A/N: -Cringe-

I hope you like this one. I wrote it forever ago and then I forgot about it and then I uploaded it and fixed it up and then I waited two months and it got deleted. I literally sat down a couple hours ago and just did it. Not really edited. I'm out of town whichc is when I usually write because I don't worry about actual work and stuff. -April 27, 2011

Chapter 15

"Elizabeth! You have been sick much too often, as of late.. It is getting to look like you do not want to be married at all, Elizabeth!" Mrs. Bennet ranted. "Your Mr. Darcy is getting very anxious for you. I cannot imagine why, what with you being so ungrateful as to be ill all of the time! Why, I should not be surprised if he tells you that he is going to marry one of your better behaved sisters, like Jane or Lydia. They are the ones that are entertaining him anyway. Now, I demand that you recover within the night and go down to be proper hostess. He should like to see you in the position you will be in his home. Now, get dressed, and get yourself downstairs by supper-time." She fluttered about the room, nervous about Elizabeth's state.

"Yes, Mama. I shall try my best." Elizabeth spoke quietly, forcing a calmness into her voice. Mr. Darcy was the one who insisted she remain in bed, he imagined her to be much sicker than she was.

"Try! You shall do much more than that Lizzie! You will get out of this bed today and you will be a proper young lady for once. I hate to think of the misgivings that Mr. Darcy is having at this very moment. You must catch him because you did not with Mr. Collins, which I shall never forgive you for. Had you married him, I may have another of my daughters marrying Mr. Darcy! You know what peace it gives my mind to think of my girls as well situated. But, it is not to be! You refused him and now we are all narrowly escaping destitution and if you do not ensnare him, you shall lose him and we shall be very poor!" Mrs. Bennet fell into a chair, exhausted by her outburst. She weakly waved a handkerchief in front of her face, trying to cool herself before she had to return downstairs. "Now, listen to your dear Mama. He will be dining with us at supper-time and he shall likely arrive shortly after dinner-time. You must be down for dinner. He shall think you look infinitely better after you have eaten, because you will not look half so sickly."

Having caught her breath, she rose a few minutes later, sternly glaring at Elizabeth before she left the room. Lizzie sighed. It was hardly fair to blame her for all of this. She had had a fever which, of course, she could not be held accountable for, and Mr. Darcy had insisted to both Jane, and Mrs. Hill that she remain in bed. He had strictly informed her that she must remain in bed until the wedding. With so many people following his orders, she had no way of sneaking off into the library no matter how badly she wanted to, and going out of doors at such a time was out of the question. She thought resentfully of the almost complete control of her life that Mr. Darcy already had! She would be miserable if this was to be her life! How could she even bear such an existence? She knew that Mr. Darcy truly had nothing but her health in mind, but he was simply overbearing.

Elizabeth POV

Soon after her mother left, Sarah came in, prepared to fix her hair and help her dress. She got out of her bed quickly, unwilling to provide her mother with any more reason to be angry with her. She made her made her way down the stairs once she was presentable, hearing the dinner bell right as she entered the drawing room. Jane stood up, mouth open in shock.

"Lizzie! You were not to be out of bed. Mr. Darcy will be quite upset with me if he knows I allowed it. Hurry, go back upstairs and return to your bed before he calls, for you shall not have time to do so after—"

"I told Elizabeth to come and eat dinner, Jane! She will remain down stairs and entertain Mr. Darcy properly," Mrs. Bennet huffed before looking Lizzie over critically. "Well, Lizzie, it took you quite enough time to get ready! I expected you to be down much sooner. Promptness, my dear, is a necessity when you are mistress of your own house. Now, I believe t is time for dinner, is it not? Quickly everyone, to the dining room." Elizabeth bowed her head angrily, following her mother and sisters to the table. They all sat, and after thanks was given, began to eat.

Usually, Elizabeth sat to her father's left and Jane to his right. Beside Jane sat Mary and then Lydia and beside Elizabeth was Kitty. Often times, Kitty sat beside her mother, leaving a space between herself and Elizabeth, today however, she made to sit directly beside Elizabeth. She stopped short, however, when Elizabeth went to the center seat, leaving the space by her father empty. He immediately took notice and looked grimly at his favorite daughter, understanding her unwillingness to be at his side, but not liking it. Jane could scarcely compose herself, as Lizzie has never done such a thing as to slight her father in such a way. She knew that Lizzie was hurt by everything, but she also knew that her father was hurting too. The three youngest girls took little notice other than a surprised glance from Kitty and a reproachful stare from Mary before they sat down to eat.

