Disclaimer: The wonderful characters of Pride and Prejudice belong to the great, Jane Austen. The ones you don't recognize from the book belong to me.
A/N: This was my first fanfic ever; in any genre. I'm 23 now, but I started this when I was "but fifteen years old". So, please forgive the bad writing. I've tried to catch all the errors and should really rewrite it now, but I just don't have the energy for it. This was originally posted, all those years ago, at the Derbyshire Writer's Guild. I'm mainly reposting it here because of my friend, Nerweniel, and in the hopes of getting the extra incentive to finish it. Yes, that's right, it's not finished after 8 years! I've got tons of chapters though so I will be uploading regularly if all goes well. Thanks for reading!
A Startling Discovery
Bingley, his sisters, and Mr. Hurst, were staying at Darcy's London townhouse along with his sister, Georgiana. Bingley had just recently become engaged to Miss Jane Bennet. Miss Bennet and her sister, Elizabeth, were staying at their aunt and uncle's house at Gracechurch Street in Cheapside and were to join Darcy's party that night for dinner.
Everyone was gathered in the music room shortly after breakfast and delighted in hearing Miss Darcy on the pianoforte. Miss Caroline Bingley positioned herself right next to Darcy and immediately began showering him with praises about how wonderful his sister was and how good a brother he was to her. No matter how much Miss Bingley flattered and complimented him, she had no chance of ever gaining his affections. His love and regard lied with the witty and beautiful Elizabeth Bennet. Ever since their unexpected meeting at Pemberley last summer he was anxious to renew his addresses to her. He would have done so then, but that insufferable Wickham had to interfere in his life once again. His beloved had no idea that he was the one who arranged everything about her youngest sister Lydia's infamous marriage to Wickham. If she had known and he had proposed again, she might have accepted him out of gratitude and that he did not want. Darcy wanted Elizabeth to love him as much as he loved her.
Jane and Elizabeth Bennet were sitting in a small dress shop looking for the perfect wedding dress for Jane to wear. Jane had narrowed it down to the two gowns she admired the most.
"Oh Lizzy, I cannot decide. They are both so elegant and beautiful. Which do you suggest?" she asked as she held up the two gowns.
"Dear sister, you know I will not decide for you. Jane, you will look beautiful in whatever you wear. I'm sure Mr. Bingley would find you just as agreeable if you were dressed in a flour sack."
Jane laughed at her sister's remark. "Do not tease me. I believe I prefer this one." Jane held up a white wedding gown with a low neckline, made of silk and lace with tiny rose buds adorning it. "What think you of it?"
Secretly that was the very one Elizabeth would have picked for her sister and was relieved when Jane decided on it as well.
"I like it very much indeed, " answered Elizabeth. "You are going look like an angel."
Miss Bennet called for the dressmaker and her measurements were taken. The dressmaker said that her dress would be ready within the week. With that settled they left the shop to look for Aunt Gardiner. They soon found her admiring some flowers on a small cart set up on the roadside. When she spotted her nieces she joined them and handed each of them a pink rose.
"Here, a flower for my favorite nieces," said Mrs. Gardiner with a smile. "Come, we must be getting back to Gracechurch Street."
Darcy was about to explode if he heard Caroline Bingley open her mouth one more time. He was just about to leave the room entirely when his butler came in and announced a visitor.
The butler bowed to Darcy and said, "Sir, there is a young woman here who wishes to speak to you, may I summon her?"
"Yes, of course. Please show her in."
The butler bowed and left the room to fetch the visitor. Georgiana stopped playing the pianoforte and approached her brother.
"Who is here, William?"
"I don't know, but I believe we will find out very shortly."
Just then the butler returned with the unknown woman. She was tall, slender and appeared to be of some considerable wealth. She had brown hair and dark elegant eyes. Both Darcy and Bingley thought to themselves that she was quite beautiful.
Darcy bowed to her. "I understand you wished to speak with me."
"Yes. Please forgive my intrusion upon your house. I am Lady Abigail De Witt, Dowager Countess of -----."
All those in the room bowed or curtsied upon hearing her name and title, even the usual sedentary Mr. Hurst.
"Delighted to make your acquaintance, Lady Abigail. Allow me to introduce my party. This is my sister, Georgiana." Georgiana curtsied and smiled shyly at her. She found something very familiar about Lady Abigail's eyes, but could not think why.
"This is my friend, Mr. Bingley, his sisters, Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, and her husband."
All resumed their positions in the room, but Lady Abigail did not budge from where she was standing.
"Mr. Darcy, there is something of an exceedingly important nature which I must discuss with you."
