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Ephemera

February 02, 2015 05:30AM
Ephemera


Blurb: A brief sequel in which Darcy reflects on life, death and how dearly he misses his cherished wife.

“With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” - Pride and Prejudice, Volume III, Chapter 61

Fitzwilliam Darcy woke to the disorienting certainty that he was alone on the mattress. How long had it been since he opened his eyes and Elizabeth was not beside him? He reached for where she ought to be, but the space between the linens was cool and there was no indentation in the pillow. His eyes swept across the walls and he rolled onto his back, caught by momentary surprise that he occupied his room and not hers. A quarter hour passed while he stared at the ceiling and braced himself for the trying day ahead. Lying abed would not recapture the numbing forgetfulness of sleep, nor would it ease what must be faced.

The morning’s briskness made him shiver, but he rose and crossed to open the door to Elizabeth’s suite. Her counterpane was smooth, every article in her room undisturbed. Was it only days since she had gone? It felt like a lifetime.

Desolation seemed to dwell in the papered corners. He returned to his quarters and made to close the adjoining door, to seal the sensation away, but on second thought opened it again. Better to face difficulties with honesty.

His valet emerged from the dressing room. “You are awake, sir.”

Darcy did not chide him for stating the obvious. What else should the man say under the circumstances?

“Shall I ring for a tray, sir?”

“Thank you, no, Franklin. I find that I have no appetite. If you would see to my toilet, I should like some time at the church in advance of the service.”

“Of course, sir. I have your water at the ready.”

Darcy preceded his valet into the dressing room and yielded to his comforting ministrations, grateful for the sense of normalcy that accompanied them. After patting his face dry, he picked up the shirt laid out for him and pulled it over his head, careful not to tear the fine lawn.

Franklin reappeared with a black neck cloth and frock coat. The color, the fine wool, the stark formality stirred a memory, though the occasion could not have been more disparate.

“It is good to see you smile, sir.”

“What? Oh,” Darcy chuckled, sorrow shading his humor, “the coat reminded me of when I first met Mrs. Darcy. Should you like to hear the account?”

“Certainly, if you are equal to the telling.”


***


Low voices murmured in the nave, but Darcy could not make out the words. They would come for him when it was time. For now his heart could mourn in silence. The kneeler was unyielding against his shins, the pew’s edge before him sharp through his coat sleeves. He did not mind. The discomfort forced reality into the dreamlike haze that descended on the hours since her passing.

It seemed impossible she was gone, that her laugh would no longer ring, that he would never again behold her face soften with tenderness or grow serious with insight. He shook his head. He had known her for so few years, but consideration for the future must come later.

And the children. He could not think of the children, not when his memories were so intimately connected to that grief, the bright nights he dreamed of Mother and the dark mornings he woke to find her gone. Compassion squeezed his breast. He would do what he could to help them, when they were ready, when he was ready.

He inhaled the cool, damp air and on it rode something sweet, a faint scent redolent of spring hills and honeyed gardens. And Elizabeth. His eyes sprang open and the sensation passed. Overhead light played across the altar, gleaming from the fair linen and unlit candles.

He sat back against the bench and rested his Prayer Book on the pew before him. The thin paper rustled in the vast sanctuary. He found the Order for the Burial of the Dead and paused to run his fingers over the words. The rector would recite them again soon, but he did not wait.

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.

The final phrase repeated in his mind, over and over, until peace began to steal through his soul. He would never concede it was for the best, but they were not left comfortless.

“Darcy?”

He started and looked to the figure standing near the box’s door.

Bennet waited with upraised brows. “Gardiner and Phillips have arrived.”

Darcy inclined his head and moved to follow. Their footsteps echoed from the aisle’s paving stones.


***


The carriage halted before his townhouse and it seemed another man went through the motions of disembarking, thanking the coachman, mounting the front steps and pausing in the foyer to be divested of hat and glove, cape and cane. Little voices did not drift down the wide staircase.

“Where are the children?” Darcy addressed his housekeeper.

“Resting in the nursery and their rooms, sir. We thought it best, given the circumstances. They were overwrought.”

Overwrought. He understood precisely and, for now, rest was what they needed most.

