Floo Network

Autumn 69
[Mayfair] Destiny is calling me [open]

Started by Rose Pemberton, April 03, 2021, 10:31:33 pm

Odhrán Ó Dálaigh

Here we go, Odhrán thought to himself. While the conversation was utterly harmless for pureblood standards, he had a feeling he already knew where this was going. He'd say his name, she'd remember the news coverage about his family a few years back and all sort of unpleasantness would ensue. He'd been hoping to avoid that. However, he didn't want to lie either. After all, he was here with his sister and she was looking to make friends. He recognised that it was inevitable for them to face the music.

"I'm Odhrán Ó Dálaigh," he told her simply. If she'd really kept up with the news, she probably knew that he was now the head of his family with his father still detained in Azkaban. "I suppose you could call me the lost son. I've only returned to the British Isles a little while ago. I used to work in France, Switzerland and Canada for a long time." There was more he could have said, but it all felt strangely personal and not how you opened a pleasant conversation. There was also a conscious thought that his insecurities on how to navigate society were mostly in his head. People had recovered from bigger scandals. The only thing he didn't know was how. But there was a bit of advice he often gave his patients: fake it until it feels natural. He supposed he could give his own suggestion a try.

Still, he wondered for a moment on how to continue. He didn't know anything much about the Sangréal family. He thought he'd read the name Guillaume at some point or another, but no details came to mind. And was that in Paris or when he'd moved back to Ireland? Odhrán wasn't sure. Who'd have thought that not keeping up with the gossip rags would work out to his disadvantage one day?

"Is that Nerva is in short for Minerva?" He asked with curiosity. Odhrán was pleased to have found an innocuous detail to comment on. He didn't think he'd heard the name before, though he liked that it had a bit of an unusual sound to it. Hopefully, his question would also help to distract from the fact that he didn't know who her family were, which made further chat surprisingly difficult. He felt that he couldn't easily ask what she did for work, as plenty of the socialites in the room didn't work at all and would have found the mere question offensive. If he asked where she was from there was a chance that she would feel offended as well. Clearly, he was supposed to recognise her name.

Back in the ballroom some English country dance was being played by the orchestra and Odhrán hoped that Aoibheann was having a good time. He suddenly he felt the urge to excuse himself and check up on her, but doing so would have been rather cowardly. Maybe, it was better to be forward instead and see if a display of bravado wouldn't have a similar effect.

"If it's not too bold to ask, perhaps you still have some space on your dance card. I would be honoured." There was a line he hadn't foreseen he would say this evening, but if things went the way he expected them to, she would decline him and politely and then find an excuse to be elsewhere, leaving him to his prior boredom and relative security of not having to interact with anybody important at all.

Harold Prendergast

"Well, Miss Pemberton, I promised you a dance and I fully intended to keep that promise."

As they moved about the room, Harold sensed that Rose's mind wasn't entirely on the dance - and her words were not the kindest, but he understood. What must she think of him, a married man on a seemingly lost quest, and he fully understood that time turning was rightly feared and concerning to many, to the exclusion of it being discussed in most cases.

Thankfully for Harold, though, Rose didn't seem predisposed to talking while moving about the room and that gave him the necessary concentration to mind his footwork and move about the place with confidence if not the most gracious of turns he'd ever performed; he was glad of his father's instincts to teach him this particular dance with sufficient repetition that the moves themselves came easily to mind, even if the coordination to pull them off did not.

"Why must we use the watch? Honestly, I am rather at a loss. All we know is that, well, at some point yet to occur this evening, we must go on to use the watch - because you have seen us having done so. I cannot imagine what would possess me to think it necess--"

He interrupted himself with a sudden, urgent thought, and took his watch out of his pocket, snapping it open discreetly as if merely checking the time. Something was wrong. The tertiary chronometer was spinning. That had to mean someone, or something, in the nearby vicinity had recently activated an Hour-Reversal Charm.

