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Soulmates and Sound

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The entire text of the story is below. But first... Check out litra's awesome podfic! It's an hour and a half long, almost exactly. 1:29:53. It's available in 3 formats: .m4b (Audiobook), .mp3 files, and streaming. Direct Download for the .m4b audiobook of all 3 chapters (right click and hit "save link as" or "save target as") litra.parakaproductions.com/audio hosting of luvtheheaven's "Soulmates and Sound".m4b

If you'd prefer to download .mp3 files of each chapter, each on it's own, roughly half an hour long per chapter... then here:

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the .mp3 of Soulmates and Sound chapter 1 (length: 00:32:39 - 32 minutes and 39 seconds)

the .mp3 of Soulmates and Sound chapter 2 (length: 00:30:01 - 30 minutes and 1 second)

the .mp3 of Soulmates and Sound chapter 3 (length: 00:27:13 - 27 minutes and 13 seconds)

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Note that chapter 1 here is 32 minutes and 39 seconds long. (32:39)

Streaming for chapters 2 and 3 are on the pages with the text for those chapters. Just click "Next Chapter" and you'll find them.

We hope you enjoy litra's podfic!

Song used during the party near the end of this chapter of the podfic was "Hey Jude" by The Beatles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBpcF0ROd1c

The text of luvtheheaven's story is below.


Chapter 1: The Sad Silence of the Storm

Laurel didn’t remember the day her parents took her little sister home from the hospital. She’d been told some stories about what her reaction had been to meeting her – to seeing the tiny little baby that Quentin had carried inside, a blanket wrapped around her. Laurel knew there had been a few years when Laurel was on the earth but Sara didn’t yet exist. But despite knowing that, Laurel didn’t actually remember a time when her sister had not been around. Laurel felt like she had always been a big sister. Always.

Laurel did vaguely remember Sara being a baby, though. In fact, there was one particular memory that stood out for Laurel – the moment when she’d first learned of the existence of sound.

When Laurel was three years old, she had seen the flashing lights for the first time on the baby monitor. The curious toddler had then asked her mother how it knew when Sara was crying. How could it tell, even when no one was looking at the little baby’s distressed face? Could the monitor see things the way people could?

Laurel had observed, even in her limited life experience given her young age of three, that people only heard a baby cry when they were looking directly at it. The process was quite similar to, for example, having a conversation with her mother. People had to be looking at each other’s faces if they wanted to hear what was being said. And crying was basically a baby’s form of talking.

Dinah answered her daughter by explaining that the monitor picked up sound waves, which human ears couldn’t usually hear but which the technology could still detect. Prior to that day, Laurel had assumed sound was related to sight. But her mommy was a very smart lady and despite the fact that Laurel had still been too young to fully understand how light and sound were different, this had been the start of Laurel comprehending it. Dinah had assured her little girl that she’d learn more about the science behind all of it when she got older. She’d also gotten pretty emotional, judging from the way her eyes had begun to shine with tears, as she’d added, “And I hope one day you really hear what sound is like. It is the happiest experience in the world.”

Dinah had then pulled the daughter she’d named after herself into a fierce hug, and Laurel had breathed in her mother’s scent, a bit confused, but appreciative of the love.

 


 

Dinah Lance had spent many years studying Greek and medieval history, and had been offered a job at Central City University, but decided to postpone accepting the position for a few years in favor of staying at home to raise her girls while they were young. Consequently, the Lance family had lived on only a police officer’s salary during all of Laurel’s elementary school years. The limited income had meant they could only afford a fairly small house on the outskirts of Starling City, with Sara and Laurel needing to share one of the only two bedrooms in the house.

Laurel was eight years old when, in their shared double bed one night, Sara had turned to Laurel and poked her shoulder. Laurel had been fast asleep but stirred at the touch and, with some subsequent prodding, emerged from her slumber and turned to face the five-year-old so that they could successfully talk. The nightlight in the corner illuminated the room enough so that Laurel could see Sara and therefore hear her say, “Did you see the lightning?”

