A/N: Written in an effort to break my writer's block. Please review and let me know what you think!
Would He Have Persevered
'Would he have deserved more, there can be no doubt that more would have been obtained; especially when that marriage had taken place, which would have given him the assistance of her conscience in subduing her first inclination, and brought them very often together. Would he have persevered, and uprightly, Fanny must have been his reward – and a reward very voluntarily bestowed – within a reasonable period from Edmund's marrying Mary.'
- "Mansfield Park", pgs. 433-434
Performing weddings is usually one of Edmund's favourite duties; he loves joining the hands of two people who adore each other, loves the thought that he's helping two people pledge to spend their lives together, loves the idea of love. It's all he's ever wanted for himself, and all he's ever wished for for those he loves.
And yet today he feels strangely uneasy; he's not sure why. This is what he's wanted, what they've all wanted for Fanny, and finally she has (given in, he almost thinks for a moment) come to value Mr. Crawford's merits, and accepted his umpteenth proposal.
He arrives to officiate for the first time with his breath smelling of alcohol, on the whole feeling pleasantly numb about it all, shaking Crawford's hand, sharing a smile with Mary in the knowledge that in little over a month it will be their turn.
And yet for some reason, when Fanny arrives on his father's arm, looking like a frightened, lost little doll (completely beautiful, but utterly out of place, is his first foolish impression) in the overwhelming folds of lace, satin and pearls which his mother has insisted on drowning her in, Edmund wishes he'd downed about three more glasses.
Crawford smiles at his bride, and there's something about this smile which is so tender, so content, so sincere that before he even observes Fanny's tentative answering smile, he feels like he's sustained a blow to his stomach. Can Crawford's sincerity truly surprise him? Had he really thought (oh God, hoped) that Crawford's interest would flag when the thrill of the chase was over?
He begins the service in an effort to clear his mind of these unsettling thoughts, and recites what he is supposed to say with his gaze roving everywhere but over the two kneeling in front of him. When he reaches the part about objections, it is only when someone in the pews coughs that he realises just how unusually long he has been silent (not, of course waiting).
Clearing his throat awkwardly, he moves on. He does fairly well. No further errors. Aloud, he asks Fanny if she will take Henry (not Edmund). He is proud of himself for getting the names right (or is that wrong?).
When it's over and all is said and done and the happy couple – for yes, even Fanny seems to have gained some steely sense of peace (why does he want her to be miserable?) – have left for their wedding journey, Edmund finds himself going home and downing those three glasses he'd been wanting before, and some more besides.
The next morning he wakes up with a blinding headache and a dull sense of loss. Fanny is gone, and in five weeks he will be marrying Mary. It seems the only thing to do is to grin and bear it.