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When the call for fire first sounded throughout the large house, Amanda Darcy leapt from the bed and made straight for the cot to retrieve their newest arrival, seven week old Elizabeth, as her husband left the room for their two sons.
The wide awake Austen and sleepy Bennet in his arms, Fitz returned swiftly. The acrid smell of smoke was reaching the upper levels as he guided them from the room and down the stairs. In the large gardens of Pemberley, Fitzwilliam Darcy set his two sons down on the ground and looked back toward his ancestral house in concern.
"Call 911," suggested Amanda as she took a seat on the bench. "Get the fire trucks around."
He gave her a puzzled look in reply before he squeezed her shoulder and headed for the house once again.
Amanda looked in worry at the fire and smoke billowing from the west wing. Her concern was interrupted by the increasing whimpers from the bundle in her arms. "Ssh sweetheart," she said softly to her baby daughter, standing up and rocking her in her arms.
Four year old Aus and three year old Ben sat before her on the bench. Her eldest child was calmer, sitting with his head propped up in his hands, surveying all before him as her excitable middle child bounced and looked around in awe, talking a mile a minute. She was distracted from this chatter when a man dashed toward her. "Is Mistress okay?" the undergardener asked in concern.
She could see that he wanted head to the house and help and was touched by his concern. "I'm fine," she reassured him. "Go and help." She was no wilting flower that needed to be coddled in a time of crisis!
"I help too!" crowed Ben and Amanda quickly turned on her son as the undergardener froze, uncertain of what to do. "Sorry darling," she said smoothly. "Big boys only this time."
"Aw," complained her son as the undergardener nodded thankfully and left. Ben's disappointment swiftly disappeared when his brother declared that a horse had just arrived. "A horse Mama!" said Austen. "'orse," copied Ben.
Amanda looked up in confusion when the new arrival thundered in and jumped from his horse to land just short of them. "Wickham?"
He doffed his hat with a grin that was tinged with worry. "How do you always know when and where to be?" she muttered.
"She needs eyes on the inside doesn't she?" he replied ambiguously before he dashed for the house.
She would have to ponder that comment later as Bess began to cry out loud once again, not satisfied with being ignored. Looking around, she gave up and pulled her nightgown off her shoulder, rearranging the blanket. Guiding Bess to her nipple, she turned and pulled her firmly against her body. She patted the baby's bottom aimlessly as her daughter nursed strongly, her worry growing as she looked at the burning building.
Jane Austen hadn't written about that.
Her mind then went all Jane Eyre on her, thinking of the burning building at Thornfield Hall. She quickly dashed those thoughts from her mind as she recalled what had happened to Rochester. She didn't need Darcy getting hurt.
Her son thankfully pulled her from such thought when he tugged on her nightgown. Titling down, retaining a hold on her Bess, she saw Austen pointing and Ben's eyes about to pop out of his head. "Look Mama!"
And look she did. At Wickham carrying Georgiana free of the fire.
It was a smoky-smelling, dirtier husband that found her some hours later as dawn streaked across the sky. He was exhausted as he took a seat beside her. The west wing was destroyed, but the east wing had been saved, albeit with the addition of a great quantity of ash and smoke. "Are you okay?" she asked of her husband, freeing a hand and resting it on his shoulder.
"I'm fine," he replied, brushing off her concern as he leaned in close, pressing a quick kiss to her lips meant to reassure as he plucked the whiny baby from her arms. In Fitz's firm arms, their daughter was finally silent. (Austen and Bennet had succumbed to slumber some time ago, both curled up and covered in the blanket beside her.)
The palm of her hand resting on her husband's shoulder suddenly felt hot. Removing her hand, she struggled to breathe as she looked around desperately. The colours streaking across the morning sky suddenly began to move, rolling toward her like a storm. The world began to shift and everything before her swam.
Amanda pitched to her side and all went black.
Next chapter:Waking up in modern day London.