Laurel shook her head.

“Sorry, I didn’t,” Laurel replied. “I was asleep.”

“What if it hits that tree in our back yard?” Sara then asked, and Laurel could tell from her facial expression that she was terrified, just like she always was whenever there was a storm. Sara seemed to have it in her head that their tree would get knocked down and fall straight onto the house, which, if it did happen, could potentially kill their parents. Their parents’ room was right below that tree. Laurel loved that her little sister was so concerned not for herself, but for Mom and Dad. Her heart swelled with pride for how compassionate Sara was, and she smiled.

“It’s gonna be okay. The lightning's never hit that tree before, remember?” she said, hoping it was reassuring.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Sara replied, understandingly. But her voice! It sounded so different! So… high-pitched, and so exactly like Sara. Laurel had never heard her sister’s unique voice before. She blinked a few times, trying to figure out what had just happened. Her shock must have shown on her face, because the five-year-old then asked, “What’s wrong, Laurel?”

“Nothing. Nothing is wrong,” Laurel replied, trying to be reassuring, despite the fact that as she said it, she then realized she could now hear the sound of her own voice too! It was quite jarring to hear. She looked around as she began to notice some other, more constant, noise too. Something… all around her. Or maybe more… around the house. Laurel hadn’t yet learned to recognize it, but what she was hearing was the rain.

Sara shivered in fear as their room was illuminated quite brightly by another strike of lightning, this time one Laurel was awake to see. And then, only five seconds later, when the light had faded, there was a very loud and scary sound that made Laurel freeze in terror.

“You’re definitely upset about something,” Sara replied defiantly, and knowingly. “Maybe you should get Mom and Dad,” she suggested.

Swallowing and biting her lower lip, Laurel nodded. Maybe she should. She had no clue what was happening to her. She pulled off the covers and could’ve sworn she heard something very quietly with the motion, but then tried to shake it off as likely just her imagination. She stepped on the floor and couldn’t pretend that that wasn’t making noise. She started walking and heard her bare feet softly swooshing as she slid them across the floor toward her parents’ bedroom. She really hoped she wasn’t losing her mind. She hoped her parents would be able to explain to her what was happening.

As soon as Laurel exited her bedroom the pitter-patter sound that seemed to be coming from everywhere stopped. Was it something only happening in her bedroom? She twirled on her feet and went back in through the still open door. Yes, the sound was back. And then she left again. And again, it was gone. Laurel tried to convince herself that despite how unnerving this was, it probably wasn’t anything to worry about. Her mom or dad would have the answer. They had to!

She walked into their bedroom and woke her dad up the same way Sara had awoken Laurel – by poking his shoulder. Quentin rubbed his eyes sleepily and then noticed the dark shadow of his daughter standing there, needing him. He pushed himself into a more upright position, and adjusted himself to be sitting with his back against the head of the bed. He flicked on a lamp on the bedside table.

“Sweetheart, what’d’ya need?” he asked sympathetically. His hair was more of a mess than it was during the daytime, but his fatherly demeanor was just as strong as it would be if the sun was out.

“Um…” Laurel began timidly. She looked over at her mother, who still resting peacefully despite the storm. “I… I think I’ve been hearing things.”

Laurel began to fidget. Her right fingers grasped at her nightgown’s left sleeve and she bit her lip. Despite how upset she was, she managed to keep her gaze on her father. She was hopeful he’d say something that would somehow make it all better.

Quentin’s eyes went wide. “Really? When?”

“When I was with Sara just now. In our bedroom. Sara was scared.” She paused and looked out the window for a moment before continuing, trying to figure out how to explain. It was harder to tell him than she thought it’d be. “Scared of the lightning. So I tried to make her feel… less scared. I told her nothing bad was gonna happen. She said I was prob’ly right and… and when she said it…” Laurel faltered.

“Yes, sweetie?” Quentin was encouraging her to continue.

“When she said it, I heard… her voice, dad. It was… different than what she usually sounds like. And then I heard this other loud sound all around us.”

