..... and Lizzy looked away, embarrassed and quickly searching for her bonnet and gloves. Spying them on a table, she moved toward it. Unfortunately for Lizzy's plans, her companion saw where she was going, and anticipating the reason he stepped forward and picked up the items.
He had been closer. Lizzy stopped in her tracks and looked up at the man she loves as he held her articles as though they were the most precious jewels he had ever handled, as if they would disappear if he was not careful. Breaking the spell, he spoke.
"Miss Bennet, you are not leaving?"
"Yes, I fear I must," Her eyes still would not meet his, as much as she wanted to run to him and tell him she loved him...no, that could not be.
"You must, Miss Bennet? Surely you can remain until Georgiana returns, for I am sure she would wish to say goodbye."
"But...perhaps you are correct." She sat on a sofa, still not looking for fear her control would melt.
After two minutes of strained silence, Darcy again took the lead. "Miss Bennet, it appears that my sister has been delayed. I am certain we can have some conversation." He smiled hopefully, all the while thinking, 'thank you dear sister, you set us up well.'
"Mr. Darcy, of what would you wish to speak?" She attempted some lightness in her tone, but disappointment came through, confusing her companion.
"I do not know, but as we are so well acquainted, I am sure we cannot be in want of topics, any that will assist us in being better acquainted..." A small gasp from Lizzy and her turning to face the window stopped him dead. If Lizzy were looking, the concern etched in his features would have saved her a great deal of pain and confusion. He just looked at her, wondering what she thought.
"Miss Bennet," he said with a great deal of emotion, but received no answer. He took a step toward her and reached for her hand. "Elizabeth, please?" he almost whispered as she allowed him to take her hand in his own. She barely realised what was happening but was glad of his touch, the warmth of his hand on hers. She turned to face him, tears forming and slowly running down her cheeks. His heart was torn by the sight.
"Miss Bennet, please allow me, or do I ask too much, allow me to tell you how I admire and love you. My regard for you is so strong and love for you so deep that I suffer every day I do not see you. Please relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife. I know I do not deserve you, but for every hour of every day, for the rest of my life, I will do all I can to earn your love." He spoke with so much feeling that he did not take a breath for the whole speech.
With tears pouring from her eyes, she looked into his eyes and saw not a hint of the arrogance that accompanied his last proposal, but fear and anticipation and hope. "I am sorry, but I cannot do that to you. What of your family, your reputation? I will not have you resent me."
"Resent you? I could never. My family? Surely you are aware my sister is in favour of the match, she actually directed me to this room alone."
"But she is not your only family."
"Elizabeth." Kneeling before her, collecting her other hand so he now held both of her hands within his. "Is this your only reason for rejecting my hand? I can assure you that I have no need of any other person's approval and with you beside me I have all I could ever need." He looked at her with such longing, love and vulnerability that she thought her heart would break again (it had broken when she refused).
"But your aunt..."
"My aunt wishes to plan my marriage and my estate. I have told her, yesterday, as it happens, that I will not marry my cousin and if you will not accept me, my sister and any children she has will become my heirs." He paused allowing this to sink in. "Elizabeth, I will be silent on this subject forever if you wish it, but first I will ask you again. I love you Elizabeth Bennet, will you be my bride?"
"Elizabeth, if you only accept because of my feelings..." He began, a little half-heartedly as he remembered her previous refusal.
"Mr. Darcy." She leaned forward to look directly into his eyes at his kneeling height and spoke with not a little affection. "I am sure that you know me well enough that I could not marry you without love." Relief visibly washed over his features only to be quickly replaced by mock sternness as he moved to sit beside her.
"Miss Bennet, if you would not mind answering my question, for I do not believe you have."
Equaling his serious tone, but as playful as he, "Oh, Mr. Darcy, that was quite wrong of me. What was the question again, I find myself quite distracted?"
Keeping his stern appearance, "Miss Bennet, would you consent to be my wife?"
"Oh, that was the question. Yes, Mr. Darcy, I would be honoured to become your wife." He smiled briefly and squeezed her hand, then the stern, serious look took over.
