Okay. I don't own My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, or anything interesting. I had read many of the stories in the forum and though I love what people did with the characters, I found that this particular moment in the relationship was usually skimmed over or ignored. Forgive me, but I find Higgins and Eliza to be quite delightful together. As always I am picturing Julie Andrews as Eliza and Rex Harrison (yummy) as Professor Higgins. My grandfather saw them on Broadway in the 50s and said they had the best chemistry he had ever seen between two characters. I hope I didn't step on anybody's toes with this. I try to keep it clean for the kids.
Higgins struggled to remember the events of the day. There had been a marriage. There had been a reception in which people had congratulated him and Eliza. And now, somehow he had returned home, and was in his room with his bride. She still wore the elaborate wedding gown she had worn previously in the day, adorned in simple lace. Yet he was still having trouble processing that she was his wife. Eliza, the girl who sold flowers.
The two of them sat awkwardly upon the bed, failing to even attempt forced conversation. The notoriously witty rapport was reduced to the ticking of the clock upon the mantle. He had left a note upon the door for Mrs. Pearce to bring up tea in the morning but to leave it outside as not to disturb the pair.
Higgins thought back upon his encounters with the opposite sex throughout his life. They had been enjoyable, though he often found the women quite intolerable. And the aftermath was hardly worth the joy of lovemaking. After his last courtship ended quite terribly, he had sworn off the fairer sex. Of course he still had those feelings, especially about Eliza. But love ruined everything, he thought. But what else was there to do but marry her? He couldn't stand the thought of her with anyone else. And in truth the idea of being with her wasn't intolerable. In fact, he found it quite comforting and warm, though he would never admit it to her.
Quite simply, he could do without her. But he chose not to do so.
Eliza too seemed to be ill at ease. Her modesty was about to be completely undermined and she knew it. But if anyone had to see her in such a manner, she was glad it was Higgins. Her feelings for him were so complicated and now…now she was his wife. She thought of a marriage of convenience, one in which there were separate chambers and separate beds, but that wouldn't do at all. Why shouldn't someone love her and want to kiss her?
She held tightly to the veil she had removed from her hair, and clutched the lace in between her fingers. Everyone had told her what a vision she had been today. Everyone, except him. But she thought for a moment she had seen it in his eyes when he saw the Colonel leading her down the aisle. Almost as if she had caught him by surprise. It had been an unromantic courtship, an unromantic business of engagement, and an unromantic wedding, until she saw the way he looked at her. Then she felt herself glowing.
And as he pressed his lips to hers, she felt the stone cold Professor Higgins start to thaw until she felt something of Henry the man. There was passion in that kiss. And Eliza felt suddenly lovely. But now she sat in awkward silence, upon his bed…their bed. And she wasn't sure how to behave. She wished he would berate her or simply patronize her, but instead he finally moved closer to her.
He grasped her shoulders and turned her towards him. He then exhaled loudly and turned away from her as he kicked off his shoes. "Oh tosh. You see, I told you marriage ruins everything."
She finally laughed and felt a much needed release of tension.
"It's too late to change your mind. I've been bought for you."
He thought of the measly sum of 20 pounds that Alfred Doolittle had given him as a dowry, though Higgins explained that it really wasn't necessary, but Doolittle had insisted that it was the proper thing to do, given his circumstances of middle class morality and all that. He then proceeded to un-invite himself from the ceremony.
Eliza stood up and began to let loose the waves of hair that had been so delicately plaited onto her head. She stood in front of the looking glass, buying herself more time. She found herself surprised as Higgins came up behind her and watched her. Henry Higgins was not a romantic man, but he was a man. He slowly traced his hand up her arm and Eliza exhaled softly, feeling chills run down her spine. They stood in front of the looking glass as Higgins traced her delicate jaw line with his thumb.
"Eliza." He whispered in a tone that betrayed his nerves.
"Yes?" she whispered staring at his reflection in the glass.
He placed his hands upon her shoulders "How can I hope to be sufficient for you. Surely a girl your age would…"
She did not like this in Henry. She turned to him. "I've decided I do not care for you when you are humble. I trust you are far more educated than I in this regard."
Higgins looked his bride in the eyes, realizing that her education in this field would be up to him as well. This thought immediately pleased him and the true spirit of Henry Higgins reappeared.
He sighed in frustration. "Of course, you silly girl."
And with that, he kissed her, softly at first then with more passion, as though he tasted something sweet upon her lips. He took her hand and led her to the bed, his confidence restored. That is until he attempted to unfasten the gown she wore. Eliza rested her arms behind her head watching him, half amused.
