Author's Note: Yeah! It's finally done! Once again thank you for all of the comments and critiques I received on the last post, I agreed with pretty much all of them (though I'm afraid to say I have yet to have the chance to go back and re-edit the last post). Anyway, though this is the last chapter of the story, I may post an epilogue sometime next week depending on how the muses strike me. Thank you so much for all of your support!
To say that Darcy was surprised to find his slightly senile aunt barging through his front doors would be the understatement of the century.
"FITZWILLIAM!" He cringed as her voice echoed through the front entrance and through the open door of his study, where he was currently "working." That is, if the definition of working included daydreaming about a certain brunette and plotting ways to accidentally on purpose run into her again.
He wondered if he was too old to hide under his desk as he had his father's when he was a child and Aunt Catherine came to call. The thought was tempting, but he doubted he'd fit under his desk with his height. Still, maybe if he tried curled up and...
Before he could come to a decision a very out of breath Georgie sprinted in through his office door.
"Will!" She gasped, "I... tried... to stall... her... but.."
"FITZWILLIAM JOHNATHON DARCY!" Darcy and Georgie winced in unison. From the sound of it, his aunt was now making her way up the stairs towards them.
"I'm sorry, but, you're on your own brother." Before Darcy could object Georgie was racing out of the room.
"FITZWILLIAM!" The dinosaur like screech assailed his ears once more, prompting him to pick up his role, albeit reluctantly, of host and nephew.
"Yes Aunt, in here." Darcy replied in as composed a manner as possible. His manners prevented him from merely waiting for her to enter the room, so he rose up and greeted her at the door to his study. His offered arm was quickly grabbed by the heavily panting Lady Catherine as the two made their way to the arm chair in front of his desk. Having seen his aunt seated, Darcy calmly walked back to his own chair and peered at his aunt from across the desk.
"Now. What seems to be the matter aunt?" He asked coolly.
"Fitzwilliam! You will never believe what I have just gone through! How I was just spoken to!" Mentally Darcy rolled his eyes, wondering who his aunt had offended now.
"No, I don't believe I will. Why don't you start from the beginning." Under Darcy's dulcet tones Lady Catherine seemed to relax a bit.
"I have just come from the home of that woman Miss Elizabeth Bennet! Whom we both had the misfortune of meeting last spring. You recall her don't you?" She didn't pause to let Darcy answer but merely continued onwards as was her habit.
"Well! Several days ago I happened to be surfing the internet when what should I come across but an awful gossip website scandalously announcing that You were soon to be married to Her! Can you imagine! "
Darcy was stunned at his Aunt's declaration. Stunned by the warmth that spread throughout his body at the idea of marrying Lizzy. To have their names irrevocably linked together. To have her here in his life forever, in his home, in his bed...
So caught up was he with these ideas that he completely zoned out from his Aunt's continued tirade.
"Fitzwilliam! Fitzwilliam are you listening to me! She flatly refused to promise to leave you alone! She dared to claim that she would do whatever made her happy with no thought for social class or preservation of rank! She is a horrid creature with no thought but to ruin you with these scandalous falsehoods!" This jolted Darcy out of his silent reverie, hope flooding his system at his aunts words.
"She refused to refuse me?" Darcy asked a silly grin spreading across his face.
"Well...yes." Lady Catherine watched in astonishment at the transformation she saw before her. She'd always assumed Fitzwilliam to be the most responsible and respectable of her relatives. He was always so serious and succinct in his bearing and manners. If there was anything Lady Catherine liked it was when one knew that to be as animated was to be immature and childish.
But now, now that that stupid smile had begun to take over his face she felt her usually sound judgment failing.
It couldn't be.
No nephew of hers could even entertain the notion of thinking himself in love with that disagreeable and outspoken Bennet creature.
She simply wouldn't allow it.
"Now Fitzwilliam, I don't know what arts and allurements she may of used to convince you that..."
Here Darcy cut her off, his smile receding as his attention was once again captured by her words.
