Beginning, Next Section
Posted on 2010-09-26
He had decided. They were leaving at first light the next morning. He felt suffocated here and could no longer bear Aunt Catherine's insinuations regarding his supposed engagement to Anne. He went to find Fitzwilliam and inform him of his plans. "Wait a minute" said Richard, "all of a sudden I have to change my plans, just because you want to escape? I will not be able to pay my respects to Miss Bennett, and I'm sure she would think it rude of us to leave without saying goodbye!"
"Well, it really doesn't matter. It is decided. We leave in the morning. You can stay here for all I care." He snapped back at his cousin. "Well, well Darcy. What rudeness indeed, you're not only being rude to Miss Bennett, but to your own cousin! By the way, where did you disappear to tonight? Aunt Catherine was fuming at the insult. I don't know how I kept her from sending someone to search for you." He looked at his cousin intently. You don't know that your feelings can be read as an open book just looking upon your countenance man. "I went to get some fresh air; it was getting to stuffy in here." Darcy replied with a pained look on his face. "I am sorry I put you in an uncomfortable situation." He said somewhat without feeling.
"I need to make preparations for tomorrow Richard. And I suggest you do the same. We will leave by nine tomorrow. Good night cousin." He turned and left the room.
Fitzwilliam had his suspicions about Darcy and Miss Bennett. He had never before seen his cousin act in such a manner in front of any woman. He caught him staring at Miss Bennett frequently and he seemed to be somewhat at a loss for words when she spoke to him. Could it be that he was in love with her? It wouldn't be surprising. Miss Bennett was a charming woman, and very beautiful indeed. She had lovely brown eyes that danced when she spoke. At least he could sense some tension between them and she seemed to enjoy sparring with him, he seemed to enjoy the challenge she provided. She had confided in him that he found him haughty and arrogant, which he immediately defended. She was surprised to learn that Fitzwilliam was at Darcy's disposal. She retorted that everyone seems to be at his disposal one way or another.
Yes, the more he thought about it, the more he felt that he was right in his suspicions. All the early morning walks Darcy took by himself were also odd from Richard's point of view. Darcy was more of a horseman, the fact that he had switched from horses to walking made him suspect even more. Well, he thought, it seems like something else happened tonight. When he disappeared, did he go to pay a visit to Elizabeth, knowing full well she was alone? He would find out sooner or later during their ride back home. One thing he knew is that Darcy looked like he had seen a ghost tonight.
The coach ride had been as quiet as any that Colonel Fitzwilliam could remember. His companion had not uttered a word, the only thing he had heard from his cousin were sighs and deep breaths. Darcy was looking out the window when Richard said, "Darcy are you alright?" There was no immediate response. "Darcy, man is everything alright?" His cousin half startled at his words and simply nodded in the positive. Richard was not easily dissuaded and knew Darcy too well to let the matter drop. "William, there is something bothering you, I can tell and don't try to deny it. Remember, I am almost like a brother. I can read you like an open book."
"I am not in the mood for jesting Richard." replied Darcy with a tone in his voice that made Richard think twice about joking with him, although he knew full well that he was one of the few people that could get Darcy in a better mood quickly.
"You know you will end up confessing all, sooner rather than later. So why not start sooner? It will not matter in the end." He waited anxiously for Darcy's reply. But it didn't come. It seemed as if he had not even heard what he said. "William, look at me" he said with a serious tone of voice. Darcy turned his face towards his cousin and Richard cringed at what he saw. Bloodshot eyes, dark circles, it almost looked as if he had been crying….. His face showed such anguish and desperation that Richard began to truly worry. "William, I know something is bothering you in a very big way, will you not share that with me?"
"Why?" Darcy responded, to Richard's surprise. "So you can laugh at my expense? No, cousin I am not in the mood for that at the moment." Richard insisted, "No, I am not going to laugh at you, I can see it in your face that whatever it is, it is taking a toll on you, I would never laugh at that. What happened last night with Miss Bennett?" he asked to see if Darcy would take the bait.
"Why do you ask me that? Why do you think it has something to do with Miss Bennett.? said Darcy defensively. At least he was talking to him. "I am not stupid or naïve William. I have noticed that you are attracted to the lady in question and I don't blame you. She is charming, if I didn't have to worry about securing a financial future I may offer for her myself."
Darcy shot him a dreadful look. So there is where the truth lies. "She is smart witty, bright, knows how to hold her own against none other that Catherine de Bourgh, plays beautifully and I was forgetting has delicious lips and incredibly lovely big brown eyes..." Darcy exploded. "Enough!" he snapped. "I don't find it humorous Richard; this is all fun and games to you, but to me…" he stopped abruptly. "To you, what William?" Darcy knew he was caught. He could feel his eyes stinging and all of a sudden he couldn't hold on any longer. He closed his eyes, but not before Richard noticed the wetness in them. What? Richard thought. What is this all about? "Darcy, are you in love with Elizabeth Bennett?" Richard's pointed question made Darcy feel almost physically sick.
All of a sudden he felt like he couldn't breathe, his head was spinning. He looked as white as a piece of paper. Richard became alarmed and called for the coachman to stop the coach. As soon as he did, Darcy pushed the door open and sprang from the carriage. Richard got out but stayed away, wanting to give his cousin some space; obviously he had touched a nerve, so to speak. He could see his cousin's body shaking violently, he was vomiting! This was indeed serious. Darcy came down on his knees and started shaking uncontrollably. Richard decided to approach him and what he saw worried him. His cousin was indeed sobbing and he looked worse than he had ever seen him in his life. Not even when his parents had passed away had he seen Darcy looking like this.
Darcy was wiping his mouth with his handkerchief. He was still kneeling and Richard stayed mute. "How could I have been so blind?" Darcy said all of a sudden. "Thinking that she might have feelings for me? How stupid! How very naïve! What is the matter with me?" Richard kept quiet; he thought it better to let Darcy speak freely. He felt for his cousin. Darcy's life had not been an easy one, losing both his parents before turning twenty devastated him, Georgiana's episode with Wickham and now this.
"Can I get you something Fitz?" he asked. Darcy looked up at the familiar name Richard used to call him in their childhood. His face was ashen and stricken with a pain that was impossible to hide. "We can take a moment, as long as you need." Darcy took a deep breath. "Last night I went to the parsonage and asked Elizabeth Bennett to be my wife." he said simply, with emotion in his voice. "And what happened?" Richard asked him softly. "She refused me." Darcy swallowed hard and closed his eyes; he was sitting on the grassy field now, his arms around his knees and his head down cradled in his hands.
"She refused you!" Richard said in astonishment. "How could any woman in England refuse such a man? I can not believe it. She seems to be a smart, sensible woman, why would she do such a thing, are you sure you didn't misunderstand her?" Darcy looked at his cousin. "She was quite clear in her refusal, she called me arrogant, conceited, selfish, and uncaring for the feelings of others and let's not forget that from the first moment she saw me, she thought I was the last man in the world she could ever be prevailed upon to marry. No, Richard, there is no misunderstanding here, everything is quite clear." Darcy said with dejection in his voice. He ran his hands through his hair and laid back on the grass looking up at the beautiful morning sky. He breathed deeply.
"Then if that is the case, you shouldn't bother with it." Richard replied. Darcy sat up and looked at his cousin incredulously. "What! Have you ever loved anyone besides yourself Richard?" he asked in exasperation. "Do you even know what it is to lose someone you love with all your being?" Richard didn't answer; he was shocked at the intensity of his cousin's words and somewhat hurt. "I didn't think so." Darcy said after a few moments. "I think you can call me anything, William, but you can not accuse me of not loving my friends and family. At the very least, you know I love you and I care about you." Richard said with a hurtful tone in his voice. After some silence, Darcy said, "I'm sorry cousin. I can not seem to get anything right lately and you are the person standing next to me at the moment. Please forget what I said."
"There is more to this story than what you are telling me, isn't there? asked Richard. "I know she found you arrogant and high handed, because she told me so. I defended you and told her you where none of those things." He paused, an idea forming in his mind. "We did discuss a certain friend, who you have recently rescued from a disadvantageous marriage." He trailed off. Darcy could not believe his ears. "What!" He yelled at his cousin. Richard looked at him intently. "Who is this friend William? Does this have anything to do with her refusing you?"
Darcy felt like jumping his cousin and beating him senseless. "It's Charles Bingley," he said with a look that Richard could feel piercing him, "and the woman in question is Jane Bennett, Elizabeth's older sister!" He wanted to physically hurt his cousin and he used all his will power to keep his anger in check. Richard felt horrible; he had been the means of taking away his cousin's happiness? Everything started to come together now. It couldn't be possible, but it would have come out sooner or later, he said to himself. "I'm so very sorry Fitz." Darcy was speechless and with a coarse voice he said to his cousin, "Don't talk to me Richard." And started walking to the coach.
Both men got into the carriage. The rest of the trip was taken in the most awkward and painful silent Richard and Darcy had ever shared.
Posted on 2010-09-29
When they arrived in town, Darcy stepped out of the coach and walked in the house without saying a word. Richard gave instructions to the driver and proceeded to go inside following his cousin. The butler greeted him and asked, "Is everything alright, Colonel? Mr. Darcy walked past me without saying a word." Richard frowned and replied, "Yes, Gerard, everything is alright, although Mr. Darcy has some worries at the moment. Just make sure you stay out of his way when not needed and proceed as usual." With that he went looking for his cousin and found him in the library.
Darcy was sitting in the oversized chair, in front of the fire, with his legs stretched out and a glass in his hand. His eyes were closed, but Richard could see his chest moving up and down with heavy breathing. "What, you didn't even pour me a glass, cousin? What manners!" he sounded affronted, but tried to be light humored. Darcy didn't react; as if he hadn't even heard. He poured himself another glass of brandy. "So, you are going to get drunk now?" Richard asked. "Help yourself; you can join me if you wish." Darcy replied, Richard was surprised he was even talking to him at all.
"What is that going to accomplish, William? You will just get a headache and get sick to your stomach; don't you already feel bad enough?" asked his cousin. "Maybe it will make me forget her words for a little while and hurt somewhere else." retorted Darcy. "I hope you will not be taking to drinking in excess Darcy, you have not the head for it." Richard said as he poured himself a glass and stood by the fireplace, which was ablaze with a warming fire.
"Since when do you have such scruples regarding alcohol Richard? You have always been the one pushing me to drink and 'let my hair down'. All of a sudden, when the situation warrants it, you are concerned?" Richard stood in front of him and could not help feeling sorry for Darcy's pitiful state. "I am just concerned for your well being William. In your state of mind you can easily slip into a serious depression and Georgiana will be here in a few days. I would not like her to find you in this state. I think if you don't mind I'll stay for a few days to keep you company." Darcy gave him a resentful look.
"Suit yourself, but I assure you, I don't need you to nurse my wounds Richard. I'm a big boy; I can take care of myself." Richard took a deep breath and said in a low voice, "William, I'm truly sorry that my words came back to hurt you, I had no idea…." He trailed off. "It's alright, really, she would have found out sooner or later, you just expedited everything and you couldn't possibly know it was her sister, I never told you. I forgive you Richard, don't torment yourself." Richard sighed with relief; he had truly felt miserable for having opened his big mouth. But Darcy was right, she would have found out eventually.
At dinner they hardly spoke two words, Darcy was still deep in thought and the look upon his face was somber, but calmer than earlier. Richard was growing exasperated with his pitiful look, "This is quite enough Darcy, I will not let you sit here and mope around all day. You need to move on and not dwell on past things that you can't change!" Darcy lost all his self control. "Then let me be! Go back to your damn regiment and leave me alone! If all you are going to do while here is annoy me, I am definitely better off alone Richard! You have no idea what I am feeling at this moment, I just want to crawl under a rock and be left alone, so stop your unwanted advice!" he stormed out of the room.
Gerard came in the room after hearing the altercation and found the Colonel standing by his chair. "Is anything the matter Colonel, Mr. Darcy doesn't seem like himself today?" he asked Richard. "Mr. Darcy is in a dreadful mood and I'm not sure how he will snap out of it. I'm afraid you will have to be very patient with him Gerard." The reliable man looked surprised, but responded, "Of course Colonel, we will do whatever needed until Mr. Darcy is back to his old self." Richard smiled at him and said, "Please, watch his drinking and, I know this won't be easy, but try to limit it, when possible?" The butler responded hastily. "I understand Sir." Richard stepped out of the dinning room and decided to see if William was in his study. He was not. Richard assumed he had retired and decided to do so himself. It had been a trying day indeed!
Richard could hear his cousin pacing back and forth through the night, he knew he hadn't slept a wink, and truth be told he couldn't find the most needed slumber himself. He was at a loss as to how to help Darcy. He was like a brother to him; actually he got along better with Darcy than with his own brother. All of their lives they had shared laughter and sorrow. Darcy had never been the kind of friend to open up to him easily; you usually had to pry things from him, like pulling teeth. But Richard had a way of getting Darcy's tongue loose. Now, he had gotten him to confess his feelings for Miss Bennett, but how to help him was another story. He couldn't begin to imagine how tortured Darcy was feeling. Such a man, who doesn't bestow his admiration easily to begin with, in love and humiliated, rejected by a simple country woman! He knew that Darcy would be analyzing everything for a long time, over and over in his mind. That would be unbearable for him.
He tried to put himself in his shoes and think of what he would do if he found himself in that situation. Honestly, he couldn't think of an answer. Darcy was in an impossible position. Elizabeth Bennett was a lovely, charming, smart and passionate woman that much he knew. She had a very good reason to refuse him. How could she marry the man who had separated her sister from her love interest? Would he ride back to Hertfordshire and try to talk sense into a very sensible woman, would that make matters worse? Would he try to explain himself? Should he wait and let matters settle for a while, let the passions cool off? He punched this open palm and cursed to himself, 'Damned women! Can't live with them, can't live without them.'
