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Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

September 25, 2017 09:34PM

Chapter 9


Happily Ever Afters

With the exceptions of one extremely vitriolic letter from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and one uncomfortable conversation where Darcy was forced to finally listen to and accept Georgiana's account of the Ramsgate incident, this Christmas season was indeed a joyful one for all. Georgiana journeyed to Netherfield as soon as could be contrived to meet her new sister and spend Christmas with her new family. The ladies of Longbourn and Netherfield were thrown into a frenzy of wedding planning. Bingley and Jane's smiles and good cheer were infectious to all those around them. Much to Georgiana's surprise, Elizabeth taught Darcy to laugh at himself. Even Caroline's mood lightened as she spent more time with her Mr. Wickham.

As Caroline wished to be the sole focus on her wedding day, and desired to be married before any of the Bennets, she and Mr. Wickham were married on the 18th of December, as soon as the banns were read. The families spent a noisy, merry Christmas together at Longbourn, both shocking and charming their proud guests with their informal manners and gleeful traditions. The typical high spirits of a Longbourn Christmas season were only augmented by the joys of two daughters to be married in the New Year. Although this afforded ample opportunity to display the indecorous and vulgar manners he had previously observed, Darcy found that he could forgive them better once he understood the underlying love and affection shared by all of the Bennet clan. Christmas at Pemberley had been such a somber and sedate affair since the death of their mother that both Darcy and Georgiana found the uproar of Christmas at Longbourn refreshing, especially as it afforded a glimpse of the vivacity that Elizabeth was sure to bring to their lives.

The double wedding of the eldest Bennet daughters was held on the 9th of January. Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters. Not only was it the finest affair Meryton had seen in living memory, Mrs. Bennet was able to boast the presence of nobility as the Earl and Countess of Matlock and all of the Fitzwilliam children lent their countenance to the affair. Although the initial icy reception that Mr. Darcy's aunt and uncle gave Elizabeth indicated their inclination to resent the marriage, Elizabeth's lively manner and wit, paired with the real affection that the newlyweds obviously shared soon thawed them. Darcy found himself pleasantly surprised by the casual elegance and intelligence of the Gardiners when introduced at the wedding and promptly invited them to stop as long as they wished at Pemberley on their journey when they traveled to Lake District the following summer.

The wedding party said their goodbyes with bittersweet feelings as three carriages prepared to depart from the wedding breakfast.

~~~


Mr. and Mrs. Bingley traveled north for their wedding trip and to introduce his bride to his family in Scarborough before returning home to Netherfield. Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth. So near a vicinity to her mother and Meryton relations was not desirable even to his easy temper, or her affectionate heart. The darling wish of his sisters was then gratified; he bought an estate in a neighboring county to Derbyshire, and Jane and Elizabeth, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other. As Mr. Darcy quickly pointed out, thirty miles of good road was an easy distance and the sisters reunited often.

~~~


Mr. and Mrs. Wickham, who had delayed their departure to attend the wedding of her brother, traveled to Newcastle to join his new regiment. As part of the marriage settlements, Bingley discharged Wickham's debts in Meryton and London, an enterprise which further supported the notion of barring him access to Caroline's dowry. It was soon realized that even with one independent fortune between them they would require a larger steady income. Darcy paid one last favor to his childhood friend and purchased a commission for him in the Regulars. As his profession would require him to travel with the regiment, the Wickhams decided against purchasing a home just yet. They had grown to love each other so much over the past weeks that they couldn't bear the thought of separating when the regiment pulled him away. With Caroline in control of the purse strings, they always managed to live just a sliver within their budget – often by staying with friends conveniently located near his regiment rather than leasing rooms. She found it prudent to accompany him on his trips to the tailor, and he found he rather liked her input and presence more than he resented her control. Although it was never the first circles of London society, the pair laughed their way through parlors and ballrooms across northern England and supported each other through battles and hardships.

~~~


Mr. and Mrs. Darcy spent their wedding night in their London townhouse, where Darcy kept Elizabeth entirely too distracted to fret over the management of such a fashionable establishment. The following day they traveled to Pemberley, eager for quiet and seclusion after the hectic frenzy of holidays and wedding planning. Georgiana was to return to Matlock with the Fitzwilliams for a few weeks in order to give Elizabeth time to adjust to her new role as mistress of Pemberley.

The first trial for the Darcys came in the form of Lady Catherine, who was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and as she gave way to all the genuine frankness of her character in her reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, she sent him language so very abusive, especially of Elizabeth, that for some time all intercourse was at an end. But at length, by Elizabeth’s persuasion, he was prevailed on to overlook the offense, and seek a reconciliation; and, after a little further resistance on the part of his aunt, her resentment gave way, either to her affection for him, or her curiosity to see how his wife conducted herself; and she condescended to wait on them at Pemberley.

In April, they removed to their townhouse in London for their first season. In addition to presenting the new Mrs. Darcy to the ton, they also had the joy of launching both Georgiana and Mary into society as well. As predicted, not all members of the first circles were kind to Elizabeth and Mary, but Mr. Darcy defended and supported them as avidly in society as he had with Lady Catherine. With Mr. Darcy's own clout and the added support of the Earl and Countess of Matlock, they were soon accepted into the fold. Having learned his lesson, he allowed Elizabeth, Georgiana, and Mary to choose which entertainments they wished to attend and which they preferred to avoid. With this freedom of choice, and away from the oppressive personalities of her younger sisters, Mary blossomed. A charming Oxford professor took notice of her at a lecture on ecclesiastic architecture and fell madly in love. They were married in May and removed to Oxford where she gained access to all of the books she could wish for. With the decreased pressure, Georgiana was able to enjoy the reduced number of events she chose to attend in her first season and felt better prepared to meet the challenge of her second season.

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were always happiest when at Pemberley. Mrs. Darcy soon grew to know every aspect of the ten miles of Pemberley's properties. At first the pair shared daily walks, reveling in their freedom to wander as long and far as they wished without restrictions. With Mr. Darcy's steady instruction, she did eventually learn to ride a horse and they alternated between walking and riding daily when the weather permitted – and occasionally when it did not.

