Brandon's Request

"Thank you, Colonel Brandon, for the lovely gift," Marianne said, as she lightly caressed the keys to her new piano. She turned to look at him sitting behind her.

A nervous, uneasy look creased his face and it struck her as being very unlike him. She couldn't remember ever seeing the Colonel nervous. He was the sort of man who always stood tall and confident, though he did often have an air of sadness about him.

She smiled brightly at him and a little bit of the tension knitting his brow seemed to lessen.

"I'm glad you like it, Marianne." He shifted in his seat and twisted the brim of the hat that he still held even though Marianne had offered to take it from him, twice.

"Have you heard?" Marianne said, trying to fill the silence. "My sister is to wed, Mr. Edward Ferrars. They plan to be married soon."

The Colonel's eyes seemed to come into focus as if he had been deep within his thoughts.

"Yes," he said, slowly, "Mr. Ferrars, has told me." He absently laid the hat down onto the floor.

Marianne stood, followed by the Colonel. She walked to the seat next to his and sat down, haven grown tired of turning to see him.

Brandon did not sit back down in his own chair, but walked slowly towards the instrument that he had given her.

"I did not come here to merely exchange pleasantries," he said, his words so quiet, Marianne had to strain her ears to hear him.

She waited for him to go on, staring at his back. He was silent for a long moment. He traced his fingers over the very keys she had just touched.

"I-I wanted…" he trailed off. Turning around, she could see pain in his eyes.

"What is it, Colonel?" Marianna, asked feeling suddenly alarmed.

"I know that you like my gift," he smiled, straightening his back. "And I would like to think you have come to esteem our friendship?" He paused and she realized it was a question.

"Yes, I do. Very much." Marianne thought fondly of how many ways, Colonel Brandon, had been there when she needed him. Not the least of which was when she was close to death and he had brought her mother to see her.

Since that day he had spent so much time with their family, always visiting and reading to her.

"Marianne, I don't think it has ever been a secret that I have great...regard for you?" another question.

"Yes, I have regard for you as well," she whispered, her voice growing weak. Brandon's eyes filled with worry, as they often did since she had been ill.

"Are you alright?" he asked, coming nearer to her. He was so tall that he towered over her as she sat.

"Yes. I am well. Please, Colonel continue." Marianne felt a thrill pass through her as she waited for him to speak. He moved slowly to sit beside her on the couch so that their face were almost level.

She watched him as he searched for words. His eyes followed the shape of her face, making her feel delicate, like a flower.

She traced his own face and she saw every familiar line, the comforting gray-green of his eyes and the bit of hair that always fell into his forehead.

Suddenly, she knew something inside her that she hadn't before. Suddenly, her heart filled with love for this man sitting beside her. She knew this feeling to be true as well as she knew the color of his eyes. It just was, as if this love had always lay in her heart.

"Marianne?" he said, "I do have regard for you. Great regard. But I also love you. And I want to know now, if there shall ever be a chance that you might return my love? Tell me now, for I fear loosing my mind from doubt."

The pain -strangely mixed with eagerness, in his eyes made her chest almost burst.

"Colonel Brandon, I do return your love. More than I can say."

Brandon's face changed instantly into a smile that spread from ear to ear. "Truly?"

"Yes, truly. I love you."

He fell to the floor and took both her hands in his. "Then, may I request, that you, Marianne Dashwood; would consent to be my wife?"

"Yes, my Colonel. I will be your wife." Marianne felt tears falling down on their hands, still clasped together and she realized they were not just her own. Water glistened in his eyes.

"May I?" he asked moving towards her.

"Yes," she said. He kissed her tenderly upon her brow, then he moved back and looking deep into her eyes, kissed her gently on her lips.