Elizabeth could feel her heart pounding until she was afraid it would come out of her chest. She sat composedly in the carriage while the sounds of her family and friends cheering and shouting goodbye faded in the background. Her gloved hand, which had briefly rested in the hand of her husband as he helped her into the carriage, now rested on her own knee.
It was the moment that they had been waiting for. They were married – exactly two years since the day of their meeting at the dance in Meryton, the day when they had both secretly determined that they would never be friends. Elizabeth determinedly looked at the scenery, at the fading sight of Mr Bingley and Jane's carriage turning towards Netherfield, at the driver of the carriage... she looked anywhere to save looking at her new husband. But even so, she noticed his adoring stare looking down at her, his head coming closer to her own as she continued to sit in silence and anxiety next to him.
"Elizabeth," Mr Darcy murmured huskily. She felt the back of one long finger stroke her cheek, and drew in a breath. The finger came under her chin, gently turning her face to him. Yet she still did not look at him, modestly keeping her eyes downwards, frozen in uncertainty. "Elizabeth, my love..." he spoke more insistently, a gentle amusement threading through his words. "Look at me."
She somehow found her voice, the words coming out in a whisper. "I can't." Mr Darcy smiled fully now, knowing that this was not like his Elizabeth, but understanding that they had not had enough alone time in the past two months since she agreed to his proposal. She was nervous, but he knew that once he broke through, she would relax. He brought his lips down to brush her forehead, smelling the sweet scent of Elizabeth's baby soft skin.
"Sweetheart, there is no need to be nervous, I just want to see those beautiful eyes." As light as a feather Elizabeth felt his lips brush her eyelids, and with that simple touch her nervousness began to change to desire. She looked up into the dark eyes of her husband, just as his mouth moved to cover hers, a gentle smile on his face. Elizabeth found her lips meeting his once, and then twice, and as they continued, her hands moved of their own volition to the sides of Darcy's face, and her smile answered his.
He pulled away all too soon, with a sigh, his hands taking hers. "Elizabeth, as much as I want to continue that sudden display of passion and vivacity, consider what it would look like to the neighbourhood gossips. After all, we are travelling in an open carriage, and while I am not entirely sure whose idea that was at this moment in time, I would not want news of our depravity travelling the halls of Meryton tonight." Elizabeth laughed with merriment, her eyes sparkling.
"Why Sir," she exclaimed in feigned innocence. "We are married, after all! What could be more natural than sharing a few kisses?" Darcy brought his wife's gloved hand up to his mouth and kissed it. "You, my dear, are a wicked woman. Gives a man something to consider." He smiled into her hand.
"And what's that, Husband?"
Darcy paused. "Just that perhaps that recent display of innocence... was a mere game?" He knew that this was not the case, but hope that in teasing his wife, all of her nervousness would dissipate once and for all. He wanted Elizabeth to feel as comfortable as possible with him in their new life.
"Sir, that is very ungallant of you to say..." Elizabeth withdrew her hand playfully from his firm grasp.
"Maybe so, Wife," he spoke, winking. "But what else is a man to think when the woman he loves is nervous one minute, and then exceedingly teasing the next? What say you?"
"I can only think of one thing, Sir..." Elizabeth smiled, as she turned back to face the front of the carriage, shifting her body so that she was in contact with Darcy's side by side. "That the woman was tempted out of her anxiety by her husband's pleasant kisses and charming smile." Darcy laughed, and Elizabeth marvelled at the sound. It was not very long ago that she had heard his laugh for the first time. Darcy pulled Elizabeth closer to him, and smiled when her head came to rest against his shoulder. He took her hand.
"Fitzwilliam," he heard Elizabeth murmur quietly.
"Yes, Sweetheart?" He was playing with her hands now, wishing that they were bare so that he could touch her skin.
"I was anxious; it wasn't a game... just in case you really thought that." She looked up at him seriously, and smiled with self-deprecation.
"You have no reason to be anxious around me, Elizabeth. I love you and never ever want you to feel uneasy around me."
"I know. I just don't want you to be disappointed in me, in your choice of wife."
"You must never think that. There is nobody else in this world for me. I haven't had the chance to tell you that much since the day we told your family we were to wed."
"That's right... Mama made sure to keep us separated as much as possible. I think she was afraid that you would discover my true character and change your mind." Elizabeth laughed softly. "Dear Mama, and even after all this, I will miss her."
"You can visit your family and Jane, and they can visit Pemberley as much as you wish. Your wish is my command, My Lizzie."
"You've never called me Lizzie before..." Elizabeth murmured. "I think I like it."
"Me also." The conversation ended there as husband and wife smiled against each other, watched the scenery and enjoyed being close. Mr Darcy removed his own and Elizabeth's gloves and played softly with her tiny hands, memorising the feel of the soft skin against his own rougher ones. Elizabeth sighed in contentment, her eyes drawing to the movement, noting the contrast also. Then as the carriage continued to move forward and she drew in the masculine scent of her husband's chest and neck, she fell gently into sleep.
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