"Arts? Allurements?" Darcy laughed.
"Seriously, what century do you live in Catherine?" Aunt Catherine was shocked. How dare he address her by only her first name! Lady Catherine was beginning to see that Miss Bennet may have already sunk her claws in to far, already the chit was affecting her relations with her nephew. She would have to change tactics.
"I live in the same century as you, a century where Wall Street CEO's do not just take up with whatever little, little, slut has captured their fancy this week. Have some class Fitzwilliam! If you must carry on with that girl at least do it discretely! If not for my own than for Anne's sake. Heaven knows it's one thing to have a mistress and quite another to acknowledge it and have it strewn across the tabloids!"
Had his aunt always been this psycho? Darcy wondered. Or had he just gotten good at ignoring her rude and horrific comments and general person. Did his aunt honestly think that he was someone who would do that? Who would marry one woman and continue on with another? Did she know nothing about him? He felt his shock slowly give way to anger as her more disparaging comments about Lizzy finally sunk in.
Once again, Darcy found that, upon return his attention to his aunt, she had carried on talking without him. Taking his disbelieving countenance for agreement.
"Stop. Talking." He cut off his aunt with a steely command, startling her into blessed silence.
"Now. Get out of my house." It was the only thing Darcy could say without risk of losing his tightly held temper.
"Fitzwilliam! How dare you take that tone with me! What would your mother say to hear you speak so to her sister!" Darcy stood up angrily.
"How dare I? How dare you! How dare you come barging into this house without invitation! How dare you proceed to insult not only myself but the woman I love! How dare you presume that Anne or I EVER wanted to marry one another? Do you not care for the emotions of others? Has it not escaped your noticed that the reason your daughter and the rest of your family spend so little time with you is because of your cruel comments and shallow opinions." Darcy's words started soft but by the end of his sentence he was practically yelling. He paused at the end of this last comment to catch his breath and try to reign it all back in once more.
"Now, get out of my house and, until you can figure out what it truly means to be a Lady you can stay out of both me and my sister's lives."
With that, Darcy turned on his heel and stalked out of the room, down the hall, down the stairs and towards the garage. There was someone he needed to go see and hopefully sweep off of her feet. He just hoped to God Aunt Catherine hadn't ruined his chances.
Georgie was torn between jumping up and down in excitement at the tongue lashing Will had just given their aunt, or running after him to make sure he was going to see Lizzy. She supposed if Aunt Catherine's visit had finally spurred him into laying aside his doubt and fears and going after the woman he loved, she couldn't be too unhappy about the old lady's rude behavior.
In the end she decided to do the responsible hostess thing and check on Lady Catherine. Nervously, Georgie peeked around the door frame and into Will's study, Lady Catherine appeared to be sitting in the same place as she'd been the eternity of the conversation. If you could call a shouting match between two titans a conversation.
"Um...Aunt Catherine?" Georgie asked quietly.
It seemed to be the only prompting her aunt needed to pull herself out of the chair and begin to sweep out of the room. Her Aunt had always needed an audience.
"I have never in all of my life been so treated! I must tell you Georgiana you had better warn that brother of yours because when I'm through speaking with your uncle he will bring the whole of the Fitzwilliam fury down upon this house." Georgie hurried behind her Aunt as the woman briskly swept up the hall, down the stairs, all the while continuing on in this vain of complaints and threats. Lady Catherine was skilled at multi-tasking.
"You had better be warned Georgiana, if I was you I would renounce that brother of yours and just pray the your uncle Fitzwilliam and I take mercy upon you!" With that final word, Georgie watched as her Aunt Catherine yanked open the front door and slammed it behind her.
"That's quite alright Aunt," Georgie spoke to the empty front hall, "I think I'll take my chances with Will." After all, who knew? She might be getting a new sister soon by the sounds of it and, knowing Lizzy, maybe a new piggiy friend as well. And in Georgie's book, Lizzy and a piglet trumped Lady Catherine any day of the week.