In the meantime Darcy was restless. He was feeling all the possible spectrum of feelings available. He was angry, sad, mad, frustrated, impotent, desperate, devastated, overtired, and overwhelmed. How could all this have turned out so wrong? Only a few days ago his heart was leaping in anticipation of his proposal and now he was at the lowest point he had ever been in his life! He never knew there could be such a low point. Having played the scene over and over in his head, the emotion that jumped out at him more that any other was impotence. There was nothing he could do about this at the present time. He had never felt so helpless before. It was agonizing.
How could he go on after such a terrible blow? How could he function and concentrate in his business endeavors? How could he attend gatherings and pretend to enjoy himself, when he was completely crushed inside? He couldn't do it. He just couldn't. But he had to. He was Fitzwilliam Darcy, Master of Pemberley and great things where expected of him. He had to face the world. He couldn't hide. His sister would be here in two days and he had to pretend that everything was alright, for her own sake. He couldn't allow her to see him in this pitiful condition.
He stepped in front of the mirror and was shocked at what he saw! This man was unrecognizable. His cousin was right, he had to move on and forget, but how? He couldn't rip Elizabeth Bennett from his mind, he simply couldn't. He couldn't forget her hurtful, disdainful words to him. Her questioning of his very honor. From the first moment I met you. No he had to stop re-playing those words in his mind, they hurt too much. He couldn't forget the look in her eyes and her voice! It was torture. How could he reconcile sleep? He was exhausted, he hadn't had a good night sleep since he found out Elizabeth was at Rosings. God, he hadn't had a good night sleep since Meryton!
Had she read his letter? He wished he had never written it. He wished he had never delivered it to her. When he met her in her morning walk, she looked tired as if she hadn't slept either. What was she feeling at this moment? If she had read the letter, did she have a different opinion of him now, at least regarding Wickham? She had to. How could she not!
Wickham, that bastard! Putting ideas into her head! How could he? But it really shouldn't be surprising. After all that had transpired between the two of them, to know that he had run his name through the mud in front of her. Did he know of his interest in Elizabeth? He couldn't, nobody knew. He hadn't even been with Wickham since last summer when he had attempted the unthinkable with Georgiana. But why was Elizabeth so adamantly defending him? Was she attracted to the apparently charming man? Hopefully his letter served at least to explain the extent of Wickham's deceit and make her think again of any possible association with him.
But there was no use in wondering, for he would never see her again. Someday, in a not so distant future, if Charles ended up marrying her sister Jane, he would hear of her engagement to another man and that would positively finish him. He could not survive knowing that Elizabeth belonged to another, that she was loved by another, touched by another, kissed by another and that another shared her bed and made love to her every night. No he didn't know what he would do then. But it would have to be.
He took his clothes off and threw them carelessly on the floor. He decided to seek the comfort of his bed to see if he could find some much needed rest. He closed his eyes and could see her face looking at him with that hurtful look in her eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes that he adored. How could he ever forget how she had looked at him when she refused his offer of marriage? No one had ever spoken to him like that. She had certainly put him in his place. How dare she? Who did she think she was, talking to him like that? He was breathing hard and felt he was out of breath.
He tried to take a deep breath, it actually hurt his chest. A simple country girl. She is not that. She is the most incredible woman he has ever met! Her wit, her intelligence, her charm, her liveliness, her caring for the ones she loves, and then there was her beautiful brown eyes, those eyes he saw in his dreams, when he closed his eyes, looking at him, challenging him, teasing him and her lips, her luscious lips, made to be kissed, by him, he had wanted to feel her lips on his so badly, to drown in the sensation, the softness of them…and her hair, with that smell of lavender, that followed him and made him startle whenever he smelled someone wearing it. No, she is no ordinary woman. He could never see her like that.
'What am I going to do? How am I going to get her out of my mind? How will I ever be able to forget what she said to me and the forcefulness of her words? It was impossible! Could I ever wish to be in her presence again?" he tossed and turned trying to find rest. Finally, almost with dawn appearing in the horizon and exhausted Darcy fell asleep for a few restless hours.
Posted on 2010-10-04
The past month had been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of Darcy's life. He had to push himself everyday, just to get up in the morning. Nothing interested him. He had to make a great effort to appear normal. Only his many years of presenting to the world the picture of the perfect gentleman had aided him. Otherwise he would have surely buckled under the strain and pain he still felt in the pit of his stomach. It was exhausting, to try so hard to appear as if nothing was wrong, when everything had crumpled around him.
He had tried to be attentive and patient with his sister, but sometimes he couldn't help getting annoyed with her, when she asked him if everything was alright. He especially disliked when she approached him without him being aware and he caught her staring intently at him. It was almost like she was reading everything that was in his heart. He didn't enjoy that feeling of vulnerability. He knew that he was shutting her out, but he couldn't bring himself to open up to her. But why? After all she had gone through some hard times herself last summer with the whole Wickham episode. Maybe he would feel better if he talked about his pain with Georgiana.
He found her in the music room, practicing at the pianoforte. She was doing better everyday and practiced constantly. She was quite an accomplished player. She was surprised to see him enter the room and stopped her playing. "Please don't let me interrupt you my dear" he said, "I would like to hear how you're coming along." She smiled at him and continued playing. He listened attentively. He found himself enjoying her music and it soothed him. He desperately needed something, anything to sooth his ailing heart. This was like a sweet balm. He sat down in the chair next to the pianoforte and closed his eyes listening to his sister's playing. She wasn't sure if he was even awake, but he seemed to be at peace listening to her play, so she carried on.
When she finally finished the piece, he opened his eyes and smiled at her approvingly. "That was very well done Georgiana." he said with a smile. "Thank you brother, I am glad you came to hear me playing. I have been applying myself to my music daily. I hope you are pleased with my progress." she said softly. "Yes, indeed I am very pleased!" There was a moment of awkward silence between them. Finally, Georgiana broke it and asked him shyly. "Brother, are you alright? I have noticed you have been very absent minded lately. I don't want to intrude in your private affairs, it's just that I worry about you…" she trailed off.
He stood up and came to her side taking her hands in his and looking at her he said, "Forgive me, Georgiana. I have not been myself lately and I realize this has upset you, I apologize for making you worry." She smiled at him and said, "Well, you have uttered more words to me just now, than you have in the past month!" He looked at her, let go of her hands and walked to the window. "William?" she said, "Will you not tell me what is on your mind? Maybe I can be of assistance." His back was still facing her, she wasn't sure if he was upset at her questioning him or he was in one of his thoughtful moods.
He breathed in and started talking. He told her of meeting Elizabeth in the fall and how he reluctantly started taking a liking of her. He told her how beautiful he thought she was and how he thought of her more and more as time went by. He told her of her coming to visit Jane in Netherfield and how they sparred with each other to see who could best who. "She challenged me Georgiana. I have never met a woman like her, not even here in the capital of high society. She is witty and bright and intelligent, she can hold her own against Caroline Bingley without flinching. You know, she enjoyed teasing me and seeing how far she could get, without me getting mad." He paused and started pacing back and forth. She waited until he was ready to continue.
"On top of everything, I convinced Bingley that her sister Jane was not worthy of his attentions and when we left Netherfield I was convinced I would never see her again. But she was constantly in my thoughts and in my dreams. I couldn't forget those big, mischievous, playful brown eyes, dancing around as she spoke… Then, when Richard and I went to Rosings to visit Aunt Catherine, she was there also, visiting her good friend who had recently married our Aunt's cleric. I was shocked to say the least to find her in this most unusual setting. Needless to say, I was all tied up in knots and found it very difficult to put two and two together." He stopped for a breath and continued.
"Richard and I started calling on the parsonage and would go on daily walks with the ladies. I thought that it was something like a courtship, and I was confident I had her regard. After much thought and deliberation I decided to ask her to marry me…" Georgiana was astounded! "But I have not heard of such engagement brother, why haven't you told me so?" He looked up at her and then started pacing the room again, he was agitated, she realized. Finally he spoke again, "Because there is no engagement little sister." He said with sadness.
"But why!" Georgiana couldn't comprehend. Her brother had asked this woman to marry him, but there was no engagement? "She refused me." What! It could not be, no one with a brain would ever refused her brother, and this country girl had insulted him by refusing his hand? "I am afraid I didn't act in a very gentleman like manner my dear." Her brother said with his head down. "You, William acted in a manner unbecoming to a gentleman? Why, what did you do?" she asked him. He swallowed hard and said, "I insulted her and her family, for her lack of connections and the impropriety shown by her mother and younger sisters. I told her that it was not inclined to enter into such am engagement…" he trailed off and took a deep breath.
There was silence for a moment between brother and sister, she was pondering all this astounding information and he was trying to slow down his breathing. After a while he said, "I don't know what got into me Georgiana, why I said all those things to her, I know I hurt her, I know she was distraught, I will forever remember the look upon her face when I was finished with my speech." He paused for a minute and continued, "I don't know if I will ever be able to take my words back, to apologize and beg for forgiveness. That has been what has tortured me the most, not knowing if I will be able to make amends."
He laughed sadly, "I was so arrogant and pompous sister. And she called me on it. She called me arrogant, conceited, selfish, and uncaring for the feelings of others and then the most hurtful thing that could have come out of her lips. She told me that from the first moment of our acquaintance, she believed I was the last man she could ever be prevailed upon to marry." When he finished he was almost whispering and Georgiana could see the pain in his face. He sat down and bent his head over his knees cradling it with his hands and ran his hands through his hair in a sign of desperation. He sat in this attitude for some time.
Georgiana was dumbstruck and was reviewing in her mind all that her brother had confessed. On one hand, she was happy that he had finally confided in her, this was a sign of him appreciating her as a grown up, but on the other hand, she felt so bad for him and for his pain. She could clearly see in his eyes that he still loved Elizabeth Bennett with all his heart. She had never seen him in love before and it was hard to watch him like this. She thought of something to say, anything, but couldn't think of a thing that would be appropriate. So she remained quiet.
Finally, he seemed to come to his senses. He looked up at her and she could see tears in his eyes! "Oh William" she came to kneel by him, he looked at her and it seemed to her that he was going to break down in sobs. She opened her arms and he took her in his and began crying inconsolably. She held him saying, "Shh, brother, we will find a way." His body shook uncontrollably, she held him tight until he calmed himself, all the time telling him he would find a way that things would work out in the end. After what seemed like an eternity, he was silent, still holding his sister in his arms.
Slowly he pulled apart, not looking her in the face and said, "I'm sorry Georgiana." She replied, "No! Please don't apologize brother! I'm your sister; I'm everything you've got! I'm here for you and I want to help you! I want to help you get over this. William, look at me please." She asked him. He didn't at first, but slowly began to move his head up and finally, with tear filled eyes, looked at her. She lovingly took his face in her hands and said, "Brother, you have always been there for me, you have always taken care of me, you have always done everything for me. Now it's my turn to return all that by being here for you in your hour of need." She could see his fragile emotional state, because tears started to well in his eyes once again and he looked like he was going to cry again.
With great effort as the tears started falling down his cheeks, he said to her, "I love you Georgiana." She smiled and wiped the tears away. Then he said, "I don't deserve you." She opened her eyes wide and replied, "Don't say that please. William, you are the best brother anyone can have! You are kind and loving and caring. Nobody can deny that. I understand how hurtful this whole episode has been for you, but please don't self pity yourself. You are a wonderful man!" He was astounded at the forcefulness of her words. "No Georgiana, I'm afraid Miss Bennett criticisms and assertions regarding my worth are indeed correct. I have been a selfish being all my life, maybe I have cared about you and the rest of our family, but I have always felt that people beneath me are not worth my time. Unfortunately, that proved to be true in this case, when it mattered the most."
"I have been reflecting upon my life and the way I think and approach things and I have realized that Miss Bennett had every right to refuse my arrogant and senseless proposal. God, I wouldn't have accepted myself if the roles would have been reversed! Who am I to interfere in a good friend's love affairs, tell me? Truly, Georgiana. I was so unfair to Charles and Jane Bennett, that when I confess all to him I won't be surprised if he never wants to see me again!" He paused and got up to walk to the fireplace.
"I do not deserve anyone's pity, I brought this upon myself and I have to find my way out. I have decided that I am going to change my ways sister, I will try and become a better man that I have been up until now, a man that truly cares about others and not only about what concerns him." He paused and looked at the dying fire. "Maybe, if we ever meet again, Miss Bennett can feel proud of knowing me." He took a deep breath. "She has opened my eyes. I have been blinded by pride and it makes me sick to my stomach. I despise the Caroline Bingley's of this world, but I'm just as bad. Acting all haughty and arrogant to make sure people know who I am." He finally paused and meditated for a few minutes.
"Thank you for listening to me, my sister. You are turning out to be an incredible young woman right before my eyes!" he managed to give her a smile. "Actually, I feel somewhat relieved at having told you of my pain. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I thank you for that." She came close and placed a soft kiss on his cheek. 'I am here for you brother, whenever you need me and I am also happy you decided to confide in me. I love you William." he also kissed her on the cheek and took her hands. "You would have liked her Georgiana. Elizabeth would have been a wonderful sister and for that I am also incredibly sorry." He looked past her and she put her hand on his cheek. "I would have liked to meet the woman that has so won my brother's heart!" she said keenly.
Richard was back in town after a few months and came knocking on Darcy's door once again. He was let in by the butler, who was used to the Colonel visiting frequently and didn't require the permission of the Master to let him in. He found Darcy in the library working on some correspondence.
When he saw his cousin, he was rather surprised. He was pleased to see that Darcy looked much better than he had anticipated, since the last time they where together things had looked quite bleak. Darcy looked up when he came in. "Richard! He said, genuinely happy to see his cousin "Back in town again, looking for my hospitality?" Richard smiled at his cousin and approached him to shake his hand. "And your excellent brandy." He said with a smile. "Of course, it couldn't be for the company." Darcy replied pleasantly.
Darcy usually kept in touch with his cousin with frequent letters, telling him of the events going on in his and his sister's life and business matters. During this particular separation, he had only written one letter to the Colonel and that was to apologize for the things he said and his behavior after leaving Kent. Darcy knew down deep inside that Richard was just trying to help and he behaved abominably towards him. He respected and loved Richard as a brother, since he didn't have one and they shared in Georgiana's guardianship, they had become very close.
