- Posted by Sophia Meredith
- On May 12, 2016
- 22 Comments
- e-book, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen Fan Fiction, Mr. Darcy, Pemberley
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As the door to St. George’s Hanover Square opened, the simple yet elegant architecture of the church struck Elizabeth as very much in keeping with her future husband’s reserved, understated manner. When he had suggested the fashionable London setting for their nuptials, she had been quite surprised. Had they not settled it that they would wed quietly and quickly to avoid the vulgar pride her mother would adopt among her friends over their betrothal? Based on Mr. Darcy’s—William’s—break with his family over whom he would marry, she had thought the matter entirely closed. But when his sister, Georgiana, and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, insisted on being present, and Anne de Bourgh, who was at Pemberley with Georgiana, also expressed the same wish, it seemed sensible to move the entire affair to London. Lady Matlock, being the first of Darcy’s family to accept the inevitable, had convinced both her husband and her wastrel elder son that they should quell any gossip among the ton by attending the wedding and therefore show both family unity and their approbation for their nephew’s wife. Of Lady Catherine, they heard nothing. However, Anne sitting calmly in the front pew with a pleasant smile and no evidence of the disappointed, jilted party on her countenance, was an adequate representative of her branch of the family.
Of course, this meant Elizabeth’s immediate relations would attend as well, save the Wickham’s, already settled in the north, and the Collinses, as Mary continued to be quite ill during her confinement. The absence of these sister’s and, more to the point, their husbands, caused no one a moment of regret. Mrs. Bennet, daunted by the illustriousness of Darcy’s relations, was uncharacteristically subdued though she glowed with delighted pride when her eyes alighted on her daughter and Mr. Darcy. Her father, for once, had nothing about which to chide his wife and, feeling a good deal of gratitude that he and Elizabeth were fully reconciled, set aside his indolence and eccentricities for the duration of the London visit. Jane and her husband, Charles, were both wreathed in happy smiles; and Kitty, honored to be asked to stand up with Elizabeth, was the picture of a poised, charming, and lovely young lady.
Kitty and Elizabeth had traveled to London in advance of the event to attire the bride in all the finery required of a woman assuming her elevated station as Mrs. Darcy. Her uncle and aunt had assisted her with acquiring the beautiful silks, muslins, and wools from the wholesale warehouses and negotiating with the dressmakers, milliners, and seamstresses who would transform the material into a fashionable trousseau that quite shocked Elizabeth in both its extravagance and quantity. Having grown up with four sisters, sharing many of her gowns —nearly all sewn at home or by Meryton’s seamstress of modest skill—she was unused to the extent of the wardrobe deemed necessary that she should have, nor the embellishment the dressmaker and her aunt had felt befitted the mistress of Pemberley. Convinced that William would not recognize her in such finery, she feared he would think her incredibly vain. The fittings had been irritating, for she was not accustomed to standing still for such long stretches, and, when they were over, she had nowhere to escape to in the bustle of London’s busy streets.
Over the course of their betrothal, which stretched out to three long weeks in spite of the Special License he had acquired, Darcy accompanied Elizabeth for daily walks and drives in the fashionable parks and promenades. There she was expected to stroll slowly and elegantly upon his arm while nodding her head demurely at the many new acquaintances she had made, for it seemed all of London society was mad to be introduced to the future Mrs. Darcy. And, though she took an unseemly amount of pleasure in the time she spent with William, what little exercise she did get from these activities was quite unsatisfying to her. He also entertained her and their relations extravagantly, including a hired box at the theater and one at the opera. There were afternoon’s spent at Astley’s to see the famous horses, tea at Gunter’s, a trip to the Tower of London to see the royal menagerie, regular outings to the circulating libraries. When her father arrived in London William arranged a much-anticipated visit to the British Museum to marvel over, among other things, the Rosetta Stone and famous Greek antiquities.
And yet, now, here she was walking to the man she loved beyond measure and a life that she both anticipated and feared. Could she live up to the standards expected of one of the great ladies of the country? Could she fulfill the obligations she had to the estate and all its dependents? Could she please William and retain his love, for he would always have her’s? She had lain awake most of the night worrying about her future with a lack of confidence she had rarely felt in her life. As she felt the pull of her father began their sedate walk down the aisle to the man who, in mere moments, would be her husband until their deaths parted them, she felt a calm certainty wash over her with the warm glow of complete happiness upon his handsome, dear, beloved countenance. With him by her side, and his love, guidance, and confidence strengthening her, she knew that she could not fail.
