On his first business trip to London after his marriage, Fitzwilliam Darcy had time to contemplate his recent good fortune. Fate had smiled on him 3 months ago and given him the love and hand of Elizabeth Bennet – the same Bennet, now Mrs. Darcy, who he had left in Pemberley to attend to estate business. Being a man of the world, Darcy knew that husbands left their wives at home to attend to matters with their London lawyers. Darcy had not anticipated how much harder it would be to drive away from Pemberley watching his wife bravely smile through her tears.
The emptiness of his London house was more than he could bear and he did not look on the following week with any hope of pleasure. All those months of painful thought and reflection before Elizabeth was won over did not measure against the aching loneliness resulting from the knowledge of who he left behind. Darcy settled himself uneasily into his study chair and wondered why no one had warned him of how much he would need his wife by his side. How did one go on without the feel of her soft skin, her steady breath as she slept next to him, those beautiful eyes the slid from sleepy to sparkling as dawn kissed her cheek.
Missing Elizabeth with every pore, Darcy determinedly drew a piece of paper and inked his pen.
My Darling Elizabeth,
I am writing as you requested and informing you that I have arrived in London well and in good time. The weather has turned inclement and I am thankful that you remain in Pemberley well cared for, safe and warm. I mean only to conduct those urgent matters to completion and return to your arms as quickly as possible.
I wonder now that I spent so much of my time in London. My first thought as I entered the foyer tonight was how dark and dreary is this place. So devoid of the life and love that you have brought to me. Indeed I find that I can scarcely recall a time when you were not by my side. My first and last thoughts are of you. My first act each day is to relieve my mind that the last few months are real - that you love me and share my life. Be not alarmed, madam - I do not doubt the steadiness of your affection for me. Forgive me, but there are moments when I doubt I am worthy of them. I count on your special and private brand of reassurance and am missing them tonight, as I will miss them all through the coming week.
I am reminded of another, more painful letter. It is my hope that this will amend all the pain the first inflicted. What I meant to say then - what I should have said then - is that you are my reason for being. It matters not what happens outside our door, your smile and laugh will stream sunshine over me and all you touch. Without it, as tonight, all is darkness. When I close my eyes to sleep each night, I will send my thoughts winging back to you and pray that somewhere between us we will find a starlit, spiritual field to be together.
Part 2, A Reply
Elizabeth Darcy sat quietly at her writing desk contemplating the letter she received from her husband. Never in her life had she imagined needing and depending on another person as she needed her Fitzwilliam. Though absent only a day, already Elizabeth felt the night to be barren. How quickly she had adjusted to sharing her bed, her body, her thoughts, and hopes. How quickly she had become secure that her husband would never betray her trust or leave her affections unrequited! Indeed, his letter had eased her lonely heart and made her resolve never to be left at home again!
She glanced at the letter in her hand, trembling at the heartfelt words and the still surprising passion that the mere thought of Darcy's touch evoked. Sadly, she reflected on the wound she had dealt him after Hunsford. Little did she know then how much she would grow to love this man, and how much he had felt every horrid word she uttered that day. But how to repair the damage? She had little knowledge of normal marriages having grown up in a home with an invariably silly mother and a lackadaisical father. She loved her parents dearly, but resolved that her marriage would be molded of stronger stuff. Between herself and Fitzwilliam there would always exist an openness of expression and a shared belief that each held the other in the deepest of trust and love. This was her promise to her husband.
Elizabeth, dimpling prettily as she thought of it, determined that a lighthearted reply would best alleviate her husband's habitual moroseness. Yes, she thought, a whimsical letter and a promise of more when he returns. Gracefully and cheerfully, she hummed as she penned her reply.
I was exceedingly grateful to receive word of your safe arrival. Though Derbyshire persists in bringing cold weather to our door, I am, as you say, well cared for and warm. My thoughts yesterday, however, were continually occupied by images of wet roads and carriages mired in snow and mud.
Your letter reached me very quickly. I daresay you wrote it as soon as you reached London. I am quite content in being missed as much as I miss you. Pemberley is comfortable as always, but it is empty without you. I am continually turning around to tell you a tale, or to show you a new discovery, or to ask you a question. I cannot describe how it pierces my heart to remember that you are not here.
I will take your suggestion and meditate before I sleep on the pleasures that a loving expression on a handsome face can bring. I speak only of your own dear features, which I have found I miss dreadfully. Never again will I allow you to leave me. Be assured, sir, that I will find occupations enough in London while you conduct your business. My primary occupation will be, as always, to drive you to distraction with every means available.
