Author's Note: I have not really attempted to mimic Jane Austen's style, as I know I would fail miserably. However, as you can tell by this note, the mere thought of Pride and Prejudice puts me in a more formal mindset, so you will find that my language does reflect that of her time period in general, though it mirrors her personal style poorly.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, nor am I making any money off of my work.
There were many good things about being the mistress of Pemberley. However, the frequent absences of its master were not among them, and currently Elizabeth Darcy could think of little else. She sighed and went to the window, something she had done at least twice in the past five minutes, but, as before, it was raining, and any faint hope she had of going outside to take a turn through the gardens was destroyed.
She sighed again and turned her attention back to the interior of the music room, where Georgiana sat at her piano. Miss Darcy was not playing, as she had been doing off and on all day. She was staring at the music, supposedly counting out a difficult passage, but in reality, Elizabeth knew, wishing that there was something else that she could do.
The rain had started the week prior, nearly the same time as Mr. Darcy was leaving, which Elizabeth then took as an appropriate expression of her mood. However, it had not let up for the entire week, and she was beginning to wish that she was of a stronger constitution, that she might go outside and walk despite the dismal weather. Pemberley was a grand house, but a week of being locked inside any single building was enough to drive her mad, whether the house was Pemberley or Buckingham Palace.
Georgiana, too, she saw, was fidgety and anxious at being forced to remain indoors for so long. For the first few days, she had played her music or read her books, and occasionally she and Elizabeth would sit and talk while they did needlepoints or trimmed old bonnets. But as the week wore on, these pursuits began to lose their pleasure, and neither one of them could bear to look at the needlepoints they had worked so hard on earlier that week. Elizabeth was desperate for some new form of entertainment.
Walking over to where her sister sat, Elizabeth placed a gentle hand on Georgiana's shoulder and said, "Dear sister, if you will humor me, I believe I have found a diversion for the evening that will prove to be quite amusing for us both."
Georgiana's face brightened and she smiled at her sister-in-law delightedly. "Oh, certainly, Elizabeth. What do you have in mind?"
Elizabeth grinned, a most unladylike sort of twisting of her mouth and one that any of her other sisters would have recognized immediately as a sign of impending mischief. But as Georgiana was rather new to her sisterly post, she was unaware of the implications of the grin. "When my sisters and I were younger," Mrs. Darcy said in a stage whisper, "and we had a dull day, we made up for it by holding a sleep-over that night."
Elizabeth nodded sagely and continued, "Yes, dear, a sleep-over. The five of us would put on our nightgowns, bring as many pillows and blankets as we could want, and crowd into one room to spend the night. We would play guessing games and chat and giggle until all hours of the night, and finally we would fall asleep either on the bed, when we were small enough to all fit, or on the floor atop the blankets we'd brought in.
"Since we have been bored nearly to tears this past week, and the rain has prevented us from doing the things we would normally do to relieve such boredom, I thought that you and I might have a sleep-over of our own. If you will pretend to go to bed early, as I will, you may wait until all the household is gone to bed, then sneak into my room and we will talk and giggle and be as silly as we please. My room is so far removed from anyone else's (save Mr. Darcy's, which is of little consequence as he is not here) that we will not be disturbing anyone if we are a little loud. What do you say to that?"
Georgiana was not quite certain that this was entirely proper, but it sounded like such great fun, and she was so terribly bored that she agreed to the sleep-over with no other persuasion on Elizabeth's part.
Elizabeth found that she was looking forward to the event with childlike anticipation, and she could tell from the looks on her sister's face that similar feelings were present in Miss Darcy, as well. Suddenly, all the pursuits she had earlier disdained as too repetitive or too boring for her tastes found new excitement, for they were to be followed by the sleep-over, and therefore held an enchantment that was not to be found in them ordinarily.
The time until dinner passed quickly, and after dinner it was but half an hour before Elizabeth stood and, with a significant glance in the direction of her sister, announced that she was uncommonly fatigued and therefore would take to bed early.
She did indeed go to her bedroom and change into her nightgown, and when Georgiana had not arrived by that time she sent for some extra pillows and blankets, saying the rain was making her cold. The extra bedding arrived just minutes before Georgiana, her own blankets and pillows piled precariously in her arms, stumbled through the door dressed in her nightgown and quite excited about the sleep-over with her sister. Elizabeth welcomed her warmly and together, they arranged the blankets into a sort of nest on the floor, pulling Elizabeth's down to add extra padding and piling the pillows on top. As they worked, they whispered excitedly to each other, directing the placement of the bedding to achieve the maximum padding.
They stood back to survey their handiwork, pleased, and Elizabeth whispered to Georgiana, "Shall we jump onto it and see if it is as soft as it looks?"
