Summary - Darcy never pursues Amanda to the modern world. Instead she follows Wickham after his puzzling words and finds something infinitely more dear. A/W
Disclaimer - I do not own the original story or any of the characters included and I am certainly not making any profit from it… except for (hopefully) some lovely reviews; however, I am also willing to except some probably well needed constructive criticism as long as it is civil. Please don't be too mean. =]
A/N - I apologize if anything does not make logical sense or if I have made any spelling/grammatical errors. Inspiration for the story hit me at one in the morning after finishing the film for what was most likely the hundredth time and I stayed up late attempting to finish it. Enjoy and please review!
'Thoughts are italicized and quoted'
Desperation was what finally forced Amanda away from the gory scene openly exposed in the room and into relative comfort of the empty inn hallway. Running a trembling hand through her short auburn hair, she staggered to the opposite wall and put her back to it with a resounding thump, letting the sturdy, old oak wood take her full weight.
She had ruined everything.
'Royally screwed it up, actually.' She silently divulged unto herself. 'As a matter of fact, I don't think anyone could have managed to muck things up worse than I have here. And that includes the arses who have never even read a lick of Austen before!'
Somehow, in spite being a profoundly devoted fan of the novel and having vast knowledge of every miniscule plot twist in her beloved story, she had buggered it all up. Elizabeth was stranded in the harsh wasteland that was modern society, dear, sweet Jane was recently entrapped into marriage to that absolutely repulsive Mr. Collins, poor Charlotte Lucas had become a missionary in Africa, Mr. Bingley had absconded with Lydia instead of Mr. Wickham, Mr. Darcy was engaged to Caroline Bingley, and now Mr. Bennet was currently bleeding to death in the next room. Utter chaos was raining relentlessly down on the once seemingly perfect world of romance and fiction.
Chaos , 6
Amanda , 0
'Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero!'
Regardless of how greatly Amanda wanted to assist, she knew that she should not reenter the chaotic atmosphere of the room in her current state of distress. She came from the future where knowledge was quite literally at her fingertips and yet she had no idea how to help save a friend's life.
'Oh, what I would not give to be able to Google right now. I'd even settle for a bloody Wikipedia page!' Amanda raged inwardly.
Although she'd had the presence of mind to rip the bed sheets into suitable strips in order to staunch the continuous flow of blood, she had been incapable of anything further. The sheer adrenaline that had rushed forth to facilitate her needs was now beginning to fade into obscurity, thus leaving Amanda feeling exhausted and thoroughly nauseated.
She found herself selfishly longing for the lackadaisical days past in her modern day flat with nothing to trouble her beyond what to cook for dinner or how to cope with her absolutely unromantic boyfriend. She wished she had been blessed with the foresight to stow her own worn copy of Pride and Prejudice within the deep folds of her dress when she had exited the carriage earlier that afternoon. Amanda had always drawn her greatest strength and comfort from the familiarity of that beloved book. The feel of the tattered, creased spine and pages, the aroma of old paper. She had held it like a crucifix to her heart throughout countless heartbreaks and hardships. To not have it now was almost physically painful to her.
The heavy wooden door of the aforementioned room opened with a squeal of rusted iron hinges announcing company to Amanda. In all honesty, Amanda abhorred the idea of dealing with anyone in her current state and wanted the dirty floor underneath her to open up and allow her to tumbled through. She didn't particularly care where that abyss led to. It could drag her all the way to hell and it would still have been a relief from the situation she had helped to create.
'I hear Wonderland is quite lovely this time of year.' Her slightly fear addled mind interjected.
George Wickham stepped out into the hallway and made his slow way towards Amanda, letting the door slip shut behind him. Wickham pulled out a handkerchief and absentmindedly whipped his hands clean of Mr. Bennet's blood without even bothering to glance up at her. The previously immaculate handkerchief was immediately ruined beyond recognition.
"Mr. Bennet needs stitches. Please tell me you understand that." Amanda pleaded with notable desperation lacing her voice.
