Floo Network

[Temple Bar] Kingdoms of Rain

Started by Declan O'Dwyer, February 03, 2021, 09:51:58 pm

Farren Abercrombie

Farren had a great many thoughts on the topic and though she wouldn't say it to him so plainly she knew she was much better situated to comment on it. Afterall, she had met Voldemort. Her mother had joined his gang and so had her parents in law and it would seem her husband. Perhaps he was being brief for the sake of their surroundings but this was not something that could really be fully covered in one meal.

Sighing she nodded a little. He was right. They had to find a way to make things at least kind of work with muggles. "I for one don't believe any of that nonsense about muggleborns stealing magic. I think in some areas of Europe in the Middle Ages muggle borns were thought of as especially talented because they were magical despite having muggle parents. Not that I love that idea but it at least is proof in texts of the time that mudbloods have been around for hundreds of years if not more. While it pains me I suppose I have to agree with you at least in some high level capacity. We can't survive as a people without half bloods and mudbloods, we can't drive muggles to extinction and plan on repopulating the planet with magical people."

Pursing her lips she looked at her glass of wine for a moment. She had thoughts on all of this that were less developed, hare brained ideas even. She took a sip of wine before continuing. "I think we have to kind of view it as mudbloods are ours. We are two worlds moving down parallel tracks. Sometimes our people, mudbloods, are generated on the wrong track. Sometimes their people, Squibs, are generated on our track. If we're to keep things moving smoothly we have to take our people onto our track with as little crossing with the muggles' track as possible. My ideas on this are probably too radical to ever be put into practice but I think we should identify magical children as early as possible and if they are born to muggle parents get involved in their lives as early as possible. Ideally we could just take them and place them with wizard families but everyone will decry that as horribly cruel. Though a few memory charms here and there you could probably cause minimal psychological damage to all involved. I know - that's a lot but barring that we need to start pulling them into our world as much as possible as early as possible. Mudblood kids need to at least be going to magical summer camps or something. So when they leave Hogwarts they don't go be muggles for three months.The less ties they have to the muggle world, the less cultural influence they bring to Hogwarts and their homes later in life, the better."

Again she took another sip of wine. Yes taking children from their parents was extreme but in her opinion worth it if it meant they started indoctrinating mudbloods with magical culture and values early on. For a moment she wondered what she should say to Declan about Voldemort. At one point in time she would have trusted him with her life. Now though the world was very different. If she told him about her mother would the secret be safe? If she told him about Clive would he turn around and sell that story to the papers? Both were probably unfounded concerns but a reminder that already things around them were changing for the worse.

"As for Voldemort. I've met him. Twice." she said and looked up at him to gauge his reaction. "In Vienna, he was doing things on the continent, met my Grandmother, well he already knew her but whatever. She invited him around for tea a couple of times. I think she gave him money. He is...." she paused inhaling air through her teeth, unsure of how to say things delicately. "Well, I can certainly see  the appeal of his rhetoric to my peers in London but if I'm honest I found him terrifying."

Was that enough? Did she want to tell him the rest? If he knew that her mother was part of Voldemort's gang surely he'd be disgusted. Then there was the bit about Clive. It was awkward talking about her personal life in any sense and trying to avoid Clive. Were it not for Clive dying and the house and money he'd left her this wouldn't be her life. She'd probably be married to some other pureblood boy in England who was also probably a Death Eater. But no, this wasn't the time, they were having fun. Maybe this conversation was becoming more painful than fun for her but the night was fun. Being with him was fun. Perhaps at another point he would need to know all the secrets she happily kept quiet about Voldemort and the people closest to her.

Thankfully the waiter appeared with their plates and for a moment they were distracted from the heavy topic as their meals were placed before them and their wine refilled. Once the waiter had disappeared again she smiled across the table at him. "This looks very impressive," she said of the food, "Now, what do you think? Would you like to open a mudblood children's summer sleep away camp with me?" She laughed. Of course it sounded absurd when you said it aloud. "Between us we have properties large enough to host them in their home countries and throw in some national pride. You can do yours in Irish or something. I'll cover England and Scotland, though my Gaelic is basically a joke," she smiled laughing again. "I promise I won't kidnap them though, surely living in luxury at Dalemain is favorable to living in some muggle government subsidized hovel or some horrible tiny house where you share a wall with an old woman who plays her...that moving picture box...uhh what is it called? A telentvision? Whatever. That thing. Coming through the wall all day. Surely Dalemain is preferable to any of that rubbish?"

Smiling, she turned to her meal, her cheeks flushing slightly. "Please don't hate me for these truly absurd ideas, I have better ones as well," she laughed.

Declan O'Dwyer

February 13, 2021, 06:57:25 pm #16 Last Edit: February 13, 2021, 07:01:29 pm by Royal_Poet
Declan was relieved she wasn't holding the same reactionary views as some of his pureblooded acquaintances. While he could understand feeling afraid of change, avoiding it altogether wasn't a solution to the problem of integration. In his mind, getting along with the muggleborn population really boiled down to brokering an acceptable compromise. He also knew that not everybody of muggle descent was as bad as the examples featured in some of the radicalised discourse. It was naive to reduce an entire group of the population to one or two bad examples. Every walk of society had those; their own included.