Giggling, the younger girl agreed and added, "Together, on the count of three. One, two, THREE!" They leapt onto the pile, hand in hand, and landed with a muffled thud. Elizabeth laughed, clapping a hand over her mouth to dull the sound, and Georgiana whispered, "Shall we do it again?"
"Yes," Elizabeth managed to reply, "but we shall have to rearrange everything to make it equally soft." Georgiana quickly agreed and they repeated the game not once, not twice, but three times further. The fourth run proved equally satisfying to the first, but by that time Elizabeth and Georgiana were laughing so hard they could barely stand and Elizabeth was developing a pain in her side.
"Perhaps we should not try for a fifth," she said through her laughter.
"No indeed. But what shall we do instead?" Georgiana asked. She crawled through the tangle of blankets until she was at her sister's side, then flopped onto her back.
Elizabeth paused and thought. Suddenly, she snapped her fingers and cried, "I have it! What do you say to a round of yes and no?"
Georgiana clapped her hands in delight. "Oh, yes, how perfect! Shall I go first?"
"If you wish," Elizabeth answered. "Do you have something in mind?"
"I do indeed. Guess."
"Is it an animal?" Elizabeth asked.
"It is indeed."
"Hmm. Is it found commonly in England?"
Georgiana paused. "As commonly here as anywhere else, I suppose."
"Is it something I can touch?"
"Not? Why, I cannot think what you mean. What sort of mineral cannot be touched? Can I see it?"
"Sometimes," Georgiana answered, her smile growing.
"Only sometimes? Georgiana, of what sort of thing could you possibly be thinking?"
"Now, Lizzy, that's cheating."
"Oh, very well. Can it be seen during the day?"
"But not at night?"
"Indeed you are more likely to see it at night."
"Even a night such as this one, with the rain and the clouds?"
"No, it cannot be seen tonight."
"Oh! Is it quite bright?"
Elizabeth sat up and clapped her hands. "I know what it is--the moon!"
Georgiana smiled and nodded. "Yes, well guessed! I thought it would take you much longer than that. Will you take a turn?"
She thought for a moment, then smiled. "Indeed, I believe I have the perfect one. Guess."
"Is it a mineral?"
"A vegetable, perhaps?"
"So it must be an animal."
"Is it the sort you would have as a pet?"
"I should think not," Elizabeth answered, her smiled growing.
"So it lives in the wild."
"No? What sort of animal can this be?" But Elizabeth said nothing, and after a moment Georgiana continued to guess. "Is it common?"
"Indeed not, for I only know one."
"So this one must reside in England, if you know it."
"Can it ever be found elsewhere?"
"Does it live close to Pemberley?"
"Oh, yes, quite close."
"At Pemberley, perhaps?"
"Yes." Elizabeth had to clasp her hands together very tightly for fear of giving away the answer.
Georgiana frowned in thought, for she had no idea of what sort of animal her sister could be thinking. Finally, she wondered, "Can it be a person, and not a beast at all?"
Georgiana sat up quite straight and smiled. "It is my brother!" she cried.
But Elizabeth shook her head, her smile broadening even further. "Indeed it is not your brother. I should hardly choose something so near your constant thoughts, for it would be much too easy."
"Not my brother! Why, who else could it--is it one of the servants?"
"No, it is not."
Georgiana could not imagine what to think next, and going over the answers to her questions brought her no closer to Elizabeth's person. She rolled over and sat up, scooping up a pillow onto her lap and worrying its cover as she thought. Finally, she ventured to ask, "Is it... me?"
Elizabeth laughed heartily and nodded. "It is! Was that not a good choice?"
"Certainly not. Who chooses their audience for the object of such a game?"
"But that is exactly why it is such a good choice, for nobody would think of it!" Elizabeth explained.
"Well, I..." Georgiana began indignantly. But she could think of nothing to say. In casting about for something to say, her eyes fell upon the pillow before her and, on an impulse, she picked it up and threw it at her sister.
Elizabeth looked from the pillow to its previous owner in shock for half a second, but she soon scooped it up and threw it back. "Take that, Miss!" she said.
"Take--why, have at you!" Georgiana cried, jumping to her feet and grabbing the pillow. She swung wildly at her brother's wife, but Elizabeth dodged the blow and stood, wielding a pillow of her own. All thoughts of remaining quiet were quickly dispelled as they felled blow after blow. Sometimes one would score a hit, sometimes she would miss, and sometimes their pillows collided and they would both stagger back, laughing. The pillow fight soon grew, and it was not long before there were feathers flying everywhere, and both were laughing so hard they could hardly continue their battle.
Georgiana took a huge swing and, to her surprise, it connected solidly with Elizabeth's stomach, sending the older woman staggering backwards. She tripped over the tangled blankets and fell to the floor--
--but just before she thudded to the ground, a pair of strong arms shot underneath her and Mr. Darcy brought her protectively to his chest.
