Fandom: The Raven Cycle
Pairing: Ronan Lynch/Adam Parrish
Note: Written for "Destino", "Esodo" "Numeri" for "Explorer del Poliverso" per Landedifandom
There used to be a time where almost everyone in the world had a soulmate. Where young kids would scribble things into their arms in hope of figuring out who was connected on the other side of their soul.
It was almost normal to look at your arm and see something written in a handwriting that wasn’t your own. To hope and know that somewhere out there there was someone who would love you completely.
But that was a long time ago, before the magic wars, and before anyone with even a bit of magic in their veins left to live far away from the war and the resentment.
Nowadays no one expects to see words on their arms, and no one believes that there’s someone destined to be with them. True love is a stupid dream for stupid people who need to grow up, and magic doesn’t exist anymore.
Adam knows better than most, and he doesn’t need his father or slurs or his punches to keep it in mind. It’s a lesson that Adam has learned since very young.
He also knows that no one could ever love him, of course, which is why he thinks that ever if magic existed, there would never be a strange handwriting on his skin. If soulmates exist, then Adam’s soul could never have a match.
He has given up on ever thinking anything else, and it’s better this way.
It’s stupid to think of that time when he was little and thought that maybe, if he wished enough, someone’s handwriting would appear on his arm and then… then Adam would know that even if his family could never love him, someone could.
But he grows up and stops believing it.
The thing is this: Ronan knows very well that they need to stay hidden. That for whatever reason no one could ever know about their farm, their life, and what they can do.
His father has reminded them of this so many times that at this point Ronan can recite it by heart.
Ronan has known magic his entire life. It permeates in the air in his home, it’s in every cranny and nook. His entire family is magic in a way or another, and Ronan has never known differently.
Frankly, Ronan loves it. He loves his house, the garden that doesn’t need to be gardened, the animals that never grow old, the pastries that never go mold.
What he doesn’t love is the secrecy that comes with his life.
They were never allowed to go to school, or talk to any other kids or really ever leave the Barns. It’s not safe, his mother would often whisper, with a sad look and a kind touch.
Ronan, nine years old and completely devoted to his family, never questioned it too much, even if he didn’t like it. He had his brothers, and his animals and he didn’t need anything else to be happy.
The most important thing, his father told them often, is that you should never write on your own skin.
Ronan never really understood that rule, but as always he never really questioned it. After all, why would he ever write on his own skin?
Ronan is eleven the first time he sees something written on his arm. It’s a series of numbers and it takes him a little to understand it’s a mathematical formula. He’s not that good at math, and he certainly doesn’t remember writing something on his arm.
He’s scared that his father wouldn’t believe him and get angry at him, so he hides it. It’s not that difficult, really, since it’s written high enough to be covered by his sleeves. And some hours later when he closes himself in the upstairs bathroom to check, the thing is gone.
Maybe he imagined it, who knows, Ronan is too relieved to take notice. And when his mom calls him, he runs down quickly, forgetting about the whole thing immediately.
It doesn’t happen again until he’s thirteen, and enough time has passed that Ronan really thought he had imagined it.
This time he’s showering and when he looks down at his arm he sees something written on the inside of his elbow. It’s a string of numbers that don’t make any sense to Ronan and he glowers at them.
He’s sure he hasn’t written anything on his own skin, so there’s only one explanation. He doesn’t know how he didn’t notice Declan writing on him, but his brother is a bad word and he’s always intent on targeting Ronan.
He quickly dries off and storms into Declan’s room, angry. “Declan!” he shouts, and his brother simply quirks an eyebrow at him, the jerk.
“What? Too stupid to take a shower on your own?” Declan asks him, with a bored tone. At sixteen, Declan always says he’s bored of the Barns, bored of spending all his time with his dorky little brothers, but since their father won’t let him live, he makes sure that everyone is as miserable as he is.
Well, mostly Ronan.
“No, idiot! You know we’re not supposed to write on each other’s skin! So don’t write on mine!” Ronan says, looking around for something to throw at his stupid brother. He settles for a rubber and throws it at the other’s head.
Declan avoids it and looks at his brother with a look of utter confusion. “Why would I ever write on your skin? What the fuck?”
“I don’t know, because you did it!” He says, uncovering the numbers and showing them to his brother with a look of triumph.
Declan watches him for a moment and then furrows his brows. “That looks like a number. A telephone number.”
Ronan, who has never needed a phone in his entire life, looks at his brother with confusion. “Why did you write that on my arm?”
Declan sighs, shaking his head. “I didn’t, you idiot. That’s not even how I write my 4s.”
Ronan blinks and then looks at his own skin and thinks uh, that’s right. Actually now that he’s looking at it, it doesn’t look like the calligraphy of any of his family.
“Then who wrote it?” he wonders, out loud.
Declan sighs, as if Ronan is so stupid that he’s actually hurting, and then says “Your soulmate, you idiot.”
Ronan blinks. Then blinks again. “What?”
