This story is based upon the Austen and Davies Versions and starts on the day of the First Proposal Scene at Hunsford, and it deals with a not-so-brooding Darcy. (I know this variation is full of flaws, inconsistencies and missing pieces, but if I don't post it now, I will never.)
Shouting out loud Darcy sat up straight and shook his head to clear his mind. "Oh, what a terrible nightmare that was!" He groaned. In his dream he had proposed to Elizabeth Bennet and she had delivered the worst and most painful rejection he could ever imagine. But then he had behaved in an unpardonable manner himself, and as it is in dreams, he had to go on and could not stop himself insulting her in any possible way. He spoke of the inferiority of her family and connections, dwelled on their humiliating behaviour and he left nothing out a man should better not say if he wants to recommend his suit to the beloved lady.
Exhausted he leaned back into his cushions to reflect on this dream. His heart was still aching and beating too fast. He had experienced the most dreadful pain of having her lost forever. Yes, since he learned that she would leave Hunsford within a few days, he had indeed seriously considered the idea of proposing to her. He still hesitated because he could hardly bear the thought of being son-in-law to Mrs. Bennet and be exposed to all the embarrassment a connection with her circles would bring to him. How much love was required to meet such challenges? Was his strong enough? This dream had given him the answer, it taught him about his heart: He could put up with everything, if she only consented to be his wife, and returned his love. Return his love? He wondered about her sentiments. She had shown no sign of any partiality for him, on the contrary did she rather display a resentment against him. She concealed it under the habit of teasing and willfully misunderstanding him, which might pass as playfulness, but he sensed she was serious under the surface. He was afraid she was very far indeed from liking him well, let alone loving him. But she would be leaving Hunsford the day after tomorrow, and heaven knew, when they would ever meet again. He formed the rather desperate resolution of admitting his love to her, and he was resolved not to repeat the mistakes of his dream. He allowed himself to let his imagination wander into the future, when she would be his wife and her dark curls would spread on his cushion.... "Stop it, Darcy! You still have a long way to go." He smiled and got out of bed.
He went down the stairs in high spirits. He would take a ride before breakfast, and maybe he would get a glimpse at her when she was walking around the grounds of Rosings, as she frequently did. Yes, he knew she was a good walker. He remembered her when they met at Netherfield: her dress and shoes ankle-high covered with mud, but her eyes sparkling with lust for life. It was only the first occasion that he was torn between his own stuffy resentment against her unconventional habits and his growing admiration for her liveliness and beauty.
But before he could leave the house his aunt caught him and ordered him to keep her company for breakfast, but he bore it with admirable composure, as she informed him that the party from the parsonage would take their tea at Rosings. .....
From his window he watched the Hunsford party approaching. Miss Bennet was not along with them. He dressed carefully and seized the opportunity to talk to her alone at the parsonage. She was apparently very surprised to see him and invited him to sit down, but he refused. He was nervous.
"Miss Bennet, you must allow me to tell you how ardently I love and admire you." He read astonishment and doubt in her face. "Since the first moments of our acquaintance I have come to feel for you the most passionate admiration and regard. I beg you most fervently to relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife."
She changed colour, and stared at him. At last she spoke, in a guarded tone: "In cases like these it is the established mode, I believe, to express a sense of obligation - but I can not."
Here it was again, that nightmarish feeling. 'Keep quiet, Darcy!' He swallowed and managed to ask in a composed manner: "May I inquire what your reasons are, why I am thus rejected?"
"Yes." She replied curtly, accentuating her words sharply. "I think I have two very good reasons. First, you have been the means of ruining the happiness of my most beloved sister. And second, you have been the means of Wickham's misfortunes and have ruined his future, maybe for ever."
