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It all starts with a series of pings coming from her phone. Eleanor looks over to see her roommate’s name and rolls her eyes almost reflexively— what does she want now? Eleanor’s busy. With taking her work seriously, unlike someone. 

… and, okay, yes, that’s unkind. And uncalled for. And none of Eleanor’s business, also. It’s probably something to do with the photocopy of their lease that she sent just now because Magilou’s finally doing her taxes.

(A whole week late. Which is totally whatever and still not Eleanor’s business. She’s not bothered by it at all.)

[well well well]

[color me surprised red i didnt think you had it in you]

[now what exactly were you hoping id do with this picture?]

Eleanor squints. She should… use the photocopy to do her taxes? Isn’t that what she asked for in the first place? Eleanor taps on the nonsensical message previews to open the actual thread and—



Oh, no—

[im sure this isnt the first time youve heard this but you really take the secretly hot nerd thing to the next level huh]

[hiding tits that nice under all your cute little sweaters?]

Eleanor freezes mid-frantic all-caps apology. What— how does she even— she thinks Eleanor has—? 


Oh, god. She has to say something. She has to think of something— god help her, she’s never actually had this kind of…. conversation before, and certainly not accidentally or spontaneously and—

[that was accidental wasnt it]


[I am so sorry.]



[can i actually have the pic of the lease then]

[yes of course]

[I’m so sorry again]

The amount of shame involved in opening her gallery and clicking out of her ‘recents’ folder is ridiculous. Maybe it’s naive of her, but she really hoped she would be done with having moments like this now that she’s getting into her late twenties.

She sends the actual photocopy, then closes her phone and buries her face in her hands. This is— awful. What’s the point of getting older if not to become an established adult with enough sense not to do something that’ll haunt her for the next few years at the worst moments?

Her phone pings again and dread washes through her body. 

[dont forget to delete ur tit pic <3]

 The only thing holding Eleanor back from throwing her phone across the room is that she can’t actually afford to replace it right now. So she just— slaps it down onto her bed and screams into her pillow as quietly as she can manage, because why? Why did this have to happen? Why wasn’t she paying more attention? 

Why does that woman go out of her way to torment Eleanor? 

She turns her face to the side for a deep breath. Well. At least she doesn’t feel guilty about accidentally accosting Magilou with that picture anymore if she’s going to act like that about it. Thank god for small and petty mercies, because that’s the only good part of having to put up with her nonsense.

— — — 

And no, she doesn’t forget to go back and delete the picture.

— — — 

Maybe she should just move out. 

Not that she’s one to run away from her problems, but this is— good god, this is untenable. Magilou is— lazy, messy, unmotivated and so completely irreverent of so many things she should take more seriously and—

And just last week they were having yet another argument about the apartment. The conclusion to a monthlong saga, actually, during which they were being accosted by ants of undetermined origin crawling all through the crevices and driving Eleanor crazy. Ant traps weren’t working, they just kept coming back, and that really only meant one thing—

“For the last time,” Magilou drawled through half a mouthful of cereal, slumped over the kitchen table in her horrible posture as always. “Whatever they’re coming back for, it’s got nothing to do with me.”

“Wh—” Eleanor scowled fiercely, raising her hackles— “your room is the single messiest place in this entire apartment, in what world would it not be the most logical cause of the infestation??”

“Messy, not dirty,” Magilou snapped back. “And if I recall correctly, ants aren’t particularly attracted to disorganization.”

She wasn’t even looking at Eleanor anymore! Just— scrolling her phone like this had nothing to do with her, which was just so infuriating and disrespectful and god Eleanor wasn’t sure if she could take any more of living with this— this nightmare!

“And how certain are you that there’s absolutely no old food or snacks that you’ve forgotten amongst the mess?” 

It was absolutely a rhetorical question that was only meant to highlight the flaw in Magilou’s logic, and yet. 

“One-hundred-million percent, Red,” Magilou said with that horrid smirk. “You think I’m about to leave food lying around for Bienfu to shove in his little whore mouth?” 

It took a lot of effort on Eleanor’s part not to comment on how… disturbing it was that Magilou talked about her cat like that. Bienfu has always been a perfectly sweet creature, if a little bit spoiled— which was Magilou’s fault to begin with, honestly.

“Well, you certainly shouldn’t,” Eleanor hissed back. But Magilou just rolled her eyes again with a dismissive sigh, still not bothering to even look up from her phone.