Finally meeting her eyes, Wickham stopped in front of her and answered, "There is a woman here. She's arranged medical matters for me in the past. I shall bring her here directly."
Amanda let out a rapid sigh of relief before allowing a shaky, brief half-smile to grace her glossy lips. "Wickham, you are a bastard, but you are the right bastard at the right time."
Still cleaning off his hands, Wickham smirked and nodded his head in affirmation before playfully saying, "One does one's best." He paused thoughtfully for a moment, as if considering his words very wisely, while Amanda calmed her breathing before continuing in a more serious tone, "Everyone you know, Miss Price, will one day prise your fingers from the raft and watch you drown. Everyone, Miss Price. Except me."
Wickham stowed the now ruined handkerchief in his pocket and brushed lightly past a stunned Amanda on his way through a nearby door. Without even fully comprehending the repercussions of her actions, Amanda darted after him into the empty parlor room and loudly closed the door. Wickham curiously glanced back at her before sitting one of the many plush chairs the parlor had to offer.
"What was that? What twisted games are you at now, Wickham?" Amanda demanded whilst motioning wildly back towards the door she had just sorely abused in her anger.
"Games? I'm afraid that I do not follow you, Miss Price."
"What do you mean by, 'Everyone except me.'"
Wickham stood abruptly and walked to the fireplace; all the while not meeting Amanda's accusing eyes. "I had thought it to be rather obvious," He mumbled surreptitiously to himself before continuing with greater volume this time. "Dearest Mr. Darcy is probably looking for you, Miss Price. This might very well be your only chance to show him your worth and win his heart once and for all. I suggest you hurry."
"I don't give a hairy rats arse what Mr. Darcy is doing right now. I asked you a question and intend on getting an answer." Amanda declared as she stamped a small, slippered foot in emphasis, "Besides, in case you haven't heard, he's engaged to that bloody vulture that is Caroline Bingley."
Wickham rotated to stare disbelievingly at Amanda before stepping forward and gently placing a hand on her cheek. He looked upon her with an amount empathy in his dark eyes that both enraged her and set her stomach aflutter as he confessed, "I am truly sorry, Miss Price. I am fully aware of your regard for him."
Amanda, however, could scarcely seem comprehend his words as she found herself bewildered by Wickham's unexpected display of affection and could not help but to revel in the feelings it surfaced within her. His hands, although callused from hard work, were tender upon her face. It was almost as if she was a delicate porcelain doll to be treasured. No man in the modern world had ever handled Amanda in such a way. This was something entirely new; something that begged to be explored thoroughly. Even Mr. Darcy had never seen fit to touch someone so lowly as her. She had once attempted to reach out and take his hand, but he hurriedly had inched it out from underneath her fingers like it was diseased.
Wickham gazed down at Amanda with a calculating countenance. Slowly he allowed his thumb to caress her silken cheek; however, when she unexpectedly leaned into the pleasure of the touch, he jerked it away as if it had been burned. Wickham tucked his treacherous hands safely behind his back and turned once again to stare into the merrily crackling fire.
Amanda swallowed a moan that had threatened to escape her lips at the sudden loss of intimacy. Who did she think she was? She is not some simpering little virgin who always had the same clichéd reaction to a man's touch. Amanda violently shook her head in an attempt to disperse the haze that had begun to settle itself in her mind and took several large gulps of air to steady her oddly erratic breathing.
'Alright, Amanda. For God's sake pull yourself together. This is George Bloody Wickham, not Adonis.'
What had she been thinking? Why again had she followed this strange, unpredictable man into an empty parlor?
Thankfully remembering her original intention in pursuing him, Amanda took two steps closer to Mr. Wickham before asserting, "You haven't answered my question yet and stalling will not get you out of this one, Wickham. What did you mean back in the hallway?"
"The implication is quite evident and I would have thought that an individual as clever as you, Miss Price, could easily decipher my true meaning." He replied curtly.
