Posted on 2014-10-31
The evening sun shone on the grounds of Pemberley and basked everything in golden light. Golden too were the crops in the fields, green the pastures and meadows, and in the distance, a little brook playfully wound its way over stones and sticks. All was quiet. The day's work was done and the table was laid. Fire had been kindled in the hearth and a hearty broth made. Everybody had sat down and partaken of a well-earnt meal. Only up in the highest tower, a lone figure was standing at a window, observing the peaceful scenery in the distance and enjoying the warm rays of sunlight on his face. He stood there for a long while, observing the sun retreating until finally, the tower room was all dusk. Then, only, did he turn to the wheelchair standing next to him. He leaned over it and tenderly pressed his lips to the soft, dark hair.
'Another day is over, my love,' he whispered. 'We shall retreat to bed now.'
Still he remained standing there, not moving, keeping his gaze fixed on the wheelchair.
'I want you to know that for me, every day I have spent with you is a treasure,' he said. 'After the accident, when I thought I had lost you -'
He broke off and placed his hand on the wheelchair's wooden armrest.
'But then I found you again, my love,' he said. 'And I brought you here, where you belong, your home, and I have cherished every day with you.'
He waited until the sun had completely disappeared behind the trees, then he slowly, with practised ease, pushed the wheelchair out of the tower room.
The first rays of sun caressed Fitzwilliam Darcy's lined face and woke him. He rolled over and for a moment, his gaze lingered on the still form next to him. Sunlight tickled her hair and gave it a golden shine.
'You are so beautiful,' Fitzwilliam muttered.
With a sigh, he sat up and got out of bed. He covered his unclothed body with a robe and walked over to the other side of the bed, contemplating what he saw.
'Good morning, my love,' he said and kissed her pale brow. 'It is yet another day.'
He walked the short distance to his dressing room, where his valet was already waiting for him.
A little while later, he re-emerged.
'I see you are ready to go,' he said.
With movements long practised, he helped her into the wheelchair and pushed her into the little cage that would lift her up to the tower room.
The lands of Pemberley were glorious in the golden morning sun. They stretched as far as the eye could see. The brooks, the woods, the fields, all was tinted in the rosy gold that hailed a fine summer day.
'This is yours,' Fitzwilliam said as he knelt before the wheelchair. 'All yours. I place it at your feet, for you to enjoy. Do you remember how you loved it when you first came here?'
Downstairs, in the breakfast room, Georgiana Darcy partook of a lonely meal. The butler stood stoically by the side table as she helped herself to a little toast and egg, and poured tea for her in silence. Georgiana took little bites of her single slice of toast, making it last longer, when Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper, entered the room.
'Is the master not down for breakfast today?' she asked in lieu of a greeting.
'No,' said Georgiana. 'And why would he? It is ten years since he last did.'
Ten years it was now, she thought, to the day, if memory served her right, since everything had come to a halt at Pemberley. Life had stood still ever since Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle had left the building after a visit, only to be thrown from their carriage as it drove down towards the road. It was an accident, nobody's fault, one of the dogs had spooked the horses, everyone agreed. Not even Elizabeth's father, when he had come to bring her body home, had found it in himself to blame anyone. Still, Georgiana's brother had been unable to continue afterwards. Forgotten were his promises to take Georgiana to London, to show her the world and let her find joy again. A few days after the hearse had left Pemberley, so had Fitzwilliam. He had returned a little over a fortnight later, in the dead of the night, and ever since then, he shut himself in his tower apartments that no one else was allowed to enter. He only ever asked for one thing.
'Has it been brought up yet?' Georgiana asked Mrs Reynolds.
'The boy is on his way,' Mrs Reynolds said and pointed outside, to the gardens. Georgiana espied one of the gardener's boys carrying a single, long-stemmed red rose. She knew what would happen next. He would carry it upstairs, to the door of the tower apartment, and place it on top of the fresh linens the housemaids brought there every morning.
I wonder what happens to the roses, she thought.The End