Warnings: Melodrama! Romance (not really)! Murder and mayhem! This is the child of my deranged mind. (Seriously: FMS of sorts, with all the associated baggage, and a lot of angst.)
A/N: I'm just posting the properly edited version of TRAAR, since quite a lot of people seem to be reading it lately.
Part I -- Rosemary
Lord Aldborough would never forget the day he arrived in the Darcys' drawing room, just as a young black-haired lady was leaving. She said something polite and slipped away before he could gain more than an impression of large dark eyes in a pale face. He involuntarily glanced over his shoulder.
'What a beautiful young woman,' he remarked. Fitzwilliam Darcy looked as if he did not know whether to be more amused or alarmed.
'Georgiana?' he said, a little blankly. Lord Aldborough blinked. 'Yes, I suppose so.'
'That was little Georgiana?' He struggled to reassimilate this concept into his understanding of his connections. He had never given his youngest relation much thought. She was only sweet little Georgiana. He had scarcely seen her, she was only a child — well, obviously not a child any longer. Suddenly his interest in his cousin spiked, just as Darcy's eyes narrowed very slightly.
'Miss Darcy to you,' he replied coolly, and with not a little suspicion. Aldborough laughed ruefully. Darcy had always been too clever by half.
'Surely you do not suspect me of designs on your sister, Darcy?' So she was out now. No doubt with her looks, pedigree, and fortune, she would not lack for suitors. Perhaps there were already a number regularly calling on Miss Darcy, all of course under her brother's sharp eye.
'Of course not — as such,' Darcy said cautiously. 'But, you know, one can never be too careful.'
'I do not know,' Aldborough returned. 'I have no sisters or daughters, and my only eligible cousin is the lovely Miss Darcy, whom I have just been expressly warned off from.'
Darcy did not appear fooled by his easy manner. He replied, 'I did not say so. You may speak to Miss Darcy all you wish, if you do so with propriety, but I will not have her upset.' Then he added with unusual intensity, 'She is not like other young ladies, with nothing but dances and millinery in their heads, she is sensible and sweet-natured and she deserves better.' He was quite pale.
'I see,' said Aldborough. A frightening creature, to be sure! But a devoted brother's partiality must be taken into account. And, of course, a devoted brother's fierce protectiveness. 'You are a most conscientious brother, Darcy.'
'Thank you,' he replied dryly.
His close friendship with the family gave him an easy excuse to call on the Darcys frequently, and develop an acquaintance with young Miss Darcy. She was very like her brother, not quite so handsome, with striking regular features she had yet to fully grow into, a very fair complexion, and formal, gracious manners which not the best of company could make easy. Like her brother she was rational-minded, even-tempered, and quietly obstinate. Proud, reserved, and not only a little shy, she scarcely spoke before others; however, she was highly accomplished, even for a lady of her station; she drew, sang, played the harp and pianoforte, spoke several languages with ease, danced elegantly when she could be persuaded to do so, and once brought out of her shell could speak cleverly and sensibly on most subjects.
She would, he decided, make some man a fine wife; and he would not be wholly adverse to being that man. There were, perhaps, other young ladies as eligible, or nearly so, despite his somewhat modest fortune; certainly there were others more lively and engaging. Yet Georgiana was the only one he remained unwaveringly drawn to. Their connection made matters simple, and Georgiana's peculiar modesty ensured that she was at present oblivious to his interest.
Darcy was not fooled, but as he did not explicitly warn him off Miss Darcy, Aldborough felt that nearly constituted encouragement. An offhand invitation to come to Pemberley during the summer months increased his confidence, particularly when Miss Darcy enthusiastically seconded the offer. He was determined to remain in their company, even if it meant enduring the Bingleys. Aldborough had no idea what had possessed Darcy to befriend such people, but his cousin had always been rather strange that way. He gladly accepted the invitation.
'. . . I can only ask, dearest, most beloved, Georgiana,' Lord Aldborough concluded, 'that you do me the honour of accepting my offer.' His hands were clammy and doubtless it was vastly unromantic to feel severe discomfort in his knees as he knelt before her.
Georgiana looked at him gravely. 'I should be able to say something very clever and interesting — Stephen,' she replied unsteadily, clasping his hand. His thoughts were too scattered to comprehend this, and, lost somewhere between despair and hope, he could only say plaintively,
She smiled, with a sudden rare brilliance. 'Yes, Stephen; I would be honoured to be your wife.'
He laughed, flooded by joy, and looked down at her long, slender fingers, for the first time intertwined with his. 'You will never regret this, I promise,' he said, grinning like a boy before kissing her hand exuberantly. Georgiana lowered her eyes, blushing a very little.
