[Washington DC] Clinging On

Location: Ordinary Restaurant • Date: Feb 13th

They had laid down from ground rules. Gone over a few boundaries and written up something similar to a contract, though only it wasn't. Isla didn't need Jane to sign a legal binding document. She just knew that the girl would follow the written words to a Tee.

It had been simple really. When one of them was uncomfortable they should say so. There would be no contact unless previously asked and agreed upon, and there would definitely be no first date kiss. Alexandra might be away, and might be engaging in things she didn't have a choice in, but that didn't mean Isla couldn't remain faithful. And Jane was Vera's sister. She might have agreed to take the girl to dinner, to engage in this 'fake date' but she was also Vera's little sister and there were already boundaries that existed there. Boundaries she would respect. Isla also had no interest in kissing two Hadley sisters.

"Table for two, please."
Jane had also presented her partner with a list of rules, all of them numbered so that she could easily refer to them if necessary. No flowers were to be given, no seafood restaurant, Isla was not to touch her lower back, were among the first few items she had listed. Not familiar with muggle restaurants, Jane's eyes remained glued to Isla. Muggle customs had not been part of her upbringing, what she knew about them she had learned from her classes at Hogwarts. Her disdain had nothing to do with blood status and everything to do with being in an unfamiliar setting.

Following the man who was leading them to their table, Jane clenched and unclenched her fist. Would Albie take her to a muggle restaurant?

Once seated, she placed the towel on her lap. "Have you been here before?" Jane attempted cautiously. Small talk was a nice way to start and evening night out, she had read.
Taking a seat opposite Jane, Isla brushed a piece of hair behind her ear and looked around the room.

"Yes," She replied, "Many times with Alex. It's one of the only restaurants that I will dine in." Chez Lucien made excellent food, had impeccable service and was very close to home, so naturally the older blonde had decided to bring Jane here.

A waiter came over to their table not three minutes after sitting down and introduced himself. Isla ordered a bottle of red wine and the waiter said he would be back with their drink and to take their order, his gaze not leaving Jane once. Isla immediately sat up straighter in her chair, reaching across the table and letting her hand breach the girl's space, though she didn't allow herself to touch her.

"Thank you," Isla said almost harshly, causing the waiter to turn and blink at her, his cheeks coloring at being caught.
Distracted by the asymmetry of the table setting Jane started rearranging her utensils. She was placing her fork when she spoke to the waiter. Eyes on the utensil she explained "I would like bottled water, at room temperature. If that is not readily available I will forgo having water." Meticulously she placed everything in front of her until it was all perfectly aligned.

Too focused on her project she did not notice the man gawking at her, it is only when she saw Isla's hand intruding her table setting that she realized something was occurring. Realizing she had already drawn attention to one of her quirks, she started pulling on her ear. "Is it unusual to order bottled water in muggle establishments?" She asked completely oblivious to the behaviour that had garnered the attention.

Wondering how she might be able to move on from the evening's first blunder she mentally ran through the list of date appropriate behaviour she had amassed while doing her research. "I have a cat." She blurted remembering that she was expected to share information about herself.
Continuing to stare at the waiter until he turned and disappeared, Isla slowly withdrew her hand from Jane's side of the table and folded it in her lap.

"You're fine." She responded to the girl's query, not wanting Jane to fret about how she had to behave. Finding a bottle of water at room temperature wouldn't be that hard to find. Surely.

Isla was just about to ask how Jane's job was when she was interrupted. So Jane had a cat. Isla was genuinely surprised because she couldn't stand pets, or animals in general. She couldn't even imagine having to look after something to helpless. She shared the same opinion when it came to children also. She was happy however that Jane shared that information with her, but she also knew it wasn't how one began a conversation when on a date.

"Okay, Jane, so you've asked me to take you out tonight to teach you how to date, and that is not how it's done." If Jane wanted her to do this, there would be no skirting around the truth. Isla didn't do gentle. "You obviously know that you have to tell the person you're on a date with about yourself, but you can't just--" She cocked her head to the side and licked her lips, "--blurt it out like that. He or she maybe, doesn't want to know whether you have a cat or what sports you play. Not immediately anyway."

