A Rocky Road

Epilogue part 2

She only hoped that Georgiana remained ignorant of the intruder, for the sake of her enjoyment of the evening and the other guests, as it would not do to cause a scene.

The intruder, otherwise known as the pretentious Lady Catherine de Bourgh, serenely made her way through the gathering crowd. The room became tense as the guests, which consisted mainly of close family, became aware of the unwelcome addition.

Elizabeth glanced at Fitzwilliam, only to find that his face was set in a scowl as he glared at the gall his aunt had in coming to his home, since he had banished her from ever being received as a guest at Pemberley. She placed a hand on his arm in an effort to calm him, but to no avail.

All the while, Georgiana remained ignorant of the intrusion of her aunt. That is, until she came to greet her niece.

“My dear niece, it is nice to see you again.” Lady Catherine said by way of greeting, ignoring her nephew and his wife.

“Aunt Catherine, what are you doing here?” Georgiana asked, somewhat confused as Fitzwilliam had told her of the fact that their aunt was no longer welcome at Pemberley.

“Yes, aunt, what are you doing here?” Fitzwilliam asked icily.

“Why, it should be obvious.” Lady Catherine said dismissively.

“It should, however it is not. I told you never to return to Pemberley on the day of my wedding and nothing has changed. You have not paid your hostess the proper respect that she is due by greeting her.” Fitzwilliam said, glaring at his aunt as he gestured to Elizabeth.

Whilst this exchange happened, the guests slowly stopped talking in order to focus their attention upon the intruder and their host. Many of the guests were unaware of the events of the wedding of their host and hostess and thus voiced their disapproval of the way in which Fitzwilliam was treating his aunt.

“I will never greet her as the mistress of this house. She is not fit to be the mistress. It amazes me that out of all of the women that you could have chosen, you chose her. She had no fortune to add to the Darcy fortune, and thus I can label her no other way than as a fortune hunter.” Lady Catherine replied, to the shock of many of the guests who had overheard this remark, but more importantly, to the disgust of Fitzwilliam who placed a hand protectively around Elizabeth’s waist.

Elizabeth stood, stunned for a moment, until her sense of indignation made itself known as she replied, “Thank you for that compliment, Lady Catherine. I do not feel ashamed to admit that I find you selfish and unworthy of my husband’s aid in the running of your estate. I will thank you to refrain from making further comments about my past and must ask you to leave before a further scene is made in front of the guests. Please apologise to Georgiana for your departure and I will have your carriage ready and waiting for you in the mean time.”

Lady Catherine was shocked. No one had spoken to her in such a manner since Elizabeth herself did when she came to speak on the subject of the engagement to her nephew. She knew that to refuse the request of her hostess would mean subjecting herself to ridicule in the eyes of her family, which she did not wish to occur, however her sense of pride would not allow her to leave without one last snide comment directed towards Elizabeth.

“I shall. You shall not be received at court and the Darcy name will be polluted due to your association with it and your sister’s patched up marriage to Wickham. Do not think me ignorant of that scandal.” Lady Catherine declared before sweeping out of the house, without an apology for her disrespectful behaviour in the presence of her family.

Once Lady Catherine had gone from the house, Georgiana looked at her sister and brother. Elizabeth appeared to be a little distressed from the encounter whilst her brother appeared to be quite angry on his wife’s behalf, as she would have expected from Fitzwilliam.

As if noticing for the first time that the room was completely silent, Fitzwilliam spoke, addressing the crowd as he said, “Please ladies and gentlemen, for the sake of Georgiana could we continue with the celebrations?”

The musicians began to play a lively dance and slowly people began to join in with the celebrations. A man approached Georgiana with an invitation to dance which , with a slight blush, she accepted. Elizabeth smiled at the sight as she remembered her first dance with Fitzwilliam.

She was broken out of her reverie by Fitzwilliam, as he voiced his concern for her welfare.

“Elizabeth, are you well? Please know that her words have no effect on the way that I view you. You must know how deep my love is for you and our child.” Fitzwilliam said reassuringly.

“I am well, Fitzwilliam. Thank you for your concern, but would you mind terribly if I rested a while? Your aunt...” Elizabeth said, somewhat embarrassed at her need to leave her duties as a hostess.

“Of course. The library is empty if you wish to retire. I will tell Jane where you are if she asks.” Fitzwilliam said with a smile, as his gaze fell on his sister smiling as she danced with the same young man as before.

“Thank you.” Elizabeth smiled, and then began to walk in the direction of the library, however she was stopped by Jane.

“Lizzy, are you well? I heard what was said and...” Jane said in distress on behalf of her sister.

“Thank you Jane, but I am well. I am going to rest in the library if you would like to join me for a little while?” Elizabeth said, trying to reassure her sister that she was in fact alright after her encounter with her husband’s aunt.

