A/N: … Hi again. I'm back, and alive, and very, very sorry for how long I've been gone. I don't actually have a reason for being gone, I just… was. The reason I forced myself to get back into this story was that some awesome people started reviewing again and PMing me about how they wanted this to continue. YAY FOR AWESOME PEOPLE WHO GUILT TRIP ME INTO WRITING THINGS! Yeah. So, here's a new chapter of Without the First Couple!
Since you probably forgot what this story's actually about, here's a RECAP:
Bingley and Jane were never attracted to/ in love with each other. Darcy and Elizabeth are good friends, and have recently realized that they are in love with each other, but don't know the other's feelings. Jane was then being courted by Collins, but fell for Wickham who tried and failed to kidnap her. Collins proposed to Mary and was accepted. Georgiana, Col. Richard Fitzwilliam, and Richard's oldest brother Thomas recently came to visit at Netherfield. It turns out Georgiana (who developed a backbone since Ramsgate) and Richard have feelings for each other, and they just had a really big bad argument about it that has left them really mad at each other. So… yeah. You could probably just reread the chapters if you want.
Disclaimer: I just turned fourteen a few months ago. So I wasn't exactly alive when Pride and Prejudice was written. So it's not mine. David Tennant is also not mine. Neither is the iPhone 5. Or 4s. Or 4. Or any iPhone at all. Sadly. So… yeah.
"Ah, Cousin Elizabeth! Cousin Elizabeth! Could I have a word, please?"
Elizabeth turned to her future brother-in-law in annoyance, but forced a smile upon her face.
"I am afraid, Mr. Collins, that I do not quite have time for a word. We are about to go and visit Mr. Darcy's relatives at Netherfield, and I was just walking out the door." And I have been waiting for this visit since I discovered that they were there, and your rambling is not quite worth waiting another moment for it.
Mr. Collins' eyes widened comically, and for a moment she feared that she had spoken her thoughts aloud, but her panic was eased when he said, "Of course, not, Cousin Elizabeth! I would never dare to keep waiting the relatives of Lady Catherine de Bourgh!" It occurred to Elizabeth to mention that since it was merely an afternoon visit, the Netherfield party had no idea that they were even coming, and she did not know if Darcy's cousins actually were on Lady Catherine's side of the family, but then decided that a pointless argument with Mr. Collins could take even longer than whatever he wanted to speak with her about would, and she was silent.
"Cousin Elizabeth, would you do me the greatest favor of delivering this invitation to either Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley? It is a formal invitation to my wedding. Please inform the recipient that all the guests of Netherfield, Mr. Darcy's relatives included, are invited to the humble affair. For humble it may be, the company it includes are not. For I have received word that Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with the knowledge that her niece and nephews are in town, is planning to attend the wedding! My dear Mary and I are so delighted. That is why the two of us are headed into town on this fine day, you see, and unfortunately visit the esteemed Darcys and Fitzwilliams with you. We are picking out different types of tablecloths to be used at the wedding, for Lady Catherine demands perfection and excellence at all public affairs, and-"
"That is lovely, Mr. Collins," Elizabeth interrupted with a short laugh of exasperation, which was, as usual, unnoticed by Mr. Collins. She was also somewhat irked by the fact the her generally clueless cousin seemed to know more about Mr. Darcy's relatives than she did.
"I will make sure to deliver this to either Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley, and pass your message on to him. Good luck with your table cloth shopping."
And before Mr. Collins had the chance to humbly thank her for the service, and how could he have been so lucky to have a cousin as useful as her?, Elizabeth walked out the door.
"MR. BENNET! How can you possibly be reading at a time like this? The wedding is less than a month away and here you've been, holed up in your study all week? Why don't you do something productive, such as helping me plan it! All the prominent families of Meryton are to be invited and we have not had a proper wedding in ages, so it had better be a good one!"
Roll eyes. Finish paragraph. Bookmark book. Put book on desk. Stretch. Lay back in chair for approximately twenty seconds. Listen to the second appeal for his presence. Yell back. Get up. Leave.
Mr. Bennet knew the routine for when his wife interrupted his reading time like the back of his hand. He decided that it may not be wise to point out that he had been holed up in his study for the majority of the past twenty years, for it may inspire cruel and unusual punishment for the next two decades.
As he entered the parlor, he had expected to find young women scurrying about every which way (which was perfectly ridiculous, as they still had a little over three weeks, the time for scurrying was at least two weeks away). Mr. Bennet was then pleasantly surprised to find only his wife sitting in the parlor, comparing two bonnets.
