Chapter 11 - A happy ending
Mary had been sleeping when a single servant had come to announce breakfast soon was ready. Ludwig had told the servant, who had been surprised to find the master there, that they would take their breakfast in the bedroom.
He longed to kiss her, but they had issues that had to be taken care of first.
"Mary," he whispered quietly. She turned and opened her eyes.
"Ludwig," she whispered quietly, smiling instantly. As if it was the most natural thing in the world she leaned over at kissed him. Ludwig pulled back from her and stared into the black orbs of her eyes.
"We must talk," he whispered, reassuringly caressing her temples.
Almost sobbing Mary whispered hoarsely, "I'm so sorry," and Ludwig removed a single tear from the corners of her eye.
"I cannot just accept that. I cannot forget what has happened these last many months," he fell quiet and then pulled Mary's chin up so they'd look at each other.
"I don't remember much," Mary answered quietly. "I hardly remember how it all happened. It's like a blur," she whispered. Ludwig leaned closer.
"Tell me, Mary, tell me how you feel and what you felt," he implored and Mary took a deep, shaking breath.
"It's not much… I'm so sorry!" She cried quietly, "I did not love you. I had no choice. I've never been considered anything much and I had come to accept that. Suddenly I have a marriage upon me and while everyone in my family has been able to choose for themselves I was left alone and forced instead," she pleaded for his understanding. "I don't remember what happened afterwards; only titbits. I fell ill and yet I didn't feel like getting up despite being …" she fell quiet.
"Well enough," Ludwig continued. "I've seen marriages like that, heard of them, but I never considered I'd be in one of them," he explained pained and Mary grasped his clothes tightly.
"I was not ready, I believe. It happened so quickly!" She stared into his eyes, pouring her heart out to him.
"And why now?" He asked.
"I… I don't know. I just… Suddenly I just wanted you, needed you. I cannot say when it started; small things. Like the flowers. I found myself thinking you'd like them without understanding why I should care what you liked…" she blushed at her own carelessness. He smiled to her reassuringly. "You have every right to hate me…" she conceded.
"I do. I have every right to keep the arrangements as they are now," he agreed and she nodded desolately. "But I think I understand," he whispered quietly.
They lay for a few minutes in silence.
"Mary?" He asked aloud.
"I… Would you like us to start over?"
"What do you mean?" She looked at him, frowning.
"Let's do it right, this time. We never did go for a walk in the park, let's do so?" Ludwig looked uncertain and Mary laughed and hugged him tightly.
"Oh yes! Please, we shall have so much fun!" She giggled.
"Let's get ready, then. We can take our breakfast in the park," he grinned at her eagerness, feeling content for the first time in a long time. They agreed to meet in the entrance hall once changed and Mary, excited as ever, got on her most beautiful dress that would suit an almost-casual day; just for him.
She was surprised to see him wearing much similar clothes.
"Are you surprised? Taking a young lady out for a walk in the park I must present the best I have," he informed when he saw her staring at him. "You look beautiful," he bowed when she greeting him.
"I might have gone a little out of the way as well…" she blushed as they left the manor for an open and decent carriage that held outside, waiting for them. The morning was spent together walking around, mostly to themselves and ignoring the stares from others. Blushingly, Mary had commented on how surprised everyone was to see her out and what it made her realise. They talked about themselves, getting to know each other once again and teased each other and the situation, pretending to be two very naughty young people without a chaperone.
It had become a game, and yet it was much more serious than just a simple game. It was their start to how their lives would be together, a little late, but better late than never.
While things had been hard on Ludwig it had been harder not to forgive Mary fully. In the end he mentally accepted things and decided that to move on they would have to start over. Entirely. And so, two months into their game Ludwig called her Bennet once more and proposed, asking for her to honestly take his name, to be his bride and to let the past be past; she accepted. While uncommon for their time to renew their vows Ludwig nevertheless had it done. In a quiet ceremony, just the pair and the priest, Ludwig and Mary renewed their vows with the true love they held for each other.
They spent their time with each other in absolute bliss; their understanding of each other helping them in the situations to come. People might've wondered what had happened, but the secret stayed with the pair and eventually no one recalled the strange first year but remembered only the sweetness of their beautiful marriage.
They had one boy and two girls.
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