Posted on Tuesday, 16 August 2005
Julia Darcy had woken in the highest of hopes, only to have them utterly dashed when she looked out of the window beside her bed. Rain. Needless to say, she was more than a little disheartened when she discovered that the picnic planned for the afternoon would have to be delayed because of the inclement weather. Pouty-lipped and teary eyed, she had run to her father, throwing her arms around his neck and pleading,
"Papa, please tell the clouds that you wish them to stop."
Fitzwilliam couldn't help but chuckle softly into his daughter's dark curls. "I'm very sorry my dear but I can't do that."
"But why not Papa?" she questioned, her small, expressive eyes displaying a mixture of shock and disappointment. "Can't you simply command them to leave? I once heard you tell Mama that you had the final say in everything at Pemberley. Don't you want your little Jules to be happy?" Once again her lip jutted out forming the sweet pout she had used so often as she wound her father around her finger. Darcy, well aware of her tricks but none the less helpless against them, walked to a cozy chair by the fire and sat down, gently placing Julia in his lap.
He thought for a moment before speaking, carefully considering how to explain the way of nature to her. Though only seven years old, Julia was extremely bright. She had her mother's beauty, her wit, and what's more, her ability to leave him utterly defenseless. She was truly Fitzwilliam's angel and while he loved each of his four children greatly, it was she who could persuade him into anything. He wanted to tell Julia the truth, that he had no control over when the offensive clouds would come and go. Still, he couldn't bare to lessen himself in her eyes. He was her God, the fixer of scrapes, dryer of tears, and bringer of presents. For her he could do no wrong. All this passed through his mind as his daughter finally broke the silence, impatience in her sweet little voice. "Papa, it's not very nice not to answer me you know." Just like her mother.
"I'm sorry my dear. I was just thinking. You know quite well that I want my little sweetling to be happy don't you?" At this she smiled prettily up at him and nodded, glad of this turn in the conversation. "And you also know that I would give you anything in my power to give. Unfortunately, I can not give you the picnic I promised because of the rain, which sadly I can't change either. You see, without the rain, the crops will not grow in the fields. If the crops don't grow, then what shall our tenants eat?" At this her little brow began to furrow as she realized what she had so selfishly asked for.
"Oh Papa," she said, a heart-melting gravity in her tone, "I didn't know. I wouldn't want to spoil things. It's just that I was so looking forward to spending the day together, as a family." With this she lay her head upon her father's chest and stared into the fire.
Fitzwilliam gently rubbed her back as he had done so often since her birth. He too was very disappointed about the change in plans. Having been very busy over the past weeks, the outing had been his way of making up for his inattentions. A sudden idea struck him. "What would you say to having a picnic?" With this she sat up quickly. Looking to the window only to find that the rain still had not stopped, she turned an incredulous eye upon her father. "We could have a picnic inside."
"A picnic inside? You are so silly Papa!"
"I'm being quite serious. I'll have the servants clear out one of the smaller parlours, and we could spread blankets on the floor for us to sit upon and eat, just as though we were outside. What do you say?"
"I think that is a wonderful idea!" She exclaimed as she leapt from his lap. "I'll go and tell Will immediately!" With that she skipped off to find her older brother.
Within a few hours time, Fitzwilliam, eight year old Will, Julia, and the Darcy twins Rebecca and Sebastian all lay sprawled out on the floor in the Blue parlour, one of Elizabeth's favorite rooms. The doting mother looked on with pleasure as her husband and children ate and laughed together. She wished very much that she could join them but knew that at this stage of her confinement, she had best stay in her seat as it was unlikely that she could gracefully lift herself from a position on the floor. After their meal was completed, the children were given the rare gift of being allowed to play several "outdoor" games with the understanding that this was not to be a common occurrence. Though at times he could not help but join in, Fitzwilliam was largely content to sit beside his wife and watch his greatest achievements at play. From time to time he would place a hand on Elizabeth's stomach, gently caressing it, feeling the life within her move. He kissed her cheek often, whispering to her his love and gratitude for the wonderful family she had built for him.
The day wore on in this fashion, no one noticing the advanced hour until a servant announced dinner. Suddenly the children realized that it would soon be time for bed and their day of fun would be over. This is not to say that the lives of the Darcy children weren't filled with happiness. However, it was rare for them to see their affectionate yet proper father behave as though a child, and even rarer to spend an entire day in the company of both their parents without a single interruption from steward or guest. Rather reluctantly, the children allowed themselves to be taken to the nursery, leaving their parents to enjoy a quiet dinner alone. Their meal soon finished, the pair went to tuck in their little darlings for bed only to find Sebastian already asleep and Rebecca fast on his heels. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam smiled at each other before giving each child and kiss and pulling the covers tightly around them. It was quite obvious that Will was trying very hard to remain awake, having something of great import to impart upon his parents.
"Thank you father, today was fantastic. When I grow up, I'm going to be just like you and play with my children and give them rides on my back whenever they want *yawn*" Fitzwilliam's heart swelled with joy.
"I think that is a very good idea indeed."
"Mm Hmm *yawn* Good night mother. Good night Father."
"Good night dearest." Elizabeth's melodic voice was the final inducement needed for the boy to nod off and she and her husband were able to make their way to their own chambers with the knowledge that their children were resting soundly.
Once in Elizabeth's room, the couple seemed to finally realize how tired they were. Collapsing in bed, Lizzy let out a contented sigh. "You truly are a wonderful father William do you know that?"
"If I am a good parent, it is only because I have you to aid me, to teach me to be so." He slowly stretched before crawling into bed next to his wife. Wrapping his arms around her, he slowly kissed her cheek, then her lips, all the while caressing her growing stomach.
