Jane Bennet the radiant bride, was the epitome of joy as she repeated her vows to her grinning beloved Charles Bingley. Everyone who knew the Bennets would understand the tears in her dearest sisters eyes; the sisters had been inseparable since the day Elizabeth Bennet came into the world. Elizabeth however was not crying over the loss of her sister; she was jubilant when she discovered that her beloved sister had found love, and would be taken care of for the rest of her life. Her tears had more to do with the tall dark, and brooding groomsman. Mr. Darcy was Elizabeth's own love, but she did not share her sister's good fortune and was absolutely convinced that he felt nothing for her. She couldn't have been more wrong.
Mr. Darcy did not hear one word of the church ceremony, he was too busy not staring at the maid of honor. He had forgotten that Elizabeth would precede her sister down the aisle, and was not prepared for the vision that grated him when the church doors opened. Her dark eyes met his for a moment before dropping to the floor in front of her. He wondered if he would ever get to lead her to the altar. She did not look at him once through the whole ceremony. At the end they when they were to follow the newly married couple down the aisle, she barely glanced at him as he offered her his arm. He assumed that her sadness was because of her sister, and she would never love him. Darcy resolved to stay at Netherfield for one more fortnight, to see if he could ever hope.
Elizabeth Bennet had given her sister "privacy" for a week before visiting her. The Bingleys were going to wait for the spring to visit the continent on their honeymoon. She was walking up the road to Netherfield in haste to see her sister when she ran into Darcy.
"Miss Bennet!" his eyes were drawn to her flushed complexion, and brightened eyes. It was very cold out, and her nose was adorably pink, adding to her attractiveness. It was all he could do to not take her into his arms and warm her chilled person.
"Please allow me to escort you to inside, you look positively chilled."
"I thank you sir, yes." "Maybe he does care," she thought to herself, "no, I can't fool myself, he is a generous man by nature, he is not paying me any special attention.
"Shall we go in then?" with that he offered her his arm and led her inside.
Elizabeth stood in the drawing room near the fire, warming her frozen hands when her sister entered the room,
"Lizzy! I did not expect you to come today, what a pleasant surprise!" Jane kissed Elizabeth's cold cheek, "Did you walk all the way from Longbourn? It is positively freezing outside!"
"Hello dear Jane, it is very cold outside, but my walk was invigorating. Married life suits you Jane, you are positively glowing." Jane colored prettily,
"Married life is more wonderful than you can imagine, when you are married to the right man," Elizabeth chuckled at the maternal airs her sister was putting on. "If only there was such a man for you Lizzy." Elizabeth merely smiled sadly, and turned back towards the fire.
Darcy stared moodily into the fire in his room. Elizabeth did not seem interested in him, she would not look at him when he escorted her inside. Once they were in the drawing room, she had moved over to the fireplace, turning completely away from him. She made no effort for conversation, answering his inquiries with short, quiet responses. She would not tease or laugh at him, she seemed as though she wanted nothing more than to be out of his company. He had left her when her sister had entered the room. He was holding a long dagger in his hands. The firelight was making the bright gems encrusted in the handle sparkle ominously. He absentmindedly stroked the blade, causing droplets of his own blood to appear on the almost iridescent silver. It went unnoticed. His resolution to leave at the end of the week remained steadfast in his mind. This time however, he could never come back.
Part II: The Assembly Hall
The following day, Sir William Lucas held a dance at the Assembly Room in Meryton. The whole town was abuzz due to a new arrival in the neighborhood. A Mr. Randall Faust had purchased Purvis Lodge (despite the dreadful attics), and would inhabit it for some time. He was four and twenty, and would inherit a large fortune from his father when he was twenty-eight.
The Bennet party arrived at the same time as the Netherfield party. Upon entering the room, Elizabeth was so disoriented by Darcy's proximity, that she had forgotten about the new arrival. Mr. Faust however had stopped short upon observing Elizabeth, and went directly to Sir William Lucas to obtain an introduction. Darcy had not made any motion towards Elizabeth to start a conversation, so she moved as far away from him as the room could divide them. She did not want him to think her silly for retaining feelings for him, since he had so apparently lost his for her.
Darcy had been watching Elizabeth since the moment she alighted from her carriage. She had glanced in his direction once, but he looked away, so she wouldn't think that he was staring. The moment they entered the room, Elizabeth put as much distance between them as the room could afford; she was too affected by him, and needed to clear her head. Darcy however, took this as a sign of indifference, or even dislike, and made no move to follow her. She stood watching the dance for several moments when Sir William Lucas, leading a young stranger, approached her. She suspected the stranger to be the Mr. Faust that her mother had been twittering about all morning. He had light brown hair and clear green eyes. He was tall, but not as tall as Mr. Darcy. Upon realizing the mental comparison that she had just made she silently chided herself while the introductions were being made.
"Good evening Miss Elizabeth! I trust you are well on this fine evening?"
"I am in excellent health this evening Sir William thank you."