"I am glad to see you doing better. I didn't know quite what to expect…" Darcy half smiled and said, "Well, I had no choice, did I? It would have been easy just to crawl under a rock like I wanted to, but I have too many responsibilities to do that. Actually, I think my work has helped me return to some kind of normalcy, if that is possible for me." Richard smiled. "And opening up to Georgiana has also helped. She is truly turning into an incredible young lady. We will have to keep a close eye on any possible prospects when the time comes. She deserves only the best!" Richard was pleased with this development. "I am happy to hear you have confided in your sister, I'm sure she appreciates that." Richard poured a glass of brandy and went to stand by the fire.
"How long have you been in town cousin?" Darcy asked. "Two days. I had some engagements to attend and the Sergeant Major needed to meet with me, that will be this afternoon and hence I decided to prepare myself by coming to visit you and your excellent wine cellar cousin." Darcy said, "Will you join us for dinner tonight? I'm sure Georgiana will be delighted to have you as well." Richard answered, "You know I would never pass up on dinner with my two favorite cousins."
Richard started pacing back and forth silently, Darcy observed him intently. "What's on you mind Richard? Is there something you want to tell me?" Richard turned around at once and looked at Darcy in the face. How was it that he always knew when something was on his mind? He knew him too well. "Well, I was wondering if you have heard from Miss Bennett, since Rosings I mean." Darcy looked a bit pale. "No, I haven't seen or heard from her, why?" he looked at his cousin with his piercing stare. "You better tell me soon what it is Richard before it chokes you." Richard took a deep breath. "Last night I went to the theater to see a play." he examined Darcy's expression. "And?" Darcy asked with and cautious tone. "I saw her." Richard breathed deeply and continued tentatively, "Miss Bennett."
Darcy dropped the piece of paper he had been holding in his hand. Everything stopped for him at that moment. He closed his eyes for a moment and saw Elizabeth's beautiful face. Her big brown eyes, her lashes grazing them, looking at him with anger at Hunsford. He had to catch his breath and it seemed as if his heart was in his mouth. He felt that sickening feeling he had felt for so many weeks after his return from Rosings. "Did you speak to her" he asked in a whisper. "No, she didn't see me; she was with a relatively large group, an older couple, a lovely blonde, who I presume is her sister, Bingley's flame and two other women. I decided it was better not to approach her and put her in an uncomfortable position." Richard answered, while looking intently at his cousin.
Richard was examining Darcy carefully to try and determine exactly what his current state of mind was. After a moment he asked Richard, "How did she look? I mean, did she…" he didn't know quite how to ask his cousin if she looked as beautiful as ever. He actually felt the pangs of jealousy for Richard had been able too see with his own eyes the woman he still loved so passionately. "She looked as always. She looked happy. She smiled often and received many attentions from people around her." Richard decided this information might not have been necessary to share with his cousin. "You mean men paid her attention? he almost stood up from his seat. "I meant everyone was paying attention to both ladies. They are both very beautiful as you well know."
Darcy got up and started pacing the room, then stopped to look out the window trying to control his breathing. Why was it that after all this time she still had such a hold over him? He hadn't even seen her and he was feeling breathless, just imagining how beautiful she would have appeared to him had he actually met her there. He had indeed planned on possibly attending the play that day, but Georgiana had wanted to enjoy a quiet evening at home instead. He could have seen her again! But what good would that have done him? None, was the answer, he only would have embarrassed her in front of her acquaintances, that's all. And what would he have said to her in any case? After the disastrous last meeting they had at the parsonage that surely would have opened old wounds that were still not healed. No, it was for the better that he wasn't actually there. But what did she actually look like?
"What was she wearing?" he startled Richard who had stepped away to give his cousin some room. "She wore a lovely white gown, and beads in her hair, she looked as lovely as ever." Darcy closed his eyes. It must be that gown she wore at Netherfield, she looked stunning in it. Low cut front that revealed white silky skin, fabric that clung to her shapely body, bare arms. Lovely indeed. He could almost see her again in front of him, with her eyes cast down, ready to start their dance together. He took a deep breath. Darcy found it difficult to breathe and kept pacing back and forth. "I'm sorry William" Richard finally said, "I did not mean to stir things, but I hope I did the right thing by telling you. I did not want you to be unaware she was here and run into her unexpectedly." He swallowed. "You did the right thing, Richard. Thank you for telling me." Darcy replied, his voice almost a whisper.
What to do, think. Should I seek her out? Would she be upset if I did? Of course she would, idiot! She hates you. I wish Richard would have approached her, to at least know what her state of mind currently is. Is she truly happy? Has she forgotten all about Rosings? Does she think of me as I think of her? God! This is pure torture! Just when I was starting to feel somewhat normal, here we go again! Damn it!
He had stopped pacing and was just standing there looking out the window. His cousin was observing him keenly. He could see he was tormented and regretted having told him, but he knew he must. "Darcy?" he asked softly. There was no answer. "William?" Darcy stopped and looked at him. "What?" he answered. "I did the right thing, didn't I, by telling you?" Darcy tried to smile at his cousin's worried look. "I told you, it's alright Richard." He wasn't convinced and gave him a doubtful look. "I was just wondering if she is still angry at me, that's all." Richard doubted that was all he was thinking of. "That's all?" he asked pushing the topic. Darcy looked at his cousin with a pained expression in his eyes, "No, but it really doesn't matter, does it? I was wondering if she thinks of me as I think of her… constantly. I was wondering if she is truly happy, like you observed. God! I don't know what to do? Should I seek her out Richard? Tell me, what I should do?" he said with desperation in his voice. Richard was kicking himself for opening his mouth, yet again.
"I am not going to tell you what to do Darcy, if it was me I would probably seek her out, but that is just my temperament. Unfortunately you have to make your own decision. And I can see that you haven't quite gotten over her…" he trailed off. Darcy immediately retorted. "I will never get over her Richard, that I know. It might subside with time, it might get better, although I doubt it, but I will never, ever get her out of my mind." He looked at Richard with hurtful eyes. He took a deep breath and tried to steady himself. Here is the Darcy mask, thought Richard.
After a few moments of silence he asked, "Would you care for a game of billiards?" This request took Richard by surprise, but he recovered quickly and said, "I would never pass up a chance to beat you at billiards cousin!". They actually enjoyed a pleasant evening together, after such a long time. It felt good. Richard was surprised at Darcy's ability to hide or control his feelings. The last time they were together it didn't come easy at all. He was proud of him, he had come a long way, even though he had admitted he hadn't forgotten Elizabeth Bennett and never might.
Posted on 2010-10-08
Darcy had decided to go for a walk in the park. It was getting claustrophobic inside, he needed fresh air. He had been restless ever since finding out that Elizabeth was in town. All those feelings had come flooding back. He kept thinking of what to do; he wanted to beat himself senseless for his lack of resolve. He was Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley. Why was it that this woman could do this to him? Still? As he had told Richard, he knew that he would never forget Elizabeth Bennett as long as he lived. But how would he carry on with his life. Could he ever be happy? Would he ever get married and have children?
He couldn't imagine any of that now. Before her refusal, he had entertained the thought of having children with her. That was a very happy thought indeed! But now it made him sick to think of making love to anyone but Elizabeth. He could almost feel her skin on his, her body on his, her lips on his. He could almost feel what it would be like to love her with all his being, to give her pleasure, to drive her wild with desire for him, for them together. It was maddening! He startled as he almost knocked someone over due to his inattentiveness. He apologized to the gentleman and decided it would be best to sit down on one of the benches available.
It actually felt good to be in the fresh air, with the sunshine upon him. All of sudden some laughter distracted him from his thoughts, it caught his attention, it was infectious. He looked in the direction of the laughing and to his astonishment saw two familiar faces walking directly towards him. They were Elizabeth and Jane Bennett! They were walking arm in arm and giggling about something, when Jane looked up and stopped in her tracks at the sight in front of her. Lizzy almost fell over and was about to ask her sister what on Earth was she doing when she saw Mr. Darcy standing directly in front of her. She was speechless and her heart was racing. She felt herself blushing.
He was also at a loss! He had done everything possible to avoid her and out of all places he was meeting her in a park! He was stunned; his heart was beating so hard he thought it might actually come out of his mouth. He couldn't stop himself from looking at her and taking in all of her beauty, her simple beauty that he had never seen in any other woman he had met. The silence was becoming awkward and he didn't want to blow his chances. He gathered all his self control and tried to speak with a calm voice. "Miss Bennett, Miss Elizabeth what a surprise to find you in the park in London! I wasn't aware that you were in town." He said, which was of course a lie. He looked at Elizabeth; she looked lovelier than he even remembered, with utter confusion written all over her countenance.
"Mr. Darcy!" she exclaimed, "what a surprise indeed!" He tried to be casual, and without leaving her eyes, said "How long have you been in town ladies?" and it actually sounded quite casual to him. Maybe he wasn't doing so bad, he thought. "We arrived on Friday, Mr. Darcy." Elizabeth replied somewhat coldly and he felt discouraged. "How long have you been in town yourself?" she asked him. "Since after Easter," he replied and looked into her eyes. She fidgeted somehow, realizing the connection to their last encounter. "Have you been able to do some sightseeing or attend the opera, I hear there are some good productions on at the moment." he said quickly changing the topic.
"Actually we were at the opera a few nights ago and it was lovely!" Jane said smiling at him. "I know, Miss Elizabeth that you enjoy Shakespeare and I believe they are showing A Mid Summer Night Dream at the end of this week." he said. She was surprised that he remembered her affinity for anything Shakespeare. She looked at him for a moment and he smiled at her, she thought he looked quite handsome, she couldn't remember him ever smiling like that before. She could sense something different in him; he was more relaxed, less presumptuous.
"Well, I'm afraid we must be returning to our uncle's house, we are expected for dinner early." Elizabeth said. "I didn't know you had relations that lived in town." he said with genuine surprise in his voice and immediately thought she might assume he was thinking ill of her family again, but she didn't seem upset by the comment and answered, "Yes my aunt and uncle Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gardiner have a townhouse in London. We visit them quite often, especially this time of year." He had a thought and asked, "Perhaps your aunt and uncle would like to come and have dinner with my sister and me…?" he trailed off.
Elizabeth was surprised to say the least. Why was he being so civil suddenly? He seemed so at ease and completely different from what she remembered him like. He pressed the point, "Mr. Bingley is also currently in town, by himself" he said looking at Jane. She paled somewhat and then blushed. "Well, I don't know Mr. Darcy, you are very kind, but of course we would have to consult with our aunt and uncle." Darcy replied, "I insist, if you allow me I can accompany you back to your uncle's residence and I can make the invitation myself."
He was waiting for their reply expectantly. They looked at each other and agreed to let him escort them back to the house. Elizabeth wasn't sure this was such a great idea, but Jane seemed excited to be able to see Bingley again. As they walked Darcy asked them if they were familiar with the history of the park. They said they weren't so he started to tell them how it came to be and the significance it has in London's history. He also pointed out to them various attractions that were on the way to the house, it was a most enjoyable walk for both ladies. Elizabeth was perplexed at the change in his demeanor and couldn't explain his new persona.
They arrived at the house and presented Darcy to the butler who introduced him to Mr. Gardiner, who came to greet him. "Mr. Darcy, it is indeed a pleasure to meet you sir. I have heard much about the Master of Pemberley and I am glad to finally make your acquaintance. But it is a most unusual introduction, how did you find my nieces in this big city?" Darcy smiled and said, "Yes, indeed Mr. Gardiner it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I was taking a leisurely walk in the park this evening when I came upon your nieces and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see them again."
They all walked into the library. It was a very pleasant house Darcy was observing, not ostentatious, but charming and very well decorated, actually he was surprised at how to his liking the décor was. He could hear children's voices and laughter coming down the stairs. "Elizabeth! Jane!" A little boy that could only be about ten screamed running downstairs. Then realizing that there was a visitor he stopped suddenly as his father gave him a stern look. "I'm sorry father; I didn't know you had a visitor." Darcy looked amused, Mr. Gardiner said to the child, "James, I have told you many times you should never come running down the stairs like that in the first place, haven't I? And that way you would avoid embarrassing us when we have unexpected guests."
He winked at Darcy and then James blushed looking down, "I'm sorry sir." He said apologetically. "Let me introduce you to a friend of Jane and Elizabeth's, Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy this is my son, James." Darcy gave the boy a bow and extended his hand as if he was an adult. Elizabeth was startled and looked at Jane. "How do you do James, it's a pleasure to meet you. I like your name very much, since one of my names is also James." he said, smiling at the boy; it did the trick and the little one smiled. Darcy gave him a wink and a smile. Elizabeth could not believe her eyes! Her heart was pounding and she felt out of breath. "It's nice to meet you Mr. Darcy, I'm sorry for interrupting so rudely." Darcy couldn't contain a chuckle. "It's quite alright," he said noticing the poor child being uncomfortable. "You may go upstairs to change for dinner James." His father demanded. "Yes sir." James replied and turned around to leave the room.
"When will that boy learn." said Mr. Gardiner with a sigh. But he had to laugh. "I'm sorry for the interruption sir." Darcy replied. "Like I told your son, it's quite alright Mr. Gardiner. But excuse me sir, I don't want to intrude upon your dinner time. The reason for my unannounced visit is that I had proposed to your nieces that you and your wife and they join my sister and me at our home for dinner tomorrow." Mr. Gardiner was struck by this most unusual invitation. "Well, you are very kind Mr. Darcy, but I would not like to impose on your sister and yourself." Darcy said, "I insist, it would be our pleasure." Mr. Gardiner answered, "Well of course I would have to consult my wife."
At that precise moment Mrs. Gardiner came into the room. She looked surprised at the unexpected and unknown guest. "Mr. Darcy, this is my wife, Mrs. Gardiner. Darling, this is the Master of Pemberley, you are familiar with that part of Derbyshire?" Mrs. Gardiner smiled, "Of course Mr. Darcy, what a pleasure to finally meet you. I have heard so much about you and your family; I grew up in Lambton, which as you know is not far from Pemberley. Also, my niece Elizabeth has told me about you, isn't that so dear?" He looked at Elizabeth in the eyes and she blushed crimson and cast her eyes down unable to hold his stare. He was puzzled by that. Why couldn't she look at him in the eyes? She had never retreated from his stare before; she looked uncomfortable, but lovely in her confusion. Mrs. Gardiner immediately noticed the way in which Darcy looked at Elizabeth.