"Rose... I think someone just used a Time Turner here - that wasn't me, or, well, us."

Farren Abercrombie

Farren wasn't sure why but she was surprised and impressed at how deftly Declan dealt with her Grandmother in Law. Phillipa Malfoy-Rosier represented the worst of society in many ways. She was too old and too well established to care if she offended people she considered her juniors in any way. Obsessed with blood purity to the point she could probably rank all purebloods in attendance tonight as to whom was most related and most pure. Nearly equally as obsessed with money. Exactly the kind of person Declan had no interest in and likely little respect for. 

But he managed it all in stride, perfectly really, her lingering anxieties about him being socially awkward or ill paired with her socially starting to quickly thaw. She couldn't help but to smile, almost giggling when he said he had no idea about her marriage prospect and it were up to her to make up her mind. 

Mrs. Malfoy-Rosier was less amused but clearly recognized that between Declan not balking at her demeanor and Farren not taking her very seriously she couldn't intimidate them into divulging any secrets. Fluttering her fan she scowled first at Declan then at Farren. "Is that all.......really?" her white eyebrow arched skeptically. "I don't believe it. No one is going to believe it. They'll call her a gold digger. And you...." she eyed Declan, "They'll say you're reaching. I'm sure no one will buy this friendly story."
Farren laughed shaking her head a little, "Oh Grandmother Rosier, you are far too worried about all of this. I've told you many times I am in no rush to re-marry nor do I have my heart set on accumulating more gold. If people want to make up fairy stories I don't really care. When and if I decide to marry I would at least have the decency to notify your family before suddenly going public."

The old woman shook her head, fan fluttering still, "There is something afoot even if you both deny it!" Fan folded, she pointed it from her eyes to Declan. "We will be watching you. Closely." Turning to Farren she nodded, "And you too Mrs. Rosier.....I don't know what game you're playing with us all yet but I know it's something." 
"Well then, let us begin the play," Farren said almost snarkily, "It is always lovely to see you Grandmother Rosier," she bowed her head politely signaling that this little accosting of their arrival was over. The old lady nodded waving her fan as if to dismiss them before bidding them a good time and turning away.

Pursing her lips Farren glanced up at Declan before laughing. "Oh my.....I'm so sorry. I told you people were horrible," she said in her soft, clipped tone so no one in earshot could hear her. "You handled her brilliantly and unless we have the great displeasure of running into my mother -- I assume she is the most sour guest of the evening. An absolute vulture." 

Emptying her champagne flute she ignored the women that moved past her, clearly slowing as they did, their gaze falling on Farren, trying to catch her eye. Farren ignored them, her gaze firmly on Declan. No one else would be so rude as to butt in when she didn't even acknowledge them. "And these ladies," her gaze darted to a young woman that was practically circling them, "Are the hangers on, as if our acknowledging them elevates their social standing. I'm warning you now, they will descend on you like a hawk if you give them an inch." 

A waiter moved past them and Farren sat her empty champagne flute on his tray. "So....dare we seek out your relations or do we dance first since I'm sure by now everyone over 90 is already planning our wedding breakfast?"

Rose Pemberton

"Even if that is true," Rose said thoughtfully, "why wouldn't we just report this to the responsible authorities. We're no longer ministry workers. There is no obligation."

She had an inkling she already knew what he would say next. The kind of research he was doing was probably not a licensed endeavour. If he reported what she'd seen that would probably just mean she would get him in trouble. What she didn't understand though was why couldn't just refuse to get involved. They hadn't done anything to cause this and if she had her way insisting that they didn't - then surely her memory of what she'd seen had to fade or she had somehow misinterpreted things. Maybe there really was another redhead wearing the same dress.

"What if I'm wrong?" Rose said nervously. "I mean I don't think I am, but what if I'm mistaken and what I saw wasn't really us? Is there a way to prove or measure that a temporal things has occurred. I think maybe we should go to that spot in the maze for you to examine."

