(1310-11-07) Out To Lunch
Summary: Isabelle Valais and Jehan-Pascal Baphinol meet in their regular luncheon to trade in gifts, gossip and news.
RL Date: 11/09/2018
Related: This log and a few days after this scene, this log.
isabelle jehan-pascal 

Jehan-Pascal's Suite - Les Tanieres

A sunny little suite of rooms on the western wing of the building, with a glamorous balcony overlooking the beach, accessible by a series of three double doors paned in glass in the main sitting room, outfitted by its current occupant with a long, sturdy oaken table of a golden wood hue, able to sit sixteen or eighteen at a pinch, but only with ten matching seats in the golden oak, big arm-chairs with deep blue cushions of velveteen inset into the seat and back but not on the armrests. It is bathed in natural light and as often as not covered in a collection of books and papers, serving as an organizational space than as a true meeting place. The books seem to have been taken from the winter parlor, outfitted with a collection of cozy sea-green couches surrounding a hearth for the cooler months, which has been set up as a sort of study, with a desk and bookshelves crowding the smaller space— but Jehan-Pascal's work has forgotten to contain itself there. On the other side of the sitting room is the bedroom with a tall wardrobe flanking the bed on either side, creating a dim and cozy nook in which the bed is saved from the light from the copious amount of the wall taken up by windows.

Jehan-Pascal has had a hell of a week— and it's only Wednesday! The incident at the Rose Sauvage debut aside, he's been called in to arbitrate a dispute over a contract on a shipment of wool from one of the baronies under his father's influence, and that's been keeping him up long hours at his books and at his writing-desk, not to mention has called him out to a meeting in the countryside, the last leg of the return journey from which deposited him back in Marsilikos in the wee hours of Tuesday night smelling of riding-leather and the road. But a few hours of sleep has at least done away with some of the darkness below his eyes, and a hot bath was arranged for him by the assiduous and dutiful househld staff of Les Tanieres. He's soaked, and soothed, lathed in redolent oils and scraped clear of grime and sweat, then swaddled in warm towels and left to dry in the close-held heat of the swaddlage, then dress himself for a casual luncheon in; moss green stockings and a soft woolen pantaloon in pale grey— a robe-style top of weighted silk, white with a watercolor grey floral splotching, which hangs below the knee in back and is cinched about the waist in front with a twisted cord tied effortlessly to one side— a simple v-cut velveteen shift of grey-green below. He's made some effort to tidy his place as well as his person, but the work of a Comte's heir never ceases, as his dwelling so often reflects. But the giant meeting-table is partitioned off at one end, work held at bay enough to indulge the pair of them for a well-appointed tea ahead of a luncheon dish to come. Jehan-Pascal, as is his custom, is pouring the tea himself, and has left instruction for Isabelle to be shown in when she arrives.

Her days have been occupied since her return from a harrowing incident and subsequent rescue at sea - or so the public word claims, however corroborated by two individuals who were actually there. Isabelle de Valais' day starts at dawn, where the fields outside of Marsilikos are inundated by the thundering of Cazador's horsehooves and the whistling of her arrows, followed by a painstaking bathing regimen that leaves her fresh and able for the rest of the day. The Longest Night is upon them all and for one who oversees a growing sartorial empire, it is understandably one of Courtly Couture's busiest times of the year. It seems that the gleaming white temple to high fashion that she has built has been burning the lampoil all hours of the day, where shifts of staff - additional bodies pulled from the former owner's own network - rotate in order to keep the gears of her operation spinning.

But she never misses appointments unless she has to and she arrives at the exact minute she is expected. Jehan-Pascal's maid sees that she is brought up and she steps into the familiar confines of her friend and patron's suite, thin heels clicking on stone and wood. She is dressed in her typical style, though the cut of her silk blouse is different today, a corset laced up behind her to follow the contour of her waist and dyed a rich crimson threaded with black and gold, and three quarters-sleeves bunched under the elbows by matching ribbons. The creation pulls off the shoulders, and the collar is separated - more like a choker hemmed with lace, with black bands that support a gold brooch set with a large garnet, resting against the hollow of her collarbones.