"Just one more question, if I may, Miss Bennet, before we are engaged." Curious, and slightly concerned as the playfulness was no longer so obvious, he clearly wished to ask a serious question, she nodded her agreement. "Would you tell me, how you feel about me?"
She looked at him, shocked, until she saw a small smile creep across his features. He clearly wished an answer, but a playful answer would solve all his worries. Not willing to cause him any pain (as there was something of insecurity in his eyes, that little bit of him that was no longer arrogant and overconfident) and more than willing to make him happy with the words she had been longing to say, she turned to face him and in a serious tone, "Fitzwilliam, I would be honoured to be your wife, for I am quite in love with you and do not think there is any man who I would rather marry." She smiled and blushed and he did the same, tightening his grip on her hands a little and they just looked at each other with perfect understanding.
This is how they were when the door opened and the housekeeper stepped in. (Not surprisingly, Lizzy and Darcy had not heard any footsteps, nor any carriages out front). With pinker than usual complexions, Darcy and Lizzy stood, a little apart, as the housekeeper announced, "Miss Bingley," and the lady and Georgiana walked into the room.
"I do not see why she announced me in my brother's house, I am keeping house for him," Miss Bingley was saying to Georgiana and Lizzy. "There was no need ...oh, Mr. Darcy, I was not informed that you were here. I trust you are well." She walked directly toward Darcy and placed herself on the sofa where Lizzy had been seated. Everyone else sat, Lizzy next to Georgiana on the other sofa and Darcy next to Miss Bingley as to go elsewhere would be rude.
Georgiana was bursting to speak with Lizzy but had no chance as her brother was making a formal greeting to Miss Bingley as she attempted to introduce topics of discussion that would prolong a conversation to the exclusion of Lizzy. For her part, Lizzy was content to look at her beloved, safe in the knowledge of his love. Suddenly, Lizzy was forced from her dreamy recollections.
"Miss Eliza, I am quite surprised to see you here without your dear sister Jane, especially at so late an hour." Lizzy quickly looked at her pocket watch and stood.
"I have been visiting with Miss Darcy, but you are quite correct, Miss Bingley. It is rather late and I must be on my way." She curtseyed briefly and moved toward the door.
"Good day, Miss Eliza. Now Mr. Darcy I must say that ..."
"Excuse me, Miss Bingley. Miss Bennet, I believe Mr. Bingley is at Longbourn."
"Yes, I believe he is, sir, would you like me to pass on a message?" She asked quite sweetly.
"I thank you...but perhaps I could escort you home and deliver it myself. I am certain he would need to be reminded of the time and informed of his sister's arrival." He turned to Miss Bingley with a quick smile for Lizzy. "I am sure you would wish to rest after your journey and I shall be back with your brother for supper." He began to leave the room before Miss Bingley could frame any sort of objection. 'He is doing me a service isn't he?' she thought.
"As Miss Bingley would rest, Fitzwilliam, may I accompany you and Miss Bennet?"
"Of course." And so the threesome left the house and Miss Bingley was left to consider if Mr. Darcy was actually making the trip for her benefit.
"Fitzwilliam," Georgiana said quite shocked. "It may not be late now, but what of our return?"
"Indeed, you are correct," a very agreeable Darcy spoke. "Perhaps I will have the carriage follow us." He quickly moved off to make the arrangements.
"Lizzy," Georgiana attempted to get her friends attention, at no response, she tried again, a little louder. "Lizzy?"
"Oh...ah...sorry, Georgiana, I was just...what was it you said?"
Stifling a giggle, "Lizzy, can you explain my brothers cheerfulness? I have not ever seen him so eager to walk three miles"
Lizzy attempted to hide a grin as she spoke. "Perhaps he wished for a change of company, or a walk before supper. Walking is good exercise, you know."
"Lizzy, please, I am sure you know what has led to my brother's good humour this evening."
"Perhaps you should speak with him, Georgiana, for I am sure I cannot tell you," Lizzy said quite seriously.
Georgiana was prevented answering by the approach of her brother. "Shall we go?" He offered his arm to Georgiana and the other to Lizzy. As she took the arm, Lizzy's face was graced with a slight blush, which led to a small smile on the lips of the other lady.