“Why do you think dad doesn’t want us writing on our own skin? Because the magic would send it directly to our soulmate, and of course the same thing happens if they write on their skin,” Declan explains, long suffering. “Seems like your soulmate didn’t receive the same warning we did.”
Ronan doesn’t know how he feels about this entire thing. He doesn’t think he can wrap his head around the concept of magical numbers appearing on his skin, let alone a soulmate. Still… why is this supposed to be a secret?
Shouldn’t a soulmate be a good thing?
“I…” he stops, looks at the numbers again and then at Declan. He doesn’t know what to do.
Declan smirks and shrugs. “Wait until dad knows, he’s going to flip.”
“We don’t have to tell him,” Ronan says, “I mean it probably won’t happen ever again.”
Declan watches him with amusement.
It happens again. And again.
Fortunately it’s always in places that are easily hidden, almost as if his soulmate was trying to keep the writing a secret as well.
Ronan is glad for that, but Declan becomes insufferable. He always tries to look for writings on Ronan’s skin and pesters him day and night. The problem would be easier to deal with if he could lie, but Ronan hates lying and Declan knows it well.
So every time Ronan avoids the question, his brother knows that he’s just avoiding telling him yes.
It’s becoming increasingly annoying. Especially because his soulmate has apparently started counting days or some other shit. The first day Ronan finds a 1, the one after the 1 has been deleted and a 2 is in its place and so on.
Until after the tenth’s day nothing appears and Ronan thinks that maybe he’s finally safe when the next day the count starts again from 1.
It happens three times before Ronan finally loses his patience and writes just under the 1: What the fuck are you counting?
He doesn’t really expect a response, even if he’s curious. He was mostly annoyed at Declan and at his soulmate when he wrote that. Maybe, he thinks, this will make his soulmate stop writing.
That night, he looks at his own hand and while his own writing is still there, he sees that the number has been cleaned up.
Adam never thought he could have a soulmate, after all no one does anymore. There’s no more magic in the world, killed or hidden away in another plane of existence.
He doesn’t write on his own skin often because his father doesn’t like it, but he never thought there was any harm in doing it.
It’s why he’s started marking the days between a beating and the next on his arm. It helps him keep track of his father's mood and it’s… a physical reminder. Something to keep him grounded when he loses his focus.
He needs to study. He needs to work. He needs to get out of there.
So he writes the little numbers in a place where his father could never see them and he keeps on going.
Until the day he looks at it and sees something else written on his skin. Something he hasn’t written.
What the fuck are you counting?
Adam panics. He starts scrubbing at his own arm for what feels like hours, but the words don’t wash away. The number does, but the words keep staring at him.
He can’t have a soulmate, right? That’s… not…
He doesn’t answer, of course. He doesn’t sleep either. He lies in bed and tries to rationalize… everything.
Could he really have a soulmate? How? Why Adam? How can Adam have a soulmate?
Maybe, he thinks at three in the morning, the fact aht Adam’s parents don’t love him is the reason he’s the only one who has a soulmate. Since his parents couldn’t love him, destiny had to give him someone who could to balance out the unfairness.
It’s a stupid thought, of course, but…
He doesn’t write anything on his arm again for the entire week.
Ronan is actually surprised that he managed to accomplish his goal. The numbers are gone, and his soulmate hasn’t written anything in more than a week.
He should be happier than he is, he thinks, but at the same time… he’s curious, of course he is. He has a soulmate, and he can’t help but wonder what this person looks like. Declan thinks it’s a girl, but Ronan… Ronan doesn’t really think so.
Still, his father would be furious if he knew that Ronan had actually written something on his own skin. Ronan doesn’t disobey his father, he has never ever done it and now he’s thinking of doing it again.
He shouldn’t, he knows that. But.
Before he can think too much about what he’s doing, and how angry his father would be if he knew, Ronan takes a pen and writes on the inside of his elbow: Ignoring me? What were you counting?
He looks at his writing with a frown, and for a moment he thinks about going to the bathroom and cleaning himself up before his soulmate even had a chance to see it.
Ronan spends the entire afternoon in his room, but no reply comes. At night Ronan scrubs it off furiously, embarrassed and angry.
He took a great risk, didn’t his soulmate realize? He could have the decency to reply. He vows to never write on himself again. That would teach the ungrateful idiot.
The next day he writes something again. And the next. And the next.
Adam doesn’t look at his arm. In fact, he has spent the entire week making sure never to look at it. Maybe he’s afraid, maybe he doesn’t really want to discover he’s going crazy.
He’s heard one of the nurses whisper it once who knows what this is doing to his head. Everyone knows they never grow up right but he doesn’t want to make them right.
Adam has a future in front of him in spite of where he’s born and who his father is, and he won’t let anyone take it away from him.
So he doesn’t look at his arm, but he still counts in his own head the days. His father punches him on the twelfth day and Adam lies in bed trying not to cry and holding his stomach.
