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"what's a soulmate, eomma?"

the woman turns to her son, brows raised as he looks up at her with big, brown eyes. she chuckles lightly, ruffling her son's hair and kneeling to be face-to-face with the young boy. "now where did you hear about that, baby?"

the boy purses his lips, hands clasping behind his back. he looks guilty, as if he was talking about something he shouldn't know anything about - something dirty that little boys shouldn't talk about. or, like he was using those adult words that his eomma and appa always told him simply weren't suitable for children to be saying. "i heard someone talking about it at school today - i ... i didn't know what they they were talking about."

his mother hums, nodding. she runs her hands up and down the young boy's arms in an attempt to calm him down, already able to see the worry pooling in the boy's head - "don't worry baby, it's nothing bad - i'm just surprised is all." she says, a smile on her lips. "do you want me to tell you about soulmates, baby?" she asks, slightly quirking her head to one side. at the realization that what he was talking about wasn't bad, the little boy perks up, smiling brightly and nodding at his mother. she just chuckles again, and takes her son's hands - "alright, come on, let's sit on the couch."

the two end up curled up together under a fluffy blanket, the little boy's favorite. his mother runs a hand back through his hair before she starts speaking, words careful. "soulmates are people who are born to love one another." she explains. "they're people who are bound to one another for their entire lives and those who will always be there for one another."

he nods slowly at his mother, before asking, "would that make you my soulmate?"

his mother chuckles, shaking her head lightly. "no baby, we're not soulmates." the boy pouts slightly, eliciting another giggle from his mother. "on your nineteenth birthday, you'll get a little mark on your arm just like mine-" she shows her son a little black rose painted on her skin, still as bright and bold as it was when it first appeared "-and after you and your soulmate are both nineteen, you'll have matching marks on your arm. that's how you'll know you've met your soulmate."

"are you and appa soulmates?" the boy asks, eyes wide.

his mother nods, chuckling - "yes baby, appa and i are soulmates."

a moment of silence passes between them before the boy murmurs a quiet, "wow..." and stares blankly up at his mother. she can't help but laugh at the young boy, ruffling his hair. "what's so funny?" he questions.

"you baby. you're so silly."

he pouts, "i didn't even do anything."

she smiles, "you're just so cute, i can't help it." she murmurs, pressing her lips to the little boy's forehead. he hums, immediately snuggling into his mother's chest when she leans back.

"so is my soulmate the person i'm gonna marry?"

his mother shrugs slightly, not really able to with the boy on her chest. "i don't know, baby. some people marry their soulmates, but i know plenty of people who are just very close friends with their soulmates instead."

the boy nods slowly against her, letting out a long sigh. "i can't wait to meet my soulmate...but that's so many years until i'm that old!" he whines - she can almost hear the pout in his voice, and can't help but laugh.

"don't worry baby, time will fly by, believe me.