Frances Bennet sat in the front parlour of Longbourn, gazing out at the snow-covered fields of Hertfordshire. Despite the cold environment outside, Frances Bennet's cheeks were glowing with the warmth of a full and contented heart. Thomas Bennet approached his wife and bent to kiss one of her rosy cheeks. "Happy Christmas, Mrs Bennet." He said. "Now tell me, has this been the happiest year yet?"
Mrs Bennet smiled at their tradition. Every year he would ask, and every year, be it from the festivities, the general good will of people or the prospect of a roaring fire on a cold day, Mrs Bennet would feel in an extraordinarily good mood and declare it to be the best year yet.
"Indeed it is, Mr Bennet!" She cried, uttering the same speech she had every year. "We have a roof over our heads and food on our table, we have our health, and we have one another."
Mr Bennet enjoyed this time of year. It was the one time of year his wife seemed to forget her usual petty distractions and contemplate how fortunate the Bennet family actually was.
"Whilst I appreciate your sentiment, as I have done every year, I find your comments particularly truthful this year." Agreed Mr Bennet. "Our family has increased significantly in the last year, has it not?!"
"Oh, Mr Bennet!" Exclaimed Frances Bennet in raptures. "To have four children married- three to such fine, eligible partners, God is indeed good to us! I declare, the neighbours are quite jealous when they see me pass on my way to Netherfield!"
Mr Bennet smirked. "I quite imagine that has something to do with the fact that our granddaughter is the most agreeable child I have ever encountered!"
"Oh, our Isabelle! Well, with parents like Jane and Mr Bingley, she was never destined to be plain or bad tempered. Such a sweet child she is! Jane says she has begun to crawl, oh I cannot wait to see it for myself!"
Mr Bennet chuckled, and teased his wife. "Watching the window will not make them arrive any faster, Mrs Bennet!"
"I know- but how I long to see them all again, and Lizzy and Darcy, and Henry and dear Georgiana. I do think I am growing accustomed to calling her that. Such a dear sweet girl, and such an excellent mother!"
Mrs Bennet clapped her hands together. "I can hardly believe my Henry has two daughters! Twins! No wonder Georgiana looked so much larger than she should have. I hear the girls are thriving, even though they were born so early. Is that not wonderful news for our little Bennet granddaughters? Oh to see them again! They were barely weeks old when I saw them last at Lizzy's wedding, and that was over six months ago!"
"Well my dear, hopefully you will see more of them this coming year, as Henry and I start working together to break this entail business once and for all!" Mr Bennet declared.
Mrs Bennet continued to prattle and fuss over this and that in attempt to distract herself from her three children due to arrive from Netherfield to celebrate Christmas luncheon.
"Tis but a shame Mary and Mr Collins cannot join us, Mama" said Kitty, from a corner of the room. The loss of her four older siblings had had a great impact on Kitty, who now asked to be called her Christian name, Catherine. To strangers, she was introduced as Miss Bennet, which made her feel most grown up, and she had begun to view Lydia as an immature child. She had started to distance herself from her younger sister, and spent a great deal more time with her eldest sister, and her little niece. The influence improved Kitty's demeanor drastically.
As if to illustrate her very view, Lydia snorted crudely at Kitty's remark. "I for one am happy not to be sharing my Christmas with such a horrid man. It's bad enough that the formidable Mr Darcy shall be here!"
"Mr Darcy is a kind, gentle man, if you bothered to get to know him at all, Lydia." Said Kitty softly. "And Mr Collins has merits about him I am sure."
Lydia rolled her eyes. "Well, I am glad anyways that Mary is too fat to travel!" She declared rudely and stalked off.
Mrs Bennet heard the last part of their conversation, and went into hysterics. "I am so very vexed that I cannot attend my own daughter in her time of need!" She cried. "Mary's baby will arrive any day now, and I am not there!"
"I know it is tough," soothed Kitty. "But remember that Mary is not alone. Miss Anne de Bourgh has become a dear friend and is more than willing to assist Mary. And consider all the joy that will become you in staying in Hertfordshire." She went to put an arm across her mothers shoulder, but Mrs Bennet stood up in frustration. "Oh, what would you know, Kitty! It's that de Bourgh woman not allowing me to visit and Mr Collins adhering to her wishes! It is very unChristian if you ask me." She sniffed and sat down in a most disgruntled manner.
Mr Bennet sensed his daughters dejected manner, and put a hand in her shoulder. "You speak wisely, Kit-Catherine. Despite Mr Collins actions, the fact remains that both he and Lady de Bourgh are tied to our family now, and we must not make family occasions anymore tense. Come, it is the season of peace and merriment, Mrs Bennet. Let it rest."
Mrs Bennet begrudgingly nodded her head.
"And in time Mr Darcy and his sister will surely persuade their aunt to allow your visit, or permit Mary to visit us here." Said Kitty hopefully.
The subject was thankfully dropped, as the distinctive sound of carriages approaching was heard.
The sounds of laughter and baby squeals quickly dissolved Mrs Bennet's anger. She rushed outside and her shouts of delight were heard for miles around.
"Jane, Mr Bingley! Get Isabelle inside before she catches a chill! Oh Henry! Look at you holding a baby! Is it Anne, or Frances that you have? Anne? Georgiana, you look lovely dear. And this must be my little namesake. My, they look quite similar, do they not? So much like their mother. Mr Darcy, it is a pleasure sir-oh, a kiss on the cheek, goodness me! Hello, Lizzy, marriage certainly suits you!"
Mrs Bennet bundled everyone inside out of the cold. Longbourn had never been so full of laughter and love.