"Where have all the other silly women gone?" he asked casually. Mrs. Bennet shot him a nasty look, but replied, "Mary and Mr. Collins have gone to town to shop for heaven knows what, and the rest of the girls have gone off to Netherfield to meet Mr. Darcy's sister and his other cousin. Apparently the other cousin is the oldest son of an Earl, Mr. Bennet, can you believe it! And Miss Darcy has been said to be Lydia's age, what a wonderful friendship that would be for her! With Miss Darcy's help, Lydia, and maybe even Kitty could be admitted to all the balls and parties in town. Oh, won't it be wonderful! And with our Lizzy snagging Mr. Darcy, we will be set in stone! And after you die, Mr. Bennet, the house will remain ours to reside in thanks to dear Mary and dear Mr. Collins! Oh, Mr. Bennet, I am so happy!"
Although Mr. Bennet had, by default, tuned out the majority of Mrs. Bennet's speech, he did listen to her declaration of joy. He smiled. "I am very glad to hear it, my dear."
And he was. For although time may have worn his patience with his wife thin, Mr. Bennet still felt a great deal of affection for her, and merely desired her happiness, which it seemed with a daughter finally getting married, she was able to achieve.
"Now, Mr. Bennet, which bonnet would go best with my mauve dress for the wedding? This one or that one?" Mrs. Bennet held up two bonnets to her husband.
Mr. Bennet simply smiled at her, kissed her hand, and replied, "You will look lovely in either one, my dear." Then he left the room.
As the door closed behind her husband, Mrs. Bennet smiled.
Thomas and Darcy would later agree in private that even a French invasion of Hertfordshire would be as welcome a diversion as the arrival of four of the Bennet sisters was. The gentlemen had spent the past day listening to their respective siblings argue to no end.
Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, Thomas, Richard, and Georgiana were all conjugated in the parlor where there had been four spats between Richard and Georgiana broken up by Thomas and Darcy in the past half hour. Bingley was already feeling a considerable level of awkwardness when Georgiana looked up from her book to ask, "Brother? Will you help me with this passage? I am afraid I do not quite understand what the author is referring to."
The Colonel muttered from the opposite side of the room, "That is not the only thing that you don't understand."
Several things happened at once.
Georgiana narrowed her eyes and held Richards glare for approximately two seconds before they both stood up, signaling the beginning of another quarrel. Thomas let out a large sigh of exasperation. Darcy sank back into his seat and ran a tired hand through his hair. Bingley immediately stood up and began to excuse himself.
Then an eruption of sound came from both Georgiana and Richard's mouths that drowned out any excuse Bingley could have made.
"And you are the one who calls me a child! There you are, a man who has seen the world, sulking in the back corner and making stupid comments like an indignant schoolboy!"
"I'm the child? You can't even work your way through Shakespeare without needing the assistance of your elder brother!"
"At least I am not afraid to express myself when I have something that I want or need, no matter how silly it may sound!"
"I thought it didn't need saying! You, obviously, need everything spelled out in front of you like an ignorant five year old!"
"It always needs saying Richard! You can't just ignore something that-"
The butler had inadvertently stopped an argument before it had a chance to start when he announced to the Netherfield parlor that they had visitors.
While Bingley excused the man who was eyeing the two arguing cousins with an increasing level of concern, Georgiana and Richard exchanged one final glare as they both crossed their arms and looked in opposite directions.
As the residents of the parlor stood in anticipation of their guests, Thomas muttered to Darcy, "Good God, they really are like children."
Darcy nodded, but addressed his sister and other cousin. "Will the both of you please attempt to act like reasonable adults while the Bennets are here? Some of us actually want to make a good impression."
At this, Richard and Georgiana snickered, but instantly looked at each other and glared when they discovered that the other was doing the same.
Darcy shook his head in disbelief, but was sufficiently distracted as the door opened. For a moment he panicked as he was unable to locate Elizabeth, but she entered the room last and shot him a rather brilliant smile, if he did say so himself, and his doubts were forgotten.
Bingley greeted his guests, then motioned for Darcy to come forward and introduce his relatives.
"Hello Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth, Miss Catherine, Miss Lydia. It is a pleasure to see you, as always. May I introduce you to my relatives who arrived earlier this week?"
Jane stepped forward and replied with a smile, "Certainly, Mr. Darcy."
He nodded as Georgiana, Richard, and Thomas stepped forward. "This is my sister, Georgiana, my cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, as you previously met, and his brother, Mr. Thomas Fitzwilliam."
As the three of them bowed and curtsied in greeting, Bingley introduced the sisters. "And I have the honor of introducing the three of you to Miss Jane Bennet, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Catherine Bennet, and Miss Lydia Bennet." The girls curtsied.
"It is lovely to see you all again," Bingley said with a large smile directed at one of the Bennet sisters. "Please, do be seated."
The party who had already been in the parlor took their seats, and the Bennets, after a moment of each young lady quickly analyzing which seat would be most beneficial, followed.