Lizzy swore heavily under her breath as she examined her car. It had been returned, thanks to her aunt and uncle, over two weeks ago from the shop and already it was acting up again. Once again Lizzy found herself under the hood of it, at least this time she was in her own driveway instead of stranded out on some random back highway.
Thunder rumbled overhead, making Lizzy grin. This time she had a nice warm house, that she actually owned, to go and take cover in. That and she didn't have a needy piglet anymore. Along with dropping off her car, her aunt and uncle had collected Wilbur taking him to his new home. Though Lizzy had been sad to see the little piggy go, she knew that it was, at the time, definitely for the best. After all, she'd barely had enough time to keep up with her business much less give Wilbur the time and care he needed. But who knew? Maybe she'd get another one soon.
As the first fat raindrops began to fall down upon Lizzy she knew it was time to call it a day. She'd take the car to a mechanic tomorrow, right now she needed to get back inside to her lonely house. Lizzy had never thought of her house as lonely before, but as much as she hated to admit it, it had been kind of nice to have someone there these past two weeks. Even if that someone was her silliest of sisters.
She's not so silly anymore. Lizzy reminded herself thinking back to the conversation they'd had earlier this afternoon.
"Lizzy. As grateful as I am to you for letting me stay here while things... ya know clear up...It's just that, I want to go home. I want to be able to see my friends and to start over this year. I don't want to miss my junior year of high school just because I'm too chicken to face the gossip. I mean, people gossip about me all the time and, well, I know that's not a good thing, but, I'll never be okay with myself if I don't see this one though and..." Here Lizzy had interrupted
"Lydia. If you feel like you want to go home and try again than I support you. I just want you to really be aware that everything is not just gonna go back to normal though. How this next school year turns out is completely up to you and I think you need to remember that."
Lizzy had watched her sister nod in understanding and, though you never could be too sure with Lydia, she felt as though her little sister might actually listen to her advice.
Lizzy could only hope that Lydia's apparent maturity would stick, especially if she was planning on going back to her old school. It was hard to break out of your pigeonhole in a place where they had known you for years. There would be lots of peer pressure for Lydia to simply stay in her group and revert back to her old ways. Lizzy wondered if it wouldn't be a bad idea to convince Lydia to go and see some sort of therapist or guidance counselor.
But that was a problem for another day and honestly, after Lady Catherine's appearance this morning, Lizzy had no desire to stew on issues she couldn't do anything about at present. If worse came to worse and Lydia was struggling she could always come back and enroll in the high school near Lizzy. As for tonight, Lizzy was alone, Lydia having been picked up by Jane earlier to go and see a movie. Though Charlie, Jane, and Lydia had all pressed her to come, Lizzy wasn't really feeling much like going out after the morning she had had, so she'd convinced them to go without her.
A fork of lightning ripped through the gray clouds above her, quickening Lizzy's pace across the yard and towards her porch. As the thunder rumbled a response, Lizzy couldn't help but smile again. She'd always loved thunderstorms, and really, what did she have to feel sad about?
She fought back the first and only real answer that popped up in her head.
Fitzwilliam "Will" Darcy swore heavily under his breath. Trust his car to choose now of all times to break down, right when he was so close to Lizzy's. He cursed his earlier decision to rush out of the house before printing directions. As it was he'd barely said bye to Georgie before rushing out the door. Once not so long ago he would have never left Georgie on her own like that. But now, well, now he was beginning to see that she could most certainly take care of herself for a few hours. Plus, they had a nice tall gate that was locked and Mrs. Reynolds was at home.
He didn't even try to look under the hood. He knew zilch about cars. What he did know was that it was beginning to spit rain and if he didn't want to get soaked through he needed to find shelter fast. He dug around in his pockets for his blackberry, only to find that it wasn't there. In a moment of clarity he remembered throwing it in the drawer by his bedside this morning in an effort to prevent calling Lizzy and begging her to see him.
