Longbourn High – Chapter 7
Well, it's finally here. The seventh chapter of Longbourn High. It's only been five months since this story was updated… The good news is that there's only one more chapter left after this one. I've already started that one, so I'll try to have it up soon.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone who reviewed! I'm sorry for making you wait so long for this chapter!
It was amazing how much good a whole night of sleep could do. When she woke up on Tuesday morning, Lizzie felt significantly better about her situation. In fact, it was difficult for her to even remember why she had been so upset the previous day. As the day went on, Lizzie gradually began to recall how she had felt, but, suddenly, it did not seem pressing anymore. She no longer had to go to the center. Jane was no longer dating Charlie. The odds of her running into Will were slim. This revelation soothed Lizzie's mind, but it took a chat with Jane to make her feel normal again.
"He did what?" Jane gasped, her right hand instinctively flying up to her chest. "I can't believe George… Poor Anna!"
"Wait, there's more," Lizzie said numbly. The words that tumbled out of her mouth were difficult for her to say. Lizzie had never thought of herself as being excessively naïve, but the past few days had taught her a lesson she'd never forget. As much as she hated to admit it, there was a part of her, a self-centered part, that couldn't decide what was worse – the way that George had treated Anna or the fact that, not only had she believed everything he'd said, she had actually defended his lies.
"I don't know what to say, Liz," Jane said when she was done. "That's terrible. All of it, it's just… terrible."
"How could I have been so stupid?" Lizzie wondered. "Am I really that naïve?"
"If you are, then I am too," Jane laughed softly.
"I guess there are worse things we could be," Lizzie decided.
"Much worse," Jane agreed.
"And, here, I always thought you were the only Bennet sister who could see no evil."
"Looks like I'm finally rubbing off on you."
"Not exactly," Lizzie said after a moment's consideration. "I can see evil, just not where it counts."
"I think you're being too hard on yourself."
"I guess.." Lizzie sighed. She wanted to drop the topic, but there was one more thing that was bothering her. "What do you think we should do?"
"About George. Should we tell people? You know, spread the word that he's scum."
"I don't know," Jane said thoughtfully. "It's not really any of our business."
"I feel like I have to do something though," Lizzie sighed. "He can't get away with treating girls like this."
"I know," Jane agreed. "And, in a perfect world, he wouldn't. But, what good will it do, really?"
"What good will it do?" Lizzie gasped. "If we can keep even one girl from being hurt, it's worth it, isn't it?"
"I think that if anyone asks us, we should tell them the truth," Jane said slowly. "But, we shouldn't go out of our way to spread the word. George was given a fresh start when he transferred. Maybe, there's a reason why we didn't suspect anything. Maybe, he's changed his ways. I mean, he didn't try anything with you, right?"
"No," Lizzie admitted. "He didn't even try to stick his tongue down my throat when we kissed."
"See," Jane nodded. "I say we just let it go. It's horrible. I doubt I'll ever be able to look at him without thinking about poor Anna. But, still, I don't think we should try to ruin his reputation at school."
Lizzie considered this for a moment before flopping onto her bed. "Why does life have to be so complicated?"
"Welcome to the real world, sis," Jane smirked slightly. "Isn't growing up fun?"
Without so much as a glance in her sister's direction, Lizzie moaned and sank head first into her pile of pillows.
During the weeks that followed the incident at Sister de Bourgh's, Lizzie's claims to Mrs. Gardiner about the status of her free time became a reality. While she didn't end up trying out for the indoor soccer team, band practice and her SAT prep course were enough to keep her afternoons filled.
Before Lizzie knew it, November was almost over and it was time for Thanksgiving. All five Bennet sisters were in a good mood on the day before their long weekend. Jane was excited because she had finally mailed her last college application. Lizzie was happy because she had been given a solo in the next band concert. Mary was pleased with herself because she had made the honor roll again. Katie couldn't stop gloating about the fact that Denny had asked her to be his date at the varsity team's going away party. Lynn was so excited about the fact that she was leaving for New York in two days that she only threw a mild fit when she found out that Denny had chosen Katie instead of her.
"I told him he should ask you," Lynn sniffed, once she'd stopped shrieking hysterically.
"What?" Katie demanded. She glanced around the car, a bewildered expression on her face. Lizzie and Jane exchanged an amused glance while Mary snorted.
"Yeah," Lynn said slowly, her face scrunched up in thought. "The party's invitation only and I knew you wouldn't get in otherwise."
Katie's mouth opened and closed a few times as she debated how to respond. "You did not!" She finally exploded. "And, I so could've gotten in on my own! You said the whole cheerleading squad's invited!"
"The whole Varsity squad," Lynn corrected.
"Did you really tell him to ask me?" Katie asked sadly. She couldn't believe she was getting her sister's hand-me-downs again.
Lynn opened her mouth to confirm this, but she caught Jane's eye in the mirror and decided to tell the truth. "No," she sighed.
"Really?" Katie instantly perked back up.
Lynn nodded glumly. She glanced out the window before speaking up again. "But, don't get too cocky. It's not like Denny's the hottest guy on the team. And, he's only a sophomore. I don't think he can even drive yet."
This information didn't seem to have an effect on Katie though. She just sighed, squealed, and squeezed Lynn's arm excitedly. "Tonight's going to be a blast. What're you going to wear?"
Lynn's eyes lit up. It was amazing how a question about fashion could make everything seem so much better. Luckily for the other Bennet sisters, their school was in sight, so they were able to avoid hearing the majority of Lynn and Katie's debate.
Lizzie never understood what the point was of having school the day before a holiday. No one, not even the teachers, wanted to be there. The only class she really did anything in that day was Creative Writing. Mrs. Gardiner had the class write a Thanksgiving skit for the children at Netherfield Center to perform during their annual camping trip that weekend. Lizzie couldn't help feeling sad as she helped her group work on a scene about the Mayflower. She had gone on the camping trip the previous year and it had been a lot of fun.
When the bell rang, Mrs. Gardiner collected the papers and dismissed the class. Lizzie started to follow the crowd out when her teacher asked to see her for a second.
"I know this is rather last minute," Mrs. Gardiner apologized in advance. "But, we're short on chaperones this weekend. You wouldn't be free, by any chance, would you?"
Lizzie bit her lip lightly as she considered her teacher's request. She was free. And, she would love to go, but, even though he didn't strike her as the type who would willingly sleep outside, she didn't want to risk running into Will.