As she spoke, she pulled Harold closer to her as they were about to embark on another segment of gallop steps. In the midst of all her confusion she still noticed that he felt nice. There was something sure, steady, measured about him that while sometimes infuriating was also calming and safe. Her hand experimentally stroked over his back at the end of their pass and she felt almost bereft returning to her place on the line of ladies.

"I think it's two more couples to go before we can peel off," she said to him quietly. While everyone seemed preoccupied with their partners she was still worried that somebody would take an interest in them and start listening to their conversation. Clearly, if there potentially were other time travellers here Harold had to be on their map. They probably also had gadgets to tell them about chronometer frequencies or whatever Harold had just called it. 

"You know," she paused. What she'd been about to say was probably not a good idea. No, she couldn't demand a new date that wasn't messed up. After all, this wasn't even a real date to begin with. She sighed.

"I'll do whatever you need me to, but when this is over you owe me one."

Lame, but the best recovery she could make under the circumstances.

Declan O'Dwyer

There were quite a few things Mrs Malfoy-Rosier said that Declan found very distasteful. Gold digger. Reaching. He was fighting every instinct to not just jinx the old lady. Who talked to somebody they barely knew in such a way? Instead of giving the older woman the satisfaction of his outrage he faked an indifferent smile while letting the words wash over him. None of this was unexpected. People always talked. This was precisely why he didn't enjoy these occasions too much.

Thankfully, Mrs Malfoy-Rosier grew tired of them rather quickly. For now, anyway. Declan doubted they'd truly seen the last of her, but while she regrouped her thoughts and gathered her wits they had a window of opportunity to just enjoy themselves. He was determined to make the most of that.

Farren meanwhile seemed surprised that he had handled the situation without loosing his temper. He gave a sly little grin. "Well, I am glad you approve." As she mentioned some of the ladies he nodded. He knew the sort, thinking that they could become a somebody by power of association. It was annoying and regressive, but there was usually very little one could do other than plead ignorance.

"Don't worry," he reassured Farren, "I don't usually solicit the company of folks I've not been introduced to. But thank you for the warning. I don't attend events in London enough to know which faces to avoid."

He was happily talking on when Farren mentioned her mother. Declan gulped. Mrs Abercrombie was a fierce lady and he was sure she wouldn't be as easily managed as Mrs Malfoy-Rosier. Hopefully they would get a little stay of execution before bumping into her. He had no doubt that a confrontation would be inevitable, but maybe they could delay a little before facing the music.

"I think I'd rather have the next dance," he told her honestly. "You can meet my friends and acquaintances later. I doubt they'll be going anywhere," Though he didn't say it he also fretted that Farren might not approve of his friends. He found himself very much wanting to impress her tonight, which was easier said than done.

"I say if we stand up for the next waltz, we'll give those old biddies something to talk about that's actually worthy of the rumours and vitriol they like to spread."

The way he said those words almost held a seductive quality and there was a bit of mischief in his eyes. It was a side of him coming out that Farren probably hadn't seen much of as they were rarely at the same function at the same time. He did take a particular kind of pleasure in offending people and playing with people's preconceptions. If Mrs Malloy-Rosier saw him as outrageous and reaching, he'd give her a damn fine show just to flout convention and rub it in.

Harold Prendergast

Harold struggled to keep his focus on the steps - especially through the gallop segment of the routine - while trying to think through Rose's comments. Reporting unauthorised time travel to the ministry would only do any good if, well, they wouldn't be incriminating themselves in the process. In any event, the ministry does not actually pay nearly as much attention to it as one might think they should; they police it by way of having the raw materials protected and under lock and key, for the most part.

As the routine changed and gave them relative space from everyone else, he spoke quickly. "Under other circumstances I should completely agree - the proper authorities would be better placed to deal with someone being somewhen they ought not." He paused, allowing for the turn and the steps in their proper places. "That said you rather clearly saw us - therefore we must have taken matters into our own hands. I just can't for the life of me understand why."

