Arrivals and Apologies
Dinner began as the quite affair it usually was. I could tell that Elizabeth was content, as her eyes were bright. I wished to tell her about the letter, but I also knew it would break her heart to know what her new relations thought of her.
I mentally shoved the problem aside and continued to eat in silence, until Elizabeth herself broke the silence.
"Fitzwilliam, what is the matter? You have not spoken two words together to me all day."
"Nothing is the matter, but I would like to speak to you about something in private after dinner." I replied.
"Of course." She replied with a nod.
Georgiana next began to speak about the townspeople and their lives for the rest of the dinner. The conversation was of little consequence, as I paid next to no attention to it, as my mind was focused on how to tell Elizabeth about the letter without upsetting her too much.
As promised, I escorted Elizabeth to the privacy of the garden before speaking.
"Elizabeth, do you remember my aunt, Lady Catherine?" I began, not knowing how else to begin this difficult conversation.
Up until this point, we had been walking, but now Elizabeth turned to face me.
"Of course I do. How could I forget her and her-" Elizabeth broke off, blushing. I had an idea of what she was going to say, mainly including ideas about my aunt's manners and dealings with Elizabeth.
"Well," I inhaled sharply before continuing, "She wrote to me recently." There, I had said it.
"Oh," Elizabeth looked a bit confused but continued, "I thought that you were not in touch with her anymore."
"I thought the same," I smiled ruefully, "however this is clearly not the case."
"Did she write pleasantries to you or was it more hostile?" Elizabeth asked.
"Honestly, I never thought she would be so insulting." I replied angrily.
Elizabeth squeezed my hand supportively.
"It's alright Fitzwilliam; just tell me what she said. I won't be angry with her or you, I promise." She said, rather firmly.
"No. I wouldn't torment you like that, you must believe me. What she wrote was unladylike and very rude." My anger had risen by this point.
"Do you have the letter? I would prefer to know what it said than be left wondering. If you don't tell me, you know I'll just go to Georgiana." She said smiling. I could not deny that she would not go to Georgiana and I would prefer she heard it from me.
"Fine. She...she..." I was mentally berating myself because I couldn't tell her properly without getting really angry. I was already so angry that I couldn't control my voice.
I began again after a deep breath.
"She said that you marred the shades of Pemberley by your connections to Wickham, and also by your inferior birth." I flushed bright red because this was the most false statement I had spoken to Elizabeth since we met.
"Wh-what?!" Elizabeth cried incredulously. She turned the other way, to conceal her feelings from me.
"I didn't want to tell you. I swore to Georgiana that I wouldn't. I'm sorry." I trailed off feebly.
Elizabeth sighed and turned to me once more.
"Please tell me that you do not feel about me the same way your aunt does." She practically begged.
"If I felt it was true, would I be marrying you at the end of the week?" I asked in response.
She smiled, realising that she was being slightly unfair in assuming that I was like my aunt- highly unlikely!
She came close to me and embraced me. Before I could fully process what was happening, she was kissing me. The world melted away, leaving just us in it. It was a perfect moment.
We then retired to the house and bid each other goodnight. As I left, I reminded her of her sister's arrival the next morning. She smiled and left me at the bottom of the staircase.
The incident of the letter seemed quite forgot the next morning, as Bingley arrived just as I woke up. I was extremely glad to see him, as I had many wedding details to discuss with him. Once I was dressed, I rushed down to breakfast to welcome my oldest friend and his wife to Pemberley.
I was just about to go in when I heard laughter coming from inside the dining hall. It amazed me to realise that it was Elizabeth who was making this sound, due to the fact that since she had arrived she had only smiled at me a few times. I had to admit that I was somewhat jealous of whoever could make this sound erupt from Elizabeth, but quickly remembered her sister was in there too. Elizabeth had probably missed her sister, Jane, as I had missed my own, before I invited her to Netherfield at the recommendation of Bingley and Jane.
"Get a grip on yourself Darcy!" I mentally scolded myself. I was being petty and childlike and I knew it.
With a deep breath, I entered the dining hall, much to the delight of my guests.
"Darcy! How are you, old friend?" Bingley greeted me warmly.
"How have you been dear brother?" Jane greeted me.
I was glad that I had received this welcome; however it was Elizabeth's reaction I was anxious to know.
"Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth smiled at me before continuing, "are you well this morning, my darling?"
Finally! A term of endearment directed towards me. She must finally feel at home here in this mansion.
I greeted my guests warmly, and as I sat next to Elizabeth, I put my arm around her, not caring about being proper in my own home.
