Disclaimer: Well. I am not Jane Austen. SHE owns Pride and Prejudice. And Mr. Darcy. Not me. There! HAPPY NOW?
A/N: Well, this is a new story I'm starting! I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this, so updates might take a long time, especially since I'm busy with school and volleyball. I'm just going to warn you, THIS IS NOT A BINGLEY/ JANE STORY. I love them, but I was wondering how Darcy and Elizabeth's epic romance would do if their friend and sister had never fallen in love. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this!
Elizabeth Bennet walked into the Meryton assembly in a relatively bad mood. Her mother and two youngest sisters had spent the past two hours fussing about what to wear to the ball, making the whole Bennet family late. She glanced at her sister Jane, who had almost reached the point of admitting she was impatient to leave, which showed how angry she was. Elizabeth however, had no reason not to tell them that she was mad and wanted to arrive on time. Now, half an hour late, she was in a completely irritable mood.
As she scanned the room, she saw all their neighbors dancing and having a good time, which brought a fond smile to her face. Sir William Lucas, the master of Lucas Lodge, came over to greet his friends.
"Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bennets, welcome! Whatever took you so long?"
Elizabeth scowled and glanced towards Mrs. Bennet and her two daughters, Lydia and Kitty.
"I'm terribly sorry Sir William, it seems that our family was especially eager to leave a good impression on Mr. Bingley tonight." smiled Jane, always the peacemaker of the large family of seven.
"Oh!" cried Sir William, and he suddenly rushed off to who knows where. Elizabeth and Jane shared a bemused look. Meryton was used to their mother and sisters' antics, and especially Sir William was patient with them. Was their delay so horrible as to make him take off in the opposite direction?
Elizabeth's fears were quieted when Sir William returned with a group of strangers. There were two ladies, and three gentlemen. The ladies were dressed fashionably, much too elaborate for an assembly in such a small town as Meryton. Elizabeth felt a rush of amusement when glancing at the taller gentlewoman's orange dress and peacock feathers on her hat. The smiling gentleman in front had to be Mr. Bingley, Elizabeth thought. He was a handsome gentleman with a pleasant countenance. The taller gentleman in the back, however, caught Elizabeth's attention with his fine figure and especially handsome features.
"Mr. Bingley, allow me to present the Bennet ladies of Longbourn." Said Sir William. Mrs. Bennet's head had snapped up at hearing the name 'Bingley', and pushed past Elizabeth and Jane to the front of their family.
"Mr. Bingley! How very nice to meet you." She said, smiling. Elizabeth groaned inwardly, knowing that the poor gentleman would now be an object of matchmaking for her and her sisters.
"Mrs. Bennet, it is an honor." Mr. Bingley smiled, and glanced at the sisters. "Are these lovely ladies your daughters?"
"Certainly sir, certainly! Girls, girls! Come meet Mr. Bingley." The Bennet sisters all came and stood in a line before the gentleman. "This is Jane, my eldest. These are Elizabeth and Mary, and my two youngest, Catherine and Lydia." The ladies curtsied when they were announced, and Mr. Bingley bowed to each one.
"I am delighted to meet you all!" He said merrily. Mr. Bingley turned to the ladies and gentlemen behind him, and stepped off to the side to announce them.
"Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth, Miss Mary, Miss Catherine, Miss Lydia," began Mr. Bingley, eyebrows furrowing in concentration from trying remember all their names. "May I present my sisters, Miss Caroline Bingley, and Mrs. Hurst?" The ladies curtsied curtly and didn't even look in their direction as the five girls curtsied back in unison. Elizabeth already didn't like the women.
"And my brother in law, Mr. Hurst." They curtsied again to a large man who nodded then wobbled over to the refreshments. Elizabeth and Jane shared a look, conveying their thoughts about the clearly drunken man. Mr. Bingley had the grace to blush for his sister's husband.
"And ladies, may I present my friend, Mr. Darcy." Elizabeth turned her eyes to the tall man, who she found looking at her. When their eyes met, he quickly looked away. They all curtsied as he bowed.
"It is a pleasure, Mrs. Bennet, Miss… Bennets." Mr. Darcy said, in a tone that suggested it was anything but.
"Ah Mr. Darcy! How wonderful to meet you. And you Mr. Bingley, of course."
The men looked at each other in slight alarm, but it quickly passed. "Yes, indeed." Said Mr. Bingley.
Elizabeth was quickly becoming uncomfortable with the situation, as her mother was sure to say something ridiculous, so she turned to Mr. Bingley and asked, "Does your party mean to stay long in the neighborhood, Mr. Bingley? We were under the impression that you were only renting Netherfield Park."