"Splendid. May I have the honor of presenting to you Mr. Faust, Mr. Faust, this is Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
"It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Bennet," Mr. Faust said with a small smile and a gallant bow,
"Indeed sir, the pleasure is all mine." Sir William Lucas walked away with his customary " capital, capital."
"As it seems that you and I are both in want of a partner, would you honor me with the next?" his vibrant green eyes pleaded with her.
"I thank you sir, yes." At that moment, the current dance ended, and Mr. Faust led Elizabeth on to the floor.
Darcy watched the whole of this from his corner. When he saw the stranger, that she apparently had just been introduced to, lead her over to the dance he felt his hackles rising. The man made a comment to her, and was rewarded with a laugh. Her eyes sparkled in her mirth making him feel even worse.
"She didn't look like that when we danced at Netherfield," he mused to himself, "why, she practically bit my head off with her accusations of my 'treatment' to Wickham," he mused to himself. He moved over to where Mr. Hurst was emptying glass after glass of wine.
"Darcy, how are you? Damn tedious waste of an evening such gatherings are. Care to join me?"
"I think I will Hurst, tonight I think I will." He sank into a chair across the table and drained the glass that the servant handed to him in one large gulp. He placed it back on the table and tapped the rim.
Elizabeth finished her dance, and moved to obtain some refreshment. She noticed Darcy sitting with Mr. Hurst of all people. She watched him intaking much more wine then he ought.
"So he has become so bored with society in Hartfordshire that he doesn't care anymore about what kind of an image he presents to the public? That is oddly uncharacteristic of him," she thought remorsefully to herself when she was approached by one of the older Lucas boys, intent upon claming a dance. She gave the outward appearance of enjoying herself that evening, while in her heart she couldn't have more remorseful. She just kept saying to herself, "He doesn't love me." Partner after partner she smiled and laughed falsely, misleading all but those who knew her best.
Posted on Sunday, 1 December 2002
The morning following the ball found Elizabeth at her sister's house eating breakfast with her sister, and Mr. Faust at Netherfield. Bingley had found in Faust a disposition and temperament similar to his own agreeable one, immediately invited him to breakfast at Netherfield so he could know him better.
To the infinite irritation of Darcy, Caroline insisted on occupying his attention all morning. She seated herself by him during breakfast, and cleverly maneuvered the rest as to put as much space between Elizabeth and Darcy. She also seated Faust on Elizabeth's right, and Jane on her left so she would not distract Darcy. Throughout the duration of the meal, Darcy shot Caroline looks of pure venom that she interpreted as looks of ardent passion.
Elizabeth enjoyed Mr. Faust's company, and her sister too was always pleasant to be around; she could not help but miss the presence of a certain gentleman. She kept sneaking glances down the table at him. What she saw wrenched her heart in two. Mr. Darcy was listening attentively to the conversation of Caroline of all people. Was she that uninteresting to him? He did not even attempt to sit near her.
Darcy too was sneaking glances, though it was more difficult because Caroline was attempting to obtain his every attention; the gentleman in him wouldn't allow him to be rude. Before he entered the breakfast parlour, she had taken his arm and steered him forcefully to a seat away from Elizabeth. He glared at her, and she smiled and batted her eyelashes at him. "Good god this woman is a pain in the a**" he thought to himself, "How could she ever think herself above the Miss Bennets?" He was lost in his own thoughts, and his facial expression gave the appearance of attentive listening. It was at that exact moment that Elizabeth looked over at the pair.
After they finished the meal, the whole party adjourned to the drawing room. Jane applied to her sister for music; Mr. Faust and Darcy both thought at the same moment, to offer to turn the pages, but Mr. Faust being a little more spontaneous than Mr. Darcy, was quicker in his application. Elizabeth agreed, for she truly did like Mr. Faust, she wished however, that another gentleman asked first. Mr. Darcy stopped in his tracks, and turned to sit on the love seat, he instead changed direction when he saw Caroline run to settle near him, and went to go sit in a solitary chair. Caroline, slightly disappointed, excused herself saying she had to write a letter. Meanwhile, Elizabeth had led Mr. Faust to the pianoforte. She searched through some of the music, while making soft conversation with Mr. Faust. Darcy was too far away from them to overhear their conversation. Mr. & Mrs. Bingley were seated together on the settee, Jane was leaning against Bingley shoulder, and he had his arm around her. He murmured something in her ear, and she smiled gave a soft chuckle. They looked so in love, Darcy wondered if it could ever be like that between himself and Elizabeth. He looked at her sitting behind the pianoforte, she had finally selected a song, and was about to begin it. Faust was leaning on the armrest of her chair watching the music. It was very difficult for Darcy to watch the woman he loves to be enjoying the company of another man in close proximity.
