Posted on Saturday, 14 February 2004, at 12:50 p.m.
"My love," Emma said, as she walked into the room that Mr. Knightley had appropriated gradually as his study where he might deal with any estate business which it would not be convenient for him to have to walk to Donwell to handle, "I have just received a letter from Mrs. Weston. The Churchills are coming down to visit Randalls for Easter. I think a party in their honor would be very fitting, don't you?"
Mr. Knightley looked up as she walked in, smiling at the sight of his wife.
Emma continued speaking of her own calculations of the most suitable date for the proposed party, when she became aware that Mr. Knightley was only nodding rather absently.
"Mr. Knightley, where is your mind? It is certainly not here," she said laughingly.
He blinked and collected himself. "I'm sorry, Emma. It's just..." Here he stopped and looked somewhat self-conscious, oddly so, as Emma could not recall the last time she had seen him look so uncomfortable to say something to her. But soon enough, he continued in more of his usual manner, softened by a smile. "You called me 'my love'. That's the first time you've called me that, do you know?"
Emma thought for a moment, blushed and then laughed. "So it is. You don't mind, do you?"
"Mind!" he exclaimed, turning away from his desk to face her fully and taking one hand in his. "My Emma, you don't know, you don't quite realize just how much it means to me to hear you call me that." His voice softened as he pressed the hand that wore his ring. "When I still sometimes marvel at the fact that yours is the first face I see when I wake and the last face I see at night, marvel that I can indeed call you mine... No, my Emma, I don't mind."
Emma didn't speak, just leaned forward and kissed her husband on the lips. And for a moment there was silence in the room. Emma only spoke when the kiss ended, softly. "I love you, George."
She only called him by his Christian name when she was feeling particularly tender and it had become something of a private intimacy between the two of them.
"And I you," was all he said but his eyes were quite eloquent enough for Emma and soon all thoughts of the Churchills, a party, or indeed any other people in the world besides them were gone from their minds, as Mr. and Mrs. Knightley indulged in one of those interludes of kisses and murmured endearments treasured by lovers.
The pleasant moment ended with a knock on the door and Emma drew back reluctantly, to call "Yes, what is it?"
Through the door came the apologetic voice of Mrs. Pitkin, the housekeeper. "Begging your pardon, Miss Emma, but Mr. Woodhouse is asking for you from the sitting room."
Mr. Knightley smiled a little at Mrs. Pitkin's continuing to address Emma as Miss Emma. She had been with the family for years, had watched Emma grow up from a little girl, and still continued to address her as she had for years, even after some months of marriage. He didn't mind. It rather served as a pleasant reminder of those years when he himself had viewed Emma as a charming child, before he realized that the charming child had grown up to be a charming lady and that he loved her...
"Just a moment, Mrs. Pitkin," Emma called before turning back to smile rather ruefully at Mr. Knightley. "I must go attend to my father."
He gave her hand a last squeeze before releasing it. "Yes, you must. I will join you both in a few minutes, Emma."
Emma brushed a quick kiss on his lips. "And I love you for your kindness to my father, my dear Mr. Knightley."
And then she was gone, leaving Mr. Knightley to gaze after her for a moment, and then decide that the slight annoyance of Mr. Woodhouse's interruptions were a small price to pay indeed when compared to the joy of being with Emma constantly, knowing that she was his and he was hers. The joy was well worth any inconvenience. And though he might sometimes sigh for the quiet comfort of Donwell, he knew he had never been happier than he was here at Hartfield, with his Emma by his side.