A/N: The random jump from Lizzie talking with her father to the infamous kiss has always bothered me (as cute as that kiss is, sappy dialogue be damned), so hopefully this will fill some of it in. Incorporates some of Austen's lines as well. See if you can spot them.
"Miss Benne… Elizabeth? Does everything prove alright?" he sleepily says with a yawn, rolling over, for he cannot see her face in the dim candlelight of the bedroom. And while the moon is out this night, it still does not lie in the most advantageous position to illuminate the master bedchamber of Pemberley. Not to mention she's standing at the window, staring out towards the pond.
"You know, you may call me 'Mrs. Darcy' now," she replies after a while, turning to look at him, an odd grin upon her comely face. It is a sight he shall never become tired of beholding. "After all, we have been married for roughly a fortnight or so, unless you wish to reverse the situation…" she laughs. Swiftly sitting up on his elbows at her words, his bright blue eyes narrow in pleasure, taking the way in which her figure is outlined against the dim light.
"Keep talking of such a reversal and it may come to pass," he sniffs, though she can easily see the way his bites at his lip in order to suppress a smile.
"I tease, husband," she retorts, quickly making her way back to bed. Leaning over, she gives him a soft kiss of reassurance upon his delightfully knitted brow. "Do not worry your heart. Forgive me for stirring you up so," she continues, voice soft and tinged with laughter as she retreats. Gracefully sliding into bed, she draws her knees up to her chest, leaning back against the headboard. Absentmindedly pulling up a wayward strap of her sleeping gown, she looks again to window. She cannot help but give a sigh at the scene of the swans languidly moving to and fro in the pond at back of the great house. Illuminated by the burning fires of the massive lanterns, it's as though the view before her is out of some wonderful dream.
At once he sits up completely, his surprisingly strong arms pulling her into his lap. She instinctively shifts to get more comfortable, the warmth a welcome respite from the slight chill of the room. Guiding her so that her back rests upon his chest, her head cradled into the nook of his shoulder, he gives a deep sigh of contentment. Taking her hands into his, his fingers begin tracing lazy, intricate patterns on her palms.
"There is nothing to forgive," he says unfalteringly, enjoying the feel of how her body seems to naturally fit with his. "Your wit is one of only many things that…piqued my interest, shall we say."
"Against your better judgment?" she asks innocently. He thinks she's arching an eyebrow at him judging by the sound of her voice, but he cannot be sure.
"I shall never live that down, will I?" he asks.
"To the contrary," she replies, voice low with wanton secrets. "I'd say you made up for it quite well in many ways, the least of which proves our wedding night, in fact to the point where I shall never speak of it again, if you wish." She cannot see his face from her position, but she can feel how his hands have suddenly begin to warm. Odds 10 to 1 his cheeks have turned scarlet with such thoughts.
"You flatter me, Elizabeth," he murmurs, leaning down and nuzzling her ear, causing her to tilt her head to allow him better access. "You flatter me to point where I find that I am bewitched, as though by the Goddess Aphrodite herself."
"Is not she one of the statues in the museum?" she replies, enjoying the feel of his fingers now dancing along her arm.
"Aye," he whispers, other hand now playing with the delicate lace edge of her sleeping gown. "I brought her back to her present home from a trip to the continent. From Florence, if I remember it correctly."
"I see," Elizabeth mutters, completely distracted by the feel of his warm breath upon her neck. "I've never had the pleasure of visiting…"
"Then we shall go," he says.
"Would it not be too far out of the way from Rome?"
"Nothing is too far," he easily replies. "Especially if it proves something you wish to see."
"And what of Jane and Bingley? It is their honeymoon as well after all…"
"I know Charles has always wished to visit Florence, especially after I told him of it. And your sister seems as though willing to go along in a new exploration. If they don't wish to go, we may always plan a little day trip. Besides, we have a few months to think on it, with no travel coming until next spring. We did get married quite late in the season."
"If I remember, it was you who did not wish to wait," she replies, moving from out of his embrace and turning around face him, her smile in place once more. "As I recall," she continues in faux-confusion, sitting in front of him, her hand brushing his dark hair back, "You said you had waited for quite a while, so there was really no point in delaying it any longer…"
"Which you then agreed to, my dear," he replies, arching a mischievous brow as he takes her hand in his. Bringing it to his mouth, he blesses it with a kiss. Without warning, he then reaches out and swiftly turns her around, pulling her back into his lap, his motions causing her to let out a yelp of surprise.
