I Remember Love
Summary:The story begins after the opera, the year is 1814, Jane and Tom have met again. They begin questioning their actions and choices in the past (i.e from the time they met in 1795 and forward).This is what could have happened if the movie had not ended. Many thanks to my friends who have encouraged me to write and to the ladies of the Becoming Jane fansite.
Disclaimer:I have used lyrics from Sarah Dawn Finer's 'I Remember Love' (Written by Sarah Dawn Finer & Peter Hallström (Copyright Control / AirChrysalis Scandinavia)). I do not own the lyrics, Jane Austen, Tom Lefroy or any other character in this story. Facts are taken from the Becoming Jane Fansite.
Part 1: In which they find themselves reacquainted
I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your face
I could feel it when we touched
It used to mean so much
But now it's gone away
Seeing him that evening had brought back all the feelings and memories she thought she had repressed forever. Now they came bubbling up to the surface again. Once again she began questioning her actions and choices of that dreadful day all those years ago. The look on his face when she left, it had broken her heart. It was for the best, she had thought then. She had to be the sensible one. But had it been the right decision? He was now married, had been so for quite some time, and lived happily in Ireland with a large family and had a fine law career. Life had been good to him. She had been following his progress in secrecy. Not that her own life had turned out bad. She led a small life, valuable but small. She was a rather successful author. Her latest novel had been published the year before and now she found it hard to remain anonymous. There had been a time when she had doubted her writing abilities. It had been a Christmas holiday many years ago, and a certain gentleman from Ireland had entered her home, taking her by storm and changed her life forever.
He had interrupted a social gathering in her home. Bursting in late just as Jane had started reading a piece dedicated to her sister Cassandra. His uncle of course introduced him, but Thomas Lefroy had not even had the decency to apologize for the intrusion. He just bowed and glanced around the room, feeling rather superior she imagined, but even then there had been a glimpse of interest in his blue eyes as they landed on her for a short period of time. Her heart skipped a beat. Piercing blue met dark hazel.
As she finished her reading, she noticed that he had been sleeping! Oh, how that had vexed her. That was not the end of it! She overheard him talk to John Warren about her reading.
"Well, excessively charming, I thought," Mr. Warren said as he gave Thomas Lefroy a cup of wine.
"Well, accomplished enough, perhaps," returned Lefroy and continued: "but a metropolitan mind may be less susceptible to extended, juvenile self-regard." Jane Austen, who unfortunately had heard all of it, hurried up to her room, ripping her papers to shreds and finally throwing them on the fire. Snobbish, self absorbed, disagreeable man! She thought to herself. Juvenile self-regard, indeed! She sought through her case of writings and diaries. Read through a few pieces, not really sure what to look for and sighed. Well, it was obvious he did not understand her irony at all. She did not need to concern herself with him. He was absolutely not worth the effort.
Little had she known how this Irish rogue would come to affect the rest of her life.
He had not been expecting to see her there. Painful memories came rushing back. He knew she had seen him, but had still tried to make himself scarce after the concert, but alas, there came her brother, Henry, rushing after him.
"You have to come and say hello!" Henry insisted. "She has seen you; it is quite the polite thing to do." Thomas Lefroy found himself and his daughter standing in front of Jane Austen and her cousin before long. "Jane, an old friend. Late as ever," said Henry.
"Madame Le Comtesse, Miss Austen." Tom bowed, as did the ladies.
"Mr. Lefroy," said Jane quietly, looking at him with sad hazel eyes, eyes that had once beamed at him with warmth, happiness and most of all with love.
"Please allow me to introduce to you your most avid of admirers, my daughter, Miss Lefroy," said Tom and nodded towards the young lady by his side.
"Miss Austen, what a pleasure to meet you. Will you read for us this evening?" asked his daughter innocently.
"Ah, well, you see, my sister never reads. Otherwise, how else is she supposed to remain anonymous?" Henry said to her.
"But…" Miss Lefroy started, but was interrupted by her father's warning voice.
"Jane." The look on Jane's face as he called his daughter Jane was hard to bear. Shock, surprise and sorrow, all emotions played over her delicate face.
"I will make an exception if my new friend wishes it," said Jane Austen after recovering from the surprise over the name he had chosen for his eldest daughter. "Come, sit by me," the authoress said and took his daughter by the arm and walked towards a sofa. Thomas Lefroy suddenly remembered another reading. Many years ago. A reading he had thought rather tedious. He had not known her then. Not as he would come to know her over the weeks to come. The first, and perhaps truest, love of his life.