He liked her analogy about the tracks. "Add to that the further complication that since the Statute of Secrecy was introduced our tracks are diverging, where previously they were closer together," he commented thoughtfully. "I often wonder if we could have avoided this entire situation if we had taken another solution to the Witch Hunts and Inquisition. Cutting off official diplomatic relationships and official recognition has not helped things over the last two centuries. Even if you just think about this from a completely dispassionate economic point of view it seems very questionable. The annual budget for the Muggle Worthy Excuse Committee, obliviator staff and not to mention the administrative overhead in general is staggering. And, of course, Gringotts and a few select families are making a lot of coin out of the keeping the things status quo: exchange rates, overpriced, illegal muggle artifacts, selling muggle fashions and innovations under their name. There is a whole sector of our economy revolving around keeping this separation going."

It was sad really, how money corrupted society and how different families had different values. Her thoughts on having a summer camp for muggleborn children sounded laughable at first, but in a way cut right to the core of the problem: establishing dialogue and integration. Declan still thought that re-evaluating the Statute of Secrecy had to happen at some point. Now, they were in a forced one-way dialogue, where muggles were allowed ways to influence wizardkind, but communication in the other direction was severely hampered.

He was shocked to hear her revelation that she had met Voldemort, though in retrospect he realised that he ought to not have been. Her family was powerful and influential, and he could certainly picture Farren's mother to fit in with those reactionaries. Still, it sent a shudder down his spine to even think about it.  It was reassuring that she didn't seem to find him particularly fascinating. He'd heard such different accounts of the man that he was sometimes quite puzzled. Everyone remarked that he was charming and handsome, but the things he had to say were anything but. "I think if you have a choice keep your distance from him and his lot."

Declan didn't have much information on who associated with the man, but he had this general impression that he was picking up the disenfranchised; those purebloods who had squandered their fortune or had previously been at the centre of a scandal. It was a gamble, but he supposed if this political movement prevailed it might improve their status and standing. Still, it seemed more prudent to work for those things than to bet on a gentleman whose own career, at least up until now, had not been particularly distinguished.

"Anyway, how are you enjoying the meal and what desert are you going for?" He tried to interject some lightness back into the conversation. It wasn't quite working. "And really don't worry about silly ideas - your proposal is better than anything the Ministry has come up with in years and we pay those guys a lot of money each year to come up with ideas."

Farren Abercrombie

She nodded, in fact she'd never thought to almost entirely place the blame for their problem on the Statue but the way he put it made a great deal of sense. "You know, I never quite thought of it in that light," she said considering his point. "To be honest I never bothered to think about the economic cost of it all." Smiling a little she nibbled on her meal and he continued.

When he said it was best to keep away from Voldemort and his lot if she had a choice she couldn't help but scoff and reach for her wine glass. "If only it were that simple but I can assure you that does not seem to be the game he plays. Consent and choice seem to be concepts he lacks a basic grasp of." Taking a sip of her wine she again wondered how long she could remain quiet about Clive. Declan would likely assume the worst about her mother, anyone who knew of her could in this regard. But Clive had been unimportant magically - he lacked the skills of her mother. From what she'd pieced together he'd been recruited as some kind of PR move, a spokesperson, and somehow in the fray been killed.

His attempt to redirect the conversation seemed like an attempt to mercifully offer her an out before things got even more bleak. "It's lovely, you chose very well indeed," she said with a small smile. "As for desert, you said we will order two, so I would vote for one chocolate item and one fruit based item. Best of both worlds." It wasn't important to her what they had for dessert, what was important to her was that he wasn't judging her negatively for having been frank in a way she usually wasn't.

"You know, obviously raising muggle borns in our world or mandatory kind of summer education for them may be a bit too extreme for the general public. But this is all part of the reason I took the job at the Prophet." This was something she was actually serious about. Even if she thought separating muggle born children from their parents at a young age was a good idea to some extent. Her real idea had already been put into motion. It was something she rarely spoke about in detail though.

"My biggest concern is the muggle cultural influence, it's a one way street isn't it? They join our world and bring with them a whole slew of muggle influences, cultural expectations, and social expectations. Somehow we end up bending to them yet we have no ability to influence the muggle world to balance the scales. While I'm not particularly interested in influencing muggles I am interested in influencing wizards to embrace our culture and traditions." Her expression had changed, though she was still smiling a little it was clear she was speaking of something she was passionate about. Not quite the look she got in her eye when talking about music she'd composed but a determined little flame he would probably remember.

" I could think of no more obvious way to do this than in my job. The Prophet is our paper of record, everyone reads it, so it has the largest reach. If I say 13th century Wizarding lute is in fashion - it is. If I say women are abandoning modern muggle garments for the 1905 skirt shape - they are. If I say mudblood kids greatly benefit by remaining in a magical environment several weeks over the summer when Hogwarts lets out then perhaps that is true - because The Prophet is saying it. I'm not just Farren Abercrombie-Rosier, a rich widow who can play instruments very nicely,  I'm the cultural voice of the people. Fashion and art and music are frivolous things in the eyes of society. It's largely left to women to turn into fashions while men play politics but women are 50% of the population. So if I can put it into just three women's heads that wearing a traditional wizarding dress shape is the height of fashion they each tell one person to do the same and then that's 6 people whom have carried on our traditions."

She smiled brightly at him, she was proud of her work, this role had not existed before she'd asked The Prophet to create it. Declan's family was an exception with his mother having been a professional and very talented in her field but most women didn't work still and those that did certainly didn't do so in an attempt to socially engineer an entire society. It was an accomplishment, despite what her mother said, she thought it was bloody clever of herself to do it. "Soft power. Obviously it's not going to fix the larger political problem but it is a much needed voice, in my opinion."

Her mother had always scolded her that women were to be seen not heard. Clive had felt much the same and let her know by being frequently absent that her chattering and opinions annoyed him. But Declan seemed to care what she thought and that was new and exciting because unlike her many readers she cared what Declan thought about her opinions.