“It is early yet, but might I order luncheon to be served in the small parlor?” She was all solicitude.

“Perhaps later, Mrs. Abbott. I think I too shall rest awhile. It has been a taxing few days.”

She beheld him with kindness and dipped her head. “Of course, sir.”

His leaden feet plodded up the stairs and he closed himself into the privacy of his chambers. The adjoining door to his wife’s suite stood open as he had left it. He tugged at his neck cloth and passed through the doorway.


***


Darcy paused near the table that held Elizabeth’s writing desk. He recognized an ink stain and faint traces of her handwriting impressed in the leather. The whorls of burled wood beckoned him, pulling him into the memories like a vortex.

“It is gorgeous, Fitzwilliam,” Elizabeth said, delight wreathing every feature. She opened the desk and exclaimed over the carefully stocked implements and neatly trimmed stack of hot-pressed paper distinguished by her initials.

Was there any satisfaction greater than making her happy? He smiled. “I am pleased you like it.” He looked to his sister where she sat smiling as well. “Georgiana selected the wood.”

“It reminded me of rosebuds,” his sister added.

Elizabeth turned the desk to examine the grain more closely. “Yes, I can see that. How attentive of you to remember, Georgiana.” She looked between him and his sister. “I shall treasure it always and think of you whenever I use it, which shall be quite often.”

Georgiana ducked her head, her cheeks pink. She was not yet accustomed to Elizabeth’s forthright charm.

What had Elizabeth written about that first Christmas together at Pemberley? “If all the world could witness the comfort and elegance of our family party, they might know what is true felicity.”

Darcy looked more closely at her desk. It was a little worn not only from use but also from the travels between Pemberley and London. How many letters Elizabeth had occasion to exchange and how well she had entertained him with her spirited rendition of the contents.

“Fitzwilliam, listen.” Elizabeth’s voice was bright with anticipatory laughter.

He looked up from his ledger for the countless time and could not be irritated with her interjection. Had he not invited her to join him and did he not revel in her company even if it meant they were merely at their tasks in the same room?

“Charlotte writes that Lady Catherine advised Mr. Collins to attend better to the length of his sermons, in consequence of which he has had installed the most ridiculous clock at the rear of the nave.” She paused and looked up.

“I can well believe it,” he said.

“She goes on. Here”--she tapped the paper--“the problem is that not only does the loud ticking disturb the congregation, but Mr. Collins cannot see the distance while wearing his spectacles so he is interrupting his homily every other minute in order to remove them and squint at the time. Except his vision is little better without them. Can you even imagine it?”

“I am not sure I would wish to.”

She dropped the letter in her lap and lowered her pitch in imitation of a male voice. “As St. Matthew writes, ‘They shall see the Son of Man coming in’--pardon, pardon,” she squinted her eyes, wrinkled her nose and regarded the mantel clock for a lengthy, awkward pause, “ah yes, please accept my apologies for the disruption. We have a few minutes yet. Now where was I?” She glanced around the room in feigned perplexity.

“The return of Christ?” He offered with a smirk.

“Ah yes, thank you, thank you,” she continued in a deep voice, “much obliged, kind sir. ‘He was coming in the clouds of heaven,’ that is correct, ‘with power and great glory.’ Pardon, pardon--” She tried to squint again, but merriment dissolved her serious aspect.

He could not help but be humored by her mimicry.

“Not at all what your aunt intended, I dare say.”

“I doubt it is as bad as all that,” he said.

“Charlotte is not one to exaggerate.” She arched a brow. “Shall we take a trip into Kent to discern the truth for ourselves?”

He wondered if any of the recipients likewise kept her letters to reread and delight once again in seeing the world through her eyes. Perhaps Jane, though her correspondence with Elizabeth had fallen off somewhat once the Bingleys removed near to Derbyshire, or perhaps Georgiana, though she was much occupied with her own husband and establishment.

Or perhaps Aunt Gardiner with whom Elizabeth had maintained faithful contact. His breath caught in his throat as he considered all the letters Elizabeth would never write again.