Will groaned in frustration. He supposed he could just sit in the car until someone drove by, but he was on a back road, and he was certain from the brief glance at directions before he'd left the house that he could remember how to get to Lizzy's. The turn off to her house had to be around here somewhere...
Above him lightning cut across the sky, hastening his decision. He had absolutely no desire to spend the night in his car. Not when he was so close to Lizzy.
Darcy nodded his head once in decision before grabbing his car keys out of the ignition and locking the door behind him. He hadn't brought anything else, though he was really wishing he'd had the foresight to bring a raincoat or an extra change of clothes...
Thundering rumbling across the sky Darcy started off down the road and towards what appeared to be some lights in the distance.
Roughly 20 minutes later...
Lizzy stared at the phone. She knew she had to call him. The ball was in her court...wasn't it? At this point she really wasn't sure where everything lay in the whole tennis relationship analogy...
You're stalling. Her annoying inner voice pointed out.
"I know, I know." Lizzy grumbled, deciding to tackle her multiple voices another day.
"Okay, I can do this. Just don't chicken out." Lizzy quickly dialed his number before she could think better of it.
As the telephone rang, Lizzy wasn't sure if she rather he picked it up or let it go to voicemail. She soon got her answer when the phone clicked to voicemail and disappointment hit her in a wave.
"Umm hey Will. It's me, um that is Lizzy Bennet. Anyway, I guess just call me back when you get the chance? Bye."
Lizzy wanted to smack herself. Talk about the worst voice mail she'd ever left. Had that pathetic little voice really been her? Lizzy Bennet?
With a sigh she set down her phone. If she hadn't been sure before she knew without a doubt that she had it bad. Groaning, she rested her head on her kitchen table and listened to the thunderstorm outside.
"Well at least.." A huge rumble of thunder and simultaneous crackle of lightning interrupted her words as all around her the power shut down.
"the power hasn't gone out..." Lizzy finished ruefully. She debated simply staying with her head on the table all night, but thought better of it. She should go get candles, if only to fight back the horror movie scenarios that inevitably filled her mind whenever the power went out and she was home alone.
This is literally how almost all scary movies start.
"Don't be silly Lizzy. Some start out with dumb teenagers hitting people with cars or doing satanic rituals in a graveyard!" She reminded herself brightly. Despite the false positivity she'd tried to instill in her voice, she still could feel fear creeping up on her.
"There is no axe murderer outside. There is no axe murderer outside." Lizzy repeated the litany to herself as she made her way to the front hall to retrieve the matches and spare candles from the front hall table.
"There is no axe murderer outside. There is no axe murderer out-" Lizzy was interrupted once more as an extremely loud banging noise sounded on her front door.
She couldn't help it. Lizzy let out a shriek, "Holy shit!"
"Lizzy? It's me, it's Will." Lizzy was sure she was loosing it. What was Will doing outside her house on a Saturday night in the middle of a thunderstorm? Better yet, why did this scenario seem oddly familiar?
It sure had sounded like Will, but who knew? Common sense had her reaching for a baseball bat from the front hall closet. Slowly, she unlocked the door and peered through the crack at the figure outside. The sense of relief that flowed through her at seeing that yes, it was actually Will and not any sort of scary movie character, was unbelievable.
"Are you planning on beating me?" Will asked.
"What?" Lizzy asked in a daze before realizing that she still had the baseball bat ready to swing.
"Oh, um, sorry I wanted to be prepared in case..." Lizzy trailed off in embarrassment.
"In case of?" Will questioned further, his amusement clear in his tone.
"in case you were Ghost-Face, or Freddy Kruger, or that hook guy from I Know What You Did Last Summer." Lizzy answered defiantly.
At this Will's amusement bubbled up in to a laugh. He'd only been in her presence for about two seconds and already he felt better than he had in two weeks!
"Yes well...you never know. What am I saying? Get in here you must be soaked!" With that Lizzy set down the baseball bat and ushered Will into her house.