Resembling the behavior of a pouting child, Amanda huffed in frustration and flopped unceremoniously onto the previously vacated plush chair before grumbling, "Well, then I suppose I must be slow because you are making absolutely no sense to me."
Wickham startled her by letting go a short, bitter bark of laughter. "After all I do for her, she remains oblivious," He whispers to himself despondently.
"..All you have done? Wickham, what are you talking about? Give me some answers here," She pleaded.
Reluctantly rotating his body to face Amanda, Wickham divulged, "Everything has been for you, Miss Price. Can't you see that? Despite your obvious hostility towards me from our first acquaintance, I was intrigued by your almost outlandish behavior."
Wickham nervously ran a trembling hand through his dark locks, took in a shuddering breath and seemed to be struggling for words before continuing, "I- …You- …When I discovered you had become engaged to that disgusting man, Mr. Collins, I foolishly attempted to rescue you from a disastrous union by circulating rumors about you. I knew perfectly well that Mr. Collins could not be dissuaded by any other means, so I discreetly let it slip to Caroline Bingley that your family had acquired their immense fortune from fish mongering. I cannot even begin to vocalize my relief when I discovered that Mr. Collins had immediately broken off the engagement. I was willing to bear the immense weight of your hatred towards me as long as I could be absolutely certain of your continued safety and happiness."
By this point Mr. Wickham's voice had steadily risen in volume to accommodate his mounting passion. "Unfortunately, I must say that my relief was short-lived because not long after that incident you were thrown from the Bennets' household. When you came seeking my help, I knew that I could never refuse any request from you ever again; therefore, I purchased you a dress with the last of my money and strived to teach you how to better assimilate yourself to society. Regardless of the fact that I was well aware that you were going to utilize my lessons to win the entirely undeserving heart of Fitzwilliam Darcy, I still educated you on the proper way to be a lady. I put aside my feelings in order to make you happy, Miss Price. And alas, I cannot even begin to fathom why that is not more obvious.."
At this point, Wickham did not dare to make eye contact with Amanda for fear of what he would observe reflected there, but he could not stop talking now that he had begun. Adrenaline pumped furiously through his veins and the words poured out faster than he could comprehend or censor. His nervous energy spurred him to pace in front of the fireplace as he continued to relate his woeful tale.
"Just today I strove to make your life easier! I heard of Charles Bingley absconding to Hammersmith along with naïve little Lydia and knew that you would quickly follow to manage the predicament. I rode as fast as my horse would carry me to meet you; however, when I reached my destination I discovered that, not only had you failed to arrive yet, but not a single individual in all of Hammersmith had even heard of you! I was just on my way back to where I had tethered my horse when I saw you stepping out of the carriage, which is extremely fortunate for you because I was able to cover for your missing relatives. I may have lied to save little Georgiana's reputation, but I must stress to you, Miss Price, that I utterly abhor deceit in all its forms and facets. For me to lie so easily for you is a feat within itself!"
Wickham stalled his nervous pacing abruptly in front on the only occupied chair and took a steadying breath before kneeling in front of a silently stunned Amanda. He gently reached out took and both of her delicately small hands in his rather large ones. His dark, smoldering eyes pleaded for her acceptance and his voice was thick with suppressed emotion. "Do you not see all that I have accomplished in your name, my dear one? I might as well be named a saint by now!"
Wickham chuckled half-heartedly at his poor attempt at humor before continuing in husky voice, "However, I cannot endeavor to restrain my feelings and desires any longer. I must confess that I am sincerely in love with you, Amanda Price, and I would not venture so hard to prove my affections to anyone less worthy of them. For you, I would not hesitate even an infinitesimal amount of time to sculpt both heaven and Earth to you precise specifications. To me, you are like the ethereal goddesses of old and I will worship you until my dying day and onward. Please tell me not my love for you is not in vain."
