Disclaimer: Not only hers, but for her. Jane Austen.
A/N: This is it my friends. This is the absolute last chapter, the epilogue. I don't know if I should write a sequel, but it is most likely that I won't. Through thick and thin, you've stuck with me and for that I am eternally grateful. To my reviewers both consistent and inconsistent, I appreciate the input and comments. So, for the final time (as tragic as it is):
ON WITH THE SHOW!
This epilogue is devoted to my lovely friend Emma who has badgered and fussed and supported me throughout this entire story. Thank you for reading and I hope that you find your own Bingley or Darcy soon, if you haven't found him already.
Elizabeth Darcy sighed happily as she carefully refolded her letter from Jane. She adored Pemberley and all that resided within it, but sometimes she longed to see her family, especially her father and Jane. However, Elizabeth had little time to wait, for Jane, feeling a little scrutinized under the constant surveillance of the Netherfield neighborhood had surreptitiously convinced her husband to purchase and estate only a few miles from Pemberley.
Elizabeth grinned as she recalled Jane's hidden attempts to convey her frustration over Mrs. Bennet's constant intrusions and after more than a year of marriage, had come to realize that her patience was wearing surprisingly thin.
Jane was mere weeks from moving into the lovely country of Derbyshire. Her excitement was similarly reciprocated from Jane as she missed her sister as much as Elizabeth herself.
Lizzy slowly stood from her seat and gently tucked the letter away with the rest of her well-worn correspondence from her family. She could hardly wait for Jane's arrival, for she had two very great surprises for her dear lovely sisters.
Rubbing her hands together in glee, Elizabeth was much startled by the sudden knock upon her parlor door and the entrance of her ladies maid, bearing what seemed to be another batch of letters. Taking it curiously as the maid retreated; Elizabeth scanned the two envelopes with care and almost groaned with the realization of her correspondent.
One from her dear mother and one from her wayward sister, Lydia. This promised a treat.
With trepidation, Elizabeth broke the seal upon the letter which carried Lydia's childish scrawl and sighed when she read the opening sentence.
You are too cruel! Your last letter was met with no little hostility from my dear Wickham, he begs me to ask if you would let your darling nephew. Benjamin grows everyday and takes on a fine resemblance to my George. He shall be the most handsome gentleman of our age is sure to catch a fine heiress once he is old enough to marry. Of course, George could have done exactly the same had he not fallen so irrevocably in love with me. He tells me so everyday.
I would say your stiff of a husband would not be half so loving as my love, but I suppose it is the bane of women to choose either money or love…
Elizabeth nearly threw the letter away in disgust. After a year of marriage, Lydia still refused to believe that Elizabeth had not married Darcy for his fortune. As for the reference to Benjamin, she knew it was simply another attempt by the Wickhams to extort money from them. They should have more than enough from Wickham's wages to support the modest household they kept, but Lydia's extravagant spending and George's taste for the drink and gaming, of course they're poor nephew was suffering. Breathing deeply in an attempt to keep calm, Elizabeth continued her perusal of the missive.
…but your prerogative is your own. I can only conclude that you cannot be half as happy as I am with my dear George for you have no child to show for it do you?
Or have you simply refused him the right to your bed? Oh you are clever Lizzy, how you have fooled that man. To think, he would ever believe you would love such a man. Oh how George laughed when I shared the idea with him. He said he would not blame you for a moment, but he advises you to at least produce and heir for Pemberley to secure your position. Then once that is done, he can frolic with the maids as often as he wishes and he is sure to leave you to your own devices then!
Elizabeth let out a scream of frustration but immediately swallowed her fury. She must stay calm; she must not waste her energies on her less than tactful sister. Determined, Elizabeth attempted to finish the letter.
I believe George received a horrid letter from your husband just yesterday, wrote some horrible things to dear George. You are his wife Lizzy, can't you do something. Persuade him perhaps? Oh what a laugh that would be. Do not be such a prude Lizzy; I can just imagine the disgusted look upon your face, right this moment…
Elizabeth seemed quite the contrary to what Lydia had imagined. In fact, Elizabeth face was lighted by a playful smirk as her mind conjured all manners of…persuasion.
