Chapter 34: Knot-Tying
June 15th 2011
"The Decade is indeed a story spanning over ten years. It is a story of lost time, and terrible misjudgments and mistakes. It is told with numerous journal entries from two perspectives."
"Ms. Bennet, some have noticed the similarities, or even parallels, between this book and your own life. Some would even claim it is autobiographical. What do you have to say to such claims?"
Elizabeth Bennet smiled, and leaned into the microphone. "I shall say nothing to dispel their suspicions."
While the crowd murmured, she sought the gaze of one particular person standing in the multitude. He was smiling at her, and she grinned back at him.
"In any case, because this press conference is coming to a close, I thought I might like to give all of you an idea of what's in store. Rather than reading the beginning chapter, I would like to begin with the close."
She cleared her throat, and a hush fell upon the crowd.
"June 14th, 2011: Tomorrow is the big day, and reflecting back upon all the things I've undergone, I realize how incredible it is that things have worked in such a complex and long-winded way. I realize that I am 29 years old right now, and if the whole ordeal began when I was 16 years old, then I have spent nearly half of my life in this story.
"And now, something hugely momentous is about to happen. I know that it will be the beginning of a new chapter. Despite all the trouble I have gone through, I realize now that I don't give a damn about what anyone else thinks. Because this time is for me only. It is for me to make up for all the things I did wrong, and do what's right.
"I feel that my heart is so light, and I know that the path ahead will not be any easier than what I have already passed over, but I now have the strength to face it head on.
"Tomorrow is the big day. Why, might you ask? Tomorrow is the big day because I face a life ahead that is full of joy and challenges to overcome. Tomorrow is the big day because tomorrow—" Here, she looked up and sought Darcy's eyes one more time. "Today, I stand here and ask Fitzwilliam Darcy to marry me."
There were two seconds of shocked silence before the crowd gathered exploded in a flurry of excitement. Lizzy saw Jane and Charles smiling at her with encouragement. They pushed Darcy forward up towards the stage. He stumbled up the steps and crossed over to where Lizzy was standing.
"I really can't believe she beat me to this moment. She's always been incredibly competitive. I do believe I mentioned something similar barely two weeks ago, and I think she turned me down just so that she could ask." Lizzy smiled. "But you should all know that I was prepared, sort of." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black box.
Opening it, he presented the ring to Lizzy. "Yes, Elizabeth Bennet, I will marry you." She smiled, and flung her arms around his neck.
There was a thundering round of applause, followed by the chant, "Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"
Because they were in a very obliging mood, their lips met in their first kiss as fiancés.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh stared open-mouthed at the small prison television. Her life was officially over. Everyone had abandoned her, and she realized how alone she felt. She had lost her family and followers. To top that off, the settlement that Joseph Smith had won had depleted her fortune. Even her pride was broken and bruised. Not even the other prisoners glanced at her twice.
The only thing she had left was her title, and that meant little to her now. She had made too many mistakes to get where she was now. Perhaps others would say that she deserved it, and maybe she did, but it didn't make her feel any better about her situation.
"Ma'am," the prison guard said outside her cell, knocking heavily on the door.
"Yes?" she looked up with dejected eyes.
"Someone's here to see you," he commented, unlocking the door. She felt humiliated as the handcuffs clicked resolutely on her wrists, and she was led outside.
She stared at the man on the other side of the glass.
He smiled briefly. "I'm sorry," he said simply.
"Don't be," she muttered, her eyes sliding down to her hands. "It's all my own fault. I was too concerned with things that didn't matter."
"I know that you've done things that aren't necessarily who you are. I'm sorry that you were born where you were, and I know that you had so much potential. I've never stopped loving Cat, ever. To me, your real self is hidden away, deep down, because you thought she was too weak to face the 'real world,' the one that you were born into."
"I just hope you know I have faith in you still," he said, getting up.
"Goodbye, Joseph," she whispered.
"Congratulations," Anne grinned.
"Thanks. You've been so supportive and wonderful," Lizzy smiled. "By the way, have you gone and talked to your mother at all?"
"I think I will have to eventually, but I'm not ready yet. I think that she may be realizing the weight of everything she's done, though. I don't think she can ever atone for everything she's done, nor do I think she really deserves it, but I can't deny that she is my mother, and I think I will have to forgive her anyway. But I have been talking a lot more to Joseph. I can't believe I spent so long not knowing him. He's a great guy, and I wish he had been a father to me as I grew up."
Lizzy enveloped Anne in a hug. "At least you have the chance to get to know him now."
Anne smiled after Lizzy released her. "Yeah, I'm glad for that at least. By the way, have you guys set a date for the wedding?"
"Not really, but I'm really excited. I can't believe it has taken so long. I would never have thought this would happen when I first met Darcy."
Anne chuckled. "He's an interesting person to get to know."
"But it was worth it in the end," Lizzy smiled happily.
