Title: Col. & Mrs Brandon [Series: Sense & Sensibility]
Author: Drusilla Dax (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: Colonel Christopher Brandon/Marianne Dashwood, Edward Ferrars/Elinor Dashwood
Summary: What happened when Colonel Brandon came back to the Dashwoods' home...
Disclaimer: I'm just playing with other people's toys. May I be forgiven in my next incarnation! Flamers will be adopted by my family (if you don't believe it's a threat... too bad for you!).
Inspiration: Emma Thompson (Sense & Sensibility, The Diaries; p. 32): "Can't rely on Austen for a snog, that's for sure."; (id.; p. 70): "a man thawing out after having been in a fridge for twenty years."
A/N: Since the purpose of this work is entertainment, I will use elements from the novel and from the 1995 film. For example, I use the name given in the novel for the Colonel's ward: Eliza Williams, and not Beth.
Where to find it: my group , ff.net 
Readers: Starkindler, Joyce and Stephanie. Thanks a lot!!! I'm really nervous about starting this! The remaining mistakes are all mine, and I apologize for those.
Col. & Mrs Brandon
Elinor Dashwood had just accepted to marry Edward Ferrars. He was still kneeling before her; he had heard her accepting him, yet, he found it hard to believe that such simple words as "I will marry you, Edward" could set his life to right. After the ordeal that his existence had become, it felt nearly unbelievable that happiness could be his. He had truly thought that he had lost Elinor and that, his honour commanding him, he would marry a woman for whom he no longer had feelings.
Now, he had been offered a living. He was finally getting the quiet lifestyle he had dreamt of, and Elinor would share his life.
Edward realized that he was still holding Elinor's hand and that her fingers were rather cold. He reflected that the emotions through which he had put her in a matter of minutes could easily explain that.
With shining eyes, he brought her hand to his lips. Elinor tried to resist, because she had been gardening and she knew some earth was still clinging to her fingernails, but Edward smiled and she stopped resisting.
'Thank you,' Edward finally said.
He rose to his feet and, still holding her hand, as if he was afraid that she would change her mind if he let her go, he helped her up.
Elinor had not wiped her tears. Sensibility had washed through her as a broken dam; she had exploded with relief when Edward said that there was no Mrs Edward Ferrars at Longstaple, then she had surrendered to pure joy when the man she loved had proposed to join their lives.
Edward took one handkerchief from his coat and Elinor took the one he had given her from her pocket. They looked at each other and smiled.
'You kept it. Thank you, Elinor,' he whispered in awe.
She nodded and smiled again.
With the handkerchief she had kept, she wiped away her tears and put the linen that was so precious to her back into her pocket.
Suddenly, Edward seemed to remember that his fiancée had a family and that they should share their happiness with them, so he asked, 'Shouldn't we go and look for your mother and sisters?'
Elinor thought that, for once in her life, she wanted something for herself, something she would not share with her family - not yet.
'Would you go out for a short walk with me?' she asked, astonished to be suddenly so bold and unreasonable.
Edward simply bowed.
Meanwhile, in the garden, Mrs Dashwood and her two other daughters were waiting for Elinor and Edward to confirm the good news.
Margaret had seen Edward kneeling before her eldest sister, but, after all, he might have been begging for forgiveness. Margaret's romantic soul had decided that Edward was to become her brother-in-law soon, but Mrs Dashwood and Marianne needed confirmation before they would allow themselves to rejoice entirely.
Since Margaret was still perched in her tree-house, Marianne decided to make the most of that useful position and she asked her sister, 'What are they doing now?'
Yet, the fiancés had gone out using the backdoor and Margaret could see no one.
'I cannot tell. I cannot see them in the parlour!' the young girl exclaimed, utterly disappointed.
'Shall we?...' Marianne's voice trailed off, but with her hand she was pointing towards the Cottage.
Mrs Dashwood dried her tears of happiness and she nodded firmly. After all, her gentle Elinor deserved some joy in her life and, as her mother, she needed to share that joy.
Margaret jumped off her house, frightening her mother in the process, and she followed the two women back inside their home.
While they saw for themselves that the parlour was deserted and that there was no one in the dining-room, Margaret ran into the kitchen and there Betsy told her that she had seen Miss Dashwood leave the house with Mr Ferrars.
Margaret brought back this news to her mother and sister.
'They must have gone for a walk towards the river,' Marianne guessed.
'How romantic!' exclaimed the young Margaret. The girl was delighted with the whole situation and totally oblivious that her relatives were still in doubt about the engagement.
