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The "Soulmate AU" is a kind of fanfic or fanart that revolves around a setting where everyone has a One True Love, however there is a form of Red String of Fate that ties the soulmates together. Usually these soulmates are romantic, though works with platonic soulmates exist for those who enjoy Heterosexual Life Partners, Romantic Two Girl Friendships, and Platonic Life-Partners.

There are numerous ways for this concept to work. The most common is the "soulmate mark", which is a mark that soulmates share. When the mark appears and what it says varies Depending on the Writer, though the most common interpretation is that people are born with either the first words their soulmate will say to them or their soulmate's name on their body. Another common way for soulmate AUs to work is for people to see in greyscale until they meet their soulmate.

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This type of fanwork is most popular on Archive of Our Own and Tumblr. The earliest known cases of the "Your soulmate's name is written on you" prompt date back to the Glee and Sherlock fandoms circa 2011.

The 2009 film Timer might have helped spark this form of fanwork. In it, for a fee a person can get a device that counts down to the point where you meet your soulmate. However, it only works if both soulmates wear a device.

Sub-trope to Alternate Universe Fic.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Colourblind Soulmate is a Haikyuu!! Fan Vid based on the AU. It uses the "people can't see colours until they see their soulmate" version of the idea. Tooru and Hajime meet when the latter transfers to their school. They become a couple but Tooru starts seeing in monochrome again one day. It turns out Hajime is dying of cancer, and now Tooru won't be able to see in colour for the rest of his life.
  • Tumblr's Dianakko week 2019 featured this prompt on the first day. The most common depiction seemed to be Red String of Fate.
  • Osomatsu-san: I'll Carry You Until the End, so Just Hold On for Now is a soulmate mark fic where your soulmate's name appears on your wrist as a teenager. Jyushimatsu meets his unnamed love interest but she doesn't want to tell him her name. He begins calling her "Homura" as a pun on "home run", unaware that she's really his soulmate. Homura doesn't feel she deserves a soulmate, due to her Dark and Troubled Past as a sex worker, and went as far as to Self-Harm her soulmark to the point where it's illegible. Eventually, the two figure out they're soulmates when Homura sees her surname on Jyushimatsu's wrist.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice:
    • all we know is a Yuuri/Viktor Fan Vid is of the "you see in monochrome until you meet your soulmate" variety.
    • Unspoken is a Yuuri/Viktor soulmate AU fic. In it, when a soulmate compliments you the words appear on your skin. The problem is, Yuuri is mute in this fanfic.
    • Unwritten is a Yuuri/Viktor fic. In it, whatever a person writes on their skin becomes written on their soulmates skin too. Since Viktor is Russian and Yuuri is Japanese, a Language Barrier is involved.

    Comic Books 
  • Oil and Watercolor is a platonic soulmate Batman fanfic focused on family soulmarks where the first time you touch someone, they leave a "soulmark" on your skin- the darker the mark, the more closely your souls are connected.

