Elizabeth and Darcy
Elizabeth Bennet Darcy awoke to the delightful sights, sounds, and smells of her white-lace bedroom. Instinctively, she reached out to the pillow beside her but the only trace of Mr. Darcy that remained was the imprint of his handsome profile. Smiling to herself, Lizzy lifted the soft sheets to her chin. A blush danced across her face as she eyed the disheveled clothing on the floor. Mr. Darcy had been in such a amorous hurry last night that he had torn her new green silk gown. Indeed, Mr. Darcy had ordered the dress himself from Paris with the strictest of orders that it be made to compliment her fine eyes.
Sighing, Lizzy rose from her sumptuous bed and began to comb out her luxuriant, chestnut-colored hair. Suddenly, Darcy appeared, having just returned from his fencing match with Bates. Lizzy could not remember a time when her heart did not jump at the sight, touch, sound of him. Just last week, he had gone away to London for business and her heart had positively ached. So much in love was she with Mr. Darcy.
His white shirt suggestively clinging to his masculine shoulders, Darcy sat down beside her and began to brush her hair. This had become a game with them.
"Dearest, Loveliest Elizabeth. I have brought you some letters from Jane."
"Oh, Jane. How I miss her! And once again she wrote the address very ill indeed. This almost reminds me of the time I received that dreadful letter at the inn at Lambton-concerning Lydia's elopement. I thought I should never see you again after that. Poor Lydia. Poor, stupid girl. Mama tells me that she and Mr. Wickham have just had another baby and they hardly have a thing to live on. Wickham spends it all drinking.
"My Darling-How I wanted to comfort you then," Darcy murmured passionately in a voice that made Lizzy want to rip off his shirt. "The pain and the torture-not being able to take you in my arms." Slowly, Darcy brushed Elizabeth's quivering lips and enfolded her in his strong embrace. His muscles tightening-he carried her to their rose-covered bed.
"When did you really fall in love with me, Fitzwilliam? The exact moment. You never really told me," Lizzy cooed in her most playful of voices, many hours later.
"You know you never opened Jane's letter, dearest," Darcy replied, tossing her one of his rare toothy grins.
Smiling, Lizzy opened the letter, while Darcy kissed her fine eyes. Suddenly, Lizzy uttered a piercing cry.
"Dearest, Elizabeth. What is the matter? Is there nothing I can get you for your present relief? Darling-you look very ill indeed," a panic-stricken Darcy uttered, gazing at her blanched face. He could not bear to see her in so much pain.
"It's Father," Lizzy cried. "He is most seriously ill." Without another word, Darcy reassuringly squeezed her hand and with one of his most intense looks, left the room. Such was their bond that Lizzy immediately knew he was off to make the necessary arrangements.
"I must get to Longbourn", she whispered. "Oh Jane-what you must have suffered!"
It had been almost seven months since Elizabeth visited Longbourn. Pemberley was home now in every sense of the word. From the moment she had gazed at its emerald-green foliage and sparkling pond, Elizabeth knew she had never seen a place so happily situated. And, to think that she was mistress of all that! The mere thought still overwhelmed her, even frightened her. As mistress of Pemberley, Elizabeth supervised the welfare and education of the estate families. Mr. Darcy loved nothing more than to praise his wife's many accomplishments. For Lizzy, though, her beloved work was always secondary in her heart. She loved best those quiet, star-blanketed nights when the servants and Georgiana had gone to bed. Then, Darcy and she would take a turn about the gardens, while he delighted her with tales of his boyhood at Pemberley. Lizzy had never suspected Mr. Darcy was such a compelling story-teller. Indeed, to be truthful, he was forever surprising her. It was one of the things she loved most about him, that intangible sense of mystery.
The carriage suddenly turned sharply to the right. A momentary sense of dread overtook her. Elizabeth knew they were but a few miles of Longbourn. "I have been so consumed by my own happiness. I never once thought of my father," Elizabeth thought. Silently reading her thoughts, Darcy gently caressed her face and pulled her against him. They stayed in that most eloquent and intimate of embraces until a smiling Jane Bingley appeared before them.