"Darling, since our nieces are acquainted with Mr. Darcy, and he happened upon them in town he is being so kind as to invite us to dine with him and his sister tomorrow evening? Mrs. Gardiner looked surprised, but she said, "Well, Mr. Darcy, that is very kind of you. If everyone agrees, I think we would love to get acquainted with you. Dears what do you say?" she said talking to her nieces. "Whatever you wish aunt," replied Elizabeth. "Well we would love to join you Mr. Darcy. Thank you very much. Now, would you like to join us for dinner tonight?" Elizabeth lifted up her eyes to look at her aunt with a shocked look on her face. Mrs. Gardiner pretended not to notice and smiled to herself.
Darcy was a bit taken aback and said, "Mrs. Gardiner you are very kind, but I would be imposing upon your family as I see that you are preparing to dine shortly." Mrs. Gardiner would not be persuaded. "Nonsense, it wouldn't be a problem at all. One more person makes no difference and we would enjoy your company I'm sure." Darcy was a bit uncomfortable and Mr. Gardiner came to his rescue. "Of course, you need not feel obligated Mr. Darcy." He looked at Elizabeth and thought; this is a chance to make her see how I have changed. "In that case I would be delighted." He responded and Elizabeth's heart started racing. "Well, since we are having a guest, Jane and I should go and refresh ourselves before dinner then." She sounded somewhat irritated. "Excuse us Mr. Darcy." she said and they both bowed to him and went upstairs.
When they got to their rooms, Elizabeth threw herself on the bed and put a pillow on top of her head. What was her aunt thinking! Inviting Mr. Darcy to dinner! How inopportune! This was astounding. He was acting so differently from the last time they were together at Rosings. It was almost a different person altogether. But why these changes? Such civility. He had looked at her in the same way he looked at her at Hunsford and that made her very uncomfortable. She didn't know if she could sit at the same dinner table with him, his stare was so unsettling. She had to admit that he had a lovely smile, if only he would use it more often, that would make him more agreeable.
Jane came in the room and she was out of sorts too with the news about Bingley. She didn't notice that her sister was upset at the developments. "Are you alright, Jane?" she asked. "I'm just a little tired I think." her sister replied trying to avoid the topic. "So it has nothing to do with possibly seeing Mr. Bingley tomorrow?" Jane stared at her. "Oh Lizzy, my heart is racing at the prospect. Do you think he still…." she trailed off. "Does he still admire you? I'm positive. I don't think Mr. Darcy would have mentioned anything if he didn't." Jane asked her, "Mr. Darcy has changed, he is much friendlier and at ease with himself, don't you think?" she looked at Elizabeth. She replied, "Yes, he is, I can't account for it at all."
They hurried getting freshened up and came downstairs to find the children and Darcy sitting on the floor playing with the chess board. They were both dumbstruck and stared in amazement. The group hadn't noticed them coming in the room and the two sisters were observing the lovely scene. Darcy was telling the children about the pieces and explaining to them how they moved on the board. Elizabeth was breathless at what she was witnessing; never had she imagined she would see Darcy with his guard down like this.
All of a sudden little Emma who hadn't been downstairs earlier, but had already been introduced to Darcy said, "Elizabeth, Jane come and see how we play chess with Mr. Darcy, it's fun!" Darcy looked somewhat embarrassed to be found in this predicament and stood to welcome the ladies. He smiled and looked at Elizabeth impishly; she smiled at him and for the first time had to admit that she might be falling in love with him. She had never seen him at such ease; it was as if he had always known these children and they in turn seemed to have taking a liking of him. If children like him so, then he can't be all that bad she reflected.
They approached and listened to the children's explanations. "Do you play chess Elizabeth?" asked little James. "Indeed I do, I haven't in many years, but I have always enjoyed the game tremendously, Mr. Bennett taught me when I was about your age." She noticed that Darcy was looking at her and she approached them, saying, "Go wash your hands so you can be ready for dinner." They did as they were told and Jane decided to go with them. "They're lovely children Miss Elizabeth. I had no idea you had such small cousins." She looked into his eyes and responded. "I'm sorry sir. I suppose they know no difference between a friend and a stranger, but you are very kind in heeding their demands for some attention. It looked like they were enjoying your lesson." She stopped and couldn't help but feel somewhat awkward; they were alone in the room.
"It is so good to see you again, Elizabeth." He said almost in a whisper. She didn't know what to say. He was calling her by her Christian name. It made her heart skip a beat and it was racing madly inside her chest. She was transfixed in place and could not articulate a word. They were looking into each other's eyes as if nothing else was there. He was drinking in the vision in front of him, she was agitated, he could tell, and she was not displeased. Was she happy to see him too? He couldn't believe his luck at encountering them. He was mesmerized by her beauty, her lovely eyes looking right at him, those lips that drove him mad with desire, her hair with a few strands down her neck. Her smell of lavender, that he could recognize anywhere. He was still hopelessly in love with her and had to find a way to tell her before she left town!
Dinner was an agreeable affair; Darcy was seated across from Elizabeth, an arrangement that pleased him greatly, that way he could enjoy watching her. He found the Gardiners a most pleasant couple, he truly took a liking of Mr. Gardiner, and he reminded him of his own father in a way, a very amiable and sensible man, easy to talk with and with many things in common with him. He was enjoying this family gathering tremendously and even most importantly he was letting Elizabeth see that he was a changed man. He looked her way frequently and Mrs. Gardiner had noticed that her niece blushed often when addressed by their handsome guest. She smiled to herself thinking that maybe there was more to this acquaintance that both of them wish to be let known.
The meal was delicious and when it was time to finish Darcy said, "I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner for a most delightful evening and a delicious dinner, it was most unexpected and has been a pleasure." Mrs. Gardiner acknowledged him and said, "It was truly our pleasure Mr. Darcy, it has been a great honor to get to meet you sir. By the way Lizzy, we haven't mentioned to Mr. Darcy that we plan on taking a tour of the north this summer and we will be visiting Lambton since I would like to get reacquainted with my childhood town."
Darcy was shocked and he looked at Elizabeth with one of his knowing looks, then said looking into her eyes said, "I would be very pleased to receive you at Pemberley when you visit then, it would be a great opportunity for Mr. Gardiner to enjoy some of the many ponds, since he is as fond of fishing as I am." And to himself he thought ecstatically, she will come to Pemberley, she will be in my home, in her home, this is more than I could have ever imagined! He could hardly contain himself. Mrs. Gardiner was becoming more and more impressed with this young man, he was smooth indeed, nothing like Lizzy had described and he was obviously in love with her. But what were her feelings towards him? That was still not clear to her.
Darcy said he would take his leave and the children were upset at the news. Their father admonished them saying, "I'm sure we can persuade Mr. Darcy to come and see us again." Darcy smiled at them and said, "I would be delighted to visit you again in the future." Elizabeth was staring at him once more. "Will you teach us more about chess Mr. Darcy," young James asked. "If your parents agree I would enjoy that very much James. But I also believe that your cousin Elizabeth is a great chess player herself, so she could give you some advice. None the less I would be delighted to give you some more lessons." He stared at Elizabeth. She looked into his eyes, they stared at each other for a moment and Jane cleared her throat to bring Elizabeth back to reality, the Gardiners shared a wink.
"Well I must take my leave. So we will expect you at dinner tomorrow then, we will be looking forward to having you. My sister will be delighted to make your acquaintance." He turned to walk to the door and gave a bow to the ladies; he kissed Mrs. Gardiner's hand and turned to leave. He wanted to take one last look at Elizabeth and had to use all his will power to keep walking. Luckily one of the children came running to him and hugged him to everybody's surprise. "Emma!" His mother scolded, "What kind of manners are those. Go directly to your room! Please excuse our daughter Mr. Darcy." He was a bit embarrassed but managed to say, "It's not necessary to apologize, Madam. She is a lovely child." he smiled. "And obviously she took a great liking of you sir, so I'm afraid you will have to repeat your visit for the sake of little Emma." Everyone laughed and then bowing again in Lizzy's direction and looking into her beautiful eyes he left.
Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief when he took his leave. This had been a most extraordinary event. She could not account for Darcy's completely changed manners and his civility. The fact that he had even wanted to come here was baffling! His attitude towards the children was like nothing she would have expected and pleased her tremendously. What bothered her the most was that she was starting to feel quite different about him. He had made reference to Mr. Bingley and she could see that Jane was at least confused, if you could call it that. She was noticing things about him that she had never noticed before, like his smile, which was so very becoming, he displayed it more often and didn't seem to mind doing it; his stare was so intense that she could not dare to stare back, he had a piercing look about him and it unnerved her. But why couldn't she look him in the eye as she had done so many times before?
She tried to sleep that night to no avail. It must have been close to dawn when she finally went to sleep and she dreamed of Darcy kissing her. Meanwhile Darcy had had the most restless night also. He was full of anticipation and excitement for her upcoming visit to dinner. He had told Georgiana all about it and she had been so happy for him. She couldn't wait to meet Elizabeth and the rest of her family, although she was somewhat nervous about it, but her brother assured her that everything would be fine. He was so hopeful now; she had looked at him in a different way today. Her brown eyes had smiled at him when she saw him playing with the children, she approved. He had truly enjoyed the company tonight, it was one of the most pleasant evenings he had ever spent in town.
Now he had to make sure that everything went smoothly at dinner, he needed to speak to the cook first thing in the morning and instruct him to prepare the best dinner he had ever prepared without overdoing it. He needed to make sure that everything was perfect. This would be the turning point in his quest to win Elizabeth's heart. He had made a start today, he believed and tomorrow he needed to consolidate his gains, so to speak. He lay in bed unable to sleep and thoughts of kissing Elizabeth flooded his mind. How he wanted to kiss those luscious lips, to taste them and touch them. He needed her so badly it hurt. She had smiled at him today, should he take that as a sign? He couldn't tell, he had been wrong before. She had blushed at times, that always encouraged him, because she was self conscious of him. Did she think better of him, had she noticed the changes in his demeanor? Thinking these thoughts, he drifted off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.
Posted on 2010-10-12
When it was finally light he got out of bed in a rush and went downstairs to talk to the cook immediately. They discussed dishes and wines to be served along with the meal. Also discussed was what would be served with tea afterwards. He instructed that fresh flowers be placed all around the house. He wanted everything to be spotless. He went to his study to pen a letter to Charles. He wasn't sure how he would take this, but he did mention that the Bennett sisters would be coming to dine with him tonight. He set Charles' arrival earlier that the Bennetts and Gardiners so that he might have some time to prepare for the encounter. He paused and said out loud, "I hope you can come my friend, this is the beginning of my apology."
As the time of dinner and the arrival of their guests approached Darcy and Georgiana where a bundle of nerves, for different reasons. Georgiana kept thinking that she would not know what to talk about and she would ruin everything for her brother. Darcy reassured her. Darcy was nervous, excited, hopeful and desperate to see Elizabeth again. He couldn't stay still; he walked back and forth pacing the room deep in thought. What if something goes wrong? What will I do? Should I try to approach her privately? I want to talk to her so badly, just her. I need to apologize for my incivility at Hunsford and ease her mind. I don't want her to believe she did anything wrong.
Charles was announced and Darcy was happy to see his friend. "Darcy!" Bingley exclaimed, "What a surprise to have received your invitation! And Miss Bennett is in town, you have seen her! How is she? I mean is she…" he didn't know how to finish. Darcy smiled and said. "She is very well Charles, as lovely and beautiful as ever." He looked at Bingley swallowing hard. "I dined with her and her sister and aunt and uncle last night. It was a most unexpected visit, but I enjoyed it tremendously." Charles smiled nervously. "Did she mention me at all?" he looked embarrassed to ask, "Not directly, but when I mentioned that I would also invite you to dinner tonight she blushed furiously!" Charles stared at him.
"She did?" he asked. "Yes." replied Darcy. "Here have a glass of brandy, it will help you." Charles nodded and said, "I appreciate your invitation Darcy, more than you know, but it also confuses me. You were very clear in your suggestion of leaving Netherfield and staying away from Jane. What has made you change your opinion?" This time it was Darcy's turned to be surprised by his friend's question. Here we go, God help me. "I must confess Charles that I separated you and Jane, because I thought it was the best thing for you." He swallowed and looked at his friend in the eye and said, "I'm sorry if this caused you pain, I truly am." He had to look away. "You mean, you did this on purpose? How could you Darcy? I thought you were my friend? You knew I was madly in love with her! What on earth gave you the right?"
Darcy didn't say anything for a few minutes, but this was exactly what he had been dreading. At that moment Georgiana knocked at the door. "Enter." Darcy said. "Mr. Bingley! How good to see you…." She trailed off, noticing the look on Bingley and her brother; obviously she had interrupted something important. "I'm sorry William; I just wanted to find you since our guests will be arriving soon." Darcy said quietly, "It's alright Georgiana, can you give us a moment please?" She retired immediately; Bingley had barely acknowledged her with a distracted bow. The two friends stood in silence and finally Darcy said, "I understand if you hate me for doing this to you and if you never want to talk to me again, but I beg you to stay and maybe you can get reacquainted with Jane tonight." He paused; he still seemed to be taking all of this in.
"Charles, I know I have no right to ask for forgiveness, but I will anyway, because I value your friendship more than I have ever let you know." Charles finally seemed to be able to breathe and said, "What must she think of me? She must think I'm uncivil, for not pursuing her." He paused and Darcy saw he was breathing hard. He gave his friend some space as he stood back. Finally, Bingley looked at him and Darcy got ready for the onslaught. "Darcy, I can not begin to tell you how upset I am at knowing that you had something to do in keeping me away from the woman I adore. But at the same time I think I understand your reasons and I forgive you for your intrusion."
