A/N: Well gang, here is an epilogue, although I truly do consider the story finished after the last chapter. Instead of the traditional far-far-future view, I'll show something a bit sooner. I'll also make the epilogue a bit more light-hearted fun to calm you down from the seriousness of the story but be warned. This is just a bit of light-hearted silliness, since I promised you some frivolousness back in the beginning.


Jane Bennet the Fearsome, smiter of overgrown boys, looked out the window of the carriage in wonder, and said, "Lizzy would love this place if she ever showed up. I can just imagine her first sight of it. She would feel compelled to say something pretentious like, 'I have never seen a place for which nature has done more, or where natural beauty has been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.'"

Anne and Mary Taylor laughed uproariously.

Mary pulled a very sad, pouty face, and said, "Ah, but then wait until she looked around inside. She would be filled with regrets and heartache. I can imagine her whining with something like, 'And of this place, I might have been mistress!'"

Anne laughed, and added her own, "If she had arrived before Darcy, she would interrogate Mrs. Reynolds like a French Spy. Of course, that might go either way. Mrs. Reynolds is the housekeeper and has known Fitzwilliam since he was four years old. She loves to sport with tourists, so about half the time she says he is the best master in the world, and the other half, she says he is the worst. It is all the luck of the draw.

Not to be outdone, Jane added, "I wonder how long it will take Fitzwilliam to track her down. I imagine by now he has gathered at least a dozen men to start at Matlock and begin the hunt. She should still be somewhere within a hundred miles.

All three ladies were still laughing uproariously as they came down the hill from the first view. As they came in sight of the house, they saw the most perplexing thing.

Mary spoke what they were all thinking.

"How on Earth did he get so many men in just one morning. There are at least a dozen wagons sitting in the drive, and… does that not look like a bunch of villagers as well. I am also curious why they are loaded with timber and stone. That seems unnecessary unless Fitzwilliam is planning to build gallows to threaten her with if she does not marry him, or a tower to lock her up like a fairytale princess. It all seems so extraneous for hunting down one wayward girl. I should think a horse and a copy of a note to be sufficient!"

Anne agreed with equal confusion, saying, "There are no obvious construction projects here, or in Lambton."

Jane sighed a bit, and said, "This is quite a place, Anne. Is Rosings anything like this?"

"It is gaudier, and much more uselessly fine. I will have to strip a lot of its ornamentation when I redecorate. It is about two thirds the size of Pemberley, and under my mother's management has about a tenth of the net income."


The exclamation from Jane would have mortified her a month before, but at that moment, she was just happy she had not cursed in the process.

Mary said, "Yes, Jane. Jason will have his work cut out for him."

Jane and Anne giggled, not entirely certain if Mary was serious or not.

Anne sighed wistfully, which leant some weight to Mary's hypothesis.

When they came to a stop in front of the house, Anne curiously said, "That is odd! You would think Fitzwilliam would at least come out to greet us."

Mary added, "It is most peculiar indeed. Since he obviously overreacted in his search, perhaps he was just too busy."

As the coach settled, they saw the usual compliment of footmen approaching… or it would be the usual compliment if the usual compliment was triple what was required. Even Anne, a long‑suffering veteran of her mother's over‑exuberance was a bit shocked.

One of the men reached up to open the door, but instead of the step being pulled down, they heard a scream that would wake the dead.


Looking down, all three women were shocked to see none other than Elizabeth Bennet leaning into the coach, yelling at them with a huge smile on her face.

"Oh, Janey! I am so happy to see you. And you as well, Miss de Bourgh… Oh, rats… I shall call you Anne and you shall call me Lizzy and that is that. And Mary… Mary Taylor, it is wonderful to see you again. I have heard all about you. Is it true that you plan to marry Robert Breton sight unseen?"

All three women were somewhat overwhelmed, and then they saw a footman discreetly tap Lizzy on the shoulder, and suggest, "Might I suggest the step, Miss Bennet?"

Elizabeth laughed, stepped back, and said, "Of course, Thomas. Is this some of the 'initiative' I have been pestering you about?"

Much to the three ladies' surprise, the footman laughed, and said, "Only if 'common sense' and 'initiative' are synonymous."

With an even more peculiar laugh, Elizabeth slapped the man on the upper arm, and said, "No more talking to Francis for you… synonymous indeed!"

The odd little footman smiled, and as Elizabeth stepped aside, he said, "The master would have liked to hand you down, ladies, but he is engaged in critical business. May I have the pleasure?"

None of the three had ever heard that many words in a row from a footman, but the rules of etiquette had been drilled into them from birth, and they naturally got up and offered their hands to be handed down.

Jane came first, and her sister wrapped her in an enormous hug.