***


Darcy lifted his gaze and beheld the framed miniatures that he had commissioned for Elizabeth as a birthday gift, now artfully grouped on the wall above the table. The Bennets, Phillips and Gardiners suspended in simple pencil, right down to the youngest child, brought to mind that heavy colorless morning in Longbourn’s drive.

Fog hung thick enough that Darcy could just discern the final carriage, his own as it happened, since he preferred to travel last and keep those in his care within view. Bingley’s coach stood opposite at the head, rocking gently, probably from the antics of his eldest son. Next followed Gardiner’s two vehicles--the family was coming to Pemberley for their annual summer tour--and a fifth chaise for the newly wed Robinsons who would continue on to the Lakes.

Coachmen and footmen waited in silence, grooms crooned patience in the horses’ ears, and the dense vapor muted the noise of creaking harnesses and stamping hooves. Darcy surveyed the caravan as well as those gathered on the drive. Husbands conversed in pairs, the Bennet daughters were queued to farewell their mother, and children darted like a school of minnows among the adults. This was his family now. It surprised him that he did not mind.

His sigh prompted Mr. Bennet to speak. “I can imagine what you are thinking.”

Darcy only smiled.

“I cannot decide whether to be sorry for you that you will have your home overrun, or sorry for myself that you take with you the last shred of sense I shall hear until Michaelmas.”

Catherine had left no one in doubt of her delight over joining Mary on her wedding trip and the extended visit to Pemberley that was to follow, but Darcy wondered how the elder Bennets would manage without any offspring at home.

“You know that you are always welcome at Pemberley, sir, should you find Longbourn too tranquil--or the reverse.”

Bennet chuckled. “Yes, no doubt I--”

“Oh! How I do envy you! What a merry party you shall be,” cried Mrs. Bennet, her voice pealing over all other conversation, causing a horse to snort its complaint and drawing Darcy’s notice.

Jane’s mouth moved in reply and she gestured as if to hasten the adieus.

Mrs. Bennet turned to Mary, her hands fluttering about her daughter’s bonnet and plucking at her traveling dress. “Mrs. Robinson--how well that sounds--four daughters married! If you meet with any young gentlemen in the north that might suit Kitty--”

Catherine interjected with a reproach, if the expression on her face were any indication. Darcy could not resist a fleeting smile. There was a time when she would not have protested.

A brown blur flashed past and Darcy spun to see his wife racing, skirts upraised, in a most unladylike fashion toward their carriage. The groom was attempting to settle a new gelding that was dancing between the traces and upsetting the team. Knowing Elizabeth’s aversion to horses, it seemed odd that she should join the fray.

“Mrs. Darcy.” He pitched his voice to carry without further alarming the animals and strode after her.

She disappeared into the ashen haze behind their lurching coach. Anxiety for her safety seized him. She might be crushed by the erratic movements and his surest aid would be to assist with the horses. He rushed forward, grasped the bits of the lead pair and forced his fear into abeyance that he might calm them. His efforts were sufficient for the groom to regain control of a third fractious animal. But where was Elizabeth?

Darcy released the bridles and was moving to seek for her, when she reappeared on his far side with the Gardiners’ youngest son in her arms, his blonde head pressed into her shoulder and his legs wrapped around her waist.

Elizabeth was breathing hard and Darcy could see the staccato beat of her pulse at her neck.

“Here, allow me,” he said and relieved her of the child.

“Robert!” Mrs. Gardiner’s voice sailed from behind and the next moment she lifted the sniffling boy from Darcy. “Robert dear, look at you, but what has happened?” She rubbed a smudge of dirt from his nose and cheek.

“He was playing near the carriage wheels, Aunt,” said Elizabeth, “but Mr. Darcy was able to still the horses.”

“How can I thank you, sir?” Mrs. Gardiner said as she tousled her son’s hair. “You have saved my sweet boy.”

“Not at all, it was--”

Elizabeth’s fingers on his forearm arrested his speech and her eyes begged him to cease.

“I do apologize,” Mrs. Gardiner said with distracted sincerity and turned again to her son. “Come, Robert, it was very naughty of you to run off from Nurse. Now you must wait in the coach and shall not have any biscuits from the hamper.” Robert whimpered and she moved away, comforting and scolding in turn, until her voice dissolved in the mist.