Elizabeth's afternoon was pleasant enough, or at least it would have been had she not been tormented by Darcy. Mr. Faust left later that afternoon, he said that he would be leaving for London for several weeks for business. When he left, he kissed both Jane and Elizabeth's hands. Darcy watched him, and glared menacingly at his retreating back. When the front doors opened, it was apparent that it had begun to snow for the first time all season. Elizabeth smiled brightly, ran outside dragging Jane with her. Mr. Faust's carriage had already driven partway down the drive. A sputtering Jane followed her younger sister,
"But Lizzy it is freezing outside, and neither of us are wearing-"
"-Jane come on, It is snowing!" Darcy was further down the hall, turned and moved towards the entrance at the sound of Elizabeth's rich laughter. Bingley stood at the door still within the shelter of the house watching his wife and sister in law. Darcy stood next to him and watched the scene. Elizabeth was spinning around with her arms out stretched and her face upturned towards the heavens. Jane laughed and watched her sister for a moment before opening her mouth and trying to catch some on her tongue. Jane motioned for her husband to join her, and Darcy followed behind. A snowball fight ensued shortly thereafter, for the snow was falling pretty quickly. Fortunately for the women neither of them wore white, so the wetness of the snow made no difference, other than making them extremely cold. The fight began when Darcy, surprisingly enough, packed a snowball and threw it at Bingley. It caught the other three by surprise, for he was usually very reserved. Bingley returned the favor, and Elizabeth got Jane in the midriff, much to her surprise. Jane however had been putting up with Elizabeth's antics since she was four years old, was well versed in the art of snowball making, hit Elizabeth between her shoulder blades with deadly accuracy. The four were laughing and yelling, until Jane asked to return to the house, as she was getting very cold.
"Of course my love, how insensitive of me, you aren't dressed properly for weather like this," Bingley offered her his coat. Elizabeth knew that she would be in an incredibly awkward position if she did not act quickly. Darcy would be forced to offer her his coat, and she didn't want to trouble him, so she ran inside behind the Bingleys. Darcy followed behind admiring her appearance. Before she turned away from her, he saw her brightened countenance, and sparkling eyes. With her back turned he saw that her hair had been knocked loose by a snowball, and her gown clung fetchingly to her frame. He mentally kicked himself,
"Good god man, get a hold on yourself, she will never be yours." The realization stopped him in his tracks.
"Just four more days." he told himself, "four more days until I can end my suffering."
The rest of the evening passed very quietly on Darcy's part. Word had not reached him that Elizabeth would be staying at Netherfield for the night. The weather had gotten bad enough to make the roads untraversable. When Jane and Elizabeth entered the drawing room before dinner, a more beautiful sight was never beheld by Darcy's eyes. Elizabeth had to borrow one of Jane's gowns; due to the fact that her figure was slightly more voluptuous than her sister, the garment was close fitting, adding to her appeal. Her hair was still damp and the wispy curls that were left on her neck seemed to be there just to torment him. The information that he would be forever be out of her presence in four days time was at that moment unbearable. He prayed to god that by some miracle she would fall in love with him some time during the next four days.
When Elizabeth entered the room, her breath caught in her throat. Darcy was dressed in long black trousers, and jacket. The color seemed to lengthen his already tall frame, not to mention add to his appeal. His waistcoat was green with silvery threads that seemed to darken his eyes and hair. It also happened be the exact same color as Elizabeth's [Jane's]dress. I am going to have a talk with Jane about her maid, this is torturing me.
Dinner was announced, and Mr. Bingley offered his wife his arm. Darcy had nothing left to do except to offer Elizabeth his. When they entered the room, the Bingleys were facing them. They were struck by the same realization that how well Elizabeth and Darcy looked together. Then they realized that no matter how far along they were on the road to friendship, a union of love between the two seemed unlikely.
Jane and Lizzy were in the drawing room, speaking when the clock chimed indicating that the hour was ten o'clock. Darcy had been writing a letter to his sister, was wondering why Elizabeth had made no move to leave as it was getting quite late. She spoke suddenly interrupting his thoughts.
"Jane, you will forgive me, but I am extremely fagged, and wish to retire if it is not too much trouble," she stifled a yawn and awaited her sisters response.
"I second your sentiment. I too am going to retire. If you come with me I will get you settled." The sisters stood, Elizabeth stretched long and languidly moving her arms in a circle until they came to rest above her head. Darcy watched this little display with no little admiration.
"How I wish it was I who was going to retire with her in the evenings... RETIRE?! She is staying here..." his mind reeled "... God help me, I don't think that I can handle it... I will go mad knowing that the very subject of my dreams will be sleeping but a few door away under the very same roof." Elizabeth's mind was similarly engaged,
"I can't go home, there is too much snow, but how will I be able to stand being around him for so long? What a fix I have gotten myself into-" her thoughts were interrupted by her sister.
"Lizzy here is one of my nightgowns, and I'll show you to your chamber. Tomorrow morning, I will send a servant to you at 7:30 to help you dress, and then she will bring you into my chamber to have your hair done like we always used too."
