OKAY so this idea started bc I’m all about soulmate aus and all the different ways they can be done, and I can’t remember if I was just thinking about it or a tumblr post got me started, but I was thinking about how the existence of a soulmate system would have affected history as we know it (I’m also all about worldbuilding), and in order to try and fit it into the way our world is now, I thought okay, maybe for a start, soulmate isn’t the word used. It’s something like your ‘intended’ or whatever. It’s not viewed as romantic, bc same-sex pairings would obviously be happening, and that would need to be explained away in a homophobic society, so it’s just seen as ‘this person is destined to have a really big impact on my life, not necessarily in any particular way’.
So, canon-era, I figured that male same-sex pairings would be seen (at least in the upper classes) as intellectual pairings, maybe even brotherly (whether they really are or not). Female same-sex pairings would be pure and chaste and all that stuff. Because of the big gender power divide, the bonds of women would have less value than the bonds of men. Example: in my SUPER ROUGH plan for this potential fic, I had Grantaire come from a fairly well-off family where his father is unmatched, and his mother’s soulmate lives with them, basically as Grantaire’s second mother. She’s unmarried, but her bond to Grantaire’s mother connects her to that household, so she’s provided for at Grantaire’s father’s discretion. The men still hold all the power, so if he wanted to, he could throw her out, and she wouldn’t have any real legal defence if he decided to treat her as a second wife, though any children from that union would still be illegitimate because they’re unmarried.
I’m rambling, whoops. The basic point boils down to soulmates (or whatever I’d end up calling them) DON’T have the life-changing status they do in most aus. It’s not a huge deal if you have one or not, it isn’t necessarily romantic (in fact at this point in history, what with the strict social classes, I’m thinking they might be thought of as generally platonic). I’m thinking you only get one or two, two maximum. It’s also not something that necessarily happens the first time you see your intended. It might happen then, or it might happen later. There’s no hard and fast rule. You might look at your friend one day, and just KNOW.
The proof of a bond’s existence (I’m thinking) would be a mark on the skin. Some sort of abstract pattern, not a name or words. Not even necessarily like a tattoo, though I’m still see-sawing on that. The mark only appears when the paired couple are touching skin to skin. In this au, soulmates are required by law to register their bond, so their names will be logged along with a description/drawing of their shared mark. This would be ostensibly for the same reasons marriages are recorded – for law when it comes to stuff like children, inheritance, etc. Soulmates would have some definite rights, especially men, though I’m still pretty fuzzy on the details.
All of this (dear god) to say that there is loads and loads of room for misunderstandings and terrible communication in this au, which as we all know leads to pining, which is always always good. Basically, Enjolras and Grantaire meet, and soon after that realise they’re intended. Grantaire is cautiously delighted, Enjolras tries to be polite but is kind of like wtf why this wine-cask. They try to get to know each other, Grantaire is terrible and comes off like a massive dick, Enjolras is supremely unimpressed, they don’t talk to each other much after that. Enjolras pokes at the problem from a distance, not understanding at all how this outwardly unsavoury man is going to impact his life in any positive way, and Grantaire continues to be a boor while despairing simultaneously about his inability to make anything even resembling a good impression. It’s dreadful, they’re both dreadful, and in the end Enjolras gets the papers together to lawfully divorce Grantaire (which is a thing that can be done, because what if – god forbid – you were rich and ended up with a lower-class soulmate? Such a situation could not be allowed to stand, so soulmate divorces are rare, but exist). Grantaire is very upset and refuses, and they try to get to know each other properly.
I’m thinking this will come with a side-order of printshop!Enjolras, the two of them singlestick fighting, and possibly closeted Grantaire who is Not Okay with his own gayness.
But honestly if I ever write this, it’ll be a miracle, because a) canon-era fic is difficult, historical fiction is DIFFICULT and b) god, just look at the length of this ramble, imagine how long writing an entire FIC would be. Urgh, I do want to do it, but it’s a sad fact that it might take literal years for me to do it justice.