Darcy could not believe his ears! Just like that? He didn't deserve Bingley's friendship that was now clear; he was the most generous person he had ever met. "Charles, I do not know what to say. You are being overly generous and I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for not jumping me and beating me senseless! I know I deserve that and more! You are a true friend and I can only hope to one day be able to call myself that. If it's any consolation, the last month has been one of the worst of my life also." He paused and looked at his friend.
"When I went to Rosings in April, Miss Elizabeth was there visiting her friend and… I asked her to marry me." Bingley looked up astonished. "What! Darcy, I never knew that you were in love with Elizabeth Bennett! What happened?" he asked utterly shocked. "Well, she refused me." He walked to the fireplace and looked into the fire. "But why?" Charles said. "Because she found me arrogant, conceited, selfish, uncaring for the feelings of others and many other things, including the fact that I had separated you and Jane knowingly." Charles was truly astounded and was quiet for a moment, and then he added. "You must have been devastated, I had suspected that you were interested in her after seeing you together at Netherfield, but since you never confided in me I wasn't sure. I'm sorry to hear that Darcy." Charles was a true friend he knew that now, not that he ever doubted it, but it was quite clear at the moment.
The friends couldn't finish their conversation because Georgiana came barging in announcing the arrival of the guests. Darcy and Bingley looked at each other and swallowed hard. They walked out to the foyer to meet them. The Gardiners where the first to appear through the door and Darcy extended his hand and smiled welcoming them. Next Jane who looked lovely as usual and after her Elizabeth who to Darcy appeared breathtaking. He looked into her eyes and welcomed her saying, "Miss Elizabeth, welcome to my home." Your home, he thought. He bowed and she curtsied. She was wearing a simple rose color gown that was quite becoming to her complexion. Her eyes had a sparkle to them and she seemed happy to be there.
"Thank you Mr. Darcy, you have a lovely home." he smiled back. In the meantime Jane was all confusion and Bingley was very nervous. Darcy introduced the Gardiners to Bingley and then he turned and smiled a small smile at Jane. "It is so good to see you again Miss Bennett." She looked at him and her eyes sparkled, she said softly, "It is good to see you also Mr. Bingley." He then turned to Elizabeth and said, "Miss Elizabeth, it's a pleasure to see you again also." She curtsied at him and smiled broadly. Darcy thought, how could I not have seen it? She loves Bingley, it's clear.
They all came into the parlor where Georgiana awaited them. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner walked arm in arm, Bingley offered his arm to Jane and Darcy did the same with Elizabeth; they looked into each other's eyes for a moment and walked behind the rest of the party. Darcy introduced his sister to everyone and when it came time to introduce her to Elizabeth, the child in her came out, "Miss Elizabeth, it is so wonderful to finally meet you; my brother has told me so much about you!" she smiled at Darcy and could tell he was somewhat embarrassed.
"I have been looking forward to meeting you since my brother informed me you where in town." Elizabeth smiled broadly and curtsied, then said, "The pleasure is all mine Miss Georgiana, I have also heard many good things about you from your brother." She looked at Darcy and he gave her a smile. "I hear you play the piano forte beautifully. Will you play for us tonight?" She was a bit startled by the request. "Well if you insist, but my brother also told me that you play very well!" Georgiana turned to look at Darcy who was giving her a strange look. "Well your brother is very kind, but I'm afraid he is being overly generous when he says that I play very well." She smiled and Darcy quickly retorted, "I said you played quite well." Elizabeth answered, "Well, quite well is not very well I take it."
While they were having this exchange they both had broad smiles on their faces, upon falling silent, they looked uncomfortably in each other's eyes. Darcy was dazzled by her smile and she was utterly shocked at seeing him so relaxed and seemingly happy. Darcy, suddenly remembered his manners and addressed the Gardiners who were bemused looking at the scene, Georgiana also had a big grin on her lips and looked mischievously in her brother's direction. Darcy saluted the ladies and introduced Charles to the Gardiners.
Elizabeth was happy to see that after all this time Bingley and Jane still couldn't stop from being embarrassed in each other's company, she smiled to herself and while the Gardiners talked with Georgiana, she noticed that Darcy was staring at her with darkened eyes. He looked in Jane and Bingley's direction and then smiled back at Elizabeth, as if saying, he still loves her. He gazed into her eyes and she lost track of everything around her for a brief moment, his eyes were so intense, that she couldn't look away. After sometime Georgiana addressed her and brought her back to reality, Darcy still following her with his eyes. She looks so lovely, he thought, I have to try to talk to her tonight.
"You have a lovely home Mr. Darcy, it's very comfortable, does it suit your purposes well?" asked Mrs. Gardiner. "Yes very well indeed, madam. You are right it's not a grand house, but it's big enough to receive guests comfortably. This house also belonged to my parents. Please, make yourselves at home; there is some drinks and finger food over in that table so if you are hungry feel free to help yourselves."
Georgiana and Elizabeth were already involved in conversation and giggling like lifelong friends, it soothed Darcy to see his sister so at ease in Elizabeth's company. He was right in his assessment of the woman he loved, when he thought that she would take Georgiana under her wings. He observed them and Elizabeth felt his eyes on her, but did not want to look his way, unfortunately, her determination didn't last and she turned to look at him, he gave her a grateful look that said thank you for being so kind to my sister. She smiled back at him. His heart skipped a beat; she is enjoying herself, I think.
Colonel Fitzwilliam was announced, Elizabeth turned in surprise. She had found him quite engaging at Rosings and was happy to see him again. He introduced himself to everyone and came to Elizabeth. "Miss Bennett, what a pleasure it is to see you again and in London!" he bowed and kissed her hand. "Colonel it my pleasure, Sir. I didn't know you were invited to dine as well." she looked at Darcy. "Well Miss Elizabeth, every time my cousin is in town he makes sure he comes to dine with us, Georgiana and I truly enjoy his company, for the most part." Darcy said raising an eyebrow.
He gave Richard a mischievous smile, which Elizabeth thought became him quite well, she also noticed his teasing manners with his cousin, this was a side of Darcy, she had never seen, not even at Rosings, and she liked it tremendously, smiling made him look impossibly handsome, she mused, observing him carefully while he made the introductions. He caught her looking and she quickly turned her head, not after blushing profusely. He was pleased, that was a good sign!
After the Colonel helped himself to some brandy, the conversation became lively, everyone enjoyed the evening. Dinner was splendid and not overly pompous. Darcy had made his point very clear to Mr. Brennan, exquisite food, not overdoing it, but making sure of leaving a fine impression on his guests. Georgiana was asked to play, but she didn't feel comfortable in this crowd of strangers.
Elizabeth put her at ease and told her she would sit with her while she played. Georgiana started and Darcy took a seat in the chair opposite the piano forte, so he had a most advantageous view. He was intently looking at Elizabeth, observing every detail, the way her hair was fixed, her lovely brown eyes that occasionally looked his way briefly and quickly looked away, her lips, smiling contently, her silky shoulders, barely visible.
Suddenly Richard discretely elbowed him and whispered, "You better stop staring at Miss Bennett in that manner cousin or we will have to leave you two alone." Darcy looked at him startled, and cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, did anybody notice?" he asked somewhat worried. "No I don't think, except for Miss Bennett, perhaps, I noticed she blushed a couple of times, she must have noticed your persistent stare on her. Man control yourself!" He was speaking out of the side of his mouth, but smiling. Darcy replied, "I can't help it Richard, I just can't, she looks so lovely…" Richard smiled and said, "Are you going to gather your courage and talk to her? She seems to be enjoying herself in your home cousin, don't let this opportunity pass you by man."
Georgiana ended her piece and to her delight everyone seemed to have enjoyed it and clapped in recognition. She smiled broadly looking at her brother and feeling proud and happy. She thanked Elizabeth for helping her with the music sheets.
Darcy knew he had to approach Elizabeth tonight; otherwise he might never get another opportunity. Richard sensed that his cousin would approach Miss Bennett and made a suggestion, "Would you all like to visit the gallery? Darcy don't you think your guests would find it most interesting? He gave his cousin a pointed look. "Of course, would the ladies and Mr. Gardiner like to see the gallery?" Mrs. Gardiner responded, "We would love to sir, my husband and I are avid museum visitors, we are very interested in looking at different types of art."
They started off; Richard took it upon himself to explain what they were looking at to free Darcy in case the opportunity arose to speak to Elizabeth. They all walked together and the Gradiners had many questions on the artists who had done the paintings and sculptures displayed. Elizabeth started wondering and observing everything in detail, she looked at the people in the paintings trying to find similarities with Darcy. She thought she actually found some in most of them. The intense blue eyes were one similarity that she found in many of the faces she saw.
Suddenly, she found herself alone in the room; she just kept looking taking her time, analyzing the pieces. This was not a grand house, but she didn't know her way around. She walked through a door trying to find the rest of the party and ended up in an interior patio. A lovely place filled with flowers and exotic vegetation, she decided she would examine the different plants and was not overly concerned at not finding her aunt and uncle.
Her mind drifted off to Darcy. She was so very confused by him. She was almost certain she was falling in love with him, even though she had never been in love in her life. Her heart beat madly whenever he was near, she felt she couldn't breath when he looked at her with his eyes, his eyes…they were so beautiful and intense, with the longest, darkest lashes she had ever seen in a man! She could not resist his gaze. His smile was so becoming and made him look so young and she was beginning to notice he had a vulnerability about him that was quite irresistible.
This all made her terribly upset, because now she didn't know what to do or how to act around him, she had noticed his intense stare while Georgiana had played for them and she felt so self conscious. Should she tell him to stop doing it? Even though deep inside she loved the way she felt when he looked at her with that intensity. What to do!! She thought madly.
Mrs. Gardiner found Elizabeth looking very pensive. She approached her, this made Elizabeth startle. "I'm sorry my dear, I didn't mean to startle you. But tell me what are you doing here all alone? You don't want to come and join the rest of the party?" Elizabeth half smiled and said, "No, I would like to be alone for a few minutes or I feel I will become uncivil and I don't want to ruin a perfectly pleasant evening with my foul mood." Her aunt was perplexed. "What is it Lizzy?" she looked as if she was searching for the right words. "I don't really know…" she trailed off. Mrs. Gardiner looked at her in the eye and said softly; "Are you sure, you don't know?" she waited until Elizabeth talked again.
"It's Mr. Darcy! He confuses me so much. I don't understand him whatsoever! He should absolutely hate me!" she was getting more upset at every word. Her Aunt didn't quite understand Elizabeth's frustration with the young man. She had observed Darcy constantly staring in Elizabeth's direction and she was certain that he was in love with her, he was being very civil and attentive to everyone especially Lizzy. Now she wasn't so sure about her niece's feelings for him. She seemed to enjoy his attention, but she was being cautious also, but why? He is a wealthy man; any woman in England would have been more than happy to accept a man like Darcy. There is definitely something else going on here, she said to herself. "Why would he hate you Lizzy, you are a lovely person." Lizzy looked at her aunt and said, "But I haven't acted in a very civil manner towards him aunt. If you only knew." Now Mrs. Gardiner was truly perplexed. Obviously something else had happened between them that make this whole situation very tense.
"Will you not share with me what exactly it is that is bothering you in regards to Mr. Darcy my dear?" Her aunt had such a way of putting things to make her talk; she had always been easy to talk to. Why won't I tell her? I'm so foolish. "Last April, during my trip to Hunsford to see Charlotte, I met Mr. Darcy. He was visiting his aunt, Lady Catherine, whose parsonage Mr. Collins presides over. We had quite a lot of opportunities to be together. We were at odds constantly. We also took many walks by ourselves and with company. He was pleasant enough and I was cold in his presence. Then before he left he came to the parsonage when I was alone and asked me to be his wife." She stopped.
"What are you saying Lizzy? Mr. Darcy proposed to you in the spring, but why didn't you say something?" She was looking at Lizzy with disbelief. "It was too painful to talk about it, I couldn't really talk about it to anyone, because there are other things that happened that involve other people, oh I don't know why I didn't say anything! She finally said in exasperation. "He was very harsh towards my position in society and insulted my family and I could never accept him in those terms. He had been involved in separating Jane from Mr. Bingley for no good reason and on the third question I completely misjudged him."
Mr. Gardiner was at a loss for words. She was trying to think of what to say to Lizzy, she finally spoke. "And what do you think of him now, after all this time. I had suspected as much that he was in love with you, he looks at you with such intensity in his gaze that it's hard to ignore and obviously he is still in love Lizzy. What are you going to do about that? He seems to be a man that is not easily dissuadable." Elizabeth had started pacing back and forth and was getting more agitated as her aunt spoke.
"I don't know what to think anymore, I thought that he was the last man in the world that I could ever want to marry, but I don't know anymore." Her eyes were filled with unshed tears. "I was so rude to him, aunt, so uncivil, so harsh and here he is being so kind and attentive and it makes me feel so very guilty. I know I hurt him badly when I refused him and I said horrible things to him. I will never forget the look in his eyes when he left. I chose the most hurtful words that I could think of for the maximum effect and I succeeded. I'm not proud of that. He probably hates me…."
"No, I don't." Darcy's voice startled both Elizabeth and her aunt. They turned around to look at him. Elizabeth was mortified and Mrs. Gardiner was taken aback as well. He stood there looking at Elizabeth with eyes that spoke of his undying love for her. She was also looking at him in astonishment, and somewhat embarrassed that he had heard her. He looked as if he wasn't even breathing. Mrs. Gardiner looked from one to the other, they didn't even notice she was there, she smiled to herself. "Excuse me. I will leave you two alone." And she left them.
Posted on 2010-10-20
Finally moving, Darcy approached Lizzy and said almost in a whisper, "Do you truly think that I would ever hate you Elizabeth? You know how I feel about you. I think I explained myself fully at Hunsford, my affections are unchanged" She was still in a state of shock and disbelieve. She couldn't utter a word, but didn't leave his eyes. He moved closer yet and said softly, "I…. love you Elizabeth, I will always love you no matter what." He felt his heart was in his throat and it was extremely difficult to get the words out.