Harold tried to remain calm - no sense getting into the heat of the moment, even if Rose, for now at least, seemed on board with the situation. That was a good first step; while she had every right to be infuriated at such a thing needing to be taken care of here, he had truly hoped to have been able to have a regular social occasion with her without loitering, or information gathering or secret missions, and just to simply enjoy the thing.

At the notion of 'owing her one', he faintly smiled. "Perfectly reasonable."

Their steps on the floor came to an end, and Harold sidled back towards the end of the room, on his way to the hedge maze - the one place he knew that the displaced version of them had to have been. Perhaps one or other of the dials would give him some clue as to what was going on.

As he did so, he passed Gayle again - she was rather deep in conversation with Mr de Lancie and waved slightly in his direction, as if to suggest that he should rejoin the conversation. He smiled back, nodded, gestured with two fingers at the drinks table at the end of the room, as if to convey that he were simply stepping away to refresh his drink after the turn about the room.

All in all, he could do with a gasp of fresh air - between whatever was about to happen with Rose, plus Gayle being the overbearing motormouth that she was, plus turning about the room with more vigour than he had in a while, it was enough to make a man faint.

As he arrived near the table with the drinks - behind which would lead him out to the garden, he heard a single faint chime. The dull flat chime of a bell that would normally be in the cloisters of a cathedral.

"What the deuce?" he muttered under his breath. He flipped the watch open and frowned at the dials. Well, that was that: he and Rose would depart any moment from now to approximately fourty-five minutes into the past, to when Rose would see them. He would have been in the middle of that near-interminable conversation with Gayle. It had felt like hours.

He looked back into the room, searching for Rose.

Rose Pemberton

Their dance finally ended and Rose was dreading what would happen next. Even if she was coming around to Harold's line of reasoning regarding the necessity of them investigating the supposed time travel incident, this of course didn't stop her from feeling intimidated. She'd never used time travel in her life. Quite frankly, it was magically beyond her. Like most things, she thought with some amount of bitterness. Though she knew it wasn't true in general, she hated how she probably affirmed the believes of quite a few bloodist thinkers in the room. Meek, muggle born and mostly magic-less. It was not a good look.

Her sense of dread and foreboding was increasing as she followed Harold to the drinks stand rather than the hedge maze. Had he decided on a change of plan? Oh well, she wasn't upset with getting a little stay of execution. She supposed the fact that she had seen herself meant that she had somehow mastered the required magic, though she couldn't imagine that it would have been easy. Harold would probably end up being quite disappointed with her in a couple of minutes when he found out that she had no idea how to work a time turner.

"I'm right here, Hal," she said when he turned around searching for her. "And I suppose there's a confession I have to make." She cast her eyes down, not quite ready to face what she had to say. "I don't have even the slightest idea how to use a time turner. You'll have to teach me the necessary spells. And.... um... I'm not very good with a wand. It might be a bit of a struggle."

There. She'd said it. Rose hoped the ground would open up and somehow swallow her before Harold could say anything or even worse laugh at her incompetence. They really couldn't be more different if they tried. He was this brilliant mind academically and she was just a very average witch who was good at baking. Her inner voice unkindly reminded her that he was likely to grow bored of her before long. And maybe that would be for the better.

The way she looked at him made it pretty obvious she felt afraid. It was taking her effort to keep the little composure she had left. To her own surprise she found that she was also curious. What did any of this mean and how had they ended up in this weird situation? Would doing this thing together solidify their strange friendship - if one could call it that - or drive the final wedge between them? She already thought they were on the brink of falling out and snapping at each other.

"What do you think we will find?" She asked nervously. "I don't understand what is happening."