"All this frivolity on these silly gowns." He muttered under his breath.
"Allow me." She whispered. She sat up and undid the back latch at the top of her gown, and allowed it to fall from her shoulders. Higgins took her in his arms and admired her, staring at the bodices and stocking that until now had usually only existed under the garments of women. He found this much more appealing. As though in a dream he untied the lace on her bodice, feeling her breath upon his face the closer he got to her. They worked through layer upon layer, and he felt frustrated at the layers of undergarments that well brought up ladies wore. And then he wondered to himself what she had worn when she worked at Covent under all those rags.
And after removing the last stocking and unraveling the last ribbon, she lay before him without adornment. He tried to search his Miltonic mind for a proper adjective to describe the beauty that lay in front of him, but he came up empty. Eliza said not a word, but bit her lip as he admired her.
Higgins began to lie down next to her, only to realize that he himself was still fully dressed. She looked up at him with a smile. "Perhaps it won't take so long this time."
"I should say not," he replied, "none of those ridiculous adornments on my clothing."
And as quickly as they could, with much pushing and pulling, they removed each essential piece of his wedding suit. With a swift move of his hand, he turned out the light next to the bed. Eliza could barely make him out in the dark, but she placed her hands upon his shoulders and stared into his eyes. He placed his hands on the small of her back, as he felt her begin to tremble.
"Something the matter?"
She spoke timidly in the dark. "I've never….."
She needn't finish the sentence. Higgins had been certain of her maidenhood from the moment he met her, though they had never discussed it. This appealed to him all the more. She was indeed, at the tender age of 21, a true good girl, as she had so asserted from the day she had walked into the study. He was unsure of how to comfort her, but his ego superseded her concerns.
"Oh tosh, Eliza. You've nothing to worry about."
She was still trembling in his grasp and he made out what he thought were tears upon her cheek. This softened him a bit to her fears.
"Eliza." He whispered. And in the moment her name felt more melodious to him than it had ever. He had once read that true poetry was saying the name of your love over and over. So he whispered it again.
"Eliza." And he kissed her cheek, then her neck, then her jaw, ceasing only when his lips met hers. He rested one arm on each side of her neck, looking down upon her. He spoke again.
"Forgive the bluntness. I don't want to cause you any discomfort, so if I pain you, you must tell me immediately."
She nodded, exhaling softly.
"I love you, Henry."
He found himself unable to respond to her words immediately, for in that moment he commenced making love to her. She was taken aback and gasped loudly.
He stopped. "Eliza?"
"I'm fine." She whispered.
He savoured her in that moment and before continuing, he kissed her lips. "I love you too." It was the first time he had spoken it, and more than ever he meant them.
Her eyes welled with tears of happiness. She threw her arms around his shoulder and felt him move. It was euphoria that he had not allowed himself to feel, but it was as wonderful as all the Shakespearan sonnets and all the great works had ever insinuated. Not just the lovemaking but making love with a woman he was truly infatuated with.
Henry finally collapsed in bliss and held onto his wife. Eliza breathed rapidly, embarrassed. Surely, they had awoken the entire household. But all she heard was the ticking of the clock and his deep breaths.
After a moment had passed, he lifted his weight off her and lay down next to her. Had there been enough light, he would have seen her blushing.
"What now?" she asked in the dark
He chuckled. "Now I sleep while you chatter incessantly about the nature of our relationship."
Eliza glared at him. "I believe the nature of our relationship is very clear, thank you very much."
Higgins chuckled. "Yes. Thank Heavens for that."
He began to turn on his side, but she grabbed the pillow out from under his head.
"Do you mean, Professor, that I just gave myself to you and you just abandon me and not say a word to me?"
The use of his formal title caused him to turn around. He flipped the light back on. "Woman! What would you have me say?"
He stopped as he got his first glimpse of her in the light. She clasped his pillow to her body, her hair was disheveled, and he saw once more the traces of her porcelain neckline. He sighed in frustration and fought between the desire to sleep and the desire to have her once more.
He touched her face, finding the ability to be softer with her than ever before and somehow finding patience he did not know he had. He then took the pillow from her grasp and placed back upon the bed behind him. She pulled the covers up to her chin and he pulled her towards him. Pacified, she laid her head upon his chest. She suddenly laughed under her breath.
"What's the matter now?"
"I hear your heart beating. Before this moment, I wasn't sure you had one."