"I'm sorry," she demured her eyes flicking up to his under her lashes as she looked down at her plate, "I suppose one woman's small attempt at changing the cultural balance of society is very serious talk for dinner. Tell me....have you thought of a pub to take me to? Is there live music? Should I hide my diamonds in my pocket?"

Declan O'Dwyer

Farren had an interesting point. Influencing the masses through the news wasn't a bad idea. It was a brave plan and, as far as Declan knew, it hadn't been consciously attempted before with such clearly defined intent. Knowing how stubborn Farren could be, he thought she stood a good chance of making it work. Of course, one news outlet wouldn't be enough to shape the thinking of an entire generation of witches and wizards, but it was a place to start.

"It's a good idea," he said with a hint of admiration. Her ability to handle and utilise the media had always been remarkable, but this idea was ambitious even for Farren. It had to be an exhausting and mostly thankless job. Personally, he hated engaging with society at this level, but he could see that she had the right combination of skill and natural affinity for this kind of scheme to make a decent attempt at it.

"Seeing how I am sitting with the expert then, what's on trend for the next season?" He wasn't even sure that his question made sense. Fashion had seasons, right? While Declan was quite flamboyant and driven by aesthetics, the opinions of the mainstream didn't really factor into his decisions a lot.

"And when you are not fixing the world," he asked with a bit of a playful edge, "how do you unwind from all that? I mean other than getting up to a scandalous night of drinking and potentially live music."

In his mind he was still trying to work out where he could take her after dinner. Dublin had plenty of options, but he doubted that Farren would care too much for mixing with muggles. Truth be told, he didn't either and they most certainly weren't dressed for it. They'd probably struggle to fit in. However, there was a nice enough place nearby. Wizarding and maybe not what he'd normally consider doing on a first date, but fun all the same. As he considered it some more, he wondered how often Farren really got the opportunity to be out and about. Surely, back in London there wasn't a place she could go without being recognised and generating gossip.

Farren Abercrombie

She laughed a little when he called her an expert. Somehow despite it all she didn't really consider herself an expert at many things. Manipulating the press surely or charming a ball room but little else even if she was more versed than most. "Well, I think expert might be a high claim. Certainly consider myself more of an arbiter of taste rather than an expert in fashion. However I can assure you that your lapel flower will be all the rage and I think there will be a concerted effort to bring back silk waistcoats - pastels for spring, more rich colors for the summer. I quite like the sketches and photos from the fashion houses of Paris and Milan."

When he asked how she had fun and relaxed her smile waned a bit. This is what she'd worried about to some extent. Would he be as impressed with her when he found out her private life was mundane and quaint? He seemed to think her life was much more exciting than it really was, as did most. "Fixing the world? I think it will take a great deal more than a few years of Prophet articles for that."

She smirked a little taking another sip of wine. He could wait in suspense as to the great many number of mundane things she did with her free time. "Well when I'm not out and about for an event or such I usually spend my evenings at home in Belgravia. Pyxis lives in a flat a few doors down. He is my constant companion for such evenings more often than not. Or perhaps you remember my maternal cousin from school? Bellona Bennett, the blonde? She's now Bellona Slughorn, she and her husband invite me over to their flat often. I suppose that's what I do most often. Nothing particularly wild. Pyxis and I like to gossip," she giggled a little, Declan knew very well that she and Pyxis could spend hours talking about other from school. "Bellona is still my best friend and her husband is quite lovely, we play games after dinner. It's all quite normal and dull compared to what most people think I do."

Pursing her lips for a moment she took her wine glass again but hesitated to take a sip. "I try to get to Dalemain every few weeks. I used to go up nearly every Sunday but....it's difficult now. My mother..." she paused again, taking the sip of her wine debating how much to say. "Well, you can imagine she disapproves of my current life choices. She has very particular views about what I should be doing and whom I should be associating with. Our disagreements over this have made going home difficult."

It was clearly a difficult situation to bear but the sadness in her eyes faded quickly and she forced her trademark megawatt smile. "Thank Merlin though I am able to stay in Belgravia and avoid confrontations with her more often than not. But are you shocked my private life is so quaint? A grubby pub and pint glasses full of cider running over sounds utterly thrilling compared to most evenings I spend away from my duties."

Setting her glass down, her fingers on the stem of the glass, she tilted her head, curious how his life compared to hers. "And what of you? I hardly hear whispers of you in London society. Tell me what you do when the shops are closed and you've finished your potions for the day? How often do you take socialites out for a night of tabloid worthy debauchery. You seem to have a blueprint in place." Her eyes narrowed as if she was sizing him before she broke into a smirk biting her bottom lip to keep from laughing.

Declan O'Dwyer

February 17, 2021, 07:42:06 pm #20 Last Edit: February 17, 2021, 07:43:37 pm by Royal_Poet
Somehow, he hadn't expected Farren's life to sound so down to earth and domestic. She'd always seemed so extravagant to him, larger than life. And yet he could easily picture her drinking wine with Pyxis and bickering over everything and anything worth bickering about. And Bellona had married a Slughorn? His mental imagine of the blonde witch was stuck at picturing her as 16 years old in her school uniform. Of course, she would have grown up just like the rest of them. How long had it been since he had last seen her?

"It's nice to have friends and family within so easy a distance," he commented on her statement. "That's something I enjoy about being back here in Dublin. It is so easy to drop in Eamon for an evening out about town." He wasn't sure if she remembered the Ravenclaw boy from school. "He's still not married either. So, we can be hopeless in the eyes of our families together and I have another negative example around to distract from myself."

