Disclaimer: I obviously do not own Jane Austen, Tom Lefroy, Henry Austen etc... I do not pretend to have any claim on them whatsoever.
Author's Note: This story is based on Becoming Jane and minimal research into the real lives of the Austens and Tom Lefroy. If I stray too far from either the movie or reality, please chock it up to poetic license or (and this is more likely) sheer ignorance. The setting should be fairly straight forward and the situation explained within the story but if there's any confusion just ask questions and I'll clear things up. Also, as much as I was dying for a happy ending for Jane and Tom, and as much as I like to imagine one, this fic will almost certainly not end "happily ever after." It will, however, entertain and satisfy- to an extent- those who adore the couple as I do. Oh, and criticism is always welcome, but do not flame.
"Jane! Jane, dear!"
Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantelpiece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became-
"Jane! Your brother and sister are here! Do pull yourself away from your fiction!"
His complexion became… "Ahhh…"
Jane slammed her pen down. How was she ever supposed to earn her living if she never got a moment of peace to work? Sighing, she stood and swept out of her room and down the stairs.
Jane raised her head to meet Henry's eyes, frustration dissipating.
"Don't tell me your work has replaced me in your heart. You don't really lack the time to see your favorite brother, do you?"
Laughing, Jane took the last couple steps at once and jumped into her brother's arms. "Of course it hasn't replaced you. Nothing could possibly do that."
Flashing Henry a teasing smile, Jane turned and embraced her sister-in-law. "Eliza, it's so good to see you!"
Eliza placed a kiss on both of Jane's cheeks, beaming. "It's good to see you too Jane. I've missed you so. Both you and Cassandra! Where is she now? She couldn't be avoiding us too!"
Jane smiled. "No, certainly not. Cassandra's a much more considerate person than I am. She would never do something so awful. No, Cassie's at market."
"And George?" Henry inquired over the shoulder of his mother who had him locked in a tight hug.
"He went with her. She's learning to sign, you know."
"Is she? After all this time?"
"Yes. She asked me to teach her one afternoon and I've been giving her lessons ever since."
Henry smiled. "Cassie's such a sweetheart."
"Yes, yes of course she is." Mrs. Austen clucked, evidently impatient to see everybody out of the foyer. "Come along now, into the drawing room."
Jane took a step back, away from the mother pushing them all forward. Quietly, she turned to head back upstairs.
Jane sighed and turned around, her foot on the bottom stair.
"Don't sneak back upstairs. Henry and Eliza have just arrived."
"I know ma'am, but I was just in the middle of something and I don't want to take the chance that I'll go up in an hour and be hopelessly lost."
"Oh let the authoress go Mother. She has to earn her keep somehow, doesn't she?" Henry grinned.
Mrs. Austen sighed. "Very well. Go on Jane. But do come down soon."
With a slight curtsy Jane left the party behind and returned to the solitude of her room. A few moments more and she was behind her desk staring intently at her words, still fresh and glistening brightly on the parchment in front of her.
Despite her best efforts the five minute interruption had managed to completely derail her train of thought and she found herself with her pen poised motionless over Mr. Darcy's most recent dialogue.
"Oh Mr. Darcy…" She sighed. "What will you say next?"
She raised her eyes from the paper and instead spent some time surveying the landscape, currently covered in the remnants of a fresh English rain.
She closed her eyes and imagined the same wet grass in Pemberley Grove. A moment later and she had conjured up Elizabeth Bennet standing in the middle of the property with a dark figure approaching.
Jane furrowed her brow and tapped her pen furiously against the desktop. While Elizabeth's features had fully formed, the figure's, Darcy's, had yet to materialize. Jane waited and eventually she saw a mouth, the lips party slightly, the corners turned in a half smile. A strong jaw followed and then a mop of thick, almost messy dark hair with two defined eyebrows to match. A nose came next, handsome, artistic, and prominent. All that remained were the eyes.
"Dark, brooding, piercing eyes…" Jane murmured.