"Jane that would be wonderful," she hugged her sister, "it is nice to be away from home, even for one night. Mother is getting worse now that she thinks Mr. Faust is being very attentive. This morning, she made Sarah tighten my corset, until I could scarce draw breath. I had her undo it as soon as she was out of the room."
"Well Lizzy, you know that you are more than welcome here at any time, day, or hour. If you ever need anything at all."
"Don't tell me that, or I might just move in, and then our mother will be over here every second of every day trying to make sure that I catch a man before it is too late." She then kissed her sisters cheek, and went to prepare for bed.
Darcy did not retire that evening. He waited until Bingley had gone up to bed, before discarding his waistcoat, cravat, and jacket. He sent them with a servant to put in his room. He knew that he would not be able to sleep with her so close; so he decided not to bother trying. He went into the billiard room and played a few games. He then moved back to the library in search of a good book. Despite Bingley's modest sentiments about the poor state of his library, and the scarcity of books, the library was in actuality of decent size. This was the result of Darcy, who had (to make things more convenient for himself and any other avid readers in the proximity) purchased a great deal of books that he enjoyed, so he would not have to continually remember to pack a large supply for his visits.
Elizabeth had lain a wake for several hours before deciding to go in search of a book.
"Fordyce's sermons should do the trick, for they always put me directly to sleep," she thought silently to herself. She tread lightly down the stairway, and cursed when her bare feet hit the cold floor of the entryway. She moved down the hall when she noticed a light coming from under the crack of the library door. "Someone must be up, it is probably Mr. Darcy, he is the only other one in this house who would think of coming downstairs for a book. This was a very bad idea."
Darcy had been settling down on the comfortable sofa with a book, when he was startled by the sound of a soft feminine voice cursing. He recognized it immediately. He hoped that she would not come into the library, for he was not properly attired, and at this hour, he didn't think that she would be either. He did not know how he would control himself. The library door's lock turned softly, and a white-clad figure stepped into the room. He spoke first obviously startling her,
"Miss Bennet," she jumped, and spun around catching her shawl together, placing her hand over her beating heart,
"Mr. Darcy," she said a little breathily, there was Darcy standing before wearing only his white shirt over his muscular torso. The top button was undone revealing the curly black hair on his chest. Darcy was trying so hard to not look at her scantily clad figure, he had not noticed the direction of her eyes. Let me tell you something about the nightgown that Elizabeth was wearing; Jane being a married woman with a husband to 'impress' owned different kinds of nightgowns that you would find in the dresser of a single woman. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, the nightgown that she was borrowing, although one of Jane's more modest, was still not suitable for a single woman accidentally meeting an unmarried-non-relative-male in the middle of the night wearing it. It also did not help that the man was violently in love, and very desperate. Well, unfortunate as all these circumstances were (unfortunate is in the eyes of the beholder) absolutely nothing happened. (disappointingly enough) Both parties exercised an almost Herculean amount of self-control. After a few more moments of awkwardness, Elizabeth found the desired book and returned to her room. As soon as Darcy was sure she was out of earshot, he let out a sob of anguish.
"Dear God why do I torture myself, why do I not put myself out of my misery right now?" he raced upstairs down the hallway, and towards his chamber. His blood was pounding in his ears, as he found the dagger, gleaming maliciously in the semi-darkness. He slowly slid it out of its sheath, and held it poised in front of his body...
...The dagger quivered in his trembling hand. He took a deep breath, preparing himself for his expiration. He suddenly dropped on to the floor, and sank to his knees beside it. He sobbed convulsively for a few moments. When he regained his control, he began thinking, "It would be selfish of me to do it now. How would Georgiana feel if she found out that I killed myself? What would become of her? She would end up marring a fortune hunter, who would take over Pemberley. She might seek to put her self out of her misery the same way. What about Bingley and Jane? It would be ungrateful of me to kill myself in their home; they might even receive the blame. I would not wish such an unhappy fortune on anyone. I will make arrangements to make Georgiana the sole heiress of my estate. I will instruct my steward to run it until Georgiana marries, and I will have Colonel Fitzwilliam, and his parents approve the match. Georgiana can stay with them until then. Then I will do it. I will end this."
Elizabeth heard quick footsteps in the hallway, and a the slam of a door, somewhere down the hallway. She got up and leaned her head out the doorway, and looked in the direction that she heard this exchange. The corridor was dark and silent, so she shrugged her shoulders, and went back to bed. She soon felt the hair on the back of her neck rise up, and she trembled slightly. She opened her book and began reading to calm herself. She could not rid herself of the feeling.
Darcy and Elizabeth were taking a walk together in the garden at Netherfield. It was a somewhat depressing atmosphere, all the plant life was brown and shriveled, and the sky was no particular shade of gray; neither noticed this as they were too lost in their own thoughts. Darcy was brought back to the present by a single gasp from the lady on his arm. Amongst a dried mess of thorns and branches, a single rose could be seen. The petals were a deep crimson, tiny velvet objects that were so frail looking, one was almost afraid of breathing too much, for fear of destroying it. It was a surprise to both who had not expected such a display. Elizabeth tried to move nearer, when her foot caught on an unseen root. She drew her breath sharply, and threw her hands around Darcy's neck as he caught her waist. She found her eyes inches away from his broad chest. She tilted her head upwards and found herself looking into his eyes. They both were overcome with embarrassment and were hastily making apologies while trying to get Elizabeth steadily to her feet. Once upright, she put her weight on her left foot and immediately cried out in pain. Darcy had caught her by her arm at her exclamation.