Darcy looked a bit alarmed. "Yes of course, what is it?"
"Sir, I must speak to you in private," replied Lady Abigail.
"Of course, m'lady, we can use my study."
He then motioned towards the door and Lady Abigail followed him out of the music room leaving the members of his party to ponder the nature of her urgency. Miss Bingley did not like the idea of a beautiful woman of large fortune alone with her Mr. Darcy. She tried to calm herself remembering that Lady Abigail was a widow and therefore could not be too much of a threat. The whole of the party sat in complete silence until Bingley inquired after Georgiana to continue her performance on the pianoforte. Georgiana jumped at the sound of her name mentioned. She was still trying to ascertain why Lady Abigail seemed so familiar to her, especially her eyes.
"Of course, Charles, if you wish me to continue." She walked back to her beloved instrument and began to play.
When Lady Abigail and Darcy reached his study, he offered her some refreshments, which she politely declined. He motioned for her to sit on the couch. Darcy sat opposite her on a leather chair in front of his writing desk. He too noticed something familiar about her eyes, but could not guess why. As she sat on the couch, she fidgeted with her gloves and glanced about the room, she looked almost shy and nervous. Her actions reminded him of Georgiana's mannerisms.
She finally spoke. "Mr. Darcy, I have made a startling discovery. You might not even believe me when I tell you, but let me do so now. It is best that I start from the beginning."
Darcy sat straight up in his chair and listened quite intently to Lady Abigail.
"My parents were Lord James and Lady Francis Kellington, the Earl and Countess of ----- and I believe were acquaintances of your parents."
Darcy nodded the affirmative and allowed LadyAbigail to continue. "My mother died many years ago and my father just three weeks ago." He interrupted her story to express his condolences. "I thank you, sir. My father was an excellent man. He had a kind heart and a pleasing gentleness about him. My poor mother, on the other hand, was the exact opposite of him. Because of her forbearing demeanor and coarse countenance I was never close to her. For as long as I can remember I had always been nagged on to become the ideal noblewoman and wife. I did not have a pleasant or enjoyable childhood, well at least when I was in the presence of my mother. My father, however, did tend to grant me certain privileges that my mother would never allow. But I will not bother you any longer with tales of my childhood. As I mentioned before, my father passed on but three weeks ago and while on his deathbed he revealed to me a dark secret that had haunted him for over twenty years. Mr. Darcy, is it not true that your mother had a child some twenty-two years ago?"
Darcy upon hearing this jumped from his chair with a mixture of fear and anger.
"How in God's name did you know of that?" He paused to collect himself. "Yes, it is true." Darcy walked to the window and stared down at the street then continued. "The baby, a girl, was pronounced dead shortly after her birth by my mother's midwife. I was but six years old at the time and my father, because of his hurt and my mother's, I was never to mention it again. My dear sister, Georgiana, doesn't even know of it. But how did you come upon this information?"
Lady Abigail sensing Darcy's distress walked towards him by the window.
"My parents, as we agreed, were acquaintances of yours. My father, on his deathbed, told me of this. There is more of what he related to me, but you may want to sit down for the remainder of it."
Darcy nodded and returned to his chair by the couch. Lady Abigail sat back down and began again.
"Mr. Darcy, do you remember what became of your mother's midwife after this affair?"
"Yes I do. She left rather suddenly and was never heard from again."
"This woman was of a sinister character and what she did with your mother's child was shocking and appalling. To be rightly frank, your mother was ultimately deceived, for her child did not die as her midwife said."
Darcy sat in utter shock at what he had just heard. She continued.
"This midwife stole your mother's child away and delivered it to the hands of a wealthy childless couple. That couple was my parents. They paid this woman a handsome sum of money for the child, who they would pass off as their own. Now, I have said that my father was an excellent man, but he was completely controlled by my overbearing mother who instigated this whole mess."
While Lady Abigail was relating these statements to Darcy, he sat in awe at what his ears were beholding.
"I cannot believe what you're saying. The child is alive?"
"Well she's certainly not a child anymore, Mr. Darcy. She was born some twenty-two years ago, was she not?" She paused briefly and added softly, "Pray, how old do you think I am?"
Darcy stared wildly at her. He was still desperately trying to comprehend what she had just told him. "I know not, Lady."
"Then I will tell you. I am two and twenty."
That revelation caught Darcy's attention immediately. "You mean that you're..." He could not continue he was so taken aback.
"The other half of the secret my father told me was that I was the child that his wife and himself had paid the midwife to deliver to them. Therefore, Mr. Darcy, that makes me..."
Darcy interrupted her last sentence, "...my sister."