Silent (Soulmate!Thomas Jefferson - Part One)
A/n: My friend is on an internship in New York, and she has tickets to see Hamilton… which got me thinking… I was bored and procrastinating… and I hadn’t written a soulmate AU in years… I need to reclaim my title as soulmate queen. (Also, apologies, I don’t know the tags for this fandom, sooo… This is a thing right?)
Soulmate AU where the first words your soulmate says to you appear on your arm. Written in third person. Starts in James Madison’s POV then shifts to Thomas Jefferson. No warnings other than Thomas has a bad attitude.
There are three facts about Thomas Jefferson of which James Madison was absolutely certain: 1) Thomas Jefferson does not have a soulmate. 2) Thomas Jefferson doesn’t want one. 3) It’s probably for the best that he doesn’t.
James had known Thomas for many years now, and he doubted any living person knew the man better. Even so, it didn’t take an expert to know Thomas’s view on the subject. Any person with eyes could look down at Thomas’s arm and see it lay bare of words. Any person who’d had a conversation with him on the subject could see he didn’t want to find any words there, and every person who’d ever encountered Thomas, even in passing, had likely come to the same conclusion as James. It was for the best. The universe was saving whatever poor woman would have been latched to him from a life playing second fiddle to Thomas’s ambition and hubris.
Looking across the banquet hall, James could see Alexander Hamilton, who had been deep in conversation with Thomas for much of the afternoon, coming to those same conclusions. Hamilton had been among the first batch of people to approach Thomas when he arrived, and James barely salvaged a moment to warn Thomas of the situation before he dove into a lengthy discussion with the young immigrant.
James couldn’t decide whether he was amused or terrified. The pair seemed to be amicable enough at the moment, but that could change in a flash. Hamilton and Jefferson were both as stubborn as each other, and they were both fully equipped with sufficient verbal ammunition to break out into an all-out war right in the hall. James had a sneaking suspicion the only reason the two had yet to shed any blood was due to the close proximity of President Washington, the host of tonight’s affair.
“Someone should really go and separate those two before they realize how terribly opposed their views are. I’d hate to get any blood stains on the new rug.” James glanced up to see it was Martha Washington who spoke.
Smiling James offered a hand out to greet the woman, “I do believe that will happen regardless of our intervention, ma’am.”
Martha gave a simple nod in the direction of his hand, and James’s hand dropped, realizing both of hers were occupied. In her left Martha held a nearly empty glass of wine, and in her right she held a hand, not her husband’s either.
James studied the younger woman attached to Martha’s side with interest. She had a death grip of Mrs. Washington’s hand and looked to be cowering behind the older woman. To her credit, Martha also appeared to be shielding the girl, who looked about ready to sink into the floor. The forlorn expression on her face and the tightness on Martha’s told James that neither of them particularly wanted the young woman to be there. Whether that was because Martha did not care for her to be at the banquet or whether Martha cared to protect her from it, James could not be sure.
“Mrs. Washington, I do not believe I’ve had the honor to meet your acquaintance,” James addressed the unknown woman with a slight bow of his head, “James Madison.”
“Oh, of course,” Martha flashed a forgetful smile James would have believed had he not seen it before. “Mr. Madison, this is my dear younger sister, (Y/n) Elizabeth Aylett.”
“Pleasure to meet you ma’am,” James bowed his head.
The woman, whom he now knew to be (Y/n) Elizabeth), gave a one-handed curtsey in response and a rather hesitant smile. Her grip on Martha’s hand loosened slightly, but she made little move to approach him any closer or step out from behind Martha’s guarded stance.
“Has your sister been introduced to Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Hamilton? Perhaps we could make their acquaintance on that pretense,” James suggested, waving a hand to where his oldest friend stood, still in deep, uninterrupted discussion with the new Secretary of Treasury.
“James!” A familiar voice boomed as a hand came down firmly to clap James on the shoulder. “I am so glad you could come.”
James turned to face George Washington and extended a hand, “Mr. President, did you really think I would miss a welcome banquet for my oldest friend?”
George accepted James’s hand and shook it firmly. “Your oldest friend who has spent the majority of the night politely refuting every word that has left the mouth of Secretary Hamilton.” George gave James a pointed smirk. “I dare say those two are cut from the same cloth.”
“I don’t know if I would go that far, sir.” James nodded his head in the direction of the pair, who seemed to have been quietly escalating their disagreement. “Even if they were, I doubt either would admit it. However, I do think they are both stubborn enough to continue this fight until someone forces them to cease blows.”