"Are you alright?" genuinely concerned.
"M-m-my ankle, I think I've twisted it," attempting to conceal her pain.
"I shall not have you put any weight on it," and he gallantly lifted her in his arms, and strode indoors. Once he had gained entrance to the front hall, he set her gently on her feet.
"I must thank you for that sir," and with that, she placed her hands on either side of his neck, with her thumbs right under his jaw line. Darcy felt his pulse quicken, as his grasp on her waist tightened. Her eyes were closed, and she was leaning towards him. Darcy mirrored her action and prepared for the wave of sheer bliss that was about to engulf him. His lips were inches away from hers; he could feel her breath on his face when suddenly he found himself kissing air. Startled, he opened his eyes to see his Elizabeth perched on none other than George Wickham's lap kissing him most ardently. They both looked up as if seeing him for the first time. The blackguard addressed her,
"Come my love, Gretna Greene awaits us!" He then proceeded to lead her to the door. Darcy tried to tell her of Wickham's character, but no words were coming out of his mouth. Wickham handed Elizabeth into the awaiting carriage, and turned to Darcy for a final word,
"As you see Darcy, I won in the end," an evil cackle escaped his lips before his form materialized into that of Mr. Faust. The man then leapt into the carriage as it took off.
"Elizabeth!" he cried into the empty winter morning. He awoke with a start.
Darcy groaned and sat up as bright sunlight filtered into his room. Exhausted from his outpour of emotions the previous night, he had fallen asleep on the floor next to his bed. After he lost consciousness, he had slumped onto the floor in front of him, his arm leaning on the dagger. He now had a cut across his palm that began only an inch from the inside of his wrist. He cursed and wrapped it in his cravat that lay on the bed where the servant had left it the night before. It was not a deep cut, but he was bothered by the fact that he could have died, if he had hit it an inch lower on his arm. He had not lost a lot of blood thankfully enough, but there was a small pool on the floor. He took the cloth that had been left for him near the washbasin, and mopped it up. He realized that the dagger was still out, so he quickly sheathed it and shoved it under his pillow. He also messed up his bedcovers slightly, to look as if they had been slept in. At that moment, his valet, Jenkins, entered through the servants entrance into his masters chamber. He saw his master holding his hand wrapped in a bloody cravat, and another bloody cloth by the wash basin. Jenkins was a loyal servant that had been serving the Darcys for thirty years. He not ask questions, but wordlessly tended to his hand, and took the soiled cloths to be washed. He returned with a clean cloth for the washbasin, before inquiring of his master,
"Shall I have a bath ordered for you sir?" Darcy did not respond, so he repeated the question. He received a vague affirmative in response, and left to do so.
The next morning in her sister's chamber, Elizabeth was unusually silent. Jane let her be for a few moments before turning to her sister with concern.
"Lizzy, are you well? You haven't been yourself lately, and I'm beginning to worry about you. Your behavior at the ball was very strange indeed. Is there something the matter, that you would like to talk to me about?" She turned back to the mirror, and watched her sister's face. Elizabeth did not dare tell Jane what was bothering her, for she may accidentally tell her husband who may tell his best friend. Her latest thought was that maybe Darcy never loved her at all. Maybe he only wanted her because she was the one thing he couldn't have, or the one unattached woman who was not interested in his wealth or position. She thought that maybe if she feigned indifference, she could win him back, but once she 'secured' his proposal, and displayed her returned affection, he would grow tired of her because she was no longer a challenge. "Lord what am I to do," she prayed silently. To her sister,
"I am perfectly well, I just haven't been getting enough sleep lately due to mothers antics. I shall be fine." Jane looked disbelievingly at her sister, before accepting her answer as a wish to not discuss, for the present. She then attempted to brighten her spirits.
"Well Lizzy, I have discovered that there is still too much snow on the roads to travel, and you will be 'stuck' here for another night. This is a perfect opportunity to rest from mother's antics."
"I suppose so."
The day was extremely uneventful. Darcy and Elizabeth were trying their hardest to avoid each other. They both were wallowing in self-pity, anger, frustration, and god knows what else. Jane and Bingley interpreted their actions as depression from being indoors too much, as both were proficient walkers. Elizabeth spent the day practicing Pathetique sonata on the pianoforte, and Darcy remained in his room preparing for his "departure." He was writing letters to everyone who he thought needed a letter containing all sorts of things he wished he had said, apologies for things he had done. They were to be dispatched right before he "leaves." He also wrote up a piece of paper saying that he was the only person at fault, and not to convict anyone for his undoing. Feeling extremely low, he decided to venture down to the library in search of something to take his mind off his troubles.