Later in the afternoon, as the babies napped and the adults sat in the parlour with full stomachs, Kitty looked around the room at her married siblings. All three had married spouses of high social standing, yet all three spouses appeared to dote on her siblings. This was in stark contrast to Mary's marriage to a humble parson, who clearly did not cherish her. Kitty had been at Netherfield often enough to see that Mr Bingley valued his wife's opinion and viewpoint, and there was an equality there. Henry too had the love and admiration of his wife, and Kitty could instantly see that they were content in their marriage. But it was Darcy and Lizzy who took her breath away. Kitty could detect the open admiration that Lizzy had when looking at her husband, and Kitty noticed how often Lizzy peeked over at him. What made Kitty smile was how often Mr Darcy was doing the same thing to her sister. The look that he reserved for Elizabeth was so deeply in love that Kitty felt her own heart beat faster. How could Lizzy stand to be loved so fiercely? Kitty wondered. But deep down, she longed for someone to feel that passionately about her.
Just when Kitty thought Mr Darcy couldn't be any more in love with her sister, she saw him tenderly take her hand and kiss it passionately, while she looked adoringly up at him. Kitty looked away in embarrassment at having witnessed such a private moment between the Darcy's.
"May I have your attention please?" Mr Darcy's voice suddenly cut through the quiet peaceful scene. My dearest loveliest Elizabeth and I have some news. Darling?"He smiled at Elizabeth.
She grinned from ear to ear. "We are expecting a child, sometime in April!"
Elizabeth glowed with happiness as congratulations flowed in, and Mr Darcy could barely contain his joy at becoming a father.
"I was wondering if you might like to return to Pemberley with us, Catherine." Said Elizabeth quietly to her sister, amidst the effusions.
Kitty's eyes lit up. "Truly? And assist you leading up to your confinement?"
Elizabeth nodded. "I should dearly love some company, as the Derbyshire winter is frightfully cold and I am bound up indoors." She shot a smiling glance to her husband, who met her eyes with a curious expression. "My dear husband does not like me to be walking in the snow!"
"Of course he does not!" Said Kitty, aghast. "That is quite dangerous!" She paused. "He loves you so very much, you know."
Elizabeth had a dreamy smile on her face. "Yes, I know. I am most lucky, am I not?"
Kitty had a small smile on her own face. "If only Mr Darcy or Mr Bingley had a brother for me!" She sighed with laughter.
Elizabeth took her sisters hand. "Well, that is most unfortunate, but I have it on good authority that there is a cousin of the Darcy's who is single and most eligible. From what Fitzwilliam and Georgiana tell me of him, he sounds a fine gentleman and I believe you would get along quite well with him. His name is Colonel Fitzwilliam."
"A Colonel?" Gasped Kitty. "Oh don't tell Lydie, she loves a red coat!"
"That is precisely why I haven't included her. You have matured a lot, Catherine, and I see you admiring my marriage, and Jane's and Henry's. We all married for love, not for status. We each got to know our partners and knew we could love and respect them, and they us. If I thought for an instant that you were superficial enough to make acquaintances based on appearances, I never would have offered you the chance to visit Pemberley and meet our friends. I believe you are not- Jane certainly assures me you are more careful and sensible than that."
Kitty nodded her head. "There was a time all I wanted was to be admired and envied for having something to be coveted, but now I see how empty that happiness would be. I wish to have friends who I share common interests with, and hope one day for a marriage partner who I can love as well as like as a person."
Elizabeth clasped her sisters hands. "I am proud of you Catherine!" She said. "The offer stands, if you so wish it. Colonel Fitzwilliam is on leave and will be staying with us also for a month or so. I do believe you two shall become firm friends." Elizabeth sent her sister a sly smile that suggested she hoped for a great deal more than that. Kitty smiled and looked down in embarrassment.
As the day drew to a close, the Netherfield party began gathering their belongings to journey home. Everybody was busily settling the Bingley and Bennet families into the carriages that they didn't notice Mr Darcy leading his wife across the entrance where the mistletoe once again hung. Mr Darcy silently reached up and plucked a berry off the sprig, then swept his wife into his arms with a passionate kiss. "Merry Christmas, Mrs Darcy!" He whispered into her lips, before dropping to his knees. As Elizabeth wished him a Merry Christmas back, he gently and tenderly kissed the slight bulge below her navel. Elizabeth sighed with absolute contentment, as he murmured into her dress. "Merry Christmas, little one."
And inside Elizabeth, their son began to kick in response to his fathers voice.
Author's Note: and with that, my story ends, and the Darcy's begins!
Thank you all for your wonderful comments and insightful reviews. I apologise that my geographical knowledge of England is woefully inaccurate, and that Derbyshire is much farther from London than I realised. I tried to reconcile this discrepancy, but couldn't keep the story flowing as smoothly, so reluctantly let the inaccuracy lie. Luckily I realised before publishing that Cambridge is *not* actually in London. Woeful, I know! (Blush)
I've been writing this story on my computer for a while, but I decided to wait until I'd finished before publishing it, so that's why I could post it so quickly. To be honest, I wasn't sure it was finish-able for a while there, and didn't want to keep people hanging in suspense. Much better this way, yes?!
I know I was pretty harsh with Darcy, but I hope you feel like he has done enough to deserve our Elizabeth, and that they will be happy together!
In my head, I always envisioned a Bennet son would be a mix of the three positive male characters in the book- so I gave him Bingley's sweetness and easy manners, Mr Bennet's humour and wit, and Darcy's intelligence and confidence. I'm pretty happy with how he turned out! I loved a more assertive portrayal of Georgiana in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and decided to borrow the concept here. Otherwise, our hero and heroine would probably still be at cross purposes! Thank goodness she sent him off up the hill after her!
Thank you all once again for devoting your time to my little story, and indulging the ideas that I've had whirling about my head for some years now!