He was searching her face for an answer, for some hope. He asked her hesitantly," Do you….. love me….?" she swallowed hard and did not have the power to deny it any longer, "Yes," she said in a low voice and lowered her gaze. His mouth opened in surprise and he took her hands in his. "You do?" he couldn't believe what he was hearing. It was like the many dreams he had had over the last year. "You do." He stated it this time and smiled. His smile was irresistible and she smiled back at him. He was staring at her as if he didn't know quite what to do next.
Then he thought of something and bent his knee never leaving her eyes. His eyes got wet and she was also on the verge of tears. He started solemnly, "Miss Elizabeth Bennett, from the first moment I saw you I knew you were the woman of my dreams. We have traveled a hard road indeed and today you have made me the happiest man alive telling me that you love me." He paused and swallowed, his throat was dry and he felt he couldn't speak, but made a supreme effort and continued his declaration. "Will you accept my hand in marriage and agree to be my wife? I adore you Elizabeth and I know that it is impossible for me to go on without you by my side…." Tears were streaming down her cheeks now, but she was smiling. She came closer to him and put both hands on his extended one and said, "Yes, I will marry you Fitzwilliam Darcy!" He brought her hands to his lips and held on.
He closed his eyes and both knees were on the ground now, she came down on her knees too and cupped his face in her hands. This gesture on her part made tears start flowing from his eyes also. He pulled her to him and kissed her, slowly at first. His emotions were so raw that he couldn't even continue to kiss her and he started shaking. He buried his face in her hair and cried tears of happiness and relief. They stayed in this attitude for a long time, enjoying each other's embrace and closeness. She held him, cradling him, softly caressing the hair behind his neck. Slowly he started to calm his breathing in her embrace. She was ecstatic! She could finally accept that she loved him more than anything in the world!
"I thought….I had lost you….forever…" he could barely get the words out. "Oh Elizabeth, my lovely Elizabeth." He looked at her getting up, tears still coming down his cheeks, but he was smiling. "I love you like I have never loved anybody before, more than life itself. I was so desperate for your love, I didn't know if you were still mad at me and that tortured me more than anything else. To think that you were still angry." She smiled at him, but quickly turning serious said, "I want to tell you that I am so very sorry at the way I spoke to you at Hunsford" he tried to interrupt her, but she silenced him saying,
"No, please let me finish. This has been torturing me since those words came out of my mouth. I was unfair in every possible way and my intent was to hurt you, because I found you arrogant, I wanted to teach you a lesson in humility, that more than anything else was the reason for my refusal. I used the other things to excuse my horrible behavior." She took a deep breath. "If there would have been a way of my contacting you, I would have come to you to apologize. Actually, I contemplated the idea of sending you a post." She looked at him mischievously, "but my better judgment told me not to do it. I am so sorry, please forgive me." She asked him pleadingly. "Elizabeth" he said, "You don't have to apologize for anything, I was arrogant and extremely rude in my proposal. I realize that if the roles where reversed I would have done exactly what you did. You did indeed teach me a lesson, but a most advantageous one."
"But I don't want to talk about that now. At this moment I want to enjoy this happiness, this relief that I am feeling! God you are so beautiful! I want to tell you that you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." He told her." But I thought that I wasn't handsome enough to tempt you Mr. Darcy!" Lizzy retorted in a playful manner. "Oh Elizabeth please, don't remind me of that! I knew you had overheard me; it was because of that remark that all this started, all this 'teach me a lesson' business, isn't it?" He said embarrassed remembering the Meryton assembly. "Well I have to admit that, that is when I made up my mind about your presumed arrogance, and then I couldn't see you in a different way, but arrogant. But now I know I was wrong, because you are kind and generous and loving."
He smiled broadly and came close to her. He touched her cheek with his hand; it was the softest skin he had ever touched, softer even than in his dreams. He ran his thumb over her chin and cheek. Then looked at her in the eyes. She was realizing what a beautiful blue color his eyes where, they were deep, like the ocean. Oh, I can drown in his eyes, she thought, when he looks at me like that. He came close and barely touched her lips with his, almost brushing them. He did this for a few minutes. Please kiss me, she was thinking! He continued playfully touching her lips ever so softly. Finally she could not resist any longer and said, "Kiss me William…" he stopped and looked at her surprised.
"Say that again." He asked her. "Please kiss me William, I beg you." He then kissed her as she was asking, deepley, passionately, showing her just how much he loved her, needed her, wanted her. Now he kissed her with parted lips, exploring her mouth, gently, but with an intensity that neither of them could explain. She started to kiss him eagerly, when she felt his tongue, she hesitated but only for a second, realizing it was an exhilarating feeling, the sensuous touch of his tongue in her mouth drove her mad with desire for him. She was completely letting go of her defenses and the feeling of vulnerability was exhilarating. She never imagined she could experience what was happening at this moment, she wanted it to last forever, and nothing existed but Darcy's kisses, his love, and his passion for her.
Suddenly Mrs. Gardiner stood by them clearing her throat, Darcy's parted lips stopped on the spot and he leaned his forehead to Elizabeth's as they were caught in their passion. They both turned their flushed countenances to face her and for a moment there was silence. Darcy believed he was going to be scolded like a little boy. Then Mrs. Gardiner smiled and Lizzy flew into her arms to hug her.
"Oh my dear Lizzy! I'm so happy for you!" they looked at each other and Lizzy had tears again. "I don't know how to thank you aunt Violet. Darcy interrupted and said, "We would like to thank you," emphasizing the we. He smiled at them. "Well, I'm glad you finally decided to mend your fences. I was getting very frustrated watching you Mr. Darcy stare at Elizabeth when I knew perfectly well that you wanted to sweep her off her feet." Darcy looked somewhat embarrassed and surprised at her assertion. "Oh, yes sir, you are so easy to read."
He smiled and said, "Then how come you didn't realize that I was in love with you Elizabeth?" she smiled and came close putting her hand on his arm. "Mrs. Gardiner, I have asked Elizabeth to marry me and she has accepted." Darcy said after a pause, he looked at his beloved with eyes filled with love and adoration; she returned him a loving stare as well. He sighed and continued, "I realize that I must speak to Mr. Bennett as soon as possible. We haven't yet discussed this but I would like to get married as quickly as we can…" he paused waiting to see what Mrs. Gardiner's response would be. Elizabeth was somewhat surprised at his forcefulness.
"Yes, I believe the appropriate thing to do is to set up some kind of meeting with Mr. Bennett, either here or in Longbourn. But what is the rush Mr. Darcy, you have just now asked Lizzy to marry you!" He turned to look at Elizabeth and then said, "Mrs. Gardiner, I don't know how much of this you are aware of, but last spring I asked your niece to marry me" he paused and looked at Elizabeth again, she swallowed hard, reminding herself of that horrible day and the hurtful things she said to him. "I have waited for this moment for almost a year, and even though I have just asked her again, I believe that I have waited and suffered long enough. I love your niece with all my heart and I believe she belongs with me at Pemberley!"
He was so forceful, he couldn't believe it himself, Elizabeth was looking at him in awe, but also with pride and love, for he was being so determined to marry her quickly, that to her that was the only reason she needed to reply, "I agree with Mr. Darcy aunt. I too have been suffering all along since last spring and I think we both deserve to be together as husband and wife. There is no need for a lengthy engagement as we are both completely sure that we want this more than anything in our lives." They looked at each other and smiled. It is so wonderful to finally agree on something and have your support, Darcy thought looking at Lizzy.
"Well, if that's the case we better go and talk to my husband. But I think it would be best not to announce anything as of yet. I don't imagine you two want all that attention and certainly we would not like word to get out before your father agreeing to the engagement. I would like to add" she said looking at both of them rather sternly, "that I understand the feelings that you both have for each other and the pain and suffering you both have gone through, but I would like to ask you to, how should I say this, to restrain yourselves in the expression of your love for each other, if you get my meaning." She stopped and looked at their embarrassed countenances.
Darcy was the first to speak, "I apologize Mrs. Gardiner if my behavior has offended you, and I assure you it won't happen again." Mrs. Gardiner softened her face and said, "Mr. Darcy, don't make promises you can not keep. I am not asking you to stay away from showing your love to Lizzy, I ask that you are cautious, because you and I well know that rumors spread like a wild fire and you would not want to incur in Mr. Bennett's wrath if he becomes aware of any misbehavior towards his daughter." He looked at her and smiled, "No, I do not and we will try our best to act with the decorum that the situation warrants."
"Now, I will have my husband meet you in your study, so as to not bring attention to yourselves, is that alright with you Mr. Darcy? she asked. "Yes Mrs. Gardiner, but please you may call me William." He said with his lovely smile. "Very well then, William, come to the study in let's say fifteen minutes to give me some time to explain the situation to my husband." She left them and they immediately turned to face each other.
He took her hands and kissed them softly; she looked at him and smiled into his eyes. He was overwhelmed with happiness, he could not believe that she was there, holding his hand and smiling at him. "There" he said, "that was the smile that I have been longing to see in front of me," he looked at her longingly. She put her palm on his cheek and caressed it for a moment, she still wasn't sure how to act around him, but she was drawn to him so fiercely, that she just did what felt right. "So how am I going to bear this, you finally being mine, but at the same time, not being able to call you mine?" he asked with longing.
She came close again and he took her in his strong arms. Now that she had experienced his love and strength she couldn't stay away. She sighed and rested her head on his chest. "I am sorry if I sounded too forceful with your Aunt. I didn't mean to speak for you, I suppose I will have to get used to discussing things with you before I speak for both of us." She just said, "Luckily for you Mr. Darcy I am in complete agreement." He pulled her away and said, "Please Elizabeth call me William." She looked into his blue eyes and said, "William." It sounded like heavenly music to him, like a soothing balm. "Say it again please" he said smiling and closing his eyes as if to leave an imprint in his memory. "William. I love you so; you are everything I have ever wanted in a man."
He opened his eyes and took her face into his hands and kissed her passionately, she didn't hesitate this time and returned the kiss, showing him that she meant exactly what she was telling him. He got lost in her kiss, he took her in his arms and lifted her to him, and it made her feel she was floating. Their kisses deepened and Lizzy had lost most of her inhibitions, her whole body was firmly pressed against his. She could feel his passion for her, with every move of his hands, he touched her hair, playing with the loose strands, and he caressed her bare arms with his strong, but gentle hands. It made her shiver. Her arms where around his neck and she was kissing him with the same ardor that he was kissing her.
Somehow in the heat of his passion he remembered the appointment with Mr. Gardiner. Putting her down gently he looked at Elizabeth then smiled at the drugged look in her face, her lips swollen by his kisses, her eyes full of passion for him, her cheeks flushed, he smiled satisfied.
She had opened her eyes and saw the smile upon his face. "Would you mind sharing what is so humorous Mr. Dar…I mean William?" she raised her eyebrow and his heart skipped a beat. "Well, I was just enjoying looking at your beautiful face, and the look of love for me. You don't know how I have wished and dreamed of seeing that look in your eyes. I suppose I am happy that I am able to raise such emotions in you, that's all." He stopped and looked like young James, when he was scolded by Mr. Gardiner.
She couldn't repress a laugh and hugged him again. He pulled her away and said, "Now Miss Bennett we promised your aunt that we would behave, remember? I believe I will be late for my appointment with you uncle if I don't go now! Do I look presentable?" he said looking at her with a lovely expression. She was not used to opining about men's attire, but took a look and proceeded to straighten his cravat and tighten it a bit. Then she fixed his lapels and settled his hair in place. The whole time he was looking at her, transfixed. "There" she finally said, 'I believe that now you are presentable." He smiled and was about to turn around when she said, "Oh, wait!" and with her finger wiped his lips, the shock this sent trough his body was unparalleled.
She realized what she was doing and stopped somewhat embarrassed, but he was smiling at her, she was blushing. "You are blushing Lizzy." He looked her in the eye. It was the first time he called her Lizzy and the sound of the 'z' struck her to the core! She leaned forward and said, "Say Lizzy again." He came closer almost hugging her and said. "Lizzy. My love I adore you." It was almost a whisper like a caress; she couldn't believe he awakened these emotions and sensations in her! "I have got to go now, my love. Wish me luck." He smiled. "Good luck William." He took her head in his hands and kissed her softly for a few moments. Then making a supreme effort pulled her away and said, "Good Lord you are irresistible, it is not going to be easy to keep my hands to myself." And he turned and walked out of the room.
She stood there, transfixed. Is this real? She asked herself. She thought she might have been dreaming. While deep in thought and looking somewhat disheveled, her aunt walked in the room, but Elizabeth didn't notice her. "Lizzy?" she inquired, "are you alright?" Startled Elizabeth looked at her and answered with a smile on her face. "Yes, I'm doing just fine, actually I'm ecstatic, and it just seems surreal that we have finally confessed our love for each other. I can not believe we are actually engaged! Her aunt opened her arms to her niece and gave her a big hug and a kiss. "Well, hopefully your father will approve."
Elizabeth looked at her in surprise. Her aunt winked and hugged her again. "I'm sorry Lizzy; I didn't mean to worry you. I am sure your father will be very happy to bless your union." Elizabeth pondered with the fact that her father was very aware of her distaste towards Mr. Darcy and she regretted ever being so forceful in making her opinion of him so very clear to everyone. She was sure this news would be a shock to everyone in her family. Even Jane, she did not believe her beloved sister suspected she had any kind of feelings for the man.
A few moments later Darcy returned with a grin upon his face. Elizabeth leapt into his arms and they held one another tightly. Darcy remembered Mrs. Gardiner and looking her way was about to apologize, when he noticed she was smiling at him. "Can I give you a hug to welcome you into the family, well unofficially?" she asked him and he smiled a big smile and opened his arms to his new aunt, he liked her enormously. She hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I get a kiss too?" he asked playfully smiling an impish smile. They all laughed. Then Darcy said, "Well, I'm afraid I must return to the rest of my guests, I have been rude enough and Georgiana must be wondering what happened to me, thank God Richard is here! Shall we ladies?" he escorted them out of room each of the ladies in either side of him. His heart was beaming and loudly beating inside his chest, it felt like all of this was a dream and he would wake up any minute.