"Darling," she greets, sweeping in, her short, black cloak - trimmed with luxurious wolf fur - fluttering around her as she ambushes him with a light kiss on the air next to his cheeks. "Luncheon with you is always a delight and look. I come bearing gifts." She holds up a white box wrapped in black ribbon - signature to her business.

"Isabelle!" Jehan-Pascal always manages to be (one might say 'sounds' if he could ever be accused of being insincere) ever so happily surprised by his dear friend's punctual arrival. "Come in, come in, I'm just finishing pouring— you must taste this exquisite young camellia bud I encountered while I was just recently at home," he eulogizes the tea somewhat, this, setting the teapot down on its tray, he stands straight and comes to welcome his guest with a mirroring of her kisses and a genteel press of an embrace. "Oh, your cloak is so beautiful," he marks, "It isn't the same, is it?" he must mean the fur, from context, as he helps her off with it, should she let him— he smiles a pardon to the maid whom he dismisses from the responsibility, taking it upon himself. "Thank you, Ismene, I think we'll be well," he tells her, and with such words sends her from the place.

"Not the same wolf, no, but from the same pack…and not from the same pelts that I used in some of your upcoming winter wardrobe," Isabelle replies, turning around so that Jehan-Pascal can help her out of her cloak, expression warming at the display of gentlemanliness. "I absolutely love the cut of your outerwear, my dear." There's an appraising glance at the casual threads - the color, the fit. Comfortable, but well made, and stylish. The box she has brought is one that she settles on the nearby table. "I found them for you in Phaistos while I was there, it's a miracle in itself that none of them got smashed during the Incident. And the tea sounds absolutely lovely, it smells divine."

"You hardly had to bring me anything, Isabelle. You already do so much for me," Jehan-Pascal bustles off with the cloak to go and hang it properly, a servant's job, but, hell, it's just the two of them, less Ismene at long last. "Still, it's very sweet of you," he glides back toward her in smooth sateen slippers which suit better the indoors than any need to go out of doors in them. "Oh, the robe? Yes, I adore it a little bit, if I'm being honest. I found it in Avignon and couldn't make myself leave it there. I have a weakness for grey, these days, as well you know. And it's so warm, even though it doesn't look bulky or padded. You should try it on before you go, the weight of the fabric is delightful. Shall I open it up?" he wonders, as to the gift, coming to sort of fuss at the box with curious fingers, despite his earlier deferencee as to being thus gifted.

You already do so much for me.

There are words there, pressing up from behind her teeth. That it is rare for her to do something like this, think of another while she is engaged in business more serious than color and fabric. Perhaps it was the way she left, so sudden and so quick, so preoccupied with the thorns and brambles of a particularly urgent mystery, that the guilt had remained knowing that Jehan-Pascal was fresh out of wrestling with his own habitual demons. Yes, there are words, if only she was equipped to say them - that she has numerous connections, but not many friends…and even fewer still who remind her that underneath the layers calcified into diamond-crystal solidity that encase her, she is still human.

Instead: "If you can part yourself away from its warmth for several minutes, I believe I shall take you up on it, my dear," Isabelle says, moving to take a seat and gesturing to the box. "And of course. It's for you, after all. It's nothing too lavish, if it makes you feel any better."

Inside the box is another box, made out of fragrant rosewood of a pale gold sheen and intricately carved with Kriti's signature island motifs; curling waves and sea shells and a famous local legend done in pictographs set into the body. Upon opening and nestled in soft royal blue velvet is a set of three delicate, palm-sized antique ink pots, their lovely patina perfectly preserved and each with a different design, but all depicting some manner of fantastic creature in an array of pale colors.

"How is the press of business? Anything new and exciting?" she wonders.

Jehan-Pascal adores even the outermost box, appreciating its presentation with eyes and with hands, in a manner that reads of true and lasting enjoyment just to have been thought of. "It does!" he answers with a cinvivial hint of laughter behind the words. "I haven't got you anything, after all," he tips a cheeky sort of glance up her way as he begins to wheedle the box open with his nimble fingers. "Although I did speak with Mumsie while I was at home, on the topic of Esekiel," he does bring up, which may or may not be worth anything, at this point. When he finds a box within the box, he takes a long moment to savor the odor. "She said that he came by there in early September and seemed in good spirits; that he brought a letter through to her brother to which she is in receipt of a reply come the end of the month. Oh!" there's something inside the box inside the box, even. "How beautiful!"