“That would be nice; however I believe that Charles wants at least one dance with me. That may be all I am able to do in my condition.” Jane said with a smile as Charles came to stand beside her.

Elizabeth nodded and continued to the library, trying to be polite as she made her exit.

At last, she made her way to the library and shut the door behind her. She made her way to the chair in front of the fire and sat down with a sigh. She was glad to be alone, as the events that had transpired had shaken her more than she would admit to her husband.

Georgiana smiled as she danced the third with Henry Alveston, who had accompanied Charles and Jane to the party. She had enjoyed engaging in conversation with him as they had danced.

As the dance ended, Henry brought her back to Fitzwilliam who had been observing them as they danced. Georgiana smiled at her brother; however that smile slowly left her face as she noticed that Elizabeth was nowhere to be seen.

“Brother, where has Elizabeth gone?” Georgina asked with apparent concern.

“Do not worry; she had merely gone to the library in order to calm herself after the intrusion of our aunt.” Fitzwilliam said with a grim smile.

Georgiana dearly wished that she could go to Elizabeth however she knew that she could not. Seeing her concern, Fitzwilliam spoke once more.

“I will go to her Georgiana. I will return as soon as I am able.” Fitzwilliam said with determination, motioning to Richard as he left Georgiana’s side.

“Richard, would you please watch over Georgiana whilst I go to my wife?”

“Of course. I will keep her out of trouble.” Richard said with a cheeky grin.

Fitzwilliam shook his head. It seemed that his cousin would never grow up.

In the library, Elizabeth had had time to calm herself and was now able to think rationally about what had transpired in the ballroom. She knew that it was wrong of her to speak to Lady Catherine in such a manner; however she did not care about this.

Before long, she heard the sound of the door opening, causing her to turn to face whoever was coming into the library. She smiled when she recognised her husband’s footsteps and voice.

“Lizzy, are you alright?” Fitzwilliam asked gently.

Elizabeth smiled at the term of endearment her husband used. She had not heard it in what felt like a very long time but it felt so good to hear it.

“I am well, thank you.” Elizabeth said, trying to reassure her husband that she well and truly was well.

Fitzwilliam smiled and sat across from Elizabeth.

“Lizzy, you do know that whatever my aunt said before is of no consequence to me. I am glad that you were able to answer her the way you did.” Fitzwilliam said with a smile in her direction.

“Thank you. I was thinking that I was quite impertinent in my reply to your aunt.” Elizabeth said, blushing slightly as she thought about her behaviour.

“I do not. She would have received the same words from me if you had not spoken. She should not have acted that way, especially in front of our guests.” Fitzwilliam replied.

“Would you return to the ball with me?” Fitzwilliam asked, holding out his hand for his wife to take.

Elizabeth took her husband’s hand and together they returned to the ball, only to find Georgiana dancing once more with Henry Alveston. Elizabeth smiled at the sight, happy that Georgina may have found someone to spend her life with in happiness. Fitzwilliam followed her gaze and smiled as he saw his sister being so happy.

The rest of the evening went according to plan and was a success that was much talked of in the coming months.

A few months later...

Both Elizabeth and Jane were very pregnant by this time and were relegated to spending time inside Pemberley. This time was enjoyable for them as they were able to spend time together as sisters.

One day, Georgiana’s happiness was also secured in the form of a visit from Henry Alveston. He requested to speak to Mr Darcy directly and was admitted into his study once Mr Darcy had been informed of his visitor.

“Mr Darcy,” Henry said with a slight bow before continuing, “I wish to ask permission to court your sister.”

Fitzwilliam smiled before replying, “Have you spoken to Georgiana about this? Of course you have my permission but you must ask her as well.”

Henry bowed and left the room, no doubt to formally ask Georgiana if she wished to be courted by him.

He found Georgiana in the music room, practicing on the pianoforte. His footsteps on the floor alerted Georgiana to the fact that someone was in the room. Turning around, she was surprised and delighted to find that it was Henry.

“Mr Alveston, what an unexpected pleasure.” Georgiana said as she dipped into a shallow curtsey.

In response, Henry bowed before sitting on one of the couches near the piano and invited Georgiana to do the same. He took her hand before speaking.

“Miss Georgiana, would you do me the honour of allowing me to court you?” Henry asked, hoping that Georgiana would agree to his proposition.

Georgiana was so shocked that she forgot to reply immediately. After a few moments, however, she had regained her power of speech.

“Mr Alveston, I accept your proposal.” Georgiana said with a smile as tears welled in her eyes.

“We must tell Lizzy and Jane. They will be so happy. I assume brother knows?” Georgiana asked, already knowing the answer to this question.

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