I would have saved the parents conversation for at least the second date, given my choice,” Mal said, sipping at her drink with an almost painful looking smile. Evie gave her back a looser one, a genuine Evie smile - maybe the first one today.
“I’m the Evil Queen’s daughter. My full name is Genevieve, because she wanted me to be regal, but Carlos started calling me Evie when we were about five, and it’s kinda history,” Evie explained, shrugging a shoulder. Mal was just staring at her, so Evie tilted her head, about to open her mouth to ask why, when Mal seemed to shake herself out of it.
“Wow, I’m gay,” Mal breathed out, quiet like it was meant to be under her breath, but Evie heard it anyway, sending her into giggles. Mal dragged her hand down her face, but it was with a grin, so Evie didn’t feel too bad. She played into the lighter mood and pulled down her dress collar a bit, glad that she didn’t have concealer on today.
“Yeah, I know,” Evie joked, poking at the word gay with her pointer finger. She could see Mal swallow when she looked back over at her, eyes glued to Evie’s soulmark before she started digging through the tiny bag strapped around her chest. She seemed victorious as she pulled out a makeup wipe, and Evie hummed with anticipation as she waited for Mal to uncover her soulmark. All this anticipation for Mal to take off her… lipstick? Evie watched as Mal dabbed off her makeup to reveal black lettering across her bottom lip.
Oh no, it read, and Evie winced. She reached out and rubbed her thumb across it, unable to catch herself before she made contact, making both herself and Mal gasp. She paused there for a moment just looking at the helpless fear on Mal’s face, tinged with something that could pass as hope.
“Sorry,” she said, taking her hand back slowly, meaning the apology for more the words in her mark than the touch she gave. Both of them snapped to look at the door as a wall of noise seemed to come through it in the form of two boys, one of which was Carlos de Vil, which would explain his tardiness. Evie was almost motivated to get out of her seat before she saw the grin on her best friend’s face as he was carried into the door.
“Carried you over a threshold! Does that mean we’re married now?” the boy who wasn’t Carlos said, putting Carlos down onto the ground and slinging an arm around his shoulders. Carlos rolled his eyes and pushed at his chest only a little, and Evie raised an eyebrow, looking to Mal for her solidarity in this oddity. Instead, Mal was still looking at Carlos and his newfound friend, looking slightly suspicious.
“Hey, Jay? What the whole fuck?” Mal asked, hands together under her mouth in an expression of exasperation and confusion. The not-Carlos boy who was apparently called Jay just grinned at the scrutiny, leading Carlos over to their table.
“Hey, Eves. Who’s your friend?” Carlos asked, looking cautiously between them, always ready to run for Evie even in the company of his newfound friend. Jay turned two chairs from the nearest table to face Mal and Evie, dragging them to one side of the table so that he and Carlos could sit together still.
“My, uh, my soulmate,” Evie replied, because of course Carlos knew about her mark, and of course he should know about this.
“No shit?” Jay asked, but he was looking at Mal, all challenge and high tension, though some amusement showed in his expression. Mal nodded once. “When?”
“10:57. Minute after I walked in,” Mal bit out, and Evie exchanged a look with Carlos, who looked equally confused. Jay sprang out of his chair and whooped, pumping a fist in the air before he got back into his seat grinning, putting his arm back around Carlos’s shoulders comfortably.
“10:50! Ha! Fuck you!” Jay said giddily, pumping his free hand in the air once more. Now Evie and Carlos were both really confused.
“What the fuck?” Carlos asked, tilting his head at Jay with a confused smile, like he couldn’t help being happy even still. Jay seemed to go from excited to sheepish, wincing a little as he looked over at Carlos.
“Me and Mal, uh, we had a bet? Or a competition, I guess? Whoever meets their soulmate first wins, you know?” Jay answered, rubbing at the back of his neck and not quite looking Carlos in the eye. Evie watched her friend before he burst into laughter, covering his face with his hands, and Evie watched still as Jay seemed completely enamoured with the raucous laughter, just happy that her friend had found someone just so adoring as Carlos had always deserved.
“So… soulmates. Wanna go on a double date? I’m Jay, by the way,” Jay introduced himself to Evie after Carlos’s laughter had died down, though the fondness in Jay’s eyes hadn’t. Evie looked over at Mal and imagined saying no only for a moment, but she stuck her hand out to Jay instead.
“I’m Evie. And yeah, I’d love to.”