Laurel stopped speaking when she saw her dad smile widely. For some reason, her dad’s reaction to this news was positive. He turned to wake up his wife, gently stroking her hair. Once she opened her eyes, he said something, but because he was turned toward her mom, Laurel couldn’t hear what he said. Dinah then began to smile really widely too. What was going on? How could her parents be acting this way? Was it possible that her mom and dad were happy about this news?

Once the adults both were looking back at her, Laurel continued her story. “It was really scary! The lightning flashed and then it… something was… loud,” she tried to explain, not feeling like the really was capturing the essence of it. Her story-telling skills weren’t really at their finest when it was late at night.

Just then, there was another flash of light, and Laurel looked toward the windows, where she could see the tree that Sara had been referring to. Laurel knew nothing was making noise in this room, but maybe this would be the exception! The super-loud sound had been so different than the other sounds, before. So Laurel was terrified the sound would come again.

She waited a good twenty seconds. “It didn’t happen this time,” she told her parents. “Well, I mean, I’m not hearing anything in here... But I know I heard something before! Or… um… it was a bunch of stuff making sounds. I’m not making this up.” She looked down toward the ground.

Dinah pulled off the covers and walked over to her daughter, then lifted up her face so that they had eye contact again. “We believe you, honey. From what you’re telling us, we think what just happened is that Sara officially became your soulmate.”

“What?” Laurel asked.

Quentin got out of bed too so that he could see both of their faces and be a part of the conversation.

Dinah continued. “It means that whenever you’re around Sara, from now on you will hear people’s voices, and the sounds of the world.”

“So what were those sounds I was hearing?” Laurel was desperate to know.

“Lightning actually has a sound, that comes a few seconds later,” Quentin explained knowingly. “It’s called thunder, and that’s what the scary, loud, noise was.”

Laurel had so many questions. How did they know all of this? What had that other constant noise that felt like it surrounded the whole room been? How many things in the world made sound? But the thing she decided to ask was:

“But why haven’t I heard the sounds before? Why is Sara only my soulmate now?”

Dinah and Quentin exchanged a meaningful glance, and then Dinah sat back down on the edge of the bed, gesturing for Laurel to join her.

“No one really knows how or why the soulmate thing works. Most people have two soulmates in their lifetimes. Typically one who is platonic, like a family member or dear best friend, and one who is romantic. Sometimes, though, people don’t get two, or both of their soulmates are of the same type.”

“Not everyone gets two?” Laurel asked.

“Yes, there have been reports of some people having three or even four soulmates, and sometimes, usually when people die too young, they never meet their second – or God forbid, even their first – soulmate”.

Quentin nodded, agreeing with everything his wife had just said.

“But that doesn’t explain-”

“-why Sara wasn’t your soulmate before, but she is now?” Dinah finished the sentence for her.

Quentin chimed in. “Legend says that if you were aware a person was going to be your soulmate before you two actually got to know one another, and got to love one another, then that knowledge would ruin the whole thing, sweetheart.”

It sounded like her mom and dad had always known they were going to have this conversation with her eventually. Even if it was the middle of the night, they didn’t seem to mind waking up for something this… important.

Her dad continued, “So the ability to hear when in their presence typically only starts later, and it varies for every relationship. Most people say it happens after you start to feel sure that you couldn’t love the person any more than you already do. That’s when the world explodes with beautiful sounds, like birds chirping, music, or you know, the rain.”

Laurel was confused by a lot of things. What was music? Did birds really make sound? How could sounds be beautiful? That was a word used to describe paintings and visual things. Everything in her world was shifting. Her parents both leaned in at the same time to kiss the top of her head.

“Wait,” Laurel said to both of them. “You always say you couldn’t love me and Sara any more than you do. Does that mean we’re your soulmates too?”

Dinah smiled warmly. “Well, no one really understands it, but children aren’t usually their parents’ soulmates. If they end up being soulmates, from what I’ve heard it only happens once they grow up, and are more of equals with them. Once their children are adults. But we do love you girls more than life itself, I promise you that,” Dinah assured her.