“Trust me, sweetcheeks, my days of finding three-month rotten sandwiches at the bottom of my backpack are behind me,” she said in an utterly unconvincing and apathetic tone. “Are you sure that you’re not our forgetful little culprit with the abandoned stash of food somewhere in your room?”

What kind of question is that? Of course Eleanor was sure, she wasn’t the type to throw things around in her room without a care and with no intentions or plans to clean it up later—

She stopped. And turned, and walked briskly back to her room, and threw open her closet to find— 


The bustling line of ants marching in and out of the small canvas bag on the floor was… an unpleasant sight, to put it lightly. Eleanor crossed her arms and grimaced at the small “gift” of sweets and chocolates that had been imposed upon her about exactly a month and a half ago, that she had thrown into the closet to get out of her sight as soon as she could. 

“What’s that?”

Of course Magilou followed her here. Of course she was leaning against the doorframe with her coffee cradled haphazardly, giving Eleanor just the most impossibly smug smile. Of course this was happening.

Eleanor pinched the bridge of her nose.

“I’m sorry.”

“Oh, pardon me, I didn’t quite hear what you said,” Magilou sing-songed, theatrically putting her hand around her ear and leaning in cartoonishly. “Was it just my imagination, or was the ever-perfect princess of apartment 801 actually admitting that she was wrong?”

Eleanor hugged her arms to herself and scowled— she did not have to rub it in and gloat like that. 

“Yes,” she managed through grit teeth. “I’m sorry for wrongly accusing you.” 

Magilou’s smile was far too satisfied and Eleanor— god, she couldn’t stand it. She looked down at her feet and clenched her jaw and willed herself not to cry from frustration and embarrassment as Magilou sauntered over. 

“Since we still have the better part of a year left on our lease, let’s just get that pretty little honors student head wrapped around one thing, alright?” She said, walking right into Eleanor’s space, somehow perfectly capturing the feeling of staring down at her despite being half a head shorter. “Unlike most people,” she taunted, grabbing Eleanor’s chin to tilt her face and force eye contact. “I always know what I’m doing.” 

Then she let go. Tapping Eleanor’s nose with one finger in a faux-cute gesture, she smiled ever so sweetly before stepping away and out of Eleanor’s room, and—

— — — 

And if Eleanor’s being honest with herself? 

Deep down, she’s just jealous.

— — — 

The thing is, Eleanor’s painfully aware of the fact that she doesn’t always know what she’s doing. She tries and tries and tries, and yet somehow she keeps tripping over herself, losing track of the things she’s done and the consequences, losing control of her reality and—

Okay. Maybe that’s a really melodramatic way of putting things. She just… she has a lot of anxiety centered around control issues. A debilitating fear of losing autonomy, caused by childhood trauma. She’s quite aware of this. 

But self-awareness alone has yet to award her the kind of… effortless mastery that Magilou seems to exert over every aspect of her life. Contrary to Eleanor’s initial, shallow judgements of her, she’s not chaotic because she has no self-control or self-discipline— she’s the way she is because she’s perfectly in control of herself, and Eleanor can’t stop feeling this cloying envy. 

Magilou doesn’t burst into tears when she’s angry or trying to stand up for herself, for one. Magilou doesn’t accidentally send inappropriate messages to unintended recipients out of carelessness. And the more Eleanor thinks about it, the more she realizes the… the slightly terrifying possibility that every aspect of Magilou’s life is completely intentional. 

Her room is messy, but not a complete hovel— it’s about as clean as it needs to be to be functional, and no more. None of the mess extends beyond her space, also, so her disorganization actually has zero impact on Eleanor. She always cleans up after herself in the kitchen, she— well, she never replaces the toilet roll which drives Eleanor insane, but she always makes sure that there is at least one roll in there at any given point. 

Which is still rude, but in a way it’s not… inconsiderate, if that makes any sense? 

Eleanor grimaces and rubs her temples as she stares down her lecture notes. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting when Velvet introduced her to a ‘friend’ who was ‘kind of annoying but not a bad person and easy to live with’ when she was looking for a new apartment. Certainly not someone quite so eccentric. And at first she was a little miffed at Velvet because what she said was patently untrue and Magilou was difficult to live with, but…

But maybe, most of the difficulties are actually Eleanor’s fault. 

A little ‘mrrp’ forewarns her of her visitor, and she smiles despite herself when Bienfu jumps into her lap to start headbutting her hand and purring like an engine. 