"Oh Jane! Dearest Jane! How I have longed to see you," a teary-eyed Elizabeth cried as Mr. Darcy helped her out of the carriage. Jane met her sister's words with a heartfelt embrace.
"Oh Lizzy! And Mr. Darcy too. You are looking well. Charles will be so happy to see you. He is showing Aunt and Uncle Gardiner our new home in Meryton. But, they will return soon. Yes-Mother sent for them too."
If sincere happiness is said to be the best defense against age, then Jane Bingley was its greatest testament. Expecting the birth of her first child, Jane radiated goodness and youthful exuberance. Indeed, to everyone, especially Charles, she was still the angelic creature who had captured his heart at the assembly ball, two and a half years ago.
"But, Jane-tell me about Papa."
"The doctor is with him now. They say it is his heart. He had an attack several weeks ago and he is very weak. Oh here is the Doctor now. Doctor Wentworth-may I present Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.
"Sir. Ma'am," the owl-eyed doctor muttered. "I'm afraid I have no news of glad tidings. Ladies, you must prepare your mother. Mr. Bennet has a heart. He denies it. But, he does. Any shock....But, I have done my best to keep him comfortable."
"Doctor, may I see him?" an anxious Elizabeth asked.
"Yes-but alone. Your father is very weak." Squeezing Darcy's hand, Lizzy entered Mr. Bennet's study. As she gazed at the impressive array of books and ever-present bottle of port, Elizabeth could not help smiling. Many a night, she and her father had taken refuge in this room, entertaining each other with stories of their neighbours. All at once, Lizzy glanced at the slight, emaciated figure on the divan and her heart leapt to her throat.
"Dearest, Papa," she cried, resting her hand on his forehead.
"Lizzy. Is that my Lizzy? Pleasure bent again, I see. How is that Darcy fellow treating you?"
Lizzy's happiness shone clearly and brightly on her face. "Mr. Darcy is the best of men. As I said, we have determined to be the happiest of couples."
"And-What about the infamous Lady Catherine de Bourgh?"
"She is at least civil to me in her letters. I am no longer referred to as Miss Bennet. She has thought it proper and time to call me Mrs. Darcy. It enrages Darcy more than it does me." A sudden look at Mr. Bennet's trembling hands brought a single tear down Elizabeth's face.
"Now Lizzy. None of that. We have enough tears in this house from your mother."
"And-Have you seen Mrs. Bennet, yet? I'm sure she heard you drive up and sent Hill to investigate. I understand that she still keeps to her room above stairs and gives as much trouble as possible. Think what mischief she can make as a widow. I am almost sorry I won't be here to see it!"
"Now, Lizzy. Be off like a good girl and let your poor Papa get some sleep. Perhaps, you can read to me later." Gently, Elizabeth bent her head and brushed Mr. Bennet's cheek. Upon entering the parlour, she was delighted to see her Aunt Gardiner.
"Dearest Auntie. It is so good to see you again." The Gardiners would always be favorites with Elizabeth and Darcy and they frequently dined at Pemberley. As Darcy often said it was really the Gardiners who were responsible for bringing about their union. And Elizabeth could not thank them enough for bringing her to Derbyshire instead of their planned tour of the Lakes.
"But, Jane, Lizzy-where is Lydia?"
"Charles and I sent an express the moment Father had his first attack. But, we have yet to receive any news. Perhaps-they didn't get it. That's what Charles thinks. They have been know to move around quite a bit. I am hopeful that we will hear some news soon."
"Still it is very odd," Aunt Gardiner said. "Even if they have changed addresses, their correspondence would have been forwarded."
"Yes-very strange indeed," Elizabeth uttered. "Lydia has always been a heartless, selfish girl."
"Oh Lizzy," cried Jane. "You don't believe that Lydia would deliberately stay away. I know she would want to be here and comfort Mama."
Sighing, Elizabeth gazed fondly at her sister. She often wished she could believe so fervently in the inherent goodness of people. Still, she knew Lydia and what a disaster she had brought on her family, once before, when she had eloped with Wickham. Oh-to think that she had once admired Mr. Wickham and desired his attentions. The mere thought filled her with shame.