Lydia instantly sat herself down next to the Colonel, and was instantly followed by Kitty. Jane took a seat between Bingley and Thomas and began to converse with the two gentlemen. Darcy eagerly watched to see whether Elizabeth would take the place which, in all their former social gatherings, had belonged to her, next to him. She did, and strategically placed herself on the side of Darcy that would allow her to speak with Georgiana just as easily.
"It is a pleasure to see you again, Miss Elizabeth. I hope you are well?" It was, in fact, a very great pleasure: the last time he had seen her she had been too distressed over her sister Jane to bother with any of their usual friendly banter, and the tension in the Netherfield household over the past day and a half had led him to focus on other things rather than his feelings for his female companion. The feelings which were so greatly obvious to him at this moment, for she was wearing a green dress that was a favorite of his, for it brought out the prominent green in her eyes, and-
"I am, thank you. And yourself?" Darcy blinked himself out of his thoughts with a rather loud and rude, "What?"
Georgiana burst into a bit of a coughing fit, trying to calm her laughter. Darcy flushed a bright red as Elizabeth repeated herself slowly in confusion.
"Oh, I am very well, thank you." He replied quickly, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. Georgiana regained control as Elizabeth shook her head at the strange exchange and turned to her.
"Miss Darcy, it is a pleasure to meet you at last," Elizabeth said warmly. Darcy snapped his head to attention, closely evaluating the discourse between the two ladies, eager for them to get along.
"And you as well, Miss Elizabeth. I have heard so much about you from my brother and Mr. Bingley." Georgiana replied, taking a sly glance at her brother.
Elizabeth glanced at him in surprise. "Have you? Only good things, I would hope?" she asked with a teasing smile which hid truly nervous emotions.
"Of course," Georgiana replied fondly. "From what I have heard, I think that we shall be great friends already!"
Elizabeth smiled at the younger girl. "Indeed, Miss Darcy, I believe that we shall."
Later on, there was a bit of an alteration in seating as some food arrived for the young people to snack on.
Over grapes, Elizabeth was introduced to Thomas. She found that she quite liked him, and he was quite similar to his brother. Both gentlemen were tall in stature, with unruly brown hair that was a lighter hair than Mr. Darcy's. While the latter mentioned gentleman possessed a head of dark curly hair, the Fitzwilliam brothers had lighter brown hair that stuck up in the front at odd ends. While in someone such as Mr. Collins, this would provide a most unfavorable impression, on the Fitzwilliams it simply made them look more handsome.
The brothers both found Elizabeth to be a very interesting companion, and the three of them all privately thought to themselves that they would get along charmingly.
As Thomas was relating a humorous antidote from his and Richard's youth, Elizabeth was unfortunate enough to overhear Lydia complementing Miss Darcy on her dress.
"Oh Miss Darcy, I simply love your gown! The fabric is simply beautiful, is it not, Kitty?" Kitty nodded in awe and agreement.
Georgiana replied gracefully, "Thank you, Miss Lydia. It was a present from my cousin while I was recently in town, actually." She took on a rather thoughtful expression, and then glanced at Richard, who was intently looking at her. They both quickly looked away.
Lydia, unfortunately, did not miss this exchange. "Oh, it was a present from the Colonel, was it? Oh, that is just so lovely of him! He must care about you an awful lot, you know, to pay for such an expensive looking fabric. And this isn't even a ball gown! I wish I could have a dress such as the likes of that, Miss Darcy. All I have got is this droll old thing," she announced, twirling around the fabric at the skirt of her dress.
Elizabeth felt her face heating up as she noted Georgiana's uncomfortable expression. She glanced quickly at Darcy to see if he had noticed, but was relieved to find him conversing with Jane and Bingley on the opposite side of the room, none of whom bore witness to the embarrassing scene at all. She tried to force herself to focus on Thomas' story, and could see that Richard was attempting to do the same while sneaking glances at Miss Darcy, which she suspected he had been doing even before Lydia began speaking, but all Elizabeth could hear was Lydia's voice.
On the opposite side of the room, Lydia sighed wistfully. "If only a handsome Colonel would buy me expensive courting gifts like that. Just imagine, Kitty!"
Then, with an expression of puzzlement at Georgiana, who was growing increasingly red and refusing to make eye contact with anyone, Lydia asked loudly and in disbelief, "Don't tell me that you and the Colonel aren't courting! I've seen all the looks that the two of you have been sharing, and only courting and married couples look at each other like that!"
The way that Thomas continued to tell his story even louder made it painstakingly obvious to Elizabeth that he had heard every word of what Lydia had said, and a look at Darcy's side of the room showed her that he, Bingley and Jane were all standing about in awkwardness brought to light the fact that they had heard as well. Jane then asked Mr. Bingley deliberately, "And where are Miss Bingley and the Hursts this afternoon, Mr. Bingley? I hope that they are well."