“You are the friendliest cat I’ve ever met, you know that?” she murmurs, letting him squirm until he’s belly-up in her lap, using her hand as a pillow as she scratches him behind his ears. “Like a little kitten.”

How old is he, anyway? Eleanor wonders idly as he simply luxuriates, eyes closed as he basks in her attention. This is her first time interacting with a sphynx cat in person, so she’s not entirely sure. They honestly… frightened her, a little bit, but after spending enough time with Bienfu she’ll admit that the hairlessness is cute in its own way. It helps that he’s not entirely pink all over, but mottled purple in a tuxedo pattern— what he most likely would have been, if he were a domestic shorthair. 

At first, she was concerned, because all she knew was that sphynx cats took an extraordinary amount of care— something that she didn’t think Magilou was capable of, but, well. Magilou has proven to be an exceedingly good cat owner, despite her… coarse way of talking to him. Bienfu is fed very expensive kibble, has access to three different high-tech water fountains placed across the apartment, has his teeth brushed every day, and his litter trays are kept immaculate. Not to mention his weekly baths that involve expensive eczema treatment powder and a coconut oil massage on account of his delicate skin.

How Magilou finds the time to take such meticulous care of him despite having a more punishing workload than Eleanor, she doesn’t know. 

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? She doesn’t know very much at all about Magilou. She knows that Magilou’s a Ph.D. student at the same university only because Velvet told her— but what she’s taking it in is a complete mystery. She doesn’t know where she’s from, or even what her full name is, actually, and it’s… 

It’s telling. It’s what this all boils down to. Eleanor accidentally sent her an inappropriate picture because she didn’t care to check what she was sending, because she looked down on Magilou for a host of arbitrary reasons that she had no grounds to be bothered by anyway. 

Reasons that she held onto because, in a way, she didn’t want to admit that this cavalier person made her feel inferior. 

There’s the faint jangle of keys from the front door, and Bienfu apparently cannot claw his way off Eleanor’s lap fast enough— all she hears is the heavy thud of him landing on the floor before meowing down the hall at the top of his lungs.

“Why are you screaming, you little bastard boy?” It’s baffling how affectionate Magilou sounds while insulting her cat. “Yeah, you horrible little man? You’re gonna yell your head off? Fucking gayass. I hate you. Mwah.” The exaggerated kiss is accompanied by impossibly loud purring and happy chirps. “I give you kees. Freak.”

Bienfu answers with a particularly loud yowl and Eleanor snorts. Well, at least he’s happy? She supposes he can’t actually understand, anyway. 

“Hey, Red,” Magilou says, knocking on her door. “I’m showering in five, go now or forever hold your piss.” 

Eleanor wrinkles her nose. Must she be so crass all the time? 

“It’s fine, go ahead,” she calls back, flicking her pen in her hand. “... and I have a name, you know.”

“So do I, what’s your point?” comes the muffled yell from farther down the hall, and Eleanor huffs quietly. Her point is that she’d like to be addressed by her name and not the uncreative moniker Magilou’s chosen for her— and Magilou knows perfectly well what she was implying. 

But she hears the shower nozzle start, and just frowns to herself before going back to her work. Fine. Whatever. If she’s going to be purposely obtuse about it, that’s not Eleanor’s problem. 

It just reaffirms the feeling that her disdain isn’t completely unjustified. 

(Not that she was hoping for any validation of the sort. Just to be clear. Honestly.)

— — —

She doesn’t get it until much later that night, when she spends an hour going through her memory and her phone to find even one instance of her actually addressing her roommate by name. 

— — — 

God, what is her problem?

— — — 

It’s a stupid question, but maybe one that she should be asking herself more often. Because the answer rarely changes: her problem is that she has an inferiority complex the size of a small city, and sometimes it manifests as incredibly trite pettiness.

It’s just that— she worked so hard to get to where she is now. She had to work herself to the bone at every moment in her life to achieve what she has— perfect exam scores for as many scholarships as she could earn, and part-time jobs worked alongside her classes to still make ends meet. It was hard. It still is hard, because her salary as a TA might allow her to focus on school but it’s by no means comfortable. 

So, she tries. Really, really hard. She has a work ethic that she’s cultivated and maintained all her life, and very specific systems and methods to ensure her work gets done, and even then her performance falls short of perfection. To see someone sleep in until the afternoon and spend entire evenings goofing off or playing games or going out— and still excel in her career somehow, is so…

It’s hard for Eleanor to reconcile herself with. 

