Whether it was the sea air, the vigorous exercise, the shear passage of time, or some other unknown factor, Mr. Darcy's health began to improve even more rapidly after the Darcys arrived in Brighton.
The couple enjoyed their time alone together, and what began as a trip for the sake of Mr. Darcy's health became a honeymoon for the couple. Although they had begun to know each other well before the trip, they gained an even greater knowledge of one another from both conversation and observation one another's habits. By the end of the three months they spent in Brighton, the two felt almost as if they had always been married.
During the last month they spent at the seashore, Darcy and Lizzy walked along the beach nearly everyday. Darcy loved to watch his wife walk barefoot in the sand, and he loved the joy she expressed when she found beautiful new seashells or admired the scenery around her.
On one such excursion, Lizzy looked up at her husband after she had collected a particularly beautiful shell. His dark gaze was one she might formerly have dismissed as disapprobation, but now she recognized it as soulful longing. Lizzy dared to return his gaze, and she felt as if her husband was reading what was written on her heart.
"Might I ask you a question, husband?"
"Have I ever failed to indulge your curiosity."
"Fitzwilliam, do you ever wonder what would have happened if you had not taken ill?"
"I have thought of it, and I'd like to believe I would have come to my senses eventually and have come to court you properly."
"And I would like to believe I would have accepted you when you did."
"Perhaps my illness was God's way of stopping us from making a terrible mistake."
"I cannot imagine life without you."
"Nor I without you."
"God has been truly good to us."
"I have nearly recovered fully, I believe."
"Indeed, you look very much like the symbol of virility I thought you to be when I first laid eyes on you."
Darcy reached out, placed his hands on Elizabeth's waist and spun her around.
"I believe I am in need of more training in order to be the picture of perfect health I once was."
"Are you suggesting you need more exercise?"
"Then by all means let us return to the house."
Darcy and Elizabeth might have stayed in Brighton longer if they had not so desired to attend the weddings of Elizabeth's sisters.
Jane and Lydia had decided it would be best to share a wedding day. Lydia's willingness not to be the center of attention, was very much in accordance with the other changes in her life. In just a few months she had matured immeasurably; she would still need to mature a great deal, but the start she had made boded well for future felicity in life. Mr. Winthrop was delighted with the wife he had found, and was ever thankful that Colonel Fitzwilliam had overheard his conversation with the nurse that day.
Mr. Bingley was likewise delighted with his own wife. He and Jane would lead a life of contentment together. Though they never experienced the depth of love the Darcy's had, Bingley never grew to regret his choice of a wife. He often found his head turned by another pretty face; but Bingley never gave his wife cause to doubt his love or fidelity.
On the day her oldest and youngest were married Mrs. Bennet delighted in more than just the gaining of two more sons. She rejoiced that she was finally able to introduce her most prosperous son to her friends and neighbors. Mr. Darcy did not rejoice in the attention, but neither did he protest it. He had learned that loving his wife meant loving and respecting her family even if that meant listening to his mother-in-laws effusions through an entire wedding breakfast.
After the weddings, Darcy finally was able to bring his new wife to Pemberley. He even managed to carry her over the threshold. Lizzy was absolutely delighted with her new home and came to love it almost as much as its master. The people of Pemberley were predisposed to adore Mrs. Darcy since they had heard of her tender care for her husband; but even if she had not had such recommendations she would have soon earned their admiration for the gentle firmness with which she managed her new home.
As Mrs. Darcy learned her role as Mistress of Pemberley, she also began to find her place in society. However, she never became the central society figure Lady Matlock hoped she would become.
Mr. Darcy recovered his health in nearly all aspects. However, he did continue to have epilepsy. His seizures did not occur often enough to affect his routines or responsibilities, but they still kept him away from the society of those with whom he was not well acquainted. Darcy's friends and relatives were for the most part accepting of his condition, and he had never really cared for any other society anyway. Lizzy did sometimes participate in social events without her husband, but she found she infinitely preferred to stay home with her Darcy, and perhaps invite a few friends to accompany them.
The Darcys had a long and happy life. It was not a life free of trials and conflicts, but the blessings far outweighed the negatives in their lives.
One day, forty-seven years after their wedding, Elizabeth Darcy became suddenly ill. What was originally thought to be a trifling little cold turned quickly into a severe pneumonia. Her husband refused to leave her side all through her illness. Their children and grandchildren entreated him to take better care of himself; they told him he was putting his own life in jeopardy, but he refused to listen. Their warnings proved accurate, but it is doubtful that Darcy would have regretted his actions. One morning, their fifteen-year-old granddaughter Lydia, who was named for her great-aunt, came in to check on her parents and found them wrapped in one another's arms, legs intertwined, with contented smiles upon their faces, but without the breath of life. She sighed and wondered if she would ever find that sort of love.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and review my story. A lot of the comments really helped me to improve my writing.
A few people have asked questions regarding the nature of Darcy's illness, which I didn't really want to answer while writing the story, but I thought I'd offer some answers now. The illness which has broken out at Darcy house (and elsewhere in the vicinity) is the grippe, which is just another name for influenza. In Darcy's case, he is experiencing Sepsis as a side issue with the disease –basically bacteria has entered his bloodstream. The seizures he experiences are caused initially by the high fever, but later on from brain damage resulting from the disease. In all honesty, it is extremely unlikely Darcy would have survived this sort of illness since antibiotics had not been invented, so his recovery is miraculous.