Bingley gracefully took the hint and replied loudly, "Yes, they are quite well! My sisters and Mr. Hurst left for Meryton earlier this afternoon, I'm afraid you just missed them."
"Ah," said Jane, "My sister Mary and her fiancé, Mr. Collins, are shopping in Meryton today for tablecloths to use at their upcoming wedding."
Darcy was sufficiently enough interested by this news to tear his eyes from his distressed sister, who was still sitting beside Lydia and Kitty, the two whom were already gossiping about who knows what, and ask, "When did they become engaged?"
"Oh!" Jane exclaimed. "I suppose you would not know. My sister and Mr. Collins became engaged shortly after you and the Colonel left Longbourn earlier this week."
The three of them then proceeded to discuss wedding plans, although the true attentions of all three were focused on the nearly tangible tension on the side of the room which held their respective cousins, siblings, and houseguests.
The mentioned cousins, siblings, and houseguests, were in a state of disarray. Lydia and Kitty chatted about the scandal between one of the militiamen and a maid from down the road that had become public knowledge weeks after the fact, not noticing their new friend's discomfort at the assumptions made to her supposed courtship with her cousin. Thomas continued to tell his story, and Elizabeth had just enough mind to comment when appropriate, but the thoughts of them both were on the awkwardness regarding Georgiana and Lydia, and their eyes silently voiced the thoughts that the other was sharing. Richard had given up all pretense of listening to his brother, and was regarding Georgiana with a scrunched brow and an air of thoughtfulness which was uncommon in such an easygoing man.
Eventually, everyone's suffering was put at ease as Elizabeth and Jane excused their family, as they had been there for over an hour.
After an entire visit of separation and awkwardness, Elizabeth finally found an excuse to converse with Darcy, if not while she was preparing to leave.
"My cousin Mr. Collins asked for me to deliver this to you and the Bingleys, Mr. Darcy. He asked me to inform you that everyone in the house, including your visiting relatives, is invited to his wedding."
She spoke with an undercurrent of mirth that could not but make Darcy smile. "Of course, Miss Elizabeth. Give him my thanks on behalf of myself and the rest of the Netherfield party."
Elizabeth smiled and nodded, and then took on a rather uncomfortable expression as she began, "Mr. Darcy, I am afraid I have to apologize on behalf of my sister Lydia. She should not have interrogated your sister so, and I am terribly afraid that we have made a bad impression on your family for it."
But he only shook his head and held up his hand to signal her to stop, with a little smile on his face. "Never apologize for something that is out of your control, Miss Elizabeth. I do not blame you and your sisters for it, and I am positive that none of my family members do either."
He looked over at Georgiana and Richard, who, amidst saying goodbyes to the Bennets, kept sneaking glances at each other when the other was not looking.
"In fact, between you and me, I believe it may have done more help than harm." Elizabeth raised her eyebrows at his cryptic sentence, but then looked over at Georgiana and Richard as well. She turned to Darcy with an amused expression, and he nodded, wordlessly affirming her silent question.
Elizabeth let out a laugh, a laugh so joyous that it reminded Darcy just who she was to him; quite possibly his best friend, and most definitely the woman he loved.
"I hope you have a safe journey home, Miss Elizabeth," he said.
Elizabeth covered up her momentary flutter of the heart with a laugh. "It is only about three miles to Longbourn from here, Mr. Darcy. I am sure we shall triumph any trials that choose to befall us."
Darcy looked at her with an intense emotion in his eyes. "None the less…" he bowed to her, and, in a moment of impulse, kissed her hand.
As he straightened up, he did not quite miss the distinctive blush and smile on her face, and he certainly did not miss the feeling of elation sent through him at her pleasure in his little attentions.
With a curtsey from Elizabeth and an exchange of smiles, they parted ways.
On the carriage ride home, as Lydia and Kitty bickered about bonnets and Jane attempted to break up their fight, Elizabeth could not help but think that despite everything, the visit had went quite well.
A/N: TA DA! There it was! PLEASE review: honestly, the reviews I have received in the past month have been the only reason I continued this story. The lesson? REVIEW AND I WILL WRITE ANOTHER CHAPTER MUCH SOONER THAN THIS ONE!
For anyone that can draw: Is anybody interested in making an image for this story? Any art will be considered, since I am completely unartistic. I am open to any ideas, so if you are interested, PM me!
ALSO! I now have a Tumblr, and am 10roseofgallifrey. I mostly post Doctor Who related things, but also have posted some Lizzie Bennet Diaries related things and it would be nice if you followed me! *winkwinknudgenudge*. Don't ignore the blatant self-advertising.