"Hateful! Insufferable man! How much we owe Darcy," Elizabeth thought as her eyes searched yearningly for his.
Sensing her thoughts, Aunt Gardiner replied: "Mr. Darcy has gone off hunting with your Uncle and Charles. He instructed me to tell you he would be back shortly."
"Come Jane, then. Take me to Mama. Shall we bring her some tea?" With a knowing look, the three ladies made their way upstairs.
The scene which greeted Jane, Lizzy, and Aunt Gardiner was one to which they were all long accustomed: A plump Mrs. Bennet sat in her usual habit of dressing gown and nightcap, a box of chocolates and smelling salts beside her: These were her most trusted companions, next of course to the perpetually unmarried Kitty and Mary. All at once, Kitty began to cough uncontrollably.
"Oh hush up girl! Have you no compassion on my poor nerves? And your father's not even cold in his grave. Hill, where is Hill? I'm sure that was Lizzy!"
"Here-Mama," Lizzy brightly said.
"My dear Lizzy! What fine jewels you have and what a pretty frock! Didn't I tell you that you would have better than Jane. Sister dear-did you know that the man has 10,000 a year, at the least. Bingley's wealth is nothing to his. They say he's the richest man in Derbyshire. My son-in-law-Mr. Darcy! I don't know how poor Jane is going to manage with only 5,000 a year with the baby coming. And if Bingley is anything like Mr. Bennet, he will want another every year!"
"Mother!" a red-faced Jane exclaimed.
"Where is Mr. Darcy, Lizzy? You know I always liked him-such gentlemen-like manners. I knew he was in love the minute he saw you and told Mary. So smooth."
"Mother-you told me no such thing," replied an indignant Mary.
"Oh hush up Girl! Who asked you? Oh Jane-Oh Lizzy-Have you heard from Lydia. I know it is that Wickham devil that keeps her away for she's not the sort of girl who would do a thing like that. Have you seen your father, Lizzy? Is he dead yet? I tell you no one knows what I suffer. I have such pains in my chest and such beatings in my heart that I can get no rest, not night or day! And-that odious man-Mr. Collins! He has already sent a letter and your father not even in his grave. They can't wait to throw us out to starve in the streets. Oh Jane, Jane....I say it is all his wife's doing. Those Lucases were always artful creatures. I've always said that are just out for what they can get. Oh-what is to become of us all-I do not know. If you had only married Mr. Collins, Lizzy. But, you are much better off where you are. Oh Jane-where's my smelling salts......."
Elizabeth Bennet Darcy had never felt more miserable and wretched in her life. Mr. Bennet, although much improved as a result of her tireless efforts and attentions, was still very weak. Elizabeth could not bear to be a minute away from him; many a night, she found herself falling asleep at his side, using one of Mr. Bennet's treasured books as her pillow. What truly vexed Lizzy was the insipid, negative platitudes of Doctor Wentworth. The continuous reassurances from both Jane and Bingley concerning the man's character and reputation as one of the best doctors in four counties did little to ease her distress. To be utterly honest, Wentworth's bony frame, thinning voice and ashen pallor repelled her, as did his endless repetitions that Mr. Bennet could not be expected to live many more nights.
Weighing even more heavily on her mind, this very evening, was the strange behaviour of Mr. Darcy. It had been four weeks since Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy had arrived at Longbourn; for most of that time, however, Lizzy had borne much of the stress of Mr. Bennet's illness alone. Urgent business with his steward had called him twice home to Pemberley and even once, this very week, to London. It pained Elizabeth, in particular, that since leaving Pemberley, they had spent only one night together as truly man and wife.
Even during the rare moments that they were alone, Mr. Darcy seemed forever distant. Indeed, his thoughts seemed far occupied by some other place and some other perplexing matter. On many occasions, most especially the night before his departure for London, Lizzy would catch him eyeing her intently. Sometimes, in the privacy of their bedchamber, she even believed he was on the verge of divulging the reason for this unease, only to be interrupted by Jane or one of the servants.