…what a laugh it would be. But you must Lizzy; little Benjamin desperately needs new boots, his last pair were lost on his little escapade to the barracks.
Yours faithfully, truly and eagerlyLydia Wickham
Elizabeth shook her head in annoyance. And discarded the letter for later contemplation. Instead she picked up the letter from her mother and opened it with little resignation.
My dearest Elizabeth,
My dear lovely, child. How do you do? How is your health? Have you taken those medicines I sent you to improve your chances of conceiving? The apothecary assures me it would be of use…
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. The moment she had laid eyes on the strange smelling package of 'dried…this and ground that…', she had thrown it away, praying desperately that her mother would relent and simply let her be.
I do realize that dear Lydia has already given me a grandchild, but I do worry about you and Jane. With such rich husbands, they would surely be wanting heirs and yet you do not seem to…well. Let us not discuss this. But Lizzy, you must not be too stubborn, allow your husband into your bed on occasion. It is required of you as you are his wife.
Elizabeth grinned. If only her mother knew, Darcy seemed to have more difficulty leaving his wife's bed rather than entering it. Blushing at her train of thought, Elizabeth immediately returned to the paper within her hands.
Oh I do long to see the magnificent Pemberley once more. Are we to visit for Christmas once more this year? I do hope so…
Elizabeth's lip quivered with amusement. They would be coming much sooner than that…
Anyhow, I am beginning to despair. What with my dear Lydie situated so far away at Brighton and you in Derbyshire. And now, Jane's removal too! How shall I cope? I suppose Mary and Kitty are still here to keep me occupied but it does frustrate me so. Kitty coughs incessantly, I am quite sure she is a fright for my nerves. As for Mary, well, she is quite taken with your uncle Phillips' new clerk, a Mr. S… oh I cannot recall his name. A plain, stout fellow who seems to share her own reclusive attitudes. I dare say, there is a wedding lurking within the future…
Your father too, is intent of upsetting me. Teasing me as he does. No one understands how I suffer! But that matters not. I am quite sure some northern air will sooth all my ailments and nerves.
Subtle mother, very subtle.
I will not divert you any longer my dear. Being the mistress of such an estate, I am quite sure you have many duties. I send you all my love and I hope to see you soon.
Elizabeth sighed in relief. This letter had turned out a little more tactful than most of her previous missives which Elizabeth had to burn immediately after her perusal to avoid Darcy's curiosity of what words could make his impertinent wife blush such a stunning shade of crimson. Folding it neatly, she tucked it away with Jane's letter and turned to pick up Lydia's missive.
Ripping it to tiny pieces, Elizabeth discarded the remains of the letter. Knowing Wickham would have sent a similar missive to Fitzwilliam and her husband could hardly benefit to see what filth her idiot of a sister had written, Elizabeth did not feel compelled to keep the letter let alone read it again. Standing from her seat, Elizabeth proceeded towards an elegant wooden table placed charmingly by the window, illuminated by the bright summer sunshine.
The table was littered with copies of her writing. Hurried scrawls from late night ideas and storylines conceived by moonlight covered the papers for Elizabeth had not forgotten her promise to Jane. The promise she made almost a year ago, that she would record their loves and their trials. And so she had, as accurately as she could, she had recorded every event and every detail.
She had finished it only weeks before and could now only eagerly await Jane's arrival and her critique. Darcy had already read the work and had aided in its accuracy and development, supporting her through every moment in which Elizabeth had reached a sudden halt.
Eagerly shuffling through her papers with her back to the door, a shot of worry pierced through her. All that was left of her papers were the illegible scrawls and fragments of ideas and paragraphs. Reaching quickly under the papers, she searched for the leather folder in which all her final drafts were contained only to find it missing too.
A strong arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her into a warm embrace and a solid well muscled chest. A pair of warm lips planted a burning kiss upon her neck and she quickly calmed, before turning her head to meet his lips.
