That had done it. Nikolas had been fighting the desire to laugh for the past ten minutes, and Daphne's question, for whatever reason, became a trigger. He let out a guffaw that, while short lived, was also much louder than it would ordinarily have been and echoed into the night air. Almost offensively, had it been late enough for anyone to be seriously trying to sleep. Perhaps if she'd asked this question last week, Nik still would have answered in the positive with some sense of truth. Now, he wasn't so sure anymore. He ignored the comment about the pipe - well, it was something he'd picked up from his father, so what was to be said? He liked it well enough, let her think what she wanted.
Nikolas breathed out heavily, tossing the pipe absently between his hands for a few seconds before he fumbled it. Not surprising. "Actually. No. I thought they did but I got a letter this week that would suggest otherwise. They've established some...conditions. Which makes me think they really are serious about this."
Frowning, he looked over at Daphne again to see her reaction. She seemed relaxed enough, if one could look past the fact that she was easily as frustrated as he was. "At the very least, Dad has unwittingly supplied me with enough Simison's Steaming Stout to provide me at least a few more obnoxious letters worth of relief. Cheers."
This last bit was spat out with a degree of obvious bitterness Nikolas generally thought silly and unnecessary, and he began to take another draw from the bottle. Almost as an afterthought, though, he paused mid-sip and held the bottle towards Daphne as though offering her a try.