"Is it my family, once again?" Lizzy thought anxiously. With a blush, she knew that she could not expect him to abide on a daily basis Mrs. Bennet's and Mrs. Phillips's endless parade of vulgarities and dramatics. As in the days of their engagement, she did all she could to shield him from these embarrassments. Within a week of their arrival, she and Darcy had even removed themselves to Bingley and Jane's comfortable, gracious home in Meryton.
Mr. Darcy's apparent lack of concern for her father, however, was one mystery that Lizzy could not explain or justify. One of the happiest circumstances arising from her marriage to Mr. Darcy was the camaraderie that had slowly begun to develop between her father and husband. Elizabeth was particularly touched by the exuberant attentions that her husband had shown Mr. Bennet upon his first visit to the Pemberley library. Mr. Darcy could not have been more kind or more indulgent.
Heightening her anguish, then, was the realization that since arriving in Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy had been, at the very least, indifferent to Mr. Bennet's sufferings. To Elizabeth, it seemed that whenever she chanced to mention her father's condition, the topic of conversation would irrevocably be changed to some news from Pemberley or a letter from Georgiana. Upon his return from London this afternoon, Elizabeth had determined to ask him the real reason behind this puzzling behaviour. A prior engagement a Lucas Lodge, however, had intervened once again. Elizabeth bitterly reflected that she had hardly had five minutes alone with Mr. Darcy all evening.
Tentatively getting up from her dressing table, Lizzy pressed her feverish cheek against the windowpane. To her shock, she noticed that her hands were trembling. Turning, her eyes met Mr. Darcy. Instantly, Lizzy wondered how long he had been standing there, observing her. She was still amazed by the power that his touch exerted over her, as he playfully wrapped his arms about her.
"Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. Have I told you how beautiful you looked this evening?"
For the first time since their marriage, Elizabeth instinctively pulled away from him. "I thought you had barely noticed. You seemed so captivated by Maria Lucas. She is an excellent dancer, is she not?"
"Maria Lucas...," he said disbelievingly. Smiling, he tried to affect the playful, lively tone that had so bewitched him, all of those months ago. Realizing, however, that she was, in fact, serious, he abruptly replied: "Maria Lucas was the only young lady without a partner. As your dear friend, Mrs. Collins' sister-I felt it proper and my duty to dance...."
"Really! You astonish me! I can remember a time when you were in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who were slighted by other men."
"Darling Elizabeth-what is the matter with you? Indeed-you look very ill. You're trembling. Come sit by the fire." Concern etched over his face, Darcy once again sought to take her in his arms.
"I should ask you the same question. NO! Don't touch me! Don't ever touch me!" All at once, the room went black. Lizzy no longer knew where she was or what she was saying. The last thing she clearly remembered was the stricken face of Mr. Darcy as he bent over her, desperately calling for Jane.
When Elizabeth finally awoke, she could no longer recollect the day or even the hour. The last few days had passed by in a intangible haze, an endless spectacle of strange voices and wrenching pain. It was the first time in her life that she had ever been truly ill. The one constant in this nightmare was Mr. Darcy. Even in her state of semi-consciousness, Lizzy vividly recalled his firm, deep voice, insistently begging her not to leave him.
Slowly opening her eyes, Lizzy gazed at her sister Jane's smiling face. "Dearest Lizzy. Is there anything I can get you? You gave us all quite the scare. The doctor has assured us that you are going to be fine. A slight fever-I believe.
"But Jane-where is Mr. Darcy?"
"He left this morning for Pemberley. The doctor swore to him that you were no longer in danger. Charles and I both prevailed on him to attend to his business, leaving you to my care. Although, I am certain he would not have gone if he had known you would awaken so soon. Lizzy-I have never seen a man suffer more than Mr. Darcy, these past few days. He never left your bedside for a moment. I don't think he slept once. They had to pry his arms from you when the doctor arrived. Nothing could be done that he did not do himself. He would only let Doctor Davis attend you."
"Yes. Did you not know? Mr. Darcy brought Doctor Davis with him for London to consult about Father's illness."
