I do not own P&P. Jane Austen does. This is my first P&P story so please be kind.
Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy kneeled on the floor with a head full of brown hair lying in her lap, tears falling from her eyes. The head belonged to her beloved husband, Mr. Darcy. His face was full of pain as sweat glistened off his forehead. A blood stain had begun to form on the part of his jacket that covered his left shoulder…..
A few moments earlier….
Elizabeth and Darcy had just returned from a walk around the grounds at Pemberley. The day was bright, sunny and cool so Elizabeth had decided that a walk with her husband was a perfect idea. Darcy had agreed only after much insistence from his Elizabeth. She was dressed in a pale blue dress that accentuated her petite figure. Mr. Darcy wore a dark blue jacket with matching cravat. Upon their return they walked into the drawing room to have some tea. To their surprise they had a visitor waiting for them. The visitor was none other than Miss Caroline Bingley. Caroline was dressed in a yellow dress with matching accessories.
"Caroline! What a surprise to see you!" Darcy declared.
"Well, I was in Meryton buying some new dresses and thinking that I was so close that I would visit Pemberley. I have so missed looking upon the grounds and I have not spoken to Georgiana in the longest time." Caroline replied.
"I am sorry to inform you Miss Bingley that Georgiana is out visiting some friends at the moment. But please stay for a cup of tea." Elizabeth announced trying to be a gracious hostess.
Caroline did not respond.
Taking the silence to mean a "yes" Elizabeth headed to the settee when all of a sudden Caroline reached behind a nearby chair and produced a rifle. The rifle strongly resembled one that Mr. Darcy kept for quail hunting. Aiming at Elizabeth, Caroline shouted "You took away my future, so now I plan to take away yours!" to her before pulling the trigger.
Before the bullet could reach Elizabeth though, Darcy jumped in front of her. The bullet pierced his left shoulder. He fell to the ground with a gasp. Elizabeth dropped to her knees and placed his head in her lap. Tears fell from her eyes as she let out a loud scream that echoed throughout the halls.
Looking at him Elizabeth murmured "Please open your eyes Mr. Darcy."
He opened his eyes and looked at her tear stained face trying to touch her cheek with his right hand but fell unconscious before his hand could reach her cheek.
Caroline found herself knocked on her back, having not expected the recoil. When she sat up her eyes found Darcy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was hugging Darcy crying. Caroline was in shock. How was it that she had hit him instead of Elizabeth?
"How did I hit Darcy and not you?" She stammered.
By this time Mrs. Reynolds and a few other servants had run into the drawing room. Elizabeth finally noticing Caroline looked at her with eyes full of hatred.
"How dare you injure my husband and try to kill me you vile woman!" she screamed.
Before Elizabeth could make a move towards Caroline Mrs. Reynolds had the other servants detain Miss Bingley while she went to see that a messenger contacted the doctor. The servants dragged a shocked Caroline to an empty bedroom. All the while she was screaming "It should have been me as mistress, not her…"
Mrs. Reynolds attempted to calm Elizabeth but decided instead to move them both to a more comfortable position. Mr. Darcy was placed on the settee with a pillow under his head. Elizabeth got up and sat in a nearby chair. Mrs. Reynolds poured her a cup of tea and placed it on the table in front of the settee. Elizabeth's wet eyes did not leave her husbands face. She held the handkerchief that was being used to wipe her tears to the wound to help stop the bleeding.
"Is the doctor coming" she whispered.
"I have sent for him Madam." Mrs. Reynolds answered. Elizabeth nodded.
A short time later the doctor arrived. He went straight for Mr. Darcy and started his examination. "You are lucky Mrs. Darcy, the bullet went through the arm and must be lodged somewhere in this room. He has lost a great deal of blood and I believe that he will be in a feverish state for the next few hours; but all in all he should make it through. He should be taken to his room with the greatest of care." The doctor told Elizabeth as he was finishing the examination.
Indeed there was a fresh hole in the wall behind where the pair had stood not too long ago. Having bandaged Darcy's arm the doctor turned his attentions to Elizabeth. "Are you hurt anywhere?" he inquired.
"No, just a bit shaken." She managed to say albeit her speech was unsteady. The doctor did a quick assessment of Elizabeth and decided that she was fine except for the shakiness which would dissipate after a while. He left a short time later after giving her a sedative.
Mr. Darcy was carefully taken upstairs to his bedchambers. Elizabeth followed but before she entered his room Mrs. Reynolds stopped her. "I hope you do not believe me too impertinent Mrs. Darcy, but I think that you should go lie down and rest. It has been a trying afternoon and there is nothing more you can do for Mr. Darcy at the moment." She whispered.
"What if he wakes up and needs something." Elizabeth asked.
"I will watch over him while you rest." Mrs. Reynolds answered.
After a minute Elizabeth came to a realization. "What about Georgiana? She should be told of her brother's condition and what is going to happen to Caroline? We can not keep her here." She inquired.
