Disclaimer : All characters in this story belong to the inimitable Jane Austen.
Of all the afflictions that a heart may be expected to endure in the course of a lifetime, the most number would seem to arise from the case of romantic love. The palpitations of anxiety, thrills of joy and agonies of pain which that unfortunate organ is subjected to, in such a state, are left to the imagination of those who have never had the opportunity to fancy themselves in love. However successful or unsuccessful one may be in having one's affections returned, it is generally observed that, apart from the company of one's beloved, the next best pleasure to be found is in describing their virtues, and feelings of the heart to a sympathetic confidante.
Fanny Price, in her role as confidante to her cousin Edmund, had heard more than she cared about Mary Crawford's excellent qualities, and the tenderness she inspired in his heart, to have made these observations about lovers in general; and while those confidences had pained her more than any other communication her cousin had shared with her over the years, she hadn't been induced to give up her regard for him – a love that, begun in innocence at his kindness to her since childhood, had only increased with the knowledge of his worth as they grew up. To hear a man one loved, praise another woman, to speak of those feelings for another, not once or twice, but incessantly, may have put off a lesser woman; but Fanny, though pained by Edmund's blindness regarding Miss Crawford's true nature, loved him still; the knowledge, that he still valued those qualities which ought to be valued, and was merely mistaken in assuming that Mary possessed them - was the reason for her continued respect. She loved him, and thus, while she may feel satisfaction that his eyes were opened to Mary's defects of character, she could not help grieving in his suffering now.
Edmund Bertram had certainly suffered a disappointment in love. To have the woman one loved, so snatched away for ever due to the actions of his sister and her brother, would cause pain of no small degree. The pain would probably have been lesser if he had been estranged from Mary by a deeper knowledge of her failings, than so forced by the machinations of fate, for nothing cures a disappointment in love, or infatuation, as the case may be, faster - than a righteous indignation of being deceived in the character of one's beloved. But this was not the case here; Edmund still hoped that Mary may have improved, may have come to think more like him after their union – and thus could only speak of her with pained regret.
This, then, was the state of mind of the cousins, at the end of a month after Fanny returned to Mansfield from Portsmouth. The manner in which the affection of two persons, so alike in disposition and tastes, with one already harbouring more than the required amount of love one felt towards a sibling and the other recovering from a broken heart, would develop - is of main interest to this author, and it is believed that the following chapters would satisfy all those who wished to see more of the increasing intimacy between Edmund and Fanny, but were thwarted by the reticence of their creator.
A/N : I've always been dissatisfied with the fact that the love story between Edmund and Mary occupies nearly all of Mansfield Park, with Fanny and Edmund's being described scarcely in a paragraph. In this story, I mean to develop on the intermediate part of the tale, i.e, before Edmund reaches the following state of mind.
Scarcely had he done regretting Mary Crawford, and observing to Fanny how impossible it was that he should ever meet with such another woman, before it began to strike him whether a very different kind of woman might not do just as well, or a great deal better: whether Fanny herself were not growing as dear, as important to him in all her smiles and all her ways, as Mary Crawford had ever been.
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