"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering." - Jane Austen
When I stirred, I looked up to find Mr. Darcy carrying me in his arms. The white horse sputtered in the distance. Had he saved me? We looked at each other, and he sent me a faint smile. I rested my head on his shoulder.
"You saved me?" I meant for it to come across as a sentence, but instead it came out a question.
"Why?" I asked sleepily.
"Should there be a reason?"
"Yes." I nuzzled into his neck, breathing in his scent. He tilted his head towards me in response. "No more talking, Miss Elizabeth," he breathed, "you need to gather your strength."
I sighed, "Fine."
I closed my eyes, and when I awoke, I was lying on a chaise lounge next to a fireplace with a blanket wrapped around my body. I looked up at the ceiling, which had a very intricate painting. The picture portrayed the tale of Cupid and Psyche. The story of Cupid and Psyche was a favorite of mine. It showed the strength of one woman who, against all odds, searched for the love of her life after being separated from him. In the end, love prevailed.
The room looked familiar, and I turned my head to see Darcy pacing the room back and forth. I was in the parlor room at Rosings. Everyone was here: Charlotte, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, Maria, and Anne. I squeezed my eyes as I tried to force the pain away. I groaned and turned to my side.
When Darcy realized that I had woken, he rushed to my side, "Are you better? How are you feeling? Why did you leave?"
I looked down and rubbed my forehead. The swelling on my head had a pulse that throbbed every time someone spoke. Lady Catherine spoke, "Fitzwilliam now is not the time for interrogating. Let the girl heal from this terrible accident, and then you may ask her about her foolishness."
Oh jeez, Lady Catherine. She could make anything sound like an insult.
Darcy turned towards Charlotte, "Was it your doing? Did you suggest she leave?"
I spoke up, "Mr. Darcy; she had nothing to do with it. It was I who wanted to leave."
"Why? Why did you want to leave?"
"Because," I shrugged, "I wanted to!"
"You wanted to leave?"
"That was the general idea, yeah," I smiled sarcastically.
He turned to the other people in the room, "I would like to speak to Miss. Bennet alone." Lady Catherine opened her mouth to protest. However, Darcy continued, "Please leave." After Mr. Darcy had dismissed everyone, much to Lady Catherine's chagrin, he closed the door to talk in private. He drew a chair towards my chaise and began, "I have struggled in vain, Miss Bennet."
"Let me guess," I pursed my lips, "you have struggled in vain, and it will not do because your feelings cannot be repressed."
"What? How did you-" Mr. Darcy looked puzzled, but, regained his composure, "I love and admire you, Miss Bennet. Most ardently."
I wanted to say yes. I wanted to throw my arms around his neck. But, I had my reasons for not acknowledging this declaration of love. First, if I accepted him now, he would never respect me because our marriage would not be mutual. Second, I was not Elizabeth Bennet.
"Miss Elizabeth," Darcy hesitated, "Could you forgive me?"
"I have...," Mr. Darcy trailed off. "I was wrong to separate Charles and Miss Bennet."
"Is it not too little too late?"
"Miss Bennet is not engaged?" Darcy asked.
"No, she is not."
"It was shameful of me. I beg your propitiation for it." He seemed like a little boy asking for forgiveness. He said, "Prove to me that I am forgiven," his eyes filled with hope and sincerity, "My sister, Georgiana, has want of company. You can stay as long as you wish, and we can leave now if you would like."
"Are you inviting me to Pemberley?"
"Yes, I am."
I was being invited to Pemberley by Mr. Darcy. Pemberley! I could not believe it. Mr. Darcy loved me. However, this lovely feeling was replaced with guilt when I reminded myself I was Amanda Price. I had outstayed my welcome and needed to go home before anything got complicated.