Sometimes when reviewers make suggestions plot bunnies happen... even if not perhaps along the lines they meant. This is at the request of Fins; I hope it's romantic enough and maybe I'll manage more another time.
A Dozen Years, and No Regrets
"Oh Edmund, I can hardly believe that little Edmund is off to sea with his Uncle William" said Fanny, brushing a tear from her eye. Little Edmund Bertram had been a brave little figure in his new Midshipman's uniform, so proud of himself. Fanny knew that his life at sea would be hard and that his uncle could not save him from too many knocks; but the lad knew the down side as well as the anticipated excitement; and really, now it was peacetime, it would be no harder than the life of many a schoolboy where bullying and flogging for the least offences might be common.
"I know my darling" said Edmund, taking his wife into his arms and marvelling how the mother of an eleven year old son and seven other children could still be so svelte and lovely. "But it was his choice."
Fanny nodded, not quite trusting her voice.
"He has to learn to make his own choices; and we can only hope he never regrets them" she managed.
"Fanny….. have you ever regretted the choice you made?" asked Edmund.
She looked up at him.
"Which choice?" she asked.
Edmund blinked. She really did not realise what he meant!
"The choice to marry me, not Crawford" he said.
"That was hardly a choice, Edmund!" said Fanny "I was flattered by Henry I confess, and that he seemed to be ready to change his ramshackle lifestyle for me; but only because you were so enamoured, as I thought, of his sister. I was so miserable!" she added.
Edmund kissed her lightly.
"And I thought that you loved Crawford not me….. we made a regular bumblebroth of that my dear!" he said, nibbling her ear.
Fanny sighed happily and nuzzled.
"But we got it right in the end" she said "As it must surely have been ordained by the Good Lord."
"Well maybe he does keep an eye out for his ministers" chuckled Edmund. "Yes, I thought I was in love with Mary; but my eyes were opened over how little enamoured SHE was of the life as wife to a country parson. Your sweet ways and kindliness have been perfection itself ministering to my little flock."
"They take but little ministering too" said Fanny "Though sometimes finding succour for the poorest has been hard. But we have always contrived somehow. You are such a GOOD man Edmund that they love you."
"They love you too" said Edmund "And small wonder; for you are very loveable."
Fanny leaned her face against him.
"A dozen years we have been married!" she said in wonder.
"You mean marriage comes like eggs?" said Edmund "Each year full of good meat, and with care no cracked shells?"
"That would make an excellent sermon my love" she said "And speak about how the eggs must be collected with care lest one find any that have become addled for being neglected. And that even a cracked egg might still be perfectly good if treated with care."
"I must write it down!" said Edmund "You are the best helpmate a man could have, Fanny; and a wonderful mother to our children too."
"Edmund" said Fanny "Will it wait a while? There is some news I wish to impart to you."
"What is that, my love?" Edmund immediately possessed himself of her hands and smiled into her lovely eyes. He thought it adorable that after a dozen years of marriage, Fanny could still blush prettily.
"Why, it is that when little Edmund next comes home from sea, there may be a new sister or brother waiting to meet him" said Fanny, blushing still further.
Edmund swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately; and Fanny clung to him, her heart racing with excitement as much as if they were still newlyweds.
"My wife" he said reverently "Mother of our eight wonderful children…. And preparing" he twinkled at her "To lay another, and ready to ruffle up feathers like a broody hen at my teasing" he kissed the tip of her nose.
"Only when you crow like a rooster" said Fanny.
"Dear me what a very lowering thought" said Edmund "Roosters are not amiable creatures at all; and the one that lives next door to Mrs Norris looks positively dissipated!"
Fanny laughed. Knowing Mrs Norris she would probably take THAT as a personal affront!
"Well then, dear husband" she said "Let us lay aside – oh I beg your pardon, no pun was intended – any further analogy of fowl and perhaps celebrate my news more appropriately?"
"Indeed!" cried Edmund fervently.
Had Mrs Norris been there to see she would have undoubtedly disapproved utterly, and had a great deal to say on the subject, of Mansfield's parson lifting his wife effortlessly in his arms and twirling her around before carrying her upstairs to their bedroom to further celebrate the future extension of their family.