With the experience that came from many years of herding about her younger sisters, Lizzy soon had him changed into some of her stretchiest sweatpants and larger sleep shirts. The effect was comical as the pants were much to short and the shirt was a little to small for his muscular frame. While he changed Lizzy set about lighting the house with candles, heating up some hot chocolate, and desperately trying to think up a rationally reason for his presence here. She had decided to hold off on grilling him until he was in dry clothes and being fed.
Twenty minutes found the two of the sitting across from each other at Lizzy's small kitchen table, candles casting a slightly more romantic setting than Lizzy was sure she was comfortable with.
"So..." Lizzy began.
"Lizzy I-" Both of them stopped talking as they interrupted one another. For some reason that seemed to happen to them a lot.
"Will," Lizzy started again, "I can't thank you enough for everything you did to help me find Lydia, I know that my family is forever in your debt and-"
Here Darcy cut her off, "Lizzy," he sighed, catching her bewitching green eyes with his own electric blue.
"You must know I did it all for you, and not because I want you to feel like your in my debt, because you're not, you could never be after what you've given me..." Reaching across the table he covered her hand with his own. His thumb slowly stroking over the back of her hand, Lizzy felt as though he was drawing strength to say what he wanted to say next. So, though she was bursting with the need to shout out her feelings for him to the world, she held her peace.
"Lizzy, can you even comprehend what you do to me? You challenge me and push me to be better, to do better, you make me see the humor in life, you, you, well not to sound cliche but, quite simply you breathe new life into me simply by being near."
Lizzy found herself leaning closer across the table without realizing it. Will's hands increased their pressure as he struggled to get his next words out. He broke eye contact with her as he spoke his next words.
"Lizzy, I understand if you still feel the way you did last spring. I don't want you to say yes simply out of gratitude, which is why I've stayed away the past two weeks. I've been waiting to see what you want, but..." Darcy knew he was rambling like an idiot by this point and struggled to get back on task with what he was trying to say.
"Lizzy, I must let you know. My feelings are unchanged. I love you more than I can even say. Please, please put me out of my misery and marry me." Once more, he looked up steeling himself in case he was wrong all over again and was about to have his heart shattered once more.
"Oh, Will. When I think about what I said last spring..." Lizzy shuddered at the memory, before continuing "Will, I was so wrong back then. You are truly the the best of men and I, well, I love you too." Lizzy smiled at him, her fine eyes twinkling with happiness as she spoke her next words, "And I would love to be your wife."
Will thought his heart would burst with happiness.
Looking back it was unclear who moved to whom first but, declarations of love now out of the way, the two of them soon found themselves in each others arms, fervently making up for lost time.
Much Later that Night...
"Well, I guess it's lucky that Lydia decided to spend the night at Jane's" Lizzy commented from where she lay on the bed. The gentle pitter-patter of rain on the windowpane was soothing, but the sound of Will's heart beneath her ear was ten times more so. His arm curled around her shoulder he lazily traced up and down her curves, Lizzy didn't think she'd ever been so happy in all her life.
"I don't know if it's too soon to talk with you about this but...with Georgie back off to school soon the house is gonna feel really empty. I'm thinking we should start considering filling it up."
Lizzy was silent for a moment as her brain tried to process what he'd just said. Was he hinting at what she thought he was hinting at? They'd just barely gotten together! They hadn't decided anything about where they would live or when they'd get married or, or, anything! In the myriad that was Lizzy thoughts, Will continued.
"I've even thought up some names, like Babe? Or maybe Hamlet?"
Lizzy sat up so that she could turn to see if Will was joking or not. He didn't appear to be.
"You want to name our child Babe?" Lizzy watched confused as Will's eyes went wide with shock and surprise before he dissolved into laughter.
"No, but I was thinking it'd be a good name for a new pig!" He finally managed to get out.
Lizzy breathed a sigh of relief.
"But, now that you mention it..." Will continued slyly. Grabbing her pillow Lizzy proceeded to hit Will, laughing at his surprised expression and secure in her knowledge that, despite the trials and misunderstandings thrown in her way she'd finally found the man for her.