Darcy addressed his wife. “Are you well?”

“A little shaken, but unhurt.”

He watched her examining a tear in the hem of her soiled dress and he snatched her hand. “But you are hurt! Your glove is torn and you are bleeding.”

“Oh,” she exhaled, “and you just bought me these gloves too.”

He withdrew a clean linen to press against the wound. Her hand trembled a little within his and he secured the makeshift bandage with his thumb. His jaw clenched. Perhaps it was better not to consider the risk she took or how narrowly she evaded serious harm.

“It could have been worse,” she said as if reading his thoughts, “but it was not. Let us be grateful for that.”

He accepted her rebuke and slipped his free arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. His hand stroked her upper arm as much to console her as in his own relief.

“You were very brave, my dear,” he said. “I admire your presence of mind in acting swiftly and without panic, but let us also be truthful. It was you who rescued Robert, not I.”

“I did not desire the commotion such an acknowledgment would surely have invoked.” Rosiness was climbing back into her cheeks and she smiled. “Besides, neither was your intervention a falsehood.”

“I will not debate you on this, but I do fear it is becoming a pattern.”

“What is?”

“That you bring all the good to our marriage, but I must bear all the credit of it.”

She leaned further into him and lifted her face beneath her bonnet rim to meet his gaze. She laughed and disclaimed, but her eyes lit with a pleasure that dispelled the fog and melted his soul.


***


The memories reignited yearning for her nearness, for this woman he respected and admired, loved and cherished. Darcy turned away from her desk, only to be greeted by the sight of her broad bed and lustrous counterpane. In his mind’s eye, he recalled the rumpled bedclothes as they had been that first morning.

Darcy reached for his bride, but his arms closed on emptiness even though she spent the night in his embrace. He sat up and blinked at the bright flooding her bedroom. He had slept much later than usual.

She stood before the window overlooking their townhome’s rear garden. Morning sun shone through her nightdress, haloing her in light, and her hair tumbled down her back. She was glory breathed to life. No wonder their vows termed it worship.

“Elizabeth?”

She rotated, her arms folded tight across her chest, her gaze on her feet.

He expected teasing and wit, joy and charm, not this. “You seem troubled.”

“No, Fitzwilliam, it is only--” She met his eyes for an instant before turning away. “All is well.”

“You are not well. Come back to bed.” He patted the wrinkled linens. It troubled him to see his beautiful wife unhappy and on the happiest morning of his life, no less.

She did not move.

He sighed and pushed the counterpane aside, intent on fetching her, but she spun and hurried toward him.

“No, wait--please,” she said, “I will join you.”

He pulled his legs back under the cover, grateful for the warmth. She slipped in to sit beside him, eyes averted and arms wrapped around her bent knees. What a contrast to the maiden who yielded to his arms the night prior.

The cold made him shiver and he slid down to recline under the coverlet. “Suit yourself, my dear, but it is much too cool to sit exposed.”

She glanced at him again, this time with a hint of a smile, and her eyes lingered longer before darting aside. He assessed her sudden high color and was forced to suppress a chuckle. By the firelight’s ardent blaze, Elizabeth had loved him with breathtaking relish. But in the revealing light of day, his intrepid wife gave every appearance of being discomposed. A challenge easily met. He smiled.


***


Darcy tore his eyes from the bed and from the recollection. Nothing could supplant that memory. Their wedding night was sweet and precious for its anticipation and newness, but the intimacy of their married life was succor to his soul, sweeter, richer and more satisfying with each successive year. It was true they had shared relatively few years, at least compared with a marriage the duration of the Gardiners, yet how many memories those years produced.

He swept his palm over the silken spread and stopped before the little side table that held several treasured articles, among them a framed charcoal sketch. Sketch was an overstatement; scrawl was more apt and in his hand no less. He had chided her for keeping it, but the sight pleased him now. He traced a finger along their initials and the misshapen heart, the product of a long afternoon spent in Pemberley’s library.

“Fitzwilliam,” Elizabeth said.

“Hmm?” He lifted his attention from the volume in his hand. His wife balanced three steps up a sliding ladder, her eyes traveling over the book spines as rapidly as her fingers. He resisted telling her to remain on the floor and have a care for their unborn child.

