|To Plague His Life
Author: Adela H PM
AU- What if Elizabeth, in a fit of spite, accepted Darcy when he proposed to her the first time. What if her Father was in failing health and in securing Darcy's hand she could not only raise her family's standard of living, but plague Darcy's life!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 20 - Words: 28,457 - Reviews: 178 - Favs: 140 - Follows: 285 - Updated: 07-02-12 - Published: 03-04-11 - id: 6795140
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There was a slight draft in the smaller drawing room of the Hunsford Parsonage, but keeping the fire stoked and a shawl around her shoulders, Elizabeth Bennett was able to keep warm enough while opening the latest letters from home.
Having returned from her walk with Colonel Fitzwilliam and the devastating revelations with which he had unwittingly told her about Bingley and Jane, she had feigned a headache so as to sit quietly, away from company, and think things through. She had come to no different conclusion than that Mr. Darcy was a proud, disagreeable man who meddled in other peoples affairs. She had wondered if he and Caroline Bingley had the same design in mind about combing their two families through the potential marriage of Bingley and that of Darcy's sister, but dismissed it quite away. His pride would probably keep him from throwing two people together in the hopes that they will marry.
After letting the anger and sadness pass from her, she opened the first letter from Jane which detailed the goings on of Longbourn; that of her Father, ("Keeping to his study or walking the orchards to get some peace and quiet."), her Mother, ("Poor nerves keep her confined to bed unless Aunt Phillips shows for tea.") and that of her sisters, ("Lydia and Kitty flirt with the Officers more and more each day while Mary looks on disapprovingly from behind a book.")
A sudden feeling of homesickness overtook Elizabeth and she set the letter down and began to read the second, which looked as if it had been written in haste.
"Lizzy," It started, without any type of endearment.
"You must come home at once, with all possible haste. Father has taken ill and is not expected to live much longer. He took a cold after walking the grounds after a slight rain, which progressed quickly to something much more sinister. The Physician came to check him and said all he could do was ease the pain and pray, but that a man of Father's age couldn't possibly recover from such a sickness. Please, come home at once!"
Elizabeth stood, the shawl falling from her shoulders and to the ground, the letter firmly gripped within her hand. In five quick strides she reached the door of the drawing room but before she could open it the maid knocked and the door was opened.
"Excuse me, Miss, Mr. Darcy to see you."
Elizabeth had been about to request the maid to send someone to Rosings to fetch Charlotte Collins, but upon hearing the name of Darcy she froze. Before she could regain her composure Mr. Darcy stepped from the darkened hallway into the drawing room, quickly taking his place by the fireplace, and turning so that his back was to the flames.
"Mr. Darcy, I was," Elizabeth started, but was interrupted.
"Miss Elizabeth, please let me speak before my courage fails me." Mr. Darcy, upon further scrutiny, looked agitated. He quit his stance and began pacing before the fireplace, occasionally looking up to view Elizabeth. He stopped, turned directly towards her and was about to speak but closed his mouth firmly.
"Mr. Darcy, really, I," Elizabeth started again.
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet!" Mr. Darcy's sudden ejaculation of her name startled her, for with every syllable he stepped closer toward her with outstretched hands. Elizabeth hid her hands quickly behind her back to prevent him from taking them up, and saw that his fell lifelessly by his side. "I am sorry," He started, "But I cannot keep my feelings silent any longer. I must tell you how ardently I love and admire you, and ask that you consent to be my wife."
Puzzlement covered Elizabeth's face as she tried to process the words that were spoken. Love? Admire? These were words she would never have guessed were in Mr. Darcy's vocabulary, let alone used to refer to herself. She confessed later that the shock with which these words had on her caused her to forget about her current family woes, and focus entirely on the situation in front of her.
Elizabeth was once again about to speak, perhaps to gently tell Darcy that she could not return his feelings, when he suddenly turned away from her and began a lengthy dialogue cataloguing all the faults of her family and herself, whilst pacing the room, and how he finally was ready to overlook such faults.
Now Elizabeth Bennet wasn't known for her anger. On the contrary she was known for her humor and happy character, always ready to see the joke in anyone and anything. This, however, was no joking matter, and a temper, which rarely was allowed to surface, was beginning to boil over.
"How dare he!" She yelled within herself. "I ought to marry him just to plague his life out!" It was then the hasty plan began to form. Within a few quick seconds she saw herself, her sisters and her Mother out on the street, or dispersed amongst family and friends. Her Father was not meant to live much longer and that would inevitably happen. Marriage prospects would plummet for her sisters and herself, perhaps forcing them to seek some sort of employment.
"However," She mused. "If I were to be Mrs. Darcy I would have the means to lift us all." The little niggling voice within her that said she would never be happy without love was quickly silenced, and before she could talk herself out of it, she realized she was already speaking.
"Mr. Darcy," She bent her head, "I confess I do not know quite what to say."
Again he was in front of her, bringing her hands forward with his own, not noticing the letter drift towards the ground. "All you must say is yes."
For a second she had considered saying "No," just to see the hurt in his eyes, to cause him the pain her sister felt, nay, still did feel, but a better justice was within reach.
"If I agree to marry you I must ask that our engagement not be announced 'till I am home, at Longbourn. My Father is ill. I was about to send for the Collins' when you happened upon me."
Elizabeth looked up into Mr. Darcy's eyes, but he was already at the door, calling for the maid.
"Have someone sent to Rosings immediately and fetch Mr. and Mrs. Collins." The authority in his voice was so decisive, no further discussion was made from the maid, and she went running down the hall, calling for the small boy that helped out in the stables.
"Had I known," Darcy said, once again grabbing Elizabeth's hands. "I would never have presumed to propose while you were in this state."
Conscience began to prick at Elizabeth at this show of concern from Darcy, but bringing up the conversation she had with the Colonel kept her resolve from wavering.
"Shh," Darcy brought his finger to Elizabeth's mouth to quiet her. "Please, sit by the fire. Is there anything I can get you? Glass of wine?" He led Elizabeth to the seat by the fire and after retrieving the shawl from the floor, placed it upon her shoulders.
Elizabeth was speechless at this act of Darcy's. He was actually behaving quite civil and attentive.
"No," she managed to say in response to the wine. Thoughts of her family began swimming before her, and the urgency began to take its place once again at the forefront. "I must pack…I am to leave as soon as I speak with Charlotte."
"Are you sure you do not want to sit a while? I can have the maid bring something for you to eat?"
Shaking her head, Elizabeth rose from the seat. "I thank you, but no. I must see to the packing of my things."
"If you insist." Darcy led her to the door, but was forced to walk behind her down the hallway to the front of the stairs. "I will keep our engagement a secret until things are…settled at your home. I will visit Longbourn on my way to London soon, if that would be alright?"
Elizabeth turned to stare at him whilst perched on the first step. "That would be agreeable."
Before leaving he took her hand in his and gently kissed her knuckle. A sudden flurry of emotions coursed within Elizabeth, but before she could analyze it she raced up the stairs, to her room, and shutting the door behind her, fell to the floor in utter confusion.
"What did I just do?"