Of course, Victoria Bennett-Abercrombie didn't approve of Farren's life. This really didn't come as much of a surprise. Declan only knew the woman in passing from the odd event he had attended in London and he doubted that she displayed a positive attitude towards much of anything. Growing up with a woman like her couldn't have been easy for Farren. Though as far as overbearing and insufferable parents were concerned, Declan was no stranger to the experience. After all, his own relationship with his father could only be described as akin to open warfare.

"Oh, you know what I'm like. I haven't changed in essentials. I still find societal occasions tedious and difficult to navigate. I'm quite content to let my father and Lorcan take up all the spotlight. After all, they're the handsome ones in the family." He gave a wry smile, trying to play over a small crack in his armour. While generally quite comfortable in his skin, his family rarely missed an opportunity to pick on him about his eye injury that had never quite healed up. Though Declan had tried to move on and not dwell on negative thoughts, this one proved hard to shake. He could almost hear his father's voice in his head even as we speaking to Farren. "Your smile would ruin any photograph."

He shrugged subconsciously and tried to change the trajectory of their conversation before it turned maudlin and she had much chance to comment on the subject. "Whenever I can dodge obligation to be in London, which is most of the time, I like to spend my time writing, breeding orchids, out on horseback or travelling back to Russia. I miss it a lot after all my years there. I also enjoy the usual Celtic calendar dates here in Ireland. It's free and easy, cheerful music, bonfires, wild dancing, and little press coverage all things considered.  Honestly, not much to boast in the way of taking socialites out for a night of tabloid worthy debauchery, but you can help me change that tonight."

It was probably a good thing that a waiter interrupted the conversation as this point to take their orders for dessert. Otherwise, more outrageous flirting might have followed.

"Something with fruits and something with chocolate you said? Why don't we let the kitchen surprise us?"

Farren Abercrombie

Farren didn't recall the boy, now a man, from school he referenced. Perhaps she should but in reality other than her cousins Declan hadn't quite traveled in the same crowds as she had at school, or now for that matter. She just smiled and nodded politely not wanting to admit she didn't remember his friend. Part of her wanted to make a comment about men having little room to talk about pressure to marry, especially boys hiding out in Dublin but it felt rather harsh so she kept her snarky comment inside. "Yes, thank Merlin Bell and Pyx live so close. I'd feel quite unwelcome in London without them I'm sure. If it wasn't for Bell and her husband I'd never have gotten my backyard muggle scent proofed and the crups would have caused some kind of massive neighborhood disturbance by now. You can only imagine me having to deal with those muggle poli.....plostice men from the muggle law enforcement department? Calling on me about my rabid, loud dogs in the garden?" She smiled, thinking of what a comical horror that would be.

It was becoming apparent that in fact Declan seemed to be largely as was as younger man. He still carefully selected his words for the most part and was perhaps a bit light on the potentially deeper details. She'd always been the chatty one so that wasn't abnormal but she wondered once they were in a dark, noisy pub with a few drinks in them if he would open up a bit more. He'd always been self deprecating to some extent. He'd been self conscious as a boy about his thin frame and his eyes and perhaps was still judging by his comment and tone. She could never for the life of her figure out why it worried him so. Sure, if you were to stare into his eyes without interruption you would certainly be unable to avoid the difference. When you first meet him it is a bit more noticeable but once you got to know him you hardly noticed it more than you would someone's freckles.  She'd never put much attention on it as from day one she had always found his most distracting feature to be his mouth which even now she found almost alluring. It would be uncomfortable for her to blurt this out now to counter his comment about his father and brother being more handsome but she wanted to.

He changed the subject though. Back to her original line of questioning, she was unsurprised by most of it. He was right, he was mostly the same. But he'd brought up writing and the Celtic holidays earlier and she wondered about them. Tabloid worthy debauchery? She smirked, the slightest hint of blush in her cheeks. As soon as she was about to leap on that tiny thread he'd offered and tug on it they were interrupted by the waiter. Of course. Pursing her lips, her mind wandering down a flirty track she looked down at her plate and nodded "Yes, surprise us," she said softly looking up at the waiter with a smile before looking back at Declan. The moment had passed. She'd feel to saucy if she just started flirting about what might come later in the evening.

"Orchid breeding?" she asked softly her eyebrow arching, "I had no idea you were so young and groovy," she scoffed giggling a little at the word groovy which she'd heard interns at the Prophet using. "I mean the ones in the shop are beautiful, but...." smiling she laughed, "It's an adorably geriatric hobby. I expect to be gifted one of these special plants for Christmas sometime." Of course none of his hobbies were surprising, he clearly loved botany and herbology and was great at it. His horses had been a life long passion as well as far as she knew. Of course Russia as well, he'd visited her in Vienna on the way once before they'd fallen out of touch more or less. "In reality your free time sounds more diverse and interesting than mine. I'm afraid I've little to show for my hobby of gossiping with Pyxis where as you're a writer and botanist at least."

"You mentioned your writing the other night. Dare I ask what it is about? You were always a great lover of books. Have you ventured into writing your own?"

Their waiter reappeared to clear their plates and set out clean silver and plates for their desserts and quickly reappeared with them. He happily announced that he'd served them his top desserts, a whiskey and stout chocolate cake and apple crumble with vanilla and sea salt ice cream. Farren smiled and nodded with approval thanking him as he left.

"It looks good. Perhaps pandering to the tourist at the table no?" she smirked pushing the desserts into the center of the table. "I assume we will forget our manners and eat off the same plates and share? If it's going to end with beer splattered down my dress and chips I see no point in standing on ceremony now."