She ceased her search and turned her head toward him. “Tell me about your family.”

“What do you wish to know?” He closed his book and set it on a nearby table.

“Your family--your ancestry.” She climbed down and approached. “I have met Lady Catherine, Colonel Fitzwilliam and all your living relatives, and you have spoken of your father and mother, but I should like to know more of your family history, of the generations that preceded you.”

“Do you think to gratify my feelings in this?” He smiled. “For surely such a dry and dusty topic is of little interest to you.”

“No, truly, my love.” She knelt before him and took his hand between hers. “Your family is mine now and I should wish to understand”--she glanced up at him from the corner of her eyes--“that I might properly educate our children.”

She was teasing him, but with that same sweetness that initially won his heart. He was undeniably pleased and warmth radiated through his chest.

“Come,” he said and raised her to stand as he likewise gained his feet. He led her across the room to a writing desk where he withdrew a full sheet of foolscap along with one of his sister’s forgotten charcoals and began sketching his family tree. He might have pulled any number of documents, but he worked from memory, giving accounts as he went.

Elizabeth sat beside him in rapt attention, asking questions, sometimes bubbling with amusement or silent with shock. The butler interrupted to query if they wished dinner served in the library. They did.

On they pressed until by the genial glow of lamplight and the crackling of the fire, he finally added her initials with a flourish and joined her name to his.

“There you have it, my dear, in all its gruesome glory,” he said with not a little anxiety for her opinion. “What do you think now of the family into which you have married?”

“I think,” she said, her hand rubbing unconscious circles below her waist, “that I understand you better.”

“Do you?”

“Yes, and I think our son should count himself very fortunate to be born into such a heritage.”

He leaned forward and kissed her. “And all the more fortunate to be born to such a mother.”


***


Darcy turned his attention from the sketch to the silver filigree box that rested beside it. He had no desire to open it, but his hand moved of its own accord. The hinges resisted and he thought he was spared, but then the lid released. His forefinger reached in almost reflexively but stopped short of touching the embroidered linen nestled in its depths.

Elizabeth’s guess about the gender of their first child was correct.

Their firstborn’s image rose unbidden in all his miniature precision: the little nose that never inhaled breath, the delicate fingers that never gripped his own, the veined lids that never lifted to reveal his eye color. And the thick downy hair, dark like all the Darcys, several strands of which were hidden within the linen folded before him--the same handkerchief that was to have been employed at his christening. Their son. Their beautiful son. Too young even to warrant a service in acknowledgment of his unlived life.

Darcy straightened and swallowed. He thought of their second son, born even earlier, and then a third confinement, none of which Elizabeth brought to birth. Disappointment constricted his chest and flared his nostrils.

Bingley had sired two strapping boys by then, and Darcy still bristled to recall Mrs. Bennet’s thoughtless comments and comparisons.

Elizabeth donned a brave face for him, assuring him as much as herself that they must not lose faith, but it was a dark time for her. For them both. It might have driven them apart had they succumbed to guilt or blame, had they not found comfort in loving and being loved. He would never have chosen tragedy for their lives, yet it had tested and proven their marriage like a smithy’s forge. In suffering together, he had come to know Elizabeth as he might never otherwise have known her.

He smiled and closed the box. They had shared the darkest moments--and the brightest.

“Please sit with me.” Elizabeth patted the edge of her bed. The candles were extinguished, the curtains thrown back and winter’s first light was spilling through the windows. She smiled. “I am not made of porcelain. You need not fear I will break.”

Purple crescents were conspicuous beneath her lashes and damp brown hair clung to her temples and neck, testimony to her difficult labor. Her eyes were dimmed somewhat by fatigue, but focused on him with a quiet tenderness that he was more accustomed to seeing in her elder sister.

Darcy lowered himself slowly, careful not to disturb the newborn child sheltered in his arms.

“I hope you are not disappointed,” Elizabeth said.

He studied the pink lips pursed in sleep and the lone fist that escaped the swaddling to rest near her cheek. She was as bald as the snow-shrouded fields and every inch as beautiful as her mother.