"Pemberley had the whole week off," Mrs. Gardiner continued. "So, most of our volunteers from there are on vacation."
"Oh," Lizzie said thoughtfully. She couldn't imagine that a family as prominent as the Darcys would stick around town for the holiday. "Well, in that case, sure. I didn't have any real plans."
"Great," Mrs. Gardiner smiled warmly, her relief evident. "We leave from the center at noon on Friday and will return by dinnertime on Saturday."
To Lizzie's immense relief, her father was sitting alone in his study when she got back from dropping off Katie, Lynn, and Denny at the basketball team's party. Lizzie hated to bother her father when he was working, but, her conscience was nagging her again.
"Dad?" She called tentatively from the hallway. "Do you have a second?"
"Lizzie," her father said, smiling as he glanced up. "For you, always. Just close the door behind yourself. I don't want your mother to know I'm taking a break."
Grinning to herself, Lizzie complied with his wish and took a seat on the sofa across from him. "It's about Lynn," she started.
Mr. Bennet's eyes widened a bit. "What about her?"
"This has been bothering me for awhile, but I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. I just don't know if it's such a good idea for Lynn to go to New York," Lizzie said softly.
Mr. Bennet nodded stiffly. "I know what you mean. I had my share of concerns, but your mother was persistent. Lynn gets that from her, you know."
"I know," Lizzie shook her head. "The apple didn't fall far from the tree when Lynn was born."
"That, it didn't," Mr. Bennet agreed.
"Still," Lizzie pressed. "I don't think this is a good idea. Lynn will be the youngest one going on the trip. And, you know how impressionable she can be."
"I've already talked to the chaperones," Mr. Bennet assured her. "There are several teachers going and a few of the parents. Mr. Forster will be there. He was in the army. If anyone can keep Lynn in line, I trust it'll be him."
Lizzie bit her lip nervously. She knew that Lynn would kill her if she talked her father into changing his mind, but she couldn't help thinking that this was a bad idea. If Lynn behaved so freely when she was at home, it was likely that she would be even wilder in the city.
"Don't worry, Lizzie," Mr. Bennet said gently. "It'll all work out. It's just one weekend. How much trouble can Lynn get into in two days?"
"That's one answer I hope we never find out," Lizzie said wryly.
Mr. Bennet smiled slightly at her wit. "That's my girl. And, don't worry yourself. I knew girls like Lynn in high school. The more their parents tried to control them, the more they rebelled. Deep down, I suspect that Lynn has some sense. She's bound to start using it one of these days."
Thanksgiving was always a busy day in the Bennet household, but this year took the madness to a new level. Mrs. Bennet was in hysterics over the fact that this could be the last year all of her girls would be home. No matter how many times Jane assured her that she would definitely come home from college for Thanksgiving, Mrs. Bennet refused to listen. Mr. Bennet began the day in the kitchen with the rest of his family, but he quickly grew tired of his wife's outbursts and retired to his study until dinner was ready. Lizzie, Jane, and Mrs. Bennet were in charge of the majority of the meal. Katie and Lynn were supposed to be responsible for tending to the vegetables, but Lizzie ended up taking over since they were so engrossed by the parade on TV that the potatoes nearly burnt.
As soon as everyone was stuffed to the point of bursting, Lizzie, Katie, and Lynn excused themselves from the table and hurried upstairs. Lizzie and Lynn had to pack for their trips and Katie had decided to be her sisters' fashion consultant. Lizzie suspected that Katie had come to this decision just so that she could avoid doing the dishes.
"Oh, don't take that, Lizzie," Katie moaned as she poked her head into her sister's room.
"Why not?" Lizzie wondered. She glanced down at the kerchief curiously.
"It's a horrible color," Katie explained. "It'll make you look pale."
"I don't care about the color," Lizzie shrugged. "I'm taking it because it's practical. It'll keep the bugs out of my hair."
"Well, it's a step up from that hat you wore last year," Katie admitted. "I'll give you that much. But, why don't you wear Jane's purple scarf? That's so much cuter."
"Katie!" Lynn whined as she snuck up on her sister. "Why are you wasting your time on Lizzie? It doesn't matter what she looks like. No matter what she wears, she'll get it dirty in two seconds. I'm the one who really needs your help!"
Katie couldn't help beaming. It was nice to be needed. "I'll be with you in a second. I'm just going to inspect Lizzie's suitcase."
Lynn rolled her eyes and stormed back to their room as Katie made her way over to Lizzie's bed. "You aren't taking any make-up, at all?"
Lizzie zipped her bag up before Katie could empty out all of its contents. "You ok, Kate?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" Katie asked.
"I don't know," Lizzie flopped down next to her sister. "I know you wanted to go to New York too."
"Yeah," Katie sighed. "It's unfair, but what can you do?"
Lizzie raised an eyebrow at her sister. She wasn't buying Katie's act, but she refrained from saying so. If Katie wanted to act mature for once in her life, Lizzie wasn't about to say anything that might bring on a temper tantrum.
There would be plenty of opportunities for that in the morning.
A gentle drizzle was falling as Lizzie and Lynn tossed their bags into the back of their car. The whole family had come outside to see the girls off. Jane was already sitting in the driver's seat. She was going to drop Lynn off at the Forsters before taking Lizzie to the center. Mrs. Bennet stood behind the girls, sniffling and fussing over them. Lizzie couldn't understand why their mother was making such a big deal out of this. They would both be home before the weekend was over.
A few feet away from their mother, Mary and Katie were huddled together under an umbrella. Mary was impatient to get back inside and finish her book, but, for Katie's sake, she was trying to be as calm as possible. Katie couldn't stop blubbering. Every time she seemed to be stopping, Lynn would make a comment about all of the shopping she would be doing or the Broadway show she would be seeing and Katie would succumb to her tears again. It got so bad that Mr. Bennet ordered Katie to go inside and wave good-bye from the window.
Lizzie suspected that her mother would have been content to fuss over them for hours if they didn't have to be at their destinations by a certain time. The Forsters were expecting Lynn to arrive by 11:30, at the latest, so that they could make their flight. The youngest Bennet had to remind her mother of this fact several times before Mrs. Bennet would finally release her daughter from her grip and allow the girls to leave.
They made it to the Forsters in record time, but Jane wanted to get right back on the road. She had an admissions interview that afternoon that she needed to go home and change for, so she wanted to drop her sisters off quickly. Lizzie insisted on going inside first though. She wanted to have a quick chat with Harriet's parents about Lynn and her disregard for the rules.