In spite of it, Mrs Dashwood's eyes were shining again. She knew that Elinor would never be
like her or like Marianne, but she prayed that her walk would, indeed, be romantic and mark her
soul for the rest of her years in the most pleasant way.
Mrs Dashwood's wish was being fulfilled, as, after chatting about Edward's misguided engagement to Miss Lucy Steele and about his duty towards his mother - whatever she had done to him - and about his misplaced jealousy towards Colonel Brandon whom he thought had feelings for Elinor, Edward gave Elinor her very first kiss on a bridge under which two swans were harmoniously swimming.
'Edward!' she exclaimed, when he freed her lips.
'Forgive me?' he said with a huge smile.
She blushed some more and whispered, 'Always.'
They resumed their walk back to Elinor's home where they would have to start sharing their happiness with the rest of the world.
'You were absolutely wrong about me and Colonel Brandon, and I think you will understand why when you meet him. He should arrive soon,' she declared.
'Would you enlighten me, dear Elinor?'
'Well, he has taken to writing to our mother quite regularly. When he deals with me, he acts as a distant relative would. He doesn't behave with Margaret as if she were merely a child and she worships him for that, but...'
'You might have noticed the piano in our parlour. It was sent by the Colonel two days ago,' she announced.
'Oh,' he said, then he understood the full implications of what his fiancée had just said and he added, 'Oh! Dear God! How wrong I was! You must think that you have accepted a man without much wit.'
She tenderly pressed the arm he had offered her and smiled as she answered, 'My own brother made the same mistake and it seems that many thought the Colonel would be interested in me. First because our spirits are very much alike and because the age difference is less important between us. Yet, as Mrs Jennings put it one day, he is besotted with Marianne.'
'How does your sister feel about this situation?' Edward enquired.
'Since she's been told of Willoughby's engagement and after her fever, she has changed a lot. Colonel Brandon is the one who rode away in the night to bring her her mother. Since the morning when, healed at last, she opened her eyes, she's been making amends and she sees the world with new eyes. She now understands how rude and unkind she was at times. And she understands that Colonel Brandon has been a steady rock throughout the tempest of her emotions. Since we've been able to bring her back home, the Colonel took his old quarters at the Park - for which Sir John must be hopeful, even if we steal his friend away from him - so he can visit Marianne each day. I think our Marianne may soon understand that Willoughby's love would have consumed her, while the Colonel would dedicatedly take care of her,' Elinor said, full of hope for her sister and her possible future happiness.
They had almost reached the Cottage when Edward stole another kiss from Elinor.
Elinor's cheeks were still burning when they walked into Barton Cottage.
Margaret ran to them and cried, 'Elinor! Edward!'
Elinor took her younger sister in her arms and tried to show her how to behave properly, though she knew the girl was more like Marianne and had been allowed to do whatever pleased her for too long to ever become a tame lady.
Margaret was pointedly looking at Edward and Elinor, begging for confirmation, but Elinor dragged her into the parlour where their mother was trying to sew and Marianne was practising the song Colonel Brandon had sent.
As soon as Marianne heard her sister's step, she stopped playing and Mrs Dashwood's fingers stopped in mid-movement.
The slightest nod from Elinor sent Edward to Mrs Dashwood's side where he asked for her consent.
Elinor was beaming and her sisters were grinning with joy - though Marianne was adding some tears.
Mrs Dashwood discarded her work and, forgetting herself, held Edward as if he were her own son and the dearest being to her heart. The young man was slightly surprised, but he reflected that it was a charming way to give consent.
Marianne kept crying and laughing and smiling. She finally rose and went to embrace her sister.
Margaret was sent to ask for tea from Betsy and they all sat down. Mrs Dashwood stayed in her chair, Marianne went back to her piano, and Elinor sat timidly next to Edward on the sofa. When she came back, Margaret sat in Elinor's chair.
At last, they could discuss Edward's extraordinary luck at being freed from such a calculating woman as Mrs Robert Ferrars - with his honour intact. Edward even showed his fiancée the strange letter in which the now Mrs Ferrars released him from his engagement. The style was plain and the grammar unforgivable - especially for the niece of a scholar, but Elinor did not comment upon that. The dear soul even refrained from stating aloud that Mrs Ferrars, after having teased her about her secret engagement with Edward when she had perfectly understood that Elinor truly was in love with him, had tried to torture her one last time when she had met Thomas and had announced her wedding with Mr Ferrars. Elinor had too much sense to be angry with such a devious creature.