No one seemed to have noticed their absence. Richard was entertaining Bingley and Mr. Gardiner, with his military stories. And Georgiana and Jane seemed to be getting on very well. As soon as they entered the room, Richard noticed the smile on Darcy's face and looked at him, silently questioning as if asking, what happened? He nodded in the positive and Richard beamed. He excused himself and came to Darcy's side saying, "If you'll excuse us for a moment Mr. Darcy and I will return shortly." And took Darcy by the arm and out of the room.
"So? What happened?" he asked impatiently. Darcy was looking at him seriously and after a moment of suspense said, trying to look as serious as possible, "Well it seems that you will have a new cousin very soon." And then he smiled the biggest smile Richard had seen in Darcy's face, ever. Richard couldn't help it and gave Darcy a heartfelt hug saying, "So you finally asked her? Well it was about time my friend!" Darcy was staring out the window as if in a dream and said, "I have to remind you that I did ask her once before." He said raising his eyebrow to refute his cousin's suggestion.
"So what did you say this time to get here to say yes?" Richard asked mischievously, "I just told her that she is the woman of my dreams and I can't live without her." Darcy said smiling broadly. Richard laughed and said, "You are quite the romantic cousin. But in all seriousness, I whole heartily congratulate you William! She is truly an incredible woman and you deserve only the best, you will be very happy together I have no doubt!" They were both smiling from ear to ear. "I must ask that you keep this quiet until it's official. I know it will not be easy, but I have to speak to Mr. Bennett. You understand, don't you?" Richard replied, "Of course, my lips are sealed, but you are right in that it won't be easy. Will you tell Georgiana?" Darcy hadn't thought about it.
"Well I suppose I can't keep it from her really. Maybe I should make an announcement to whoever is here now, in the end they are the people closest to both of us, they will find out anyhow. I have to talk to Elizabeth." He said and left the room. Richard was ecstatic; he had been waiting for this moment since they returned from Rosings under such devastating circumstances for Darcy. He always knew deep inside that somehow they would be back together. After his suspicions had been confirmed by Darcy himself, regarding his feelings towards Ms. Bennett, Richard had struggled thinking of a way to help his cousin, but to no avail.
Darcy was not pursuing her and that was that. But in the end fate crept up it's head and all turned out well. But it was a very painful experience for Darcy and the rest of them. Richard had always loved Darcy as a brother, he looked up to him and very deep in his heart he envied him his good looks, and fortune, but that never interfered in their relationship. He had been with Darcy through all his trails and tribulations and could appreciate what this meant to his cousin more than perhaps anybody else, not even Georgiana, for she had been so young when her parents died and Darcy always tried to shield his pain from her.
Darcy put his head through the door and asked, "Are you going to join us cousin? What are you still doing here? Come." Richard followed Darcy into the parlor. They were all there and were all wondering what was this all about. Darcy had asked them for a moment of their time after consulting with Elizabeth; she had agreed that they should announce their engagement to the people present in the room, since individually they would be told anyway. They both wanted to share their happiness and be able to openly be together without any more secrecy. Darcy was somewhat apprehensive once everybody was gathered and looked at him in anticipation, he looked at Elizabeth and then at Mrs. Gardiner, who smiled warmly and nodded her head as if to say, go ahead tell them.
Darcy took a deep breath and started. "The reason for my asking for some of your time is that I would like to share some wonderful news with all of you, initially we were going to keep it secret for now, but realizing that you are the people most important in Elizabeth's and my life, we decided to share the news of our engagement with all of you." He smiled and Elizabeth came to his side, with a broad smile as well. A collective gasp swept through the room and everyone looked at them in shock.
Georgiana was the first to react and she came to embrace her brother and gave him a kiss, he looked at her with his lovely smile, she then turned to Elizabeth and said, 'Miss Elizabeth, I can not tell you how happy this news makes me, I do not have the words to express how I feel at this moment, this is wonderful!" she was beyond happy and went to hug Richard too. One by one they received the congratulations of the rest of the party; everyone was truly overjoyed at the news.
Jane looked at Elizabeth in utter amazement, "Lizzy, what….?" She was at a loss for words. "But I had no idea, you never told me you and Mr. Darcy were in love?" she could not believe what she was hearing! "I'm sorry Jane; I didn't mean to keep secrets from you. Maybe some day I can tell you all that transpired, but at the moment I just want to enjoy the happiness that I'm feeling, I'm overwhelmed and can not believe this is happening to me…" she said. "But are you certain Lizzy that this is what you want." Jane asked somewhat concerned and lowering her voice to a whisper. "Oh Jane! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am."
At that moment Darcy decided to get everyone's attention again. "I" he corrected himself looking at his beloved, "we appreciate all of your well wishes, but I must inform you that I have yet to speak to Mr. Bennett, so I ask you to please keep this quiet until I have done so. I would not want him to hear about our engagement from someone else. I think we can both trust you all with that?" he looked at all his astonished guests and smiled. Elizabeth put her hand on the crook of his arm. He looked at her with an adoring expression on his face, he was so proud and happy to finally be able to talk about her and his love for her in public, it was as if a ton of bricks had been lifted from his shoulders, he could breathe now, he had almost forgotten how to do that during the last year. He could be himself and show his love and his emotions for all to see. He was in heaven!
Posted on 2010-10-28
After the initial shock and the congratulations of all the guests were received by the happy couple, Darcy took Elizabeth by the arm and led her to the study. As soon as the door was closed he took her in his arms and kissed her passionately, pulling her close to him. He could feel her body pressed against his and was running his hand up and down her back and up touching her hair. She was kissing him with the same passion and had her arms around his neck; she was transported to a place of ecstasy that she had never known. She could not get enough of him. It was truly amazing that only yesterday she had been annoyed at the possibility of Darcy joining them for dinner and now she was in his arms, sharing the most passionate of kisses!
He slowly began to pull her away, she resisted holding him tighter; he was astounded at the level of her passion for him, it made him feel alive, and every pore in his body felt her love for him. He tried to pull her away one more time, this time she came to her senses and let him. They looked into each other's eyes for a moment and putting a hand on her cheek, he said, "God Elizabeth, I love you so much, I can not get enough of you!" she smiled and putting her arms around his waist, rested her head against him. It felt so good, so right. "Elizabeth, I have to go to Longbourn to speak to your father." She kept him close and said, "Yes, I know you must, and I would not want it any other way." Finally pulling away from him, she turned to face him. He was playing with her hair, he was fixated with her hair almost since they met, he had dreamed of what it would feel to touch it and how soft it would be.
He looked into her eyes and said, "I was thinking that maybe I can accompany you and your sister and aunt and uncle back home and then I can speak with him." He waited to gauge her reaction, she pulled away thoughtfully and looked at him, "That would work perfectly my love." He gave her one of his piercing stares. She was waiting for an answer, but he did not utter a word, he was just looking at her, she was starting to feel self conscious.
"William, are you alright?" she asked him tentatively. "What did you call me?" he asked with a hoarse voice. "William." She answered him. "No, before that. What did you call me?" he was barely audible, he was whispering. She wasn't quite sure what he was referring too, and then she remembered. She came closer and put her hand on his cheek, it literally made him shiver. "My love? Is that what you mean." He could barely speak, it was the first time she had called him anything other than his name and 'My love" was a confirmation of all that had happened tonight.
She kissed him softly on the lips and embraced him tight. He seemed so vulnerable at times, it amazed her. This powerful, rich, well traveled gentleman was so very much insecure of himself in many ways, yet that was one of the things that made him so irresistible, it made her feel like protecting him. Even when she disliked him, she somehow felt like something pulled her towards him. Her feminine instincts came out and made her want to make everything alright for him; she did not want to see him in any kind of pain or distress.
He held her, gently putting his head on her shoulder and letting her caress his head; it felt so good, so right to be with her like this. He had never felt so connected to another human being in his life, well maybe his parents. But this was completely different, they where together because they loved each other. He still could not conceive the fact that he had fallen so hard. He never thought he would meet a woman worthy of notice, they all seem so vain and shallow, and nobody ever attracted him in the least. Until Elizabeth. And now they would be married and become husband and wife very soon, he hoped.
"William?" she asked softly. He pulled away from her embrace and looked into her eyes, they were shining brightly, she smiled at him with such love that he was left speechless and could only stare into her beautiful eyes. Those eyes that had not left him all this time, he could have never imagined he would see the look she now had for him in her eyes. They were full of love and adoration for him. He was so lucky and so blessed. He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer of gratitude.
"I am sorry my love, it is just that I still can not believe this is happening. Only yesterday I was desperate to tell you how I felt and could not have thought that we would be sharing such deep and personal moment just now." While he spoke he looked at her with eyes full of tenderness and he played with a loose strand of hair. She smiled softly at him and touched his hand with hers. He closed his eyes to better appreciate the gesture and turned his head to place a soft kiss in it.
Taking a deep breath he said, "Well, I believe it is time to return to our family Miss Bennett. As much as I would love to stay with you here, forever, we need to pay some attention to our friends and your family!" She smiled and took his hand; he took hers and placed it in the crook of his arm. They went back to the conservatory where everybody had gathered after dinner.
When they walked in all eyes turned to them and they looked at each other. "I feel like a fish in a fishbowl already and we have not even been to Longbourn!" Darcy said speaking through the corner of his mouth. She looked at him in surprise, she was starting to like this side of his personality very much. She had not realized that he could also tease her, and she looked forward to using her wit with him in the future. She adored the dimples in his face when he smiled and she could not believe how his eyes were beaming with happiness.
Richard approached them and asked, "May I steal Miss El…, excuse me Elizabeth from you Darcy, for a few minutes? There is something I need to discuss with her in private if you do not mind." And gave them a mischievous look. "Yes, I do mind Richard. Unless you want to tell me what it is that you will be discussing." Richard winked at Elizabeth and answered, "It is just a minor welcome to the family speech that I had prepared for her, but wanted to give it for her ears only. If she wishes to share it with you afterwards I have no problem."
"Very well, for the sake of harmony, I will not argue any further. I do not know what you have up you sleeve, cousin, but I must warn you Elizabeth not to believe all that he tells you!" and he gave her a soft kiss on the cheek. "Excuse me." He then left them alone and went to talk to Georgiana, who was insistently looking in his direction, obviously ecstatic about the news of Elizabeth's agreement to marry him.
"What is it that you wish to discuss with me Colonel?" Elizabeth asked after Darcy left them and she followed him with her eyes, while he walked to talk to his sister. "Well, for starters, you must call me Richard please, Colonel is not used by anyone in the family!" he said with a smile on his face. "I just wanted to tell you how happy I am for you and my cousin. I do not know how much you know of this, but I suspect nothing or very little. The last few months have been very difficult for William, and that I believe, you understand why."
"I knew something was happening between the two of you at Rosings, but I was completely shocked to find out that he had proposed to you. Forgive me Miss Elizabeth if I am bringing back unpleasant memories, but I have to go back to that time, so that you may fully understand what Darcy has been through. On our return trip to London, he became physically ill and then after pushing him, he confessed what had transpired between you and him."
"The months following his return to London were very difficult for him and for all of us that care so much about him. William is like a brother to me, more than a brother. I get along better and care more about him than I do for my own brother. So it was very painful to watch him be unhappy to that extent. He did not sleep, he did not share what he was feeling, but I could tell he was crushed inside. I could see that his eyes were empty, with no feeling, just a deep, deep sadness."
"When I left town, I was concerned, he was not well. But I had to go, so I tried to stay in touch, but he did not answer my letters. I received letters from Georgiana, telling me how badly he was doing. I hurried back as soon as I could, not knowing what to expect when I walked through the door. And he surprised me, pleasantly! He was almost back to his usual self. He had confided in his sister and was tending to his business endeavors. But it had been a struggle for him."
"I told him I had seen you at the theater and I could tell he was deeply affected by this news. So needless to say I was ecstatic when he invited me to dinner tonight and told me you had met again. He loves you deeply and has given you his heart and soul. I do not know whether he will share all of this with you someday, but I wanted to thank you for making him so happy and I want to whole heartedly welcome you to the family. I know you will be very happy together."
When he finished he was smiling but his eyes were wet, which made Elizabeth also tear up just a bit. She smiled and squeezed his arm. "Thank you for your kind words Richard. I am glad you talked to me. He has not said anything about what happened after our horrible last encounter at Hunsford." She sighed and continued, "I have felt so guilty for having misjudged him so completely. I consider myself a good reader of people's characters and I can not explain how I was so very wrong about him. I will have to spend the rest of my life telling him what a wonderful man he is to make up for all the pain and heartache I caused him with my hurtful words."
"I will make him the happiest man on the face of the Earth or my name is not Elizabeth Bennett! I promise you that. I know his life has not been easy and I want to take care of him so badly, I want to let him open himself up to me and share all the trials and tribulations of this past year and also of past years. Richard I can not wait to get to know the real Darcy! I have seen a glimpse of him tonight, and I like what I see very much!" she finished with a big smile on her face.
Darcy had started walking back to re-join them with a questioning look on his face. While they were talking he had not stopped looking at Elizabeth from the other side of the room. Richard had purposely moved away from the rest of the guests so he could have some privacy during their talk. When William was next to her, he took her hand and kissed it looking lovingly into her eyes. She touched his face with her hand and whispered in his ear, 'I love you.' He looked at her, stunned; she had never told him that before. He wanted to bend down and kiss her in the lips, but he knew that would be inappropriate. So he just looked from her eyes to her lips and held his gaze there.
The feeling of longing that this awakened in her was so powerful that she wanted to leap into his arms and feel his strong embrace around her. Now that she had felt the safety of his embrace she could not get enough. It would be very hard to keep away from him now that everything was out in the open. And she could tell by the look in his face that he was feeling something similar.
He blinked to bring himself back to reality and asked, "So what was so important, that I had to walk away from this beautiful woman that I love so much?" she positively beamed at his praise. This was all so new and exciting, and hearing him praise her in such a lovely way made her heart race inside her chest! "Well, Richard just wanted to welcome me into the family, is that not so?" Elizabeth said looking mischievous. "Hmm, I will have to get a full account of this 'welcome' conversation from you later Miss Bennett." He said with a look towards his cousin. "I hope he was not badmouthing me in front of my new betrothed."