It hurts, and he knows that it will hurt for days.
He doesn’t know what he has done this time, doesn’t think there was even a reason why his dad had started kicking him. He was just angry at the world and Adam was just there.
Somehow it’s worse, knowing that Adam doesn’t even have to do anything to receive this kind of treatment.
It’s just that Adam isn’t good enough. It’s just that his father doesn’t love him.
In a moment of weakness he looks at his own arm, because he needs… something. Adam doesn’t really think that he would find anything in there, after all he still doesn’t believe in the concept of a soulmate or that he could have one, but when he looks at the inside of his elbow he sees in big, angry letters: Were you counting the trees at your house? I’ll keep guessing.
Adam blinks and then blinks again. It looks like his soulmate had kept writing to Adam, even while Adam was ignoring him.
Counting trees? That would have been cool. Better than what he was actually counting.
He wants to reply, he thinks, but he doesn’t want to tell him the truth. Possibly, if this person is destined to love Adam he would accept this ugly part of him, but he doesn’t want to be known just for this.
Adam is so much more than his bruises.
So he takes a pen and writes Not even close. Do better tomorrow. And then, hesitating for only a moment he adds I’m Adam.
An hour later on his arm someone has written Cocky. Were you counting how many times you were a smartass? I’m Ronan.
Ronan keeps writing Adam every night, and the other replies usually very quickly. Of course their conversation is limited by the amount of space they can take on their arms, and thankfully Adam wants to avoid writing in places where someone could see as well.
But Ronan can’t help but wonder why his father was so against this. He likes talking to Adam, the other boy is usually snarky and Ronan enjoys that immensely.
He also talks about a world Ronan knows nothing about. School? Classmates? Groceries?
Ronan has never stepped foot out of the Barns and the forest that surrounds his home and he didn’t think that other people could live differently than them. He’s… curious, but he doesn’t want to ask his dad.
So, he goes to his mom.
Aurora welcomes him with a smile and Ronan fidgets for a second before asking: “Mom, why are we alone?”
“What do you mean, honey?” his mom asks him. “We have each other, we’re not alone.”
“Yeah, but… I mean other people. Like, people we’re not related to. I mean why do we never see anyone else? Declan always says that he wants to meet other people so…”
Aurora wonders for a moment and then she sighs. “Well, I guess it’s time to tell you, isn’t it. Your father doesn’t agree, but you’re growing so much.” She caresses his face with a sad look and then explains: “We’re magic, Ronan, and that’s very dangerous in this world. Once we were hunted so that bad people could use our magic, and so we escaped. Our kind decided to hide themselves in another plane, cutting themselves off from the rest of the world.”
“But… not us?” Ronan wonders and his mom nods.
“Our ancestors… They loved this forest too much. It’s what gives us most of our powers, and the thought of leaving it…” she stops and shakes her head “but that means we have to be smarter and hide from the outside world.”
“Is that why dad doesn’t want us writing on our own skin?” Ronan asks, biting his lip.
His mom laughs, with a smile, “Yeah… the possibly of the three of you having a non magical soulmate is thin, but we still can’t take the chance.”
“So we could have a magical soulmate?” Ronan wonders, because that would solve everything. He could tell his mom about Adam, and they could meet. Maybe do some magic stuff together.
“Yes and no… people are wrong, you know, it’s not that soulmates don’t exist anymore, it’s just that the connection can’t be used while one is on another plane. So you still have a soulmate, but the words can’t reach them,” she explains, kindly.
“Are you sure? It’s… it’s not possible? In any way?” Ronan wonders, his voice quivering a little.
His mom looks at him for a second and then she sighs, her face morphs, becomes gentle but a little sad. “Oh, my little Ronan. You wrote on your skin, didn’t you?”
“No! I didn’t! He did! My soulmate! He wrote!” he immediately explains, feeling the panic rise inside him. If she tells his dad, he’ll be mad, and Ronan can’t bear the thought of making his dad mad.
His mom looks at him and then nods. “It’s too dangerous, Ronan. You have to promise me. Never write back, okay?”
Ronan nods, ashamed and scared and she hugs him tightly.
That night, when Adam writes, Ronan closes his eyes and doesn’t answer. He never answers again.
After a couple of days Adam doesn’t write full sentences anymore and a week later Ronan only finds a 1 on his elbow.
The next day he finds a 2.
And then a 3.
Years later, Ronan stands outside the Barns, the memory of his father’s corpse still fresh in his mind. And he looks at his own arms, looking at the number Adam has written there diligently every day since Ronan stopped responding.
They found them, he thinks, even when Ronan had given up on Adam years ago. Even with all the sacrifices. They still found them.
At this point, Ronan doesn’t give a fuck.
He takes a sharpie and writes just under Adam’s number: Are you counting trees?
And waits. He has to wait only ten minutes before something appears on his arm: YOU’RE A FUCKHEAD.
And Ronan laughs and writes: Do you want to meet?