Posted on 2009-01-03
"Elizabeth," her name barely even a whisper from his sweet lips. He sighed, closing his eyes as he balled his hands into fists. His arms hung loosely at his side, unsure of what to do with them. His mother and father had raised him to possess the morals that he now had. Darcy knew right from wrong. Being engaged with such with a woman before the act of marriage, well, was a sin. She drove him mad with desire, hunger. When he thought of her, he wanted her, madly. When he was near her, he needed her. His body ached for hers, and his heart would pound incessantly in his chest. He had wanted her from the beginning, and, as they were finally to come together, he would not relinquish his hold on her anytime soon. He would have her, and he would enjoy every minute. He would breathe in her scent. He would drink her in, letting passion overcome them.
"Elizabeth," He begged, "Please."
She grinned devilishly and moved to him, wrapping her arms around his neck.
She hesitated, then began to trail her lips along the firm, strong line of his jaw to taste; to explore.
Darcy moaned, his body shaking with desire, and gripped her waisted, pulling her body tightly against his. She gasped and pulled her head away from his neck to look at him. He watched as she blushed at his ungentlemanly state. He grew fascinated when a slow smile began to appear on her lips.
Taking it as a sign of encouragement, he sighed and slowly began to move his hands up her back, gently working his way up to her chestnut curls....
Fitzwilliam Darcy bolted upright, his body heaving. His nightshirt and the sheets of his bed were soaked through with perspiration. He angrily tossed off the coverlet, swinging his legs over to the side of the bed. He sat on the very edge with his elbows resting on his knees and his head in his hands. He sighed, frustrated, dragging his hands slowly through his damp hair.
What was this spell she had him under? And how could he ever possibly even begin to forget her, when all he did was think of her? That didn't make any sense to him. It was impossible to be free of Elizabeth Bennet. He could control every other part of his life, save his dreams. He could go almost a full day without thinking of her...kind of. When his head hit the pillow, his mind was free to roam on it's own. With dreams such as these, he was bound to love her forever.
He stole a glance at the clock; half past four. He groaned, letting himself fall back into the messy covers. Mr. Darcy folded his arms behind his head and stared blankly at the ceiling. Was he ever to be free of this, this...enchantress? Forgetting her had so far proved an impossible feat. Leaving Netherfield had been the best decision he had ever made in his life...or so he thought. Bingley followed soon, as advised by Darcy himself. He convinced his friend there was no need of staying. He could never be married to a woman with such unsuitable connections. Miss Jane Bennet had alot to recommend her, that was for certain. Her family alone, save Elizabeth, was enough to drive a perfectly sane man to madness. He would not let his closest friend get involved with a family such as hers. And when Bingley had met with him in London no so long ago, he had told him so. He convinced his friend that his choice of Miss Bennet was an imprudent match, and that it would not do. Bingley quietly acquiesced, stating that he had felt the same all along.
After leaving behind Miss Elizabeth, and making sure that Bingley was not forever attached to Miss Bennet, he felt confident. He would continue to raise his sister, Georgiana, as he always had. And he would decidedly forget Miss Elizabeth and her rather 'fine eyes', her methods of teasing him, and her wit. With these thoughts in his mind, he left Georgiana with her aunt, Lady Matlock, and made his yearly trip to Rosings Park to pay a respectable visit to his Aunt Catherine.
"If I am able to think on Miss Elizabeth while Lady Catherine is near, I must truly be bewitched," he had thought, as his carriage had rocked back and forth along his way.
He laughed now at the remembrance of his very own words. Oh, the sheer irony that Miss Elizabeth showed up not two days after Darcy had to visit her friend Charlotte, now a Mrs. Collins, was enough to make Mr. Darcy sick. It seemed as if she was a bothersome little pup, always following at his heels.
He shook his head. Comparing her to a puppy? Now, that will not do. She was everything that he could ever want in a friend and a wife. She was everything to him, and he would stop at nothing to make her his. If she would not have him, he would be tempted to use some form of persuasion...And it would decidedly not be a gentlemanly form of persuasion.