Jane's last words echoed a hundred times in Lizzy's ears. "So this was the reason behind Mr. Darcy's mysterious trip to London," she thought shamefully. "How could I have suspected Darcy of indifference!" All at once, every anxious look and hesitant conversation of the past few weeks took on a richer, bittersweet meaning. Sincerely concerned for her father's health and his dearest Elizabeth's own happiness, Mr. Darcy had borne the entirety of the expense of seeking out and enticing one of the most eminent doctors on the Continent to Longbourn. Instantly, Elizabeth knew that he had done it for her. And her heart filled with the deepest love and gratitude. How much her family owed Mr. Darcy, once again. He was truly the best man she had ever known.
"Oh Jane-do tell me. How is dearest Papa?" Lizzy managed to utter, her dark eyes shining with emotion.
"The good doctor expects him to make a full recovery. Although, Papa would only yield to the good news, upon learning that Mama had decided it was time to leave her vigil upstairs....Lizzy-what is the matter?"
"Oh Jane-you do not know the hurtful things I said to Darcy. I cannot bear to repeat what I said that night. How could I have misjudged him?"
"Dearest Lizzy," replied Jane confidently, "whatever quarrel you and Mr. Darcy may have had cannot last for long. Only last week, Charles and I reflected that we had never seen two people more madly in love."
"Why Mrs. Darcy!" exclaimed Mrs. Reynolds. "We did not expect you until next week. The master informed us that he would be escorting you back from Longbourn."
"Yes-I know, Mrs. Reynolds. But, I could not bear to be away from Pemberley a moment longer! I cannot tell you how much I have missed the grounds and my beautiful gardens. Lowering her eyelashes and subduing her voice, Elizabeth further added: "If anything the distance and time have only made me appreciate them all the more."
Failing to detect the change in Lizzy's tone, as well as the deeper meaning of her words, Mrs. Reynolds continued: "Mrs. Darcy, it is indeed a pleasure to see you. And may I inquire Ma'am after your father's health. He was in my prayers constantly."
"Thank-you, Mrs. Reynolds," Elizabeth softly said, squeezing the elder woman's hands. "you are very kind. My father is quite well. His spirits and health improve every day."
"Glad to hear it Ma'am. But, come. Let me take your things. You must be exhausted from your journey. I know Miss Georgiana will be delighted to see you..."
As if hearing Mrs. Reynolds' words, Georgiana Darcy swept down the stairs. "Elizabeth!" she cried happily. "I thought I heard your voice." Lizzy gazed affectionately at her sister-in-law. Indeed, as Mr. Darcy had long wished, Georgiana had become as dear to Elizabeth as her own sister, Jane. She had heartily missed her. Their attachment was sincere, warm and all-encompassing.
At the crucial age of eighteen, Georgiana Darcy was at the height of her bloom; her delicate features, flawless ivory skin and crystal-blue eyes were admired wherever she went. As Mrs. Reynolds often reflected, Miss Georgiana was as handsome and talented a young lady as there ever was. Furthermore, under Elizabeth's tutelage and example, Georgiana had begun to emerge from her painful shyness and characteristic reserve. She was no longer afraid of making her opinions known or entertaining guests at the pianoforte. Georgiana was as open and warm, as she was lovely.
"Elizabeth-you do not know how much I have missed you. Pemberley has been so desolate without you. You must come to the music room and see the new music that Fitzwilliam brought from London. As you well know, he is too kind. I don't think there was ever a kinder, more loving brother. And, he told me that he means to have a ball at Pemberley, with your permission and assistance, of course."
"A ball-that sounds delightful," Lizzy added, as Georgiana led her into the music room. "But, tell me Georgiana-where is Fitzwilliam?"
"He was called to town on business. We expect him back tomorrow. None of us had any idea that you were planning on returning to Pemberley, so early."
"A sudden scheme of mine," Lizzy playfully retorted. "Although, it seems to have had far from the desired effect," she silently added. Instantly deciding that it was better to change the subject, Lizzy said instead: "How is Sir David, Georgiana? Is the young man as violently in love with you as he was when I left?"
Blushing deeply, Georgiana whispered: "Oh Lizzy, he has asked for my hand!"
"Oh Georgiana-I could not be more pleased and happy for you! Has he spoken to Darcy?"
"There really hasn't been time. Brother has hardly been home a week and..."