Breakfast was lively, as Bingley and Jane had many tales to tell of their travels during their honeymoon, as they were married a few weeks before Elizabeth and I.
They had been all over Europe and had even ventured to some of the islands in the Southern Hemisphere. I want my own honeymoon to be like this- full of travel and adventure, but of course this will need to be discussed with Elizabeth.
I did not really see any of the women for the remainder of the day, as they were sitting in one of the many sitting rooms, most likely chatting about the wedding and trivial matters. Bingley and I also spent the day discussing the wedding- and specifically his role as groomsman.
I was tired by the time dinner was served, and therefore begged Bingley to apologise for my absence from the dinner table. I went up to my room, but couldn't be bothered to change. I simply took off my cravat and lay on the bed, willing sleep to come.
As many know, sleep can be an elusive fellow. When you want him to come, he doesn't and vice versa. No matter how hard I tried, I could not sleep. After what felt like an eternity, I heard a knock at my door. I sat up and got off the bed, and crossed to the door to see who this visitor could be.
When I opened the door, I was surprised to find Elizabeth standing there, although I suppose I should not have been.
I invited her to sit next to me on the seat that is in my room. She sat down and began to talk.
"I don't think I ever really apologised to you for my behaviour on the journey from Longbourne to Pemberley." She explained.
"Really? It's fi-"
"No, it's not. Let me apologise, please." She implored me.
I nodded and waited for her to continue.
"I'm sorry I completely ignored you that whole journey. I was just homesick and couldn't stop wondering about what my life would be like in the future. I can see now that it will be full of happiness and love." She finished with a smile.
I smiled in return before telling her that it was time for bed as it was late, and as it was, her relations would be arriving the next day. I bid her goodnight and she was gone.
The following morning, one of my manservants came in to announce the arrival of my soon to be relatives, otherwise known as the Bennet family. I followed my morning routine, and went down the stairs to greet my newest guests.
It seems that Elizabeth had beaten me to greeting the guests, after all they were her family and she clearly missed them a great deal. They were all laughing and joking and it made me wish that I had had that type of relationship with my own late parents; however this had not been, mainly due to the fact that my father had been severe upon me during the inculcation of the values that had been leading my life up until this point. With a sigh, I greeted first Mr Bennet and then Mrs Bennet.
"I regret, sir, that my youngest daughters were unable to make the journey with us." Mrs Bennet apologised.
"Thank goodness for that, for surely I would have lost my temper had they been present." I thought.
"It is of little inconvenience and please convey my regards to them when you return home." I replied, as surely any gracious host would.
"Mr Bennet, how would you feel about going shooting this afternoon with me and Bingley?" I asked.
"Please say yes, I need to get out of the house, but do not want to seem rude!" I silently implored.
"Ah, yes. A little shooting would not go amiss. Thank you, sir; I would be delighted to attend as part of your party." Mr Bennet replied.
"Bingley? Are you going to join us as usual?"
"Darcy! Of course!" Bingley replied, as if I was being somewhat of a lunatic.
It was decided. We left the women to go into the sitting room to take tea, whilst we went to go and enjoy some sport. I was happy, as the house was beginning to feel claustrophobic, something I was unable to explain.
We went to my gun room and I supplied Mr Bennet with one of my favourite guns, something that was rarely used due to its antiquity. Mr Bennet seemed quite pleased at the gesture, as Bingley looked on, dumbfounded as to my change in attitude towards Elizabeth's parents- not realising that I considered Mr Bennet as much of a friend as Bingley.
As we walked, Mr Bennet tried his best to keep up conversation. I obliged him for a while, but then I began to lose interest, something that did not go unnoticed by Mr Bennet.
"Is there something the matter?" He asked me, politely.
I smiled because something was, but I didn't want to burden him with it.
"As a matter of fact, there is." I admit, unable to meet his eyes.
Mr Bennet notices this, but doesn't say anything about it. He waits for me to continue.
"Um, I received a letter from my aunt advising me to invite her to the wedding in two days' time; otherwise all connection between us would be severed."
"Oh," he said with raised eyebrows, "Elizabeth knows does she not?"
"Yes, sir, I told her the day it came. What should I do?" I ask, somewhat torn between displeasing Elizabeth and displeasing my aunt.
"I do not want to influence your decision but I will tell you something you already know. Elizabeth will support your decision whatever it is." Mr Bennet assures gently.
"Thank you. I love your daughter so much and fear of displeasing her, so my aunt will not be invited, because Elizabeth would never forgive me if I do."
By this point, Bingley had been shooting for quite some time, but since the light would be fading soon we decided to return to Pemberley.