That has her pulling her attention to Jehan-Pascal's face, watching the simple joy that lights it up upon receipt of his souvenir. And how could anyone not smile upon seeing it? Isabelle's hands clap together at her friend's exclamation. "Ah, I'm very glad that you like them. I though that if you're going to be surrounded by paper all day that you could at least have something lovely to look upon on your desk." Her expression clears at the word on Esekiel. "Oh, so that no-good rogue made it home after all!" she says with a laugh. "I should be more affronted than I am, but really, I'm relieved that whatever he was going on about the last time I saw him seems all a dramatic exaggeration at best! And if he was able to visit your uncle, I can only assume that he at the very least still has his knees."

Jehan-Pascal sweeps his stormy gaze up from the gift to his friend as she explains her selection of it. "You're ever so charming, Isa," he smiles for her, giving a subtle sniff and then settling the lid back into place, edging the gift just enough aside to clear the space between them and yet not so far away as to have it out of his sphere of admiration. "The correspondence does manage to pile up, in due course, doesn't it?" he adds with a convivial chuckle. And— yes— that's as far as I would assume, given the givens," he chirps gently, possibly not giving the situation the full sway of its gravitas, but— what can you do? He had tea set out, or maybe only set up— if it hasn't been poured, he'll see to that, himself. "A bit of honey?" he wonders after a preference, "Or would you taste it as is, first?"

"I suppose I should be the last person in the world to be so confused about the nature of a backlog," Isabelle muses, leaning back against her seat, and visibly pleased that Jehan-Pascal seems to adore the gift, however small and innocuous it is. With the tea seen to, dark eyes lift to regard her friend and while he busies himself with the pour, her expression takes on a more quiet and contemplative note - gauging his mood, perhaps, or his state. But should he turn back to her, that smile is still there. "Well, as you were singing your praises of it the moment I walked in, I'll take it plain, if you please - the better to savor its natural taste. Ah, my dear…it really is so good to be home, and just in time to see the first snowfall, besides. Could you imagine being at sea with all the frost and ice?"

She links her fingers on top of the table. "I also wanted to inquire as to how you've been? Winter's approaching, certainly that would make your typical back and forth between Marsilikos and Avignon a little more difficult. Do you intend to stay here, or stay in Avignon? Or join the rest of us in Elua?"

Jehan-Pascal isn't really a tea snob— at least, he doesn't like to think so— but he's happy enough that Isabelle is eager to try the tea he'd brought back with him with… just her in mind, quite honestly. Their teas together are so congenial. His expression, even while pouring, is effervescent, demonstrative. Very much as he was when they first met. One would say he's in very good spirits, even despite his recent misfortunes with his brother's house. "Not in the least," he affirms with a blossoming grin. "I hope that all but the most coastal pleasure craft are in at port by now, and that the pirates have put up their pirating in deference to the harsh winter tides," he sighs, but a thoroughly amenable sigh, with kind, hopeful eyes and fingers which wrap around his teacup, lifting it to hold the steam close to his bottom lip, but yet to sip. "I've been well, the roads are quite nice, yet, and the foot traffic rather decreased. I should probably winter at… home, and yet, I have some business afoot that might necessitate my remaining in Marsilikos. I doubt that I will make it as far as Elua, though I certainly hope those in attendance at the Mont during the Longest Night will have a fine time of it. Meanwhile I am attracting summons to the office of the Wild Rose Dowayne," he titters a little bit. "I feel quite like a child called up before the tutor."

Sunkissed fingers curl securely over the handle of the delicate teacup in front of her, Isabelle lifting it up, and closing her eyes to take a slow breath of the steam and scent wafting up from the drink before her. A tactile creature, she is as ever willing to be enslaved by her senses, the part of her that is so inexorably drawn to artistic pursuits indulging in everything sensory, even something so simple as this: the feel of warm ceramic, the floral notes present within the trails curling upwards to reach her nose. The taste, next, sipped so carefully so as to better savor the way it hits the tongue, and enlivens those dormant nerve endings to life. Bliss and contentment slip over her mien and he can practically see tension unwind from her shoulders. "It's lovely, Jehan-Pascal. I'll have to try and find some for the salon once I'm able."