"...which are only to be obtained through intercourse…" Mr. Collins paused, a loud clap of thunder following, "F-forgive me, through the intercourse of friendship and civilities. On such occasion..."*
Despite Mr. Collins's incessant ramblings, Darcy's eyes were in no danger of closing. Instead, they were fixed most agreeably upon the pleasant picture of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.If he could not forget her, then he would make her his. Drink her in. Every single bit of her. Although he was only slightly jealous of his cousin Fitzwilliam at his place beside her, he also considered himself a lucky man, as he could just barely make our their whisperconversationion.
She leaned toward his cousin, "So how long are you going to be in Kent, Colonel?"
"As long as Darcy wishes. I am at his disposal."
She snorted, "Everyone appears to be at his disposal. It's no wonder he doesn't marry and secure a lasting convenience of that kind."
His cousin frowned, "Oh, Darcy is a most loyal companion!"
Her lips turned up in amusement, "Really?"
"Oh, yes! I believe just before he made his way here, he saved one of his friends from imprudentent match."
Elizabeth's mouth opened in horror, "Who was the man?!"
Colonel Fitzwilliam smirked as several hushes followed her exclamation. Darcy watched as she pursed her lips, then licked them, repeating her question at a more desirable tone, "Who was the man?" She whispered.
NO, Richard! Do not do it, man!..
"A Mr. Charles Bingley."
Darcy's heart dropped to the floor of the church.
Please, God, no...
How could his cousin deceive him so? He, of course, had no notion that Miss Elizabeth was connected with the situation, yet he had relayed it after Mr. Darcy had insisted on him not to speak a word of it to anyone. Not a soul. And then what does he do? Apparently Miss Elizabeth not only holds her spell over Darcy, but over his cousin as well.
Darcy watched, pained, as Miss Elizabeth replied, "And...what were Mr. Darcy's objections to the lady? Her lack of fortune?"
"No, I believe it was her family that was considered unsuitable. I am sorry Miss Bennet, I wish that I could relay more. I know nothing else."
Her face fell; the eyes that Mr. Darcy had so often seen sparkle with amusement now glistened with unshed tears. He tore his eyes away from her. His heart cried out for her; to hold her, to love her. He raised his eyes slowly from his lap. She was staring blankly just beyond him, her face wearing an unreadable expression. Fear? Anger? Agony? He would do anything to get inside her heart...To unlock that stubborn mind. He creased his brows, his eyes searching hers beseechingly.
Look up, Elizabeth. Look. Up.
He did not know what he was searching for, really. But after what his damnable cousin had just revealed to her, he just needed her to see him. He thought that maybe, perhaps, if she would just look at him now, she could see what was in his eyes...see what was in his heart. He shifted his weight; her eyes locked with his. Elizabeth's grew wide, and she whipped her head around to face the front. Whether they had gone wide with fear or shock, Mr. Darcy had no idea. He kept watching her through the remainder of the service, hoping she would somehow glance his way, but she never once turned her head sideways again.
There was one thing Darcy was certain of. Miss Elizabeth Bennet would be his wife. Whatever opinions she now posessed of him did not matter. Those could be changed. She would be his, and soon at that. Mr. Darcy was a very dedicated man, and when he set his mind to do something, he most almost always did it, if fate did not intervene. If fate tried to intervene, he would be forced to take her with him to Pemberley by that willful little head of hers. If it came to that, then so be it.
So be it.
* A memorable quote made by the infamous Mr. Collins from the '05 P&P version
Posted on 2009-01-12
Directly after the service, Elizabeth stared outside her window. She leaned against the wall, her eyes following the drops of rain as they sprinkled softly against the glass. Her mind was in turmoil at the news Colonel Fitzwilliam had just related to her. Mr. Darcy had separated her sister from Mr. Bingley! Oh, the inconsiderate, selfish, unfeeling man! He was a fool to think that it was his place to interfere with the affairs of his friend and her dear sister!
