DISCLAIMER: I OWN NOTHING BUT MY OWN IMAGINATION! AND A COPY OF THE MOVIE HEHE
PLEASE, R&R... THIS IS SET SHORTLY AFTER THEIR FAILED ELOPEMENT IN WHICH JANE VENTURES BACK INTO TOWN AFTER HAVING BROKEN OFF THE ENGAGEMENT WITH MR, WISLEY.
The house was just as she remembered it. "Mrs. Radcliffe." Jane curtsied and upon her gesture being returned the older woman smiled and took her by the arm leading her to the couch.
"My dear Miss Austen! You are a sight for these sore old eyes indeed!" Jane smiled warmly to her.
"I have brought you something; a bit of a surprise I'm afraid. I had hoped I might break a small rule of propriety and impose upon you a stay for a bit." Jane pulled out a tightly wrapped parcel and upon seeing its contents became perfectly entranced and did not respond to Jane immediately.
"You have learned the areas of the heart you knew not of upon your last visit I presume?" Unruly dark hair, brilliant green eyes, and a lopsided mischievous grin flashed before Jane's eyes.
"Indeed Mrs. Radcliffe, I fear that I have." The older woman nodded her approval.
"Then my dear, you may stay as long as you wish with no imposition whatsoever." They sat quietly while Mrs. Radcliffe began to read Jane's new pride and joy, Frist Impressions. And just as suddenly as she had begun she broke the silence, setting the manuscript down carefully next to her. "Now tell me of the rumors that have been echoing all over town! Will you visit you Mr. Lefroy while you are here dear Miss Austen?" Jane's brows furrowed and Mrs. Radcliffe drew her own conclusions on the matter. "Indeed, I was quite afraid of that when I saw him last." She shook her head and returned to her reading. Jane sighed, knowing she was being baited. She had bid Henry and Eliza never to speak of him but now that the proverbial Pandora's box was opened she could not bring herself to close it and banish the image of his beautiful countenance as she had forced herself so unsuccessfully to do these past long months. Before Jane could begin to speak it would seem Mrs. Radcliffe read her mind.
"Indeed I shall tell you all of Mr. Lefroy if you would deign take a stroll with an old lady." Jane smiled obligingly hoping her friend could not hear her heart skip beats as it did at the mention of his name as well as the thoughts of him that left her cheeks burning. As they wandered along the gardens in silence it was now more than Jane's cheeks that burned, her mind was alit with thoughts of her Tom. She knew she was being perfectly silly indeed. She had no claim to him, even before their failed elopement. And what a disaster that had been for them all, Jane thought.
"Oh Jane, I feel he is most unwell. He has become a top student and has gained his uncle's favors once again as he had when he was a boy." Jane found herself puzzled.
"It sounds as if Mr. Lefroy was no longer the Irish rogue that we knew Mrs. Radcliffe. He sounds very well indeed." With a heavy sigh, her friend continued.
"No Jane, he is indeed unwell. He wanders as if lost, unable to keep up his sham of profligacy, only going where he must. The two balls past he only attended because the rules of society and his uncle obliged him and even then with no dancing and little if any laughter. Even with your brother's visit, he seemed even more solemn than ever. He looks as a caged bird, desperate and longing to be freed. He is even more disheveled than before and despite mine and my husband's letters urging for visits once again, he says it is too painful."
By now the pair had stopped Jane sinking quickly into a nearby bench to bend to the will of her knees, which only moments before were threatening to give way underneath her body. "Oh Miss Austen, I have troubled you! You must in return tell me all, help me understand. I have heard the rumors and seeing you now I do so fear for my dear friends." Jane's head sunk into her waiting hands as if the news was simply too heavy for her brain to bear.
And it was here, with dark falling and to a woman she had not yet taken into her confidences in a strange place, that Jane began the story of Miss Austen and Mr. Lefroy.