I was sitting in the library in the process of writing a letter to Elizabeth's father when I heard a commotion out in the hall. I rose and opened the door to see Georgiana running towards my door. Her expression told me everything I needed to know. "Where is Elizabeth? How is she?" I asked frantically. I was already ahead of Georgiana and I turned the corner towards the room where Elizabeth was to be in. I reached out to open the door when Mrs. Reynolds took my outstretched arm and said, "Mr. Darcy, you should not go in there. It is not the place for men to be." I looked at her and tried to protest, but she would have none of it. After ten solid minutes of being told that I could not go in, I finally gave in and decided that I would come and try again when everyone was busier and more distracted. It was an extremely hard decision to make and the feeling of helplessness did not suit me very well as there may have been a few strong words used.
I had no idea what to do and could not find anything to occupy my worried thoughts. I just wanted to be with Elizabeth and know that she would make it through this. I tried to keep the death of my mother out of my mind and keep my thoughts from thinking that Elizabeth could die similarly, but to no avail. Eventually I went back to the letter that I had been writing and added to it. It read as follows:
As you are aware, Elizabeth is expected to have our child before long and we would like to inquire if you would be able to visit Pemberley soon so that you might be able to meet the baby when it is born. If you would—
Please excuse me for not writing another letter, but I would have it that you come immediately to Pemberley. The child will most definitely be born by the time you receive this letter- more realistically it shall be born within the next few hours if everything goes along smoothly.
Again, please excuse my hasty writing and my lack of composing a new letter, but I am being kept away from Elizabeth and I find myself quite concerned. Please understand my predicament.
I should hope to see you soon,
Once finished with my impatiently written, ink-smeared letter and giving it to my personal letter carrier I found myself pacing outside in the hallway where Richard and Charles discovered me- although I was once again outside Elizabeth's room with a maid guarding the door that had been told not to let me in. I could not keep myself away and I so very desperately wanted to be with Elizabeth right now. "Come now Darce, she will be fine," said Charles. I looked at him and said, "You may think so now, but when you are in my situation you might have a much different opinion." They tried distracting me by tempting me with games and drink, but I could not leave Elizabeth's door.
I rubbed my face as I contemplated the easiest way to get into the room. As I had finally decided on a plan, I could hear shouting muffled by the doors between myself and Elizabeth. Panic took over and it seemed that there was only silence as I barged my way past the maid and into the sitting room. The silence broke only when I had crossed the room and burst open the door. It was then that I could hear the tiny wail of a baby and exhausted breathing of all those involved in its birth. I stood still in the doorway and glanced from Elizabeth to the small bundle that Jane was holding and back again. The doctor was scrambling around making sure that everything was in order. I quietly strode to Elizabeth's bedside to make sure that she was well and took her hand and I was given the child to cradle in one arm.
Jane spoke quietly, "It's a boy." I smiled and brushed the hairs from Elizabeth's forehead as I kissed it. "We have a son!" I said. She smiled weakly and I brought the baby closer to her. He was calm now. "James," she said. I looked once more at him and then caught Elizabeth's eye. "James… James Bennet Darcy," I spoke softly, adding her old name to our son's permanently. I caught a glimpse of James's dark blue eyes that were scrunched up due to the chubbiness of his cheeks and kissed his tiny forehead as well.
Once everything had been cleaned up, we carefully moved to the nursery and introduced the rest of the family to our son. Richard, Georgiana, Charles, and Jane came in to meet the little tyke and spend time with everyone. "Oh, look at Little Darcy," crooned Richard. "His name is James," declared Elizabeth sternly. "But I prefer Little Darcy," he said. "His name is James," she repeated. "Well, then look at Little James Darcy," he said, earning a chuckle from all of those in the room. "He's lovely," said Georgiana, "and he looks very much like his father." It was true; his eyes were already a similar blue, his dark, curly hair had already begun to grow, and there was something similar in our faces.
James looked curiously at everything and everyone around him. He would reach out his hands to try and grab hold of someone's finger, hair, or clothing and make a strange little noise when doing so that gave sound to his efforts. He rarely cried or made too much of a fuss except for when Richard would tease him with tassels and other playthings. I marveled at how tiny he was; his nails seemed no larger than the letters printed in a book. Elizabeth held him again and as I put my arm around her, I did not know that I could feel so happy. The room quietly emptied as it grew late and I whispered into Elizabeth's ear when James fell asleep, "I love you, Elizabeth, so much that sometimes I cannot bear it." She smiled at me and I could see that her cheeks were wet with tears. I brushed them away and she kissed me lightly. "I know exactly how you feel," she whispered.
The next few days were spent playing with James and preparing for family to arrive so as to meet him. Those expected were the entire Bennet family, the Gardiners, and Miss Charlotte Lucas. My family would be visiting a month or so later due to business and travels already planned. To say that the estate was hectic would be an understatement. The Gardiners were to be the first to arrive followed by the Bennets along with Miss Lucas.