She huffed loudly and rolled her eyes, her cheeks burning. Elizabeth wrapped her arms tighter around her tiny frame, and rested her chin against the cold window. Oh, Mr. Darcy was a guileful creature, indeed!
What could have been his reasons for such an act? What were his motives? She went over and over possibilities in her mind, but could credit none of them. Elizabeth was nothing like Jane. To form an opinion of someone, she relied on first impressions and the accounts of others, and Mr. Darcy was lacking positive ones of either. She had not thought so very much on Mr. Wickham’s account of him before this moment. After the information she now possessed, it did not shock her so much as it had at first. She wished she would never have met the man! How could Mr. Bingley become acquainted with someone like Mr. Darcy to begin with? They seemed too incompatible;. their characters were opposite in every way. Mr. Bingley was everything that was amiable and charming; Mr. Darcy proud, selfish, and arrogant.
She shook her head, “What vile, cruel, selfish and insupportable behaviour! And from a man of his standing!”
Elizabeth whipped her body around to face her writing desk. She walked over to it, picking up one of Jane’s last letters. She now knew the reasons behind her sister’s melancholy tone. She had mentioned once that Miss Bingley had called and stated that her brother had been much too busy to call, and had sent his apologies.
She laid the letter back in its place. Elizabeth bit her bottom lip, her brows furrowed in concentration. Had Mr. Darcy made a harmful impression upon the gentleman? She knew Mr. Bingley’s character, therefore was aware that he was simply incapable of causing anyone harm intentionally, let alone her dear Jane. Elizabeth also was conscious of Mr. Darcy’s opinions upon her family and Hertfordshire society in general. In her mind’s eye, she could think of no other way to explain Mr. Bingley’s harming her sister accordingly.
“No doubt that Miss Bingley has played a significant part in this little charade.”
Though she detested the thought, she knew she must speak with Mr. Darcy. She would try to be as harmonious as Jane, for once. Elizabeth would try her hardest to not lose her temper and react in an unfashionable manner. She would set the facts straight in a calm fashion.
Elizabeth sat wearily on the edge of her bed, running her hands over her face.
“Poor, dear Jane! How she must be suffering!”
She lay back, staring blankly at the ceiling. Tonight, she would speak with him. As they were scheduled to dine at Rosings this afternoon, she would try her best to set things straight at her very first opportunity. She groaned and rolled over onto her stomach, eventually falling fast asleep.
He had his back turned from the door, his head resting against the mantle of the fireplace, gathering his strength to face Miss Elizabeth. He heard them enter, Mr. Collins leading the party into the large parlour, and turned his visage around to witness an angel. She was heaven on earth; her chestnut curls pinned up loosely with green ribbons intertwining them to match her jade gown. Her cheeks were flushed, as if she had just walked a great distance. He moved closer, his cousin beside him, and bowed deeply. As he rose, so did his eyes, caressing her womanly figure from her toes to the lashes resting softly on her cheeks.
She raised her eyes to Lady Catherine, “Yes, your ladyship?”
“Do you play the pianoforte?”
“I - no, I do not play so very well Lady Catherine.”
Lady Catherine sniffed, declaring that Elizabeth could have been better, had she dedicated herself to more practise. Elizabeth nearly fainted when she insisted - no, demanded - that she play.
“No, I beg you.”
“Miss Bennet, I insist! You will not get anywhere if you do not practise!”
Elizabeth bit her cheek and raised her brow, “As you wish, Lady Catherine.” She gritted her teeth as she made her way to the other side of the room.
Lady Catherine turned to Mrs. Collins, “She may practise whenever she desires in the housekeeper’s room. She would be in nobody’s way,” she paused meaningfully, “in that part of the house.”
Darcy’s eyes followed her, secretly admiring her form as she walked with her fingers clasped in front of her. He watched as she drew a deep breath, and reluctantly began her piece. He closed his eyes and turned his head away from the picturesque beauty of the scene. In his dreams (the less explicit ones, that is) he saw her, playing at his home with ease, smiling at him lovingly; her breast rising and falling as she sang, her voice that of an angel's.