Anne followed, and Elizabeth wrapped her in an enormous hug, which apparently was the thing at Pemberley, although Anne had no idea when it became fashionable.

As Mary stepped down, the footman leaned close to her and whispered, 'Breton is going to die.', just before Elizabeth wrapped her in another enormous hug.

Mary looked at the footman curiously, but he was just grinning ear to ear, and she surmised she would eventually either understand the odd exchange or not.

Once the ladies were on the ground, and mostly recovered from the overly exuberant greetings, Elizabeth began.

"I am so happy you made good time. Look at the time. It is barely nine‑thirty, which is quite good. It is quite good indeed. We need to be at the church before eleven, so you will have to hurry. Stewart, this is my elder sister Jane. She will have to share with Margaret, but she has four sisters so it will not kill her. Oh, that did not make any sense. The gust wing is quarantined due to the Measles, and we have injured from the fire in the family wing, and fifty or so villagers in the ballroom, so things are a bit tight, so you will just have to share. Anne can go in with Georgie. Mary can go… well, let us worry about Mary after she meets Robert. Anne, Estelle is Aunt Matlock's maid. She will help you. I believe you know her already. Now hurry-hurry-hurry. You need to be at the church before 11, so there is no time to lose. Stewart, I will show Jane to her quarters. You can direct Anne and then come to help Jane. Mary, it is SO nice to meet you. Robert is just going to die when he sees you. I hope you have a nice dress with you. Jane, you made sure Mary has a nice dress, did you not. Well, never mind. If you do not, Stewart can fix up one of mine… well, actually, it is Georgie's, but Stewart has altered them to fit me, so mine now, and I am quite certain you can get by with one of my dresses. George, please take Anne's trunk to Lady Matlock's room… Anne, which is yours… well, never mind, you can sort it out George. Justin, you are to take Jane… this is my sister Jane, but you already worked that out… well, at any rate, hurry-hurry-hurry, we do not want to be late. Mary, Robert is just going to die… wait, I said that before. Am I making any sense at all? Well, probably not, but there you have it…"

"Lizzy, Breathe!"

The shout from Jane startled everyone… including Jane.

"Now, Lizzy. You say we need to be in the church at eleven."

Elizabeth was breathing fast, and said, "Yes, Jane. I am sorry… I sound like a complete flibbertigibbet. You would never believe that I have been acting mistress of this estate for a fortnight."

All three of her friends just stared at her with their mouths hanging open.

"Well, someone had to do it. We had the measles, and of course the fire… oh, you do not know about that. About half of Sudbury burned, so we had to take in 63 villagers, and frankly, at sixteen, Georgie was not quite up to it, so I helped her."

"You what?"

"I helped Georgie… Georgiana Darcy. Naturally, she coerced me into taking the mistress role, so I did it, and then Lady Matlock came, but she left me in charge, and then Fitzwilliam came home, and he left me in charge, and here we are. Simple, really!"

"But… but… but…"

Between the three horsewomen, they could make a sensible reply, and were still staring at her when an attractive young lady of about sixteen appeared, running from the house without the slightest pretense of propriety.

"Lizzy, are you planning to stand around all day. We do need to get to the church."

Elizabeth startled as if lit on fire, and just started speaking, when Jane said, "Calm down, Lizzy. First things first. When do we have to be at the church, and how far is it?"

Elizabeth calmed down only marginally when Georgiana butted in.

"Put on the face, Lizzy. That always works."

The three horsewomen looked on in puzzlement, then watched in astonishment as Lizzy stood up straight, stopped fidgeting, put her hands properly clasped in front of her, and apparently grew six inches taller.

"Thank you, Georgiana. I cannot account for my…"

Georgiana laughed, turned to the horsewomen and said, "Please forgive my sister, Ladies. She has been wound up tight as a spring for a fortnight, and of course, she is going from 'acting' mistress to 'actual' mistress in the course of a morning, so she should be allowed a bit of fidgeting."

Jane said, "Explain that term, if you will… Oh, and I presume you are Miss Darcy."

Elizabeth laughed, and said, "Well, this is fun… Oh, and forget about changing clothes. What you have on is fine."

She turned to two footmen, and said, "Johan, Luke, please have warm water, soap and towels brought to the anteroom by the green parlor. We shall refresh ourselves and leave from here."

In a muddle, the three remaining horsewomen all spoke at the same time.

Jane said, "Leave, to where?"
Mary said, "How far is the church?"
Anne said, "What is an 'actual' mistress?"

Elizabeth said, "Oh yes, I am not helping your confusion very much, and I fear, for at least one of you, it is about to increase immeasurably, so I had best get on with it. I have been acting as mistress here for about a fortnight, and I daresay I have done adequately."

