P&P Missing Scene: Chapter 60B
This is a insert between the last two chapters.-- Kara
In the final weeks of their courtship, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth found it more and more difficult to have time alone together, to go for the long walks of which they were so fond. Mrs. Bennett was so full of fevered excitement concerning the preparations for the coming event, which both couples readily agreed should be a double wedding, that she required much of the time of both of her daughters.
Visits were paid to the best wearhouses in the city. Mrs. Bennett had far different ideas than her daughters concerning the selection of their gowns and dresses and she wore out Elizabeth's patience with her oft-repeated insistence that their husbands-to-be could certainly afford the very best. However, in spite of her rude remarks about their lack of taste and sense of the latest styles, the girls' more practical minds prevailed and they made their selections from less expensive though perfectly lovely gowns.
In one area, they did indulge their mother. As their wedding was to be in November with a real possibility of inclement weather, Elizabeth and Jane allowed Mrs. Bennett to select for them fur-lined capes, muffs, and bonnets, and this at least gave her satisfaction where their wedding clothes were concerned.
In other areas of the preparations for the wedding the sisters allowed their mother a freer hand. She could plan whichever delicacies for the wedding supper that she wished and she could decorate Longbourn in whatever fashion she desired. Though she consulted her daughters frequently for their approval, and Lizzy often rolled her eyes at a smiling Jane when Mrs. Bennett was not looking, ultimately they made few suggestions and little alterations to her designs.
As the weeks passed and the happy day approached, Misters Darcy and Bingley visited Longbourn as often as they could. They came for breakfast several mornings and supper many evenings. When at last November arrived and the longed-for event was less than two weeks away, a real sense of excitement and anticipation settled upon all the inhabitants of Longbourn and Netherfield.
Both gentlemen were anticipating the arrival of their sisters and this fact left Darcy feeling rather agitated one morning as they look breakfast with the Bennetts. While all around him were pleasantly conversing, he was deep in his own thoughts and a nagging one preyed foremost on his mind and made him uneasy with wonder. Elizabeth noticed his furrowed brow and thoughtful countenance. As they were seated next to one another at the table, she selected a moment when the others were laughing at an amusing story told by Bingley and leaned toward him to whisper.
"Is anything the matter, Sir? You seem very distracted. Have you some concern that I might help to alleviate?" Darcy turned to her, and the look in his eyes made her heart race.
"Yes, Elizabeth. Can we get away from the others for a while this morning? Might we find some excuse to take a walk?"
"G.. get away from the others? Do you include Jane and Charles?"
"Yes, if that be possible. Would it be so improper for us to walk together unchaperoned just once before we are wed?" His voice betrayed his anxious feelings.
Elizabeth felt breathless with wonder at what had brought on this request and what it foretold. She suddenly felt a great urgency of her own to be away from the crowd.
"Oh! Yes, please! We must make our opportunity."
Throughout the remainder of the breakfast, both Darcy and Elizabeth were distracted and more than once she stumbled in her reply to a question put to her, but everyone else was of so happy a disposition that thankfully no one seemed to notice her confusion. At last the party broke up and the various members went their separate ways to tend to their individual duties or entertainments. Mr. Bennett took to his library and Mrs. Bennett went to the kitchen to discuss some preparations with the cook. Jane and Bingley sat in the parlor with Kitty and Mary while the ladies tended to needle work and Bingley entertained them with more stories. Darcy made some excuse about wanting to see to his horse, claiming he had detected a limp on the ride over from Netherfield. Presently Elizabeth made her own excuses and slipped away. Only Jane looked her way as she went out of the room.
Without fetching hat or gloves, Elizabeth quietly left the house and made her way toward the stables. She was not halfway when she heard Darcy call to her in a low voice. He was among a stand of trees to one side of the garden at a spot that was not in a direct line with any of the house windows. With a careful glance about her, she purposefully turned and joined him, then the two of them moved on through the yard, climbed over a stile, and made their way along a cow path that led into the woods beyond the Bennett's fields. They moved determinedly and did not stop until they were into the woods and entirely out of site of Longbourn or its inhabitants.
Because of the seclusion of the woods, Darcy and Elizabeth had never before visited them together and certainly not without escort. They walked quietly side by side for a time without touching and Elizabeth waited with anxious heart for Darcy to reveal his mind. At last he stopped, and turning toward her took her hands in his. When he spoke, Elizabeth could hear in his voice his struggle for calm and she would have felt some alarm if not for the look in his eyes, which made her heart pound even more.
"Elizabeth... my dearest, sweetest, loveliest, Elizabeth. For several days I have struggled in vain to suppress a desire that has been growing steadily within me. It gives me infinite, almost unspeakable joy to realize that in a few short days all my dearest hopes and dreams of many months past are soon to be realized. But... I long to have one dream realized now. Elizabeth, do you think... would it be... so terrible, so immoral... if I might have the pleasure of kissing you, just once, before we take our vows? Would it be so wrong for two betrothed people, imminently to be bound in holy matrimony, to share that one small expression of their love? Elizabeth, would you permit me?"
This was what had made him so restless?! Elizabeth was stunned and her cheeks were overspread with a most becoming pink. This request was nothing to what she had imagined or feared as they had walked. She nearly laughed aloud in her relief. But she grew quiet and composed before she replied.
"Some might think it improper, but indeed I can not. I believe such a tender expression of love can do no harm but can only serve to bring the feelings of a betrothed couple closer in harmony and make their exchange of vows at the alter all the sweeter. I would very much like for you to kiss me, Fitzwilliam."