As to the nature of these distractions, I will say no more. You must hurry (safely of course!) home to find your just reward for returning to me.
Satisfied with her letter, she sealed it and gave it to the footman to post. Still humming, she went in search of Mrs. Reynolds to plan and prepare for her husband's arrival.
Part 3, Homecoming
Fitzwilliam Darcy again raised the letter from his wife to his face and deeply inhaled. He swore that the scent of her perfume lingered on the paper and delightedly he pictured her face as she wrote the letter. A promise of a reward for returning to Pemberley! If only all decisions were so easy to make! Already absent for several days before the letter reached him, Darcy was more than prepared to leave London and hurried matters with his steward.
Within a day of receiving the letter, Darcy left London for Pemberley. Though the weather had grown milder, the wind still cut through the carriage with bitter vengeance and the horses needed to be watered and tended to more often. There seemed to be endless delays on the road toward home, an overturned farmer's carriage, a wheel stuck in mud and snow, tired and cold horses, tired and cold footmen. The hours passed slowly and the day darkened to dusk and deepened to night. When Darcy finally despaired of ever reaching Pemberley, his grateful eyes feasted on the sight of the majestic building that meant home and his darling Elizabeth. But at such a late hour, the great house had fallen dark and silent as its occupants wended their way to sleep.
Darcy stretched as he stepped off the carriage and looked up toward his and Elizabeth's bedrooms. Elizabeth's room was dimly lit, no doubt with only the fireplace embers to warm his beloved as she slept. Loath to disturb her rest, Darcy resigned himself to another night alone. As he walked into the house, one footman handed a note to him.
"What is this?" Darcy asked.
"A note from Mrs. Darcy, who expected you to arrive late, sir." The footman bowed and watched as Darcy went upstairs toward his rooms. Halfway up the stairs, he opened the note.
"My darling husband, have you arrived? Make your way upstairs. Make my heart come alive!"
Darcy smiled and realized that Elizabeth was waiting for him. As he reached the second floor, he met with Mrs. Reynolds.
"A fire has been lit for you, sir. Your room will be warmer very shortly."
"Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds," Darcy said aloud. "Though I will not be occupying said room tonight!" he thought with satisfaction. As he was about to move along, Mrs. Reynolds stopped him again and handed another note. Now unashamedly grinning, he opened the second note.
"Why do you dally? Doest thou need a gong? I am waiting for you. Make Haste! Move Along!"
Barely able to contain his laughter, Darcy hurried toward Elizabeth's room. Treading softly, he walked in, hoping to surprise her. The room was warm enough, but the embers had died down considerably. Drawing the curtains from the bed, Darcy cried out when he found the bed empty and cold. On top of his favorite pillow lay a third note addressed to him.
"You went left instead of right. You must make an effort, use all of your might! In your room you will find so pleasing a sight!"
Darcy gave in to the urge to laugh out loud for a moment. Never in his life had the anticipation of a prize been so challenging and rewarding! His mind racing with plans for the night, Darcy hurried through the adjoining room into his bedroom. The fire had obviously been blazing for a while as the room was warmer than expected. All round the room, candles had been lit to throw discreet shadows on the walls and over the furniture. Through the curtains on his bed, Darcy could see a still figure laying peacefully. Drawing the curtains back, he found a bed littered with rose petals of all colors and his sweet Elizabeth slumbering with a smile on her face. He leaned over to kiss those bee stung lips and was encouraged by the sleepy return of his kiss and the arms that came round his neck. He sensed Elizabeth was slowing awakening fully as the kissed deepened and lengthened.
"Oh!" Elizabeth smiled cheekily as the kiss broke off, "Fitzwilliam, it's you!"
Darcy, who had been nuzzling her neck, lifted his head to growl, "Who were you expecting, Madam?"
"After such a long absence, I have only had my dreams of you to comfort me. Finding the real being before me was startling!" Elizabeth laughed as she pushed herself off the bed and onto her feet. Darcy leaned back against the headboard and tucked his arms under his head to watch his wife move about the room. She was wearing something new, he thought, a soft, silky gown that clung to her body and enticed as much as it revealed. He watched her dazedly as she poured two glasses of wine from a side table. They sipped the wine and she leaned forward to kiss him tenderly.
"I have missed you more than is humanly possible," she whispered between kisses. He was intoxicated by the taste of wine on her lips. Standing with her back toward the fire, she hooked her thumbs under the thin straps of her gown and drew them down till it pooled at her feet. "Welcome home, my darling," she whispered. Darcy and Elizabeth said no more.
© 1997 Copyright held by the author.