There's a small pout, when Jehan-Pascal tells her that he may not be attending the festivities at Elua. "And miss out on a year's worth of court gossip in one sitting?" she wonders. "Oh, very well. I'll bring back whatever juicy tidbits there are to regale you with upon my return. The Duchesse and the Lady Heiress intend to make the trip, as well as several of my other patrons. I will have to bring a staff there, in the event that last minute fittings are necessary." Her eyes lift, however, at the last bit of news, lips parting faintly in astonishment. In fact, she says absolutely nothing for a moment while her friend titters, before: "….are you serious? Surely you're not implying that Jacques Verreuil no Rose Sauvage thinks you're in the wrong?"

"Heavens, don't, Isa," Jehan-Pascal waves off her intent to find some of the tea. "I know where to get it; I'll send you some the next time I'm at home," he assures her, "It will be far easier and you needn't trouble yourself," he nods his head, once, as though to say to himself, 'why, self, how sound and sage a sentiment!' "I'm rather taken with it, myself, I've hardly taken any other tea since I've been back," he goes on with an aimless yet amiable prattling, before he's arrested by the news of so august a delegation intending descent upon Elua. "Oh!" That syllable might well speak for itself— wheels turning— should he change plans and attend? Or might it bode well for his own plans in Eisande for the heavy political hitters to all be out of town for the duration? "Yes, please do! Do you know whether my Lady Aunt has shown any intention of making the journey? Or her daughter? Has the latter come to you to discuss the application of her credit, yet?" is related— tangentially, since it might be a vector through which Isabelle might know their plans. Yes, the Baphinol heir's mind is in motion… only too frenetic a motion, perhaps, but that's what comes of sloughing off the tired skin of melancholic lethargy. To the last, he turns his head to one side, making a placating gesture with his lips as he soothes the surface of his tea with a bit of cooling breath in the midst of a short shake of his head. "Not only thinks me in the wrong but had banned me from the place until I come to make my apologies. Which— I will surely do. An apology never injured a man, and as the future head of my household I can't be leaving bad blood between my house and his, especially given Dior's situation there."

"Ah, I did miss you, Jehan-Pascal," Isabelle tells him with a laugh, warmth suffusing her expression as she takes another sip of the delicious tea. "Mm. If you could, that would be delightful, I do enjoy this and I can taste just why you've not had any other." A finger absently caresses the lip of her cup as she regards her friend and his effervescent expression, while allowing herself some relief at seeing him so well. "As for your lovely aunt, I've nary a clue. I've not had a visit from the Vicomtesse d'Orange, or her lovely daughter, but her line of credit is sitting in my books, waiting for their patronage. You're so good to think of me again, I did relish your lady aunt's company during the debut, if not just our exchange of our own scandalous whisperings afterwards." She winks at him at that, eyes glittering with mischief.

"I know, however, that a host of Trevalions intend to descend upon Elua for the festivities, as well as the Lady of Eisande herself and some of her household," she tells him. "Also the future marquis de Perigeux, and the future duchesse de Roussillion, among many others. Cib also intends to go, now that he's attained some degree of public respectability, however busy he is in outfitting The Myrmidon, he understands the need to make connections - in his case, he'll need it. He's already fond of you, you know. You remind him very much of his beloved older brother."

Taking another sip, unable to help but taste the delightful drink again, her smile fades in increments at the word on his apology. "I understand the need to in order to maintain some measure of harmony, especially for your brother's sake," she says slowly. "But if other male bidders were not welcome, the very least that the attendants there could have done was inform you, as proper, before even any bidding has commenced. Did they really expect an extremely busy heir to a comte to remember all the intricacies installed in a customized debut?"