In spite of her overwhelming desire to speak, for once Amanda found herself wholly incapable of it. Her mind whirled a thousand miles an hour attempting to process what had just been declared. Everything she had ever inferred about George Wickham when reading Pride and Prejudice was completely erroneous. Mr. Wickham was not the corrupt villain that Jane Austen penned him to be. On the contrary, he was selfless when it came to other's happiness and giving to a fault. One could even argue that he was the most virtuous individual in the entirety of this strangely modified story.
Now that Amanda considered it at length, Wickham was comparable to Mr. Darcy with only a few substantial differences. Both chose to silently prove their good character to those whom mattered most instead of bragging about their various accomplishments, both were trustworthy, which they demonstrated with their silence after the scandal with Georgiana, and both George Wickham and Fitzwilliam Darcy presented themselves as gentleman.
On the other hand, whereas Mr. Darcy was callous and brooding; Mr. Wickham was charming and playful. Mr. Darcy had proved his bigotry when he had rejected Amanda for revealing the truth about her virginity; however, Wickham had always been excepting of any and all alternative life styles. One might even say that he thrived on the challenges it presented him with. Wickham represented fun and adventure, while Mr. Darcy demanded proper decorum at all times.
How had she managed to overlook such important details? Amanda was being to realize that her attraction to the cold Mr. Darcy was caused by her infatuation with the romance achieved between him and Elizabeth Bennet in the novel. Darcy was made for Elizabeth; not for Amanda Price. She was nothing like Elizabeth; therefore she should not have simply assumed that Darcy would hold her in the same regard.
It was quickly becoming obvious to Amanda that Darcy was not her fantasy prince charming after all; however, it seemed that Wickham just might have the precise qualities required to take Darcy's place. Wickham's quick sarcastic wit was equivalent to her own and their similar personalities complimented one another in an odd way. In fact, had the couple's situation been any less serious, they would most likely have been playful teasing each other the entire time.
Still kneeling with Amanda's hands in his, George Wickham shifted his legs uncomfortably and swallowed in an attempt to appease his understandably parched throat whilst his tongue dart swiftly across his lips to dampen them. The prolonged silence worried him greatly and Wickham began to fully contemplate the prospect of her absolute rejection.
What had he been thinking? Of course she intended to reject him. His very own rival in love happened to be none other than the devastatingly handsome and rich Fitzwilliam Darcy. He could never even aspire to be as worthy of Amanda Price as Darcy was. Amanda was witty, beautiful, fascinating, and she deserved the very best that life had to offer. Wickham knew that he could not provide nearly as many material objects as compared to Darcy. All he could offer was his undying love and loyalty. Not all the fine dresses she would ever desire nor a grand mansion and the company of those blessed to be stationed the highest in society.
Admitting defeat to a better man, Wickham gently released her delicate hands and stood. He gazed down longingly at the woman he loved for a moment longer before returning to his original post beside the fireplace with his back to her.
The unexpected movement startled Amanda from her thoughts. With wide eyes she followed Wickham's retreating form; pondering the reasons behind his departure. She cautiously tested moving the fingers of her hand in awe. She could physically feel his absence from her side. Her hands had grown cold without his to warm them and she shivered involuntarily at the loss. She was loath to admit it, but these sudden feelings frightened her immensely. In just the course of several minutes everything she had experienced in this fictional world had done a complete one-eighty and she was left struggling to grab on to something stationary.
'Is Wickham the raft that keeps me afloat despite this cruel, twisted world's attempt to drown me like some unwanted kitten?'
"It is alright, Miss Price. Do not trouble yourself with gentle ways to reject my feelings. Your regard for me is evident in your silence. I see now that I should not have troubled you and for that I offer nothing but my most sincere apologizes. Please simply forget this unsightly affair ever occurred. Forgive me for being a fool and hoping where there was no hope." Wickham lamented bitterly with a shuddering breath that rattled his entire chest.