Then she was by his side, and her father was placing her hand upon William’s arm; he responded by setting his other hand upon her glove. She felt the pressure and warmth of it and felt herself return to her senses for a moment. She could not recall the steps she had taken to reach him, so lost in her thoughts. Head bowed, she chuffed. Foolish! I promised myself to remember every moment of my wedding. Feeling William’s eyes upon her, she glanced sideways and smiled, mouthing the words, “I cannot quite believe nothing has occurred to keep me from reaching you!”
“Never again,” he replied in a whisper. “Besides, Lady Catherine is not in attendance to cause a ruckus.”
Hearing the rector of St. George’s clear his throat, the pair looked at him with expressions upon their faces of having been caught doing something naughty which caused the esteemed man to smile benignly at them as he began to intone the words Elizabeth knew well but had never before had spoken to her.
She heard herself repeating her vows from a far off place, her spirit so exuberant to hold within her body. Did she dare tell her husband how excessively she loved him? Would he consider her foolish beyond measure to be so besotted that she felt her heart flutter at the very sight of him and weak in the knees at his glances? His letters were full of such stuff, arriving every night by messenger, to read in the privacy of her chamber—once, twice, and a third time—until memorized by candlelight. She teased him that he was setting a dangerous precedent with his letters, for she would demand he continue his missives even after their married life began. He replied that it would be his pleasure to whisper such things to her every night while she lay in his arms, and she blushed scarlet and he could not help but laugh uproariously at her. When her embarrassment only increased, he had immediately become contrite and soothing, making it impossible for her to stay irritated with him.
She felt the ring slide onto her finger and gazed at it wonderingly. It was a beautiful band in filigreed rose gold, and it fit perfectly. It felt both strange to wear it and yet it already felt a part of her, an outward symbol of their commitment to one another’s happiness. Then she supposed the ceremony was over, for he was raising her hands to his lips, pressing warm kisses on her fingertips, and saying something about her now being “Mrs. Darcy.” She could not respond except with her bubbling laughter, and that finally broke the spell which she had felt herself under all morning. She looked into his eyes earnestly and said in a teasing manner., “I believe you are well and truly leg-shackled now, Mr. Darcy. What say you?”
“Only that I am the happiest and luckiest of men, my dearest Mrs. Darcy. Come now; we must sign the register and be on our way.”
“A fine answer, Mr. Darcy,” she laughed again, then whispered with a tinge of something like surprise in her voice, “I love you, so. Do you know?”
“Yes, I believe I do, sweetheart,” he replied solemnly.
The register was soon signed, and their friends offered felicitations for their future happiness. They made their way to the coach, festooned with flowers and streaming ribbons, for the short journey to Darcy House and the delectable wedding breakfast which awaited them there. Elizabeth’s belongings had been sent over during the ceremony. How strange to arrive here to stay and not leave with my family! Will he carry me across the threshold? He did, and the servants of Darcy House clapped and cheered to witness it. The remainder of the party were ushered into the hall and from there to the dining room which was laid out with an elaborate feast made for two or three times as many guests as were present. Elizabeth knew that the servants would eat the remainder of the celebratory meal downstairs and even make a toast to the couple with spirits from the master’s cellars.
Having not been able to eat almost the whole of yesterday and this morning, Elizabeth tucked into her food with the appetite of a country girl. Her husband added morsels to her plate and teased her for her appetite. She replied that he had stolen it from Miss Bennet, and Mrs. Darcy was making up for it.
“You were too flustered yesterday?” he inquired with concern.
“Yes, I was certain you would cry off!” she giggled. “Either that or some calamity would cause another separation and delay.”
“You know the first is absurd and, as for the second, I would never let that occur.”
“Silly fancies I know, but how could I help them? Did you have an appetite yesterday?”
“Indeed, do not most men on their way to the gallows enjoy their last meal?”
Hearing this joke at her expense, Elizabeth laughed, playfully smacking his arm which caused an abrupt silence among the party as they all stared at the newly-wedded couple.