"Mh," Jehan-Pascal is no doubt making a mental list of those who will be in Elua for the Longest Night, "I'll have to write to my Lady Aunt and ask her of her plans. I should really have the both of them over to supper one night— it's a travesty, really, how litle I've seen of them both. I was taken completely by surprise by Inesse's coming-of-age," he reminds her, thogh no doubt she already remembers. "Oh, Cib! He's a breath of fresh air, in my book, and if I have in any way impressed him, gosh, it really is an honor," he rosies up prettily under the praise, looking down into his tea, "A big brother's role is especially difficult to fill. But I will endeavor to live up to his esteem," he lifts his chin and artfully takes a sip of tea before setting down cup and saucer both and folding his fingers together. "It was no miscommunication. I knew I would not be allowed to win the debut. It was my understanding that I might append my bid to someone else's in order to sway the bidding in her favor. But my appetite to do so… waned, slightly, as the evening wore on. Or else I would have helped my Lady Aunt take home the debut (nor be upset with me for not thinking to support your bid — the duty of a Nephew comes first, you understand)."

"You can make a family trip out of it, perhaps," Isabelle suggests with a smile, her finger tapping once against her teacup. "Certainly my uncle will be there, as well as my father. My mother…" She pauses, her eyes lowering so she could take her tea. "It is a pilgrimage she does not miss but I'm not certain if she is well enough to make the trip. I'm certain that my father would have made arrangements to get her into the city early, while the weather is still fine, if not a little chillier than anyone expects." Watching his expression blossom at the regard communicated to him, she can't help but hide a smile behind her teacup, things inside herself twisting because of it.

I really must be getting soft.

"He'll be glad to hear that, I think," she says instead. "That you think him a breath of fresh air."

When told that there was no miscommunication, Isabelle is still frowning. "I suppose," she mutters reluctantly. "I still don't see how you ought to take the brunt of the Salon's displeasure when you were made to be an example. I thought courtesans were supposed to be skilled at having a full measure of a prospective patron just by looking at him? Admittedly, it's been a very long time since I've actually contracted one in the Night Court. You would know better than I, surely."

"Maybe we can," Jehan-Pascal will agree to the possibility, if perhaps not its likelihood— still, it will remain to be seen how things shake out with his own preparations. If nothing can be managed until after the holiday, what harm would it do to go and enjoy himself for a bit? He makes no committment, at least, in his admission, and then loses himself in the description of her father's care to get her mother to Elua. Jehan-Pascal isn't getting soft. Jehan-Pascal has always been soft. Look at his little bunny rabbit heart pittering at the thought of her ailing relative struggling to make the journey. "If there is any how I might help," he reaches out with a hand to rest briefly over one of Isa's, letting it complete the sentiment for him. "It would be an added incentive, surely, to go and be able to make her acquaintance." He pats her hand— twice, just softly, in succession, and then leans back to gather up his tea for another sip. "I hardly doubt but that the young man was merely excited to show off his abilities during his debut. He thought it would impress, and— well, it was an impressive trick, that must be granted. At any rate, if all it takes is an apology to make things right, that doesn't cost me anything. Though, to speak of contracts, I have, if I may confide, been considering terminating my long term contract with my dearest Mari. It's not to say I don't love her quite a lot. It's only really… an exravagance, isn't it? I could hire her just as easily of an evening to attend events with me without my spending some half my nights here in her bed."

The pat on her hand has Isabelle lifting her eyes to look over at Jehan-Pascal's, surprise within them - but banished when she remembers just who she is talking to, and her fingers turn over just momentarily in an effort to capture his in a delicate cage, and squeezes once. The offered aid is more than just noted and for a moment, words seem to fail her - this indomitable creature who almost always has something to say. But she smiles and instead: "Mama would certainly love it, to make the acquaintance of such a talented poet," she tells him. "I think there's a part of her that's even relieved, that I can count on one such as yourself for his friendship when I'm just a few months into my reacquaintance with the land of my birth. She worries for me needlessly, I think, but it is the affliction of any loving mother."

But at the offered confidence, there's a blink, tilting her head to regard him. "You are…?" This time, her surprise is even more evident. "You mentioned to me once that she is your dearest friend in the city. Would she not miss you, and you her?" But the alternatives presented has her smiling ruefully. "It is and it isn't as if the two of you can't see one another as friends as well. It's certainly the more pragmatic financial decision, but may I inquire as to whether something has spurred this on?" She watches the young man's eyes, leaning forward to look well within, as if searching into a pair of crystals in order to divine the future…or what may be in his mind.