    Crossovers 
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    Films — Animation 
  • You'll Find Your Wings is a Barbie in The Princess and the Pauper oneshot where Princess Anneliese is being forced into an Arranged Marriage unless she can find her soulmate in a week. She meets a woman named Erika who turns out to have a matching wrist soulmark.
  • Frozen:
    • but we were in screaming colour is based on the idea that a person starts to see in colour the moment they meet their soulmate; Elsa started to see in colour the moment Anna was born, but she was so young that they never remembered this as they were growing up, speculating that they just ran into their soulmates when some other royals visited Arendelle while they were young (Hans is also told by his brothers that the reason he could always see in colour is because he never had a soulmate). Eventually, Elsa and Anna decide to go to Ahtohallan to try and learn the identities of their soulmates, witnessing the memory of their first meeting in the ice.
    • Love Worth Waiting For is a Crossover Couple fanfic involving Mulan. In it, everyone is born with a soulmark of their soulmate's name on their hand. For her entire life, Elsa thought her mark was gibberish, however it turns out to be Chinese calligraphy. Her soulmate is Mulan.
    • rise like the break of dawn is Brave crossover one-shot that ships Elsa with Merida. It uses the "your soulmark is of the first words your soulmate says to you" variant.
    • Soulmark is a fic where this is invoked. Anna goes to the trolls and asks for a soulmark in order to prove that Kristoff is her soulmate. It turns out her sister Elsa is instead.
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • And even if I lived a hundred lives has an AU where soulmates have the first words their soulmate will say to them tattooed on their body in some place. It is noted that this can meet with mixed results at best if those first words are something relative common, such as 'Yes', 'No', or 'Thank You', and even more distinctive words have their challenges, such as one person whose soulmate's first words were "Man, I can't believe Dumbledore died" and thus had to walk around with a major spoiler for a famous fictional series on their body for years. In Astrid's case, her soulmate's first word to her was 'Oh', but she lucked out in that the words on Hiccup's body were the more distinctive “SNOTLOUT YOU FUCKING SON OF A HALF-TROLL I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU FUCKING TRY TO TOUCH ME AGAIN I WILL RIP YOUR BALLS OF AND THEN STUFF THEM DOWN YOUR THROAT!” (Hiccup expresses his regret as he didn't realise that 'Oh' would count as a first word).
    • Screaming Colour is a modern AU where one in five people have a 'soulmate charm' that gives some indication of when they meet their soulmate, ranging from the first words the soulmate will say to them to timers counting down to the moment of their first meeting. In Astrid's case, she cannot see colour until she meets her soulmate, but it takes four years after meeting Hiccup to realise that he is her soulmate when he helps her feel colour rather than just imagine what it looks like.