'You needn't kneel,' she said softly, and he instantly interpreted the invitation for what it was and seated himself beside her.
'I have missed you, my love, more than I can say.'
She entirely reciprocated the sentiment, and after several minutes, or hours, of lovers' talk, Aldborough returned to his original subject with characteristic tenacity.
'I cannot comprehend the need for you to be at Netherfield all this time. What have you to do with Bingley's wedding?'
She laughed. 'I wish to be in Hertfordshire, with my brother, and he wishes me with him. Mr Bingley was kind enough to invite me to the wedding, and Fitzwilliam is best man. You know that Mr Bingley is Fitzwilliam's particular friend, it would be very rude to refuse.'
'If I understand Darcy's cryptic comments aright, you would be in good company.'
She lifted up her eyes, surprised. 'I beg your pardon?'
'The family of Bingley's intended?'
'Oh.' She coloured. 'They are certainly — singular,' she managed to say diplomatically. 'Miss Bennet is perfectly amiable, and Miss Elizabeth is charming. Even Mr Bennet is pleasant, once one gets to know him.'
'Which,' he replied sardonically, 'leaves only the mother and three younger daughters.'
'I have not met the youngest daughter, she is married,' Georgiana said, lowering her eyes once more.
'To the son of your family's steward!' he replied contemptuously. 'Even Bingley could do far better than that.'
Georgiana cleared her throat. 'Before we — proceed with this engagement, my lord,' she said steadily, 'there is — something that I — I ought to speak with you about.' She inhaled deeply. 'The summer before last, I — I did something very foolish, and were it not for Fitzwilliam, I — I do not know — I would be so beyond, so lost to my present happiness that I — I cannot conceive of it.'
He smiled reassuringly. 'Come, Georgiana, tell me; I am sure it cannot have been all that bad.'
'Oh yes, yes it was!' she cried. 'Stephen, I — '
The door opened, and Darcy, looking very unlike himself, entered. His eyes caught sight of their clasped hands and he smiled tiredly, raising an eyebrow slightly. 'I beg your pardon, I must speak with you, Aldborough, on a matter of some urgency. Georgiana, you may join us if you like.' He frowned as he took in her pallor. 'You look upset, my dear. Is something wrong?' His eyes instantly went to Aldborough, and hardened.
'No, no, I have never been happier,' she said sincerely. He relaxed, and brother and sister smiled at one another in perfect understanding.
'Then perhaps there is another matter of business you would care to speak to me on, Aldborough?'
'I — yes, of course,' he said hurriedly. 'Miss Darcy, you do not mind — '
She smiled serenely. 'Of course not.'
The two men proceeded to Darcy's study, where Aldborough prepared to ask the blessing of a man several years his junior. Even as he formulated a stiff request for Miss Darcy's hand, he instantly dismissed it. The next, a comfortable, even casual offer, was even more swiftly discarded.
'Darcy,' he said helplessly, 'I — I — '
'You may ask me for Georgiana's hand in a few minutes,' Darcy said tersely.
'But I — '
The other man's eyes turned icy. 'I hope you do not mean to say you have not an intention of doing so?'
'No, of course, I love Georg — '
The sharp, almost unsteady reply jarred Aldborough out of his own nervousness. Darcy was of a particularly imperturbable temperament, to an even greater degree than his sister. Aldborough felt an unpleasant stirring along his spine. 'Good Lord, Darcy, what is it?' He examined his cousin carefully. There was something vaguely disharmonious about him, not at all in keeping with his normal appearance. 'You look dreadful,' he said critically. 'It cannot be G— Miss Darcy, I have been with her this past hour at least.'
Darcy smiled faintly. 'Yes, I know. It is Rosemary. Did you hear about the Duke of Albany's — courtship, for lack of a better word?'
Aldborough grimaced. 'Yes, along with the rest of London. Poor Rosemary. I cannot imagine he took her rejection well.' Lady Rosemary Yates was their only other relation, a sensible, refined young woman of about nine-and-twenty, and a favourite with both cousins. There was no doubt in his mind that she would have refused the duke, whose depraved character was a matter of public knowledge, regardless of circumstance.
'No,' said Darcy sombrely; 'not well at all.'
No fool himself, Aldborough caught his tone easily enough. 'What has he done? She is in full command of her fortune, he could not possibly have influenced her in that manner. We are her only relations, she need not sacrifice herself for our sakes — '
'It seems,' said Darcy quietly, 'that he — compromised her honour.'