Lizzie, unlike her elder sister, could hardly feel sympathy for her father. He had made a decision for her life. He would never have to live with Mr. Darcy and obey him, but his willingness to force Elizabeth to do so made her angry. She could no longer push all of her resentment onto Mr. Darcy. Not when the wedding she never wanted was fast approaching. And it was, after all, her father's fault! She firmly believed that he should feel remorse. She did not like the hurt look on his face as he comprehended her decision any more than he liked the decision itself, but she would not let her father feel easy while she waited in dread for the day that would whisk her away from her silly mother, her younger sisters, dear sweet Jane, and most importantly, her father. She loved him dearly, and would miss him severely. She could not believe that he was the cause of their coming separation.

Though Mr. Darcy himself, was not all bad, his high-handed actions and treatment toward her made her feel that her new life could not be happy, regardless of how he feels for her. The overbearing nature could not last forever, especially when directed at such an independent individual. She would go mad within the year, she was certain.

Darcy rode up to Longbourn shortly after the family moved to the sitting room following lunch. He could practically hear his future mother-in-law screeching that he had arrived, followed by instructions to sit up straight and look pretty, for Heaven's sake! He shook his head. Who could she be speaking to? He was not interested in any of her other daughters and Elizabeth need not try to impress him. Besides, she was still in her bed. He had made certain that she would be well-rested by the time of their marriage. He secretly wanted to be certain that she was not available, should Mr. Wickham have the audacity to call upon his fiancée or her family. Jane would see to it that Lizzie remained above stairs and safe from Wickham's cruelty, and his stories.

He dismounted and walked swiftly up the stairs, knocking on the front door. Mrs. Hill soon came to the door followed by a servant, who went to Mr. Darcy's horse, leading him toward the grazing area by the Bennet's horses. The housekeeper curtsied, wide-eyed, before leading him to the drawing room and introducing him. The ladies all stood and he noticed an extra figure than was usually present. At first, he assumed that perhaps the younger Miss Lucas had come to call upon the Bennets until he fully took in all those before him. He bowed stiffly, moving toward Elizabeth quickly.

"I thought you were unwell, Eli— Miss Elizabeth. What are you doing downstairs?"He questioned quietly, once the attention of the room had dispersed slightly. "I told you to stay in bed, so that you may be healthy when we wed, Elizabeth."

"My mother believed it unnecessary and I cannot deny that I agree with her. It was becoming a trying task to remain in my bedroom all the time. She insisted that I come down for dinner and ranted that I would likely lose your attentions if I did not prove to you what a good hostess I was. I believe I can assume she is unaware of our arrangement, given that, can I not, Mr. Darcy?" Elizabeth hissed angrily. She was tired of being meek and obedient. Darcy looked taken aback for only a moment before he masked the emotions. Of course, he did not appreciate all that Elizabeth had said, but he could rejoice in the return of her regular personality.

Darcy looked surprised for a moment, before steeling his features.

"Mrs. Bennet, would you mind terribly if I stole Miss Elizabeth for a stroll in the garden?" Elizabeth looked up angrily, she had not missed that her mother's permission was asked before her consent was given. It was exactly like Mr. Darcy to be so high-handed!

"No, of course not, Mr. Darcy! How could I ever protest to such a healthy diversion. You know how ill my Lizzy has been as of late. I believe it will do her well," Mrs. Bennet practically swooned. "Lizzy, dear, go upstairs quickly and put on your best spencer jacket. You know, the blue one that looks so lovely with your eyes."

"But Mama, that is—" Lizzie cried.

"Never mind that, Lizzie! " Lizzie hurried out of the room, embarrassed. How could her mother even consider rambling on about spencer jackets. Especially when the one she was referring to was actually Jane's. Either way, Mr. Darcy need not hear about ladies' fashion. It was in poor taste to force a gentleman to listen to something so...trivial.

Lizzie stopped short, nearly tripping on the stairs. Was she actually worried about Mr. Darcy's perceptions of her family? He must have long ago given up caring at all. If he had not, then he needed to find out sooner rather than later. Soon, he would be expected to welcome them into his home and care for them once her father was gone.

Perhaps, though, if he had not realized at once how undesirable her family was, he may soon discover it and nullify his own half of their agreement. No, if he did that , it would be thought that she had been compromised by another man. She along with all her family, would be ruined.

"Elizabeth? Are you quite alright?" Mr. Darcy called from the bottom of the stairs. She straightened, regaining her composure and turning back.

"Ah, yes, sir. I am quite well. I shall be just a moment." she moved further up the stairs and headed to her sister's room to gather the spencer jacket. She pulled it on over her gown and buttoned it, staring at the mirror to see if it truly did bring out her eyes. She knew that it looked better on Jane, whose figure was better by far, as her mother had often informed her, but she thought that perhaps it did make her look well.