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The Barely Lethal fic Watering Plastic Plants in the Hope That They'll Grow is a 'Soulmark' fic based on the premise that the name of a person's soulmate appears on their wrist when they become 13, which simultaneously deconstructs and supports the soulmark idea. Like all Prescott girls, 83's soulmark was burnt off before she could see it to ensure that they would have no attachments outside of the organisation, and Liz has developed a cynical view of the very idea of soulmarks as her parents divorced despite being soulmates as it was apparently "too much pressure" to know their destined partner, to say nothing of Liz never understanding the meaning of her soulmark as it just states '83'. After Liz has worn bracelets or long sleeves to hide her soulmark ever since before Megan started living with the Larsons, she only learns Megan's 'real name' after Victoria Knox refers to Megan as '83' and explains the concept of Prescott's naming system, and still conceals the soulmark from Megan until she's sure of Megan's own feelings for her in turn, Liz wanting to know that Megan loved her and not just because the soulmark said so.
  • In the Carrie fic the ties that bind, soulmates are identified because they can see the other's psychological scars, with the result that Sue Snell realises she's Carrie's soulmate when she sees Carrie practically covered in blood during the locker room incident and nobody else does. Carrie in turn can only see a slight scar on Sue's nose caused when she was hit by a swing as a child, but comes to accept Sue's explanation, culminating in the two discreetly attending prom together (Tommy Ross and Sue attend as each other's 'beards' while Carrie goes with Tommy's 'true' date George Dawson), and Carrie using her powers to discreetly deflect the bucket of blood before it hits Sue when she's elected prom queen.
  • In The Hobbit fic Soulmates And Where to Find Them, each race has different types of soulmate marks: dwarves get their marks on their backs when they come of age, hobbits get theirs on their wrists but only after they and their soulmate have fallen in love, and elves get theirs on their chest when they first see their soulmate. This leads to complications when Interspecies Romances occur as the soulmates get the mark type of their partner's species; as a result, Kili and Thorin both believe they don't have soulmates until Kili gets one on his chest after seeing Tauriel and Thorin gets one on his wrist after courting Bilbo.
  • Resigned To Fate (Fading Away) is an It: Chapter Two soulmate fic for the Richie/Eddie pairing where being next to your soulmate heals injuries.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Flares features various soulmate pairings centered mostly around Wanda Maximoff.
    • Deconstructed in Just Close Your Eyes and It Doesn't Exist by Wix, Tony Stark rejects Steve Roger's advances despite sharing a soul mark. This is due to their initial rocky meeting, their less than stellar relationship afterwards, the events of Captain America: Civil War, and the fact that Tony is in a loving relationship with Stephen Strange. This isn't helped by the fact that Rogers only started to act affectionate after finding out that they share the same mark when he and Team Cap came back from Wakanda.
      • It was also deconstructed with, news reporter and Tony's friend, Christine Everhart whose soulmate was a corrupt politician which she then later exposed.
    • Look Again explores Wanda Maximoff's grief as she grew up without a soulmark until the Vision is activated and their names appear on each other's wrists. The fic also briefly looks at the other Avengers' soulmarks, such as Banner and the Hulk supposedly having different marks and Thor having several due to his long lifespan.
    • We Meet In Dreams is a soulmate AU Fanvid for Tony and Steve, pairing them up using the "everyone has a clock that counts down until they meet their soulmate" variant.