When he gained access to the room, he selected one of Shakespeare's comedies, and began reading. He heard strains of Elizabeth's playing every so often, and he would turn back to his book with even more determination. Every nerve in his body was crying out for him to join her in the music room. He was sitting very stiffly in the large armchair, his fingers curled around the edges of the book. He was sure that his fingernails were leaving impressions in the Lethe cover. The music stopped, and he breathed a sigh of relief. It would be easier to relax no that he was not being reminded of her presence. He suddenly heard footsteps outside the door, his pulse quickened, his breathing nearly stopped, and his complexion grew ghastly. Fortunately for him, the armchair was facing away from the door, and he had an extra moment to gather his wits together. He heard the door open, and the person enter, he then heard a noise that he did not expect to hear; the sound of a key scraping and turning in the lock. He immediately rose for two reasons: the first, to acknowledge her presence like the gentleman he was, and the second to give her the chance to unlock the door in case she thought she was alone. He was not prepared for what he saw. Instead of the beautiful face of his beloved, Caroline Bingley stood staring at him expectantly. Darcy was surprised somewhat relieved, and somewhat disappointed. He watched as Caroline took the small silver key and deposited it in the neckline of her dress. She then ran her tongue over her top lip while leaning against the door in what she thought to be a sultry manner.
"If you want the key, you are going to have to come get it." She then began walking toward him with slow "sensual" movements. Darcy stood frozen in horror/disgust. She stopped two inches away from his face, before kissing him hard on the mouth. Darcy could not make himself move. The hairs on her upper lip were annoying, and he could see the hideous shade of pumpkin out of the corner of his eye. His being held in hers and led to the top of her gown where one could see the ribbon that was tied to the key hanging out. Darcy tried to yell or cry out, but his voice didn't work. He awoke with a start. Darcy shook his head, and nearly gagged when recollecting the events in his nightmare. He poured himself a large glass of brandy and drained it in seconds.
"What and awful nightmare," he nearly gagged again. He poured another glass of brandy and finished it off. He felt that even though it had just been a dream, his mouth was still unclean.
Dinner that evening was as pleasant as present circumstances could possibly allow. Caroline was ill, and took her meal in her room; Mrs. Hurst joined her. Mr. Hurst was silent, for he was busily stuffing the food into his mouth as fast as he possibly could. Jane and Bingley were being almost over-cheerful in their conspiratorial attempt to lighten the moods of the other two. They were rewarded with a genuine smile from each during the meal. Darcy had not seen Elizabeth all day, and noticed her apparent depression. He assumed that she was mourning the absence of Mr. Faust, who, needless to say, had not returned since his departure. It would have been more difficult to discern his feelings, for he rarely smiled. If one looked hard enough they might take notice of the slight slump of his shoulders, and a weary look about his eyes. Elizabeth did look hard enough, and attributed it to the "business" that he attended to that day.
Soon after dinner Mrs. Hurst joined the rest of the party in the drawing room. She and her husband began a game of whist with Jane and Bingley. Elizabeth and Darcy were seated as far away from each other as possible, each pretending to read their book while in reality sneaking furtive glances at the other. After about thirty minutes of torture, a depressed Elizabeth retired for the evening. Darcy who was equally unhappy followed in suit soon after. There were now only two days left.
Posted on Sunday, 15 January 2006
Darcy lay in bed, absentmindedly gazing up at the embroidery on the tapestry above him. He sighed and turned over, squeezing his eyes shut and clenching the bedclothes in his fist.
“I cannot survive like this,” he muttered aloud, “she will never feel love for me, and I cannot torture myself in an existence without her. I will do it today, my affairs are all in order, Georgiana will be much better without me. I could never be the loving brother she requires, and I would risk driving her into my own depression- his thoughts were interrupted by voices outside his door.
“Lizzy, I have just been informed that the roads have dried substantially and you are free to return home -although you are also welcome to stay as long as you wish.” The response was too muffled for him to understand.
“I will wait,” he thought, “until she has left- he was again interrupted by Jenkins who had come to dress him.
The conversation at breakfast confirmed his previous overhearing. Elizabeth was to return to Longbourn just after tea. Darcy no longer cared about anybody’s opinions of him, and remained silent with his eyes fixed on her face through the whole meal. He was memorizing every detail. His heart beat sickly in his chest as he admired the slight dimple that appeared in her cheek when she smiled, and the way her nose wrinkled as she laughed. He closed his eyes briefly and imagined an intimate breakfast at Pemberley; he imagined her smiling at him, laughing with him, saying something for him, and for him only. When he opened his eyes, his breath caught as he saw her eyes gazing steadily back at him. Miss Bingley mentioned something that he ignored completely. Bingley and Jane stopped talking and looked at the pair. Darcy felt a prickling behind his eyes and a lump well up in his throat. He stood abruptly and mumbled his excuses to the table before he nearly ran from the room.