"I should hope so," Darcy leaned into her ear. Lizzy jumped, and turned around.
"Don't surprise me like that! What if I got a heart attack?"
"Then I would resuscitate you. We can't have the bride-to-be dying anytime soon."
"Hey, I'll leave you guys to it," Anne smiled, holding out a hand in a gesture of goodbye.
"Thank you so much Anne. I'll see you later!" Lizzy smiled.
"Bye, dear cousin," Darcy waved. Turning back to Lizzy, he said, "Giana just called to say that she's just touched down."
"Let's go pick her up, then!" Lizzy exclaimed.
"Of course." Making their apologies for leaving the press conference early, they pushed their way out of the crowd. Darcy held open the door of his shiny black BMW for Lizzy, who stepped in gracefully.
"This car is so classy," she commented as he slid into the driver's seat.
"Really?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Will, I grew up driving an old beat up pickup truck. Almost anything is classy to me, but this is especially classy."
He shrugged, "I'll get you one if you want."
"No, it's okay. You can be classy for the both of us."
Darcy drove with only one hand, as his other was busy holding Lizzy's the entire ride. They sat in silence, but Lizzy had never felt more at ease with her head against the headrest as she had in her entire life. When they picked up Georgiana, they were met with a flurry of excitement and hugs.
"Lizzy! You're going to be my sister finally! You'll be my favorite sibling ever!" She stuck her tongue out at Darcy, who made a face in return.
"That's cool with me. I never really liked you anyway," he grinned.
She pouted adorably. "Obviously, that's not true, so I can't take you very seriously, Will." She turned back to Lizzy. "Hey Lizzy! Can I be a bridesmaid?"
"Of course," she smiled. "You can help me plan things too!"
"I already have tons of ideas. We can have these wonderful rose decorations, and it will be a March wedding, so the weather will be beautiful, and everything will be white and wonderful, and the cake will be…"
The cake was 8 tiers, and frosted with pink roses on the sides. It stood proudly in the middle of the table. Georgiana surveyed it with approval, and walked briskly to the chairs to make sure everything was aligned exactly perfectly. She was so excited for the wedding to finally happen. She knew that it would be the start of a beautiful marriage, and she was glad that her brother would finally get his greatest happiness, and she would always have Lizzy close.
"It's about to start," Charlotte whispered to her, motioning for her to take her place. Georgiana nodded, and hurried into her place behind Charlotte. She wasn't at all upset that Charlotte had become the maid-of-honor. After all, besides Jane, Charlotte was Lizzy's oldest friend. Georgiana was simply glad that she had had such an opportunity to meet Lizzy, who had been such a good influence on her. She had made her more confident of herself, more ready to take risks, and more ready to forget the pain of her past.
Besides, Charlotte had been extraordinarily happy to be chosen as maid-of-honor, having never really been outstanding during her life. She was ecstatic to finally get a chance to shine and be special, though of course, not as special as the bride herself.
Georgiana craned her head to look back at Lizzy, who was entering the grass area, her arm linked with her father's. Mr. Bennet smiled graciously, though Georgiana knew he was slightly chagrined to be giving away his daughter.
Lizzy looked absolutely stunning. She had chosen her dress well, a simply cut strapless dress that rested elegantly on her torso, and trailed behind her in a long train. The bodice of the dress was covered in a delicate lace that added a simple beauty to the entire ensemble. Her hair was perfectly coiffed, and put together with a flower pin that Georgiana had helped pick out.
As Lizzy reached the front of the aisle, Georgiana smiled, and shifted from foot to foot nervously. She had never seen her brother happier, and though she felt slightly jealous that she would never again be quite his favorite woman, she knew she was relinquishing the title to someone entirely deserving, and she wholeheartedly wished them a long and beautiful marriage.
Georgiana smiled as they went through their vows and kissed each other, to loud applause. She knew she was going to be a wonderful aunt.
A/N: If you are disappointed with the end, I attribute it to me having a bad week, so too bad for you. Muahaha.
I would like to say here how thankful I am for all of your support. I do really appreciate those reviewers who stick with me, and review every chapter. Thank you, thank you to all of you guys. I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement you have left me. It's hard for me to express how much your support has gotten me through my own struggles, but personal and with writing. Please feel free to keep in touch. My email is .com. I must warn you that I am rather terrible at email replying, though. So please forgive me and send another email if I fail to reply.
This has been an amazing journey. I didn't ever think I would have the determination to carry through an entire novel-length fanfic, but here I am. I know that I have been imperfect as an author and fanficcer, but I had a lot of fun with this, and don't really take myself too seriously. Thank you again, and I hoped you enjoyed the end. Please leave me a last review!
I would also like to wish a fantastic happy birthday to my friend Emma (em38)! I'm submitting this at 11:38 PM, so technically it is still your birthday. Hehe. Good job being old like me!