Farren Abercrombie

Farren realized as she was standing in front of him, his attention wholly on her, as the social butterflies of London flitted around their perimeter that she was actually very glad to have him here. Her Grandmother In-Law was not a good omen of how things would go for them. The old bat was too old to remember her manners and too wrapped up in her as a financial investment to care about being courteous. But she was likely just voicing the opinions and questions that would be whispered behind fans all evening and over water coolers tomorrow once the papers came out. People loved to gossip. Life was peaceful in the wizarding world for the most part and falsely salacious news and gossip did well to keep everyone occupied. It was something she'd grown used to but something he surely was not familiar with. Standing up to Mrs. Rosier without flinching was a good start.

The mischievous glint in his eye was another good indication. If she was going to shock them all by bringing a date for the first time ever they'd better damn well have fun making jaws drop. "Mmmm, you have a lot of work to do if we're going to truly ruffle tail feathers," she responded with a hint of a smirk. "Though a waltz would be a perfectly respectable way to open the evening." She picked up the dance card hanging from her wrist checking the order of proceedings. "After this polka," she confirmed smirking.

"Farren!" Oh dear. Another intruder. This was how it went of course, she could hardly enjoy a moment's peace in public. Though this voice was familiar and she turned her gaze away from Declan slowly but without look bothered.

"Charlotte!" she echoed back at the woman approaching her. Strawberry blonde curls piled ontop of her head Charlotte Yaxley was still young enough to be considered beautiful despite being the mother of two girls already in school. Farren embraced her friend and for a moment the women cooed happily over each others gowns. "Declan, this is my friend, Mrs. Charlotte Yaxley," she said turning to again face Declan and include him in the gaggle, "Charlotte, this is my good friend Mr. Declan O'Dwyer."

Charlotte offered a low, casual curtsy in greeting out of formality, "Mr. O'Dwyer, pleased to meet you officially, though I was at your shop the same as Farren the other week. You were so busy I didn't want to force a meeting." There was a subtle suggestion that Charlotte knew what had happened when he and Farren disappeared for nearly an hour at his grand opening. Unlike Mrs. Rosier though Charlotte was not one to act out in public or put her friends in awkward positions. "We all loved it, so clever," she said of the shop her smile wide.

Farren pursed her lips smirking her eyes darting up to Declan. Was she not supposed to tell her friend about that evening? Surely it was OK? He was here now either way. For a moment she wondered if he would judge her for being friends with Mrs. Yaxley. Her husband was decades her senior and their marriage famously rushed with the appearance of twin girls shockingly soon after. Charlotte hailed from an upper middle class pureblood family, her marriage and daughters launching her into the upper echelons of society at the young age of 21. To more conservative types she was uncouth, her marriage little more than a scandal, but Farren had always been fond of her. Introductions made the ladies exchanged a few brief words about the splendor of the ball and the welfare of Charlotte's daughters before she politely excused herself, the red head's eyes daring to dart suggestively between the couple before politely dismissing herself.

The orchestra had finished the polka and couples were drifting from the floor. "I think the only place we won't be interrupted constantly is the dance floor," she quipped offering him her arm. As they moved out to the dance floor she could feel eyes on them. A fiddle player in the orchestra tuned his violin signaling to the crowd they were going to start soon. Around them couples assembled. It was surprisingly nerve wracking standing here on the dance floor with him, the eyes of London upon them. She'd done this a million times with Pyxis and other men of society but this was different. This dance would be their first dance together and the first time as adults they'd been so physically close. Somehow it made her nervous. Thankfully the order of operations was drilled into her so deeply she was sure she could waltz in her sleep. The gentleman bowed, the lady curtsyed, the lady would step forward towards the gentleman and he would take her hand, their hands against eachother's backs. Step, step, step, turn. On and on.

As the music started her eyes were set on his. She smiled as she performed her curtsy and stepped forward towards him waiting for him to take the lead.

Harold Prendergast

"If I am entirely honest, I am not certain what we shall find either. As for needing to master spells, none is required. The mastery of the charms in question is in the manufacture of such devices. With a normal time turner, one simply wears the thing and spins the hourglass on its axis."

