Thank you all for your reviews even when it has been unforgivably long since I updated. I am terribly sorry it took me this long. I have not given up on this story and would really like to get it finished I will try to do better, my only excuse is its been a hard year. Since my boyfriend broke up with me unexpectedly I haven't been able to write, I'm going to try again, hope you all enjoy this short chapter!
Georgiana's expression was one of complete dismay as she pressed her nose to the glass, looking out at the angry dark clouds that were coming up.
"I don't suppose we will be able to skate tonight with the storm," she sighed.
"I'm sure the weather will be fine tomorrow, or the next evening, we could go skating then," Elizabeth assured her, handing her sister in law her tea.
"Yes," Georgiana cheered herself, "we will."
Elizabeth glanced at her husband, again wondering at his expression of dismay when Georgiana had invited her to skate that morning. She resolved to ask him about it that evening before they retired.
Richard took that moment to arrive and join them at tea. "Mrs. Reynolds says not to enter the main rooms, she is going to begin decorating there, and we would be in the way of the servants."
"Oh, the servants are decorating?" Elizabeth noticed the sound of dismay in her tone and wished she hadn't let it slip out as everyone turned to look at her. "Do you always have the servants decorate the house?" she asked, pouring the Colonel a cup of tea.
"Yes," her husband said as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
"Is there something wrong with that?" he had noticed her tone.
"No," Elizabeth quickly assured him, "It's just that we always did the decorating at Longbourn, and I thought we would here too."
"The whole house?" Mr. Darcy raised his eyebrows. "Wouldn't that be a bit much?"
"Well, perhaps," Elizabeth assented, looking down at her tea.
"I think it's a good idea!" Georgiana spoke up. "We don't have to do it all our selves, but at least supervise, it would be fun! Especially if we're stuck inside because of the storm anyhow!"
Elizabeth looked to her husband, but there was no challenge in her expression, just a question.
"Whatever you like Mrs. Darcy," he raised his teacup slightly in a salute to her.
"If we are to decorate, Mr. Darcy, you must help," Elizabeth replied.
"I know nothing about decorating."
"Doesn't matter, just follow orders," she smiled at him archly.
The idea of decorating Pemberley themselves seemed like a daunting and rather impossibly task, but after only a few minutes, Mr. Darcy was ready to agree with his sister that this was an excellent idea. Elizabeth had been right as well; all he had to do was follow orders. He and the Colonel and several footmen were doing just that as Elizabeth and Georgiana bounced idea's around and rang for more red ribbon. He was at the moment steadying a short ladder his wife was on as she decorated the high mantle. His cousin was tying a bow in a length of bright ribbon.
"Remember that Christmas when it had yet to snow all year though it had been cold and we all went to bed feeling cheated?" Richard asked.
Darcy laughed softly as the memories returned. "Yes, and then it snowed in the night, that snow seemed the most magical of them all."
"I didn't think you believed in magic," Georgie commented.
"Just a figure of speech," he smiled at his sister.
"There, what do you think?" Richard held up his bow for Darcy and the ladies to inspect.
"Well..." Georgie began, unsure.
"Hmmm," Elizabeth frowned at the thing. Only Darcy took pity on him and was honest.
"Sadly lacking, Richard."
Richard tossed the bow at him.
"No, it has character," Elizabeth protested, her smile saying she was trying not to laugh.
"Character? It has something, but I'm not sure it's character," Darcy laughed. He caught Elizabeth looking at him with a strange expression on her face, before she quickly looked away, breaking the momentary spell. "Well, just for your effort, I shall display it prominently here on the mantlepiece," she announced, hopping back up onto the ladder and placing the bow in the center with a flourish.
"Well now that we're all done laughing at my valiant efforts, what's your favorite Christmas memory, Georgie?" Richard asked.
Georgiana was quiet for a few minutes before speaking. "I believe it was when I was eight," she said softly, and Darcy started. That was the year their parents had died. Richard also got quiet. Only Elizabeth didn't know.
"What did you do?" she asked.
"Well, Father and mother had died that year," Georgiana said, not looking at anyone, but focusing on slowly tying a much better bow. "We were of course still in mourning, so celebrating wasn't proper, but Fitzwilliam somehow knew that I needed Christmas anyway," she glanced up at him for a moment. "We went out to the woods and gathered a little greenery and put it just in the sitting room where we sat most of the day and read to each other and just talked. I felt very safe and grown-up, and it was like a day away from real life, a day I could forget about being sad and pretend before I had to go back." His sister stopped and blushed, turning to hang her bow up where it belonged.