Elizabeth and I were sitting in the parlor together when her family arrived. "Lizzy!" exclaimed Mrs. Bennet upon rushing to her child and grandchild, "It is so splendid! You have bourn Mr. Darcy a son! Oh my- he is so beautiful! I must sit down or else I shall need my smelling salts!" As all of Elizabeth's sisters and their husbands huddled around, I retreated to where Mr. Bennet was standing a few steps away. I could see the twinkle in his eye as he caught a glimpse of his grandson through those standing there. Elizabeth called me back over to her before I had a chance to speak with my father in law. She transferred James into my arms and stood up to walk towards her father. I followed her and after she had given him a hug, she motioned for me to come. We both smiled and I said, "May we introduce James Bennet Darcy." I looked at Mr. Bennet as he heard his name included in our son's and was surprised to see that he had lifted his hand to cover his smile as a tear formed in his eye.
Elizabeth began to put her arm around my shoulder when she bumped me a little too hard and James began to cry, or shall I say, wail. We tried to quiet him down, but his cries only became louder. James was taken from me by Mr. Bennet who began to bounce up and down with him. The crying ceased almost immediately. Elizabeth stared at him open mouthed as we witnessed the spectacle. Finally, he said, "When you've had as much practice as I've had, this sort of thing just comes naturally." A few minutes later the nurse came in to put James down for a nap. Elizabeth touched her father's arm. "Thank you Papa," she said. "No, thank you for sharing my name with my grandson," he said. "It was Mr. Darcy's idea," she responded. Mr. Bennet started to thank me but I said, "It is not necessary to thank me. It is an honor to name him after you."
After the first family meeting, it seemed like months before Elizabeth and I had a chance to be alone together. The coming and going of everyone left us exhausted and in disarray. It was a cold, rainy day where we could just sit together by the fireplace. I watched the light flicker on her skin as we talked together. "So I was thinking," Elizabeth started to say, "that we've had so many people come to meet James, but I feel as though there is one person that we might be leaving out…" I asked, "And who might that be?" She looked down and then shifted her eyes to look straight into mine. "You will not like my suggestion," she said. I nodded, insinuating that she should continue. "I thought that we might invite Lady Catherine and Anne to Pemberley."
"What?" I exclaimed, "Why on earth would you want to invite Lady Catherine to Pemberley after all she has said and done to you- to us?" "Well Fitzwilliam, I have forgiven her for what she has done. Maybe you should too," she said. At this I was even more stunned. "How can I forgive her for all of those nasty rumors about us that she spread about the ton? She is not only my aunt, but she is a great lady and should act as such!" I responded. "Fitzwilliam, I understand what you are saying, but could you just try being a little less stubborn?" she said in an annoyed tone. "I'm being too stubborn? I cannot take this!" I said as I stood up and left Elizabeth sitting alone in the room.
We spent the remainder of the day apart with the exception of dining at our evening meal during which we were both silent, unable to bend to the other's wishes. We had somehow managed to avoid each other while seeing to and playing with James and during the rest of the day, I had business to attend to that prevented me from going out and about the estate. When I retired to our chambers at the end of the day, I found myself alone. As I lay alone in bed, I could not help but contemplate why Elizabeth and I had gotten into this argument. Perhaps I was being stubborn, but with the way that Aunt Catherine had acted towards Elizabeth in the past did not give me sufficient reason to even talk with my aunt, let alone invite her into my home to meet my son. I had no problem with Anne coming, but there was no possibility that her mother would allow Anne to travel without her companionship, so that too was a lost venture.
Wrestling with my thoughts all night left me in an unhappy mood the next morning that was worsened by the fact that it seemed Elizabeth had been absent all night. I did not like that our first real argument was about something so menial so I went for a ride to continue sorting out my thoughts. The weather had cleared slightly, but it was still cold and overcast with a wind that howled. I had made up my mind by the time I returned home. Finding Elizabeth proved to be a challenge, but I succeeded in finding her in the hallway, leaving the nursery. "Elizabeth," I called. She looked up at hearing my voice and as I grew closer to her, I could see a slight redness around her eyes. She looked down to hide the evidence of her crying. "My dearest Elizabeth," I said as I took her hands in mine, "I apologize. I was rude and stubborn and you were right. I shall forgive my aunt." She looked up and smiled but only a little. She said, "Thank you for apologizing. I want you to know that I do see your point. I just feel that it is time to welcome Lady Catherine into our family again." She saw my reluctant expression and added, "Think of it as a trial; if she acts respectfully then all is well, but if she continues her behavior then we shall keep discontinuing our correspondence and acknowledgements of her." I was satisfied with this compromise.
I kissed her forehead and we both walked into the nursery. We sat beside each other and Elizabeth rested her head on my shoulder as I read aloud from the various books of fantasy that had already been placed in James' room; as a Darcy, it is never too early to discover the joys of literature. James soon fell asleep and Elizabeth followed suit. I looked at the little baby lying down and the feeling inside me could not be described. I sighed as the moment ended when Elizabeth stirred at my side. "What is the time?" she asked tiredly. I glanced at the wall clock and answered, "It is well past eleven." She grumbled as she started to stand up, but as she teetered from the fresh dizziness of sleep, I picked her up and carried her, "I am awake," she said, "and I am capable of walking by myself." I smiled at her and chuckled, "No you are not. You will be sleeping by the time we get to our room." She shook her head and not thirty seconds later her breathing steadied and she was deep asleep. She was already dressed for bed, not long after laying down, I fell asleep also; glad that we were once more at each others' sides.
The delay on publishing this was MASSIVE- I apologize profusely. I really have no legitimate excuse. I can make no promises as to when the next (and most likely final) chapter will be done, just that I will be working on it diligently.