Bingley smiled and said, "I intend to stay for the winter, at least, and then perhaps spend a season in Town. Although, I believe that Mr. Darcy will wish to spend Christmas with his sister and cousin."
Mr. Darcy, who had not been paying particular attention to the conversation at hand, suddenly found the eyes of the whole group on him. What was Bingley talking about? He thought frantically. Darcy cleared his throat and said, "Ah, yes." Bingley quickly realized that his friend had been spacing off, and turned to the nearest Bennet girl, which happened to be Kitty. "Miss Catherine, may I interest you in a dance?" He asked kindly, though he did wish he had looked at the eldest Miss Bennet first, as she was the most gorgeous woman he had ever laid eyes on.
Kitty looked extremely surprised, and the rest of the ladies did as well. Elizabeth, however, understood Mr. Bingley's offer as something to distract them from his friend's lack of attention. Good riddance, she thought, if the man cannot even listen to a minutes worth of conversation, then I certainly do not wish to speak to him.
As Bingley walked away with a shocked Kitty, Lydia and Mrs. Bennet rushed off to meet and greet friends. The Bingley sisters had left sometime during Elizabeth's conversation with Mr. Bingley, as had Sir William Lucas, leaving Darcy with Jane, Lizzy, and Mary.
The awkwardness between the young people was evident, and the ladies quickly recognized that Darcy did not intend to speak with them. Jane and Mary were the shyest Bennets, and as Elizabeth was the outgoing one, it was left to her to initiate a conversation.
"Mr. Darcy, I hear you are from Pemberley in Derbyshire," Elizabeth said. Darcy looked up at her in surprise, and replied, "Yes, I am." He turned away again. Elizabeth's frustration with the gentleman was increasing. "I actually have an aunt who grew up not far from there, in the village of Lambton. Are you familiar with it?"
Darcy was surprised again, but seemed more eager to talk. "Yes, it is not far from Pemberley. Have you ever visited Derbyshire?"
"No," Elizabeth replied, "But I am to be going on a tour of the Lakes with my aunt and uncle in the summer. We are considering stopping in Derbyshire." Elizabeth was pleased with how she got him to speak, but grew irritated again when he simply nodded and pretended to examine the floor.
Luckily, the girls were saved by Charlotte Lucas. "Elizabeth, Jane, Mary! I am so glad you have come!" The friends greeted each other, and Charlotte turned to Darcy. "Mr. Darcy, would you mind if I borrowed the Bennet ladies for a moment?"
"Not at all, Miss Lucas. Good evening ladies." Darcy bowed slightly, then quickly walked away. Mary went and sat down by the older ladies, and Elizabeth, Jane, and Charlotte moved to a corner to talk.
"I see you have met Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy?" Charlotte asked.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "Clearly, Charlotte. Mr. Bingley is very gentlemanlike, but I am not sure I like Mr. Darcy. He was bordering on uncivil."
Charlotte nodded fiercely. "You are correct in your assumptions. Mr. Bingley has danced nearly every dance, while Mr. Darcy has only appalled everyone with his rudeness and superior manner.
Jane looked surprised. "Are you sure Charlotte? He did appear rather reserved, but I was under the impression that he was merely shy."
Elizabeth chuckled. "Perhaps. I found him very proud, and merely polite, not friendly. No, I have no wish to be further acquainted with Mr. Darcy."
Elizabeth found herself sitting down for two dances, for the lack of gentlemen. She was watching Jane dance with John Lucas, when she overheard Mr. Bingley conversing with Mr. Darcy.
"Come Darcy," said Bingley, "I must have you dance. I hate seeing you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner." Elizabeth had to suppress a chuckle at the informal criticism of Mr. Darcy. "You had much better dance."
"I certainly shall not," replied his friend in a scandalized voice. "At an assembly such as this it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to stand up with."
"I would not be so fastidious as you are," cried Bingley, "for a kingdom! Upon my word, I have never met with pleasanter people or prettier girls in my life! And several of them are uncommonly pretty. Eh?"
Elizabeth grinned at Mr. Bingley's praise of her friends, neighbors, and probably her own sisters. She was still very irritated, and growing more so, by Mr. Darcy's superior, proud mannerisms.
"There isn't a handsome girl in the room," Darcy sniffed.
Bingley rolled his eyes. "Darcy, we were just conversing with some of the most beautiful girls I have ever laid eyes upon! Or have you already forgotten the charming Bennet sisters? Particuarily the eldest Miss Bennet?"