'What?' Aldborough cried. 'Impossible, how could — '
'I do not know,' interrupted Darcy, 'she was too overwrought to speak coherently.'
'She went to you?'
'Of course,' he replied impatiently, 'who else did she have? You know how delicate her sense of honour is, how she shrinks from scandal. Even if he did nothing else, this would be enough. I did not dare leave her alone.'
'He means to force her to marry him.' Aldborough tapped his fingers. 'She has no-one in the world to protect her, but us. And even so — with his influence, he could very well claim — well, whatever he liked. She travelled so much last year, he might very well say they eloped or something equally ridiculous. She is known for her eccentricity.' He sighed. 'What a disaster.'
'Yes,' Darcy said succintly.
'Something must be done,' Aldborough continued agitatedly. 'If only she could be married, but I can't imagine who would take her, after this. No, it must remain within the family.' The realisation struck him in an instant. 'You, or I, must . . .'
'But I — you saw us, Darcy, surely you cannot expect — I have heard of no recent attachment on your part. No attachment at all, in fact, you live as plainly as ever. It is a great step, to be sure, but she is a fine woman, you could do far worse.' He looked at his cousin earnestly. 'I have just promised myself to your sister, Darcy.'
'Yes,' he said, 'I know. I supposed as much when I spoke with Rosemary.' His expression was contemplative, wistful, almost grieved.
A horrible suspicion flashed into Aldborough's mind.
'Darcy, you are not — you are not engaged, surely? I had not heard, but you have spent a great deal of time in the country, and I know you were in Ireland for some time in June. Perhaps something quiet — '
'No,' said Darcy softly, 'there is no understanding.' He sighed. 'You are quite right, Aldborough. We shall speak to Rosemary in the morning. Now, I believe you have a question to ask me, regarding my Georgiana.'
--Fitzwilliam Darcy: OUR HERO.
-- Georgiana Darcy, m. Stephen Willoughby, Lord Aldborough: Darcy's sister; v. tragic.
-- Sir James Darcy, judge: shows up at some point. Not important.
-- Anne Darcy: Darcy's precocious daughter.
Susan Willoughby, Dowager Lady Aldborough: Aldborough and Rosemary's
psychotic grandmother, the widow of Darcy's great-uncle.
-- Stephen Willoughby, Lord Aldborough: Aristocratic Hero™. Marries Darcy's sister and behaves as a Rochesterian hero ought. Bad stuff happens.
-- Lady Rosemary Yates, m. Fitzwilliam Darcy: plot device, also tragic.
-- Edward Fitzwilliam, Lord Ancaster: Darcy's maternal uncle, fairly unimportant.
-- Lady Catherine de Bourgh née Lady Catherine Fitzwilliam: Lord Ancaster's autocratic and snobbish sister.
-- Edward Fitzwilliam, Lord Milton: Lord Ancaster's eldest son and heir. Not important.
-- Colonel the Honourable Richard Fitzwilliam: Lord Ancaster's third son, friendly-ish with his cousin Darcy.
-- Mary Fitzwilliam née Mary Crawford: a genuine JA character, stolen, along with her brother Henry, straight from the pages of MP.
-- Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, m. Henry Stanhope, Lord Northbrook: Lord Ancaster's only daughter. Yet again, utterly unimportant.
-- James Fitzwilliam: the Fitzwilliams' poor relation. Comparatively unimportant.
-- Cecilia 'Cecily' Fitzwilliam, m. John Hammond: James' younger sister.
-- Charles Bingley: a friend of Darcy's. Very nice.
-- Caroline Bingley, m. Sir Walter Elliot (another JA robbery): Bingley's sister. Not at all nice.
-- Henry Bennet: the Bennet girls' father. Spends most of the story dying.
-- Jane 'Jenny' Bennet née Gardiner: the Bennet girls' excessively annoying mother.
-- Jane Bennet, m. Charles Bingley: the eldest Bennet girl. Very nice.
-- Elizabeth Bennet: the LOVE INTEREST.
-- Mary Bennet, m. James Plumpton: third Bennet sister, even more unimportant than the Fitzwilliams.
-- Catherine (Kitty) Bennet, m. John Hancock: the fourth sister. Actually shows up a bit in person.
-- Lydia Bennet, m. George Wickham: the fifth and youngest sister, selfish and amoral yet more or less good-hearted. Does eventually show up.
-- Edward Gardiner, m. Margaret Davis: Mrs Bennet's extremely nice brother.
-- Margaret, Amelia, Edward, and John Gardiner: the Gardiners' nice children.