“Never,” he said, his fingertip tracing the arch of one tiny dark eyebrow. “I could not be more delighted if she were a son.”

Love welled in him, fierce and passionate, this time undiminished by sorrow, such love as he had never felt for anyone but his wife. Was this what it meant to be a father? He inhaled, forcing back the mounting emotion, and pressed his lips to his daughter’s velvet brow.

When he raised his head, Elizabeth was still watching him, the sunrise mirrored on her wet cheeks. She extended her fingers and he reached to grasp them. Their eyes held.

What more could he say? How could he find words for the wonder that caught them in its wake and swept them on a current of joy?


***


Darcy sighed and turned aside from the objects that prompted his memories. In the darkness, light. In the sorrow, joy. They were not left comfortless. An image formed in his mind. Three pairs of little hands united in a whirling circle with their mother, Elizabeth’s head thrown back in laughter, her eyes closed and the flowers woven into her hair strewing across a limitless lawn in a radiant shower of color. His Elizabeth. His bride, the companion of his heart, the mother of his children. Not a day went by that he had not paused to murmur a soul-deep prayer for the gift and miracle of life.

It was easier to remember, to dwell on all that was past than to consider the future. What would life be like without her presence? To wake alone each morning and retire alone each night. To read the news with no one to laugh at the odd bits or a book with no one to debate its merits. With whom would he confer about the estates and their family? He depended on her like an artesian spring of insight and advice. She brought good sense and levity, moderated the discipline he would have imposed, helped him understand the children. Would the halls still echo with music and gaiety? Who would pry him from his study for picnics and pleasures, outings and adventures? How could he ever make his way in society again without her by his side to nudge him into conversation and induce a smile?

The days stretched endlessly before him, unfurling in a long line of loneliness. An ache erupted in his heart with such force that he bowed his head against his knotted fists and groaned. How would he go on without her? How could he rise each day and keep living in the death hold of such agony? His breathing grew ragged. He dropped onto the edge of the bed and covered his face with his hands.

How long he sat like that he did not know, but when he raised his head and looked about the light was little changed. The pain and ache were muted and he sat motionless.

The thought stole into his mind quietly, the way dawn fingers the night with its first feeble glimmers. Even if he must lose her, she had changed him and her imprint was indelible. He was more patient and kind. He would always be quiet and reserved, that was his nature, but he laughed more and engaged others with greater freedom. Perhaps most importantly, she had slain his pride, or at least that of it which deserved to die. To listen and observe before forming a judgment and to soften his judgments with generosity and mercy was perhaps his greatest victory. All this and more was her legacy, a bequest he must impart to their children. His heart expanded with gratitude.

He was under no illusion that when the time came he would escape grief’s debilitating effects, but he was in error to think he could not go on without her, nor would it be a fit tribute. No, when sorrow’s breakers had rolled over him and passed, to honor Elizabeth would be to find joy and seize it with both hands even if it only ran through his fingers like the ocean. Eventually he would learn to hold it again.


***


A growl emanating from the vicinity of his mid-section urged Darcy to his feet. He could not recall eating since last night’s supper. He smoothed the bedcover and stepped toward his chambers that he might call for a tray.

The latch rattled behind him and he paused to face the door. Elizabeth stood beneath the lintel, her beloved face softened with sorrow, her fine eyes shadowed with weariness. He opened his arms and she flew into them. They held each other, solaced each other, as they had through so many losses, as they would through more to come. If he held her tightly enough, perhaps nothing could ever wrest her from him. He studied her face pillowed against his chest, her sweeping ebony lashes, her pale cheeks, her lips compressed with grief, and he stroked her back. How dear she was to him.

In time she opened her eyes and wiped the tears from his cheek.

“I am glad you are returned,” he said, his voice thick. “I did not expect you so soon. How is your sister?”

“As unruffled as Jane always is, even after a long travail.” She smiled. “You may boast of your first niece.”

“That is exceptional news. And Bingley?”

“As proud a father I have yet to meet. Excepting you, of course.” Her smile faded. “How is my uncle?”

“He is bearing up as well as can be expected, but I think the truth has yet to sink in.”

“You do not mind if we keep my cousins for a while?”