"I will send a messenger to Miss Darcy about Mr. Darcy, one to Mr. Bingley about Miss Bingley and one to the constable." Mrs. Reynolds replied.
Elizabeth nodded. "Thank you Mrs. Reynolds. I do not know what I would have done without you." She said. Mrs. Reynolds grinned slightly before ushering Elizabeth into her bedchamber. She then went downstairs to send messengers to Miss Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and the constable explaining what had transpired.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth walked into her room towards her vanity to take the pins out of her hair. Looking in the mirror she saw how weary she looked. The last several hours had been a sea of emotions. The sedative stood untouched on her vanity table. She finished with the pins and went to lie down on her bed. The sun was fading from her room as she closed her eyes and tried to think of more pleasant times.
She awoke to hear moaning coming from the room next to hers. Looking out the window Elizabeth saw that it was night. She heard the moaning again, coming from her husbands room. She immediately arose and walking to the door that enjoined their two rooms opened it. Darcy was laying in his bed still but he seemed to be suffering from a bad dream. His legs were thrashing around underneath the sheets. Upon closer inspection Elizabeth noticed that his face was contorted in a way that to her looked like he was extremely grief stricken. She brought a nearby chair close to the bed and sat down. He began moaning again but this time the moans sounded more like a name, her name to be exact.
"Elizabeth! Please don't leave me, I need you!" Darcy whispered as tears started to form in his eyes.
"Shhh! I am here my love, I will never leave you." Elizabeth cooed into his ear. At the sound of her voice, Darcy calmed down a bit. She began stroking his hair as he continued to relax into a deep slumber. Elizabeth soon found herself beside her husband as she too drifted off to sleep. Mrs. Reynolds opened the door and walked in the room to assess Mr. Darcy's condition. As she reached the bed she noticed that he was no longer its only occupant. Mrs. Darcy had fallen asleep next to him. She felt his forehead which felt much cooler than a couple hours prior when she had checked on him. He was much more relaxed having Elizabeth by his side and since his temperature had diminished Mrs. Reynolds decided to leave them. She left the room and went to make sure that Caroline was still locked away in the empty bedroom where she was being held. Caroline was sitting by the window; still angry that she had missed Elizabeth and instead injured the man she wanted to marry.
The next morning Mr. Bingley and Mr. Shaw, the constable, arrived at Pemberley. Mrs. Reynolds showed them into the drawing room where the shooting occurred and went to find Mrs. Darcy. She found Elizabeth still asleep. She shook her arm to wake her up. Elizabeth stirred and upon seeing Mrs. Reynolds became wide eyed.
"What's the matter, is Mr. Darcy worse?" she asked in a panicked voice.
"Everything is fine Madam, look for yourself." Mrs. Reynolds said as she gestured towards him. Elizabeth's eyes gazed upon the sleeping form of her husband. He was still in a deep sleep himself, breathing normally. Elizabeth realized where she was and remembered the previous night.
"I must have fallen asleep here last night." She said looking again at Mrs. Reynolds who nodded.
"I did not want to disturb you and the master here seemed so much calmer with you near that I left you to sleep. I came to tell you that Mr. Bingley and Mr. Shaw are here for you." Mrs. Reynolds replied.
"Thank you on both accounts Mrs. Reynolds. Will you please tell our guests that I will be there presently?" she inquired. Mrs. Reynolds nodded and left. Elizabeth turned to her husband. He looked so peaceful that she didn't want to disturb him. She brushed a quick kiss against his forehead before heading into her bedchamber to change into appropriate attire.
She stepped through the enjoining door and looking at the mirror over her vanity table saw that she was still wearing the same dress from yesterday. It was all wrinkled and there was a small blood stain where Mr. Darcy's arm had maid, Amanda her maid came out of the next room when she heard the door. Curtsying to her, Amanda approached Elizabeth.
"Good morning Mrs. Darcy. I have run you a bath." She said quietly.
"Please call me Elizabeth, and thank you." Elizabeth responded.
Elizabeth began getting ready to take her bath with the assistance of Amanda. She stepped into the warm water letting her thoughts subside to happier times. When the water had cooled she got out and with the assistance of Amanda got dressed. She wore a light green dress that complimented her dark eyes. Amanda helped her set her hair atop her head. Now properly attired, Elizabeth walked downstairs to join her guests. She hesitated for a moment before stepping into the drawing room where Mr. Bingley and Mr. Shaw were waiting.
"Good morning Charles, Mr. Shaw." Curtseying as she greeted them. The two gentlemen bowed to greet her.
"Good morning Mrs. Darcy, how may I be of service in this most unfortunate event?" Mr. Shaw inquired.
"Elizabeth, how is Darcy? When I received the message I could not fathom that Caroline would resort to this measure. She has never acted this rashly before." Charles stated.
