Posted on Thursday, 17 August 2006
The rain fell across the panes of the glass signalling the beginning of the winter, and the bitter cold that would come with it -- a resolute sign of time passing, and of moving forward into a new season of hope.
With the falling of the snow, there had come a renewed gratitude for the indoors -- long nights of dinner parties, balls, banquets...
Elizabeth Darcy, however, saw need to give up on her love of walking and often roamed the beautiful grounds of Pemberley, now covered in a fresh layer of sparkling, white snow that glistening and shimmered from every inch of the land. She always dressed sensibly, and so saw no reason for her to remain indoors if she could be used as warm outside.
She had woken to find the sun shining and had decided that, while her husband tended to business, she would spend the morning walking part of the way to Lambton. It seemed her journey was never meant to be, and she was stopped soon after she had left Pemberley by the sound of horse fast-approaching.
"I thought I might find you here" An all-too familiar voice called out, echoing through the glade hollow, causing a smile to grow across his wife's wife.
"And may I ask what you're doing cantering after young women, Mr. Darcy?"
"I had been informed you were walking this way"
"Your sources are then correct Sir"
"As it would seem" He stepped down off the horse, greeting her in less inconspicuous circumstances than when they had first met at Pemberley. Indeed, he greeted his wife in the only way a man violently in love can, and Elizabeth was left breathless -- her cheeks glowing.
"Lovely afternoon" Her husband commented, looking around him with feigned indifference and Elizabeth grinned as he took her hand in his, and they continued to walk side-by-side through the glade, "It is a lovely afternoon, is it not?" He asked when he received no reply. With a smile, she nodded.
"More so now I should imagine" She smiled up at him, her smile quickly gracing into a merry grin as she squeezed his hand tightly in her grasp.
"Yes" He agreed, admiring her not for the first time that day -- becoming lost in her gaze of admiration "Now that I am with you" Her whole face glowed, and she reached up to kiss him softly.
"Elizabeth" A smile played across his lips as he captured her own in a delicious kiss that caused her toes to curl and her heart to warm.
"Fitzwilliam" She whispered, breathless -- her cheeks flushed, her lips his favourite shade of red.
"I'm sorry. Had I behaved in a more gentlemanly like manner that would never have happened"
Mr. Darcy could hardly control his grin as he bent down to kiss his scowling wife.
It was just eight months later they took the same walk in divine sunlight, though Elizabeth struggled slightly. Her empire-line gown billowed around her growing waistline, yet her smile had not vanished -- her face glowing with a maternal radiance.
Her husband had never seen her more beautiful.
"I had no idea walking would become such a chore. Do you think perhaps it will pass Fitzwilliam, or that I shall be carrying your child forever?"
"Not forever my dear" He smiled as he pressed a kiss to her temple, "Until winter, perhaps"
"Should it not snow now?"
"If it were snowing now, I would not let you outdoors"
"Then I thank god for small mercies" Her husband laughed to himself as they continued to walk across the golden grass, with no particular direction nor intention on finding one.
"What shall we call our daughter sir?"
"Our daughter Madame? Or our son?"
"Call it a mother's instinct, if you will. But this child I carry is certainly a little girl, with your nose"
"And your eyes, I should hope"
"Yes, my fine eyes" She laughed softly, a sing-song laugh that filled his very soul and warmed his heart.
"Indeed" Grinning, Fitzwilliam appeared to look momentarily in thought and Elizabeth knew better than to interrupt his musings. In was moments later that he spoke with some understanding and clarity.
"Perhaps he may name her Maria?"
"Maria? Dear, what on earth inspired you to call our daughter such a name?"
"Then perhaps... Elizabeth, I am afraid I am no good at this sort of thing"
"No" With a soft laugh and a golden smile, she kissed him, "But you are still my husband, and I love you all the same"
The snow had all but cleared, leaving soft dew across the grounds of Pemberley. In the bursting morning sunlight, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy took a turn through the grounds -- their first real opportunity to do so in months.
Evelyn Darcy stirred in her mother's arms, but did not wake and her father, besotted by the tiny baby of just three months, immediately checked to make sure her blanket had not fallen from her.
"Is she sleeping still?"
"Of course" He puffed his chest, as though no child had ever slept so well before in the history of the world.
"Thank goodness. I thought she would never close her eyes again" Mr. Darcy laughed, and kissed his wife's temple.
"She is sleeping Elizabeth. We shall not be disturbed"
"Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?" His wife almost melted starring down at her infant daughter, and Fitzwilliam Darcy's heart nearly burst with paternal pride.
"Never. She is the most handsome of children"
"Yet perhaps not so quiet as her cousin"
"That, my dear, is surely a trait we can safely say she inherited from you"
"I am sure you are also to blame"
"Well, there are those who consider me very proud" Mirth tickled his lips as his face cracked into a grin. Her face, however, remained serious.
"What else must you expect from someone whose wife is just tolerable?"
From a drawing room on the third floor, Mrs. Darcy's maid smiled to herself as the happy young family continued their walk across the grounds -- Evelyn sleeping against her mother's chest, and Fitzwilliam's arms around his wife.
She was sure she had never seen a happier couple in all the land.