Darcy stiffened. "I will not deny that your Miss Jane is very pretty, I grant you, but her younger sisters were lacking beauty, sophistication, and manners."
Elizabeth was very offended at the insult directed towards her and her family, but the criticism was not over yet.
Bingley's eyes narrowed. "I have no preference to Miss Jane, though she is very beautiful. As for her younger sisters, that is the grossest falsehood I have ever heard! I danced with Miss Catherine, and found her very agreeable and beautiful. Miss Lydia is energetic and is equally as pretty, and Miss Mary is very beautiful in her own way!" he argued.
The unmentioned Bennet sister smiled at Bingley's forceful defense of her sisters. He even complimented Mary!
Mr. Bingley looked around the room. "And let us not forget the second Bennet sister, Miss Elizabeth. She is perhaps as beautiful as Jane, and would be a splendid partner for you to dance with. Look, there she is, sitting right there behind you."
Darcy turned and looked at her for a moment, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me. Bingley I am in no humor to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men."
Elizabeth felt fury rise in her. How dare he speak of her in such a way! As if he had a right to say such horrid things! She was left with no cordial feelings towards him, and wished to hear no more of the conversation. Elizabeth Bennet promptly stood up, and walked towards Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, who were somewhat blocking her path to Charlotte.
"Pardon me, gentlemen." She said coldly. They both turned to her in surprise, and at seeing whom it was, turned bright red. They parted to the side for her and she felt their eyes on her as she filled a glass with wine and made her way over to her friend.
"Hello Lizzy!" Charlotte said cheerfully, until seeing Elizabeth's face. "Is something the matter?"
In a huff, Elizabeth related to Charlotte all she had heard. Charlotte was scarcely less upset than Elizabeth herself. "Upon my word, how can he call himself a gentleman!"
"Oh yes," agreed Elizabeth, her voice filled with venom, "Mr. Darcy is easily the proudest, most disagreeable man I have ever had the misfortune to meet."
The women glanced over to the men, who were clearly watching and listening to the exchange, both still red, and growing more so, with embarrassment at clearly being overheard. Charlotte and Lizzy glared in their direction, and turned away.
"There now Charlotte, I shall just avoid Mr. Darcy, and all shall be well." Elizabeth said, trying to lighten the mood. "Besides, now I will have a reason not to dance with him!" Charlotte looked on at Elizabeth, concerned, and at her friend's worry, Elizabeth assured her that she was not hurt very badly by the comment, and would pass it off as a joke.
"But Charlotte, we must not be rude to Mr. Bingley. His defense of my family was so kind, and so sincere, that I am sure he is the most kind man I have ever known." Elizabeth said.
Charlotte turned to her, with an eyebrow raised. "Why Lizzy, you do not fancy Mr. Bingley, do you?" Elizabeth laughed, as she most certainly did not. "No, not at all. I like him plenty, but his mannerisms are much too agreeable for me, as next to him, I must appear most rude and unsocial."
The girls laughed, and went back to enjoying the evening.
Over by the punch table, the two gentlemen who had been listening to the exchange slowly shared a glance. Their faces were so red, that they were attracting much of the room's attention, as the residents of Meryton were afraid that they were going to either faint, or explode.
"Darcy," Bingley began cautiously, "I believe you owe Miss Bennet a most severe apology."
Darcy turned to him sharply. "I most certainly do not! I spoke my opinion, it was her fault that she was eavesdropping on our private conversation!"
As he walked away, Darcy could not help the gnawing feeling in his stomach that he would regret his words one day.
A/N: There you go! Did you like it? Sorry it was so long, I had planned on just having a simple ball that made it obvious that Bingley and Jane did not fancy each other, but then the characters took control. :) I think I might need to clear something up: Jane does not have feelings for Mr. Bingley. Mr. Bingley does not have feelings for Jane or Elizabeth. Elizabeth does not have feelings for Mr. Bingley. Darcy, at this point, does not have feelings at all. NONE OF THEM HAVE FEELINGS FOR EACH OTHER. (Yet). Again, this is not a Bingley/Jane story. This IS a Darcy/Elizabeth story though, because you just CAN'T have a P&P story without the epic Darcy/Elizabeth pairing.
Anyways, please review and tell me what you think of this idea, if I should continue it, and what you think would change in the original novel if Bingley and Jane didn't fall in love. All suggestions are welcome, as I have no clue where I am going with this! Also, I have a poll on my profile about which Pride and Prejudice character YOU find the most irritating! Our contestants are Mr. Collins, Caroline Bingley, Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Lydia, and Wickham. Please vote! And review!