Cheery conversation and pleasant banter accompanied the threesome as they walked. For ten minutes they walked without any hint of an answer to the questions Georgiana was asking Lizzy earlier. 'This is enough,' she thought to herself. "Fitzwilliam, may I ask what has brought about this incredibly agreeable mood?"
"Agreeable mood? Georgiana, are you saying that I am not often agreeable?"
"Brother! Do you not wish to tell me so that I may bring this mood upon you often? you seem to be quite enjoying yourself this evening," an exasperated Georgiana asked. Lizzy was laughing and Darcy smiling.
"Shall I tell her?" he asked of Lizzy, then turned back to his sister. "Do you really wish to know?"
"FITZWILLIAM!!!" She stamped her foot, stopped walking, crossed her arms across her chest and pouted, much to the amusement of Darcy and Lizzy.
"Very well, Georgiana, I will tell you, but please do not pout." She let the pout go but kept her arms crossed. "This is not to go beyond this party though," Answering her thoughts he continued, "not even to Anne or our other cousins."
"Yes, yes.." she said rather impatiently.
"Today, Miss Elizabeth Bennet." He briefly looked at Lizzy and smiled. "Accepted my proposal of marriage and will be my wife as soon as I can arrange it."
"Oh, Fitzwilliam, Lizzy!" Georgiana squealed excitedly and embraced each of them. Lizzy disengaged her friend from her person and addressed Darcy.
"As soon as may be, sir? That would be scandalous, Mr. Darcy, and I could not begin married life with a scandal," Lizzy said with mock severity.
"My dear Elizabeth." He looked into her eyes. "I would not wish a scandal, but if it made you my wife, I could be willing to endure a great deal of gossip." They looked at each other with such intensity, Georgiana felt like an intruder on a wedding night. She cleared her throat, breaking the spell and causing her brother to blush slightly.
"Perhaps, brother, we should move in the direction of Longbourn so that you can move towards that wedding?"
"Indeed." He paused and they started walking again. "You, my dear sister, are becoming quite impertinent. Perhaps you have been influenced of late?"
She laughed. "Only in the best way." She smiled at Lizzy, Darcy turned and smiled at Lizzy, only to see a pout forming and her arms crossing her chest.
"Impertinent? You could not mean to say that I have influenced your sister in such a way, sir?" But Lizzy could not keep her face a mask of a person insulted and all three began to laugh and continue to move in the direction of Longbourn.
It was quite a happy trio that met Mr. Bingley and Jane in the garden. Darcy quickly excused himself, (drawing amused questioning looks from Mr. Bingley and Jane) to go to Mr. Bennet. He returned minutes later, which seemed like hours to Lizzy, and sent her to her father. She returned quite quickly with a smile lighting up her face. She found the foursome walking, Fitzwilliam with Georgiana on his arm, and Jane on Bingley's.
"Lizzy, you look so happy!" Jane exclaimed.
"I am." She walked to Darcy. Jane looked a little puzzled, but not totally so.
"Brother? Lizzy? Is all well?" Georgiana asked quite amused at the display.
"Georgiana, all is well," Lizzy said affectionately as she took her place on Darcy's other arm.
"Darcy, what is this all about?" Bingley asked. Darcy looked at Lizzy, who nodded.
"Miss Bennet, Bingley, I am happy to tell you that Elizabeth has consented to be my wife"
Congratulations were given and received, but the arrival of the carriage (whose driver had stopped for dinner before leaving Netherfield) reminded all of the time. After long farewells, the Netherfield party left.
The Bennet family was informed at dinner. Mrs. Bennet was in raptures, Kitty begged to be a bridesmaid and Mary congratulated her sister and asked about the library at Pemberley.
After retiring for the night, Lizzy and Jane spent the evening discussing their fiancés and how happy they will be. But even this late discussion did not lead to a late rise for the eldest Miss Bennets, in fact both were ready to leave for Netherfield before Mrs. Bennet had breakfasted.
On arrival at Netherfield, they were shown into the sitting room where Darcy and Bingley greeted each other's fiancée and then their own.
"Miss Elizabeth, Jane, perhaps..."
"Mr. Bingley, please, we are to be brother and sister and there is no need for such formality among us. Elizabeth, or Lizzy is all that you need address me by," she said with a smile.