“Your first argument, I perceive,” said Mr. Bennet laconically. “I predict you shall have a stimulating marriage.”
“Your delightful daughter did not like my gallows humor. Perhaps it was in bad taste to compare myself to a man about to face the hangman!” Darcy laughed in a manner both unfamiliar and surprising to many of Elizabeth’s relations.
“Shall I punish my impudent cousin on your behalf, Mrs. Darcy?” asked the colonel.
“No, no, Richard—she called him by his Christian name as he had asked her to, though it still seemed strange to do so—I shall have to learn to keep him in line, I may as well begin now.”
“You must not allow him to bully you, my dear,” said the countess with surprisingly good humor. Elizabeth believed Lady Matlock had come not only to accept her for her nephew but even, somewhat against her will, like Elizabeth for herself. The earl had not been so easy to please, though she suspected his reservations had more to do with her station and not her character.
“Oh, I can assure you she does not, aunt!” boomed Darcy. “My arm is quite bruised from her attacks when I get out of line.”
“Upon her wedding day, every wife should be provided a horsewhip as well as a ring.” said Mrs. Gardiner.
“You mean it is not tradition, my dear? Then I have been mistaken all this time,” responded her husband jovially.
“I shall not need to resort to extreme measures. Have you not all known my husband to behave in the most exemplary manner for the whole length of your acquaintance?” Elizabeth said in his defense.
“You, would not have said that at one time, Lizzy. I remember very well how much you hated him,” corrected her mother.
“Mama! It will not do to remind me of my foolishness,” Elizabeth said, giving her husband a sidelong glance to see if this comment had angered him. She teased him often enough, and he allowed Charles and Richard to do so as well, but she doubted very much her mother’s jokes would meet with the same reception. “By my singularity, I was only attempting to gain his notice, though I will not boast at how successful was my stratagem.” Expecting his lips to be compressed in that haughty manner she knew he adopted when he became disconcerted; she was surprised that he chuckled along with the rest of the party.
“Oh certainly, for what man would not become enraptured upon meeting a young lady who could not stand the sight of him?” quipped Darcy, pressing her hand. “Elizabeth taught me what satisfaction one can feel to please a woman worthy of being pleased. It was this I sought, though I was not even aware of it myself at the beginning of my quest. You may congratulate me upon my success.” The colonel was the first to raise his glass in a toast and the rest of the party followed suit. Both he and Elizabeth beamed to the chorus of “Hear, hears,” that rang out.
The conversation continued for quite some time, at times it caused Elizabeth to blush at their veiled references to the approaching wedding night. At last, every one of them was replete, declared they could not eat another bite, and must take their leave. Both Anne and Georgiana had removed themselves to their uncle’s townhouse so that the newly-wedded couple might enjoy their privacy. When the door closed on the last of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy’s guests, she turned her face to look up at him. “I remember with horror how my mother made us wait for our carriage until we were the last of Charles’s guests to depart the night of his ball so that he might spend more time with Jane. Her strategy was obvious, was it not? I find there was no more subtlety in her practically shooing everyone out the door this afternoon.”
Leading her into the small, cozy sitting room reserved for the immediate family, he replied, “For which I shall be eternally grateful to her, dear wife. She could not have proffered me a greater service than to allow me to enjoy the pleasure of your company in the privacy of our home.”
“Our home! It seems so strange to me to not be leaving with my family but, instead, wishing them well on their return to Hertfordshire.”
“As long as you did not desire to depart with them, I give you leave to take your time becoming accustomed to it. I realize the changes in store for you are much greater than for me. Promise you will always tell me what I must do to restore your sensibilities?”
“You must not worry about me, William. I am entirely happy finally to be your wife. There is nothing I could wish for than to know that I am yours and that you love me. As long as I do not disappoint you, I shall not be disconcerted by the great changes in store for me.”
“Elizabeth, you could never disappoint me, though it would shatter me to learn that I have failed you or lost your love and approbation.” Shaking his head, he frowned then inquired of her, “Why are we so melancholy? This discussion is utterly ridiculous, and I will have no more talk of disappointment.”
Elizabeth laughed, “William! You are exceedingly intelligent. That is the second best idea you have had all day!”