He reached the drinks table. What he was about to do was more than a little dangerous - at least if he was wrong. But one that spends enough time, pun not intended, around time and motion will undoubtedly become sensitive to its ripples, and he had spent too long. He hadn't actually needed to have heard the chimes of his watch to know something was going down. Just, drat it, why this evening of all evenings?

He had only brought his watch in case of an actual emergency, such as being unexpectedly late and not wishing to give the appearance of standing Rose up. And now he seemed to be playing detective.

"Here," he brandished a drink in Rose's direction, whilst sipping hurriedly at another. "If you've never done this before, well, you might want something to brace yourself with."

Finishing his own drink, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his watch, and with a smooth practised motion, flipped the lid open.

"This watch also contains the necessary charms for turning time, though I rather disliked the hourglass construction myself. Much prefer a classical fob watch." He evened his tone, trying to project as much warmth and calm as he could. "You don't need to cast any spells, all you need to do is hold my hand or arm, whatever you prefer, as I adjust the dial. Judging by what we've seen I shan't set it back more than an hour and a half, that should be plenty of time to work out... whatever is at hand here."

He paused, "Shall we take a turn about the hedge maze?"

Nerva Sangréal

May 15, 2021, 05:56:15 pm #39 Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 11:14:23 am by E.Guerin
There it was. The conformation. Nerva could barely contain her excitement but quickly deflect those feelings into a response about his clinic. With a beaming smile she excitedly said "Oh! You're the spell damage specialist in Knock turn alley! I've heard so many positive experiences from my patrons at Sanctuary" Seemingly blissfully aware of his family's predicament she took a sip from her wine "I'm so glad people are finally getting help , so many scarred people are walking around. Especially after the war" A sympathetic response that wasn't common among purebloods but Nerva's had heard her fair share of troubles at her bar. Not that she cared ,but it was an easy way to keep her kind persona perfected.

"It must have been quite an adjustment after being abroad for so long. But in the end..we all have to fulfill our family obligations " she said with a sigh. Being a pureblood in high society came with allot of privilege but also with allot of rules and expectations. Seeing his response regarding her name, she figured he didn't knew much about her family - which was rather useful.

"Yes, I'm named after an ancestor.. per pureblood tradition. Nothing noteworthy but I like it better than being called Miss. Sangréal " A blatant lie since the truth was that her father named her after an Roman emperor, a lover of the classics yet she wondered why he picked him. Once she thought there was a deep meaning behind the name, some strange way to humble her by realizing that even the powerful can be weak.But now she just thought her father just had a superficial knowledge of the classics to play the facade of being highly educated. The name Minerva suited her more but changing your name was a big no-no in the family.

"A dance?" She said surprised since he didn't look like someone that was able to dance nor the one to ask so boldly. He looked too sullen and withdrawn to join a dance. Nerva looking in the direction he was glancing at, spotting some youngsters dancing among the adults. Oh right, he was with a young woman earlier.Was that the reason? Did he want to check up on her? Was she the infamous sister that was a vegetable after the 'incident'? It was quite a fascinating case , something that Nerva gladly sink her teeth in.

Nerva rubbed her index finger and thumb together while she was considering his offer. Hiding her thoughts behind her mental wall as always. With an amused smile she got turned back to him "I'd love to, Odhrán" She skipped the etiquette of using his last name. Nerva looked like a socialite but was quite whimsical with her behavior. The redhead flipped her hair over her shoulder as she got up, her free hand fixing her skirt. Nerve stuck out her bended elbow so that they could enter the dance floor together, something that will bound to cause some gossip but nothing that could stain her reputation. If anything, it would help his.

Once theirs arm were interlocked, she'd softly asked him as they made their way to the dance floor "I saw you earlier with a young woman, are you her chaperone?"  Nerva would place her glass on a tray of a passing butler once they were in the ballroom, ready to join the others on the floor.

Rose Pemberton

Rose eyed the drink she'd been given suspiciously, but eventually decided to down the sparkling contents of her glass. She'd have to have a talk with Harold sometime about her preferences. He seemed entirely too fond of fizzy beverages. Were there people who actually liked those and didn't just drink them out of a polite sense of obligation?