"I received a letter this morning from mother." This effectively brought an end to Darcy's attentions as he drew himself up to sitting. He had grown to accept Mrs. Bennet as his mother-in-law, but even after almost nine years of marriage the thought of her still put an abrupt end to any romantic feelings he was having at the moment.
"And what did mother dear have to say? Did she wish to offer congratulations on the baby again?"
"Well, I suppose you could say that."
"Well, she more spoke to my having a husband who ages so well that his continued impositions may not be unpleasant. She also made sure to add helpful advice as to the handling of five children as she has had experience with such herself. Oh, and she said she would be more than happy to stay a full two months after the baby's birth should we need her assistance."
At this Darcy snorted before adding, "Kitty and Thomas ready to be rid of her I suppose? I don't know how she ever expects to have more grandchildren on that front if she continues to visit them constantly." Luckily Darcy saw the look of disapproval on his wife's face before he could continue. He quickly silenced himself and lay down beside her once again, releasing a sigh as he did so. She snuggled next to him as she had done almost every night of their marriage, finding the familiar spot on his shoulder to rest her head. Her breathing slowed with the gentle rhythm of his. After a few moments of silence, Darcy said, "I am very blessed my dear. I never imagined how wonderful life could be, and I would never have had all of this without you. Elizabeth... Elizabeth?" He looked down only to see his wife fast asleep. Laughing softly, he pulled the covers up around them and closed his eyes. As he was about to slip into slumber, he heard the rumble of thunder outside. It was not terribly loud but he wondered whether he should check to see if it had woken the children. Upon the consideration that Elizabeth had not stirred despite her habit of being a light sleeper during confinement, he concluded that he need not disturb her to rise. All was well and within a few minutes he joined the rest of his family in sweet repose.
it was not more than an hour later when he was aroused from his sleep. He had rolled over, and in doing so felt a pair of eyes upon him. Opening his own, he saw little Rebecca staring back at him, a look of fear in her little green eyes. "Darling whatever are you doing? What's wrong?" Before she could answer, a streak of lightening passed the window, quickly followed by a thunder crash that sent her diving into her father's arms, trembling.
"Papa can I please stay with you and mother? I'm afraid of the storm." Unable to say no to his daughter that had braved the long corridor at night just to seek him, he pulled back the blanket and ushered her under.
"There. All better. Try to get some sleep dearest." He placed a small kiss on her forehead before settling down himself. No sooner was he comfortable again than he heard a small voice whisper, "I can't sleep."
Without bothering to open his eyes he replied, "You haven't even tried."
"Yes I did."
"Try again." Once again there was silence but it wasn't to last as another thunder rumble provoked a small squeak from Rebecca. Propping himself up on one elbow, Darcy looked down upon his second daughter.
"My darling the storm is outside and will not hurt you. I promise I will not let it. You must try to sleep though."
"Will you tell me a story?"
Darcy sighed, unable to deny such an angelic request. "What would you like to hear a story about?"
"Oh I don't care but make it something lovely."
"Alright then." He thought for a moment before beginning his favorite story, one that he hadn't repeated since Julia was a baby.
"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young maiden who lived in a far away land. She had long, dark hair, and sparkling green eyes and was very intelligent. Everyone thought well of her. One day, a ogre came to the town in which the maiden lived and quite frightened everyone, especially the maiden. However, what everyone did not know was that the poor creature had a secret which he had to keep hidden from the rest of the world. The ogre knew that if the maiden only knew his secret, knew who he truly was, than she would love him as he loved her from the first moment he saw her. He wanted to take her away to the most wonderful place in the world, his home. The maiden knew that the ogre had a grand palace and she would have great power and many wonderful possessions id she went with him. But the lady was wise and did not care for the things that the other silly little maids cared about and she would not go with him just to gain wealth. The ogre tried to convince himself that he didn't love the girl but finally he could stand it no longer. He begged the maiden to come away with him to his castle. When she refused, he became terribly mean and she had no choice but to wound him to escape his clutches. After this, the ogre left her, ashamed and lonely.
Many moons passed and one day the maiden went out on an adventure, for she was very free spirited. She came to a place of spectacular beauty and was surprised to discover that it was owned by none other than the ogre. You can imagine his great surprise when he found her at his home! The ogre's wounds were healing and he found that he still loved her very much. He decided that he would try to help her discover his secret, as he was unable to tell anyone what it was. Days passed and the maiden came to be more and more fond of the ogre, who had become more kind and gentle since their encounter. One day, the maiden's beloved dog was stolen by one she had thought was her friend, leaving her quite heartbroken. Seeing her sad made the ogre very unhappy indeed and he decided that he would bring the pet back to her at whatever cost. The ogre underwent much and at length brought it back to her. The maiden was most grateful to him and finally realized that she loved him. Upon telling him this, the ogre transformed into a handsome prince. He then confessed to her his secret. He needed a woman like her to love, who would love him in return, to bring him from his self made shell and turn him into the person that he was supposed to be. And so, the prince and the maiden were married and lived happily ever after. The end.
What did you think that the story Rebecca? Rebecca?" Darcy looked down to see her sleeping quite peacefully, a smile gracing her lips. He smiled himself and started at hearing a soft voice behind him say, "I thought it was a wonderful story." He rolled over to see his wife staring lovingly at him.
"Why thank you my dear."
"An ogre my love?"
"Oh come now, you know that you stopped just short of calling me that very thing yourself all those years ago."
"Why sir I am sure I have no idea what you are speaking of." responded Elizabeth in mock surprise. The two smiled and kissed before settled down again for sleep. With his arms wrapped around his wife and daughter, Fitzwilliam "Ogre" Darcy took a deep breath and fell into a contented sleep filled with dreams of fairy tale yesterdays and bright tomorrows.