"I only did that to save you from my family," she retorts, catching her breath and then laughing. "Can you imagine? Five women, two of which married at the same time to such eligible gentlemen? It would have proven a madhouse of clucking hens had we waited. I doubt think either engagement would have lasted through such a thing."
"You would be surprised at what a man is willing to acquaint himself with for the sake of his beloved," Darcy replies simply, now beginning to fiddle with her braided hair. "And besides, it shall allow your aunt and uncle to visit for Christmas in roughly a fortnight or so, as they promised. But as for the present, are we agreed? Florence?"
" Florence it shall be," she immediately replies, fingers lacing through his as she turns her head and plants a kiss upon his cheek. " Florence!" she repeats, voice rising with excitement. Suddenly she gets up and moves towards window again. And he finds at once he misses her in his bed. Their bed.
"Come to bed," he murmurs. "The shade will still be there when we awake. Not to mention, you'll catch your death of cold..."
"It is not so terrible," she replies with a sigh even as he gets to his feet and makes his way to the fireplace. Stirring at it with the poker, he's satisfied to see the sparks fly as he tosses more wood onto it. "You forget, I walked some miles to get to Jane when she fell ill at Netherfield…"
"How may I lose such a memory?" he replies making his way over to where she stands. Grabbing his dark overcoat from the rack as he passes by it, he drapes it upon her shoulders. She's immediately engulfed in the fine fabric on account of the difference in size between them, pulling it around herself in appreciation. "You came swirling into the parlor," he continues, voice distant but lilting with the memory. "Coat half drenched in mud, the laces of your dress undone in front, eyes sparkling, cheeks alight with exertion, hair wild as though of some loyal nymph of Diana the Huntress…"
"And that is when you decided I would prove the terrible bane of your heart?" she chuckles.
"To the contrary. It was only the beginning. The mere fact that you seemed to have nary a care as to your appearance despite such company, well, quite fascinating indeed." He wraps his arms about her waist and leans down, appreciating the light smell of lavender that seems to emanate from her hair. "So tell me, what lies in the appeal of the window? Surely I cannot be so terrible as to give you such an aversion to the bed?"
"Why Mr. Darcy, you are impish with your words!" she replies in mock offense, swatting at his hand. "But," she continues, "If you must know, my fascination lies with the swans," she quickly replies. "Four of them it looks to be. They're magnificent."
"One for each of your sisters?"
"You are wicked indeed! Though one could say as such," she smirks.
"Well, they are beautiful creatures, the birds. I'm glad such a comparison gives so agreeable a response," he murmurs. Suddenly his hand grips hers. "Would you…like to see them up close?"
"The swans. I believe you said you'd only seen such things in picture plates when you first beheld them upon our arrival. Would you like to see them? They are 'magnificent' creatures as you said, but when standing but a short distance away from them, well, truly breathtaking…"
"You wish to do this now?" she asks, turning around to face him. "I fear it will take me some time to dress accordingly…"
"Come as you are," he replies, voice soft as his eyes move over her in distinctly wanton appreciation.
"Oh really?" she questions, a blush coming to her cheeks as a result of his expression.
"It shall prove…an adventure," he muses after some time. "Such is what you bring out in me." The way her lips curl into a knowing grin signals she thinks it as well. "Well then, shall we?" he goes on, quickly pressing a kiss to her forehead. Grabbing his shirt off the rack and easily tossing it on over his breaches, he then offers her his arm. They make their way out of the great house, padding along the marble floors. Moving quietly to ensure they wake no one, they slip out one of the side doors. He cannot help but give her a smile of reward as she stifles a laugh at the clandestine nature of their journey.
"Do we not look as though but wild children, sneaking about their master's estate?" she questions with a smirk as they step outside.
"No one shall catch us," he replies evenly though the slightest of grins tugs at his features. "Such is the thrill."
"I see," she replies thoughtfully as they make their way over the rolling hill leading to the pond. "You surprise me more and more with each passing day, Fitzwilliam."
"Such reckless freedom. What would the ton think of it?" she retorts with mock disbelief. "Already, as reported by certain persons even before we found ourselves within the binds of matrimony, I am apparently causing your senses to go by the wayside."
"I could not ask for anything more," he replies, taking her hand and all but dragging her towards the pond, a mischievous grin now fully evident upon his face. As they reach the very edge, she suddenly draws back, attempting to pull him to a stop. But she cannot hold against his evident strength. And he drags her with him, causing her to cry out.