She looked up at him, her eyes wide as saucers and her mouth hanging open. Georgiana stood frozen, pillow in hand, unable to say a word. There was a moment of awkward silence, but eventually Elizabeth managed to say weakly, "We did not expect you home for two days, sir."
"That," replied her husband quietly, "is quite evident." He looked around the room, one eyebrow raised. The floor was covered with blankets, pillows and feathers. In the aftermath of their fight, it truly did look like a sort of battlefield.
The ridiculous nature of the entire situation suddenly became too much for Elizabeth to handle, and before she could stop herself she began to laugh. Georgiana looked at her in shock for a second, but her recent mirth had not been completely shocked out of her by her brother's unexpected appearance, and she too began to giggle. Within moments they were laughing as hard as they ever had, and poor Mr. Darcy stood in the middle of the room, still holding his wife and looking quite bewildered.
Eventually Elizabeth felt that more explanation was necessary and she composed herself sufficiently to say, "The rain has kept us inside since your departure, and we were bored. It was my suggestion for Georgiana to stay the night with me, although we certainly did not expect our night to turn out thus."
There was another awkward silence, and finally Elizabeth asked, "Would you be so kind as to put me down, at least?"
"What? Oh, yes, if you wish." He set her gently on her feet and did not acknowledge her quiet thanks. If Elizabeth hadn't thought it impossible, she would have decided that he was in shock.
Georgiana sighed and picked up her blankets. "I suppose this is the end of our sleep-over, Elizabeth?" she asked.
"I'm afraid so," Elizabeth said, grateful for her sister's good sense. "I am sorry it did not turn out as we had hoped. Perhaps we can try again some other time... but I think, in the future, we should refrain from such... physical exertions." She knelt and helped Georgiana pick up her bedding, both of them studiously avoiding Mr. Darcy, who stood watching them from the center of the room.
"Well," Georgiana said when she had collected everything she'd come in with, "good night, Elizabeth. Good night, brother." She glanced at him in hopes of some sort of reaction, giving him a small, shy smile.
He turned to her and bowed slightly, his countenance as stern as ever. "Good night, Georgiana."
She waited a moment longer, then scurried out the door. Elizabeth stood with her husband for a moment, hoping he would say something to give an indication of whether he was angry or amused, but he did nothing save stand there, looking at her. She felt a blush rise to her cheeks, and she ducked her head to hide it. She knelt back down to collect the remaining bedding and deposit it on her bed. Mr. Darcy was standing on one of the blankets, which she avoided until everything was placed back on her bed and in some semblance of order.
Finally, when she could no longer avoid it, she said quietly, "Sir, I believe that you are standing on my blanket."
He looked down and, without changing his expression in the least, said, "So I am." He stepped off the blanket and Elizabeth picked it up. After a glance at her overloaded bed, she decided to fold it up and place it on her nightstand rather than attempting to pile it on the bed, too. Mr. Darcy had not moved further, nor had he said a word or altered his expression one bit.
Finally, Elizabeth sighed and asked the dreaded question point-blank. "Are you quite angry with me?"
To her surprise and relief, he chuckled. "I wish I could be, but to my own surprise I am not. Merely amused, if a bit... befuddled. What in the world possessed you to do such a thing?"
She shrugged, allowing herself a small smile,and went to the bed, wondering how in the world she was going to make it back up again. "We were nearly mad from being trapped inside for so long. My sisters and I used to spend the night in each other's rooms sometimes, and it was always a great deal of fun, so I thought that Georgiana and I might try it tonight. The plan was not, I assure you, to begin acting like children." She paused and giggled. "Though, I must admit, it was a great deal of fun."
Her husband smiled back. "I should say so. I was tempted to join you."
The image of Mr. Darcy joining in their wild fight nearly made Elizabeth choke with laughter. "Why didn't you?" she asked.
"I believe your reaction just now to the mere suggestion should be reason enough," he said. "But in truth, I am rather tired, and I believe that I thought only of joining you in slumber when I arrived home this evening."
Elizabeth sighed. "I am sorry, Fitzwilliam. I'm afraid that my bed is nowhere near fit for sleeping in, and it will take me some time to fix it."
He looked at the bed and had to agree with her. "Forget it, Lizzy. I have a bed, too, and we can sleep there just as easily." He held out his hand to her and she took it with a smile, letting him lead her to his room and watching him as he undressed. When he crawled in next to her, she snuggled up next to him and placed a kiss on his cheek.
"Thank you for not being angry, Fitzwilliam."
He smiled sleepily and returned her kiss. "Good night, Lizzy."
Well, it wasn't as well-written here as it was in my head, but it was fun to write, and I hope it was equally fun to read. This was my first fanfiction in this section, so any feedback would be appreciated. I have ideas for other stories here, but if no one likes my writing, I will not waste my time on them. : )