Wickham dared not glance back at Amanda for fear of what he might do; therefore, he endeavored to hardened his resolve and remained stoically standing at the fireplace. From behind him, Wickham could hear Amanda rise from her chair and the sound of her slippered feet softly tread across the floor. He closed his eyes as he literally felt his heart breaking for he knew that she had rejected him entirely. She did not even deem his feelings worthy of her acknowledgement. She was leaving and Wickham was certain that any second now the door would close and Amanda Price would be gone from his life forever.
Two slender arms snaked their way around his torso; startling Wickham enough to make him jump slightly. He glanced down to notice two small hands that had been laid flat on his chest and he was absolutely overwhelmed with the scent of Amanda that permeated his senses. The aroma was something otherworldly with a hint of flowers that he had never quite been able to place. She was pressed right up against him, and Wickham was hyperaware of the tingling sensation that originated from wherever their bodies met.
Laying her face flat against his strong back, Amanda sighed in contentment before nuzzling her cheek against the rough material of his shirt. She took the rare opportunity to breathe him in and revel at the feeling of his taut muscles underneath her hands.
"You're such a fool, Wickham."
Wickham entire body tensed at what he presumed to be insult to his intelligence. Muscles tightened and his jaw set firmly in a scowl. Upon feeling the abrupt change in his demeanor, Amanda rushed to explain herself.
"I was merely stunned, you silly bastard. Not rejecting you."
Wickham rotated slowly in her arms until he was staring down at the face of his beloved. His treacherous hands once again moved on the own accord to touch that exquisite face, but half way en route Wickham regained a small semblance of his former control and allowed his hands to instead alight upon her slender shoulders.
"I- …Miss Price-," He quietly stumbled over his words whilst feverishly searching her dark eyes. "I must confess that I am not sure what you mean."
Amanda took a small step even closer to Mr. Wickham's person and place her hand upon his cheek, taking a miniscule moment to caress the afternoon stubble she felt there. Everything from her toes to her hand to the half smile gracing her face was trembling in uncertainty.
"I love you, Wickham. You are my equal and likeness in every sense of the word. You are the Adam to my Eve, the Romeo to my Juliet, the Kermit the Frog to my Miss Piggy!" When Mr. Wickham raised an amused eyebrow in question at her last odd reference, she simply brushed it aside with a quick, "Don't worry about it."
"George Wickham, what I am trying to say is that I love you and not Fitzwilliam Darcy." She finished with an air of frustration evident in her voice.
In an obvious attempt to bring her point home, Amanda stretch out on to the tips of her toes to place a kiss upon Wickham's slightly ajar lips.
With a speed and urgency that both astounded and aroused Amanda, Wickham returned the kiss. He crushed his lips and body to hers with alarming intensity as she clung to him for fear that either her legs would no longer support her weight or that she would be so light that her spirit would simply float onward to heaven in ecstasy.
"Miss Price." She would hear him moan into her mouth every so often.
Frowning, she broke the kiss only for the need of a breath and to say, "Amanda."
Mr. Wickham's blinked opened momentarily in confusion as he also panted for air, "What?"
She smiled and a placed another sweet kiss upon his mouth before elaborating to him. "Call me Amanda. I wanted nothing more right this second than to hear the sound of my name coming from the man I love."
Amanda's words moved Mr. Wickham so immensely that he blinked back tears and swallow the thick lump forming in his throat as he tenderly tucked a strand of auburn hair neatly behind her ear. He planted a gentle kiss upon her beautiful forehead before whispering, "Amanda," as if testing the sound of her name for himself and savoring the taste of it on his tongue.
"Amanda. My Amanda." He chuckled quietly to himself at the sight of the pleased smile she gave him before recapturing her mouth again. Entwining his long fingers into her luxuriously silken tresses, Wickham pressed himself as closely against his beloved as physically possible.
"And to think, I've wasted all this time trying to persuade you to love another." He mused the next time they came up panting for breath whilst caressing the subtle curve of her lower lip. "My Amanda, I love you. I know that I could never even begin to endeavor to provide what all Darcy could have for you, but I give you my undying love and loyalty."