“Oh let them stew for a moment more,” George waved off James’s concern with a light chuckle. “They both work best when they’re angry. Perhaps if we leave them to it long enough they’ll build the whole country while trying to outdo each other.”
James did not share George’s confidence in the pair of men. He didn’t know who he was more concerned for. He’d seen Hamilton work. The young man had an unmatched determination, and put to work it could do some serious damage. However, Thomas Jefferson was not a man to cross, probably a fourth fact to add to his list if he ever felt like expanding it. There had been more than one occasion over the course of their friendship that he found himself thanking the heavens Thomas was on his side not against him. Nevertheless, James allowed George to table his concerns and the conversation to steer away.
“You know James,” George glanced down at the younger man’s sleeve covered arm with a knowing smirk. “Mr. Burr is here tonight.”
James’s hand instinctively went to his arm. Under the sleeve, the first words from his soulmate, Mr. Burr speaks very highly of you, Mr. Madison. “I’m afraid I have already met all of the women you have invited tonight, not including Mrs. Aylett.” He gestured to Martha’s sister. “Though I appreciate your concern.”
“Well no danger of that tonight, Mr. Madison.” Martha piped up, still holding firmly to her sister. “Perhaps the next banquet,” with a kind smile she added, “We’ll see to it Mr. Burr is invited to all of them.”
“How kind of you, Mrs. Washington,” James nodded politely.
James waited silently as George turned to address Martha about the time dinner would begin. His eyes wondered over to (Y/n), who also seemed very uninterested in the conversation. Her eyes had wandered away, and her guard had dropped slightly as she looked around the room. James followed her gaze to Jefferson and Hamilton who had since been joined by Aaron Burr, the same Aaron Burr who would one day introduce James to his soulmate.
‘No danger of that tonight,’ James reminded himself of Martha’s words, harsh but true. It occurred to him at first that she may have spoken prematurely. He knew everyone else in the room, but her sister had yet to speak a word to him. It didn’t seem likely, given that (Y/n) probably did not know Aaron Burr and had no reaction herself to his first words to her. Even so, Martha had said it with an odd sense of finality. If James could not see the looping cursive peeking out from under (Y/n)’s sleeves, he’d have assumed Martha was so assured in her statement because her sister had no soulmate. He supposed, now, it must have been because she knew the words on her sister’s arm, or that her sister had already found her soulmate. Though if that was the case, why was he not here?
A million possibilities were running through James’s mind. There wasn’t anything else particularly interesting to do that night.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, didn’t anyone tell you the war was over?” The voice of Aaron Burr echoed across the hall. Clearly James had been too soon assuming the night would be uninteresting.
George caught James’s eye. “Let’s go end the squabbling; shall we?” George offered an arm to his wife, and (Y/n) reluctantly dropped her death grip on Martha so her sister could accept.
The married couple led the way, and James followed after them beside a meek-looking (Y/n) who still refused to speak. The poor, quiet girl was walking into a lion’s den with Burr, Jefferson, and Hamilton. If she was hesitant around him, he could only imagine how badly she’d be spooked by the other three men. James made a concerted effort to circle around to her other side and place himself between her and the other three. He’d thought he’d been subtle with the gesture, but the sheepish smile (Y/n) sent his way told him otherwise. His only reply was to nod in confirmation.
“Mr. President,” Aaron Burr gave a bow of his head to the approaching group, effectively halting all conversation between Hamilton and Jefferson. “How are you this evening?”
“Quite well, Mr. Burr. How are you? Enjoying the festivities, I see,” The president looked between his two secretaries admonishingly.
Hamilton, at least, had the respect to look scorned, “My apologies, Mr. President. Secretary Jefferson and I were simply discussing…”
“Enough of that,” George waved away Hamilton’s concerns. “This is meant to be a celebration. Mr. Jefferson has only just returned to us from France. Let’s leave our work to the office, shall we?”
“Of course, Mr. President.” Thomas Jefferson gave a respectful bow of his head. “Thank you for hosting this dinner tonight. I appreciate your hospitality.”
“And we appreciate your assistance. I look forward to working with you, but for now let’s enjoy our evening.” George addressed the pair of them.
Hamilton bowed his head and turned his attention from the group. “If you all will excuse me, my soulmate is speaking with Mrs. Adams and appears to want my attention.” He went off with one last nod to the President.
