Thanks very much to everyone who stayed interested in this story, even though I'm absolutely crap at updating sometimes. I promise it won't be a year before you get chapter seven!
I'm still looking for a beta/taskmaster to keep me in check. Let me know if you want to work together.
Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Elizabeth stared in astonishment at the envelop in her hands for many long minutes before she could bring herself to even contemplate opening it. Though she could scarce bring herself to admit it, her thoughts had followed the rather more dishevelled than customary Mr. Darcy as he sped away from her, his long stride eating up distance in his haste to be away.
Irrationally – for she told herself it must be irrational to long for someone who had, less than twenty-four hours hence, assaulted her – Elizabeth felt a sting of rejection at his departure. It was as though he could not be from her presence rapidly enough. Her pride was wounded.
Yes, pride. Elizabeth told herself very resolutely that it had everything to do with pride and nothing at all to do with any romantic imaginings on her part.
What would her long suffering father have to say about that, Eliza wondered? Many, many things, no doubt – all of them loaded with the words "hopeless" and "silly". It was only by picturing the look of severe disapproval on Papa's face that she was able to shake off her irrational fancy and, turning her back on the spot Darcy had vacated, for good measure, began walking in the opposite direction.
Upon finding a comfortable enough looking spot on a fallen tree, Elizabeth sat and broke the seal on the envelope. Within, there were two sheets of fine letter paper, the space of each full to bursting with an elegant, if somehow frustrated, script. She had, Elizabeth realized, never seen Mr. Darcy's handwriting before. It was perfectly him: evidence of a good upbringing, barely holding strong against some internal struggle that gave the words an almost angry slant.
Elizabeth hesitated, hesitant over what the letter might hold. What could it contain? Apologies?
"I do not offer my apologies because my actions cannot be forgiven."
No, she doubted very much that it might contain that.
There was, she knew, only one way to discover the answer to that question... yet still she delayed. She was not, unlike some of the women in her family, given to fits of fancy, but Elizabeth was in the grips of a strange premonition; reading Mr. Darcy's letter, she suspected, would take her down a path that, once started, she could not untravel. Her stomach performed a nauseating somersault.
In the end, curiosity triumphed over fear. She simply could not carry on, not knowing. Wishing that the hand holding Darcy's letter did not shake so, Elizabeth began to read.
''Let me begin, madam, by saying that I regret the alarm and apprehension that you must have been facing since our meeting yesterday. Please be assured that such a display will never again be repeated. I remain at Rosings Park only long enough to pen this letter; I will remove myself from the vicinity with all due haste once you have received it and will never plague you with my presence again thereafter.''
Eliza felt as though a blizzard had passed through her heart. Against all reason, she was sorry to learn that she would never again be in Mr. Darcy's presence. Something fell onto the paper, blurring the words that it landed on. It took a long moment for Elizabeth's stunned brain to make out what it was.
Frustrated, she dashed at her cheeks, striking the moisture away. Be sensible, she ordered herself. It is for the best. But no manner of scolding could convince her wayward heart that never seeing Mr. Darcy again was a good thing.
"Such a host of offences did I commit against you yesterday that I cannot begin to humble myself enough to atone for a single one of them," the letter continued. "I can never forgive myself for the manner in which I offended your station, your family, and your good breeding. Neither can I ask for your forgiveness in this matter. I was, however, wholly in the wrong. The pain of your repudiation caused me to lash out in a way that was deplorably – as you rightly said – ungentlemanly.
"You accused me, quite rightly, of plotting to keep Charles Bingley from forming romantic attachments to your sister, Jane. I cannot deny this; I went to great lengths to keep my friend from acting on his affections."
Anger returned and, with it, shame. Eliza had been so overwhelmed by what had occured after, that she had completely forgotten that which had prompted her to refuse Mr. Darcy in the first place. Jane. That Elizabeth could have allowed a man – even a man such as Mr. Darcy – put her dearest sister and lifelong companion from her mind did not sit well with her.
"I did this, not out of spite, as you must have thought-" Indeed, that was what she had thought. "-but in an effort to protect your sister. Mr. Bingley, you see, suffers from the same affliction that I myself have struggled against, these many years now. Mr Bingley, you see, is a vampire."
The word held no meaning for Elizabeth, save for vague impressions of strange, exotic creatures that dwelled in the troubled mind of poets. But then an image rose to mind of Mr. Darcy's scarlet eyes and bloodstained lips. If such a creature did exist, there was no refuting that Mr. Darcy was one - but Mr. Bingley?
There was something in Mr. Darcy's countenance, in the cool, aloof way he behaved amongst society, that suggested an otherness about him. Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, was quite possibly the most amiable, cordial gentleman she had ever known. Elizabeth tried to picture his face contorted in an animalistic snarl of rage, all deadly canines and burning ferocity. The thought was laughable.
The letter's next lines mirrored her thoughts
"This revelation must be a great surprise to you. You may, perhaps, think that I jest. Please believe me when I say that I speak the truth – for, contrary to what my behaviour yesterday might lead you to believe, I would not trifle with your health, nor the health of those you hold dear.
"To understand the disease from which I, and Mr. Bingley, suffer, you must be made familiar with the method of our infection. This, I can lay at the feet of one man in particular. Perhaps you will be willing to forgive me my supposed slights against George Wickham when you learn it was that man who cursed both myself and Mr. Bingley to be, forever more, creatures of the night."
Elizabeth's shock was so great that the letter slipped from her numb fingers to land on the ground at her feet. First Mr. Bingley, and now Mr. Wickham? Good Lord above! How many monsters were there in England?