Once fortified with alcohol, she set the glass down and took Harold's arm. She was trying to put on a brave front until once again her gaze landed on Marlow Winterbourne who seemed to be headed in their direction.

"If it's all the same to you, Hal," she said to him quietly, "let's get going before we're forced to have a conversation with that gentleman. I can assure you that he knows nothing that would be off use to you and he is a deeply unpleasant person."

She scooted closer to Harold and leaned into him. It was a bit forward, given that they weren't really a couple, but Rose couldn't stand the idea of Marlowe playing an even bigger part in this evenings' events than he had already. Maybe, making it appear as though Harold and her were a couple would discourage him from wanting to say hello. While she didn't consider it above Marlowe to try and humiliate her once again, but perhaps he would refrain from doing so if there was a witness.

Rose ushered Harold out of the room with a little put on giggle, practically racing towards the hedge maze. Once Mr Winterbourne was out of sight again she let go of Harold putting a more appropriate distance between them.

"I'm sorry," she stumbled nervously. Heat was rushing to her cheeks. "I know that wasn't.... I just couldn't face meeting him..." she struggled to offer Harold any reasonable explanation for her behaviour, but hoped that the panic in her eyes left him with an impression of how dire things had to be for her to act out like this.

"Just please don't leave me alone with that guy. I'll explain it later, okay?"

Declan O'Dwyer

"I'd kinda resolved not to ruffle feathers tonight, for your sake." His tone remained light and humourous, but what he said still rang true. "But I've never been very good at resisting the temptation to be a bit of an enfant terrible. You should think carefully before encouraging me in that. You know better than I do what a bunch of hypocrites we have here tonight." His eyes slowly drifted to an older lady dressed in white. ,,Take her over there giving us a disapproving look. She's Áine O Broin. Her eldest married a muggle, but here she is behaving like her family has the moral high ground."

He scoffed, then let the thought go. There was no point in elaborating on the reasons he usually shunned these occasions. It was just that he wanted Farren to understand that he wasn't as clueless as society may have made him sound and that his reputation was mostly the result of him offending on purpose. Being considered a bit of an unhinged genius limited the amount of folks willing to step up and risk a conversation or association with him.

"I'm looking forward to the waltz though. Sounds like fun." He wasn't sure if she meant to dance that polka with him or another gentleman, but before he could cast a discrete glance at her dance card they were being interrupted by a friend of Farren's. A bit of casual chatter between the ladies ensued, comparing gowns, before a formal introduction was made.

"My pleasure to meet you, Mrs Yaxley." He was rather amused to learn that the strawberry blonde in front of him was a keen observer of things. "I'm sure we can rectify that some time. I'm unused to playing the host, so you must forgive my oversights." It was a bit of a fib, as Declan did host some gatherings in Ireland from time to time, but he doubted Mrs Yaxley would challenge him on this statement. Surely she'd catch his intention of giving a polite excuse for shirking his duties as a host for a while. "I am glad to hear though you enjoyed the evening anyway."

As Mrs Yaxley lapsed back into conversation just with Farren he wondered just how close friends these two women were and what exactly Mrs Yaxley knew. It probably wasn't anything to worry about. Farren had a better handle on society than him when it came to judging a lot of the people in this room. There were only a few Declan knew well, while most of the others he'd never had a deeper conversation with. He supposed it was best to just trust Farren. She navigated this pond of sharks regularly.

The ladies' chat wrapped up just in time with the music which meant it was their turn to step onto the dance floor. Declan suddenly felt a little nervous. Though the steps to the waltz were easy, the speed and amount of spinning could make it difficult. With the amount of eyes on them, the last thing he wanted to do was mess up. He bowed, Farren curtsied, before assuming closed position. For a moment his mind was so preoccupied with the technical execution of the dance, the rest of the world melted away.