“Of course not.” He trailed a hand along her neck and shoulder, pulling her tighter against him, wanting the consolation of her closeness. “It seems a strange mercy that your niece should come into the world just as your Aunt Gardiner was leaving it.”

“They have chosen to name her Margaret.”

“A suitable homage.”

“I am sorry I had to be away at such a time.”

“It has made me dwell on what you mean to me, of all we have shared over the years, of what I might feel were I to lose you.” His voice caught.

“This will never do. We ought to remember the past as it gives us pleasure.” She patted his chest. “Only you would grieve in advance of what has not yet occurred.”

“But if it does--”

“Not if, my dear, but when.” She sobered. “For one of us must precede the other into glory.”

“And you reprove me for being premature.”

“No, but in all sincerity, is life more than a breath? Are we anything more than a loan, to be treasured for as long as we are given?”

“Precisely.” His fingers explored her hair, her temple, the delicate curl of her ear as if he had not seen her for months. “I want to treasure every moment with you and with the children. I want to voice the words I contemplate with frequency and rarely say. I never want you to be in doubt of how highly I regard you, how grateful I am for you, for all that you are in my life--”

“You are the very best of men and the most worthy husband.”

“Elizabeth--dearest--”

She looked at him in expectation and every cherished memory coalesced in her eyes.

“What I am trying to say and not very fluently is that--” He rested his palms on her shoulders and earnestly searched her face, willing her to understand he spoke from the depths of his soul.

She rose on tiptoe and joined her warm, soft lips to his, kissing him neither with the passion of lovemaking nor the familiarity of the breakfast table, but with the unhurried belonging that gave herself completely and claimed him as her own.

When she released him, his throat constricted around his words.

“I know, Fitzwilliam.” Her cheeks rounded with a tender smile. “I know, and I love you too.”


***
SubjectAuthorPosted

Ephemera

Renee BFebruary 02, 2015 05:30AM

Re: Ephemera

EvelynRoApril 01, 2015 05:20AM

So moving! (nfm)

IasantFebruary 28, 2015 10:38PM

Re: Ephemera

Suzanne OFebruary 20, 2015 04:07PM

Re: Ephemera

Renee BFebruary 21, 2015 04:13AM

Re: Ephemera

Suzanne OFebruary 22, 2015 03:17PM

Re: Ephemera

Lucy J.February 07, 2015 06:01AM

Re: Ephemera

JoannaFebruary 06, 2015 07:41AM

Re: Ephemera

jancatFebruary 04, 2015 04:54PM

Re: Ephemera

TarynFebruary 04, 2015 12:19PM

Thank you! (spoilerish)

Renee BFebruary 03, 2015 04:51PM

Re: Thank you! (spoilerish)

Maria VFebruary 04, 2015 08:17AM

So did I (nfm)

LisaYFebruary 06, 2015 08:38PM

another interpretation

Renee BFebruary 04, 2015 04:27PM

Re: another interpretation

LisaFebruary 04, 2015 11:05PM

Re: Ephemera

KimberlyFebruary 03, 2015 03:37AM

beautiful!!!! (nfm)

LisetteFebruary 02, 2015 09:03PM

Re: Ephemera

Sarah WaldockFebruary 02, 2015 08:38PM

Re: Ephemera

ShannaGFebruary 02, 2015 04:55PM

Re: Ephemera

AdelaideFebruary 02, 2015 04:50PM

Explaining the title

Renee BFebruary 02, 2015 06:35PM

I'm so glad I asked!

AdelaideFebruary 02, 2015 07:01PM

Re: I'm so glad I asked!

Sarah WaldockFebruary 02, 2015 08:39PM

Re: Ephemera

kberlinFebruary 02, 2015 03:38PM

Re: Ephemera

gioFebruary 02, 2015 03:07PM

Re: Ephemera

MariFebruary 02, 2015 01:43PM

Re: Ephemera

LisaYFebruary 02, 2015 02:44PM

Re: Ephemera

Renee BFebruary 03, 2015 04:56PM

Re: Ephemera

StarryFebruary 02, 2015 09:07AM

Re: Ephemera

LucieFebruary 02, 2015 05:58AM



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