They all laughed. It feels so good to laugh, Darcy thought to himself. When was the last time he had laughed? He could not remember, probably with Richard or Bingley, but it must have been a long, long time ago. It felt good, that is all he could think and looking at Elizabeth, he kissed her in the cheek. She looked at him surprised for a moment, but recovering quickly gave him a loving smile. Her eyes were shinning and everything about her told him that she was happy. They looked at each other for some minutes, forgetting everything and everybody around them. Richard smiled to himself, but said or did nothing. They both deserved these moments of stolen happiness.
Mrs. Gardiner approached the group and looking at her niece said, "We need to decide when and where Mr. Darcy, excuse me, William can speak with your father Lizzy. Have you two given any thought to that?" Darcy looked at Elizabeth questioning and she nodded approvingly, he then answered, "As a matter of fact Mrs. Gardiner, I think what we will do is the following, you will be returning to Longbourn in three days time, I can accompany you and Mr. Gardiner and Jane and Elizabeth, so I can have an opportunity to speak to Mr. Bennett, what do you think?" she smiled and said, "I think that will be perfect!" They all agreed that is what should be done. Elizabeth and Darcy looked at each other and smiled a big smile.
It was time for the guests to retire. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner thanked Darcy and Georgiana profusely for a wonderful evening that was topped with the most marvelous news. The rest of the guests were saying their goodbyes as well. As for Darcy and Elizabeth they did not have much of a chance to say what they really wanted to say to each other, so with a deep sigh, he took her by the hand and led her to get her coat. Then they all walked outside to the awaiting carriage to take them home.
Darcy was at the end of the line, trying to hold on to some more moments with his beloved. Stealing gazes full of love and longing that left him breathless. How can I bear to part with her again when we have finally found each other? This is going to be harder than I thought! Her hand was holding his arm firmly and his other hand covered it as if telling her he did not want her to go. "I shall miss you my love." he said whispering in her ear and turned to look at her. She had a serious look and stopped to say, "You will? I will miss you enormously!" he took her hand in his and squeezed it as if he was showing her just how much he would miss her.
How he wished they could get married tonight! He could not be without her for too long, he had suffered so much heartache wishing, hoping, and wondering if he would ever be in her presence again. It was very difficult to have to send her away with her relatives when he knew she belonged with him. My Elizabeth, he thought, you are truly mine now! But are you? I have to hand you into this carriage and wait until tomorrow to lay my eyes on you again, to touch you again, and to kiss you again.
Finally they reached the carriage and he turned to look at her. She put her hand in his and he bent over to kiss it, letting his lips linger longer that propriety called for. The rest of the party was already in the carriage, but they were carrying on a conversation to give them some time to say their goodbyes. "Until tomorrow Elizabeth." He said softly, but with feeling. Looking into his blue eyes, she answered, 'Until tomorrow, my love." and smiled at him. He helped her into the carriage trying to hide the confusion he felt at her loving farewell. He still could not get over the fact that she was even calling him 'My love'.
His hand lingered in hers until she was safely seated inside. They shared one last look and everything stopped for both of them. Darcy was standing at the carriage door, still holding it open, staring at Elizabeth. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner shared a wink and he cleared his throat, which brought Darcy back to the present time. He smiled at Mr. Gardiner as if caught misbehaving and said, "I apologize sir, I will let you be on your way. Have a nice ride home. Goodnight." Darcy had said all this without leaving Elizabeth's eyes. Mrs. Gardiner had noticed the intensity of his stares earlier and now she positively could almost not contain her laughter at what she saw. They were clearly completely in love with each other. And one thing was certain, they needed to marry as soon as possible.
Darcy closed the door and told the driver to be on his way. He stood there, looking into Elizabeth's beautiful eyes and not believing the love he now saw in them. He never thought he would see that love for him. The carriage pulled her slowly away from him and he felt a sudden pain in the pit of his stomach, not unlike what he had felt when he returned a dejected man in the spring. Suddenly the carriage stopped and the door opened. Elizabeth flew out and ran towards him.
For a moment he did not understand what was happening! Bingley had left and Richard had gone inside the house, but he decided to go back out to make sure Darcy was alright. That is when Elizabeth came dashing out of the carriage into his cousin's arms. It was also not unlike something Georgiana would do after William had been away for a long time. But this was different. Everyone was looking at them intently, almost feeling the love the two of them had for each other.
Elizabeth ran and leapt into Darcy's arms, thankfully he was prepared or the force of her almost jumping into his arms would have made him fall for certain. He was not sure what was happening at first, but when he realized she was coming to him, he was prepared to take her in his arms. That is exactly what he did and swept her off her feet, literally! He took her in his strong arms and held her so tight he thought he might be crushing her, but she held him just as tight. They just held each other and the rest of the party had no choice but to wait.
"I could not go like that! I had to let you know how much I will really miss you. I love you so much; it is so hard to have to go! I want to stay here with you…" all of a sudden she stopped as if she had just realized what it was that she was saying and doing. He put her down and took her face into his hands, so softly and with such sweetness, she thought her heart would rip into pieces. With eyes closed he put his forehead to hers and said, "Thank you my love, this is the best gift you could have given me! I love you so completely, my heart and my soul are yours now and forever." They stood still with their foreheads touching and eyes closed.
He almost could not contain the need to kiss her passionately, right then and there! He had to make a supreme effort not to do it. Her lips were so close to his, he could feel her breathing heavily and he could also smell her scent of lavender, which he had associated with her for the past months, all of these feelings were so strong, like nothing he had ever felt in his life. He almost could not control them; they were almost stronger than him. All he wanted was Elizabeth!
She moved first and put her hands in his arms, his hands were still holding her face. They slowly pulled apart and she smiled at him impishly. He smiled in return and closed his eyes saying, 'Elizabeth, I will ask you father if we can marry immediately, I do not think I can bear these separations anymore. It has been so hard to be away from you and now that I finally have you, it is just…" he trailed off. She pulled him close again. Oh it was heartbreaking to have to leave him. "I support you on that decision; I will also speak to my father about marrying as quickly as possible. You must be honest and open about your feelings with him and he might agree. I know it will not be easy, but we can also enlist the help of my aunt and uncle." She finished and smiled, looking at him lovingly.
This gave him some hope, that he could actually marry her very soon indeed. "Well, if I do not bring you back to the carriage soon, they might not be willing to help us with this, so we should be on our way." He said with more ease and smiling. She put her hand in the crook of his arm and took her once more to the carriage. They were both somewhat embarrassed at the show they had put on. Since she was the one that started it, she was the first to speak, "I am sorry for keeping you waiting uncle…" they were all smiling inside when she looked up. "Let us be on our way dear." Mrs. Gardiner said. "William, thank you again for everything and have a good night!"
He handed Elizabeth into the carriage and closed the door. Looking at her with a small smile he said, "Good night ladies, Mr. Gardiner." He then stepped away from the carriage and told the driver to go. He stood there, again looking at Elizabeth until the carriage was out of view. Richard had been there observing all of this, Darcy had not noticed him. He came close to William and said, "Let us go inside cousin." Putting a hand on Darcy's shoulder.
They started walking back and Darcy turned to look back as if the carriage was still there. Richard softly pushed him forward and they entered the house in silence. Darcy started walking towards his study and Richard followed, he still had not uttered a word. He went for the brandy decanter and poured two glasses. "This is going to be much harder than I had anticipated. It breaks my heart to see her go, it is as if nothing has changed, even though everything has!" he sighed deeply, sat in his favorite oversized chair in front of the fire and took a long sip of his drink.
"When will you go to speak with her father?" asked Richard sitting in the chair next to him and taking a drink also. "I will accompany them back to Longbourn in three days and I will request an interview as soon as we arrive. Richard, I do not think I can wait much longer to marry her." His cousin had to smile at that comment. "Well, I do not know there is much of a choice, is there?" Darcy sighed and closed his eyes, "I never thought I would feel like this about a woman, well I had not met Elizabeth! She is just the most remarkable woman I have ever met! And now that I have…well….known her a little better…it is not easy. Richard you have no idea!"
Richard laughed out loud. Darcy turned to look at him and said, "Or do you? Have you ever been in love? I mean truly in love with someone that you want to marry them that you can not stop thinking about them and dreaming about them and all you want is to be with them forever?" Richard was looking into the fire and did not answer at first. William turned to look at him and saw something he had never seen before. Richard had closed his eyes and seemed to be deep in thought. "Richard?
'Once, a long time ago, you were at Cambridge I believe and it was right after your father had passed away, so I never told you about her, it just was not the right time I suppose…' he trailed off. Darcy stared at him in amazement, he had never known of his cousin being in love. "What happened?" Darcy asked tentatively. "Well when I spoke to the Earl about her, he thought I was mad, he said that it was not possible, the lady had no social standing to speak of and what would I do to keep her." He sighed and looked into the fire.
"She was lovely William, similar to your Elizabeth, witty and smart and not afraid to say exactly what was on her mind. But my father would not have any of it and I was going away for training anyway, so nothing ever came of it, that simple." But Darcy was not convinced it was that simple from the look in Richard's eyes. "So you have not seen her or heard from her again?" he asked to see how much Richard was willing to share. "No, actually her family ended up moving to the south of England and I heard she had married from a mutual acquaintance." He closed his eyes for a moment and looked at Darcy. "It is alright Darcy. It was a long time ago, but she is the only woman that I ever thought of proposing to. No one else has captured my special attention. So you are a lucky dog, having lost and now found the woman of your dreams." He finished trying to put a brave face.
Darcy sensed that his cousin wanted to change the topic and he really did not feel like pushing it, so he let it drop. Besides he had so many things to decide and think about. More importantly that Elizabeth had finally said yes to him. Can this be real, can all of this truly be happening? He thought. "So, what is next cousin?" asked Richard bringing Darcy out of his daydreaming. "I need to convince Mr. Bennett that we want to marry as soon as possible. Elizabeth agrees with me and said she will speak with him of the matter. I think after all that we have been through there is no need for a lengthy engagement." Darcy paused and became thoughtful again.
"And do you think her father will agree?" Richard asked. "I do not know, I hope he does or I do not know what I will do, I know I can not wait for months, it would be pure torture! The problem is that her family did not exactly have the best impression of me, so I do not know if we will be able to convince him. Elizabeth suggested we enlist the help of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, which I think is a brilliant idea!" he finished.
"Now, I must make all the arrangements necessary as soon as possible. I will have to contact my attorney and steward to inquire what needs to be done. Obviously I will have to change the will to include Elizabeth and ensure that she will be protected once she becomes my…wife…" he could not believe that he was actually saying those words and paused. Richard had been pacing back and forth thoughtfully while Darcy spoke and turned around at his cousin's hesitation.
"What is it William? He asked him. William got up and stood by the fire. "Nothing….I just can not believe all this is actually happening…" Richard smiled and Darcy smiled back. He then let out a laugh. "Only this morning I was thinking of what to say to her and how to approach her tonight. And now I am making plans for my wedding! It is incredible, do you not agree?" he was grinning broadly and Richard could not help but let out a laugh. "It is simply incredible Darcy that you will finally be a married man. Oh, hearts will be breaking when you make the announcement. And talking of that, when will you tell my parents? Not that they have to approve, but they would appreciate it."
Darcy sat at his desk and rubbed his temples. "I will sent them a letter posthaste and I think I will have to make a 'to do' list! This is going to take some time; I mean to figure out everything that needs to get done. Of course I will have to let Mrs. Reynolds know, so she can start preparing things….I will have to have my mother's chambers cleaned and aired out. I don't know when it was done last…
But it's getting late and I am thoroughly exhausted, so I think I will wait until tomorrow to worry about the details. So if you will excuse me cousin, I think I will retire and I suggest you do the same if you want to be of some assistance tomorrow." Richard had been observing his cousin intently and smiling inwardly at the obvious happiness he saw on his face, it was like nothing he had ever seen in Darcy.
"Darcy, I am very happy for you and Elizabeth…I will be ready in the morning to carry out any instructions you may have. You know you can count on my help always." He said looking his cousin in the eye. William smiled and said softly, "Thank you cousin…for everything you have always done for me and for being there in my hour of need. I truly do not know where I would be if it was not for you." Richard cleared his throat at Darcy's heartfelt admission and replied, "Well, like I said before, you are like a brother to me and that is my job, to take care of things…" he trailed of at William's intense stare and smiled. "But enough of that, off to bed with you, sweet dreams and I will see you for breakfast."
When Darcy reached his bedchamber his valet Peterson was ready to serve him. "I just need to go to bed immediately Peterson." Darcy said and all the stress and frustration and sleepless nights seemed to have finally taken their effect on him. The valet quickly helped him out of his clothes and brought the basin so he could ready himself for bed. He did this quickly, looked in the mirror and to his surprise saw happiness looking back at him. His eyes were bright and the beginning of a smile forming in his lips. He stared for some minutes and Peterson wondered what had gotten into the Master and why he looked so pleased.
"Is everything alright sir, Mr. Darcy? the valet quietly asked. "Yes, Peterson everything is quite alright, I will not need your services further, you may retire, thank you and have a good night." Peterson left immediately after stoking the fire one last time; Darcy did not notice the amused look he gave him before closing the door behind him. He was still staring at the person in the mirror; he almost did not recognize that happy face. Has all that happened tonight affected me this much? Only yesterday I looked horrible!
Suddenly he yawned, and had to laugh, he was feeling the exhaustion of all the months of wondering and pretending and hiding his feelings for this incredible woman. All he wanted to do was marry her right away and bring her into his bed. But all he needed at this moment was to get into his bed; he could not keep his eyes open any longer. He took the rest of his clothes off and put on his night gown, slipping between the covers. He relaxed for a moment and thoughts of Elizabeth flooded his mind, but this time they were happy thoughts. He fell asleep almost instantly when his head hit the pillow and the last thing on his mind was Elizabeth, like she had been for such a long time, only now he could actually sense her next to him.Continued In Next Section