He took the offered drinks of mead from her and, as he saw her taking two more for herself, drowned the content of the first for a bit of liquid courage. He felt a weird mix of excited and nervous to be conspiring with her, even if it was just about the silly guests at his even sillier party.
"I can't say no? You demand? I have no choice but to indulge you?" repeated with just a hint of feigned outrage. He grinned from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat.
There were no words for just how amusing he found her way of phrasing her request. He didn't think he knew anybody quite like Farren. Of course, he had seen this song and dance before a long time ago. She had a way of making it seem like she was trying to do another person a big favour, when in reality she was just following her own impulses. A big infectious smile, a request stated as a fact, a light-hearted, teasing comment and boys and men alike lost their heads, suddenly declaring themselves to be quite in love with her. It had worked on him too in the past, and quite a bit better than he would have liked to admit.
Declan felt tempted just yield and let her be in charge of the situation, if only to see where she would take it. There was a part of him, however, that wasn't in the mood to just let her sweep him up in her whirlwind and let her do as she pleased. Call it instinct but making it too easy for her to mess with him just didn't feel right. He could have sworn there was a hint of implied challenge in her smirk. He would happily take her up on it.
"An exclusive for the Prophet?," he shrugged. "I don't think so." It was a strange thrill to be standing up to her, even if his tone gave away that he was teasing her rather than being serious. He was more than happy to get out of this tedious affair. Even if this fancy gathering was his, he didn't enjoy this kind of thing any more today than he did usually.
He cast a quick glance around them to check if anyone was looking in their direction. His guests were still preoccupied with the buffet and, of course, each other. Feeling safe, Declan reached out to take her drinks from, casting a hasty enchantment over the glasses. Then he took her hand, gently pulling her with him towards the counter. Their drinks dutifully trailed behind them, levitating at shoulder height just within easy reach.
"How about you indulge me instead?" he whispered to her, briefly making eye contact. "There's something I've just got to show you." His tone had taken on a rather smooth and darkly characteristic quality as he was hamming it up a little bit for her entertainment. He figured that she still knew him well enough to rest assured that he had nothing too scandalous in mind. After all, he'd been the voice of reason at some point in their shared history.
What Declan couldn't deny was that there was something she had said that kept flitting through his mind: she would have accepted a date with him? He was of half a mind to test if the assertion still held true now almost a full decade later. Oh Merlin, had somebody put something in that second glass of mead? He felt tipsy. There was no denying it now.
"It's me demanding an exclusive, you can't say no." There was such pleasure in turning these words around on her and being over the top silly with it. He pulled her with him as he stepped into the backroom and out of sight. They had such momentum, he almost fell into one of the very tall, carved, mango wood cabinets. The drinks were still following them, nearly crashing into them like the accident waiting to happen that they were. Since when was he this undignified? How fortunate that none of his guests were able to witness this. He just about managed to steady himself, regaining a superficial level of control. His nerves were fraying, but his jumbled thoughts had coalesced into a vague and scary plan he didn't care to think about too hard, least he convinced himself otherwise.
Declan fished a key out of the pocket of his suit. "I only just got this today," he explained while unlocking the door to one of the cabinets. "And I thought you might find this fun. Haven't tried it yet" As he opened the cabinet door an empty space with no shelves or content was revealed. She had to think he was absolutely barmy. Maybe he was. He hadn't felt playful or mischievous like this in a long time.
"Let's get out of here," he said while trying to usher her into the cabinet. For a few brief moments he really felt like a teenager again, about to play a game of seven minutes in heaven. He pulled her closer, and once their drinks had floated along, closed the door behind them. They were standing not quite close enough to touch, but he still feared that his knees might give out from under him any minute. The intensity of it all was overwhelming. It was a heady mixture of excitement and thrill and maybe something else? He decided again that he didn't feel drunk, at least not on alcohol.
When he opened the door again just a mere moment later, they found themselves in a completely different place. Vanishing cabinets were a wonderful thing. He loved them and he was well pleased that Viridian London finally had one, saving him the exhausting hassle of frequent apparition. Declan stumbled forward and out of the cabinet, laughing again.
"Hope you don't mind."
The space in front of them was arguably a lab, though it seemed to have some ballroom heritage. The room they entered was wide, spacious and airy, with charming exposed brick work and very high ceilings. One side of the room was lined in massive, arched, gothic windows framed with heavy, long, dark green curtains. They were pulled back, revealing a lake and forest outside. The stark darkness outside was broken up with a bright moon a wild smattering of stars.
A positively gigantic landscape painting spanned almost the entire back wall, making the room appear even larger than it really was and seemed deceptive enough in its depth and detail to briefly be mistaken for a window to the other side.
The room itself seemed to divide into two loosely themed sections. The bit that seemed to be a lab with dried herbs and flowers hanging from an overhead rack. There was a minimalist centre island with smooth black marble surfaces, kept immaculately clean. A heavy chandelier, provided warm, but muted light.
There other half of the space, home to a black velvet sofa and matching armchairs, a chunky white rug, a low table, several overgrown plants and a telescope. Here and there, one could spot a few personal touches. A photograph on the wall taken with Declan's grandfather, a duellist's half cape left draped over an armchair, a stack of journals and books resting on the table with bold calligraphy on the covers.
"It's less noisy here." Declan offered as an explanation for the change of venue. "You can hardly expect me to catch up with you properly with those nattering ducks around." He made a vague gesture encouraging her to find a place to settle down with her drinks.