“And what pray tell was the first?”
“Why, Do not be dim! It was marrying me, of course.”
“Oh that, well that was the idea for many months, but I only accomplished today. Now, how would you like to spend the afternoon?”
“I do wish we were at Pemberley, for I would dearly love a walk. I have too much pent up energy to sit still right now. I suppose it would not do for a newly married couple to go about the serpentine, would it?”
“No, I do not believe it would. Nor do I recommend you run up and down the stairs, for that would cause talk among the servants.” He paused, looking at her appraisingly. “I have been remiss and shall rectify that immediately. My darling wife, do you know how beautiful you look today? You could not have worn a more fitting color as that lemon yellow, for it is what caught my eye that day on Oakham Mount and brought me to you.”
“This is a much finer gown than the old walking dress which I wore that day. I perfectly ruined it, you know.”
he pinched between his fingers a piece of the delicate silk which seemed to glow incandescently and agreed that the gown was beautiful but stated again and again—due to her mulishness—that it was the young lady who wore the dress which made it so. “Though I prefer your hair wild and wind-blown, I know that would not do for your wedding day.” She laughed, agreed with him, and informed him that if he kept up his compliments, he would become a dead bore. Wisely deciding to save his compliments until he could whisper them by candlelight, he suggested a new activity. “Shall we play a rough and tumble game of chess? I believe you have pledged yourself to beating me.”
“Oh yes, though perhaps on your wedding day I should let you continue your winning streak. You do know my mother warned me I should not show you up before we were married. You see, she was quite concerned that you might cry off.”
“Then she does not know me well at all, for that would not have been the gentlemanly thing to do.”
“Remember when I accused you of not behaving in a gentlemanly manner?” Elizabeth giggled. “What a stupid girl I was.”
“When I realized what you meant to me and recounted the whole history of our relationship to myself to understand when it began, I remembered that incident in particular. I realized I must have been deeply in love with you already, for it was an abominable accusation you know, and I would not have laughed had anyone else made it.”
“Oh, it was horrible, horrible! So unworthy of you, my dear,” she said dotingly. “You have never cast it up to me either, which sets an excellent example but one upon which I can model my conduct. If you wronged me so gravely, I should like to be able to punish you with it from time to time.”
“I do not expect to do so, but you may cast up my sins, Elizabeth, as long as you are sitting on my lap, like this,” he said, lifting her off her feet. “You do have such a charming way of teasing me about them.”
“You are either very smitten or quite stupid, husband,” she retorted, blushing profusely at the intimacy of their contact. “What if a servant should enter?”
“On glance and he will know we wish our privacy,” he assured her flippantly. A veritable army of domestics who knew that not only efficiency at their work, but invisibility while accomplishing it were the hallmarks of a good servant had always filled Pemberley.” Do not fret about it. We are newlyweds and are therefore expected to misbehave and, by the time we can no longer call ourselves such, they will be so accustomed to it they shall not even blink.”
“So this is to be a normal occurrence?”
“Yes, my love, the rest of our lives,” he assured her, nuzzling the soft hollow between her jaw and ear.
“But I thought we were to play chess,” she reminded him.
“Hang the chess! I have a new wife, and it would be far more interesting to kiss her.” Before Elizabeth could squirm out of his arms, he put his lips against hers. “Ahhh, sweet.”
“It is the syllabub.”
“No, it is the taste of Elizabeth.” He kissed her gently again and again until he felt her body soften in his arms. Then his kisses deepened, taking them farther than they had dared during their courtship. “Tell me, sweetheart, are you frightened of what is to come? Do you trust me?” His voice was quiet as he spoke against her temple between the numerous feathery kisses he scattered there.
“In all things, my love,” she sighed. Hearing these words, Darcy lifted his wife into his arms and carried her up the stairs and into his chamber not giving a thought to the impropriety of it being only the middle of the day. Let the servants talk; he had waited long enough.
Coming Soon: Beyond Oakham Mount, Book One
This series of novellas offers a continuation of On Oakham Mount based on that novel’s epilogue. It will include a preface summarizing the events of that book for readers who do not wish to read it. The idea to write these novellas came from reviewers who were so enthusiastic in their praise for On Oakham Mount and clamored for the story to continue.