Darcy woke up in the early hours of the next morning, and slipped quietly out of the room so as to not wake his sleeping wife. If he had been at Pemberley he would have headed immediately to the stables and a hard gallop across the fields. As this option was not open to him, he took instead to pacing across the floor of his library.
Elizabeth may have distracted him most pleasantly last evening from the behavior of Tandish, but he had by no means forgotten what had happened.
Fitzwilliam Darcy was furious. He expected some disapproval of his wife, but that Tandish would say such a thing to his face, and in front of his wife, was unendurable. But he must decide on an appropriate course of action before things got… out of hand. With a grim smile he remembered what had happened the last time someone had challenged his decision to marry Elizabeth.
Early in his engagement, Darcy had been obliged to spend several days in town dealing with business. While there, he had begrudgingly accompanied his cousin Richard to his club. It was there that Darcy had come upon an old Cambridge acquaintance, one Henry Gray. Having not seen each other for some time, Darcy and Gray had sat down to a glass of brandy and what started out as an enjoyable conversation. The enjoyableness had worn off when Darcy had told his friend of his coming marriage. Gray had been shocked that the illustrious Darcy would throw himself away on a mere country Miss.
"I say, Darcy! Whatever convinced you to marry the girl?"
"I love her, Gray."
"You mean to say that you wanted her."
"Take care, Gray."
"Why did you not have her and move on with your life?"
Ten minutes later Richard had dragged him out of the club, his hand wrapped in a bloody neckcloth. It was a pleasant memory that Henry Gray had needed to be carried out. Darcy had returned to Elizabeth the next day, needing to reassure himself of her love and goodness.
He told her his hand had been injured in a fencing accident.
As pleasant as was the memory of Gray's bloodied face, Darcy knew that he must never lose control of himself again, thus boxing was discarded as an option for Tandish. Though dueling was still under consideration.
It was still under consideration an hour later when Elizabeth came looking for him.
"You are thinking of a suitable punishment for Sir Edward," Elizabeth began without preamble.
Not trusting himself to speak, the last hour having put him in a truly frightening mood, he merely nodded.
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest for several long minutes.
"We are never going to receive universal approval."
"Why could he not disapprove of me from a distance and have done?"
"Such is life. But remember, Fitz, you have got the better of him. He would have doomed you to a marriage as sad and loveless as his. But we know the joy of true love, and we can laugh at him in his ignorance."
Twinkling eyes met hers. "You ever were one to laugh by way of punishment."
"Yes, for we get all the joy of punishing him without his ever having been the wiser, and," she paused in hesitation, "then I need not worry for your life every time someone insults me."
"Then you do not care what he thinks of you?"
"No. And if I do not, then neither should you. His opinion means nothing to me."
He held her face in his two hands, his thumbs lightly caressing her cheeks. "I am so lucky to have you, Lizzy."
"Yes, and I intend to remind you of it quite frequently."
This tempted one side of his mouth up in an expression that was fast becoming as familiar to her as it was dear. "I think I need to be reminded again, Lizzy."
In response she slipped her arms around his neck and, standing on her toes, she reminded him for the next quarter of an hour.
Darcy took Elizabeth's advice, and for the remainder of their stay in London he laughed off every attempt to insult him. Yet the end of the week, bringing with it their trip to Pemberley, was a blessed relief to him. He realized that sharing Elizabeth with her duties as Mistress of Pemberley was not going to be nearly as bad as sharing her with the society of town.
It was a long two days journey to Pemberley, and so they began it early on Friday morning. The journey presented an interesting duality. Every mile they travelled towards Pemberley gave more and more excitement and anticipation to Darcy's countenance. And yet every mile she travelled towards her new home made Elizabeth more nervous and fidgety. This did not escape the notice of her new husband.
"Lizzy," he began, taking her hand in his, "are you unwell?"
She sat in silence for a few minutes, not daring to lift her eyes to his concerned face. "I am just a little nervous."
"Nervous?" he asked, lifting her chin gently so that he could look at her. "What have you to be nervous about?"
"What if I cannot do it? What if the duties of Mistress are too much for me?"
"Lizzy, that is ridiculous!"
"But I know nothing of the care and workings of such a large estate. So much will depend upon my decisions."
"And you shall do marvelously at this, as you do in everything. No one expects you to never make mistakes, but you shall always be forgiven for such." He took her face gently between his hands. "Are you truly worried about this?"
She nodded hesitantly at him. Darcy pulled her close to him and kissed her, murmuring how needless were her worries against her lips. She admitted that he was an excellent persuader. After several minutes she nestled her head against his chest.
"I am glad that you shall be home with me, Lizzy." His fingers were playing idly with her hair.
"Of course you are, Fitz. I imagine that you quite enjoy the privilege of having a wife."
Darcy blushed and looked away from her for a minute. "But not just for myself, Lizzy. I am glad for my sister's sake. Georgiana needs a female in her life, and she has so longed for a sister."
"I hope my impertinence does not rub off on her."
"And I hope that your vivacity does."
"You should not wish such on your poor gentle sister."
"On the contrary, I cannot think of a better sister for her. You will be able to teach her what I cannot."
This conversation occurred just as the carriage was entering the county of Derbyshire, and some of Elizabeth's fears subsided. But she would not admit to him what truly bothered her. Yes she was nervous to be Mistress of such a large estate, but her greatest fear was not for herself. Elizabeth had witnessed firsthand how much his servants respected him and she had seen how much the welfare of the people depended on Darcy's generosity. Elizabeth did not want to change this. And yet it was inevitable that her unguarded behavior would have an impact on the life around Pemberley. She could only hope that it would be for good instead of ill.
As the coach pulled into the Pemberley grounds, Elizabeth took Darcy's hand tightly in her own, but she did not speak again. Possibly because she was not entirely certain that she still had the power of speech. She was entering her new life, and she could not be happier.
A/N: This has been quite a fun story for me to write, and an interesting diversion from my normal prattle. But I have enjoyed it and your responses to it. Originally, I had wanted to write a real story. However, I discovered much to my chagrin that a good story needs a good conflict. And I just couldn't bring myself to make the Darcy's have to face anything else right now. So I will leave them to their blissful happiness.