~~~


Epilogue



Pemberley

Darcy always got a certain thrill as his carriage drew near his home. There was no place in the world he liked better – except perhaps a certain hidden patch of wildflowers upon Ockham Mount. This time, however, his excitement was palpable. This was the first time Elizabeth would see his home, their home. He knew enough of Elizabeth's tastes to know she would love it, but it was such an integral part of himself, of their future together, that some unease was warranted. As they crested the hill which afforded the first view of Pemberley, the carriage stopped. His coachman had long since become accustomed to this ritual of his master.

For a moment, Darcy just gazed out at his home and down at his sleeping wife nestled against his shoulder. He gently kissed the top of her head and murmured her name, "Elizabeth, I thought you might wish to see your new home."

She yawned, nuzzled closer, and mumbled. "What? Are we stopped?"

He gave her an indulgent kiss on the cheek, and whispered softly. "Welcome to Pemberley." He gestured grandly out the window.

"Oh!" Elizabeth said in wonder as she pushed herself off of his chest to gain a better look. "I have never seen a place for which nature has done more, or where natural beauty has been so little counteracted by an awkward taste."

"So you approve?" he said eagerly.

"I think there are few who would not," she replied, giving him that impertinent glare that drove him to distraction. "Indeed, to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!"

~~~


Elizabeth was overwhelmed. Until today, her courtship, engagement, and marriage had all been like a wonderful dream. Marriage was everything her Aunt Gardiner had prepared her for, and far better than her Mother's version of that particular speech had warned about. Her husband was attentive, loving, and keen to please. Their plans for the future were happy, bright, and far off. But today the carriage had pulled up to the front gates to the reception of all of the servants of Pemberley, more servants than Longbourn and Netherfield combined. Of course, that was obviously necessary as the house was far larger than either. Fitzwilliam had just taken her on the abbreviated tour of the house which had taken well over an hour, and ended in the most magnificent library, where he promptly assured her she could see the rest of the house on the morrow. She was feeling unequal to the responsibilities ahead of her.

As Mrs. Reynolds had laid a decadent tea for them in the library – truly more food than two people could consume – she softly voiced her fears to her husband.

"Do not worry my love, I have every confidence that you will be a magnificent mistress, and Mrs. Reynolds will be here to guide you."

As she finished with the tea, Mrs. Reynolds gave her a reassuring nod and swiftly departed. Her husband followed the housekeeper to the door and after a few brief words, he closed the door and locked it.

"What are you doing my dear?"

"Do you know how long I've waited to have you alone in a library, Elizabeth?" He said as he joined her on the couch and nuzzled her ear, "six weeks, three days and fourteen hours."

She smiled, "I'm pleased to find your memory so exact."

"I doubt I shall ever forget any part of that evening, it was the most important day of my life."

"More important than our wedding day?"

"Of course. Granted, on our wedding day we were bound together by law and before God. But on the 27th of November, our souls were joined together in love. We overcame our prejudices, and pride, saw each other for the first time as we really were. As two flawed individuals who were destined for each other. And then together we worked to combat those flaws. That one day changed my life and I shall forever be grateful." He closed this speech with an ardent kiss.

"What are you doing?" She giggled as he nudged down the shoulder of her dress.

"Everything I couldn't do six weeks ago," he whispered between kisses to her shoulder.

"Are you trying to compromise me Mr. Darcy?"

"Thoroughly and completely Elizabeth," he said against her collarbone.

"And here I hoped to maintain some credibility in Derbyshire. What will the servants say?"

"They've been dismissed for the evening."

~~~


Some time later, as Elizabeth was pouring the now tepid tea, Darcy produced a small package wrapped in white paper tied with a red bow. "I have a gift for you my love."

Elizabeth opened it to find an exquisite book of Byron's poems bound in leather embossed with gold filigree. She opened the cover to read the inscription.

To my dearest, Loveliest, Elizabeth,
a small token to keep you nourished.
With all my love,
~Fitzwilliam Darcy

"Oh Fitzwilliam, it's beautiful!"

"I had it custom made for you."

"I love it, and I love you!"

He poured two glasses of wine – let's face it, nobody wants to drink lukewarm tea – and laid his head in his wife's lap. He read Byron's poems to her as she gently combed her fingers through his hair. And so they spent their first evening at Pemberley locked in the library before a cozy fire, alternating between reading, conversing, and sitting in companionable silence and it truly was as magical as Darcy had dreamed it could be all those weeks ago.

The End



Author's Note: I hope you all enjoyed my first story. I thoroughly appreciate all of the kind reviews and feedback I've received. Special thanks to Alida, who graciously proofread my story (posted from chapters 7 onward). I have tried to address any constructive criticisms posted as well but, as far as I'm aware, there isn't a way to post these corrections to dwiggie.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

MorganASeptember 25, 2017 09:34PM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

LucieSeptember 28, 2017 06:40PM

Thank you for a very entertaining and original story! (nfm) (nfm)

Sabine C.September 28, 2017 04:49PM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

LynetteSeptember 27, 2017 11:37AM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

EvelynJeanSeptember 26, 2017 05:26PM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

Linnea EileenSeptember 26, 2017 03:02PM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

Lucy J.September 26, 2017 05:24AM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

KateBSeptember 26, 2017 12:08AM

Re: Cunning and Compromise Chapter 9 and Epilogue (Post 6)

MichaSeptember 25, 2017 10:21PM



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