Throughout their conversation, Mrs Dashwood kept beaming, Marianne was sobbing with happiness in her cup of tea, and young Margaret could not stop smiling at the prospect of gaining a brother, and such a charming one.
'You have not been to Delaford, yet?' Mrs Dashwood enquired.
'No, Ma'am. When I received Mrs Ferrars's letter in Oxford, I left immediately and I rode straight here. I have been exchanging posts with Colonel Brandon, but I shall be honoured and enchanted to thank him for making me a truly happy man,' Edward answered.
'He should be here soon, and I'm certain that he'll be delighted with you. The Colonel said that he would wait for you before he ordered any change in your new home,' Mrs Dashwood said.
'I will have to thank him for that as well. Maybe you could join us and give us your mind, Miss Dashwood. After all, this will be your home,' Edward offered.
Elinor blushed again, but nodded, and Marianne sobbed and tried to hide behind her cup. For once, her elder sister smiled with fondness at her sensibility.
'You should stay here with us, Edward. Elinor could thus enjoy your company and I could get to know you better. You will become my son in... When do you plan to marry?' Mrs Dashwood asked.
Edward turned towards Elinor and thought that they had not spoken of a day for their wedding.
'I cannot impose a home full of workers to Miss Dashwood, so I guess we cannot decide before we know when I can move in and Miss Dashwood after me,' he reflected.
Elinor nodded. It was a very logical conclusion, indeed.
'Will you stay with us?' Margaret eagerly asked.
'I would not impose my presence into your home; I could...' but Edward was interrupted by Marianne, who, still sobbing, managed to say, 'Stay with us, dear Edward!'
Another nod from Elinor and he accepted.
Mrs Dashwood decided that a week was a minimum for his stay.
Margaret was sent to Betsy once more so that she would prepare the only guest-room of the Cottage for Edward.
The living of Delaford was then discussed and Edward discovered much, thanks to Elinor who had paid extreme attention when Colonel Brandon had spoken of the dwelling place he was giving to the man she loved. At the time, she had cherished that information as the only links she could allow herself to have with Mr and Mrs Edward Ferrars. Now she could give details to Edward about their future home.
Elinor thought that she would work on convincing Edward to obtain his mother's grace so that
she might help them with their income. She knew that he would understand the necessity of
increasing the three hundred and fifty pounds a-year that they would have between them. Elinor
hoped that Robert's wedding with Lucy would be favourable for Edward. Yet, their situation was
insecure because Elinor knew that Edward's engagement with her would not be welcomed by
Mrs Ferrars and that her eldest son would have to write a letter of proper submission and regain
his mother's trust in order to really secure their happiness. Elinor guessed that Edward would
despise to do all this, but his sense of duty for them would make him do the right thing - little
did she know that her own brother would recommend this exact strategy towards Mrs Ferrars but
in three weeks!
They shared a light, but pleasant supper.
When the sun started to set, Marianne blanched: there was no sign and no news of Colonel Brandon.
Mrs Dashwood told her that he might have had to visit his ward whose health was, unhappily, not very good. Eliza Williams was not properly recovering from childbirth, and the Colonel feared that, like her mother, her betrayed heart would somehow fail her.
Margaret said that he might be hunting or fishing with Sir John.
Edward was the one to cheer Marianne when he suggested that the Colonel might be looking for something for them, some new song, maybe...
'Elinor, do you think that Colonel Brandon might have been delayed for that reason?' she asked, ready to believe what her sister would tell her.
'I do remember you telling him one day that you didn't know any duets. Maybe he's looking for some cheerful piece that would allow him to show you that he can play as well as you do,' Elinor gently teased her younger sister.
Marianne blushed as she remembered that day at Barton Park. Now she realized how kind Colonel Brandon had been since the very first moment when he had met her, while she had been so unfair with him. Suddenly, she understood how lucky she was that he had remained faithful to his first impression, and at the same time she feared that his patience with her had come to an end and that he would not come back, ever.
That night, the only ones to sleep quietly were Betsy and Thomas: they were happy for Miss Dashwood, but they did not lose sleep because of her engagement, and Margaret, who was happy, but too young to be troubled.
Edward and Elinor started planning their future, and both reflected in their own rooms that the events of the day deserved to be written in red.
Mrs Dashwood tossed and turned in her bed. She was overjoyed for Elinor and slightly worried about the Colonel.
Marianne feared that something had happened to the Colonel, or that he had decided to stay
away from Barton Cottage, and she didn't know what she feared most.