“You haven’t even made it into work yet, and the two of you are already finding things to bicker over,” George’s tone was teasing, but there was a certain sense of warning to it that none of the group missed.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to call it bickering, merely a difference of opinions unrelated to work. I’m sure we’ll be able to put it aside in future work.” Thomas politely refuted the President’s concern.
“Unrelated?” James cut in. He knew both men well enough. They had plenty of points of contention related to politics. He couldn’t imagine they would have had enough time to make it through all of them and find something else to argue about.
“Soulmates, of course,” Thomas waved his hand in the direction Alexander had retreated. “He brought up the topic and seemed rather disgruntled by my stance on the subject.” Thomas was being very careful not to launch into his opinion again. He doubted this group, Martha and the woman he didn’t know in particular, would appreciate it.
“Ah yes,” George mused. “Alexander mustn’t be familiar with your perennial bachelorhood.”
“I was married once, you know,” Thomas pointed out to George with a teasing tone that in no way seemed to disagree with George’s statement.
“It happens sometimes,” Martha seemed to miss the tone in Thomas’s voice and took him more literally. “You know, people getting married outside of soulmates.” Her eyes trailed to the other woman in the group, standing between George and James and trying desperately to avoid eye contact with everyone in the room.
Thomas’s eyes trailed over the girl. “Who might your friend be, Mrs. Washington?” The question was addressed to Martha, but his eyes were firmly on the woman, expecting the answer to come from her.
She made no move to answer or even acknowledge Thomas’s presence, and Martha piped up immediately in response. “Mr. Jefferson, this is my sister, (Y/n) Elizabeth Aylett.”
“Can she not answer for herself?” Thomas fought the urge to roll his eyes when he looked back to Martha.
“As a matter of fact -” Martha sputtered out, agitation bubbling up in her expression.
“Mr. Jefferson,” George warned coolly, all pretense dropping from his voice.
Thomas wanted to scoff. He couldn’t get a word out today without being berated, first by Hamilton, then Burr, now the Washingtons. This banquet was supposed to be in honor of his return, and all he wanted to do was leave. Any other day he would have been the epitome of cordial, but that Hamilton had wound him tight. He wanted none of this.
Turning to (Y/n), he practically growled out his first words to her, “What? Are you mute or something?”
Everyone froze for just a moment. Aaron Burr was looking at him aghast. James’s expression was simply exasperated. George Washington had the stern expression of a no-nonsense general, and Martha looked a mixture of angry and shocked at his side. The woman, (Y/n), simply looked resigned. She was meeting Thomas’s gaze now, but the look in her eyes was not that of a woman scorned. It looked more like a woman broken.
The look in her eye was all Thomas needed to realize he’d made a mistake.
(Y/n) turned to her sister and made a quick gesture, wiping her fingers twice over the palm of her outstretched hand, before she turned for the door.
“Wait, I-,” Thomas reached out to the woman, ready to apologize. Instead, his hand was snatched away.
When he looked back, he was expecting a disappointed James or maybe a wary Aaron Burr. He was certainly not expecting to have to look down into the eyes of an absolutely livid Martha Washington. “You… You…” She was trying desperately to form sentences, but her anger was suppressing her speech.
“I’m sorry, deeply sorry.” Thomas looked away ashamed. “It has been a rough evening. I didn’t intend to take it out on your sister.”
“Why are you apologizing to me?” Martha’s voice was growing louder with her building rage. “You should be apologizing to (Y/n)! Not just for this, for decades of hating herself! Do you realize how much damage you’ve done to her?”
Now Thomas was confused, very confused. “I beg your pardon, ma’am?”
“Every day she wakes up to those words burned into her arm! Ashamed of who she is and knowing you’re ashamed of it too!” Martha’s ranting had attracted attention from a good portion of the banquet hall now. George reached out to his wife, trying to rein her in.
Thomas tried placating the irate woman. “I don’t understand what you mean, Mrs. Washington. Perhaps, I should just go find (Y/n) and…”
George took the matter on himself and pulled his wife from Thomas, stepping up close to the man so none of the now eavesdropping guests could hear his voice carry. “Your words are on (Y/n)’s arm. You must be her soulmate.”
“I don’t have a soulmate.” Thomas replied almost mechanically, turning his arm slightly so George could see the blank expanse of skin.
“Well yes,” George conceded. “If (Y/n) is your soulmate you wouldn’t have words on your arm. She’ll never speak to you… She is mute.”