    Literature 
  • hello goodbye ('twas nice to know you) is a Harry Potter fanfic where Draco and Harry are soulmates. Draco notices one day that his soulmark, which changes depending on the soulmate's thoughts, seems like they belong to Harry.
  • J'ai fort lu Platon, mais rien ne m'en reste is a Les Misérables soulmark AU, using the "soulmate's first words" variation, that mostly consists of Enjolras and his amis discussing the implications of the concept (like the fact that a soulmark is completely useless to the many people in 19th-century France who were never taught to read). It deconstructs the common "ugh, I hate this person I've just met but apparently they're my soulmate" plot by specifying that if two people haven't grown into each other's soulmates yet when they first meet, their soulmarks won't record their actual first words to each other but instead the first thing they say, however much later, when they have grown into soulmates. This also sets up the fic's big dramatic irony: that Enjolras has given up on finding his soulmate because his mark is the unhelpfully non-unique "Vive la Republique!", while Grantaire has given up on finding his soulmate because his mark says nothing at all.note 
  • An Ever-Fixed Mark is a Pride and Prejudice soulmark AU, using the "soulmate's name" variation. It's a deconstruction, critiquing the idea of One True Love that comes bundled with the soulmark concept. In the fic, each person gets only one part of their soulmate's name, making the whole business much less certain. Elizabeth Bennet's mark says "Fitzwilliam", which tips her over into starting a romance with Colonel Fitzwilliam instead of remaining single long enough to get on first-name terms with Mr. Darcy.
  • In the Good Omens fic Anam Cara, soulmates don't get marks or any obvious identifiers but Chamuel, the angel of relationships, knows which humans are destined to be together and begins snubbing Aziraphale after his and Crowley's names appear on the soulmate list despite angels and demons not being supposed to have soulmates. Aziraphale is dismayed by this and tells Crowley that the notion of them being soulmates is ludicrous and should be prevented at all costs, only to realize after Crowley gets upset and begins avoiding him that it's too late to prevent them from becoming soulmates because they already are and he was just terrified of admitting it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow:
    • Pain is an Oliver/Laurel fic where soulmates have Synchronization. Deconstructed in that turns out feeling someone's pain sucks. Sara has a Jerkass Realization upon learning Oliver didn't feel her pain (and thus she slept with her sister's boyfriend for nothing), and Oliver has one when he realizes the near constant sense of heartache and betrayal might be coming from Laurel, making him realize just how badly he hurt her. Laurel meanwhile is forced to drop out of law school, and can't even hold a regular job, as she keeps feeling his pain of combat, torture, etc (although this inspires her to become Black Canary even before Oliver returns to Starling City to deal with her frustration about her pain-induced feelings).
    • A more unusual case can be found in Granted, a particularly depressing Oliver/Laurel fic where a person loses their ability to see color after their soulmate tells them they love them for the last time. The fic starts with Laurel losing her color during the somewhat infamous "hallway scene" (set in Season 2). She then has to live with knowing the man she loves will never say he loves her again, and struggles to adapt to living a colorless life. It ends with Oliver losing color when she diesnote , leaving him mourning her death, how much he took her for granted, and the knowledge that now he really will be alone for the rest of his life.
  • In NUMB3RS story Love Hurts, soulmates are found when one or both are seriously hurt in accidents and it is mentioned some have died when meeting their soulmate.
  • Person of Interest features this with Shaw and Root, as a collection of different versions of their relationship. In Every Story
  • Sherlock:
    • In the TiMER-inspired fic Blue Veins, everyone has a magical configuration of veins near the surface on the inside of the wrist that count down to the moment you meet your True Love.
    • In the fic Finding John, everyone is born with the first name of their True Love like a tattoo on the inside of one finger. With only a limited number of first names, it’s usually not enough information (unless you’re The British Government) to lead you to a person but once you meet your True Love, they’ll have your name too and the particular color and shade of your names will match.
    • In the fic Put a Smile in Your Name, everyone is born with the first name of their True Love in their True Love’s handwriting on their palm. Databases of this information exist and, for a fee, matchmaking companies will check for any matches between your name and the name on your palm.
    • This trope is defied in the fic, To the Limits of Your Choice when Sherlock chooses not to care, or perhaps not to accept the consequences of acknowledging the person symbolized by the soulmate mark on his wrist. When John finds his soulmate, Sherlock asks John to choose between camaraderie with him and romance with her and John also defies this trope, choosing to continue adventuring with Sherlock.
    • In the fic With Your Crooked Heart, most people (except those supposedly incapable of love) have words on their forearm which appear as if by magic at some point in their lives, usually during childhood. The words are in the handwriting of your True Love and may be a name, address, or cryptic clue like a poem or obscure reference. When the clue is obvious, like an address, you can hurry fate along by turning up on their doorstep, but if it's as vague as a line of poetry, you may have to get to know your True Love before the clue begins to make sense.
  • Supergirl (2015):
    • Hey, are you Lena Luthor? is a Lena/Kara ship fic. The first thing your soulmate ever says to you is written on your skin. Lena is infuriated at her completely mundane soul mark, and she hears the phrase an average of once per day. On the other hand, Kara has the oddly rude soul mark "Hey, go fuck yourself!" Written in English, no less, which confused her to no end when she was a young girl on Krypton.
    • Not Alone Anymore is ship fic between Cat and Kara. Cat spent almost forty years of her life without a soulmark until one day it appeared. When Kara arrived on Earth, she received her soulmark.
    • Signs is a Kara/Lena and Alex/Maggie soulmate fic. It uses an interpretation where everyone has a compass pointing towards their soulmate. Kara, being an alien, doesn't have one.
  • Your Mark on my Skin is a Stiles/Derek Teen Wolf fanfic. People have marks on their body that represent their soulmate. Stiles has known Derek is his soulmate since sixth grade but Derek took a lot longer to figure it out.