Georgiana dignified that remark with a scoff worthy of Lydia, and said, "Lizzy has such a horrible vocabulary. She thinks the word 'adequately' and 'phenomenally' mean the same thing."

Elizabeth glared at her, but continued, "Well, then Fitzwilliam came home last night, then I bumped into him in the corridor, so we resolved all our differences, decided to get married today and kissed each other within an inch of our lives… well, not necessarily in that order."

All the horsewomen and Georgiana just stared at her.

Elizabeth somewhat sheepishly said, "More detail than necessary?"

Anne said, "You think?"

Elizabeth smiled, and said, "At any rate, weddings have to happen before eleven o'clock, so we are off to the church in Lambton. It takes about twenty minutes to get there, so we had better get a move on."

"Miss Bennet, (well, Miss Bennet for another hour), have you been telling tales."

All the new arrivals looked at a very handsome man who had walked up behind her and bowed.

Elizabeth said, "About time, Breton. Poor Mary has nearly faded away. Mary, meet Robert Breton. Mr. Breton, Miss Mary Taylor."

Elizabeth looked at the pair to see how well first impressions were going and found that they were going well… very well indeed. Just as an experiment, she extended her hand flat and tried waving it in front of the stablemaster, but it was insufficient to gain his attention, so ignoring all rules of good society she pinched him, with nothing more to show for her efforts. She reckoned that a gunshot would be required.

Just in case he was listening, she said, "Mary, I remember you from Uncle Gardiners. I have been telling Mr. Breton all about you, and Fitzwilliam has been singing your praises all morning. I assume with a month of time on his hands, my betrothed has been filling you with stories about Breton's heroics, his daring and his penchant for dragging my thoroughly innocent man into trouble untold."

Mary and Breton just started laughing, and finally, Mary asked, "Did you really cry for a week when your favorite hound died."

Breton chuckled and said, "I am afraid Darcy exaggerates. It could not possibly have been more than six days. Six and a half at most."

Mary smiled the most brilliant smile Elizabeth had ever seen, and that was saying something, being sister to Jane Bennet. She said, "Good enough for me, Mr. Breton."

Elizabeth laughed, and said, "Well, then! That went about as I expected. Now, we really do need to get washed up and to the church for my wedding. We do not have all day. Breton, will you be watching the wedding from the outside or the in?"

Mary and Breton's eyes raised practically to their hairlines.

Elizabeth said, "Oh, sorry. I get ahead of myself. Outside, then."


Both members of the newly formed couple shouted at the same time, and Elizabeth raised one eyebrow to Breton.

Naturally, he dropped to his knee and said, "Miss Mary Taylor. We have only just met, but considering how wordy our common acquaintances are, I would say we know each other as well as most couples courting for some months. Your beauty nearly knocked me over on first sight, my heart practically hammered out of my chest, and while this may seem somewhat impetuous, I would ask you to honor me with your hand in marriage. Have no fear. We shall be friends. We shall be lovers. We shall be passionate. We shall be happy. I shall allow nothing else, to my last dying breath, and I believe you would not either."

Had he been able to see anything else, he would have found copious tears among all the local horsewomen, maids, masters of the estate who had appeared from nowhere, and of course all the footmen, who were not crying, but all had problems with dust in their eyes… probably a delayed reaction to the fire.

Mary smiled, and said, "You had me at six and a half days. Yes, may we get on with it. Mr. Darcy, can the parson handle two ceremonies before eleven?"

Darcy laughed, with a full-throated laugh that nobody had ever quite heard before, and said, "By an odd coincidence, I happened to buy two common licenses this morning, just in case."

Quite by surprise, everyone heard a noise coming from much higher, "Kind of stingy of you, Mr. Darcy. You are one short."

Everyone looked up at a man sitting on a scraggly looking but probably adequate horse, doffing his hat to the ladies before dismounting.

Everyone looked up in shock, until Elizabeth Bennet-soon-to-be-Darcy said, "Why, Jason Goulding, what are you doing here?"

"Same as you, Lizzy… well, I will if my suit is successful."

Elizabeth laughed, and said, "You will have to be more specific, Jason. Which type of suit, and, to be honest, there are quite a number of single ladies present, so I fear you will have to be specific."

"Bite your tongue, Lizzy Darcy!"

Everyone got a good laugh at the reply from Miss Anne de Bourgh.

She finally turned to the horse, and said, "Well, since you are already on that horse, and Lambton is five miles away, you had better lift me up. We can do the formalities on the way."