Declan O'Dwyer

Declan smirked at Farren's mention of possible run ins with the muggle police. How could she not know the word? Working in the centre of Dublin, he had grown used to the presence of non-magical folks and even learned a couple of things by osmosis. "Nothing a quick obliviate wouldn't fix but point taken." He found himself curious about the dogs now. He liked dogs rather a lot, though he would have agreed that Belgravia wasn't a perfect neighbourhood for it.

"I've tried," Declan admitted on the subject of books, "but for all the heart and soul I poured into it, I never managed to finish anything yet. I seem to have more luck with shorter pieces, vignettes, and poetry. Nothing good, or worth publishing I am afraid, but I enjoy working on them. It's a nice way of flexing a different set of creative muscles I don't get to use much for my work. Potion brewing is all exacting precision. It's nice to work on something that's a bit more forgiving and flexible."

He was surprised how comfortable he was giving some details. Writing was usually a topic that made him shut down and wall off his emotions as soon as possible. The things he worked on were all deeply personal in one dimension or another, giving easy access to those facets of him that were extremely insecure and vulnerable. It pained him to admit that is writing was far from perfect. He wanted it to be, but his technical execution still had many glaring flaws. Sometimes, he thought it would be nice to share and receive some feedback, but he had an inkling that he wouldn't react well to it. He'd probably be overly defensive and awkward about it.

The waiter reappearing and placing their deserts on the table was a welcome interruption for him at this point. It took the focus away from his writing; a part of his world he wasn't sure he was ready to share. Would she laugh at him if she knew more? Even the thought of that was completely unbearable.

"Little bit of pandering I think," Declan concurred to her comment about the deserts. "I come here often enough for them to know that I am rather fond of the hazelnut dacquoise here. Might be a clever ploy to get us to come back for a second date." He smiled and stuck his spoon into the pie to have a taste. "No refined manners here," he tried to put on a thick North Dublin accent. "I'm just a simple, hard-working wizard." He cringed inwardly at how unconvincing he sounded. He'd probably never pass as a commoner.

"Sometimes, the simple pleasures in life are best," he told her with a little smile. "I'd also like to take you for a walk along the beach some time, but it's prettier in the morning. And perhaps that's the day I'll show you one of my other geriatric niche interests. I'll write all our secret wishes in the sand and we can watch them being washed away by the waves. Wishes committed to the sea by the way of calligraphy always become true."

Wait, had he just that said that out loud? He could feel the heat rising into his cheat. What was it with Farren inspiring him to spontaneous and leave behind his usual inhibitions? He wasn't sure if he liked it or if it terrified him.

Farren Abercrombie

It seemed this writing hobby was something he put a great deal of work into, something serious, she was even more curious now. At least as a kid he had never been particularly emotive. This writing was surely most illuminating. "Well if you'd ever like, I'd love to read something you wrote. Merlin knows you sat through 500 versions of that piano concerto I tried to write in 6th year. It'd be my pleasure to return the favor." She smiled a little trying to pad her offer so he'd know there was room to be bad at it without much judgement, though knowing him he was probably quite proficient.

 "Ohhhh hazelnut dacquoise sounds excellent," she lamented as she happily plunged her spoon into the cake. She laughed at whatever his silly attempt at sounding like some kind of common folk was. It was bad but at least he wasn't too high on his horse to laugh. Her eyes flickered to his when he mentioned a second date and she smiled a little before she delicately slid her spoon into her mouth. "It's not bad for Dublin tourist food," she commented with a little shrug before smirking. The cake was in fact quite good and soon she learned the apple crumble was as well.

He surprised her, talking about how he'd like to take her for a walk on the beach. That seemed very....romantic. No one had taken her for a walk on the beach, certainly not Clive. Prettier in the morning? Immediately something scandalous popped into her mind. Why in the world would she be at the coast of Ireland for a sunrise unless she'd spent the night? Of course he wasn't suggesting something like that. Was he? Not now but perhaps later the door to such an idea was open in his mind. She couldn't help but laugh at the phrasing 'geriatric niche interests', how could it get more old man than flower breeding? But what he said, she wasn't sure if it was the hobby he was referring to or something entirely different, but it was far more lovely than anything she'd expected.

It was a far more romantic notion than anything she'd ever done before. Her mind's eye began to work, sand and rocks surrounded by green cliffs rising from the sea, the early morning pink sky, the wind whipping through their hair, writing their wishes into the sand and standing waiting watching the waves lap against the shore. Did they run from the tide laughing trying to avoid the icy waters or embrace the cold and squeal as it lapped over their ankles and chilled them? Maybe both. Did they stand, his arm around her, keeping her close to shelter her from the cool? Never before had she envisioned such a scenario with Declan O'Dwyer. It was an odd thing to think about him in such a light, she'd never have considered it before this week, but she like the idea much more than she ever thought she would. She smiled her gaze still a little distant as she thought about it.

An hour ago she'd been unsure this was even an actual date so she was a little taken aback by the idea of this gesture even though she found the idea of it extremely appealing. She wondered if he'd meant something so romantic seeming or even realized how romantic it all sounded. How could he not? "I'd like that, very much," she said looking across the table at him realizing that the little nervous butterflies in her stomach were fluttering again. She wasn't sure why it was a little embarrassing but she found herself unable to maintain his gaze and smiling coyly she glanced down at their desserts for a moment before looking back up at him. "Though, I suppose, I must be absolutely sure I can trust you with my most secret wishes." Her tone was playful and she couldn't help the smile she had had the other night in his lab, the one that made her cheeks sore. "Are you quite sure you can keep them secret?" arching her eyebrow she ladled another large bite of crumble and ice cream onto her spoon. "I think you could fund Viridian Paris with the money disclosing these wishes to Witch Weekly would fetch you," she was teasing, he didn't need the money, smirking as she slowly slid her spoon between her lips and back out again before elegantly setting it down to declare herself quite done with sweets.