“Oh, okay,” Laurel said, satisfied enough for now.

“So do you think you can go back to sleep now, despite your new ability to hear the rain, and the thunder?” Quentin asked.

“I’ll try,” Laurel said, hoping there wouldn’t be any more of that dreadful thunder. She saw how thrilled her parents were to learn that Sara was her soulmate. She trusted them completely. If they thought this was a wonderful thing, then it must be true. She returned to her bedroom, preparing herself for all of the sounds to hit her once more. But as the rain returned, it still took her breath away all over again. This would take time to get used to. The rain was so different than silence. As she carefully returned to the bed and positioned the covers over herself, not wanting to disturb her little sister who had long since fallen back asleep, she realized even Sara’s breathing made a sound. She had never heard that before. It was kind of amazing. Even with her eyes closed, and even if they weren’t actually touching, Laurel could tell for sure that Sara was right there, right beside her.

 


 

By the time Sara was finishing up her freshman year at Starling City High School, she still had no firsthand experience hearing sound waves the way her sister did whenever they were together. Their parents had been correct when they’d imparted the wisdom that soul bonds were one of life’s biggest mysteries.

Laurel wished she and Sara could’ve been each other’s soulmates. That’s how soulmates seemed to work for so many people in the world, but not for everyone, and for whatever reason, Laurel’s bond with Sara was, even after all this time, one-sided. Sara loved her sister dearly, but it was somehow a different sort of love. Laurel was so protective of her younger sister, but that instinct was not reciprocated. Laurel knew Sara well. She knew Sara sometimes wished she could live her older sister’s life. But Laurel had never felt that kind of jealousy. So maybe it did make sense for the soul bond to be what it was.

Laurel had figured out not too long after the night of the storm that her parents weren’t even soulmates – or at least ‘not yet’, they had clarified once she’d confronted them about it. They’d told her that they’d always hoped with time, the soulmate bond between them as a married couple would appear. And if it didn’t, it didn’t matter, they said. Laurel didn’t believe that was quite true. The closer she got to adulthood, the more she realized that everyone hopes the person they fell in love with would turn out to be their soulmate. But Quentin and Dinah assured their eldest daughter that they would never regret marrying each other. They had many happy years together, regardless of what might be to come, and they’d created two perfect children in the process.

Laurel appreciated her parents’ example, and was a bit comforted by the idea that even if she never found a romantic soul mate, she could still get married one day, and be happy. She had developed the hugest crush on Oliver Queen. She’d known him for a whole decade already, but the change from just thinking of him as a friend to thinking of him as potentially something else to her had been quite recent. She couldn’t just hang out with him anymore, or even hear someone else talk about him. No, every time Ollie crossed Laurel’s mind, she kept fantasizing about kissing him. Every time she saw him? She could barely breathe while seeing his tight-fitting shirts and dirty blond hair that fell carelessly into his eyes. Laurel’s fantasies also included the hope that he would become her romantic soulmate eventually – she couldn’t help but dream of that possibility.

As soon as Laurel announced her plans to attend Tommy Merlyn’s party to celebrate the end of Senior Year, her little sister said she really wanted to come. Most of her friends would never dream of dragging along a freshman, but Laurel knew it’d be fun to bring her. If she did, then Laurel would be able to hear everything at the party, as long as Sara was still in the same room. Laurel would even be able to appreciate the sound of Ollie’s laugh! That alone would be worth it. Laurel had only gotten the privilege on a couple of occasions, as Sara and Oliver usually were not around her at the same time, but God, it was sexy. Besides, it would be really obvious to Laurel if Sara started to wander off anywhere during the party, because Laurel’s world would go silent again.

“Okay, I guess you can come,” Laurel finally told Sara. Laurel could at least use her special bond with Sara to her advantage. It wasn’t that much of a hardship to bring her, was it? Of course, she worried that this might turn out a horrible idea. Ollie might see that Laurel had brought her! Laurel knew what kind of girl Oliver Queen was into – the kind who was carefree and completely focused on him, not someone burdened by making sure their little sister was okay.