"How does Georgiana get along, Darcy?"
He opened his eyes, snapped to attention, and turned his body toward his aunt, "She plays very well."
"I am not surprised to hear it." She turned to her guests, "Georgiana has always been such an accomplished young woman." Lady Catherine turned her head toward Elizabeth. "But, then again, she has always had such a great dedication to her studies."
Elizabeth nearly laughed outright at Lady Catherine's failed attempts to intimidate her, and smiled softly to herself. She heard Mr. Darcy quietly approaching her, causing the hairs on the back of her neck to stand up, and sending a chill down the length of her spine and arms.
She licked her bottom lip as her fingers moved shakily over the keys, "Do you mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all your state to hear me? You should know that I would not be alarmed, even if your sister does play so well."
Mr. Darcy leaned against the edge of the piano, his arm dangling just above the keys where he watched her fingers flow gracefully.
I know you well enough, Miss Elizabeth, to know that it would take a great deal to alarm you, should I wish it.
He smiled slightly at the thoughts coursing through his mind. There were, in fact, several ways that he could alarm her at present… "Yes, a great deal."
She raised her head, and temporarily ceased her playing, "I beg your pardon, sir? I am afraid that I do not understand your meaning."
He raised his left brow, his eyes darkening. "No, you most certainly would not."
What can he possibly mean?...
Elizabeth shifted, suddenly feeling a tightening in her lower abdomen. She had been feeling it all day, but really had not thought anything of it. She couldn't possibly be...? She dismissed the thought, merely touching a hand to her belly.
He smiled, revealing a most attractive pair of dimples.
Elizabeth smiled tightly, "Please, do inform me of what causes you such apparent amusement, Mr. Darcy." She was not in good humour.
His smile faded, "No thank you, Miss Elizabeth. I would most certainly rather not. You might shun me forever."
Lizzy, suspecting Mr. Darcy was raising some kind of mischief, merely pursed her lips, arching her brow, "Very well." She flashed him a heated look, not at all in the humour to pull caps with him.
"Darcy! What are you and Miss Bennet speaking of? I must be involved in the conversation, I simply must."
Mr. Darcy, his gaze never wavering from hers, "I was just informing Miss Bennet on the utmost importance of practising,” he lied.
Lady Catherine smiled triumphantly, and turned her attention back to Colonel Fitzwilliam, chastising him about his posture, when dinner was announced.
The moment Elizabeth began to rise from the bench, her suspicions were indeed confirmed. Mr. Darcy watched as Elizabeth rose from her seat, ever so slowly, a frown on her delicate features. As soon as he made to take her arm and loop it through his, she staggered while her eyes rolled back, and began her descent. Mr. Darcy did not think twice on the bounds of propriety; on what was right and what was wrong. If he was not behaving as a gentleman should, then so be it. She fell perfectly into his more than willing arms, a small sigh escaping her beautiful lips. The party’s attention was now fixed on Miss Bennet. Lady Catherine merely sniffed, insisting to Colonel Fitzwilliam that Miss Bennet was simply putting on a charade, as she was obviously determined to ruin her dinner party.
Mrs. Collins gasped, “Lizzy!” She dropped her husband’s arm and rushed over to the settee, just as Mr. Darcy gently laid her there.
“Lizzy!” She attempted to rouse her, but it was to no avail. The lady turned to Mr. Darcy questioningly, “What in heaven’s name has happened, Mr. Darcy?”
“Forgive me, Mrs. Collins, for acting so…accordingly. I only did what I thought was best. I admit, I had noticed that her appearance was quite pallid this evening. As she rose from the piano, she appeared to grow faint, and, as she started to fall back, I reached out and caught her.”
Mrs. Collins tended to Miss Elizabeth, still attempting to wake her, “And thank God you did, Mr. Darcy. Although, I do hope she is alright! It is so unlike Lizzy to behave as such. Well, unless she is…”
Mr. Darcy raised his eyes from Elizabeth’s appealing form, to Mrs. Collins, curious, “Unless she is what?”