"Good afternoon, my love." She whispered.
Darcy grinned. "Good afternoon, Elizabeth. Something the matter?"
Elizabeth frowned a little causing Darcy to lean down and sooth the little crease of worry present upon her brow.
"My writings, I cannot seem to find them, perhaps I have misplaced them…"
Darcy's arm pulled away and reached behind him to retrieve a familiar leather folder.
"I apologize Elizabeth, I borrowed it without your consent."
Elizabeth took the folder and waved off his apology, hardly caring if he had taken it as long as he had returned it. Not waiting for an answer, Darcy continued the conversation.
"I am afraid I have taken a few liberties."
Elizabeth raised a curious eyebrow. "Oh?"
Darcy nodded and brought from behind him, a beautifully bound book and offered it to his lovely wife. Without hesitation Elizabeth took the book before allowing herself to be returned to his arms. She gasped gently as she read the title.
Pride and Prejudice
A journey of change
Turning her head to her husband she could not help but ask: "Did I write this?"
Darcy laughed in amusement. "Yes of course my love, who else?"
Elizabeth screamed in excitement and turned in Darcy's arms before returning his embrace fiercely.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
Darcy chuckled and held her tightly. "You are perfectly welcome Elizabeth. Now, shall we proceed to library? I am quite sure we could find a place for this novel."
Elizabeth grinned mischievously. Leaning as close to him as possible, she lightly nipped the small expanse of skin just above his cravat then blew gently into his ear.
"I have a better idea."
Darcy swallowed hard as he felt her small delicate hand slip into his cravat and unravel it with a small tug while her other hand had undone all the buttons upon his light summer coat. His mind immediately banished the thought of the piles of paperwork awaiting him upon his return to his study and instead pulled Elizabeth backwards until he had pinned her against the opposing wall and snapped the parlor door shut and twisting the key till their was a firm click of the lock.
As his fingers fumbled with the buttons and lacings of Elizabeth's dress, she teasingly ran her fingers over his clothed back, whispering things in his ears.
"It is awfully warm today, is it not William?"
"All the more reason to undress, my love."
"All heat and sweat…"
"…upon the silken sheets."
"Far too warm, William."
"Mmm…far too warm Elizabeth."
Elizabeth flashed him a languid, heated glance and gently drew him towards the bedroom, her bare skin shimmering lightly in the sunshine. Darcy knew better than to keep her waiting.
His eyes half hooded with fatigue, Darcy eyed his beautiful wife who was draped only in a thin layer of silk sheet. Her dark, languid eyes met his with a smile of feline appreciation.
Darcy drew away the sheet in order to admire her better and ran his hands over her satin skin, light butterfly touches teasing her until he reached her slightly swollen belly. Lovingly, he stroked the small bump and leaned to place a loving kiss upon it.
"Just 4 months more my love." Darcy muttered.
Elizabeth smiled and pulled him flush against her body.
"Looking forward to being a father William?"
"Mmm…very much so. However, there is one little problem…"
"Oh? I do not see any problems…" Elizabeth pushed him onto his back and swiftly straddled him.
Despite the sudden haze that had developed within his mind, Darcy grit his teeth and nodded.
"You have yet to tell your family. You cannot keep this a secret forever."
Elizabeth pouted innocently and shifted provocatively. "Whyever not?"
Darcy groaned and held her hips tightly to prevent her from moving away. "I am quite sure that you cannot hide our child in the linen closet every time your parents decide to visit."
Elizabeth pouted again. "Jane knows. Papa knows. The Gardiners know."
"And what of the rest of your family?"
Elizabeth attempted to move, but Darcy held her tightly.
"Fine. I will write to them this very moment."
Darcy's eyes widened. His grip tightened around her. "No! It can wait till tomorrow."
Elizabeth looked back towards him and smirked. "I thought it could."
Mrs. Reynolds simply could not find Mrs. Darcy. She had to have the lady approve the color samples for the new nursery but the new mistress of Pemberley could not be found anywhere. Mr. Darcy too seemed to be auspiciously missing.