Finally: "…has the time come at last that you're seeking a marriage?" she wonders, her expression shifting from serious to teasing at the drop of a hat.

A warm-hearted smile is prompted to Jehan-Pascal's lips when his hand is so caught up, and he returns the squeeze with a feather-light pressure, there, but so delicate, his eyes maybe tearing up a little bit at the tenderness of the moment between them— and the way she always sees him as a poet, first, when most days he can't even see himself that way. He wishes he were the man Isa's mom considers him to be. But it's the practicalities of his situation with Mari that make him nod his head. "Exactly. We are true friends, and will not be strangers. But I would be so much more productive the more evenings I spent here rather than there— even though I'm well on my way to having my own writing-desk in the White Rose Solar. And there's the financial aspect. I should be setting an example of… thrift and industry. I won't be known as one of those Lords who lives in the court of the flowers and leaves all his money behind when he leaves it. No matter how Mari has enthralled my senses. I suppose it's her job, though, isn't it? To make me want only to be beside her?" he shakes his head quietly, fondly, for all that. "Oh, yes, and then there's that, of course. I'm shamefully behind on procuring one of those. It just seems like such a big decision. I want the right woman for the comte, you know…" he shakes his head, looking… woefully uncertain. "I've put out one inquiry, but I doubt anything will come of it."

"While I'm certain there are many in the Salon who wouldn't be opposed to such proclivities," Isabelle remarks and somewhat acerbically at that - she can identify some of whom Jehan-Pescal is describing. "Money does talk after all, you're absolutely right in that regard, but that's not so surprising coming from me, is it? I may not have any chance of inheriting anything, unless I marry." And by the look on the woman's face, her dear friend would know precisely how she feels about the subject when such efforts are turned to her direction - there is a reason why she works so hard in order to maintain some financial independence from the designs of her own House. "But I understand the importance of sound financial judgments and investments. I would be a poor friend, indeed, not to encourage your designs in that regard." There's a hint there, unadulterated pride flashed towards her companion, easing her fingers away so she could further enjoy her tea. "As for the Lady Marielle, well…your fine taste is reflected by her own for wanting to keep you close. I can certainly understand it."

But talk of his marriage, however pending it is, leaves her more interested than the prospect of her (impossible, or so she claims) own. "It would hardly reflect your status if you didn't," she observes. "Your House is an important one, not in the least because of its connection to other important families in Terre d'Ange, and not simply the Eisandine ones. May I ask about your inquiry? I would understand that if you don't want it revealed to anyone, however. Such things do necessitate discretion, in the event of other…" She waves a hand. "Political vultures."

"I would rather not, just yet— but the moment she answers me one way or another— oh, only for a meeting to talk, it's not as though I asked for her hand in a letter— you will be the first to know. I doubt she will even consent to a meeting," Jehan-Pascal might be getting a little ahead of himself, but that's the way the manic mind runs. "She is… like, impossibly well-connected. It recently occurred to me that it would be silly of me not even to ask. Though, if I'm being honest, I'd rather a comtesse of skill than of connection, given a choice between the two. Someone who can manage the nuances of comte-wide finances, be my equal in governance and legislation, with a… strong sense of moral justice, financial responsibility and the duty of the governors to the governed," he spills his somewhat idealistic wish-list for a wife, gazing off in the distance as though one might magically appear. "If she could also tend to the mustering of troops and maintainance of the comte guard, all the better— I have no talent nor instinct toward martial affairs, so someone who could complement my deficit in those matters would be a distinct bonus, but I'm not quite holding my breath. There aren't many martial Ladies who wish to be bound to a marriage, even if that marriage also includes the command of a Comte's forces." He takes a slow, deep sip of the tea as it cools enough for him to do so. "People have asked me why I don't just offer Mari my hand. But she knows how to spend money better than she knows how to keep it— and she makes me spend my money, too. That way lies disaster, and the same disaster would lie in taking her for a consort, I'm afraid. And you— why— you don't need to marry at all. You're a tremendous talent— look at all you've built, just yourself," he reciprocates her look of pride— proud of her, in fact. "In fact, I have sometimes thought your skills in business management might make you an ideal person to ask after, yourself. I hope it isn't strange to say," he half-winces over an apology. "Having now become such friends as we are."