Mrs. Collins cleared her throat, now very aware of her friend’s state, “Nothing, Mr. Darcy. I am afraid, however, that we must return to Hunsford immediately. We shall not be delayed another moment. I do hope Lady Catherine does not think it too ill-mannered of us, but I am afraid that we have no other choice-”
Elizabeth shifted sleepily, “Char?”
Charlotte smiled with relief, “Oh, Lizzy, I am so thankful that you have woken. Will you accept the assistance of a servant to the carriage?”
She nodded slightly, her face burning a bright shade of crimson.
When Elizabeth stood, her knees trembled and buckled somewhat. She glanced significantly at Charlotte for her to check the backside of her dress; Elizabeth feared that she had bled through her gown. Charlotte stole a quick glace at the settee and Elizabeth’s dress, then shook her head once discreetly. Elizabeth smiled weakly, and then took the offered arm of the manservant.
Although the rest of the company was completely at unawares, Mr. Darcy had witnessed the entire ‘tactful’ exchange between the two ladies. He followed them out, as Colonel Fitzwilliam stayed at his Aunt’s side. The Colonel only bowed formally, offered his best wishes, and stayed exactly at her place. He had glanced warily at Lady Catherine, and, from the look upon her countenance, knew he assumed correctly in his choice; he had alwaysdreaded the infamous walking cane of Lady Catherine.
As Miss Bennet arrived at the open door of the carriage, she turned to Mr. Darcy, who she knew had been following since she departed from the room, “It seems thanks are in order, Mr. Darcy.”
Mr. Darcy bowed humbly, “Please forgive me if I caused you any distress. The moment I thought you were to fall back, I only acted how I thought best. Pray, forgive me if it was too… uncouth of me.”
The corners of her lips turned up, “Do not make yourself uneasy, Mr. Darcy. You are a hero, as I simply do not know what would have happened, should you have let me fall. Surely I would have hit my head upon the edge of the piano-seat! And my, what a mess that would have been. Oh, la! How Lady Catherine would have reacted then!”
He laughed at her teasing, pleased that she was at least well enough to do that, and watched with admiration as she took her place in the carriage. He said his goodbyes to Mr. and Mrs. Collins, and regarded as Elizabeth’s eyes never left his. Even as the carriage began to draw out of site, he could still feel her sharp stare.
Surely she could not admire him after such a display! He had caught her in his arms and carried her, for God’s sake! She must think quite ill of him after he had behaved so poorly. Although, however hard he tried to chastise himself, he could not bring himself to regret his behaviour. While she was in his arms, he had not felt the surging desire that he had expected to feel. Instead, he had felt an overwhelming need for her. His heart had tugged piercingly, and in his entire being, he had felt an undeniable need to protect her, to hold her, to nurse her, and to look after her; for always.
He clenched his fists that hung loosely at his sides and closed his eyes. When would he have a moment with her alone? If was not graced with an instant alone with her while she was here, he would follow her back to Hertfordshire. He would fall upon his knees, a broken man, and beg her to marry him. He would cry; he would take both of her delicate, soft hands into his and kiss them with devotion.
He opened his eyes and turned around. Mr. Darcy walked straight up to his quarters, slamming the door. He leaned up against it and his eys fell to his writing desk, an idea coming to his mind.
"If I will not be graced to speak with her alone, then I shall write her directly."
He would write her, and in that letter, he would explain everything. From his past history with Wickham, to his interference with Bingley.
He would explain it all, and he would hand it to her, personally.
Posted on 2009-04-04
As she watched Mr. Darcy while the carriage took her away, she felt an unusual fluttering in her chest.
"Lizzy?" Charlotte whispered in her ear, "We've arrived. I have some clothes you may borrow if you did not bring any with you. They are new, so you need not worry."
Elizabeth turned scarlet and nodded her head, "Thank you. And no I did not. Silly me, I knew it would come soon."
Charlotte smiled kindly, "No need to thank me, Elizabeth. I am your friend; and that is what I am here for."
Elizabeth felt her heart warm at such a statement. She was lucky to have Char.