He rushed out of the house and to the stables where he bid the stable hand to fetch his horse. Once he mounted he pushed into a hard gallop and ran the beast until he reached a clearing. He dismounted and tied his horse to a tree and collapsed on to a nearby log. . He sobbed with all of the anguish in his heart, holding his face in his hands. He exhaled slowly and laid back on the log. He again saw himself at Pemberley and envisioned what life would be like had he not been a complete ass at Hunsford, had he exposed Wickham for all his wickedness, and had he treated her in a more gentleman like manner.
He laid there until the sun was almost directly overhead before he mounted his horse and rode back to Netherfield. Without a word, he returned his horse and went directly to his room. It was time. He rang for a servant and Jenkins appeared. Darcy handed him the stack of letters and instructed him to have them posted immediately. When Jenkins left, he began pulling the bedclothes off of the bed and piling them up to minimize the mess.
Jenkins, walked down the hallway and glanced down at the stack of parchment in his hands. He noticed that the top one was addressed to ‘Miss Elizabeth Bennett,’ and thought that he would deliver it directly to the lady ,as she had not yet left. He found Miss Bennet in the library, reading. He delivered the letter with a bow and left her
Elizabeth was not looking forward to returning home to her mother now that she had a prospective suitor, and therefore was putting off her departure as long as possible. Mr. Bingley had some trifling matters of business to attend to, and Elizabeth refused to leave Jane alone with his sisters. She also was hoping that Mr. Darcy would join them, although it seemed that he too had been away for the morning. She reflected upon the events at breakfast and wondered at his actions. She knew by now that he didn’t love her, and was very unsettled by the intensity of his stare. She sincerely hoped that he was not looking at her out of bitterness, and still desperately craved his friendship and good opinion. She was brought from her reverie when Mr. Darcy’s valet approached her and handed her a letter. She immediately recognized the pen and wondered why he should be writing to her if they were taking residence in the same house. She broke the seal and read.
My Dearest Elizabeth,
I love you. I apologize for the bitterness of my proposal in Kent, and I apologize for never treating you as you deserved. I know why you could never love me, and the thought became too agonizing for me to bear. I couldn’t live my life without you. I could not bear to think of how empty my life would be. I knew that one day I would hear of your engagement to another, an arrangement that I know that you will have made out anything but the deepest love, and I could not bear for that man to be somebody other then me. Pray, do not harbor feelings of guilt, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth, you are most certainly not to blame. This was entirely my choice, I am simply ending my suffering. It is my fondest wish that you may find happiness, and that you may one day find someone with whom you might share mutual regard. I will always be watching over you. Know that my heart remains yours forever.
A strangled cry escaped her lips and she ran out of the room. She crossed the entrance hall and mounted the stairs two at a time. She ran to his room and burst through the door…
Darcy had laid out all of the cloth he could find, to minimize the mess and trouble for Bingley and his staff. He unsheathed the dagger and held it in his hand. He knelt on the pile and closed his eyes, his lips moving in prayer. He had removed his jacket and waistcoat and felt the cold sharp metal against his abdomen. He took a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut when the door burst open.
“Fitzwilliam NO!” she cried upon seeing him. His eyes were opened wide in shock. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and her hair had come loose of their pins. Both their eyes traveled to the object in his hand. A spot of blood appeared on his shirt as the dagger slipped through his fingers. She rushed to him and knelt with him.
“Why are you doing this. I love you, I-I” She broke off. He winced and looked deeply into her eyes.
“Elizabeth-” he began after seeing the letter that she still clutched, “-don’t. Don’t say things to try to convince me out of this. I would rather you scorned me then professed feelings that were untrue.” He looked away. She took his face in her hands.
“Fitzwilliam, I am entirely in earnest. Your letter in Kent removed every prejudice I had set against you, it humbled me, I felt such remorse at way I treated you on that day for I realized that you really were among the best of men. Upon meeting you at your home I knew, the moment you walked in on that fateful day in Lambton that I loved you with all my heart and soul. I despaired in the thought that you would never wish to see me again, after learning of Lydia’s disgrace. I thought that you must have grown resentful to me after all the pain I must have inflicted upon you during our acquaintance.” She stopped abruptly and became frantic. She fumbled through the blanket and picked up the dagger in trembling hands. “I cannot live my life without you, but I cannot live knowing that you ended your life because of me.” She held the tip of the dagger up to her heart, when Darcy stopped her by wrapping his arms around her. He buried his face in her neck as he cried into her shoulder. His fingers wove their way through her hair, as he held her tightly.
“ I love you, my God, I love you” he whispered through his tears. She had dropped the dagger and after wrapping her arms around him, she was in a similar state. Her body relaxed for a moment against his before reality hit her and she pulled back sharply.
“I must fetch a doctor,” she scrambled to get off of her knees when he caught her wrist and pulled her back down with him, his voice quaking with emotion.