Mr. Darcy swallowed; he had never known how much that day had meant to his sister. They were all quiet for a moment before Richard lightened the mood. "What about you, Mrs. Darcy? Tell us a story from a Christmas you remember."
"Well, let's see. I remember when I was ten, some of the village children had offered to let me come sledding with them and I very much wanted to, but Mama said I was too old and it was unladylike. You see I had never been sledding, with five daughters, my father never thought he had a need for sleds." Elizabeth paused as she tied together a small bunch of holly with a crimson thread. He watched her nimble fingers.
"Well? Did you go or not?" Richard demanded, feigning desperation to know how the story came out.
"Guess," Elizabeth turned her teasing smile on all of them, effectively lightening the mood after Georgiana's embarrassment at sharing a memory she had kept close for so long.
"You went," Richard guessed.
"So sad that you can read me that easily." Elizabeth shook her head. "Thankfully for me, my mother could not read characters quite so well, and never knew that I snuck out that day."
"You did?" Georgiana was shocked.
"I know, shocking isn't it? I had a wonderful time too, but if it makes you feel better, I was guilty after the fact, so guilty in fact, that I confessed."
"To your mother?" Colonel Fitzwilliam asked.
"Oh, no, to Papa," she was quiet for a moment, and Darcy remembered that it hadn't been that long since she had suffered her own loss. Mr. Bennet may not have been the best father, but she had loved him.
He was about to change the subject and attempt to let her regain her composure, but she cleared her throat and continued in a cheerful tone.
"Yes, To Papa, I said I was guilty, not silly. He, of course, found it amusing and said it would be our little secret." The sadness that had momentarily pervaded the group quickly lifted as they remembered lighter memories and soon they were all talking and sharing again.
Elizabeth excused herself from the group for a moment to regain her composure. Slipping away into the library, she sank into one of the chairs and allowed herself to think fondly of her father for a few minutes. How she missed him, it was hard to believe that he was gone, that if she went back to Longbourn, he would not be there, a book resting on his knee and a ready smile for her.
She heard laughter from the other room, and a smile tugged at her lips. There it was again. Her husband had a lovely laugh. The deep sound had surprised her, and she realized just moments ago that she could not remember ever hearing him laugh before that. What a shame. She found that she liked the sound. She would very much like to hear it more often.
"Mr. Darcy?" his hand on the doorknob of his bedroom door, Fitzwilliam froze at the sound of Elizabeth's voice behind him. He may not have started outwardly, but his heart tripped over itself. He turned, she stood in the doorway of her room, backlit by the soft flickering light of several candles. Her hair was down, but otherwise, she was still dressed. He wondered if she had the slightest idea of how beautiful and tantalizing she looked standing there.
He slammed the door on those thoughts, "yes?" was that his voice, it sounded too breathless.
"Do you have a moment?" she motioned him towards her room, not waiting for an answer but disappearing. She could have all the moments of his time she wanted, his heart beating entirely too hard for him to act casual and unaffected, he followed her.
As soon as he was in the room, she spoke, talking as she moved about, gracefully gathering the sewing and books around the room from the day's use and placing them where they belonged. "I wanted to ask you about skating."
"Skating?" how was he supposed to be calm when she was this close, her hair loose and in such a private setting as her room? He had only been in her room twice, once when he initially showed her the house after their marriage, and then only days ago when she had helped him to his room.
"Yes," she continued, "I noticed when Georgiana invited me, you did not look very pleased. Would you prefer to skate alone with Georgiana? I can easily think of an excuse to stay behind," she offered, turning to look at him directly and wait for an answer.
"Ah, that. I should rather not go at all," he admitted.
"You do not enjoy skating?" Elizabeth asked, with amusement.
"I haven't skated for a great many years, and I was never very good at it. I find that the fear of falling has grown to eclipse the memories of the fun I had."
"Oh, nonsense!" scoffed Elizabeth "once you learn you never forget," she insisted. "We could practice tomorrow if you like, in the afternoon before we all go. A few turns around the pond, and you'll remember and be ready for the evening skating," she had come closer and was smiling up at him encouragingly.
"I fear you overestimate my ability a great deal," he managed, it wasn't easy to focus on the conversation when she as that close. He honestly doubted that practice would help him, but he was quite aware that this was the first time she had ever offered to spend time with him at all, and he was not going to refuse her. "But if you're offering your help, I will gladly accept."
Good, we can go tomorrow, whenever you like," she smiled, seemingly pleased. His wife had just proposed that they spend time together. He could not have felt more elated and doubted he would ever get any sleep that night. Too much to think about, such as, what should he say? Or do? He would have her all to himself.