The following is an alternate scene for "Not of her choosing," but it could be read alone w/o prior knowledge of that story, with a little background given. This is actually the scene as I would've wrote it, had I not suffered from a little writers block at the time....I'd had it in my head but couldn't get it to paper. I almost went in and replaced it in the original story but maybe there will be some of you who will prefer the other version.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't read the other story (although I would suggest that you do), Elizabeth and Darcy were forced into an engagement after a moment of impropriety on his part. As Elizabeth got to know the real Fitzwilliam, she could not help but fall in love with him; unfortunately he didn't know it and promised her that he would not force himself on her beyond friendship. She had every intention of telling him of her changed regard on their wedding day but Lydia ran off with Wickham after the ceremony and her plans were put on hold. As he said his goodbyes before leaving to track the couple down in London, he saw something in her eyes that gave him hope, a hope that was made stronger when Lydia told him that Lizzy had acted "like a lovesick puppy," the last two weeks of their engagement.

The following is my second attempt at capturing the reunion that would occur when his efforts to unite Lydia w/Wickham had been successful, and Darcy returned to Longbourn and Elizabeth.


His Homecoming

Elizabeth made her way to the parlor at Longbourn as she had every night since her husband, Fitzwilliam Darcy, had left for London seven days ago. Not a word had been written, no posts came and although she went out of her way to reassure everyone, especially Georgiana, that it meant nothing that they had not heard from him; her confidence flagged in the evening, when the rest of the house was asleep.

In the quietness of the Bennet house, the worries that Elizabeth managed to keep at arms length during the day, would assail her mind at night---what if Wickham got the upper hand? What if Darcy lost the duel? If Lydia's reputation would not be so wholly ruined by it; she almost wished that he would be unsuccessful in his efforts to find them. She could not help but play over in her mind their last meeting as he was about to depart with Colonel Fitzwilliam for London. Her horror at the realization that he was taking his pistol along on the journey had made her very emotional and her tears had flowed freely. It was not that she did not believe him capable, but Wickham had proven to be such a sneaky sort; that Elizabeth had no doubt that he might corner Fitzwilliam in a bit of trickery.

Snapping her thoughts back to the present, she eased herself down on the soft cushions of the sofa and tried to put such thoughts out of her mind. Picking up a book of poetry she had taken from her father's library, she found herself staring at the words, not able to make sense of them, and so shut the book just as quickly as she had opened it. Feelings of helplessness bubbled up in her, she hated not being able to do something to alleviate her fears other than tell herself all would work out as it should in due time. Restless, she stood, and as she did so, she thought she heard someone outside the parlor door. Fearing that she would be discovered awake at this late hour (for she was sure she had kept her nightly sleeplessness a well kept secret), she froze for a second, and waited to hear if there would be further creaking of the floorboards in the hall. Not hearing anything else, Elizabeth chalked it up to the house settling, as old houses had been known to do; and walked towards the door, unafraid. She opened it to find a rather startled and slightly disheveled Mr. Darcy.

"You are alive!" she cried, quite shocked that the focus of her thoughts now stood before her.

"Yes, I am." He was knocked senseless at the sight of her, her hair down around her shoulders, a thin robe wrapped loosely around her waist; he could see parts of her nightgown peeking through, though he tried not to look. At the realization of the object of his gaze, Lizzy pulled the robe tighter around herself.

At first sight of him, it had been all she could do to not throw her arms around him; but just as suddenly, she felt awkward; and unsure.

"Lydia and Wickham?" she questioned him, as they remained standing in the doorway, still very much in shock at the sight of one another. Mr. Darcy had not expected anyone to be awake at this late hour and had done his best not to make any noise as he had crept inside Longbourn.

"Married and on their way to Newcastle under the watchful eye of my cousin Richard." he whispered loud enough for her to hear.

"Come, let us not wake the others." he said, leading her to the sofa, which suddenly seemed very inviting to her after all. She quite agreed with his assessment of not wanting to alert the household of his presence; although she felt slightly guilty on Georgiana's account.

"I am so glad that you are home." she confessed once they had sat down, facing each other. He took both her hands to his lips and kissed them. He then proceeded with the words that he had memorized on his way back from London.

"Elizabeth, before I left, I saw something in your eyes that gave me hope, as I had not allowed myself to have." he told her, seeing clearly that same look in her eyes as he spoke to her. "If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once, my affections....." but as if he had thought better of finishing the thought, he paused.

"Your affections?" she asked, suddenly worried that perhaps they were not as they had been.

He shook his head, "I was going to say that my affections had not changed, but they have."

He was staring at her intently, and she was felt confused as to where his words would lead next.

"My affections are so much more than they were. What I thought of as ardent love before, I find must have only been the start."

Elizabeth's emotions evened out at his admission, but sped up anew, when Fitzwilliam reached over and cupped her face with his hands.

"My affections, I confess, have grown, even though I had willed them not only to stop, but to die. I promised you nothing but friendship and if that is still your wish, say but one word and I shall keep silent on the subject forever."

She became aware that he knew that her feelings had changed, surely

he would not put himself out on such a precarious limb if he did not, would he, she marveled?

"Would you really give up so easily, Fitzwilliam?" she asked, no longer afraid of his answer. She found herself very curious to touch his face, and allowed herself to do so, tracing a finger along the side of his jaw. She hoped he would not think her too forward.