With a big laugh, Jason reached down for his lady, Darcy jumped on his horse and reached down for his lady, Breton jumped on his horse (with considerably more aplomb than Darcy) and reached down for his lady, and with a laugh they kicked the horses and raced off towards Lambton.

Jane just stood there with her mouth hanging open for a moment, and said, "Are the other witnesses there already?"

Georgiana laughed and said, "Seventy villagers from Sudbury, and probably another fifty from Lambton. It should be sufficient."

Jane laughed, and said, "What say you, Mr. Wynn. Do these horses have five more miles in them?"

The Darcy coachman laughed, and said, "The lads and I would carry you there personally if necessary, Miss Bennet, but they are fine.

With a smile and a laugh, Jane Bennet (still formidable, though a bit rattled) grabbed her soon to be sister Georgiana's hand, yanked her over to the coach which was still only three feet away, threw her inside, jumped in beside her and yelled.

"Let us not delay. We have a triple wedding to attend. You do not see one of those every day, and if we delay any longer, it is likely to be a quadruple by the time we get there."

With a crack of the whip, and a "HO!" from the coachman, the Darcy coach, loaded with two very demure and polite ladies, and the six maids who jumped in at the last second, and the eight footmen who jumped on top left at a run to see the wedding of a lifetime.

~~~ Finis ~~~

A/N: For those that hated my new nickname for Elizabeth (most of you apparently), you are no doubt already scarred for life, but you can relieve your suffering by knowing I went back and changed the last 4 chapters to get rid of it. If you wish to relieve your PTSD, go back and reread from Chapter 32.

For those confused by the timeline (the second most frequent complaint), be assured it all works out, but you must follow the clues a bit. With my stories, it's best not to worry too much about timing as it will just vex you. I write and post as I go, so it's quite common for me to go back and forth, or to end up with a slight mess, or worse. That's the price of reading in real‑time as I write. If you think this was bad, read my most popular story, The Cliffs of Hertfordshire, which was far more confusing. (BTW, I am preparing TCoH for publication, and the new version has the timeline fixed up).

I deliberately introduced a bit of a Regency inaccuracy for the purposes of dramatic tension. I'm surprised only one reviewer called me on it. The Age of Majority isn't as magical as I portrayed it here. It was the point where a woman could marry without her guardian's permission, but that's about it. Also, there was no legal way for a father to force a marriage in Regency England, no matter how often Regency writers use the idea for effect. There were practical ways, since they could easily offer the child the option of marrying or starving (I have a WIP called "The Corrupt Plan" where that happens), or he could lock her in her room until she complied, beat her, or threaten something else (such as forcing a sister to take your place), but legally, nobody was supposed to be married without the bride's consent, and lack of consent was one of the few valid justifications for an annulment. After twenty‑one, he would still have the same power.

This has been my longest‑running JAFF project so far. I wrote the first 4 chapters in Nov 2017, so just over 2 years. I started it about the same time as The Wedding Afternoon.

The original idea was sort of a cross between the thought balloons from comic strips and the typewriter device in Moulin Rouge. The original was mostly internal thoughts, which mostly just came out sounding crazy, but then I triggered on the idea of the ghosts. It turns out all my characters are about half‑crazy. Since I'm a software developer, that's about average.

As with most software projects, I ended up with budget, schedule and scope creep. The original plan had almost nobody in it but Elizabeth, Darcy and some minor characters. It was planned for about 50k words. It finished about 110k, or about double my plan and 80% of the size of canon.

From the original concept, I kept the first line, 'If you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all!', which was a favorite of my mother (it hardly ever worked, but she did try), and the line, 'You will do no such thing!' with respect to allowing Darcy to make a new proposal.

The key theme that survived beginning to end, despite a ton of side‑stories and complexity being added, was that Darcy should be able to get his growth post-Hunsford without Elizabeth burning his ego to the ground; and Lizzy should improve her opinion of the man through learning more about him. Basically, I wanted them to work out that they were mostly in love without having a single substantive conversation after Hunsford. In the original idea, Elizabeth's opinion was softened by hearing about Darcy from the women in his life (Lady Matlock, Mrs. Reynolds and a few more), and Darcy did something similar with her relatives.

Several reviewers asked for more of the bad‑ass Jane. I have a sort of half‑formed idea for a story about Jane with a title of "Rules of Espionage", but I don't have the vaguest idea if it will ever go anywhere or not.

I am embarking on another good-sized project in my work life now, so there will probably only be short stories and one‑shots for a few months. I do have some novels in the works, including the one I've been working on the longest (since 2016). I hope to start publishing that sometime in the summer. In the meantime, I have a million little one‑shots in mind, so I hope you will content yourself with them.

Thank you for all the wonderful reviews, especially the critical ones that help me hone my craft.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2010's decade.