The last she had seen of Mrs. Darcy was this very morning, seated within her sunny parlor, reading a letter from Mrs. Bingley. Proceeding quickly to the room, she found it rather strange that the door seemed to be tightly shut. Upon testing the handle, she also found the door tightly locked.
Sighing in resignation, Mrs. Reynolds walked away. She was quite adjusted to this routine of the new Darcys. Once they were near each other, it seemed like an inevitable event in which the Darcys always seemed to be ensconced away in some private room. All the servants had long since learnt to knock and to turn a blind eye. If the young lady could make their master so happy, then they would gladly approve.
Mrs. Bennet read the letter from Elizabeth.
Her jaw dropped.
The letter dropped.
Her fingers quivered.
Her breath caught.
A moment later, there was a loud thud.
Mrs. Bennet had fainted dead away.
Mr. Bennet watched in amusement from the study door and only moved towards her once he was sure she was unconscious.
Picking up the letter from the floor, he shook his head at the very brief missive.
I am five months pregnant. No need to fuss. You are welcome at Pemberley for the birth. I apologize for the brevity of this letter. William needs me.
Mr. Bennet read the last sentence with badly concealed laughter. William needs me.
Of course he does.
Lydia Wickham scowled at the brief missive from her sister Elizabeth. She had hoped it would contain money as she had seen the most charming bonnet this very morning but it was not to be.
She had rather enjoyed her sisters' childless existence. It was just one more thing she could do better than her perfect elder sisters and now that Elizabeth was well and truly on her way to producing an heir for the grand estate of Pemberley, Lydia could only sulk as her amusement was taken from her.
She prodded the prostrate figure by her side and prodded him again when he failed to move.
"George. George! Wake up!"
George Wickham burped and rolled over, groaning. "What the hell do you want?"
"Elizabeth Darcy is with child."
Wickham's eyes opened slowly. "Of course she is, Darcy always gets the best of every bloody thing."
Lydia's lip quivered. "What the deuce is that suppose to mean?"
Wickham glared at the annoying chit. "Figure it out yourself."
It seems that at this point, the author should have nothing more to add but the traditional and clichéd phrase.
And they lived happily ever after.
But that is not quite how the author intended to end this story. So bear with her for a moment longer as she reveals to you a tiny, miniscule, microscopic glimpse into, shall we say…the future? For you see, the author is a firm believer that history repeats itself, unless of course…something interferes.
Pemberley house, Derbyshire, UK. 2007.
A young man in his twenties paced the magnificent library of his ancestral home. William Xavier Darcy had experienced a lot in his life, he had lost his mother, he had lost his father, and his best friend had betrayed in the worst possible manner, he had taken on the family title and corporations at the tender age of twenty and had cared for and supported his innocent little sister since the passing of his parents.
But never, never in his life had he met such a paradox and mystery of a woman.
Her name, a name he once found so ordinary, was fixed so permanently within his mind that he found himself whispering it in the strangest of moments.
That was why he had hopped on the very first flight away from Boston, away from the strange American girl who had enchanted him with her sharp mind, cool wit and fine eyes.
But no. William had promised himself that he would forget her. She was not suitable. She wouldn't fit into his world. She hardly seemed to be seeking a relationship anyway.
She was an argumentative little thing, no taller than his shoulder; stick thin and plain upon first glance, William Darcy had no idea why he was so infatuated. Also, she was an interior designer. Hardly a brilliant career.
But he had to be honest with himself.
She was passionate, adorably petite, slim and delicate and unconventionally stunning. As for her career, he had seen her work and could not help but admit he was impressed. Her tastes were classic and modern, extravagant and understated, a whole mosaic of contrast that seemed to fit all too well. And…it suited her. He could imagine nothing else which would fit her as it did. He didn't understand why.
It just fit.
She was made for him as he was made for her.