"I guess we'll find out soon if you can keep a secret or if you're going to sell me out to the tabloids in the morning," she said as she reached for the wrist-let she'd laid aside during the meal. "I think, if I'm going to dance soon, I best stop with the desserts. I would like to touch up in the ladies before we depart. I promise to be quick." Rising from her seat she smoothed the front of her dress and walked away from the table, she could feel the eyes in the room following her. She wanted to look back at him just to look at him and see if he was watching her walk across the dining room like the other men in were but she resisted the urge. It gave her a sense of excitement, that she even cared. She was used to being noticed, having men fawn over her, she never wanted to look back at them and make sure they were admiring her from afar.

Once refreshed, lip stick touched up, nose blotted she returned to the table, again feeling the eyes following her, but as soon as he came into view across the room she hardly noticed anything but the little nerves in her stomach that reappeared. Sinking elegantly back into her chair she smiled at him. "Can I be honest?" she didn't wait for him to respond, "I'm a little nervous about the pub - in a good way. Promise you won't let me make any faux pas? I wouldn't want people to think I'm there to judge them or look silly. I suppose it's just a normal pub right? I'm sure I can manage that if it's like Leaky Cauldron or similar." her nerves were evident but she was clearly excited and eager to embrace the Dublin evening.

Declan O'Dwyer

Declan couldn't help but laugh. Fund Viridian Paris by selling her story to Witch Weekly? The mere notion of it was absurd. There wasn't any love lost between him and the press in general, but he had a particular disdain for the distasteful gossip rag that was Witch Weekly. He'd met their editor, Tobias Misslethorpe, before and the memory was not a pleasant one. He'd run some sort of human-interest story on his grandmother that painted the witch as a shallow and materialistic woman. Declan had wanted to punch him. Punch, rather than hex because the reaction had been on such a visceral level.

"I'm disinclined to give Tobias any such satisfaction," he teased back. "If I am going to sell out, I want a whole book written about it. At least." The sad truth was that he could picture people buying such tragic nonsense. 'The Secret Life of Farren Abercrombie-Rosier' would probably become a bestseller. This was certainly one of the aspects of society he truly abhorred. Why were people so obsessed with the details of other people's lives? Did they really have nothing better to do?

He tried his best to ignore the strange sensation that was starting to build in his stomach. He felt excited and nervous to be with her and something about her manner made things worse. Declan thought he'd be happy to just watch her all evening and just admire her. He was being swept up in a melange of feelings, some old and closely guarded, some new and quite unexpected. Yes, of course, he had always thought she was attractive, he'd had a bit of a crush, but this he didn't yet understand how to quantify.

Thankfully, she cut the tension by stepping out to powder his nose. This left him with the opportunity to settle their bill as well as regain his composure. It had been a while since he had last been on a date and there was no denying that his nerves were getting to him. In a way, this was a more difficult date than many others he had been on. He knew Farren for years and cared about her. A wrong move could potentially damage their friendship. It wasn't as if they'd just met and it didn't matter if he ever saw her again after tonight. Still, things were going well, weren't they? Declan couldn't really tell. His heart was beating to quickly for him to examine anything objectively.

When she returned to him, he realised that she had to be nervous too. Who was worried about getting things right when going to a pub? What was there even one could potentially get wrong? He wanted to laugh, but bit back the impulse as her concern seemed to be utterly genuine. Declan battled with the strange thought that underneath the fa├žade she put on, Farren probably wasn't a happy woman. The confidence she portraited to the outside world, at least in part, was probably put on for show. And wasn't that a strange realisation. Even the prettiest and most popular people worried about fitting in.

"I suggest you don't worry about a thing. Everybody is there to have a good time. Nobody will care who we are." Given that she seemed a little apprehensive, he thought that maybe picking a venue a little outside the city would be the safer option. There was a charming little country pub not too far from his secondary estate in the Wicklow Mountains. He was part of the local community there and part the usual crowd of plant growers, curse breakers, rune smiths and local artists. Declan himself was part of that regular crowd, often stopping by after a long evening in the lab. There wasn't any chance they would run into muggles there as it was a safe, wizarding area. 

He made a snap decision in that moment to go with the safer option, rather than trying to navigate the Dublin town centre and trying to stick to the wizarding parts. As they left the building, he held his hand out to her. "If I may," he asked softly. "Will be easier to apparate from here." 

Their destination, 'The Bottom of the Hill' in the little wizarding settlement of Glenbally was situated in an old building with a thatched roof. There were tables set up outside, illuminated by old fashioned lanterns and decorated with flowers. Clearly, it hadn't rained here earlier in the day as everything was dry.

It was a busy night as there were plenty of local wizards and witches occupying the tables and standing outside the pub talking, enjoying a mild summer evening. Traditional music was spilling out onto the street and everyone seemed to be having a rather merry time.  A nearby signpost was showing the directions to Lough Darragh, Dwyer's Rock, and the Druid's Council at Finderry.

"I think I'll need some liquid courage before I'll volunteer for dancing." He said to her. "What can I get you?"

Farren Abercrombie

When he offered his hand to apparate she was surprised. She'd been nervous but a bit excited about walking around Dublin. But it was his evening and his town so she didn't question him and instead took his hand without comment. However when their feet landed them in front of a thatched building she turned to look up towards his face her confusion apparent. "Not Dublin?" she asked as it seemed they had indeed left the city. The building was old and stood alone in what appeared to be a small village - not central Dublin as they'd just been. It was charming and exactly what you might suspect an Irish pub to look like in a story book. Everyone filing in and out of the pub and congregating outside were clearly magical.