Darcy was overjoyed but he took care to not rush the moment. He shifted his feet to better position himself as he bent his taller body and turned his head at just the right angle. Elizabeth turned also and raised herself a bit on her tip-toes until their faces were but inches apart. As he drew closer she heard him whisper, "Such sweet, delicious, lips..." and her eyes fluttered and closed as he pressed his mouth to hers.
The touch of their lips was to each like fire. They both started and Darcy briefly pulled away. Then with a hoarse whisper of "Oh! Elizabeth!" He more firmly pressed his lips to hers and gathered her so fully into his arms that he lifted her up and her feet were no longer touching the ground.
Elizabeth felt as though she was floating. The world seemed to fall away and there was nothing but Darcy: his strong arms; his hard chest against her own; his firm, warm, lips. And for Darcy there was nothing but Elizabeth: her soft, slim body, her delicately flowered scent, her sweet, intoxicating lips. His head spun and his heart sang as he moved his mouth and pressed his lips so firmly to hers that they parted, and he felt a rush of heat race downward through his body.
Darcy had not intended to allow himself more than one kiss, and through the thick fog of his brain he was aware that he was losing his self-control. He had to regain his composure, and Elizabeth just then supplied the impetus. She struggled in his arms and pressed her hands against his shoulders. Their lips immediately parted and Darcy allowed her feet to once again touch the ground, but he did not release her. He held her tightly and buried his face against her hair. There was a tremor in his voice when he spoke.
"Elizabeth... I am terribly sorry. I was overcome. I..."
"Oh, please, do not apologize Fitzwilliam. Or we might be obliged to feel shame in what we have done, and I do not feel ashamed. I am not sorry. However, I was mistaken when I said that there was no harm in our kissing one another. Indeed, there is harm, or rather a danger, and it lies in our most ardent feelings, which, when allowed to be expressed, may be beyond our ability to control. We do not want cause to regret. You agree, do you not, Fitzwilliam?"
"Yes, of, course," but a note of concern remained in his voice.
With a smile Elizabeth added, "I still believe what I said: that such a tender expression of love can only serve to bring the feelings of a betrothed couple closer in harmony. But I see now that it is important to keep it only a tender expression and not allow it to become more until... after our vows have been exchanged. I now know that our... feelings... for one another are well matched. We will be truely happy, Fitzwilliam. I am sure of it, and I am not afraid."
Darcy took a deep breath as he pulled back and looked into her eyes. "Not for the world would I have you afraid of me, dearest Elizabeth. I will be the kindest, the gentlest, the most tender of husbands."
Elizabeth again blushed. "I am in no doubt of that. I believe I will be the most cherished of wives. I do not know what I have done to deserve your love, Fitzwilliam!" And he saw tears spring into her eyes.
"You deserving my love?! You are most mistaken, my dear. It is I who is undeserving of you." He hugged her tightly and pressed a kiss against her soft, dark hair that was warm in the sun light filtering down through the trees above them. He looked again into her eyes and the most heartfelt look in his own left Elizabeth in no doubt of his devotion. He grasped her bare hands in his own and pressed a kiss against their smooth white skin. "You have wrought a change for good in me for which I will be eternally in your debt. I will spend my lifetime trying to be worthy of your love. Elizabeth! I love you so dearly!"
"And I you, Fitzwilliam. Truely I do. I am so happy!"
Darcy again pressed a kiss to Elizabeth's lips but one which was perfectly proper, and he now knew that with this dream fulfilled the next few days would fly by on wings of joy.
He took Elizabeth's hand and tucked it under the bend of his arm then turned them back to the path. "Now, we had better return you to Longbourn before our absence causes concern."
With one of her arms securely tucked under his and her other hand resting on his arm, Darcy and Elizabeth walked out of the woods and back along the cowpath while they talked with calm anticipation of the happy day to come.
When they arrived back at Longbourn -- first Elizabeth and shortly after Darcy -- they found that they had not been too missed due to Jane making various excuses for each of them, for which they were both very grateful. Jane looked most pointedly at Elizabeth when she reentered the house and Elizabeth felt herself blush all over. Jane just smiled.
That night when they had retired to their rooms, and Elizabeth was sitting before her mirror brushing out her hair, Jane came quietly to speak with her.
"Did you and Mr. Darcy enjoy your walk, Lizzy?"
Elizabeth smiled and felt herself blush once again. "Oh, Jane! I can not tell you how happy I am! I never believed -- I hoped! -- but I never truely believed I could be so fortunate in love!"
"Yes, God has truely blessed us both."
"Oh, yes. I know that you too have been very fortunate and are happy, though I admit I have a hard time imagining that anyone could be as happy as I who does not have a Mr. Darcy to love them!" The two sisters laughed and hugged each other.
Elizabeth then ventured to ask, "Jane. Has Charles kissed you?"
"You mean...?" Elizabeth nodded.
"No. We have hardly had the opportunity."
"Then I would highly recommend a private walk in the woods, and I will make excuses for you!"
The two dear sisters hugged once again and Jane bid Elizabeth goodnight and quietly returned to her own room. Elizabeth climbed into the covers of her bed and tried to sleep, but her heart and head were so full. She climbed back out, tip-toed over to her window and looked out at the night sky and the bright moon with a streak of clouds across its center.
"Dear God," she prayed to the heavens. "Thank you. Thank you for bing me Fitzwilliam Darcy. Help me to be the wife that will make him truely happy and bless us that we might have many long years together."
After gazing out for a while longer, she returned to her bed and at last fell asleep.
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