When she had settled in and readied herself for bed, she collapsed face down onto her covers that were warm and welcoming. She sighed, placing her hand on her aching abdomen. Every month since she was seventeen, she had experienced such symptoms. Sometimes, as she had that evening at Rosings, she would even experience nausea and dizziness. Along with these, her head and back would ache and she would, at times, feel overwhelmingly tired.
Walking usually helped her to feel a little better, but because of the lateness of the hour she changed her mind. She was exhausted as it was. She leaned over and blew out the glowing candle, then settled into bed.
She closed her eyes, but her mind could not rest; all she could think of was Mr. Darcy and what had happened that day. He must think her a fool for acting the way she did!
"Ohh why should I care, Mr. Darcy means nothing to me!"
She huffed, turned on her side and attempted to clear her head.
First, she had been insulted by him; second, Mr. Wickham's treatment at Darcy's hand was abominable… if true.
Should she count what she had been told by Mr. Wickham as valid information? She did not know. Her mind told her that what he had said that day was true but her heart, she felt, told her otherwise. Until she had established what had truly occurred between the two men, she would count the accusations as false.
But the way Mr. Darcy had treated her sister…! Did he think so little of the feelings of others? Would that she could know the reasons behind his actions! The only possible reason she could think of in her mind was that…
"No, he can't be!"
*"Come, Darcy," said Bingley, "I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance."
"I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with."
"I would not be so fastidious as you are," cried Bingley, "for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see, uncommonly pretty."
"You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room," said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.*
Elizabeth gasped loudly and shot up in bed, "Mr. Darcy is in love with my sister!"
Elizabeth woke the next morning feeling refreshed. She pushed herself up off of the bed, and discovered that the severity of her pains had ceased. She swung her legs over the edge and put some of her weight on them.
"Ah!" She winced in pain and placed her hands just above each of her knees. She gently applied slight pressure while quickly stretching out each of her legs and popping them, "Ow."
She stood, her legs slightly shaking. She was well, though in need of a short walk. She chose a simple white morning gown trimmed with cherry ribbon that had a bodice which crossed over her breast to form a v-shape. She chose a long-sleeved green pelisse to wear over her dress. She walked to the mirror while fidgeting with the single clasp in the front. She finished with it and stood before her mirror. She glanced down at the vanity table and picked up her mosaic cross necklace, given to her by her father when she was just a girl. She reached behind her neck and fastened the ends of the necklace together. She gently touched a finger to it and traced the edges of the beautiful, multi-coloured cross. She cocked her head sideways, thinking, and staring at the necklace. She sighed heavily and sank down in the chair.
When she had finished pinning her curls up quickly, her eyes settled on her face. As she stared at her reflection, she frowned. Her face was rather tan, her brows thick, arched, and dark, her cheekbones high, her lips full, and her eyes and lashes a rich chocolate brown. She leaned in more to get a better look at herself. Elizabeth brushed her finger along the edges of her cheekbones thoughtfully, and then dropped her hand in her lap. Everything about her appearance and personality was so dissimilar to that of Jane's. Jane had been blessed with the fashionable fair hair, pale complexion, and rosy lips and cheeks. She was truly an angel, always thinking well of everyone and always optimistic about everything. She was kind and sweet, while Elizabeth was strong-willed, independent, and stubborn.
She huffed in exasperation and rose from her place. She reached the door, took one last look out the window to see that the sky was turning a soft, midnight blue; the sun would rise soon. She opened the door and tip-toed quietly out the front door.
When she was outside, she smiled slightly despite herself. She did not want to venture far; only to a nearby path in between Rosings and Hunsford that led through trees and tall grass to a small clearing. Elizabeth had discovered it a few days ago and was eager to spend more time there. She picked up her skirts and walked quickly; the early morning sun was fast upon her heels.
She still could not believe that she had deciphered why Mr. Darcy had separated Jane and Mr. Bingley. It was out of pure jealously! She could not believe that, after all this time, Mr. Darcy had been hopelessly in love with her sister! She bit her lip thoughtfully and quickened her pace. Mr Darcy! Jane! It seemed almost impossible ! He hardly ever spoke more than two words to Jane, let alone a complete sentence. Yet this had to be the reason; Elizabeth could think of no other!
