Fanny's life had settled into a pleasant routine.
After their initial settling in period, it became the case that Edmund got up very early to go do his vicarage duties around the parish. Meeting with parishioners, planning his sermons and corresponding with his clergy colleagues.
Fanny often stayed later in bed, preferring to lay under the covers, slightly too warm with the window opening and the curtains softly floating in the morning breeze which washed over her.
Once she got up and dressed herself, she made he way downstairs to the kitchen where she'd plan the day's and following week's meals with Betty, making sure that any leftovers and spare food be distributed amongst the most needy in the hamlet.
She would then go for her morning walk, strolling through the surrounding fields and grounds, marvelling at the change in season as Summer moved towards Autumn. The mornings were fresher and the farmers were busy bringing in the harvest.
Along with Amelia, Fanny helped to organise the harvest celebrations in the parish. Decorating the Church, the Village Hall and the schoolhouse.
It was only when she was putting up a wreath of leaves and chestnuts above the door to the schoolhouse that Amelia declared: 'Why Fanny, you are all aglow! Is it the fresh Autumn air or something else?'
Fanny blushed, 'What do you mean?'
'Well,' said Amelia, hushing her voice, although it didn't make much difference to her exhuberism, 'Only, I would have said you are with child, Fannny, if I didn't know better! And I've had enough of my sisters fall pregnant to recognise that look of blossoming maternity.'
Fanny went fully red now, 'Hush, Amelia,' she scolded, 'I am not with child, I can't be.'
'Oh?' said Amelia arching an eyebrow so much it disappeared under her wide brimmed felt hat. She was dressed all in plum today, and her curls were doing their best to escape her elegant updo. She was every picture the Harvest nymph which was what Fanny was sure she was aiming for.
'Yes, I am sure.'
'Oh? Have you not been enjoying intimate relations with your husband then?'
'Amelia' Fanny hissed, darting looks around them to see if anyone could overhear their conversation.
'Because, both you and that husband of yours look….very satisfied shall we say' continued Amelia. God, did this woman have no shame?
Fanny could only turn on the spot and hide her flaming face. Trying to regain her composure, she eventually turned and resumed her decorating, sending her closest friend a stern glance. 'We will not be discussing this any further' she said in a tone which broked no argument.
Amelia only rolled her eyes in response, but she kept quiet.
Despite her protestations however, Fanny couldn't help thinking about what Amelia had said and over the next week the possibility that she could be pregnant weighed on her mind.
The truth was, Fanny didn't know how you knew you were pregnant. The same as her wedding night, Fanny had only received a very limited education on relations between a man and his wife.
She wondered if she should say something to Edmund, but something stopped her. It wasn't embarrassment, she'd got over that very quickly into their marriage and now she delighted in her and Edmund's coupling, especially when he went down on her with his mouth…..
No, she only wanted to tell Edmund if she was sure she was with child. She didn't want to ge this hopes up unnecessarily.
She perhaps would have broached the topic with Amelia again, but she didn't want to come across as silly for not knowing something that was probably really obvious to anyone but her.
Growing up without a mother and a disinterested Aunt had really not prepared Fanny very well for the world of being a married woman.
After about a week and a half of chewing it over in her brain, Fanny turned to the only other person she could think of: Betty.
'I know you will think I am very stupid, when I ask this…' Fanny started one morning as she stood in the vicarage kitchen in one of her many blue dresses, a shawl around her shoulders for warmth against the Autumn air.
'Oh my dear, you are far more educated than I' replied Betty with an encouraging smile, 'and besides, nothing you say will be stupid at all!'
'I just….' Fanny chewed her lip, not sure on how to say it, 'I am…I do not know if…how does one know if one is with child?' she eventually blurted out.
Betty looked a bit shocked, at Fanny having brought up such a topic or at her apparent lack of knowledge on the subject, Fanny couldn't tell.
'Er…' she began, and Fanny's heart began to sink, but then Betty straightened up and spoke 'Are you with child Fanny?'
'I don't know' said Fanny cried, 'Amelia, I mean, Mrs Beaufont mentioned something last week, she said I looked as though I was with child. But I do not know if I am'
'Ahh, alright then, my dear, let me make us some tea and I'll tell you how you can go about finding these things out.'
'I am so ever grateful' smiled Fanny in response as she reached for the teacups off the shelf.
Even though Edmund was later to bed than usual that night, Fanny stayed up waiting for him. Her conversation with Betty had cleared all manner of things up and Fanny felt much more confident in her own womanhood than she had ever before.
As Edmund came into the room, Fanny straightened up. Edmund, who was not expecting her to still be awake, jumped a little in surprise, 'Oh, sorry! Fanny dear, what are you doing, still awake? You didn't have to wait up for me, love.'
'I know' replied Fanny smiling, she was so fortunate to have such a considerate husband, 'But I wanted to talk to you.'
'Alright' said Edmund, shrugging out of his jacket and waistcoat and unbuttoning his trousers. He soon clambered onto the bed, his socks still on – he complained of the cold now it was turning to Autumn. He sat on top of the covers facing Fanny and took her hands in his, kissing each one sweetly before saying, 'Now, what was it you wanted to speak to me about?'
'Edmund dearest' Fanny started, she had to say it quickly it was such good news! 'I am with child'
Seeing her husbands face transform before her was something Fanny would always remember. His expression burst into one of joy and disbelief. 'Oh Fanny!' he exclaimed, 'Is it true?'
She replied quickly 'I think so, I am quite confident'
'Oh my dear, my love!' Edmund leaned forward and kissed her softly, sweetly, just like the first time their lips had met.
'Is it possible to be so happy?' he whispered, pulling back ever so little, so that when he spoke, the words ghosted over her own reddened lips.
'Yes' she breathed in return, 'Let's make it our business Mr Bertram to be happy ever after.'
Laughing softly at those words, with their meaning, Edmund leaned in again to kiss Fanny, once, twice and then more deeply. Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her down onto the covers and into happiness.