So she resorts to calling Magilou lazy and unmotivated, nitpicks all her flaws, and doesn’t examine her own behaviour because that would mean admitting that her 100% effort amounts to a fraction of what Magilou is capable of. 

(One glance at their lease to confirm that Magilou was only a handful of months older than her was all it took to set her down such a toxic line of reasoning.)

She thought she was better than this. She really did. And she’s really disappointed in herself, but— it’s all the more reason for her to get over herself and try to be better, right?

Magilou squints at her. “What is this?”

“A… coffee?” Does she not drink coffee? Eleanor feels her palms getting a little sweaty around the two cups in her hands. Uh oh. “I went out early to get one for myself from downstairs, so I figured I’d, uhm, pick one up for you too?” 

Magilou stays pretzeled on the couch, phone clutched in both hands as she glances at the paper cup, and then at Eleanor. 

“I’m surprised you’d resort to bribery, Red,” she says before going back to her phone. “But rest assured, I didn’t save your errant tit pic— I couldn’t blackmail you with it if I wanted to.”

“Wh—” Eleanor nearly drops both coffees. “Why would— I didn’t even— what on earth makes you think that I’m—”

It’s humiliating that she can’t seem to string a complete sentence together, but Magilou interrupts her before she can gather her words. “Because there’s no other reason you’d be trying to get into my good graces. Or do you seriously think I’m stupid enough to believe you thought of me in a spontaneous act of goodwill for the first time since we’ve met?”

Magilou’s raised brow is perfectly manicured and so very pointed— literally and metaphorically. Eleanor can’t help but feel utterly deflated. 

But one reaps what one sows. She sighs and sets the cup down on the coffee table just in front of Magilou.

“No, I don’t— and this isn’t a bribe. It’s…” an attempt to get into Magilou’s good graces, yes, but not in the nefarious way she’s insinuated. “An apology.”

And that has Magilou folding her phone face-down onto her chest, finally turning her entire attention on Eleanor.


Oh, god. She’s really going to drag Eleanor through the entire process, huh? Well. Can’t say she doesn’t deserve it. 

“For the unsolicited picture.” Which could technically count as sexual harassment, if Magilou wanted to pursue that. Crap. 

“It was an accident.” Magilou tilts her head and narrows her eyes. “Right?”

“Yes— yes of course it was—!” Eleanor takes a deep breath and forces herself to calm down, because, holy moly. “I just…” She sighs and clasps both her hands around her own coffee, staring down at it rather pitifully. “There’s… a difference between a pure accident and a misstep borne from carelessness and— and apathy, and all that.” She chews on her lip for a second, wishing she didn’t sound so… petulant. “And I think… the latter warrants an apology.”

There’s absolutely no response. Eleanor’s palms are definitely sweating, and she thanks god that the cup is made of paper and not plastic.

Then, after what feels like half an hour, she finally sees Magilou reach forward out of her peripheral vision to pop the lid of her coffee.

“Fair warning, if you put anything in this as a prank it’ll probably kill me or put me in the hospital.” 

“What?” Eleanor flinches when she sees a bit of coffee spurt from the lid of her cup— accidental death grip, which, she feels is pretty understandable in this situation— “I would never— what do you— what do you mean, are you okay??”

And Magilou’s actually laughing. 

“Depends on your definition.” She clicks the lid back on the cup and leans back with it, taking a sip. “I had a million health issues that had me living out of the hospital as a kid. I’m fine now due to a precarious assortment of modern medication, but I’ll probably eat it in my forties or something.” 

She says it with a smile and a shrug, and Eleanor… isn’t sure how to respond.

“I… I’m sorry.” She settles on the first thing that manages to come to mind, for lack of better options. “That must’ve been hard. I… I can’t say I understand, but I… I’ve had to miss a lot of school for health reasons too, and…”

And when did she put her hand on the front of her shirt? Just where was she going with that sentence, anyway?

When she glances back, she nearly flinches again— Magilou’s staring at her so… so intently, with an intensely cat-like focus. 

“Not so perfect after all, then?” 

And that stings because no— no, she’s not perfect, she’s never claimed to be perfect, and she’s disappointed in herself for coming off like that. But Magilou’s mouth curls slowly into a smile as she stands up and takes a step into Eleanor’s space in that— effortlessly presumptuous way, and—

“As much as I’m enjoying this touching moment of unexpected relatability, I do have to get to class now.” Why she chooses to go the long way around the couch that forces Eleanor to step back out of her way, is just… “So I’ll see you later, Red. Thanks for the coffee.” 