"Mr. Darcy is doing better this morning. As for Caroline, I have always known that she resented me but I am appalled by her actions against my husband and I. At present she is in a spare bedroom upstairs guarded by two of my maids. I would like to know what your suggestions are in regards to her. She can not stay here at Pemberley and I am afraid that if she is released she might attack again, this time possibly killing someone." Elizabeth responded.
"Pray let me suggest that she be brought to the Gray Havens. It is a place where individuals with mental anguish go to receive healing." Mr. Shaw conveyed.
"Will that indeed help her?" Charles asked.
Mr. Shaw nodded. "In cases such as this the individual lacks the ability to accept the situation." He added.
Mr. Bingley nodded. "Then let it be" he said.
"I came by carriage Mrs. Darcy. Bring Miss Bingley down and I will take her to Gray Havens myself. I will explain to her where she will be heading." Mr. Shaw stated. Elizabeth nodded.
"I shall ride alongside you. Elizabeth, Jane should be here in a few hours. I left her a note before I left and I know she will assuredly come." Charles said.
"Mrs. Reynolds will you have Miss Bingley brought down to Mr. Shaw's carriage?" she asked.
"As you wish Madam" Mrs. Reynolds responded as she went up the stairs to fetch Miss Bingley.
Mr. Shaw bowed to Mrs. Darcy as he said his goodbyes and headed towards the foyer to meet Miss Bingley and take her to his carriage.
"Pardon my sister Elizabeth, jealousy is a very potent emotion. After my return from Gray Havens I will visit my old friend. Hopefully he shall be in a better state." Mr. Bingley said as he himself bowed and left the room.
Elizabeth could hear the delusional accusations Caroline was shouting as she was escorted from Pemberley. She went to the window to watch them depart. As the carriage and Charles disappeared Elizabeth turned away from the window and hurried to Mr. Darcy's chambers. She found Rebecca, one of the maids wiping his forehead with a cloth. He had a new bandage she noticed as she sat beside him. Rebecca curtseyed and headed out of the room to give them privacy.
He looked like he was having another nightmare for his face was contorted again. He struggled to speak but no words came out. She grabbed his hand and stroked it. She started humming an old hymn that her mother used when she was a little girl and she was having a nightmare. He responded much as he did before. Her voice calmed him. In the middle of the song Mr. Darcy awoke. He saw that his wife was humming with her eyes closed. He took her hand that was stroking his and planted a kiss on her palm. Elizabeth looked stunned as she gazed upon her husband's awakened form. A smile crept upon her lips.
"Good heavens dear husband you startled me." She said.
"Pardon me my dear but I just wanted to peer into those lovely brown orbs of yours." He replied grinning.
"And do you find my brown orbs to be satisfactory?" She retorted.
"More so every time I look upon them." He answered. Mr. Darcy looked at his bandaged shoulder grimacing a little. "What happened? The last I remember we were in the drawing room and Caroline was pointing a gun at you." He stated.
"Caroline fired the gun and you jumped in front of me causing the bullet to hit you. I messaged Charles and Mr. Shaw and saw them this morning. Mr. Shaw thought it best that Caroline go to Gray Havens and with Caroline he and Charles headed there." She answered.
"I have heard of Gray Havens. Caroline shall be watched where she can do no more damage." Mr. Darcy said.
"I do hope that you are right. If anything had happened to you I do not know what I would do." Elizabeth responded. Mr. Darcy leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and then her plump lips.
"Nothing is going to happen to me, my love. I have survived a bullet wound. To make sure that you are safe I would do it again." He whispered in her ear.
"Take a bullet for me?" she inquired.
"Save your life my dear. If you are a target I would gladly come between a bullet and a target to save your life. I do not know what I would do without you." He answered.
"We should not dwell upon that idea anymore." She responded.
Later that morning Georgiana and Jane arrived curious of any good news. Elizabeth greeted them in the foyer and told them the good news. After being told that Mr. Darcy was conscious and talking Georgiana went straight to her brothers chambers. Jane stayed with Elizabeth.
"I am so relieved that Mr. Darcy is not as ill." Jane said as they sat down on chairs in one of the drawing rooms.
"I am so relieved to, but he still needs time to heal. Caroline has been sent to Gray Havens. Caroline will receive the treatment that she needs so this event does not transpire again." Elizabeth replied.
"She does need to disregard her former notions when it comes to marrying Mr. Darcy." Jane agreed. Elizabeth nodded.
The rest of the day went by quickly. Charles returned to the news that his dear friend had made a recovery. Georgiana played the piano as Mr. Darcy received visits from Elizabeth, Charles and Jane throughout the afternoon. When night fell he ate some dinner that Mrs. Reynolds had brought up to him. Elizabeth ate with Georgiana, Jane and Charles before seeing them off to bed for Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were to stay the night. She then went up to her husband's bedchamber where she knew that he would continue to get healthier.