The waiter returned then with a glass of white wine for Isla and a glass of water for Jane. Without looking at the younger blonde, he asked for their orders. Pomegranate salad for Isla and risotto for Jane because apparently it resembled porridge.

When he left, Isla took a sip of her drink and then sighed, "Alright, why don't we really pretend like this is a date. I don't know you, and you don't know me. Do you think you can do that?"
Suspicious, Jane studied the glass that had been placed in front of her. How could she know if it came from a bottle or the tap? Deducing that she could not trust that it was indeed what she had requested she chose to ignore it, but not before she had aligned it with the rest of her table setting.

"Oh," she frowned slightly as she adjusted her parameters with the information she was receiving. So she was not to volunteer information, but ask for it to be requested. That seemed more logical than what she had initially conceived. "I don't play sports," she corrected with a small chuckle, wondering why Isla thought she did.

Jane nodded as Isla explained how they should proceed. "Do I know your name? How did we decide to go on a date if we don't know each other?" She asked as if needing clarifications on a school assignment.
Isla sighed. Having to explain the finer points of a date to Jane when she hadn't actually been on a first date before was more than slightly frustrating.

"Alright, let's just say we met...I don't know, when I came into Gringotts. I asked you to dinner, and yes, you know my name. Okay?" Isla said, shifting in her chair and running a hand down the skirt of her dress in an anxious jolt.
Jane nodded. She could do that. In fact, it was ideal considering that was where she had met Albie.

"I do have a question before we start." She sat a little straighter, her ankles folded beneath her chair, a posture that would make her mother proud. "Years ago, during your last summer at Wandsworth as a camper you told me 'You need to learn how to be better, how to protect yourself so no one can ever hurt you.'" Jane quoted the conversation verbatim, her memory had always been quite impressive. "How do I do that while also letting someone get to know me?"
"Well," Isla began, "Firstly you need to make sure that this person is genuine, which is something you will learn either during the first date or in later ones. That's why people do this-" She waved a hand between them, "Why people go on dates, so they can figure out the person across from them. There is no harm in talking about what you enjoy in life."
Jane took Isla's answer to heart and trusted that she would find out if Albie was genuine by spending time with him on dates.

"I can start," Jane was extremely clear on what she enjoyed and what she did not enjoy. "I enjoy arithmancy, budgeting and finance." She looked at Isla expectantly.
Isla sighed. This was going to be a lot harder than she had originally thought. Though perhaps teaching Jane how to date like a normal person was a futile attempt because if someone was lucky enough to take Jane out on a date, this is the Jane they'd be dealing with. An intelligent, beautiful young witch who was perfect just the way she was.

"Is that right?" Isla asked, ready to play along with the pretend date they had cooked up. "I see why you work at Gringotts. You must be very good with numbers."
"I am," Jane confirmed with a small nod.' At least she's good with numbers ,' she remembered her parents uttering more often than any other compliment. "They are an expression of our value and our aspirations." Jane smiled gently.

"What do you do?" She asked, her voice a little shaky. Pretending not to know Isla was more of a struggle than she had anticipated.
Reaching for her wine, she smiled lightly against the rim of her glass, happy to see how happy talking about numbers made Jane. It was a very rare thing to be able to witness such joy on the girl's face, and it made Isla feel slightly warm on the inside.

"I work at the Bureau," Isla replied, sitting up a little straighter. "I work as one of Secretary Orozco's senior advisers."
"That's impressive," though she had very little interest in fields that were not her own she recognized that Isla was brushing shoulders with important people. Not to mention the close ties between finances and politics.

"I... Hum..." It was her turn to talk wasn't it? Struggling to come up with a topic or question Jane put her hand on her glass of water, but quickly remembered that it might not have been poured from a bottle. "Do you want to get married?" She asked desperate to be a good date.
Isla was unable to stop the laugh from escaping her lips at Jane's next question though she immediately snapped her mouth shut. Her hand squeezing tightly around the wine glass she was holding.

"That's--ahh--that's definitely not a question you ask on a first date," She murmured. There wasn't much Isla knew about dating, but this she did know and scaring off a potential suitor by asking such direct questions was definitely not the goal. "Maybe save that for a third date question?" She suggested.

"How about instead of asking if they would like to get married, ask whether they have any siblings? Or what their parents do, perhaps?"