She at last reached her destination as she saw the old wooden bench perched in the middle of the little clearing. She sighed happily, as she saw that it would give her a perfect vision of the rising sun. She dropped her skirts and sat on the bench, folding her hands in her lap and patiently waiting for the sunrise.
After tossing and turning all night, eventually he gave up. He groaned, threw off the covers, and hopped out of bed. Fitzwilliam didn't bother with clothing himself properly, only half buttoning his white linen shirt and throwing on a pair of breeches, which he tucked his shirt into carelessly. He searched for his boots and sat on the edge of his bed to slip them on his feet. He stood and raked his hand through his dark, disheveled hair. He frowned at Elizabeth's letter, which lay upon his writing desk. He reached out for it, and then dropped his hand resolutely at his side. He wouldn't bring it with him this morning. She would be sleeping due to her condition.
Darcy walked, his mind in a quandary. He had worried all night about her health, and whether she was well. After witnessing the 'discreet' exchange between Mrs Collins and Miss Bennet, Fitzwilliam thought he knew what had happened to the lady. He did have a sister, after all. Georgiana often experienced such symptoms as Miss Bennet had. He was very close to his sister and they shared almost everything with one another. It troubled him to know that Miss Bennet was in pain; he wanted to soothe it, make it disappear.
He wandered on, not knowing or caring where he ended up. When he left it was at least half past five, perhaps a little less. Where Darcy went, he cared not. Whom he met, he cared not. If he was to meet with someone, then so be it. In his present state, he would even frighten a dog away, he was sure.
The previous night, Darcy had come to the realization that he not only desired Miss Bennet, but he loved her as well. He did not know when or how he had fallen for her, all he knew was that he had. He could not fix upon the exact hour, or the spot, or the look that had set him off. And, when he thought back on his previous desirous fantasies of her, he grew ashamed. She deserved so much better than he, and yet he was not willing to share her with anyone. He could not believe that he had once lusted for her, that he had once only desired her for her beauty and wit. He loved her, for heaven's sake! Yes, those feelings were natural, and in that he could find at least some comfort. But to think…! In his mind, he had behaved as a total and complete swine!
He looked down and clenched his fists that were hanging loosely by his side. Suddenly he heard what sounded like nearby humming. He stopped in his tracks and furrowed his brow as he leaned in closer to listen. He appeared to have come to a small clearing, where –oh!--Miss Bennet sat! He was just outside of the little clearing, so she could not possibly see or hear him. He put his hand to his heart; she was a vision. She was sitting on a small, old wooden bench with her back to him, with her head tilted to one side, and her arms wrapped about her as if to warm herself. He listened with awe as she hummed softly. Though he could not make out the tune, he did not care. Her angelic voice made his heart swell and soar, till he thought it would surely burst!
He closed his eyes and leaned against a tree on his left. He leaned his head back and groaned softly, "Elizabeth."
She stood and whipped around until she saw him there, "Mr…!" Her eyes grew wide with either fear or panic; Darcy knew not which.
He removed himself from his position and shifted his body to face her. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but no words came.
She raised both of her brows in question and waited for him to speak, for she could not find words either!
"It's a beautiful day, is it not…Miss Bennet?"
He happens upon me in the wee hours of the day, frightens me to death, and all he can talk of is the weather?!
Her jaw dropped slightly, but she soon recovered and walked around the bench so there was nothing between them. She curtseyed as he bowed to her respectfully. She arched her brow, "Although it is not yet late enough to tell, I-I do believe that you are…correct; it will be a…very beautiful day, sir."
He nodded his head vigorously, his breath beginning to come in rapid pants.
She glanced around her in annoyance, wringing her hands in agitation. All this time she had thought that she would be able to face him with confidence! And now here she was, behaving like a stuttering ninny! One would think her tongue was tied in knots! Luckily, it was he who broke the silence, for she knew not how.
