Elizabeth Darcy surveyed the grounds of Pemberley from her bedroom balcony and smiled. It was a beautiful morning and the sun was just rising. This was her home now and a beautiful one to be sure. She loved everything about it, from the fountain to the landscape that surrounded the house. But, most of all, she loved the master of this household, Mr. Darcy. They had been married for nearly a year and it had been the happiest year of her life thus far. Indeed Mrs. Reynolds had been right in saying that if Mr. Darcy were to be married that he would stay at Pemberley more. Since their marriage, he had hardly left at all. Elizabeth did not mind at all for if he were home, it would mean that most of his attention would be directed at her.
As she stood on the balcony, she felt a pair of loving arms wrap around her waist. She looked up to find her husband standing behind her. Gently, he kissed her forehead.
"And how are you this morning, my darling?"
"Very well. I trust you slept well."
"Indeed, however I was thus awakened when I did not feel your presence next to me."
"I apologize, but the morning was just so beautiful that I could not resist coming out here to enjoy it." Elizabeth smiled.
"Then I shall stay and enjoy it with you, if it pleases you."
"Do stay. I enjoy your company so."
Mr. and Mrs. Darcy stayed on their balcony until the sun had risen above the horizon. After which, they retreated back to their bed. Elizabeth snuggled close to Mr. Darcy and laid her head on his chest. She sighed and was completely content. If this is what heaven felt like, she wanted to stay in this moment forever. However, it was interrupted by the knowledge that they must leave soon if they were to make it to Netherfield by afternoon. The Darcys were taking a vacation to visit the Bingleys, Elizabeth's most beloved sister Jane and her husband, Mr. Darcy's closest friend Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth was looking forward to seeing Jane. It had been quite a few months since she last saw her sister. The last time was on the joyous occasion that Jane had announced that she was going to have a child.
The couple quickly dressed and went down to breakfast where Georgiana was waiting for them. Over the last year, Georgiana Darcy had grown physically and emotionally under Elizabeth's careful guidance. Having three younger sisters, Elizabeth knew how to deal with Georgiana's questions and emotional outbursts, though the outbursts were few and far between, unlike Elizabeth's two youngest sisters, Lydia and Kitty. In return, Georgiana helped Elizabeth inprove on her pianoforte playing. Elizabeth truly enjoyed Georgiana's company as a sister and would often talk with her when she missed Jane terribly. When they sat down at the table, Georgiana explained what she intended to do while they were away.
"Brother, would it be terribly inconvenient if I were to take my mare out riding a few times while you are gone? I promise not to get into trouble." Georgiana pleaded.
"On the one condition that Fitzwilliam goes with you. I cannot bear the thought that you ride alone." Darcy was stern in his reasoning. "He will be staying here for the duration of our trip."
"Oh, thank you brother!" Georgiana squealed in delight.
Darcy smiled at his sister. Though she was twelve years his junior, he truly loved his sister and wanted her to be happy. So, he rarely denied her anything in this life and protected her like a lion. After breakfast, the final preparations were made in the carriage. Darcy and Elizabeth said their goodbyes to Georgiana and climbed into the carriage. The door shut and the carriage lurched forward as the horses were commanded to drive on. Elizabeth sat next to her husband, her fingers laced with his and her head resting on his shoulder. After about an hour, she fell into a light sleep. Darcy noticed this and kissed her lightly on the top of her head and smiled. He loved when Elizabeth slept next to him. She always looked so at peace. Sometimes, he would wake early just to watch her sleep. He was in total admiration with his wife.
A few hours later, they arrived at their destination. Darcy climbed out of the carriage and assisted Elizabeth as she too climbed down. They were greeted by Mr. Bingley and a very pregnant Jane. Elizabeth held her sister in an embrace for a long time. It felt like an eternity since they last saw one another. Once they let go of one another, everyone retreated inside the house. Jane and Elizabeth excused themselves to a private room to talk while Darcy and Bingley occupied themselves with discussing the impending season for hunting. Once the door shut behind her, Jane sat down next to Elizabeth to talk.
"Jane, how I have missed you so!"
"And I as well. The last few months I have missed our private conversations before bed more than ever. Though Charles is loving, he just cannot grasp what I am going through."