He could feel it and no matter how hard his mind tried to deny it, his heart was already lost. But how was he to go about this! His family could hardly welcome his decision! His uncle was an earl, his aunt, a great lady, his cousins, promising politicians and who was she? Who was her family? Who were her ancestors? All she had was that oaf of a distant cousin who was his aunts little lackey.
No, she was totally inappropriate and he was illogical to even like her.
Yet, the heart was never logical.
He sighed. He must remove her from his mind, his aunt had some potential girlfriend lined up for him already.
He had only met her once. Pale, frail, meek and utterly silent…what was her name again? Anita? Angela? Ann…
As he slowed his steps, his eyes raised to the impressive circular room full of books the Darcy family had collected for hundreds of years. Searching through the familiar shelves and let his eyes rest proudly upon the Darcy family book. Full of histories and stories of ancestry, something he had read thoroughly when he was a teenager just emerging from his childhood. Suddenly, on instinct, Darcy let his eyes wander along the same shelf. A few books away, there was a volume he had never noticed before. It was smaller than the others that surrounded it, but it seemed to be beautifully bound with leather, which seemed almost new.
Instinctively, he repositioned the antique ladder and climbed to the top shelf. He ran his fingers gently over the spine and pulled it from the resting spot. The golden gilded letters were a little faded but the title was still legible.
Pride and Prejudice
A journey of change
William raised an eyebrow, surprised that one of his ancestors had ever written a book. From the look of the binding and style of writing, it seemed that it had been written sometime in the late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century. He read the author's name once more and smiled bemusedly.
It sounded wonderful. It fit so well.
Descending from the ladder, he seated himself in a comfortable armchair and opened the book.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife…
William Darcy felt an odd sense of déjà vu as he finished the book. How similar it was to his own life, but only to a certain extent. He could not help but feel that he had not yet lived out the last two thirds of the interesting novel. He did not want to. He did not want Elizabeth to refuse him, he did not want to go through that, and he did not think he could stand it.
Quietly contemplating his ancestor's mistakes and follies, Darcy analyzed his own behavior towards his Elizabeth. He could almost hear Elizabeth's Rosings reproofs echoing in his ears and he did not like it.
Mistakes are made in history so that the future can learn from the past…
Was that not what they said?
He steeped his fingers and closed his eyes for a moment longer. When his eyes finally snapped open, he reached into his pocket and removed a sleek, silver cell. He flicked it open and waited patiently.
A male voice answered on the opposite end. "Hello, Charles Bingley speaking."
"Bingley. Pack your bags. We're taking my jet back to Boston."
There was a slight pause before Bingley managed to answer in a choked tone.
"I thought you wanted me to be away from Jane."
Darcy sighed. "I apologize Charles. You are your own man. Let's go back and you can decide for yourself."
Charles Bingley sighed on the other end. "Yes Darcy. Boston it is." There was a pause before Bingley added with mild curiosity.
"What has provoked this change Darcy?"
William paused for a moment. "Would you believe me if I said, I was rather eager to see one of the Bennet sisters myself?"
Charlie laughed happily. "I knew it! I knew it! Elizabeth! You stared at her so much, it is a real wonder you didn't burn any holes in her clothing."
Darcy grinned. "I wish."
Charlie laughed. "Oh…I'm going to see my angel again…it is magnificent, ethereal…incredible, her smile, her eyes…"
Darcy rolled his eyes. Charles was going to rant for the next twenty minutes. Without warning, he snapped the phone shut and left the library quickly. In hurried steps, he arrived at the music room and quickly opened the double doors.
"Georgie! Pack you bags, we're going to Boston!"
The blonde looked up, startled by the exclamation. "But…why…"
"Go Georgie! I'll explain on my way to the airport!"
An hour later, brother and sister were seated comfortable in a gorgeous little Aston Martin, speeding down the highway towards London, one holding onto the dashboard for dear life, the other grinning widely.
This was the beginning, a new beginning.
A/N: And we are officially done. Good god, I'm going to cry…oh dear…I have loved this, its been incredible. I can only say:
I love you all and Goodbye.