    Video Games 
  • Cherish Me is a short A Way Out AU fanfic, centered around the headcanon that Leo and Vincent are soulmates who have Touch Telepathy with each other, which gives a plausible explanation as to why they were able to work so well together. It also explains why, in the final battle, Leo and Vincent experience each other's memories every time they attack each other. The difference is that both Leo and Vincent realize they are soulmates, and end up surviving in the end.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: A Pair of Lost Souls is an Alternate Universe Fic where Weiss and Blake didn't go to Beacon. They first meet when Blake attacks Weiss and holds her hostage. It just so happens they're also soulmates who have their first words to one another written on their skin.

    Western Animation 
  • A Deconstructive Parody in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fic Now Kiss, for the rarepair Sokka/Mai.
  • Kim Possible: In the Dead Fic Not Impossible, the name of your soulmate appears on your arm once you turn eighteen. Kim's soulmate is shockingly not her boyfriend Ron, but a woman named "Sheyenne Gomez". Kim doesn't realize that her soulmate is Shego. The trope is also deconstructed by Felix when he mentions he had a perfect relationship with his exe Zita, but they broke up simply because Zita had another person's name on her wrist. Felix doesn't believe that two people being soulmates means they're a perfect match. It's also shown that Kim's parents weren't soulmates, but fell in love anyway and are Happily Married.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • The fic Rumble mixes the soulmate AU with the equalist Asami AU. Asami is an Equalist spy on a mission to befriend the Avatar. However it turns out Korra is her soulmate. The fic uses a variation of the AU where soulmates feel each others pain.
    • They say that true love hurts. Well, this could almost kill me is a Korrasami fanfic where soulmates feel each other's emotional and physical pain.
  • Fairly common in the Miraculous Ladybug fanbase, usually complicated by the series Love Square.
    • Colors of the Soul takes place in a world where people are born colourblind until they look in their soulmate's eyes. Marinette's connection triggers after she sees Adrien on a magazine cover years before she meets him. Adrien's triggers when he meets Ladybug as Chat Noir, and is therefore thrown when she doesn't react to him. Likewise, when Marinette meets Adrien the following day, she's thrown when he doesn't react to her when he gives her his umbrella. Adrien only figures out what's going on when he hears the magazine story from both Marinette and Ladybug.
    • The Dread String Of Fate AU offers a rather dark spin on this, as the string tying Marinette to Adrien is wrapped around her neck. Luka gains the ability to see these strings and sets out to find some way of freeing her from this predicament.
    • RayDrawlings on Tumblr has a series of "soulmate mark AU" fanarts based on Miraculous Ladybug. Marinette was not born with a soulmate mark like most, which made her believe she didn't have a soulmate. When she meets Chat Noir she gets her mark, but it's a picture of a black cat instead of a name. Adrien subsequently gets a ladybug on his back.
    • In Peppermint_Shamrock's series The Soul System, soulmates experience an intense feeling of connection and recognition upon first contact - and only first contact. So if two children meet and experience the connection when they're too young or assumed to be too young to understand it, they may not know or be able to prove they're soulmates, which is what happens to Rose and Juleka (along with an implication of homophobia on Rose's mother's part). In addition, sometimes one person experiences the connection but the other does not, meaning the former is considered Mismatched, which happens with Chloe for Adrien and Ondine for Kim. In the case of the Love Square, Ladybug and Chat Noir meet as they did in canon and discover they're soulmates. The complication comes when this doesn't stop Marinette from falling in love with Adrien after the umbrella scene, leading her to feel awful about emotionally betraying Chat, especially since she believes that Adrien's soulmate is Chloe. Her guilt leads her to slip Adrien's birthday scarf into his locker without signing her name (on purpose, unlike in canon), and when Chat Noir brings it along on patrol, Ladybug recognises her work, makes the connection and promptly screams before banging her head against a chimney stack.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Long-Distance Soulmates features the "first words mark" type, treated as a rare form of magical birthmark, and uses the concept to justify Prince Blueblood's treatment of Rarity at the Gala; any suitors he faces must be Gold Diggers and not his soulmate because his soulmate's first words to him will be "You watch it, ya dweeb!"
  • Pn F Soulmates is a take on the powers variant, set in one where various powers are gained once you meet your soulmate, such as being unable to drown.
  • Steven Universe: I Can't Believe Dumbledore Died is an Amethyst/Peridot fic of the "the first words you say to your soulmate are written on your arm" variety. Peridot unfortunately has "Man, I can't believe Dumbledore died." on her arm, spoiling her to the twist and leading to several uncomfortable Summers in long sleeves due to not wanting to spoil anyone else.
  • The short film The String is an original work based on this type of work. It's about a girl who doesn't have a Red String of Fate like everyone else. She eventually finds her soulmate who turns out to be a woman.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: In I'll be your knight (in shining armor), Lance has the unique ability to see the Red String of Fate and learns that Lotor is Allura's soulmate...or so he thinks. Mutual pining ensues between the Galran prince and the sharpshooter.


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