"Surely you do not wish to toss me into the pond?" she questions, eyes widening as they come closer and closer to the water.
"Only when you remain willful and disobedient," he replies, suddenly coming up short, grip tightening reassuredly on her hand to ensure she does not stumble face-forward into it. "And if such willfulness continues," he says in such a way that she knows he cannot be serious, "A weekly dunking will thus prove in order."
"Horrid man!" she snorts as he pulls her down to sit next to him on the grass under the leaves of a massive tree whose long branches arch over the shore. "Watch now, I don't wish to ruin your coat," she suddenly says, readjusting her position so that she doesn't sit directly on it.
"Do not trifle with it," he says with a wave of his hand. "I mean to go to London in a few weeks for a fitting for a new one."
"Well, that is that with that," she replies, crushing the fabric in her hands and bringing it to her face. Inhaling, she rewarded with the scent of him, clean and distinct. "It shall help me miss you less when you are away, though it will be a poor substitute for such dismal occasions," she nods. He wraps an arm about her, causing her to instinctually lean into him. And he finds he would not mind sitting in such a way until the very end of the world.
"And how is it that I do not remember viewing this part of the property before?" she breathlessly asks, almost to herself, as he guides her around the east end of the pond. After languishing in the comfortable peace of their own company, watching the elegant movement of the swans, she'd stated her wish to take a turn about it and he'd obliged.
"You did not come around this side of the house, for you were not the mistress of Pemberley yet," he replies enigmatically.
"Yet." The resolute murmur of his voice causes her heart to stir with the deepest of affections.
They walk in silence until a sudden thought comes to her mind. "How could you begin? I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place? In other words, when did you strive to love me?"
"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."
"My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners -- my behavior to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?"
"For the liveliness of your mind, I did," he replies evenly, though she swears that she may see him smile to himself.
They approach the entrance to the gardens; an intricately designed balcony rail in what looks to be the classical revival style. The stone appears ancient, dark with age, though it stands proud and wise against the outline of the dark sky. The fires of the urns surrounding it ensure some light, burning with an almost newfound vigor as their master and mistress approach.
He guides her up onto the stone bench behind the rail, his hand lingering within hers. Surely it was not so long ago that he would give anything to find her hand in his, even risking so blatant a transgression upon helping her into the carriage when she left Netherfield after her sister's illness? It truly proves a happy stance the situation has resolved itself such a way. Hence he finds himself almost unable to let her go. But he must make his way onto the stone bench. And he does while she shifts to find more relaxed position, crossing her legs in front of her.
"And how are you this evening, my dear?" he says after a while, taking a seat so that he may face her.
"Very well," she replies, broken out of her reverie and looking to him. "Only…I wish you would not call me 'my dear.'"
"Why?" he replies, raising a quizzical brow as she takes his hands in hers.
"Because it is what my father always calls my mother when he is cross about something," she shrugs, a ghost of a grin apparent on her face as he cocks his head to side in bemusement.
"What endearments that I may allow?" he asks after a while
"Let me think," she begins. "Lizzy' for everyday," she murmurs. "'My Pearl' for Sundays. And …'Goddess Divine,' for those very special occasions," she smirks.
"Ah," he replies thoughtfully, absentmindedly sheltering her hands in his to guard her from the cold. "And what shall I call you when I am cross? Mrs. Darcy?"
"No! No," she replies decisively. "You may only call me Mrs. Darcy when you're…completely, perfectly and incandesantly happy."
His expression stealthily slides from one of distant consternation to esteemed adulation. And then, without warning, he leans towards her, allowing barely a breath of air between them.
"And how are you this evening, Mrs. Darcy?" he questions, lips brushing her forehead and immediately rewarded with the scarlet turn of her cheeks. Deciding to test what other results may come, his lips brush her cheek.
"Mrs. Darcy…" A lovely lilting sigh escapes from her lips. No sound more delightful.
"Mrs. Darcy…" Lips teasing her face, the sight of which incurs the blessings of the gods.
"Mrs. Darcy..." How can he not bless her other cheek with a kiss? It would prove positively unfair.
"Mrs. Darcy." And now, the prize of such reverent utterances. His mouth upon hers, lingering. Though for how long, neither will attest to, for time stops for the lovers, lost in the beguiling seas of ardent affection.