On the following day, some time after breakfast, Edward and Elinor decided to take Marianne out for a walk, for nothing could quiet her, not even practicing the song that the Colonel had sent with his last letter.
Mrs Dashwood had resumed her sewing when Margaret, who had taken position into her tree-house in spite of her mother, shouted, 'Colonel!' Mrs Dashwood heard a horse galloping towards the Cottage.
Once more, Margaret had forgotten all good manners and she had run towards Colonel Brandon.
'We've missed you! So much has happened!' she joyfully shouted.
The Colonel could not control his smile. No one could resist the cheerfulness of the younger sister of the woman he had come to love dearly.
'Good morning, Margaret! I have been slightly delayed in town, but you couldn't have missed me that much,' he gently said, trying to teach her some manners without making it obvious or annoying.
'If you had been here yesterday, you would already know that Elinor is engaged and Marianne was worried about you. Did you bring her some duet?' Margaret eagerly asked.
The Colonel barely registered that Miss Dashwood was engaged to be married; all he could think of was that this innocent child had given him hope. All of a sudden, he felt as if his heart was trying to escape his ribcage, and it was painful. Those feelings were making him react as a young man, but he no longer was one and he prayed that Margaret was not mistaken.
All he thought of asking was, 'Why a duet?'
'Elinor said something about Marianne, you and a duet and Marianne seemed to remember that very clearly.' Margaret realized that she had probably said too much again and she begged, 'You will not tell them, Colonel?'
He offered her a small smile and shook his head. As he walked with her to the Cottage, he remembered to ask, 'To whom is Miss Dashwood engaged?'
'To Edward Ferrars!' Margaret announced proudly.
'Edward Ferrars? But I thought...' he stopped.
'I see that Margaret told you the good news. Good morning, Colonel,' Mrs Dashwood greeted him.
'Good morning, Mrs Dashwood. I thought that Mr Ferrars was engaged to a Miss Lucy Steele?'
Margaret foresaw an adult conversation and she fled back to her tree.
Mrs Dashwood told the Colonel what happened between Mrs Ferrars, that was Miss Steele, and Edward. She told him that as soon as he was free he ran to Elinor and that she had welcomed him in their family.
The Colonel was absolutely delighted to contribute to the happiness of his good friend, Miss Dashwood, and he told her mother so.
Mrs Dashwood was about to mention Marianne when the fiancés came back to the Cottage.
'Colonel Brandon!' exclaimed Elinor.
'Miss Dashwood,' he said, bowing.
She curtseyed in answer and said, 'I guess my mother told you my good fortune. Allow me to introduce you to Mr Edward Ferrars.'
'How do you do?' Edward said, bowing and smiling.
'How do you do?' answered the Colonel, bowing and smiling as well.
Both men were observing each other when Marianne rushed into the parlour.
'Colonel Brandon! You're back! Thank God! I was afraid that...' she stopped for she was panting too much. When Margaret had spotted them coming back, she had run to Marianne who was walking behind Elinor and Edward to tell her that the Colonel was there. Marianne had run to the Cottage and she was out of breath.
The Colonel ran to her side and said, extremely surprised to see for himself that Margaret seemed to have been perfectly right, 'Miss Marianne, if I had known that my being delayed would disturb you so greatly, I would have come back sooner.'
Marianne was still panting and she was very pale. The Colonel feared that she might faint and he gently led her towards the sofa. He helped her sit down and, when she kept his hand in hers, he blinked with surprise.
'Will you forgive me, Miss Marianne?' he murmured.
She looked deep down in his eyes and solemnly said, 'No, Colonel, it is I who must beg for forgiveness and for being a silly girl. When you went to town you promised you wouldn't stay away long and I overreacted once more. Can you forgive me?'
He pressed her hand imperceptibly and nodded. She had rendered him speechless. He had commanded soldiers in countless battles, and he couldn't say a single word to this young lady.
Edward and Elinor traded a look and Mrs Dashwood resumed her beaming.
There was not enough room for both Edward Ferrars and Christopher Brandon, and the Colonel let Edward claim the privilege of first comer and have the only guest-room.
Yet, he was invited to stay with them as much as he could.
Sir John teased him endlessly when he came back to Barton Park very late at night and left early in the morning so he could share the Dashwoods and Edward's breakfast.
Discreetly encouraged by Margaret, who was starting to pay attention to his sensible lessons, the Colonel asked Marianne if she would accept to play a duet with him.
When she answered, 'With all my heart, Colonel, but you will have to teach me one, for I really
do not know any,' the Colonel thought that feeling his heart beat so hard was the most delicious
To Be Continued...