Pemberley by Night
Fitzwilliam Darcy yawned hugely as he trudged down the hallway towards the music room. He checked the clock absently; half past two in the morning. This was really getting ridiculous. It was the same every time they had guests. His eldest son would insist on remaining up long after they'd left, sitting alone in the music room.
Yawning once more, he traipsed through the doorway. Christopher Darcy was stretched out in the armchair, a half-glazed look on his face. He had relieved himself of his jacket, which lay in a heap on the floor, and had opened down his shirt, revealing a broad chest. He was a handsome young man, though Darcy did say it himself. He had inherited his father's strong chin and his mother's dark, laughing eyes, eyes which were now fixed on the piano forte and casting a small smile on his face.
"Should I ask what you're doing?" Darcy asked wearily, leaning against the mahogany doorframe.
"Nothing!" Christopher answered a little too quickly, jumping up and lifting his jacket sheepishly.
Darcy raised a fatherly eyebrow. That sort of "nothing" was always a something.
"No, I really wasn't doing anything!" Christopher protested. "Just sitting here... just thinking..."
Darcy sat down on the couch opposite his son, waiting to hear what he already knew. He didn't have to wait long.
"She was beautiful tonight, wasn't she!" Christopher sighed wistfully.
"Who was?" Darcy asked nonchalantly, though he knew full well who.
"Miss Delahunt," Darcy corrected.
"Yes. Miss Delahunt..."
Darcy rolled his eyes in the darkness, a small grin forming on his face.
"Did you see her earrings?" Christopher asked, still gazing at the piano as though fascinated by it.
"No, her earrings quite escaped my notice, I must admit!" Darcy told him in a teasing voice.
"Oh. They were little pearl drops... almost like her skin. She sang like an angel too. I couldn't believe that anything on earth could sound so sweet," Christopher sighed. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. "That's what I was thinking about... I couldn't sleep, so I just thought I'd stay in the music room awhile.
Darcy's desire to tease his son had left him and he began to feel quite serious. The reason, of course, was that he knew that feeling all too well. His mind cast itself back to a time almost twenty-three years ago, a night when he himself could not sleep and had wandered into the music room to dream of the beauty, talent and wonder of another young woman, a woman who had since borne him two fine sons, a woman without whom he could not live... Yes, Darcy was no longer in any mood to joke. This was serious.
"So... so, you like Isabelle," Darcy began awkwardly. His son chuckled softly.
"It's Miss Delahunt, Papa!"
"Yes. Yes, I mean Miss Delahunt!" Darcy amended, hoping to move swiftly on. Christopher exhaled heavily, settling his hands behind his head.
"Yes," he answered. "Yes, I like her very much! I don't see how anyone could not like her. She's an angel. She's kind and intelligent and..."
"And..." Darcy probed.
"And... Oh, I don't know, she's just... she's just Isabelle!"
"Not more "Isabelle talk"!" Jonathon exclaimed exasperatedly from the hall. A moment later, he had joined them. "Why don't you just marry her, Christopher, and get it over with?"
"It's Miss Delahunt!" Darcy insisted. "And there's no question of Christopher marrying her!"
Christopher sat bolt upright.
"No, well..." Darcy stuttered, "What I mean is, not right now. It hasn't been discussed!"
"Will it be discussed?"
"Well, I... I suppose it could be... If you want..."
"And if she wants!" Jonathon broke in.
"Yes, of course, naturally."
A moment's silence followed.
"Do you... do you think she wants?" Christopher asked in a voice barely audible.
Jonathon rolled his eyes.
"You could always ask her!" he suggested smartly.
Christopher paused. He stood.
"I can ask her?"
His father nodded.
"Yes, really!" Darcy repeated. "I'll invite them again for dinner... and you can ask her!"
Even in the darkness of the room, Darcy could see his son's face light up and the sight filled him with joy.
"What on earth are you all doing?" That was Elizabeth, bleary-eyed as she entered the room.
"Nothing!" Christopher replied, for the second time that night.
"That "nothing" is always a something!" she smiled knowingly. "What were you talking about?"
"Oh, just things, you know," Darcy chuckled, ushering them all back up the stairs. "Just "Isabelle" talk!"
"Oh, "Isabelle talk"!" Elizabeth giggled, winking at her eldest son. "Dear Miss Delahunt! This really can't go on, Christopher! You'll simply have to ask her!"