"Am I too green for a Dublin pub? Are they that raucous?" she teased as they moved towards the little building that appeared to be full of life and music. It was exactly what she would expect of an Irish pub though. The music was coming from a back room she could barely see down a pokey hallway lined with faded wall paper. The main room in the front was crowded with wizards and witches congregating around small tables and along a worn wooden banquette that ran the length of one wall. A fire was going in the heart and candles flickered in the iron wall sconces. "It's like a storybook pub," she commented leaning in close to him so he could hear her over the dull roar of the music, conversation, and laughter.

When he asked her what drink she would like she gave a little shrug and a crooked smile. "Most of the time I'm only offered posh cocktails and wine, so I can't say I have a go to at a place like this. Why don't you surprise me with the best local brew?" She looked over her shoulder at the seating room across from the main area they were stood in now. "I'll go get us a table in the adjoining room, these look pretty full," she smiled and gestured towards the other room and waited for him to make his way to the bar before stepping into the next room.

It was still busy but people were mostly seated at their tables instead of it being a standing room. She spotted a small table by the hearth that was open and made her way weaving around occupied tables towards it. Compared to her usual haunts this place was loud and crowded. The music was exactly what she'd hoped and the kind of thing she could imagine her London ladies rolling their eyes at and calling 'provincial' but she kind of adored it more than she'd expected. This was by far and away the most exotic place she'd been in months. Part of her felt somewhat ashamed at living in such a way that something like this felt exotic. Her life was in fact, rather small, and most days she didn't mind that but events like this made her overly aware just how narrow her view was.

She pulled her cloak off and slung it over the back of the low wooden arm chair. As soon as she sat down Declan appeared in the door way and she waved him over with an eager smile. "Is this quite suitable for the time being?" she asked as he approached drinks in hand. There was another table available in the center still, "That one there is free but I thought this was better as it's more private for the telling of all our secrets." She was being cute but in fact she felt this was exactly the kind of place you'd want to tell someone secrets. Boisterous as to go unnoticed, diverting to avoid long silences and awkwardness, and once enough secrets and drink had been had presumably you could make your way to the back room to dance it all out.

"So what brew did you get me? Please educate me about the local specialty. I know nothing." Smiling she reached out to take the pint glass from him. "I don't suppose you'd let me treat you to the next round would you? I'm prepared to pay up for however many rounds it will take to get us both on the dance floor if needs must."

Declan O'Dwyer

Declan returned from the bar with two pints of stout. They were a bit too warm for his liking, but it seemed that the rest of the pub's patrons disagreed. People were drinking them everywhere. He slid one of them across the table and towards Farren.

"Just a stout, not sure if you'll like it but it's the local thing to try." He shrugged slightly. "Actually, not all that big on it myself, but since you were looking for scandalous, I thought we couldn't miss out on this."

"Did you know that muggle women over here are not allowed to even go inside pubs, let alone drink a pint? You might be the only woman in Ireland to have one of these tonight. Well other than that lady over there. We'll just not count her. Makes us sound more interesting."

If anyone had told him that the evening would end up with him drinking a pint of Irish stout with Farren Abercrombie in a quaint country pub in Glenbally he probably wouldn't have believed it. But now that they were here it felt strangely right. Okay, maybe they were both dressed a bit more elegantly than the occasion warranted, but none of the other witches and wizards in attendance gave them as much as a second glance. 

"Probably the wrong thing to suggest to a lady, but if you enjoy whiskey, I can make a few recommendations after you finish that. Or sooner if you end up hating it. I wouldn't blame you." He had a large gulp from his glass to cut through the foam. "Big gulp like that is the way to do it. The foam on its own can be quite bitter." He wrinkled his nose a bit and set his glass down again. "Actually, less bad than I remember."

"As for dancing," he said with a little smirk, "we might have to wait for one where I know all the steps. These aren't exactly the kind of dances that were covered by my tutors. My grandmother would be positively outraged to learn that I know any, but I think as long as they play Ceanagulla at some point we'll manage not to break our feet doing it."

Farren Abercrombie

Farren took the glass of amber foamy liquid with a smile. She'd never had a stout and had no idea what made a stout verses a beer.  "I've never had a stout....is it the same thing as a beer?" She leaned forward to see if she could smell it. It smelled like a beer. She was shocked to hear that muggle women couldn't go into pubs let alone drink. Not that she knew anything about pubs in general but it seemed shocking. "Wait...what? Muggle women can't order a drink or come inside a pub? I thought the whole point of a pub was to......well get drunk and have fun? Are Irish women muggles not allowed to have fun?" She actually had no idea what else you would do in a pub or why they would want to exclude women. "What about in England? Can our muggle women go to pubs? Should we go on a pub tour and rub it in their faces? Is that our headline?"

Laughing she lifted her glass to her lips and copying him took a long, deep gulp. It was not particularly good and if the liquid was this bitter how bad was the foam he warned of going to be? Her nose wrinkled. "This is your local specialty then?"  Her lips puckered at the taste and she tried to force a smile but failed. "It's.....unique...." Laughing she looked down at the glass and raising her eyebrows she lifted the glass to her lips again and took another deep, uncomfortable gulp. She grimaced. "I'm sorry but....people enjoy drinking this?" Scowling at the glass she sat it down on the table. "Perhaps.....we should shift to your whiskey back up plan. If it will earn me some kind of points I'll finish it but I think I prefer the whiskey."