"And Mr. Darcy could never have endeavored to give me the relationship and personality that flows so easily between you and I, George." Amanda teased back.
"No, I don't believe that serious and brooding man could." Wickham conceded with a full laugh. Smiling tenderly at her, he continued in a more serious tone, "Although I would gladly bend to your every wish and whim as well as give you a plethora of beautiful children."
Normally Amanda would have run screaming hysterically at the mere mention of watching someone else's children for a few minutes, but she found herself adoring the idea of little Wickham's and Wickhamette's running amuck underneath her feet.
'Little boys playing pretend soldiers all with George's devilishly handsome looks and eyes, but my hair. Me watching George chase them around the yard while I braid flowers into the long hair of my little darling girls.'
She kissed him sweetly once more before divulging, "I wouldn't mind a small battalion of ankle-biters to command if they were ours.."
"Then marry me, my love, and we will start work on them right away." Wickham teased, which caused Amanda to playful smack his arm.
"Wickham! Is that any way to propose to a woman?" She laughed.
Almost immediately, Wickham dropped to the floor with such a forceful thud Amanda thought he had collapsed and was reaching down to assist him when she realized that he had position himself on one knee. She froze in muted disbelief at the sight before her as he captured both of her delicate hands in his rather large ones.
Gazing with clear adoration up at her, Wickham placed a tender kiss on her hand before asking, "Amanda, my dearest love, my ethereal goddess, please say that you will do me life's greatest honor by consenting to be my wife."
"Bloody hell." was the only mumbled answer that escaped her agape mouth as it was also the only phrase her astonished mind was repeating continuously.
Wickham opened his mouth as if to speak, but instantly shut it again as words failed him. His brow creased in confusion as he cocked his head slightly to the side. It astounded Amanda how such a simple facial expression could possibly be the both the cutest and sexiest thing she had ever laid eyes on since a drenched Colin Firth in all his glory had first risen up from the pond he had been swimming in.
'He is the most handsome man I've met.'
Amanda was shaken from her idle reverie at the realization that George Wickham was still awaiting her response with what must have been the patience of a saint. She knelt down to his level, nearly mortifying herself by loosing her balance.
"Blasted skirts." She cursed quietly as she attempted to regained a modicum of her former poise.
Her hands were still captured in firmly within Wickham's and it took her a bit of effort to pry just one from his grasp. She reposition that hand to cup his cheek as she had so many times in just the last few exquisite minutes and looked him directly into his eyes to assure him her absolute sincerity as she said, "Yes."
"..Yes?" Wickham question uncertainly. He could not be confident that his hearing had not been simply betrayed by his heart.
"Yes, you silly bugger!" Amanda laughed as she sent him her trademark crooked grin.
His face instantaneously broke into a tremendous smile as his joyous laughter joined hers. Leaping forward, he pulled her into arms without any consideration to her already precarious balance, which sent them both tumbling merrily to the hardwood floor of the parlor. Of course, Amanda avoided harm by landing atop of Wickham from where she promptly began smothering him with her kisses and affection.
Only for a miniscule moment amidst her newly found happiness did Amanda Price think about what the implications of marrying George Wickham and staying in what she had always thought was a fictional world would be. That moment was all she needed to set the past (and future) aside forever.
'To hell with the modern world. To hell with fixing Austen. I love George Wickham.'
)( - )( - )( - )(
This was my first ever story and I would really appreciate some reviews especially if the include any constructive criticism (keyword being 'constructive').
I would also love any offers from someone who would like to beta read my work.
I sincerely hoped this is as enjoyable to read as it was to write. I simply could not resist wanting a little bit of the roguish George Wickham (and Tom Riley by default) to horde away for my very own after watching Lost In Austen. I absolutely adore Pride and Prejudice, but this new imagining of the classic tale was much too hard for me to just pass up. Tom Riley is drop dead gorgeous and there was so much that I could write about the character he portrayed!
Love live Austen!