Jane quickly turned to Mr. Darcy, who was quite amused by the goings on, "Mr. Darcy, need I repeat Lizzy's pretty speech?"
"No, I believe I understand, but would you not prefer to be addressed by your own name? For to call you both Elizabeth could be confusing," he smiled mischievously at Lizzy who scowled at him with mock anger.
"Mr. Darcy, I see your wit is similar to my sister's; I am sure you will do well together." They laughed until Mr. Bingley continued his original thought.
"Jane, Lizzy, you find us quite alone. Miss Darcy and Caroline are breakfasting if you would like us all to join them?"
"Thank you, but we have breakfasted already" Lizzy said, attempting not to convey her wish of not seeing Miss Bingley again.
"Perhaps a turn about the gardens, then?" All assented to Bingley's plan and moved through the doors to the garden.
The chosen garden had many paths and the two couples soon separated and strolled about. All was within propriety, as the garden had only low growing plants and shrubs and the morning room windows and glass doors opened into it.
It was into the morning room that Georgiana and Miss Bingley went after breakfast. Miss Bingley noticed only her brother and Jane at first.
"Georgiana, it appears that Miss Bennet is quite content with her conquest."
"It does indeed, Miss Bingley." Georgiana ignored the cruel insinuations of Miss Bingley's statement. "But I must say that your brother also appears quite well pleased," she said, smiling.
"I suppose that could be said," she allowed reluctantly. Both ladies looked into the garden for a few moments, Georgiana well pleased with the situation and Miss Bingley a lot less so.
"So, Georgiana, where could your brother be? I was certain he would be in this room, for there is his book, and I am sure that he would enjoy my...oh, our company."
"I expect he is walking in the garden."
"In the garden, why would he walk in the garden alone when I would be more than happy to accompany him?" The answer to her question came into view, preventing Georgiana replying. Mr. Darcy, quite attentive to the lady on his arm walked by. Her hand was comfortably in the crook of his arm and his left hand over hers. They were smiling. Miss Bingley was stunned into silence and watched as they turned to speak with Jane and Bingley.
All four walked toward the glass doors, Mr. Darcy opening them to admit Lizzy first and then Jane and Bingley, and finally walking in himself. Miss Bingley was seated on a sofa, and Georgiana on one of the other two.
Jane and Mr. Bingley sat on the third. Lizzy sat herself next to a smiling Georgiana and Darcy reluctantly sat next to Miss Bingley. The seating arrangements could not have been much better if Miss Bingley had planned them herself (except perhaps the Bennet sisters would not have been there).
"Miss Eliza," Miss Bingley shrilled, "we did not expect to see you here today," she said while attempting to pat Darcy's arm in an expression that she spoke for him as well as herself. "Georgiana and I were planning a quiet day in the music room." Georgiana did not know what to say as she did not know that was her plan for the day, but before any person could speak, Miss Bingley turned to Darcy and continued. "Mr. Darcy," she said with too much familiarity for the gentleman's comfort, "If you wished to walk the grounds, I would have been happy to join you, and Georgiana, of course."
Lizzy barely kept her seat, and Georgiana fared hardly better, but it was Darcy who spoke. "Thank you, Miss Bingley," he said rather shortly, gaining the attention of all in the room, "but I had pleasant company." He smiled to Lizzy briefly.
She would not be dissuaded, 'why should a country nobody walk with him and I not have my turn, perhaps she can keep Georgiana out of the way and he will propose,' she thought to herself before saying, "Dear Jane, Charles, would you care to take a turn, Mr. Darcy?" placing a hand on his arm again, "and I, oh and Georgiana and Miss Eliza, of course, would enjoy it very much."
"Miss Bingley," Darcy said, rising and walking to his sister...oh no, not to his sister, to Miss Eliza....he was reaching for her hand and she took it, smiling at him...."Miss Elizabeth and I have had a turn about the garden today and it was enjoyed by both of us...no, no, allow me to finish, Miss Bingley." Lizzy stood and continued to hold onto his hand.
"Miss Bingley," Lizzy said very sweetly, "Mr. Darcy and I enjoyed our walk very much, especially as we discussed the wedding." A small smile tugged at the lips of both Lizzy and Darcy, who knew what they were doing was cruel, but continued anyway.