She smiled as he talked about the dancing. "Oh I didn't realize we were going to be that organized with the dancing. I was mostly planning to just get drunk and let you twirl me around the room as we made up our own dance. Knowing all the steps and executing things precisely is for London ball rooms. If we're going to cause a scandal we must do so in as unruly a fashion as possible. Besides, if we break our feet I'm confident I can fix them. If I can't a wing of St. Mungo's is named after my Grandfather and we'll be seen immediately." Laughing she reached for her pint glass even though she didn't really like it and took another hesitant sip.

It was surprising to her how much fun she was having. Perhaps he thought she was exaggerating or joking but she was actually looking forward to just getting tipsy and careening around the tiny dance floor together. She could still feel the butterflies in her stomach fluttering softly each time their eyes locked across the table and part of her wondered if he was having as much fun as she was. "So, have you had enough to drink yet to get you to tell me more about that writing of yours? Or does that take more liquid courage than dancing?" She smiled setting the pint glass back down. "Is there no waiter here to bring us the whiskey? I think you need it more than me at this point."

Declan O'Dwyer

"I don't know about England for sure," Declan confessed. "But I think our muggles here in Ireland are even more backwards than in some other places. It has something to do with muggle history, but not sure about the details." He could remember his grandfather talking about it at length, usually when he waxed nostalgic about Grindelwald and the Global War. A United Ireland ruled over by wizards had been his grandfather's patriotic dream back in the day, as absurd as it seemed now. Unification of muggle and wizardkind seemed to grow increasingly more unrealistic with each passing day.

He couldn't help but chuckle as he watched her expression trying the stout.

"Oh, don't drink that if you don't like it. Nobody will be offended, least of all me."

He took another sip from his own glass, as if to confirm it was horrible, before quickly lifting his hand and vanishing the vile drinks altogether. It wasn't like they couldn't afford to get something more enjoyable than this.

"Whiskey is an alternative option, and if you ask me the preferable one, but they also have an apple cider that's not tragic, or you could try the red ale. Not sure I'd recommend that, but being not much of a beer drinker myself, I might be biased."

He doubted she really cared what they were having and more interested in enough liquid courage to get them up on the dance floor. He couldn't fault her for wanting to try it. The jigs and reels always looked like a lot of fun, though he frequently found himself confused on the topic of where he was supposed to be going or standing. They all sounded quite similar, so it was easy to get mixed up unintentionally.

He was just about to get up and buy another round of drinks when she picked up the topic of his writing again. He was surprised. Was she genuinely interested in it or was she teasing him because he had been somewhat reluctant earlier. He couldn't tell.

"Writing is the hardest thing of them all to talk about," he confessed uncomfortably. "I feel like I should be able to take criticism graciously. But that's not what happens. I just get upset and it all gets out of hand. I'm reluctant to share with anyone I care about. I don't want to risk my friendships over it."

 When he said it out loud he thought that it sounded rather pathetic. "Sure you don't want to dance first? I'm feeling positively confident about the song that's playing. We could... if you still wanted to."

Farren Abercrombie

She laughed when he vanished the drinks. "Ok, I'm glad I didn't offend. It's certainly more than I'm used to that's for sure." Who knew what the other liquors were like. Apple Cider she'd had before and it was nice, whiskey was not typically her drink of choice but she'd certainly had it though she was more familiar with Scottish whisky of course. Perhaps she should ask him for a sampling of each so she could determine which Irish drink she preferred? Surely that would be dangerous territory for a massive hangover though. They had shared a bottle of wine at dinner and mixing drinks could get risky.

It was clear he wasn't comfortable talking about writing in any sense. She found it rather odd that he assumed anyone reading it would criticize it. Surely his friends would be mindful of his attitude and not pick his works apart? Or did he write about things that naturally drew criticism? Perhaps he had some abnormal perversions or violent thoughts he wrote about. Otherwise what could he write that would draw criticism from friends of all people? Arching her eyebrow she nodded slowly, "Well...unless your writing is just pages and pages of what a horrible bitch you think I am, I can't imagine being offended by anything you would write. Well perhaps if you have some weird muggle fetish or obsession you are writing explicit content about that might be more offensive than pages and pages of insults about me," she smiled clearly teasing him.  "If my memory serves me, and of course it does, you aren't one to waste time and effort on things you don't care about or do poorly at. I'm willing to bet whatever these mystery poems and prose may be are far better than you give yourself credit for. I am ever so curious about it." She offered this sincerely and her smile and gaze were warm as she considered him. People didn't decline her opinion. Most people would leap at the chance to have her read their work. Even if she had no technical knowledge on the subject her status made her opinion valuable. Him gracefully declining the topic made her all the more curious.

But instead he offered her the dance she had wanted. For a moment she feigned hesitancy, offering a demure smile as she glanced towards the back of the pub where the band sat just on the other side of the hall. A moment later though she reached out to grab his hand and with a bright smile and a dangerous twinkle in her eye seized his hand and nearly leapt up from the table. She moved quickly, pulling him along with her, across the crowded room to the little hallway separating the rooms of the pub. Laughing she nearly careened into and older man as she darted around the corner. Crossing the threshold into the room with the music the and the pounding of others feet and hands hit her like a wave of pure joy. Smiling she pulled him towards the center of the room with the others dancing. With an elegant little twirl she positioned herself in front of him reaching for his other hand. "I have no idea what I should be doing you know," she said leaning in close enough so he could hear her. "If you're going to write a book about me please lie about how naturally gifted I am at the jig and try not to laugh too much at me now."