"Georgiana-you cannot believe that Darcy would refuse him. I have heard him speak on many occasions of his fondness for Sir David. His manners and sincere attachment to you are undeniable."
"Yes. But, Elizabeth-you know his reserved disposition. He is almost too in awe of Fitzwilliam to ask. I know this is rather an odd request, but we would both appreciate it if you spoke to him first. I know Brother still thinks of me as a child. And, Dearest Elizabeth-we all know that he cannot refuse you anything...."
Later on that night, Elizabeth concluded that, try as she might, she would never fall asleep. During dinner, she had struggled to be pleasant and attentive to Georgiana, but it was indeed a hopeless case. Thankfully, Georgiana suspected and questioned nothing, insisting that she retire early for the evening. It was readily and unanimously accepted that Elizabeth was merely exhausted, both from the journey and her recent illness. This sympathy was, of course, a small comfort to Lizzy's tortured mind. As she rested her throbbing head against the pillow, Elizabeth attempted to smooth out the rumpled bed sheets, a bitter testament to her endless tossing and turning. All at once, she reflected that she no longer knew what to expect upon seeing Darcy. The one letter that she had received from him, advising her of his planned trip to Hertfordshire, had been addressed as much to Bingley and Jane, as to herself. Indeed, the whole, maddening journey home, she had re-played over and over in her mind exactly what she would say to him, carefully choosing the words she would use to express her sincere gratitude for his kindness to her family. Not once, however, had Elizabeth expected that her sudden arrival would coincide with Darcy's absence. Angrily, Lizzy noted that fate had robbed her of her planned course of action, and subsequently her courage. Once again, Lizzy's mind was riddled with the most heart-wrenching anxiety.
Glancing at the mantel clock, Lizzy's spirits plunged even further. It was not even midnight. "Will this insufferable night ever end?" she thought disdainfully. Springing to her feet, Elizabeth reached for her rose-silk robe. Possessed by a stronger impulse, however, she found herself grasping for Mr. Darcy's ever-present, grey coat. Tenderly, she lifted the sleeve to her lips. Closing her eyes, she wrapped the coat about her shoulders, reveling in the caressing warmth of its smooth texture against her skin.
"How handsome he always looks in this coat," she dreamily mused. "I can tolerate almost anything, but that he is thinking ill of me. What must he think of me? I behaved so selfishly and abominably." Endlessly pacing and re-pacing the floor, Lizzy's thoughts became even more alarming and terrifying: "Oh God! What if he is somewhere hurt. I cannot bear this torture any longer!" Almost immediately, she grabbed the candlestick from her oak nightstand and tentatively entered the darkened hall.
The house was damp and terribly cold. The only movement beside her own was the incessant scratching of tree branches against the windowpanes. With a shudder, she pulled Darcy's coat even more tightly around her body. About to descend the stairs, Lizzy's colour changed as she eyed two men at the bottom of the landing. Much to her astonishment, it was indeed Mr. Darcy and his steward, James, seemingly engrossed in polite conversation.
As if he sensed her nearness, Mr. Darcy suddenly looked up and met Elizabeth's tearful gaze. For the briefest, most joyous of seconds they stayed inexorably locked in each other's presence, silently communicating all of the words that needed to be said. Her heart pounding, Elizabeth sprang to life and flew down the stairs; at the middle of the stairway, Darcy caught her up in his arms, cradling his wife's body as if he would never let her go. Ever so gently, he tasted the tears from her eyelashes, bestowing the smallest and sweetest of kisses on her eyes, forehead and mouth. In fact, Elizabeth and Darcy were so oblivious to everyone and anything but their own intense pleasure and hunger for each other that they failed to hear a red-faced James convey his polite excuses.
"Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. Tell me this is not a dream," Mr. Darcy managed to utter as he playfully nibbled her earlobe.
"Indeed-it is not a dream! My Darling, I could not bear to be away another hour, another minute from you. Fitzwilliam, you must allow me to thank-you for your kindness to my poor father. My behaviour to you that last night was intolerable, selfish.."