"How am I to understand more when I've never been with child?" Elizabeth laughed.
"You are my sister and a woman, so you could be more understanding. Oh Lizzie, if I could but see you with your own child."
"I will have one in time. Darcy and I have only been married no more than a year."
"Mama will start to press the issue the longer you do not have a child. She is adament that we produce heirs for our husbands. I am surprised she has not already sent you letters."
"Oh, she has and I choose to ignore them. Darcy has not pressed the issue of producing an heir. I admit that I do want children, but not just yet."
Jane paused. "Have you heard the latest from Newcastle? Lydia has given birth to her second and third children."
"So soon after one another?" Elizabeth was agasp.
"Twins!" Jane replied to calm her sister down.
"How can she have so many children from that wretched man?" Elizabeth felt disgusted.
"I do not know Lizzie. Mama does not seemed vexed at who the man is, but how many children Lydia conceives."
"I refuse to be swayed by her intentions. I will have a child in my own time." Elizabeth felt a sense of defiance rise within her. "Will mama and papa be arriving in time for the birth of your child?"
"Indeed, but I want no one in that room with me but the physician and you, Lizzie." Jane took her sister's hand.
"Mama will take offense to your decision."
"I know, but I truly believe that I would not be able to handle her with me during the birth. As contempt as it sounds, it would be horrid unpleasant."
"My dear Jane, marriage has truly changed you."
The two sisters talked until dinner was served. Elizabeth took her seat by Mr. Darcy, who lightly brushed her hand under the table in affection. Dinner proceeded with discussion of news of family and friends. Elizabeth was pleased to share the news of the birth of a son to Mr. Collins and Charlotte, her closest friend. They named the boy Lucas, after his grandfather. Charlotte wrote to share that he took after his grandfather, Mr. Lucas greatly. Mr. Bingley also shared his news that his pernicious sister, Caroline, was lately engaged to a man of good standing named Mr. Edwards. Elizabeth could not help but be relieved that the woman would finally leave Darcy alone. She grew tired of Caroline's obvious flirtations with her husband, though she knew Darcy to ignore them. At the conclusion of dinner, Mr. Bingley requested a private word with Elizabeth. Darcy nodded and she followed him down the hall. He stopped at the second room on the right side of the hall and nodded that she go in. Elizabeth opened the door to the most beautiful nursery she had ever laid eyes on. The cradle was inlayed with silver lining and had white blankets draped over the edges. She laid her eyes on the rocking chair with the initials JB engraved on the top. Jane Bingley. It was truly an extraordinary sight.
"Mr. Bingley, this is truly magnificent."
"It is a surprise for Jane. She knows nothing of this room or its contents." Bingley smiled.
"I am sure that she will adore it. Might I inquire as to why I am shown before she?"
"You are her most beloved sister and I wanted your opinion before I am to present it to her."
"Then I must say that I thoroughly approve. You have decorated it beautifully for a son or a daughter."
Elizabeth left the room and Mr. Bingley shut the door. The two returned to their appropriate spouse and retired for the evening. In the privacy of their own room, Elizabeth changed into a nightgown and began to take down her hair. Darcy appeared behind her, in his own nightshirt, and started to take the pins out himself, kissing her neck as he went along. Delighted with his attentions, Elizabeth shut her eyes and allowed herself to be pampered in this manner. After her hair was let down, Darcy took his wife into his arms and carried her to bed. Upon lying her down, he joined her in the bed. She laid her head on his shoulder and curled up next to him under the covers.
"Fitzwilliam." She used his first name as she often did when they were alone.
"Yes, my darling."
"Might I ask you something?"
"Anything." His voice was soft and tender.
Elizabeth felt a lump rise in her throat, so she could not ask him what she intended. "Would you mind if we stayed a while after Jane's child is born?"
"Not at all. I know how close you are to your sister and Bingley could probably use some company."
Elizabeth sighed, feeling like a complete coward. Even though he had been her husband for almost a year, she could not bring herself to ask him one of the most important questions of their lives. A while later, Darcy was asleep, but Elizabeth was still awake. As she lay in his arms, she thought of a better time to ask him. Perhaps when they returned home to Pemberley in a few weeks. Yes, she would ask him then. Until then, she would occupy herself with the care and comfort of her beloved sister.