No doubt, she was angry about him. 'No mistake now, Darcy'. "If this is your opinion of me, my faults are heavy, indeed," he replied quietly. "As to the charge of ruining your sisters happiness, I can only say that I am exceedingly sorry I had interfered at all. Obviously I underestimated the depth of Bingley's feelings as well as those of your sister, that is the only excuse I can offer." He paused. "But your other accusation is of much more weight and requires a full explanation of Wickham's connection with my family. Be prepared for a rather long story." She made an attempt to interrupt him, but checked herself. He answered to her unspoken thought. "Please give me the honour to listen to my point of view as you listened to Wickham's." And he laid before her his relationship and dealings with Wickham. As he came to the point of the elopement of his sister, he stopped in mid sentence. There was a noise in the doorway, and the sound of voices announced the return of the visitors from Rosings. "Miss Bennet, will you give me the opportunity to bring my explanation to an end?" She could only give her consent with a bow of her head, before the door opened and poured Mr. and Mrs. Collins and Maria into the room. Darcy took leave as soon as he could without offending his hosts. "See you tomorrow morning then," he said as he bowed to Elizabeth. Charlotte, observing that Elizabeth was very quiet and pale, offered her an excuse to retire to her room.
They had had no opportunity to make an appointment. Darcy got up early in the morning and posted himself in the small wood where they had met several times by accident. His horse, tied to a young tree, nibbled on the leaves, while his master walked patiently up and down on the lawn. He didn't wait too long. When he saw her coming up the path he went to meet her, and he was struck by the thought that they were meeting like two lovers.... his heart pounded. But he still had to overcome her distrust and win her respect before he could think of courting her. "Thank you, Miss Bennet, for coming. Will you not sit down? I think this bench is fairly clean and dry."
"You said that your sister had consented to an elopement with Wickham?"
"Yes, she was only fifteen then, that may be her excuse."
"He tried to elope with a girl of but fifteen!?"
He nodded. "You know, she has a fortune of 30,000 pounds." He finished his story. "And this is the full report of all my dealings with Mr. Wickham, Miss Bennet. If you have any doubt on my report, I beg you to ask Col. Fitzwilliam, if you trust him as a reference."
She sat still for a while. "No, I don't doubt any of your words, Mr. Darcy. I don't accuse you of dishonesty, but I -. I mean it is hard to believe that Mr. Wickham should be capable of such a treachery." Apparently his protest was so clearly written over his face that she laughed out loud. She returned to her playful tone: "...While I had no scruples to believe you capable of ruining him.... I know you were going to say that, weren't you?" she smiled at him.
"No, I was not. I am resolved to be very polite today, Miss Bennet." He saw a new expression in her eyes. He didn't know, but she had just discovered that dimple on his cheek, and she could not help but like his smile very much.
"Miss Bennet, are you still so irrevocably against me as yesterday?" he asked.
"You cannot possibly assume, Mr. Darcy, that I change my mind so completely on so material and important a matter within 24 hours, however convincing your arguments are, can you?"
"No, I cannot. But I hope, when we meet again at another time, you may look upon me with less distrust and despise. "
"I think I can safely promise that."
He left Rosings for London the very day and lost no time in seeing Bingley. He confessed to him his interference regarding Miss Jane Bennet, and begged for forgiveness. He also informed Bingley about Elizabeth Bennet's words regarding her sister. And as he had expected, Bingley headed off to Netherfield at once. Darcy gave him a week before he followed. And, no surprise, he found Jane and Bingley engaged and very happy. The next morning he accompanied Bingley to Longbourn. He bowed to Elizabeth Bennet, eager to read her eyes. And he found what he was looking for. There was such a warmth in her face and such a sweetness in her smile as to make his heart jump.
Bingley proposed a walk to Meryton for the four of them. He and Jane were very soon out of sight with their confident stride, while Elizabeth and Darcy lingered behind. They were silent, both searching for a way to begin. He looked at her from the side and admired her graceful profile. She felt his eyes upon her and met his glance. He stopped and took her hand, lifted it to his lips. All the while he held her eyes captured. "Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth," he whispered and sealed her lips tenderly with a slow, never ending kiss. When Jane and Bingley approached in search of their missing company they found their friends still standing in a close embrace. "Let it be an inspiration, my sweet Jane," said Bingley with a grin and followed Darcy's example.
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