She doesn't seem all put out at all when Jehan-Pascal keeps the name to himself, though her curiosity continues to burn in the undercurrents of her expression. "Skills are essential," Isabelle agrees. "Though it isn't as if you would be missing much, either, if you managed to land a wife who is as impossibly well-connected as you say, for even if she lacks a particular expertise, she would be able to make discreet inquiries towards those who have probably seen and dealt with the same or similar situation before. Terre d'Ange has a ridiculous number of prestigious families, but as the Comte de Digne…" Her uncle. "…is often fond of saying to me, the d'Angeline club of rulers is actually very small." Her cup drawn back to her lips, she pulls gently at her tea, now less than piping hot. But her eyes remain on her friend's features, the look of her distinctly approving - there is pride, there, when he outlines his hopes for a match, and overall, his criteria is nothing short of sensible. But that, too, is not surprising; she has never been romantically-inclined, and many of her overt pursuits are practical ones…however practical being in the luxury business could be anyway.

"There's certainly not, unless you turn your sights towards Camlach," she remarks after a pause, with respect to the few martially-inclined ladies that Terre d'Ange boasts. "We've gone far from the dark ages in where a d'Angeline woman wouldn't be educated in warfare and weapons at all, but the cultural reluctance remains. Though if it makes you feel any better…" And there's a faintly apologetic twist to her mouth there. "If you had asked me for my opinion, I would have been one of the very few, perhaps, who would not have encouraged you to make an offer to Lady Marielle, and it has little to do with the fact that you would then be a rival to my own cousin. I know that she is very well trained, but cloistered in a Salon where the object is to fulfill fantasies of all stripes does not make a particularly strong foundation for politics and governance…things that are grounded in bleak reality."

He surprises her a second time today with the last - not just his consideration, but the pride on his own well-formed mien, and while her smile remains, her eyes return to her cup to mask the cornucopia of a thousand things she can't eloquently express within them…not in the least because pride of her own accomplishments from another so close to her is so rare. "I'm…" And she lets out a breathless laugh, lifting her gaze at last to meet his dark blues across the way. "Very flattered that you would even think about considering me. I suppose that not many would contemplate tying their hopes to someone who amounts to a glorified tailor." Her humor is self-deprecating, but her stare retains its impish glint. "But I think every eligible bachelor in Terre d'Ange can be rest assured that I'm no such shark in the water…and while it is a lot of work, I do so love what I do. I would never be able to part with it, I think. But it's not strange to say at all….sometimes I wonder, myself, whether I would think differently, had I been raised differently. I also wonder if most don't think me conceited for my inflated notions of independence."

Jehan-Pascal will tell Isabelle next tea, no doubt— just as soon as he knows whether he'll even be entertained for a visit. Meanwhile he gives an easy yet earnest ear to her advice, taking it to heart as one who considers her opinions of great value— and yet still so effortlessly pouring himself over that seat of his, sipping his tea with a languid aura of relaxation. He nods to the truth of her sentiments on connexions, and then twists his lips in a shy little smile across the lip of his teacup when she mentions turning to Camlach. It's true his attentions had quite dallied in that direction, especially during such of the games as he was capable of attending, before his victory in the archery match somehow managed to send his brain into a cycle of depression just as he ought to have been very contented with himself. But he lets that pass, too, in favor of grinning when he reminds her of the Lord de Valais' own affection for Mari. "Oh, yes, she's been leading him along for some time, now. Or he has, her— I'm still not entirely certain. But on the other hand, if I had taken her from him, I would have saved your family a considerably expensive companion," he points out with a jocular little bubble of laughter. His lastmost, he worries, slightly, when she looks away, that it was, in fact, the wrong thing to say, something best left buried. But then she powers through the awkward moment like a fucking champ and eases him out of his anxious moment to a big, beaming smile. "Well, most people look, but they don't see," he remarks, as to those who see her as a 'glorified tailor.' He tips his head to the notion of thoughts being determined by rearing, and, with an effortless tip of his chin and a thoughtful frown of consideration timed along with a lift of his teacup, "I think most people would be different if raised differently. I mean, it only stand to reason. But you weren't, and you think very soundly, I should say. You shouldn't marry if you don't care to— there's no need, after all— you saw to that," is meant as a fort of encouragement. And I would think there are myriad other ways to demonstrate to the populus that you are not conceited. If its opinion matters to you."