Jane pulled into Netherfield's parking lot at quarter of twelve. Lizzie jumped right out of the car, grabbed her knapsack, and hurried over to the spot where the group was gathering. Mrs. Gardiner was talking to a few of the parents, so Lizzie just waved at her teacher and got on the bus.
The bus was about half-full, so Lizzie was able to find a seat for herself in the middle. She had just settled in when she heard someone calling her name. She turned around to see Anna sitting a few rows back. Her heart racing, Lizzie glanced around quickly, but she didn't see any signs of Will.
"Hey," Lizzie greeted as she slid onto the bench next to Anna.
"Hey!" Anna smiled enthusiastically. "Where've you been? I haven't seen you at the center in ages."
"Oh," Lizzie said softly. "I had to quit. My life's been crazy lately."
"Aw," Anna sighed. "Well, we've missed you. It hasn't been the sa-" Her voice cut off suddenly as she stood up and waved her arms in the air. "Will! Over here!"
Lizzie's head spun around so quickly that her neck hurt. Sure enough, there was Will. Lizzie glanced down at her hands and silently wished that she could make herself be invisible.
"Will," Anna chirped as her brother sat down on the bench across the aisle from them. "Look who it is!"
"Hello, Lizzie," Will greeted politely.
Lizzie forced herself to look up and meet his stare. "Hi, Will."
"How, er," Will ran a hand through his hair. "How have you been?"
"I've been fine," Lizzie answered automatically. "How about you?"
"Fine," Will said tensely. "And, your family? I hope they're well."
"They are," Lizzie assured him.
"Good, that's good," Will nodded before turning his attention to the window.
Anna glanced between the pair, a bewildered expression on her face. Before she had a chance to ask what was wrong, the bus door opened and a distraction arrived in the form of the Bingley siblings.
"Lizzie!" Charlie beamed when he spotted her. "I didn't know you were coming."
"I could say the same about you," Lizzie said smoothly. She couldn't help being surprised at her ability to recover so quickly from a shock.
"Will talked me into it," Charlie shrugged good-naturedly. "He said they were desperate for some extra chaperones to keep the young ones in line." He reached over and ruffled Anna's hair affectionately.
"Hey," Anna scoffed, despite the smile on her face.
"I thought we were going to sit together, Anna," Caroline pouted in an overly sad tone.
"We were," Anna said delicately. "But, I saw Lizzie sitting by herself.."
"Oh, well, we can't have that," Caroline said as she took a seat behind the girls.
"So, Lizzie," Charlie cut in quickly. "How've you been?"
"I've been fine," Lizzie replied.
"And, your family? How've they been?"
"Good," Charlie nodded eagerly. "That's good to hear. So, are your sisters doing anything interesting this weekend?"
"Lynn's going to New York," Lizzie told the group. "Our basketball team's playing in a tournament and she's going to cheer them on."
"Are they really?" Caroline spoke up. Turning to her brother, she added, "You know who's on their team now, don't you?"
"Who?" Charlie wondered.
Will shook his head slightly in Caroline's direction, but she didn't seem to get the hint. "George Wickham."
Anna jumped out of her seat so fast that her head nearly hit the window. Will glanced at his sister in alarm and stood up as well.
"I heard you used to go with him, Lizzie," Caroline continued, apparently oblivious to what was happening. "I was shocked when I heard that. You seem like such a good girl. I couldn't imagine why he'd be interested in someone like you. No offense."
"None taken," Lizzie said gravely. She placed a hand on Anna's shoulder and began to steer the other girl into the aisle. "It's kind of warm in here. Let's go get some fresh air while we can."
Anna nodded gratefully and followed Lizzie outside. "You dated George?" She asked as soon as she had hopped off the last step.
"We went out a couple times," Lizzie told her lightly. "It wasn't anything serious though. He wasn't my type."
"He isn't my type either," Anna's arms folded over chest. "I mean, from what I know about him, he doesn't seem like my type." Anna shivered a few times and nodded at the bus. "It's freezing out here."
Lizzie followed Anna back inside, but didn't say anything else. She didn't know what she could say. Anna obviously didn't want people to know what had happened with George, so Lizzie decided to respect that.
"So, er, Lizzie" Charlie said as he saw her approaching. "How about your other sisters? What are they doing this weekend?"
Lizzie smiled faintly. She knew which sister he was particularly interested in hearing about, but, after the way he had treated that sister, she wasn't about to make it easy for him. "Well, Katie's crying her eyes out over the fact that she couldn't go with Lynn to New York. She's trying to console herself with the knowledge that she has a boyfriend and Lynn doesn't. She'll probably spend the weekend writing love letters to Denny." She paused for a moment to take a sip from her water bottle. "Mary said something about studying, but that isn't unusual."
"And, Jane?" Charlie pressed.
"Jane has an admissions interview this afternoon," Lizzie told him. "And, I think she's going to the movies with a friend tonight."
"Oh," Charlie said.
He looked so crestfallen that Lizzie felt the need to clarify her statement. "She's going with my best friend, actually. Charlotte was desperate for an excuse to avoid going to a church function with her boyfriend."
"Oh, well, that was nice of Jane. To go with her, I mean," Charlie stumbled over his words, but his relief was obvious. He paused for a moment and stared down at his hands before looking up at Lizzie. "Please, tell.. Tell your family that I said hello."
"I will," Lizzie promised.
Mrs. Gardiner and the other leaders at the center stepped inside at that moment, so the group's attention turned to the front of the bus while the rules were laid out for them. When this was done, the driver started the engine and they were on their way.
Two hours and several dozen camp songs later, they arrived at the campground. Lizzie had never been a big fan of camp songs, but she had enthusiastically sung along during the ride. She didn't care if her voice had been off-key or if the snickers from the seat behind her grew louder with each song. It had saved her from what could have been an awkward, two hour-long silence.
Once everyone had vacated the bus, the tents were passed out and everyone started to get into groups of twos and threes. Will and Charlie automatically paired up and set off to the boys' side of the campground. Anna stuck by Lizzie's side, but, to both of their dismay, so did Caroline.
Lizzie wasn't surprised to learn that she was the only one in the trio who knew how to pitch a tent. She also wasn't surprised to see that Anna was the only one who was willing to learn how. While the two of them worked on assembling the tent, Caroline sat on a nearby rock and desperately tried to get her cell phone to work.