But thought she could say it she couldn't see it. Instead a pair of bright blue eyes sprung to mind. His eyes.
Jane frowned and the movement of her pen stopped abruptly. A second later and the pen had slipped from her fingers entirely. Her eyelids fluttered open and she could feel tears welling up in her eyes.
A year. A year had passed and she still couldn't help but see Tom whenever she closed her eyes. Every evening spent trying to fall asleep inevitably brought the gentleman to her bedside and all she could see was Tom- Tom when they first met, Tom when they first danced, Tom when they first kissed, and most often, Tom when she left him standing in the middle of the road after leaving him.
His face still haunted her. Her love for him was still unabated, despite everything. He was engaged. He was still engaged to the girl he had left for Jane- an heiress, one that she'd heard was charming and pretty. How their engagement had withstood an attempt on Tom's part to elope was beyond Jane, but it was certain. He was practically married. Yet Jane still pined for him, still wished for him to be hers.
Jane blinked and checked the tears that were beginning to fall. It was foolish. She'd done what was best for herself as well as Tom. There'd been no other option. Still… when she thought what she'd do if she was put in the situation again…
A knock at the door roused Jane, startling her and causing her to upset an ink bottle.
"Oh!" She exclaimed, jumping up, grabbing the bottle, and saving her manuscript all at once. "Oh! Come in!"
The door opened and Cassandra peaked around the side. "Jane? What is- Oh you've spoilt your desk!"
"No." Jane muttered, searching for something. "No, this has happened before. It's alright."
"It's happened before? Well what have you been cleaning-?"
Jane silenced her sister with the sight of a soiled, formerly white handkerchief- the sought after object.
"Oh Jane, must you ruin all your handkerchiefs?"
Jane gave a wry, sad smile. "Rest easy on that point my dearest Cassie. It isn't mine."
"It isn't? Well then whose is it?"
Jane said nothing, but a response instantly became unnecessary. Cassie soon perceived through the ink, both fresh and dry, that it wasn't a lady's handkerchief being employed as a rag. She blushed slightly and lowered her gaze, sparing Jane the embarrassment of being caught with crimson cheeks and glassy eyes.
"There now!" Jane said sprightly after regaining her composure. "It's as good as new!"
Cassie looked up and smiled weakly, her visage marked by compassion.
The false joy evaporated from Jane's face at the sight of so much tenderness. "I can't get rid of it Cassie. Not yet."
"No. Of course not."
With the subject addressed but not pushed Jane was able to replace the handkerchief in a drawer and assume a sincerely cheerful countenance.
Jane sat down on the bed and patted the space beside her. "Now my dear Cassie, did you come to me for any particular reason? Or just to enjoy a moment of sisterly companionship so full of that love and good-nature that is lacking the world over?"
Cassandra sat down, smiling, and took Jane's hand. "I love you so Jane. I don't know what I would do without you."
"Nor do I." Jane agreed. "Now about your reasoning for interrupting a very productive sitting."
"Oh were you getting somewhere? I'm so sorry to have interrupted!"
Jane smiled. "I was only teasing Cassie. Actually, I'm quite stuck."
"Well how lucky. You see my errand was to bring you downstairs to join in the merriment of having a bit of our family back home. Mother sent me."
"Ah, naturally. She isn't able to let me steal away from a gathering even for a second. Well, just let me put my things away and I'll be with you all quite as quickly as I can."
Both sisters stood. Jane went to her desk and Cassandra went to stand by the door. She watched as Jane folded the manuscript, gently, and placed it out of harm's way. "What's the newest development Jane? Has Elizabeth fallen for Mr. Darcy yet?"
"No, indeed she has not. Darcy has, however, just proposed marriage to Miss Elizabeth."
"She has very promptly turned him down. And if I may be so bold as to pass judgment on the actions of one such Elizabeth Bennet I would also add that it was not done very thoughtfully."
"Shocking! Miss Bennet not quite respectful?"
"Scandalous, isn't it?"
Jane gave the manuscript one last fond look and turned to her sister. "Well. We have visitors waiting."