Miss Bingley answered quickly. "Yes, of course, we all eagerly anticipate the day Charles and Jane are married, perhaps, Mr. Darcy, you would care to discuss it further with me in the garden, as you have already discussed it with the bride's sister, perhaps the groom's would have more to offer on the subject." She fluttered her eyelashes in a desperate bid to gain his attention and force him to release Miss Eliza's hand.
"Miss Bingley, we anticipate the day not only for Jane and Mr. Bingley's marriage, though we are happy for them..."
"Miss Eliza," she laughed, "you are quite liberal in your placement of your opinions with Mr. Darcy's as though you are...."
"Miss Bingley," he interrupted her before she said anything further. "Your brother is to be married in a double ceremony, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and I are to be married the same day," he said so quickly she could not possibly interrupt again.
Miss Bingley gasped and then controlled herself and congratulated the couple, said how pleased she was, for a double wedding would be quite the event, and then excused herself with a headache.
Half an hour later, the ladies of Longbourn were in the sitting room, listening to Mrs. Bennet issue orders about proper behaviour at a wedding (particularly aimed at Lizzy, as she was not married until the end of the ceremony and Mrs. Bennet did not wish to risk loosing ten thousand a year at the last moment). After lecturing Lizzy, Mrs. Bennet went on to inform her younger daughters of the best way to catch a rich husband at the wedding, using Lydia's behaviour as an example. When she stopped to take a breath, Mr. Darcy was announced.
He entered the room, which was now silent with Lizzy and Jane blushing, hoping he hadn't heard any of their mother's words, and he greeted each lady in turn, ending with Lizzy. For a few minutes the party sat in silence, then Darcy spoke to Lizzy loudly enough to be heard by all in the room. "Miss Elizabeth, would you join me for a turn about the garden?"
"Yes, Lizzy, go, it will be good for you," Mrs. Bennet answered for her daughter and then showed her out the door.
Mrs. Bennet watched from the window as her daughter walked in the garden below. Unfortunately for Mrs. Bennet, she could not hear the conversation no matter how she strained.
Once out of doors, Darcy took Lizzy's hand and placed it on his arm, pulling her quite close.
"For what?" he feigned ignorance.
"You know very well what I thank you for, Mr. Darcy," she said with some archness.
"You mean, I suppose, to thank me for bringing you into the fresh air."
"Indeed, sir, but also for rescuing me from the castle, much like I were Rupunzel," she said lightly.
He stopped, holding Lizzy's arm and turning to face her. "Elizabeth, I would climb any mountain or tower to have you beside me always," he said with feeling.
"And I would lower my hair to assist your climb." Then, equaling his seriousness, "I thank you sir, and after tomorrow I will not need to be saved, I think"
They both smiled and ambled about the gardens until Jane came to collect Lizzy for part two of 'the talk'.
The wedding was pleasant and proper and a good time was had by all, especially the brides and grooms. Mrs. Bennet was a little unhappy her other daughters did not throw themselves at any suitable bachelors (or any bachelors, for that matter.)
The couples left for their honeymoon trips and were as happy as could be. The Bingleys went to London for a week, while the Darcys went to Bath and then Pemberley, as neither Mr. or Mrs. Darcy could imagine a better place to start their life together than Pemberley.
The second day at Pemberley, Darcy found it was time to briefly attend to his correspondence that had been neglected of late. Lizzy went walking and they met again at dinner.
"Fitzwilliam, did you complete all of your business?" she asked quite happily.
"Yes...oh...no...sorry, dear, I did not hear your question."
"Fitzwilliam, I hope there are no matters too much neglected, I would be sorry to be the cause of neglected business." She said rather playfully. He didn't answer her.
"Fitzwilliam, is something the matter?"
"Oh, Elizabeth, I am sorry...it is just...it does not matter."
"Please tell me." All mirth gone from her voice, only concern left there.
"Elizabeth, I have had a letter from..." She looked at him when he paused, her eyes begging him to continue. "From my aunt." She looked at him expectantly and waited for him to continue. "Elizabeth, as we know, Lady Catherine does not approve of our marriage, in fact, she has suggested an annulment is my best option." Lizzy smiled, attempting to stifle her laughter. Her husband looked at her questioningly.