We were young and dreams were new
And every word we said was true
Any mountain we could climb
You made me feel alive
The first time in my life
He had stumbled upon her in the forest the day after that dreadful reading. He had been persuaded to take a walk rather than accompany his uncle for a shooting, since it seemed he knew not how to handle a gun. It was a fine day but he did not quite see the beautiful simplicity of the greens around him. He was beating off bushes and stray greens with his cane. Then he caught a glimpse of something blue down on the trail. It was the girl from the reading. Miss, Miss… what was her name? He could not for the life of him remember her name.
"Miss!" he called out. "Miss!" No response. "Um... Miss!" He hurried towards her. "Miss!" He saw that she had noticed his struggles to get her attention, but she seemed intended not to make this easy for him. "Miss! I…" He took a wrong step and found himself on the ground. He got up as fast as he could and glanced towards her. A little smile seemed to play on her lips. Ah, at least she is amused! He thought to himself. "Miss? Miss?" Why cannot I remember her name? "Miss…" He was close to the trail now.
"Miss Austen." Finally she turned to him.
"Mr. Lefroy," said he and took off his hat and bowed.
"Yes, I know," returned Miss Austen with a curtsey, "but I am alone." She started walking again
"Except for me."
"Exactly." She continued walking away from him.
"Oh, come! What rules of conduct apply in this rural situation? We have been introduced, have we not?" he said and was now right behind her on the trail.
"What value is there in an introduction when you cannot even remember my name?" She turned to him and he realized that she was not impressed by him at all. "Indeed, can barely stay awake in my presence." He began to wonder what rumours had proceeded him. What have I done to make her dislike me? He suspected that his young cousin Lucy had been talking widely about his reputation. Lucy was infatuated. But then again, that was not uncommon around him. But why was not Miss Austen?
"Madam," he said and turned away from her.
"These scruples must seem very provincial to a gentleman with such elevated airs, but I do not devise these rules. I am merely obliged to obey them." She made a mocking curtsey and turned once again away from him.
"I have been told there is much to see upon a walk but all I've detected so far is a general tendency to green above and brown below." He did not want to let her off that easily.
"Yes, well, others have detected more. It is celebrated." She turned to him. "There's even a book about Selborne Wood."
"Oh." He bowed again making her curtsey again, and she turned to leave him once more. "A novel, perhaps?" She stopped and turned.
"Novels?" Her tone of voice made him dread the continuation of a speech that was inevitable to come."Being poor, insipid things, read by mere women, even, God forbid, written by mere women?" She was agitated. Why can't I keep my mouth shut? Or do I want to be lectured? Why is she fascinating me? He thought and then he realized why she did not like him.
"I see, we're talking of your reading," he said with a smirk. He had touched a nerve.
"As if the writing of women did not display the greatest powers of mind, knowledge of human nature, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour and the best-chosen language imaginable?" she blurted out and her eyes were shooting sparks, her cheeks reddening. Beautiful.
"Was I deficient in rapture?" He found himself enjoying the banter with her, this country girl with the dark eyes.
"It was…" He walked towards her, trying to think of what to say. He had to be honest. "It was accomplished." She nodded, indignant, and turned from him again. Then hesitated, and turned back.
"It was ironic." She smiled at him and walked off.
Was it? He called after her: "And you are sure I've not offended you?"
"Not at all," she cried back as she hurried down the path away from him. Chuckling he turned and walked the other way. It might be an interesting holiday after all.
Yes, I remember love so beautiful
Now I know my heart is breakable
But I remember love, the true meaning of
I remember, I remember – love
Now, there she was again, back in his life. He had not seen her since that day all those years ago when she left him at the inn. He knew how difficult a decision that must had been for her. And for him not to follow her and make her stay was the hardest thing he had ever done. Of course his life had turned out just as his uncle, the judge, had wanted. He was successful in his career and he had fathered quite the family. He suddenly realized that his daughter had been trying to tell him something.
"Papa?" she looked at him puzzled. She had not seen her father like this before.
"Yes, dear?" He turned his blue eyes towards her.
"I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to Miss Austen," said she.
"It was the least I could do. I know how you admire her work."
"How do you know her?"
"I knew the family a very long time ago," he answered in a voice that did not invite to further discussion about their acquaintance. He was not yet prepared to answer questions about that time in his life even though it had been quite some time. He just was not sure of how his family would react. How his wife in particular would react if she knew his connection to Miss Jane Austen and that Christmas Holiday in Hampshire.
His daughter knew better than to press the subject. He would tell her about his acquaintance to Jane Austen in due time. Her father had a look in his eyes that she had never before seen. He looked very distant. She wondered what Jane Austen meant to him. He had said that he knew her family a long time ago, but how come he had not mentioned it to her before? He knew how she loved her novels and had read the over and over. She wanted to know everything about the famous authoress. There was something more to this, more than what her father told her. She was quite determined to find out what he was not telling her.
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