She’s so good at making Eleanor feel like a mouse backed into a corner with nothing more than a wink. It’s kind of intimidating, honestly. Eleanor watches her go, coffee clutched in one slender hand as she grabs her bag before giving Bienfu a pat on her way to the door, strangely elegant in her nonchalance. 

(Jealous. Eleanor couldn’t be more jealous.)

“Y-you’re welcome,” she blurts out, just before Magilou turns the doorknob. “Have a good class, Magilou.”

The purpose of getting her a coffee was to start an amicable conversation in which she would find a natural opportunity to prove that she does know and is capable of saying Magilou’s name. With out sounding stilted or heavy-handed.

This… was not a successful attempt.

Still, Magilou stops. The slow and deliberate way she turns tells Eleanor that— yes, she did in fact notice, and yes, that comment yesterday was an intentionally pointed jab. 

And… there’s that intense stare again. Her eyes are such a unique shade of light green, bordering on golden sometimes— just like a cat’s. It’s not the first time Eleanor’s thought this about them, honestly. A lot of Magilou’s features are cat-like in nearly every way. 

The smile she gives Eleanor just then is no exception. But, for once, there’s nothing so smug or condescending about it— it’s just… a smile. Somewhat amused, but not at her expense, and… and maybe even a little friendly, if Eleanor dares to hope so. 

“Thanks,” Magilou says in a tone of voice Eleanor’s not quite sure she’s heard from her before. “You too.” 

Then she opens the door and steps out, long hair trailing behind her like— like the very picture of a modern muse. 

Eleanor just sighs. 

— — — 

That’s the other layer to this: Magilou’s just so… pretty. She hits just about every marker of conventional beauty standards, and it doesn’t help that she’s everything Eleanor always wanted to be as a teenager: pale and blonde and petite and light-eyed and…

And yes, Eleanor knows that a lot of that was just internalized bigotry. It wasn’t easy, growing up in an emphatically Catholic community. Not to mention that her singular personality trait was ‘well-behaved’, and she went to great pains to keep on the good side of every rule and expectation. 

But, even if she didn’t feel that pressure so strongly… she probably would have turned out like this anyway. Insecure and green with envy for a perfectly polite roommate who’s done nothing to earn her ire. Who, unlike her, holds herself with confidence that doesn’t seem strained or forced at all, and would never feel the need to… 

To take certain kinds of pictures of herself in a pitiful attempt to feel better about her appearance.

The incident is still eating at her, of course. Popping into her mind at the worst possible moments, usually accompanied by involuntary grimacing or flinching or worse, quiet yelps of humiliation. It doesn’t help that Magilou reacted so graciously, all things considered— if Eleanor had been faced with an inappropriate picture from someone who had been unnecessarily rude to her for the past three months, she would have been fairly… scathing. 

It’s about three in the morning when she gives up on trying to stay away from her phone and opens their message thread again. In hindsight, Magilou’s reaction was pretty forgiving. And maybe a bit flattering, if Eleanor had been in the right headspace to actually process the conversation beyond mortification, and…

[now what exactly were you hoping id do with this picture?]

Eleanor jolts up in bed.


How did it escape her notice that— that Magilou—

[hiding tits that nice under all your cute little sweaters?]

Magilou was making a pass at her. Good god, Magilou was— was hitting on her and saying that—

Eleanor collapses back to bury her burning face in her pillow. Oh, god. Magilou was hitting on her, and she was so dense and humiliated that it flew entirely over her head. Reading over the texts again, she’s just so baffled because it’s right there. Utterly unmissable. Blatant.

[im sure this isnt the first time youve heard this but you really take the secretly hot nerd thing to the next level huh]

Eleanor hugs a pillow to herself and curls around it, reading the messages with half her face still covered. That… that actually was the first time anyone’s said that to her. She’s been in her fair share of relationships that were about as reasonably flattering or complimentary as any— and she doesn’t consider herself unattractive, but…

She closes her phone and then her eyes. There’s no reason for her heart to be pouding this hard— those weren’t even particularly sordid comments. All that happened was that she accidentally sent an explicit photo, and Magilou reacted positively, because apparently she considers Eleanor attractive, and that’s all there is to it. 

An unfortunate interaction, but entirely ordinary, as well. Eleanor is perfectly capable of processing it like an adult. She’s just… she’s just tired, and everything is a little more intense for her at night. Come morning, everything will be fine. Everything will be normal. 