"For-forgive me for…intruding upon your solitude this morning. Last night, I found that I could not sleep. I've been awake all night, tossing and turning; tormented and tortured. My mind has been in such agony, my heart in such anguish. I am in love, Miss Bennet. Irrevocably and completely in love." He paused and raked his hand through his straight, dark hair. "I have never cared for anyone as I do for-"
"Mr. Darcy!" She held her hand up for him to stop. "Please, you will cease this talking at once! I am not the sort of person to communicate and send 'messages' between two people. If you have feelings for my sister, I would suggest that you tell her so yourself, sir, for I most certainly am not going to send the word of your love to her myself! If you care for her at all, you will do this. I do not want to hear of your passionate love for Jane! I am not the person you need to come to in order to express your-your 'anguish' and your 'agony' to. If you love my sister at all, you will be the man in love that you claim to be and tell her of your feelings yourself, as you should!"
Foolish and insufferable man! He had the nerve to confess his feelings for her sister to her! If he loved her at all, then he would tell her himself and ask permission to court her, as it should be done.
He stood as he was, stricken and dumbfounded. He? In love with her sister? What on God's green earth was she talking of? She thought he was talking of the eldest Miss Bennet? When and where had she even conjured up such an idea?
"Miss Bennet, I am afraid that you are gravely mistaken-"
"Mistaken?" She laughed almost hysterically, "Oh that is rich, sir!"
He shook his head, "Miss-"
"If I am mistaken, then what other motives could you have had when you separated my sister from Mr Bingley?"
His jaw dropped as he stared at her, his eyes wide.
"Do you deny it sir? That you separated a young couple who loved each other, exposing your friend to the world for caprice, and my sister to its derision for disappointed hopes and involving them both in misery in the acutest kind? That you have ruined perhaps forever the happiness of a most beloved sister, only to please yourself and yourself alone? You separated my own dear sister from her own dear Mr. Bingley out of your own jealously for her! Would you be so brave as to deny it, Mr. Darcy?"
"I do not deny it!"
She shook her head slowly in amazement, "How could you do it!"
"Because I believed your sister to be indifferent to him."
"Indifferent? Mr. Darcy, you hardly even know my sister! Jane hardly even shows her true feelings to me!"
"I had watched them, most carefully, and realised that his attachment was much deeper than hers!"
She opened her mouth.
"And as for my being in love with your sister, I most certainly am not! I do not know how you could have fashioned the idea in the first place, though I suppose you conjured it up within your own mind as an excuse for my behaviour. Do you deny it, Miss Bennet? That you…developed this nonsense as an excuse for my actions toward my friend and your sister?"
She was wrong? She tightened her lips in response. He did not love her sister? Then who had he been talking of…?
"If you do not love my sister, sir, then why did you do it? Tell me so at once, so that I may be relieved of your company."
He frowned. She wanted to be rid of him, did she? "I did it for Bingley's own good! And for your sister's, as well. Perhaps I have been wrong this time, Miss Bennet, and if I have been , then I hope to beg for your forgiveness. But you do not know my friend as I do. He has fancied in love for more times than I can remember. Can you see now why I acted as I did? I did it as a service to your sister. I admire you, Miss Bennet, and I could not see you hurt if he did leave unexpectedly without a word to her. I knew it would hurt you to see your sister hurt so, if he did act accordingly, and I could not let it happen. I simply could not."
Her eyes welled with unshed tears, "Sir, it is too late! My sister's heart had been broken; mine torn into a thousand pieces to see her as such. I believe you accomplished what you most dearly wished not to. You'll excuse me." She pushed past him and bumped against his arm as hard as she could with her shoulder. He winced in pain and gripped his arm where she had injured him. He rubbed it slowly and swung around to see that she had already gotten far ahead of him. She was nearly out of his reach; she had picked up her skirts and ran.
Should he run for her and catch her in his arms? Should he tell her whom he loved? Shake some sense into her? He passed a hand over his face wearily. He would not.To Be Continued . . .