"Do you not see?" she said, "Your aunt is desperate, but your cousin does not share her feelings."
She pulled a letter from her pocket. "Mrs. Reynolds gave me this while you were in the study." She handed him the letter and he read it and smiled.
"Well, Mrs. Darcy," he said in somewhat better humour. "It seems our cousin Anne approves of you, now we have only her mother against us."
"Give her time, Fitzwilliam, give her time."
They ate in silence until Lizzy saw her husband looking at her. She placed her cutlery on her plate and met his stare.
"Mrs. Darcy, I believe it is time we retire." She rose and followed him.
Two years after the marriages of the two eldest Bennet daughters, the foursome decided they would have a dinner in honour of the date.
They had wished to do it the previous year, but they were not able to get together. Jane and Bingley had moved to Bingley Manor, ten miles from Pemberley, but Jane was so near her time that even that short distance was not able to be covered.
Ordinarily this would not be a problem, the Darcys were not above visiting the Bingleys, in fact they often did, but Fitzwilliam would not allow Lizzy to travel in her condition.
Both ladies insisted that they would be in the carriage, not pulling it and at eight months pregnant they were quite able to sit in a carriage. Neither husband would allow it.
Approximately a month after their anniversaries, two days apart, both sisters were safely delivered, Andrew Darcy being the eldest Bennet grandchild and Simon Bingley the second. Thankfully, Lydia had not had any children.
So for their second anniversary, Jane and Charles, Lizzy and Fitzwilliam surrendered their boys into the particular care of Georgiana and Kitty (who often stayed with Georgiana) and had a pleasant evening remembering the weeks leading up to their wedding.
And so it was a happy party in the morning room the following day. Kitty and Georgiana had gone to Lambton for some ribbons, leaving the two couples (Jane and Charles had remained at Pemberley the previous night) and their boys alone after breakfast.
Jane and Lizzy were at one end of the room in the rather inelegant, unrefined but highly enjoyable position of playing with the boys on the floor while Darcy and Bingley watched their wives and children. Bingley was commenting on the perfect picture that they had before them when the door opened and Mrs. Reynolds announced, "Lady Catherine de Bourgh."
Lady Catherine walked in as if it were her own home. She walked straight to Darcy.
Lizzy and Jane, who were further from the door and thankfully out of sight of it when it opened, stood up, each collecting a boy in their arms. They walked forward to stand beside their husbands and greet the unexpected guest, but just as they approached, Lady Catherine spoke.
"Well nephew, it has been many months since I have seen you."
"Not since my marriage," he answered rather bluntly. Relations between the Darcys and Lady Catherine were not good, as all communication had ceased with a letter Darcy received a week after his marriage. Georgiana and Anne corresponded, and Colonel Fitzwilliam still visited Rosings regularly, so information still flowed between the two estates.
"Hrmph," she grunted as she sat on a chair. Fitzwilliam and Lizzy sat on a sofa, she still holding the boy, while Jane and Charles sat on the other sofa, keeping the other child entertained. They talked quietly, soothing the fussing baby.
Lady Catherine looked Lizzy over and then the child she was holding.
"Nephew, your wife appears less petite than she did last time I saw her. Perhaps she is not aware of the image she is to display if she is to be mistress of Pemberley."
"Lady Catherine, my wife IS the mistress of Pemberley and few ladies in her condition are described as petite."
Darcy stopped here, expecting some sort of apology, or at the very least a response. Lizzy defensively rubbed one hand over her abdomen to comfort the child within and used the other to comfort the child without.
Understanding washed over Lady Catherine's face. "Well, she does appear to know some of her duties." Not daring to further define her meaning, Lady Catherine varied her attack. "That, I suppose, is your son," she said to Darcy, to the exclusion of his wife as she pointed at the child on Lizzy's lap, causing him to frown. Lizzy placed a gentle hand on her husband's arm to prevent his answer and she spoke in controlled, polite tones.
"He is not --"
"WHAT?" Lady Catherine cut her off, standing and yelling much as Lizzy thought she would but there was not a way around it. Both boys' lower lips began to tremble and the sisters turned their attention to the children as Lady Catherine continued.