If he was shocked it did not register. He did, however, swallow hard, partly from the sensation of feeling her caress on his jawline; but mostly from the understanding that his long held dreams were about to be realized.

"No." he answered, his voice hoarse with emotion, "I can not give up on you anymore than I can give up breathing."

She looked at him intently, still caressing his face with her finger, and in an effort to mimic his actions at Hunsford, dropped her gaze from his eyes to his lips and back again. It did not go unnoticed by her husband, who pulled her so close they were almost kissing, but not quite.

"Say it Lizzy, please!" It was not like him to beg, but he longed to know what was in her heart.

"I love you William, so very much!" she said, her voice dropping to a whisper.

No more words were spoken, no more were needed. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her in the way that he had wanted to for so long. At some point he realized that she was responding in the most delightful manner, raking her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever, but of course was mere minutes.

"You have made me the happiest man in England tonight Lizzy." he told her when they came apart. She smiled at him, blushing slightly, but the dimness of the light in the room hid it somewhat.

"How long have you loved me?" he asked her, tenderly.

"I hardly know. I was in the middle before I knew I had begun." she answered honestly. "surely when I saw how you acted with those you loved, when I saw the real 'Fitzwilliam Darcy', I started to fall in love with you."

He could not help but pull her close and kiss her once again at that admission. They continued this way for quite awhile, talking quietly so as to not wake the house; and stopping only when their lips were otherwise engaged.

The sofa was not the most comfortable piece of furniture, and at some point Lizzy realized there was no other place to go; every room in the house was taken up with a house guest or a member of the Bennet family.

"I am afraid, sir," she told him, "that we are destined to remain here tonight."

"Are you regretting me already?" he asked her, smiling.

"Oh, no sir, not at all." She could not help but return his smile with one of her own, it helped ease her embarrassment over the subject at hand.

"I just meant, that well, there are no rooms available in which for you....I mean, us....." she was blushing furiously now and could not continue.

He pulled her closer and she buried her face in his chest. "Lizzy, I am perfectly content to sit with you on this sofa all night, it is so much more than I ever expected to have, or dared hoped to have."

He planted several kisses on the top of her head, and she looked up in time for one to land squarely on her lips. Participating in his kisses were fast becoming a favorite past time of hers, she decided. When they separated, he added,

"There will be plenty of time for us to get to know one another. I am sure I can wrangle an invitation to stay at Netherfield out of Charles." He thought on that for a moment, until another thought invaded his mind, "Are his sisters and Mr. Hurst still there?"

"No, sir, they left soon after you did."

He breathed a sigh of relief and Lizzy could not help but smile.

"You do realize William" she said, turning solemn, "that as soon as my mother becomes aware of your presence you will not have a moment's peace until she extracts every bit of information out of you about Lydia?"

"I am prepared for this, Elizabeth." his voice turned serious. "I will only tell her what will be beneficial and will do nothing to besmirch your good family name."

"I am sorry sir, please let me apologize for my sister, that she would do the one thing that you must abhor and the result is that you are now connected to that horrible man!" Lizzy felt hot tears slide down her face, but she was unable to stop them.

He brushed her tears away with his fingers, and shook his head, "They are married Lizzy, because I forced Wickham to make an honest woman out of her; I connected myself to him, willingly."

This admission on his part just made Elizabeth cry harder, but the tears that came were not of sadness, but of happiness that such a man existed for her; and she marveled that she had been so long in misunderstanding him!

"You are such a good man. You are not conceited or arrogant at all." she told him. "If you were half as proud as I had accused you of, you would never have done this for Lydia; or even insisted that we marry; or reunited Mr. Bingley with Jane. I had so completely misjudged you."

"I made it easy for you to misjudge me, Elizabeth. I made so many mistakes; from the very beginning, I made so many mistakes," he said, his voice full of regret. "You were never barely tolerable, you were always beautiful." He touched her face as if it were made of china, tenderly and gently. She closed her eyes and let him pull her close to him.

Before they sank into another kiss, she whispered to him, "Let us only think on those things that bring us pleasure, sir." As there was much pleasure to be had at that present moment, it was not a difficult request for him to grant.

They hardly slept, but stayed wrapped in each others arms until dawn. The morning light brought the house alive and soon enough Fitzwilliam Darcy was reunited with his sister; and the rest of the inhabitants of Longbourn. Questions were asked and answers were given; and a certain invitation to stay on at Netherfield after Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bingley left for their belated honeymoon, was granted.

And although their official wedding night occurred on the ninth day of their marriage, at Netherfield ; both Mr. And Mrs. Darcy always looked back with fondness at the night they spent in the parlor at the Bennet house. It had been the scene of his homecoming---in so many more ways than one.

There you have it! I don't usually write a lot of author's notes, but just two things I wanted to say about the story---I don't know if people locked their doors back then but for the story to work, Longbourn had to be unlocked, otherwise Darcy couldn't have snuck in. And second, not sure how light the room would have been with a lamp such as they had, but for the sake of the story it had to be light enough for him to see her drop her gaze to his lips. Hopefully neither of these two things were troublesome enough to bother anyone....any and all reviews are welcome, as always.