"The reception out here's awful," she moaned. Silently fuming, she chucked the phone back into her purse and slid off the rock. "That's what we're sleeping in?"
"You've never been camping before, have you?" Lizzie asked.
"Can't say I have," Caroline shrugged. "There's a first time for everything though, right?"
"That's an optimistic way of looking at it," Lizzie commented.
"Thanks," Caroline said. She looked and sounded genuinely surprised by the compliment. "So, what do we do now?"
"We're supposed to go back to the circle when we're done here," Anna reminded her.
Caroline nodded and the girls set off to find out how they'd be spending the afternoon.
The rest of the day passed by in a blur of crafts, hikes, and skits. By dinnertime, Lizzie was so exhausted that she collapsed onto the nearest bench when she reached the campfire. The other chaperones were still puttering about, putting the meal together, but Lizzie decided that she could stay put. Someone should be keeping an eye on the kids, after all.
"Hey, Lizzie," Caroline called as she walked over to the other girl. "I hope you don't mind, but I used your cell phone to make a few calls."
Lizzie's hands reached out instinctively as her phone was tossed to her. "It's working?"
"Yeah, your reception's better than mine," Caroline shrugged. "What service are you using?"
Lizzie opened her mouth to answer when she noticed that the symbol for her voice mail was lit up. Curiously, she hopped off the bench and walked over to a nearby clearing to check it.
"Lizzie!" Jane's voice cried desperately. "Oh my God! You won't believe what happened. It's too… We just got a call from Mr. Forster. Lynn… She… She… George… What? I'm coming, Mom! I'll call you later, Liz."
Lizzie stared at the phone in confusion. She dialed home quickly, but there was no answer. Shaking slightly, Lizzie left a message for someone to call her. She glanced at the phone again and realized that Caroline's phone calls must have been long ones. Sighing, Lizzie turned off the phone, to conserve its power, and went back to the group.
After the last s'more had been eaten, Lizzie and a few of the other volunteers helped the youngest children get ready for bed while the older ones sat around the campfire telling stories. Once the last of her charges was safely tucked away in his sleeping bag, Lizzie started to head back to the group. She was halfway there when she decided to take the opportunity to check her voicemail again.
"Liz," Jane's voice said wearily. "Hey, sorry about before. Mom was bellowing and… Everything's a mess here. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Lynn… We don't know what happened, exactly, but she was caught in a, er, compromising position with George this afternoon. He was late meeting his team before the game, so his coach sent out a search party. They found him with Lynn, in his room… alone… The chaperones freaked and… Well, we don't know. The Forsters were kind of hysterical about the whole thing. The chaperones started talking about suspending both of them from their teams, but the coaches were against the idea. They didn't think George and Lynn had violated any rules, but the chaperones… Well, I don't know. Anyway, the debate must've gone on for awhile. When they finally finished, they noticed that Lynn and George had taken off… They're gone, Lizzie. Gone. The chaperones have been searching everywhere and… Nothing. Not a trace of either of them. Mom's hysterical. She's locked herself in her room and won't come out. She's convinced we'll never see Lynn again. That she's going to become a statistic of some kind. Dad's in his study, trying to find a flight to New York. So far, they're either all booked or too expensive, according to him. Katie's upstairs, sobbing hysterically. Mary's the only sane one here. Besides me, I guess… Ok, well, I'll stop wasting your minutes. If we hear anything, I'll give you a call. Otherwise, I'll see you tomorrow."
Lizzie stared numbly at her phone after she'd hung up. She couldn't believe this. She had known Lynn was a little unpredictable, but she had never guessed that her sister, her baby sister, would be capable of something like this. It had to be George's influence. That was the only explanation. Trembling, Lizzie sank onto the ground and tried to blink back the tears that wanted to fall. This was her fault. Why did she listen to Jane? She should've listened to her instincts and spread the word about George. Then, none of this would've happened!
Or, would it? Lizzie couldn't help wondering if Lynn would've been even more attracted to George if she'd known what a bad boy he was. That didn't change anything though. Lynn was her little sister. She should've protected her from this, prevented it somehow. Now, Lynn's reputation, not to mention the reputation of the Bennet family, was going to be tarnished because of Lizzie's failure to report what she had known.
"Lizzie?" A tentative voice called from behind her.
Lizzie wiped at her eyes as she listened to the rustling of leaves and crunching of twigs that followed the voice. Within moments, Will had made his way over to her spot.
"Are you ok?" He asked, glancing down at her.
"I'm fine," Lizzie assured him stiffly. He offered his hand as she started to stand back up and she accepted it gratefully.
"Are you sure?"
Lizzie considered his question for a moment. If her eyes were as red as she thought they were, it must be obvious that everything was not ok.
"Is there anything I can do?" Will pressed.
"My sister," Lizzie started, but somehow she couldn't bring herself to say the words. What would Will think about her family if he knew what Lynn had done? He already thought her behavior was immature, but this.. This went beyond anything that either Lynn or Katie had ever done.
"Lynn," Lizzie said softly. Why did she care what he thought, anyway? She didn't care, she decided. She was just embarrassed for her sister. That had to be it. "She's lost."
"In New York?" Will asked, his eyes wide.
Lizzie nodded mutely.
"What happened?" Will wondered. "Did she get separated from her group?"
"Sort of," Lizzie said meekly. "She.. Er, she was found in George Wickham's room."
There was something in Will's eyes that told her that if she hadn't had his full attention before, she certainly had it now.
"Her chaperones panicked. They got into a fight or something and Lynn.. She took off with George. No one knows where they are." When Will didn't say anything for nearly a minute, Lizzie continued, "I know this is silly, but I just want to go home. I need to be with my family. My mother's hysterical. Katie's hysterical. My father doesn't know what to do. I don't know what to do, but I can.. I can make Katie's favorite soup or take tea to my mother or-" Lizzie's voice cut off abruptly as she saw Will pull out his cell phone and dial a number. "What're you doing?"
He held up a hand and turned away from her, mumbling quietly into his phone. Once he'd hung up, he faced her again. "A driver will be here to get you in twenty minutes."
Lizzie's mouth dropped open in surprise. "Oh, well, I can't.. I can't just leave."
"Sure you can," Will said calmly. "There was a family emergency. Mrs. Gardiner will understand."
"I guess, but.." Lizzie shook her head slightly. "You didn't have to do that."