"Lady Catherine," Darcy took on Lizzy's polite tone as he spoke, enjoying this a little while, but also becoming more and more angry at his aunt "Why do you say this, because she is holding Bingley's son?"
"Her brother in law's child? And what of the other one she carries? Is it the groundskeeper's?"
Darcy stood as Lizzy went to her brother in law, handed Simon to him, kissed Andrew on the head as his aunt held him still, whispered to Jane, and moved back to her husband. Jane and Bingley quietly took the boys and left the room. Darcy was pacing as Lizzy sat down, silently urging her husband to do the same.
"Lady Catherine, you will not speak of my wife in such a way, not here or any other place. This is her home and you are a guest at her convenience. Any repetition of those statements or any allusion to your ideas of my wife's behaviour, will not be accepted and you will be removed." He moved to stand by Lizzy.
Looking daggers at her nephew, Lady Catherine spoke, "What of the child, you stated that it is that Bingley's son?"
Rather surprised at the slowness of Lady Catherine's mind, Lizzy spoke in a very controlled voice, determined not to be at the centre of another issue between her husband and his aunt "Lady Catherine." The lady being addressed looked at the speaker with ill covered disdain, but remained silent. "The child I was holding is my sister Jane Bingley's son. He is two days younger than my own. Jane was holding Andrew Darcy when you were announced. Now, as you have already said, it has been quite a while since I have had the pleasure of your company, will you be staying with us long?"
Lady Catherine was shocked. This country nobody who had stolen her daughter's intended had ignored the insult and invited her to stay.
Darcy was very proud of Lizzy, though he thought her too forgiving. She had been urging him to reconcile with his aunt for many months now and it seemed she still had that aim. Elizabeth Darcy never ceased to amaze her husband.
"Yes, aunt, to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?"
"I decided that it was time for me to meet my great nephew. Mrs. Collins tells me he is quite handsome," she said with doubt in her voice, (but also a little maternal instinct Lizzy wondered.) "Have him brought here," she commanded.
It was at this moment that Mrs. Reynolds entered the room with refreshments. She settled them on the table, curtseyed and left. Lizzy offered Lady Catherine the tray but she refused, then Lizzy answered. "My son is napping at present. You are welcome to some refreshments, or perhaps we can show you to your room while we wait."
"Mrs. Darcy," Darcy growled, only to be glared at by his aunt.
"Mrs. Darcy," she mumbled, returning to normal pitch to continue, "I have told you before, I am not to be trifled with. The child must be presented to me as his grandmother's nearest living relative..."
"Lady Catherine, his paternal grandmother's brother and his family have met my son. Lady Matlock left us only last week. As I said, I am happy for you to meet Andrew after he had had his nap," Elizabeth said, proving that she was not to be trifled with and would not stand for any disagreement.
The entry of Jane and Charles ended this conversation. Not because Lady Catherine did not wish to argue before the Bingleys (they were beneath her notice) but she did not like the separation from her nephew and his sister. Lady Catherine was lonely with only Anne for company, and even Mr. Collins' appreciation and compliments wore thin. She had failed in planning Darcy's marriage, she would not be excluded from Georgiana's, and she had made it clear that without her brother and his family she would not visit Rosings.
Not long after Lady Catherine left and Georgiana and Kitty returned, Georgiana was quickly acquainted with her aunt's attitude and declared that she would continue her correspondence with Anne, but would not return to visit Rosings again.
Lady Catherine never returned to Pemberley. Anne attended Georgiana's wedding four years after the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, and she even visited Pemberley after her own marriage, to a younger son of a titled family, despite the rift that existed between Lady Catherine and her nephew. The rift lasted until Lady Catherine's death.
Lizzy was always sorry that her husband had been separated from his family by her marriage, but Fitzwilliam insisted that it was not her doing and the benefits attached to being Mr. Darcy with such a Mrs. Darcy far outweighed any problems caused.
Happiness reigned at Pemberley for many years. Andrew was joined by Jennifer, Brendon and Christina and they had three Bingley cousins (Simon, Madeline and Deborah) and no Wickham cousins at all.