The fifteen-year-old Sara beamed at being allowed to attend, and her happiness was infectious. Laurel could never regret letting Sara come. Not after that reaction. Laurel couldn’t feel anything except joy whenever Sara smiled like that.

Tommy and his dad didn’t live in anything as crazy or castle-like as the Queen mansion, but it was clearly an expensive and fancy home. Fashionably late, Laurel walked up its steps with Sara beside her, and as soon as Sara pulled the door open, she heard the crowd of teenagers who had arrived prior to the sisters. They were milling around, all of those conversations that were private for people who didn’t bring their soulmates being heard in bits and pieces by Laurel. She heard a girl in the corner asking Tommy if they could put on some music, and Laurel wondered who that person’s soulmate at the party was. Sometimes Laurel was surprised by how much music people were able to produce, despite the fact that in order to create professionally produced tracks, every step along the way people had to be with a soulmate, and all of the people who didn’t have soulmates would never help contribute to that industry’s profits. As it had turned out, though, the most famous singers tended to have soulmates as a musical or business partner anyway, and in the end, Laurel realized most people did seem to have at least one soulmate.

As the music started up, Laurel appreciated the sound of people eating chips, crunching on them and reaching into bags that rustled. She appreciated the general murmur of everyone’s voices. She appreciated not just Ollie’s laugh, but being able to overhear what he was saying to Tommy even when his back was to her, and being able to hear what Tommy’s voice really sounded like caught her off guard, too. It was kind of amazing. She understood now what her dad had meant by sounds being beautiful. Sara’s voice was really pretty, and she was so grateful she always heard it whenever Sara spoke. But Tommy? His voice was surprisingly beautiful too. And Ollie? Yeah, his voice was sexy; it wasn’t just his laugh. She smiled.

When the party suddenly fell silent, her heart froze. Where was Sara? She anxiously looked around the main room where most of the party was taking place. She noticed that adjacent to this room, there was another room. People were wandering in and out. Judging by the red plastic cups in their hands, and the brighter light emanating from it, Laurel guessed that the other room was a kitchen. She walked toward it and then turned the corner, finding Sara cozying up with one of Laurel’s classmates.

“She’s too young for you,” she scolded him, and the guy – a senior! – looked affronted.

“Dude, what’s your problem?”

Dude,” she mocked him. “She’s my little sister.” She gave him a fierce stare, and then broke them apart, even though they hadn’t even been touching yet. She could tell what her sister had been doing, and she could not allow that kind of flirting.

“Come on,” Sara begged. “I didn’t want you to hear what I was saying, so I went around the corner. Don’t I deserve some privacy?”

Laurel started to drag Sara back out into the main room. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. He’s eighteen! It’s actually illegal for him to be with you at your current age.”

Sara glared back at Laurel, and then protested, “Not if we only kiss…”

“No,” Laurel insisted. “You know how quickly kissing can lead to… more.”

“I’ve already been with a senior guy before,” Sara muttered under her breath.

Laurel took a deep breath, trying not to be too upset. This was a party. She couldn’t let Sara ruin it for her. Now wasn’t the time for a fight.

All of a sudden, Laurel heard a loud shattering. “What was that?” she asked worriedly. It had sounded like something had just broken. Only a few other people at the party seemed to also have noticed that anything had made noise. She tried to gauge where it had come from. As she walked in the general direction from where her ears had picked it up, Sara followed.

“Ah be careful!” Laurel said, but Sara didn’t hear her because Laurel wasn’t facing her. Laurel was busy staring at the broken glass shards on the floor. Someone drunk had accidentally knocked a fancy vase off of a shelf. Sara kept walking, obliviously, and Laurel reached out with her arms and physically stopped Sara from walking over it.

Sara only took a few seconds to realize what Laurel had saved her from. “Thank you,” she said sincerely.