"You better go pack your things," Will told her. "I'll tell the others what happened."
Lizzie opened her mouth to thank him, but he was gone before she had a chance.
It was nearly midnight by the time Lizzie got home. She was exhausted and, despite the size of the car, she felt rather stiff. Still, it was good to be home. She thanked the driver before getting out and offered to go inside and get some money, but he said it had already been taken care of.
Jane and Mary were sitting at the kitchen table, staring blankly at each other, when Lizzie came inside. Both girls jumped up as the door opened and they nearly pounced on their sister when they saw who it was.
"Lizzie!" Jane threw her arms around her sister. "What're you doing here?"
"I live here," Lizzie replied smartly, returning the hug. "I got a ride home."
"Good," Mary said. "Maybe, you can talk some sense into Mom. She won't listen to either of us."
"That can wait until the morning. I think she finally cried herself to sleep," Jane said. "Either that or she's managed to calm herself down."
"How's Katie? And, Dad? Did he find a flight?"
"He found a train," Jane told her. "He left about an hour ago. Katie's a little better, I think. She's still upset, but she was watching TV when I was up there a few minutes ago."
"That's a good sign," Lizzie decided. "So, is there anything for me to do?"
"You can fold the laundry," Mary decided. "It should be out of the dryer soon."
Lizzie agreed to this task and set off for the laundry room. It wasn't exactly how she thought she'd be spending her evening, but it was better than tossing and turning in a tent while she wondered about her family.
The following morning brought a piece of discouraging news. Mr. Bennet had returned some time late in the night after his train broke down in the next town over. Instead of catching the next train to New York, he had decided just to come home and wait for any information from the chaperones.
Mrs. Forster called the Bennets around noon on Saturday to let them know that there hadn't been any changes in the situation. They were still searching everywhere that they thought two teenagers on the run would go and they had finally called the police that morning, but their luck was still bad.
Despite the lack of news, Mrs. Bennet and Katie were in much better moods that day. They had seen on TV that the weather in New York was nice that day. So, they convinced themselves that Lynn was simply lounging around on a blanket in Central Park. "The poor dear probably doesn't realize how much trouble she's caused," Mrs. Bennet could often be heard saying.
Charlotte Lucas stopped by later that afternoon to visit her best friend. Lizzie was relieved to have a distraction, so the girls slipped out of the house and went for a walk around the neighborhood.
"Everyone's talking about it," Charlotte said simply. "When Jane backed out of our plans last night, I ended up going to that party at Bill's church. No one knew the names of the people involved, but everyone was gossiping about it."
"Poor Lynnie," Lizzie said with a shake of her head.
"I wouldn't worry too much. Like I said, no names were dropped. I didn't even know it was Lynn until I talked to you this morning."
"I doubt it'll stay this way for long though," Lizzie pointed out. "Lynn's always going to be known as the thirteen year old slut who got one of our star players kicked off the team."
"He got kicked off?"
"Not really, I think," Lizzie said. "But, I'm sure that won't matter when the story gets retold. It makes it sound more dramatic if he was kicked off."
"That's true," Charlotte nodded vaguely. Lizzie glanced at her friend curiously. It was obvious that her thoughts were elsewhere now.
"So, I'm thinking about breaking up with Bill," Charlotte said suddenly.
"It's just not working anymore," Charlotte told her. "It was never really working, to tell you the truth."
"Yeah, I know," Lizzie admitted. "He never seemed like your type."
"I have a type?"
"Yeah," Lizzie grinned. "Your type is anyone whose name isn't Bill."
Charlotte laughed lightly. "How true."
"So, how're you going to do it?"
"I don't know," Charlotte shrugged. "I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I think I'll try to stick it out until the holidays, at least. My mom's already told all her friends that I'm bringing my boyfriend to her party."
"Mothers," Lizzie laughed. "Can't live with them. Can't get them out of our lives."
Lizzie had just turned out the light so that the girls could go to sleep when they heard an excited squeal come from their parents' room.
"Girls!" Mrs. Bennet cried. 'Girls, get up!"
Jane and Lizzie climbed out of their beds and hurried into the hallway. Katie was already at their mother's side, bouncing up and down excitedly, and Mary was leaning sleepily against her door.
"That was Mr. Forster!" Mrs. Bennet beamed at her daughters. "Lynn has returned!"
"Finally," Mary mumbled before darting back into her room and closing the door behind herself.
Mrs. Bennet frowned after her, but her smile returned very quickly. "She's going to catch a plane first thing in the morning."
"Where was she?" Lizzie asked.
"Oh, I don't know," Mrs. Bennet shrugged. "I didn't ask."
"Was George with her? Are they in trouble? Did she come back on her own or did a search party have to drag her back?"
"I don't know, Lizzie. I really don't," Mrs. Bennet said cheerfully. "All I know is that our dear, little Lynnie is just fine."
Lizzie and Jane exchanged a bewildered glance before turning to go back to their room.
"Just think of all the stories she'll have!" Katie squealed at her mother. "Do you think she'll be any tougher, after living on the streets, I mean?"
With a roll of her eyes, Lizzie flicked off the light for what she hoped was the last time that night and got back in bed.
Lizzie could tell that her mother and Katie had returned from the airport before the car even pulled into the driveway. Their laughter and squeals were that loud.
The whole family gathered around the kitchen table once Lynn had finished unpacking her bags. The youngest Bennet loved the attention so much that she couldn't stop giggling.
"I want to know exactly what happened, young lady," Mr. Bennet said firmly.
Lynn glanced up at her father, opened her mouth, and burst out laughing again.
"This isn't a laughing matter. Do you have any idea how worried we were?"
"Oh, hush, John," Mrs. Bennet said lightly. "Lynn's just had an exciting weekend."
"That's what I'm worried about," Mr. Bennet's frown deepened. "What were you doing with that boy, Lynn?"
"I can't talk about that with you, Father," Lynn said, giggling more than ever.
Mr. Bennet's eyes widened and he began to pace the room. "You five have had it pretty easy around here. We've never been very strict parents, as I'm sure you've noticed. That's going to change."
"John-" Mrs. Bennet started.
Mr. Bennet held up a hand to stop her. "Jane, Lizzie, Mary, I've never had to worry about you three doing anything.. anything stupid." Lynn finally stopped laughing when her father's eyes landed on her. "I trust that won't change." The three girls nodded silently. "Good. Katie, Lynn, you're the ones who will really feel the change around here. Katie, you are going to quit the cheerleading squad."
