The red notification on a gold flame taunted Harrow. When Palamedes suggested Tinder of all places again to meet a new girlfriend, he didn’t exactly expect her to follow through on it.
“Or you know you could go out and meet someone organically..” He offered lamely “not like you did with Ianthe…” Harrow felt sick at the mention of her ex. She idly wondered when it would stop hurting, Ianthe had taken her heart and put it through a meat grinder.
After her somewhat public split from Ianthe, she had gone back in the shadows, and so it had seemed , had her dating life. She had ignored it for a whole week successfully, before Palamedes said something.
“So I see you have a notification” he prodded as gently as he could while looking into the microscope at his station.
“Pay attention to the bone fragments , Palamedes, not to my phone.” Harrow said calmly, not looking up. “We are never going to solve this if you keep worrying about frivolous things”
“I highly doubt we alone can find a cure for osteoporosis , Harrowhark “ he paused for so long Harrow thought she had almost gotten out of the conversation, she inhaled sharply and pinched the bridge of her nose as he continued, she really should have known better. “It's been a year. I'd hardly call me asking about your lack of a love life, frivolous.” Palamedes said seriously.
“Would you tell Ianthe the same thing?” Harrow snapped, she had grabbed the neck of her microscope as though it would give her strength. “Would you? Or would you allow her a pass because she has Tern?” Palamedes looked as though he had been slapped.
This was the first time Harrow talked about it since it happened. Her throat tightened as she said “I don’t need your help Palamedes, I appreciate it, but it’s really rather unnecessary.”
She waited until he had gone home to sit under the harsh fluorescents and think back on the day her entire life fell apart.
“Ianthe I cannot concentrate on what it is you’re trying to tell me if you insist on blubbering like that.” Harrow said. Theirs wasn’t a relationship of comfort- Ianthe didn’t do comfort and it suited Harrow well, no one had ever given her affection freely, it had always come with a price. Ianthe seemed to sense this, and responded to it in kind. Until today when she sat across from her girlfriend of 4 years and was weeping openly. “Harrow I’m so sorry…I slept with Naberius…we’ve been working together so closely and honestly you’ve been absent from this relationship for a while and I needed attention and he was there…” it took her several disjointed seconds to piece it together.
Her heart stuttered, she felt her stomach lurch forward with the whispered “how long?” Harrow’s eyes were spear tips masking the shattering shrapnel in her chest. Ianthe continued to cry and speak through her tears, she didn’t hear Harrow.
“How long, Tridentarius?” Harrow's voice wasn’t her own. Not that she even wanted to know how long her girlfriend had been sleeping with the most pompous human on the planet, but the sick twisted siren call of her self loathing demanded to know.
“A year, but it meant nothing! I swear!”
“A year? You’ve been fucking him for a YEAR?” Harrow repeated, the rage needed a minute to sit in her chest before consuming her like wildfire. “It doesn’t sound like it meant nothing if it was a year.” Strangely calm
Ianthe let out a choked sound and the tears started again. “Harry, please! I love you.”
“Try another tactic, Ianthe, seems like that ones all used up.” Harrow was sharpening her words on her teeth, readying herself for battle.
Ianthe went for the jugular and tore at it with newly painted claws.
“I found the ring and freaked out”
Harrow froze, momentarily understanding that this was a battle she would win. “Let me see if I understand this correctly” Harrow spoke softly, so softly Ianthe had to strain to hear it. “You found a ring that I bought last MONTH, and you want to use that as an excuse for sleeping with Tern?”
Of course this had been a lie, she bought that ring in another lifetime, and for a completely different person. But she’d be damned if she let Ianthe know that.
Suddenly it was like time stopped and Harrow was acutely aware of everything in her life being blown to pieces. Every happy memory with Ianthe was marred now. Like someone had burnt a hole through the photographs with the lit end of a cigarette. Suddenly realization dawned.
“You’ve been planning this, rehearsing it like some sick twisted one woman show, haven’t you?” Harrow asked, stepping close and wiping a tear from Ianthe’s cheek. “Right down to the tears, you always could cry on cue, couldn’t you? I was stupid enough to fall for an actress, right? I wouldn’t be surprised if you told everyone I drove you away with my lack of attentiveness.”
Ianthe looked like she wanted to scream and cry some more, to make Harrow feel sorry for her. To make Harrow realize that she had fucked up by driving Ianthe away.
“Am I supposed to pretend that the last 4 years meant nothing?” Ianthe played the victim so well in every part she was cast in, Harrow saw through it in an instant.
Harrow heard the rumble of an engine outside and a familiar black SUV had pulled into their driveway and her lips upturned in a sad smile. “You were doing a damn fine job of it before, why is it a question now?”
She left the house, not wanting to be there a second longer than she had to. “You did this to us, you know” Ianthe sneered as she opened the door. “You and your stupid research”
Harrow turned and studied the woman she had spent 4 years of her life with. Wondering where it all went sideways. “You were the one who decided to cheat on me, not the other way around Tridentarius, one day you’re going to regret the day you decided to walk out on our life.”
Her eyes strained with the sting of tears that she refused to let fall as she was brought back to the present. She pushed back the stool from the bench, ran her fingers over her lab coat smoothing it down before getting up and turning off the light.
It wasn’t until she was home, and in bed that she decided to check her phone for any messages, she saw the notification again.
“Fuck it, what’s the worst that could happen?” Harrow muttered.
“ It’s a match with Gideon Nav!”
And just like that, her life got a little more complicated.
Hey Nonagesmius, it’s been awhile, what brings you to online dating?
Harrow couldn’t deal with that. She turned off her phone and went to bed.