Growing concerned downstairs, as Elizabeth had yet to return, Mr. Darcy swiftly made his way up the stairs, glancing first into Elizabeth's room before closing the door and moving onto the next. This door was open and he had to assume that it was the eldest Miss Bennets' as it was very clearly larger and there were finer things inside than his intended had in her chamber. He felt anger grow in his chest as he thought of the favoritism that Mrs. Bennet showed toward Miss Bennet and Miss Lydia. It was things such as this that made him certain that Jane Bennet was unsuitable for Bingley. She was spoiled and conceited. Clearly her sweet demeanor came from nothing more than a desire to appeal to a wealthy young man and trap him into an engagement before her true personality shone through and it was too late for the gentlemen to escape. He would not allow this to happen to Charles. He was too trustworthy and Jane Bennet too clever by half to be a suitable match.

He was about to move on to the next room when he saw a small movement on the other side of the room. Elizabeth was looking at herself in the mirror, which sat by the window opposite the door, as she buttoned her jacket. She looked very well indeed and the jacket brought the fabric of her dress closer to her body, making her hips and waist far more defined than they had been previously. He shifted uncomfortably before softly calling her name.

"Are you sure you are well, Elizabeth? We do not have to go out, you know. You should rest is you do not feel well. I do not believe you should even be up yet, given how ill you—" She gasped in surprise as she turned and almost shouted.

"No! No, Mr. Darcy. I simply must get out of the house. Surely you understand, sir? I cannot stand another moment in the house without some fresh air." He cocked an eyebrow.

"I am sure I do not know what you mean, Elizabeth. Come now, I see you have successfully recovered your jacket from your sister's room. I do like that color very much, it looks quite good with your eyes."

"I thank you for the compliment sir." She said curtly, aware that he was alluding to the fact that her sister had apparently been wearing her spencer jacket, and she did not appreciate his apparent disapproval of sharing clothing with her sisters.

The pair soon made it outside and began their walk Elizabeth quickly grew irritated with Mr. Darcy, who, believing her too weak to fully support her weight on the unstable ground outside, insisted that she allow him loop their arms, to be certain that she would remain standing should she be suddenly overcome with exhaustion. She choked back the desire to groan. He believed her to be of a weak constitution and it frustrated her to be forced to play the part.

They walked for some time, speaking very little. When they were well out of sight from the residents of Longbourn, Darcy stopped Elizabeth and led her a ways off of the road. He turned to her and smiled softly.

"I know that all of this has been very quick for you, and I believe that it may have had some bearing on your ill-health lately. I have had this for some time and I thought that perhaps it may solidify everything for you. It all seems rather surreal to me and I know this would help me to be absolutely certain that I am not merely dreaming. I thought that perhaps this may also reassure you of my affections. I know that I did not really propose to you, so this may satisfy your desires." Elizabeth looked puzzled as Darcy spoke and even more so when he reached into his pocket.

"This was my mother's," Darcy said, toying with a ring of some sort. "My father gave it to me shortly before his death five years ago, and he made me promise that this ring would never grace a young lady's finger unless I felt a very deep...affection for her, as it meant very much to my mother and father. He gave it to her on their first anniversary and it represents their love and, well, now it represents ours," Darcy managed to raise his eyes to Elizabeth's as he finished speaking. Her eyes were wide and he smiled. "I know we have not spoken of love before, but I thought that you could use this symbol."

He took her hands in his as he forced himself to speak again.

"Elizabeth, Will you accept my hand in marriage?" Her heart stopped altogether and she was entirely unsure of how to react. Did he not know that she was unable to say no? She felt the strangest desire to laugh and cry at once, but he was looking at her hopefully. Perhaps he was still unaware of the whole of the situation? Should she inform him of the particulars of their engagement? Was it worth it for him to know. Would not that make him more unhappy, and consequently herself?

"I, yes." She choked out, letting out a laugh-sob. He beamed at her, letting out a boisterous laugh himself. She blinked. Never before had that noise escaped him in her presence. She thought, perhaps if he could learn to laugh more, she could learn to be happy. He took her hand and slipped the ring on it. It was definitely old, but lovely, and clearly very expensive. It consisted of a heart shaped diamond with a crown sitting atop it and a few smaller diamonds surrounding it. She was suddenly distracted from the ring as Darcy grabbed her by the arms and kissed her soundly.

A/N: Sort of a cliffy and I'm sorry. This is where it felt like it was done, so I ended it. Thanks for support and to my most recent reviewer, thanks for kicking my butt into gear.