“Elizabeth, Elizabeth, shhh…” He was regaining his composure, “I am well, I do not require a doctor.” She looked at him, her eyes still wide in alarm. He lifted up his shirt to reveal that the source of the blood was a scratch that he had accidentally inflicted upon himself in his surprise at her entrance. Upon seeing that all was to be well, she threw herself back into his arms where they engaged in the deepest and most tender of kisses. Darcy looked at her breathlessly.
“Are these truly your feelings my love?” she nodded, her face still shining with tears. “Then wait a moment.” He stood and went into his dressing room. Elizabeth, trembling quite violently, stood and moved to sink onto the loveseat that was in front of the fireplace. Darcy returned and upon finding her thus, knelt before her, and took her hands in his.
“I am so deeply sorry my love, to have caused you this much pain. Your profession of love has caused the greatest feeling of joy to lodge itself in my heart. -you see how I am trembling from the happiness you have brought me- If you do, honestly love me, then will you consent to make me the happiest of men by consenting to be my wife?” As he said this, he slid the Darcy engagement ring on her finger. She, to affected to speak, stroked his cheek tenderly. It was all the response he needed. He moved beside her on the couch and kissed her with all the built up passion and longing that he had contained within himself in the course of the last year.
Darcy, with Elizabeth’s help got dressed and attempted to make his room orderly, to conceal all that had transpired. As he exited his room with Elizabeth, to go and get the letters before they were posted, she suddenly fainted from emotional exhaustion. Darcy caught her in his arms and took her to her bedchamber before calling Jane and sending for the apothecary. His concern was evident, but as Elizabeth awoke shortly, he thought it best if he maintained his distance until the situation worked itself out. He immediately remembered the letters that he sent to be posted, and retrieved them before any more damage could be done. He paced agitatedly outside the door of her room.
The apothecary emerged saying that she had simply received an emotional shock, and needed to rest quietly. He said that she would not suffer any ill effects, and should remain in bed until the next morning. Jane was next to enter her sister’s room, and remained within for a considerable length of time. Darcy, much relieved that he would not be loosing his beloved so shortly after she agreed to become his beloved, sat down outside her room and fell asleep with his lead leaning back against the wall. He awoke to find a concerned Mrs. Bingley shaking him.
“Mr.Darcy,” she looked at him, “are you unwell?” he smiled at her and stood, and taking her hand in his, kissed it.
“I am very well Mrs. Bingley, thank you, I assume that you have heard the news?” at this, Jane’s face broke into a wide smile. She hugged her future brother-in law.
“Lizzy told me that you are to be married. I admit, I was somewhat surprised, but I am convinced that you will be the happiest of couples!” Darcy was grateful for the fact that Elizabeth had not told her of the events that had occurred to get them to that point. He spoke again,
-Please Mr. Darcy, call me Jane,”
“Jane, I likewise insist on Fitzwilliam. I was hoping perhaps you would allow me, despite the impropriety, to speak with your sister?” he looked down sheepishly at his shoes.
“Fitzwilliam, you know that as mistress of this house I could not allow such behavior.” Darcy’s shoulders fell slightly, “however, I am returning to my husband downstairs, and will be thus blind to anything that occurs upstairs.” She smiled knowingly at him and walked away.
Darcy waited until she had descended the stairs before turning the lock and entering. Elizabeth lay on her bed with her eyes closed. He cleared his throat and she opened her eyes. She smiled at him and held her arms out to him. He pulled a chair close to her bedside and accepted her embrace.
“Elizabeth, I am so sorry to have inflicted this upon you.” His brows knit together, “I was desperate, but I was also being rash. I shudder to think of what I might have done had you not saved me…” she silenced him by pressing a finger to his lips.
“You frightened me, I was more frightened then I have ever been in my life, but, I am also happier then I have ever been in my life. Oh Fitzwilliam, I do love you so.” His heart melted with her words, but also knew that he had to be gentle, so he climbed over her in bed and held her in his arms instead.
“Fitzwilliam, you must allow that this is highly improper.” She smiled at him tenderly.
“After all that has happened today, I could give a damn as to what propriety will and will not allow. Besides, even if we were happened upon, and Jane has assured me that we will not be, what would occur? Bingley would insist that I marry you. I would marry you at this moment if I could.” He kissed her temple softly. “I love hearing you say my name, he murmured against her hair.” They remained in a similar state until the lady finally found sleep, at which point, Darcy tucked her in and left her room after leaving the lightest of kisses upon her lips.
The events that follow followed exactly as they ought. Mr. Bennet gave his permission after having a little sport at the expense of his future son-in-law, Mrs. Bennet’s delight could be perceived in all of the three neighboring counties. The engagement was not long, and at the beginning of it, Darcy rewrote all of those letters, but this time his words were bursting with his joyous news.
The rest of the story is well known. Darcy married Elizabeth and loved her more with every passing day of his life. And though Darcy always looked upon Elizabeth as being his savior, she knew that they had really saved each other with their love.