“You’re welcome,” Laurel replied.

 


 

Laurel and Sara got older. Laurel went off to college, leaving Starling to go a fairly prestigious school four hours away, and then Sara graduated from high school too. When growing up, Sara had constantly been a huge part of Laurel’s life. Even so, Laurel had always been used to some periods of no sound, and transitioning to hearing the sounds of the world a bit less often wasn’t so bad. She’d felt ready to move away from home and go to college, and ready to later move in with Ollie. She knew she’d see – and hear – Sara less, but the sisters would always be in each other’s lives. Of course they would. Sara was her soulmate. Sara was, if Laurel had to pick only one person, the person Laurel cared about most in the entire world. It was undeniable that the universe had been right to pick Sara to be Laurel’s soulmate. She even loved Sara more than Oliver. Oliver was great, and he had no soulmates, he told her, but he did say he loved her more than anyone else, and Laurel hoped she could build a life with him. But even as she went off to build that life, Sara would remain that one person Laurel would want to talk to about all of it. That one person she’d drop everything for, and all Sara had to do was ask.

It had nothing to do with how special it was to hear sound every time they met up again. Running into each other’s arms allowed Laurel’s world to once again come alive. No, Laurel loved everything about who her sister was as a person. Sara had grown up so much since that day when she’d been scared of the thunderstorm. She had turned into someone who was practically fearless – a wild and adventurous soul that Laurel admired. She was someone who loved life.

Laurel never would have dreamed that Sara might betray her by sleeping with her boyfriend. By choosing to go away on a yacht with him! This hadn’t only been one night. Sara had always loved life, and Laurel knew she loved sex too, but her own sister’s boyfriend? What could she have been thinking!? How could the universe have decided Sara was Laurel’s soulmate, if this had been in their destiny all along?

This. And, of course… her death.

Laurel had always expected, every time they hugged goodbye and parted ways, that she’d see Sara again soon enough. The world got quiet each time, but knowing Sara was out there… it had never felt silent the way it did now. Now, all Laurel could think was that Sara was gone, and the silence was suffocating. It was such a painful kind of grief, losing your only soulmate. The only person who you’d ever known who could magically make your world have sound.

A couple of months after the news of what had happened to the Queen’s Gambit reached Starling City, Laurel found herself hoping she never found another soulmate. Ever. She was just learning to survive again after both Ollie and Sara had died. She was just starting to sleep through the night, at least some of the time, without awful dreams about what they might have been doing, together, on that boat. Without the even worse nightmares about how Sara might have sounded as she gasped for breath in the ocean. Everyone on the Gambit had died a horrific death during a storm. She’d been told there had been winds so violent they’d capsized the boat.

Sara had first become her soulmate during a storm. By age nine, Laurel had grown fond of thunderstorms. The rain, the thunder, and even some wind had been the first of nature’s sounds that Laurel had ever gotten to hear, in her entire life. But now, Laurel was bitter. She now hated thunderstorms more than she ever imagined would be possible. It had been a thunderstorm that, in the end, took her soulmate away.

Laurel was just beginning to heal, in whatever small way she could, focusing on getting into law school and trying her best to not focus on her grief. Hearing things again would hurt too much. It was better when the only time she heard sound was in her own faded memories of Sara, alive. And oh, how that girl had lived life to the fullest. Laurel would never forget the vibrant happiness her voice so often carried.

At Oliver’s funeral, Tommy told Laurel that when that ship sunk, he’d lost a soulmate too. When asked why he hadn’t mentioned it at any point when Ollie was still alive, he explained that he’d been a bit afraid Laurel might’ve thought it’d mean he was gay. But apparently, all along, since around the same time Laurel had started hearing sound, Tommy also had the good fortune to experience life with a one-sided platonic soulmate.

Laurel’s empathetic heart broke even more when she realized Tommy had to experience the same thing she was going through. If she was being honest with herself? The only thing that made her new, permanent silence feel a little less lonely was knowing that she wasn’t the only one having the cope with it.