Francine Bennet smiled sadly and waved goodbye to her youngest child as she drove down the street. Once the car was out of sight she moved out of the chilly November air back inside. She was so proud of how far all of her babies had come over the last few months; moving out of home, graduating from community college and being accepted into the University of California, starting their own businesses, and designing their own clothes as part of a New York Fashion Week show. Yes, she was very happy for her girls, but she was always so sad to see them go again. Slowly making her way from the front door into the den she saw her husband Thomas taking a seat in his favourite chair, sighing with satisfaction.
"At last, we can enjoy the peace and tranquility of our home once more." He said, turning his head toward her with a relaxed grin that disappeared the moment he took in the downturn of her lip. Opening his arms in invitation, Francine happily seated herself on his lap and let his strong arms comfort her.
"Whatever is the matter dear?" he asked quietly, while rubbing a comforting circle over her back.
"I thought that… that seeing them all moved on and settled down would make me the happiest woman in the world, and I am happy for them, but…"
Catching on to his wife's train of thought, Thomas Bennet placed a kiss on her forehead. "But you miss them." She could only nod in reply, taking a few moments to swallow the lump forming in her throat.
"I didn't realise until they all came back just how quiet the house had gotten." She wrapped her arms tighter around him and sighed. "Oh Thomas, what happened to our babies?"
He tilted her chin so that they were face to face and he brushed away the stray tear as it tried to make its way down her cheek. Placing another soft kiss to her forehead he replied, "They will always be our baby girls, but unfortunately, as is the way of life, they are getting older" here he gave her a cheeky smile "and so are we."
Laughing at her husband's silliness and swatting playfully at his arm, Francine teased back, "Speak for yourself, old man." This was why she loved him. This silly, frustrating, kind and caring man. Even after more than thirty years he could make her laugh away her tears, stop her from getting herself too worked up. Oh he liked to tease her and try her nerves, but he always knew the right moment to stop, and they would always laugh about it later.
"Of course, dear wife, you haven't aged a day since our wedding." He was rewarded for his flattery with a kiss to his cheek and his wife's beautiful smile. Though he may have made his remark sound teasing he believed it. She was still as beautiful to him now as she was on their wedding day.
Thomas couldn't help adding to his earlier statement, "And soon enough our girls will start bringing home babies of their own. Then you will have a whole new generation of little ones to bestow your affections on."
This time his teasing was rewarded with Francine's hand smacking hard against his chest in her excitement.
"Oh Thomas, don't tease me. Do you really think so?"
As he reflected over the events of this years Thanksgiving holiday, Thomas realised just how true that statement might be. Like his wife, he wanted to know what had happened to his little girls. His little Jane who would draw him such pretty pictures and make all sorts of craft projects for him. His little Lizzie who would, without fail every night, crawl onto his lap with a book in hand and fall asleep while he read it to her. His little Lydia who would always be so excited and proud to show off her new dance moves or whatever new talent she had learned that week. Could they really be thinking about starting their own families? Thinking of the looks shared between his Lizzie and her young man, yes, it was entirely possible.
"Of course my dear." But this time his smile didn't quite reach his eyes.
Even through her excitement thinking about grandbabies, Francine could sense that her husband didn't share her level of enthusiasm just yet. She leaned her head back on his shoulder and let a comforting arm rest against his chest.
Deciding that joking about it was the best way to put aside those sad thoughts for now Thomas looked down at his wife. "Would you like to make a bet about which one of our girls will present us with the happy news first?"
Smiling as she traced the pattern of his sweater with her finger she replied, "I hardly think that's necessary, it will obviously be Jane."
"Ah, you see my dear, I think you are quite wrong. I believe that the honour will go to Lizzie." He watched in amusement as Francine's mind ran over the statement several times before she laughed incredulously.
"Surely you are joking now, that girl is far too stubborn, just like you." She poked him in the chest for emphasis. "She will hold off as long as she can just to vex me, I know she will."
"I've always thought she inherited her stubbornness and spirit from you, my dear." She scoffed at this idea before he continued. "And you have clearly been slipping in your talent for observation."
"What can you mean by that?"
"Well, apparently you failed to notice the, what did Lydia call it, disturbing and nauseating looks our middle daughter was sending towards her boyfriend on Wednesday night."
Her eyebrows knitted together as she looked up at him in confusion. "Wednesday night?"
"Yes, when Ellen and Stuart stopped by the Gibson dinner with baby Ethan." He gave a little chuckle at the memory, "I thought our daughter would melt into a puddle on the floor when William asked to hold him."
"Well I don't blame her, he is a rather handsome young man," she laughed at her husbands raised eyebrow, "but they haven't even been together for a year. And Jane and Bing…"
"Are happy to go along at their own pace. But Lizzie..." he paused for a moment and smiled, "I'm not saying that there will be any surprise announcements at Christmas, but I would hazard a guess it won't be too long. Once she gets an idea into her head, you know there is no stopping her."
Yes, she had to agree on that point.
"You may be right Thomas, we will see."
"Yes we shall my dear."
They sat together for a few peaceful moments, contemplating the week just gone and all that the future held. No other sounds could be heard but their soft breathing and the ticking of the clock on the mantle. Sighing once more, Francine closed her eyes.
"It really is too quiet in this big old house."
Thomas cleared his throat, "Yes, about this big old house." He stopped for a moment to organise his thoughts. It was something that he had been reluctant to bring up before now, predicting his wife's reaction would not be an enthusiastic one.
"I know we've discussed it briefly before, but now that our three main objections are no longer residing here, what are your thoughts on selling the house?"
As he suspected her reaction was not a happy one. She looked at him with wide eyes and blinked for a moment. Finally she regained the power of speech and asked in a soft voice, "Sell our home?"
Holding her closer he nodded. "Yes. I know you have done a brilliant job of making this our home over the last twenty-five years, and we will miss it terribly, but it is such a big house for just two people."
"But what about the girls?"
"We don't have to tell them anything yet. We can wait until the new year before we make a decision."
He could see that she was coming around to the idea, and he would be better off not pushing it yet. Suddenly she jumped out of his lap and started pacing anxiously around the room, hands pressed to her cheeks and eyes wide with panic. He could hear her mumbling to herself "So much to organise, only a month, so little time."
"What seems to be the matter now dear?"
Francine turned and glared at him, as if it should be obvious.
"Why there is ever so much to do Thomas. If this is to be our last year celebrating Christmas in this house as a family, then it will be the biggest Christmas ever. Oh you frustrating man, putting this on me at the last minute." She started making her way towards the stairs and the bedroom beyond, her voice fading away with her. "I need to lie down, my poor nerves can't take it."
Thomas Bennet chuckled to himself. It appeared that his silly wife was back, oh what fun he would have in the lead up to Christmas.
AN - I recently read a post from someone on tumblr who made the observation that there was not a huge amount of fic with characters other than Lizzie/Darcy. Obviously this one still mentions them but it's not all about them.
For those of you who have read/reviewed my other story Confrontations, thank you so much for the awesome reviews and hopefully I will be able to add another chapter soon. (and hopefully this story will leave you with happy feels instead of sad feels)