One, two, three. In his mind he kept counting as they performed the steps. It all rather reminded him of taking dance classes as a teenager, except that this time getting it right seemed to matter a little more. Farren was a wonderful partner. She was elegant and light on her feet, making it easy to guide her trough the steps. Seeing how she agreed to give people something to talk about he lead her into an underarm turn and let them closer to the centre of the floor after to continue their dance.

He noted with some amusement that for the days leading up to this ball he'd often been thinking about dancing with Farren, but now that it was a reality he found himself wishing they had some time alone. Holding her close his thoughts drifted to how it might feel to kiss her. Was it too soon? Would such an advance even be welcome? He couldn't decide just yet, so maybe more waiting was in order.

The music swelled to a loud crescendo, letting him know that they were nearing the end of their dance. He didn't really fancy going back to making polite conversation, but he supposed that was what was expected of them. "Do you still want to meet my family, or should we make it one more dance?"

Odhrán Ó Dálaigh

Sanctuary. Now the mystery as to why her face looked familiar was solved. He'd spent a great deal of time at that bar and he could now picture her in her usual, more casual work attire. If she hadn't told him, he'd have never in a million times placed her there. She looked so elegant and beautiful tonight it was hard to imagine her as anything other than a socialite. It also made her interesting. Only a few of the women in attendance worked and he was curious to hear what had driven her decision. Alas, that was not a question he could just ask a stranger.

What? Odhrán struggled not to stare when she agreed to a dance. That was a rather unexpected outcome, though he supposed it wasn't the end of the world. He wouldn't have described himself as the best of dancers, but he rather enjoyed music and had a good sense of rhythm. As long as they weren't playing a foxtrot then he was reasonably confident he could handle himself.

He got up from his chair and held out his arm to Nerva to accompany her back to the ballroom. He wondered if his rash decision would have any further consequences. She was from a decent family. Would people talk? Well, he supposed if so, it didn't really matter to him. He wasn't a socialite by any stretch of the imagination.

Nerva surprised him again by being quite observant. She'd picked up on the fact he was watching Aoibheann and was apparently blunt enough to ask him about it outright. Part of him was tempted to tell her that she was his date just to watch the expression on Nerva's face, but of course he didn't want to start any rumours that might end up being harmful to the family reputation. They struggled enough in that department without him causing further havoc.

"She's Aoibheann Ní Dálaigh, my younger sister." he answered Nerva truthfully. He hesitated for a moment, unsure of how he wanted to continue. They'd purposefully chosen a colour of gown that didn't give that this was her debutante ball. At her age, it would have been strange to admit to such a circumstance. Better not to say anything on the subject. "I don't think she needs me to be her chaperone, but she wanted me to come along tonight and who am I to argue. For all I know I'm being set up with some society lady." He smirked at the notion. It was outlandish in a way, but not terribly far fetched. His sister had been nagging him about finding a lady to ask out.

As they stepped back inside they crossed paths with the couple he'd noticed earlier. Maybe, they were about to attempt the hedge maze again.

They stopped near the dance floor while waiting for the current polka to finish. Aoibheann gave a brief wave before focusing on her partner again. Odhrán didn't recognise the young man.

"Do you know the gentleman my sister is dancing with?" He asked Nerva, figuring she would know most people in attendance. "Should I intervene?"

He wasn't particularly serious and there wasn't much time for an intervention anyway. The music ebbed away and couples were taking position on the dance floor. A waltz. He smiled. This he could easily handle. As was custom, he bowed to Nerva before taking her hand and assuming position.

The music was a little faster than he'd have expected, but it was easy enough to keep the rhythm. He led the dance with a calm sense of confidence despite. Nothing fancy. No dips, extra spins, just staying in their lane. For some reason, dancing the waltz always reminded him of being at the races. Each couple stayed in their lane circling the stadium, well, dance floor.

"What do you reckon," he said with a bit of a conspiring smirk, "can we beat those two fancy folks over there? They look like they really know what they're doing."