"Dad!" Katie cried.
"John!" Mrs. Bennet cried at the same moment.
"Don't even try it. I've made up my mind. If you want an extracurricular, Katie, there are plenty that might actually make you use your brain."
"Cheerleaders have brains!" Katie snapped defensively. "Several of the girls on the squad make the honor roll every quarter!"
"Also," Mr. Bennet continued as though she hadn't spoken. "You will be allowed to go to the mall only when necessary." Before she could ask, he added, "I will determine when that is."
Katie stomped her foot angrily and leaned back in her chair. "Why are you doing this? Lynn's the one who disgraced the family, not me."
Lynn stuck her tongue out at her sister.
"Oh, but I've haven't gotten to Lynn yet," Mr. Bennet smirked. "Lynn, you will not be returning to Longbourn High."
"What?" All of the Bennet women gasped.
"I made a few calls this morning," Mr. Bennet continued. "Lynn will take an admissions test tomorrow and, God willing, will start at Norland on Wednesday."
"Norland?" Lynn gasped. "But, that's… That's…"
"That's where Bill goes," Lizzie whispered to Jane. The girls couldn't help laughing at the thought.
"It's a religious school with good morals," Mr. Bennet filled in. "If they can't straighten you out, no one can."
"But, John, we can't possibly afford to send Lynn there," Mrs. Bennet shrilly stated. "Not if you want Jane to go to college next year."
Lizzie placed a reassuring hand on Jane's shoulder.
"The school gives out financial aid to those who need it," Mr. Bennet told her. "And, the rest will come from Lynn's college fund."
"But-" Lynn started.
"I trust that Lynn will work so hard over the next few years that she will earn a scholarship or two when the time comes to worry about that," Mr. Bennet raised an eyebrow at his youngest daughter.
Lynn glanced from one parent to the next. Her mother's face was sympathetic, but uncertain. Her father's expression was stony and stubborn. She wasn't going to win this battle. Furiously, Lynn turned around and stormed out of the room. Katie followed meekly a moment later.
"Now, then," Mr. Bennet said calmly. "Who would like to order a pizza for dinner?"
While their parents debated what toppings to have on their pizzas, the remaining Bennet sisters went upstairs to check on Lynn. They found her lying face down on her bed with Katie next to her, gently rubbing her back.
"Want to talk about it, Lynnie?" Lizzie offered as she sat down on Katie's bed. Jane and Mary joined her there a moment later.
Lynn sat up and glared at Lizzie. "Would you stop calling me that?"
"It's your name," Lizzie reminded her.
"It's a nickname. A babyish nickname," Lynn pouted. "I'm not a child anymore."
"So, we hear," Mary said wryly.
"Shut up, Mary," Lynn snapped. "You're all just jealous because I'm the first sister to become a woman." She couldn't help laughing at the thought. "It's funny when you think about it. Me! The youngest one! And, I've gone where all of you haven't."
"Doing that doesn't make you a grown-up, Lynn," Jane said seriously.
"How would you know, Jane?" Lynn smirked. "I bet that's why Charlie dumped you."
Jane stared at her sister in horror before abruptly leaving the room.
Lizzie reached over and smacked the back of Lynn's head. "If you were really mature, Lynnie, you would be above saying stuff like that."
Lynn glared at Lizzie, but, in an attempt to prove her newfound maturity, did not respond.
"So, what did you do exactly?" Katie squealed, breaking the silence before it could become too awkward. "I mean, I don't want to know the details, but, you know, the basics would be ok."
"Well," Lynn stretched back out on her bed and smiled. She was clearly in her element now. "We really hit it off on the plane. It was incredible. We talked for, like, the whole trip. When we got to our hotel, George told me his room number and said I should stop by later on. I said I would, but I didn't really mean it. I mean, I knew the parentals would kill me if something happened."
Mary snorted, but didn't say anything.
"But, Harriet and some of the other girls said I should take him a chocolate bar before the game, you know, to show school spirit and all." Lynn glanced down coyly. "But, that wasn't all he wanted."
Katie and Lynn burst into a fit of giggles at that.
"So, where'd you go after the chaperones caught you?" Katie demanded.
"We went to this little apartment in the middle of the city. It belongs to George's uncle or cousin or someone. I don't really know, but it was great. I felt so grown-up there," Lynn said. "I even made him dinner. It was kinda burnt, but he didn't seem to care."
"If it was so great, why'd you go back to the hotel?" Lizzie wondered.
"I didn't have a choice," Lynn said with a roll of her eyes. "George said it was time for us to own up to what we'd done."
Lizzie did a double take at that bit of information. She couldn't believe that George was actually showing signs of growth.
"It wasn't his choice either," Lynn continued. "Some guy showed up and told him off."
"What a jerk," Katie scoffed.
"Yeah," Lynn shrugged. "It was weird. George freaked out when he opened the door. He just kept screaming 'Will! What the hell are you doing here?' until the guy told him to shut up."
Lizzie jumped up when she heard the last part of Lynn's story. "Will?"
"That's what he said," Lynn said with another shrug. "He looked familiar, actually. Do you know him?"
Lizzie didn't know how to respond to that question. It couldn't have been Will Darcy, could it? It seemed impossible and, yet, it also made perfect sense.
"Anyway, so, he was kind of mad at George," Lynn continued. "They have a history between them. I could tell that much. My poor George looked so upset when the fight was over."
"Fight?" Katie squealed at how romantic it all sounded.
"Yeah," Lynn nodded eagerly. "They got into a big a fight 'cause George didn't want to leave."
"They fought?" Lizzie repeated. "Like, hitting each other fighting or yelling at each other fighting?'
"A little of both, actually," Lynn replied. "George held his own for awhile, but that Will dude knew what he was doing."
This was too much information for Lizzie to take in at once, so she mumbled something about going to make sure their parents weren't still fighting over pizza toppings and hurried out of the room.
After dinner, Mrs. Bennet, Katie, and Lynn went upstairs to chat about Lynn's (sanitized) adventures in the city while Jane and Mary settled down in the living room to do their homework. Lizzie had already finished her assignments that afternoon, so she went for a walk by herself. It was fairly dark by the time she left the house, but that didn't bother her. There were still children outside playing with their parents, so she was fairly certain that it was safe to wander around on her own.
And, it was safe. At least, it was safe in the sense that there weren't any burglars or murderers on the prowl. Lizzie hadn't considered the possibility that she might run into a nuisance though.