"Dearest Elizabeth-you selfish? Your tireless attentions to your father at the expense of your own health prove you otherwise. You do not know how it tortured me seeing you in so much pain. And my own sense of powerlessness- not being able to relieve your family's sufferings. It was soon after our arrival at Longbourn that I learned from Col. Fitzwilliam of Doctor Davis's distinguished reputation and accomplishments. And so we agreed to seek him out in London. But, I didn't want to betray any confidence until I was certain that I could engage his services. I did not want to engender any false hope. My darling, there is no gratitude to express. You mean everything to me. It haunts me to think how close I came to losing you. Don't you know by now that your family, your happiness your concerns, your sufferings are forever intertwined with mine?"
Playfully pressing her finger against his lips, Elizabeth met Mr. Darcy's question with the most tender of kisses. Insistently, Darcy enfolded her in his arms; soon clothing, bodies, and lips became one in the most passionate and lingering of embraces.
"Just hold me," Lizzy murmured passionately. "Don't ever let me go. I need you so much, so desperately."
"At your service-Madam! But, perhaps we should continue this upstairs. As I told you once before, we neither of us perform to strangers!" Sweeping Lizzy off her feet, Mr. Darcy raced upstairs.
Bathed in the moonlight from the rear balcony, Elizabeth contentedly sighed and stretched her arm out to the nearby pillow. Fluttering her eyelashes, she soon realized that a bemused Mr. Darcy was standing over her, intently eyeing her slumber.
"Do you mean to intimidate me, Sir?" she archly said.
"Indeed-I do not dare!"
"A capital crime-invading the privacy of a lady's bedchamber. It shall not be endured! It must not be borne!" Lizzy continued, mimicking Lady Catherine's voice and affectations. Such an action deserves the most immediate and strictest censure. Your punishment shall be a kiss!"
"I am certain I can do better than that," Mr. Darcy seductively uttered. Pressing Lizzy against the pillow, he passionately kissed her.
"You look like an angel," he whispered, gently stroking her face.
"Take me to the balcony-Fitzwilliam. I want to see the moonlight reflected on the lake." Gathering Lizzy up in his arms, Mr. Darcy, then, carried her to the terrace. Lovingly, he set her down again, resting his head against her own.
"I can't imagine a more happily situated place than Pemberley. It is the most delightful, enchanting.."
"The second most enchanting sight," Darcy interjected. "Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth-you have brought life back to Pemberley." Tenderly, Darcy brought Lizzy's hand to his lips. His gesture and words touched Elizabeth deeply, bringing a river of tears to her eyes.
"Tell me, Fitzwilliam. Why did you come back so early?"
"Well, my business finished early and I had some matters to discuss with James. And after tonight's events with so bewitching a lady, I am certainly glad I did!" Elizabeth blushed exceedingly.
"Seriously, my darling, I have been concerned about Georgiana. I know it has been a very lonely time for her since we left. I have even promised her a ball at Pemberley."
"Yes-she seemed very pleased by the prospect. Fitzwilliam, that reminds me-there was something I should speak to you about. The very best and happiest of news. Sir David has finally asked for Georgiana's hand."
"When did this occur? Why hasn't he spoken to me?" Mr. Darcy remarked, somewhat angrily.
"Darling-you know the awe and esteem in which Sir David holds you. From what I understand, this is a very recent occurrence and I am certain the young man means to speak with you soon. I do entreat you to give your consent without delay. Certainly, you cannot doubt their mutual affection for each other?"
"Indeed, I have no real objections to the match, both are well-suited in temperament. However, Georgiana is very young and ill-acquainted with the world. Still, if my sister can find as much happiness in marriage as I have, I could not possibly refuse her."
After the longest of seconds, Mr. Darcy continued: "It appears we shall soon be all alone at Pemberley."
"Well, maybe not completely alone. Or so your excellent Doctor Davis informed me."
"Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth..," Mr. Darcy breathlessly uttered. The brilliant, luminous expression of Lizzy's dark eyes was the only proof Mr. Darcy needed. Spinning her about in his arms, he attempted to express himself as sensibly and warmly as a man, violently in love with his wife and expecting the birth of his first child, can be supposed to do.
© 1997 Copyright held by the author.