"You certainly would have," Isabelle acknowledges with a laugh. "Though admittedly I had not known of Lady Marielle's expensive tastes until today, but that is something that I will let my lord cousin discover for himself, if he had not done so already." She consumes more of her tea, watching the subtle shifts in his expression from above the ceramic lip of her cup. The sight of that big beaming smile relaxes her considerably, though she's no mindreader and could not actually communicate to him that the awkwardness is not due to the fact that he had imparted what he did. He was simply being so sweet with his pride, and she's so inept emotionally that she can't best describe it.

"Though I will take your very generous compliment, and pocket it, to have and hold to the end of my days." Good humor suffuses over her mien. "That at the very least one so discerning believes I'm a creature of good sense, and doesn't think me a blithering idiot. I suppose had it been a few years ago before…" She gestures to the air, to signal 'everything'. "…my sound judgment now would seem less so, but I think you, above anyone else in my acquaintance, know just how far I would go for a good gamble." And her smile broadens into her own grin, her eyebrows waggling playfully towards Jehan-Pascal. "Which I've not alotted your share as of yet. It was a shared victory after all, in a sense. I'll have my accountant get in touch with yours and we can settle it. I've not forgotten, my dear…though I hope you'll forgive me for the delay, it's a busy season after all."

There's no further remark about her conceit, imagined or otherwise, and there's a look there too, never one to genuinely care whether the public thinks her too vain, or too proud. Those who tend to worship the avante garde tend to relish their roles as provocateurs, after all. "If anyone asks," she jests, instead. "Tell them I'm simply waiting for a proposal from one of the Princes of the Blood and that is my true ambition, indeed, to be known as Isabelle Valais de la Courcel, princess of Terre d'Ange."

After a heartbeat, she leans in. "In all seriousness, however, if there is anything else I can do to advance your hopes for marital contentment, please do let me know. You've always been so gracious with your assistance towards my more personal affairs in the past…" Regarding her mother. "…I would be remiss not to offer the same in turn."

"Oh, heavens, the clothes she wears," Jehan-Pascal dishes contentedly over tea. "Each piece more luxurious than the last. That's how she trapped me, you know," he reveals that, as well, content to be open about his personal life with such a close friend. "She let me borrow her night-robe." Then, sly smile eclipsed by porcelain, he's contented to sip tea with a glimmer of sauciness in his stormy blues until she brings up the matter of the bet. "Oh— gosh— really? I mean, you needn't, of course, but I am in the midst of a bit of a financial endeavor of my own, unrelated to Mari and her glorious silks, and damned if a bit of spare wouldn't come in handy," he admits, charmed out of a further gleam of a smile by her pretended airs. "Oh, yes, I'll let them all know you turned me down cold," he leans toward the table to titter in closer to her, like girlfriends over a scandalous story. Then, waxing serious again, he continues his smile, just that much more heart-felt. "Honestly, only keep your eyes open, if you would. You have my wish-list, now, and at the moment I am what you might call… taking suggestions."

"What manner of financial endeavor is this?" Isabelle wonders, reaching out with her own fingers to playfully poke at his wrist. "Are you, as they say, holding out on me? Daggers! Knives!" She sets her cup down to put her swooning in full effect, hands clasped over her heart at this sudden but inevitable betrayal. But her grin returns, her head bent close to her friend. "Well I'm certainly happy to assist you there, you know that at this point, I can hardly refuse you anything. You may expect this incredible amount of ducats to find its way to you shortly. As for keeping my eyes open…I certainly will." Her hand returns to the table, but palm up in offerance, should he decide to link his fingers with hers. "Nothing but the best for my dear friend. I'll certainly keep an eye out while I'm in Elua as well, in the event that you do not attend, but I certainly hope that you will."

Her eyes wander towards the door. "And if you're still torn about it, then allow me to spend the rest of this luncheon attempting to convince you while the both of us get fat and happy with whatever menu you have decided for us today."

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