Lizzie had just turned back onto her street when a car pulled up next to her and the window rolled down, revealing Bill Collins's face. "Elizabeth!" He cried. "What're you doing out here by yourself?"
"Hi, Bill," Lizzie greeted calmly, despite the shock that his sudden appearance had caused for her. "I'm just taking a walk."
"By yourself?" Bill gasped. "You're lucky you're still alive!"
"This is a very safe neighborhood, Bill," Lizzie pointed out.
"You can never be too careful," Bill told her. "Get in, I'll drive you home."
"It's just down the street," Lizzie said, nodding at her house. If she ran, she could be there before he had a chance to follow. She couldn't do that though. It would be rude. "What brings you here anyway?"
"I thought I'd stop by and have a word with your father."
"Why?" Lizzie wondered.
"It's about Lynn," Bill whispered conspiratorially. "My father and I heard what happened. I just wanted to tell him that I think he made a very wise decision. Norland is definitely the right place for a girl like that."
Lizzie kept her mouth firmly closed for a moment to keep from saying something she would regret. It was one thing for her to say that her sister was a slut. It was quite another for someone else to suggest it. "We hope she'll do well there," Lizzie said finally.
"I'm sure she will," Bill told her. "Sister de Bourgh has already taken a special interest in the case."
"Has she?" Lizzie wondered.
"Of course," Bill said. "Given your attachment to the Darcys, I thought you would have assumed that."
"My what?" Lizzie gasped.
"Sister de Bourgh is very protective of her niece and nephew," Bill explained. "She wouldn't want them being associated with a family that was.. Well, I'm certain you understand."
"I do," Lizzie snapped. "Well, you can assure Sister de Bourgh that she has nothing to worry about. Her niece is a friend of mine, but I barely know her nephew."
"You can tell her that yourself," Bill said. "I believe she's planning to visit your family this evening."
"What?" Lizzie gasped.
"Didn't I mention it?" Bill said absent-mindedly. "I'm planning to meet her there."
Lizzie turned on her heel and hurried off in the direction of her house. Bill drove beside her, chatting about how important this meeting would be for Lynn's future.
As soon as she entered the house, Lizzie shouted the news to her family while she ran upstairs to make sure that Lynn was wearing something that covered up the majority of her body. She had just reached the top of the stairs when Jane's head poked out of the living room and nodded for her to come inside. Sheepishly, Lizzie hurried downstairs and joined her family, Bill, and Sister de Bourgh in the living room.
"Hello, Elizabeth," Sister de Bourgh greeted primly.
"Good evening, Sister," Lizzie said politely. "It's nice to see you again."
"I'm certain it is," Sister de Bourgh smiled demurely. Then, turning to the rest of the group, she said, "I believe I've heard enough here. If you'll excuse me, I would like to have a word with Elizabeth."
"Ah, but Sister," Bill stood up suddenly. "I thought we were going to go over-"
"Not now, Bill," Sister de Bourgh said. "You may go over our policies, if you like. I wish to speak with Elizabeth alone, though."
Lizzie nervously glanced at Jane, who shrugged, before following Sister de Bourgh outside.
"What can I do for you, Sister?" Lizzie asked.
"You can answer me honestly," Sister de Bourgh stated. "What are your intentions regarding my niece and nephew?"
"Yes," Sister de Bourgh arched an eyebrow at her. "They seem rather fond of you, but I'm afraid I don't see why."
Lizzie's mouth opened and closed a few times as she debated what to say. She had always thought that nuns were supposed to be kind women. They were supposed to be the type of people who saw the good in everyone. She couldn't understand how Sister de Bourgh fit into that picture.
"Well," Lizzie started weakly. "I can't speak for your niece and nephew, but I, er, would have to say that I consider them my friends."
"Your friends," Sister de Bourgh repeated. "Nothing more, nothing less?"
"Yes," Lizzie said with more confidence than she had before.
"I see," Sister de Bourgh said. "You seem like a bright enough young woman. I imagine you understand where I am coming from."
"Actually, Sister," Lizzie admitted. "I'm afraid that I don't."
Sister de Bourgh frowned at this. "I worry about my niece and nephew," she said. "Their parents are away so often that I almost think of them as my own children. I worry about the sort of influences that effect their young lives. Your family is one of those influences now."
Lizzie froze in her tracks and turned to face Sister de Bourgh directly. "What exactly are you saying?"
"My dear," Sister de Bourgh said in an overly patient voice. "I think it would be best if you distance yourself from Anna and William."
"You disapprove of my family?" Lizzie shook her head angrily.
"Ah, there you go. I knew you were a fairly intelligent girl," Sister de Bourgh nodded. "But, disapprove is such a strong word. I just think that my niece and nephew would be better off without this sort of influence."
"Are you referring to Lynn's behavior?" Lizzie snapped disbelievingly. "I would think that the way we've handled the situation would be a positive influence for your niece and nephew. I mean, yes, Lynn messed up. But, we're her family. We're going to stand by her no matter what."
"I will admit that Lynn's actions this weekend are a part of my concerns, but they aren't everything," Sister de Bourgh said. "My dear, I am mainly concerned about you."
"Me?" Lizzie gasped.
"Why, yes," Sister de Bourgh said simply. "I do not mean for this to sound offensive, but you aren't the type of girl that my sister and her husband thought their son would date."
"Date?" Lizzie gasped again.
"Oh," Sister de Bourgh said, her relief evident. "So, you aren't seeing William, then?"
"No, I told you. We're just friends," Lizzie said. If you can even call us that, she mentally added.
"Well, that's a relief. Friends aren't nearly as influential as girlfriends. You will remain this way, yes?"
"I-" Lizzie started, but stopped with a shake of her head. "I don't see how it's any of your business."
"I told you. I worry about my niece and nephew."
"You mean that you worry about your family's reputation," Lizzie clarified. "I wouldn't have thought that someone with your profession would be concerned about that."
Sister de Bourgh's frown increased. "Just promise me that you will not date William, should he ask you."
"Where are you getting this idea from, anyway?" Lizzie demanded. She realized that she was avoiding the nun's request, but she needed a moment to process what was happening.
"If you must know, Caroline Bingley mentioned something about it a few weeks ago."
"Caroline," Lizzie nodded knowingly. "I should have guessed."