— — — 

And six hours of sleep isn’t enough, but she makes do. A glass of water first thing, then a smoothie— she ambles along the hallway, trying to rub the rest of the exhaustion out of her eyes. She has her lecture first thing in the morning, then the follow up conference with her group of students after, then lunch. Not a particularly taxing day, comparatively, which is fortunate.

What isn’t fortunate is that it takes her far too long to process the sound of the bathroom door opening just a few steps in front of her. 

“Ow—” a thunk and a clatter— “watch it!”

Eleanor dives after Magilou’s phone, thoroughly jolted awake. 

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t hear you coming out of the bathroom—” she rubs her sleeve over the screen, grimacing. “God, I hope I didn’t crack your ph—”

She looks up, intending to offer it back to its owner and hopefully be forgiven for the tiny mishap. Her eyes don’t make it to Magilou’s face before they get caught on smooth skin and intricate stellar tattoos curving over the outside of her thigh. 

Oh. Wow.

It’s… the Gemini constellation, Eleanor thinks, in a detailed rendition with delicate dots and lines. A trail of plum blossoms adorns her other thigh in faux-watercolor style that fades elegantly into her skin, seeming to continue under the hem of her shorts and past the waistband to swirl around her hipbones. There’s greek writing in what seems like a poem printed over the lines of her ribs, and above that—

“Oh.” Magilou peers down her loose crop shirt. “You can probably see my tits from that angle, huh?”

“No!” Eleanor chokes, snapping her eyes up to Magilou’s face, because, oh good loving criminy hell— “Oh my god, no, I wasn’t— I would never!” 

Magilou raises a brow at her.

“You sure? You were staring pretty hard. Not that I care, mind you, it’s only fair after—” 

“I was not!” She’s going to die. She’s going to die, and would that the apartment floor could open up to swallow her and preserve a modicum of her dignity— “Your tattoos— I was looking at your tattoos!” 

Eleanor realizes a second late that ogling someone’s tattoos instead barely makes the situation any better. God, why is this happening to her?? First thing in the morning, no less??

“Hmm.” One hand on her hip— that Eleanor does not follow with her eyes, at all, oh god— Magilou stares her down imperiously, eyes narrowed. “Not a fan of ink?”

“What?” Her voice actually cracks and she hates it. “No, of course not, you look incredible— I mean—” oh please god help her. “I just— I didn’t know you had any, I’m sorry, I— I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable, I’m—” still holding Magilou’s phone, which was how she got into this situation to begin with. “H-here, sorry—”

And she knows it’s childish to try and use an offering as a ticket out of the conversation, but it’s all she’s got. The quiet laugh does nothing to make her feel less like a humiliated creep, though at least Magilou does take her phone instead of making Eleanor beg for mercy. 

“Thanks.” She crosses her arms, sounding amused as all hell but not as… unkind or condescending as usual, for once. “Pay more attention next time, yeah?”

Eleanor nods fervently, before realizing that she’s… still kneeling on the floor, at eye-level with Magilou’s navel. Which, should probably be rectified before she commits any more line-of-sight related crimes— but then Magilou taps her chin with a smirk and winks at her before stepping past her, leaving her in… absolutely no condition to pull herself upright anytime soon.

Why. Why can’t she just function like a normal, cordial human being? Processing the fact that she was so busy projecting her own insecurities onto Magilou to realize that there was a perfectly pleasant person underneath the cavalier attitude was work enough, and now this… 

The pocket of her cardigan buzzes. She reaches into it for her phone with extreme apprehension, furrowing her brows and bracing herself when she sees that it’s a message from Magilou. All it says is a simple [hey], so she taps on it for now. 

[here, since you liked them so much]

Then a gray box pops up and she— she freezes with terror in the split second that the image takes to load, and—

And then nearly drops her own phone on the floor as well. 

It’s a top-down picture where Magilou’s laying on her stomach atop what looks like a tattoo parlour bench, hair secured in an updo to show off the designs across her back:

A linear lunar cycle chart running along the length of her spine, rendered in extreme detail, starting and ending with the new moon at the top and bottom, cresting at a full moon at the centre. At the base is a separate tattoo, what looks like a serpent in an ouroboros formation encircling an intricately drawn tree sapling.

[probably couldn’t see these under my hair]

[i guess you can call this a tit for tat exchange now ;P]

A tit for—

Eleanor locks her phone, carefully places it back in her pocket, and buries her face in her hands. 

This is untenable.