5 months, 8 days, 3 hours and 47 minutes.
That is how long it took for William Darcy to fall face first into love with Lizzie Bennet.
She came in September; swept in on the final breeze of summer, drifted into Chelsea and into his life.
He remembers sitting in the crowded auditorium, remembers the colour of the chair he'd been sitting in (red), remembers the chatter and whispers surrounding him ("How was your summer?" "Did you hear about Caroline and Mr. Moore?" "Denny's dad totally found out about him and Wickham!") But most of all, clear like glass, he remembers her. Her easy smile, her flushed cheeks, her accented English as she introduced herself to the crowd as per the Headmaster's request. William felt like he'd jumped off a cliff, his heart was beating so fast, but he was quick to dismiss it. His initial conclusion was that it had been the 3 cups of coffee he'd had that morning, but after months of Lizzie Lizzie Lizzie making his head spin and his stomach tie in knots, he could no longer deny that his heart (and all rational thought, for that matter) had been stolen by a Swiss girl with bee-stung lips and eyes like almonds.
He remembers the first time he'd seen her; truly seen her. It took him a while to think her beautiful. He resigned himself to thinking her too tall, too thin, too freckled; her hair too long and her eyes too far apart, but he hadn't known her a month before he thought she was the loveliest girl he'd ever seen. The turning point, he thinks, was seeing her out of their school uniform, comfortable in the tiny little house she shared with her mother, four sisters and three dogs. Ms. Bennet had answered the door in haste, all bedraggled bun and wrinkled pantsuit, bustling out with her briefcase, Boston bound.
He'd wandered into the porch, hesitant, clutching the strap of his bookbag. They were paired together on a Physics lab; she'd invited him over to finish it, he'd reluctantly agreed. All thoughts of the worn welcome mat and heap of high heels littering the entrance were forgotten when he heard girlish voices from above, and her laugh echoed down the stairs. She followed, skipping down and uttering a cheery, "Hey!" or something equally as calm, cool and collected. Three things that, in that moment, he most certainly was not.
Her eyes were brown and bright and her curls were free that day. She looked happy and alive and he was sure he'd never wanted to kiss someone more, despite the two-sizes-too-big-t-shirt.
He watched the sway of her tiny hips as she led him to her tiny kitchen. They sat at the table and listened to Joan Jett and she discussed projectile motion. He was too busy watching her chew the end of her pen to take down any answers of his own. Will left two hours later with a blank page and a full heart.
The following months were dizzy and his head was filled with flashes of freckles and frizzy hair. It was difficult to ignore her; Charlie was infatuated with her sister, Jeanne, which meant he and Élisabeth were thrown together often. He certainly didn't mind. By October he'd learned that she'd lived in Geneva all her life, and they'd moved to Chelsea because of her mother's job. By November, she'd mentioned her favourite season was winter (so was his,) that she was a Scorpio (so was he,) and that she was hoping to get accepted into Harvard. By December, she'd revealed that her mother was Javanese, her father Irish (and dead.) By January, they were friends, and he'd danced with her at a party to a song he couldn't name for the life of him. He could only remember the feel of her waist, small and warm, under his hands. In February, he kissed her. He'd given her a ride home so she wouldn't have to walk in the cold. They were on her doorstep and she was thanking him and there were snowflakes on her eyelashes and he couldn't fucking stand it, so he kissed her soundly on her open mouth. It was over too quickly and he'd mumbled a lame farewell before practically sprinting to his car. She didn't speak to him in Calculus or English the next day, and she was gone before he could catch her at her locker. Will had never been angrier at himself. The frustration and "God, you complete idiot!"s had been short-lived, however, because when he pulled into his driveway at 3:58pm that day, she was sitting on his doorstep, still clad in her school uniform, hugging her bare knees to her chest. She'd jumped to her feet when she saw him, and he hadn't even shut the door before she was in his arms, her lips on his. She was nervous and shivering and her hands were cold on his neck but he didn't mind. He'd later learned it was her first (well, second) kiss. The thought warmed him.
And now its March and she's leaning against him. His arm is around her and they're in his basement and something is playing on the TV but it doesn't matter because her hand is over his and she's running her thumb along his palm like that and he swears he can't think. He turns his head, glances at her form, curled up impossibly small at his side. She smells sweet; like almonds, like roses, like cotton candy at a carnival. He's leaning in to kiss her when she asks, "Pourquoi tu fais ça tout le temps?"
His brows furrow and he's mildly annoyed that he was interrupted. It takes him a moment to respond as he tries to translate what she said using his (admittedly lacking) Core French skills. She reverts back to native tongue more often than she realizes, but William doesn't mind. He likes how it sounds coming from her pretty little mouth. "Do what?"
"Stare at me like you're trying to solve a Rubik's Cube, and then do something disgustingly affectionate?"
"Because I love you." Its out before he can snatch it back. He didn't even hesitate, and that's what scares him most. He waits for her to tense, for her to misinterpret it as a joke and tell him to shut up, for her to get up and leave, for her to do something, anything other than study him with those fucking eyes. He averts his gaze because he just can't stand it anymore, and pretends to suddenly be very interested in the movie they were watching. She doesn't say anything for what feels like forever. Doesn't move, doesn't speak, is so still he's wondering if she's even blinked. Will is about to apologize before she leans up, presses her lips to his neck, and in his ear whispers, "Ditto."
And he's never heard a more beautiful two-syllable word in all his life.