"Caroline is a perfectly lovely girl," Sister de Bourgh stated huffily. "She comes from a good family. You can just tell that she is going to be a successful adult. She would be an ideal match for William."
"Yes, I imagine she would be," Lizzie said. "If he liked her, that is."
"And, I suppose he likes you better?"
"I think it's safe to say that he likes going to the dentist better than he likes Caroline."
"I see," Sister de Bourgh said. "I notice that you have not given me your word on this matter yet."
"That's because I will not be giving it," Lizzie decided. Before the nun could interrupt, she continued, "I still don't see how it's any of your business who I do or do not date. I will not make a promise that has no meaning for me. And, there's nothing you can say to make me change my mind." With as much dignity as she could manage, Lizzie turned to go back inside. "Good night, Sister. I'll tell Lynn you'll see her in the morning."
"What I don't understand is why she waited so long to come here," Jane said as she sat down next to Lizzie. "If Caroline told her about you and Will several weeks ago, why did she come tonight? Was it because of Lynn?"
"In a way, I think it was," Lizzie said. She picked up Jane's hairbrush and began to work out her sister's tangles. It was nearly eleven o'clock, but the girls knew they wouldn't be able to sleep unless they talked out their problems.
"How so?" Jane wondered.
"Well, unless I'm missing something, I think Will was the one who got Lynn to go back to the hotel yesterday."
"Really?" Jane gasped. "That was surprisingly nice of him."
"Yeah," Lizzie said softly.
Jane snatched the hairbrush out of Lizzie's hand and turned to face her sister. "What was that?"
"What was what?"
"That," Jane's mouth dropped open in shock. "I can't believe it! You've changed your mind about Will, haven't you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lizzie said defensively.
"You don't hate him at all, do you?"
"I never hated him," Lizzie said. "Ok, maybe, a little," she admitted when she saw Jane's expression. "I don't know. He's not so bad, I guess."
"This is so sweet, Lizzie," Jane clasped her sister's hand. "If you start dating Will and I get back together with Charlie-"
"What's this about Charlie?" Lizzie demanded.
"You didn't deny the part about Will," Jane grinned.
"It's so ridiculous there's no point in denying it," Lizzie said flippantly. "Now, what about Charlie?"
"He called tonight," Jane grinned.
"You, booger!" Lizzie shoved her sister's shoulder. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
Jane couldn't help laughing at the insult. "You haven't called me that in ten years, at least."
"What did he say?" Lizzie persisted.
"He wants to come over tomorrow afternoon and catch up," Jane said. "It's lame, I know. But, at least, we're talking again."
"This is so great, Jane," Lizzie said happily. "I told you it wasn't over for good."
"Don't start picking out your bridesmaid dress yet," Jane replied. "It's just a casual thing. He probably doesn't even want to get back together."
"What did he say?" Katie hissed as she pressed her ear up against the door again.
"I think he said something about lemons," Lynn hissed back.
"Sshh, girls!" Mrs. Bennet whispered. "I can't hear a thing!"
"Would you give it a rest?" Mary rolled her eyes as she passed by the trio. "Do you have any idea how embarrassed you'll be if they open that door?"
"Sshh!" was the collective response.
"Lizzie!" Lynn hissed when she spotted her sister coming down the stairs. "Come here."
"What're you three doing?" Lizzie had to fight the urge to laugh when she saw the scene before her.
"What does it look like we're doing?" Mrs. Bennet stood up, moaning in pain. "Katie, you get down there. I can't stay bent over that long anymore."
"This is an invasion of Jane's privacy," Lizzie placed her hands on her hips. "I'm sure she'll tell you everything, if you just wait until Charlie leaves."
"Oh, but that could take forever," Lynn moaned.
"Lizzie," Mrs. Bennet turned to face her daughter. "You know Charlie pretty well, don't you?"
"I guess," Lizzie said nervously. She had a feeling she knew what was coming.
"Excellent," Mrs. Bennet beamed. "Why don't you go get a drink or a snack or something and take it in to them?"
"I don't-" Lizzie started, but her protests were in vain. Her mother and sisters had decided this was a brilliant plan, so that was that.
Lizzie knocked lightly on the dining room door before opening it and letting herself in. "Hey, guys," she greeted breezily. "I just made some popcorn. Do you want-" Her voice cut off as she saw the scene before her. Jane hopped off Charlie's lap quickly and practically ran to her sister's side.
"Er, thanks Liz," she took the bowl and smiled awkwardly at Charlie, who stared down at his shoes. "Did Mom send you in?" She hissed in her sister's ear.
Lizzie nodded mutely, smiled weakly at Charlie, and went back out the way she'd come in. She knew that her mother and sisters were waiting for a report by the door on the other side of the room, but she decided that could wait. Their squeals would only make Jane feel even more embarrassed than she already was.
As soon as Charlie had gone, Jane went outside to join Lizzie on the hammock.
"So?" Lizzie asked.
"We're back together," Jane squealed.
"I knew it!"
"Oh, Lizzie," Jane sat up so suddenly that the hammock nearly tipped over. "I'm so happy."
"No one deserves it more than you, Jane," Lizzie smiled. "But, lie back down. I don't feel like bruising myself today."
Jane complied with Lizzie's request, but her grin didn't fade. "So, we never settled this thing about you and Will."
"That's because there is no thing."
"Really? That wasn't the impression I got from Charlie."
Lizzie knew her sister was just baiting her, so she refused to say anything other than hmmm.
"Come on, Liz," Jane sighed. "You know I won't push you into anything, right?" Lizzie nodded. "So?"
"Any chance that I might have had with Will is gone. Long gone, even," Lizzie told her. "The things I said to him. You don't just forget something like that. And, then, there's the situation with Lynn… You should've seen his face when he heard what happened. It must have pained him to be so.. so nice about everything." Lizzie stared down at her hands before continuing. "Even if I were interested, he wouldn't be now."
"So, you are interested in him?"
"I didn't say that," Lizzie said defensively.
"So, you're not interested?"
"Honestly, I don't know what I am."
"Oh," Jane's shoulders drooped a little. Lizzie had a feeling her sister had already been having visions of a double wedding.
"But, hey," Lizzie said cheerfully. "You and Charlie! That's a big yay, right?"
"Big yay," Jane agreed. She sat up again, a bit slower this time. "You know I just want you to be as happy as I am, right?"
"Leave it to you, Jane, to want the impossible," Lizzie grinned.
Next time on Longbourn High:
The story finally concludes.