(Here it is…The finale.
Sorry it's taken so long – I've been really ill the past month or so.

Please leave any thoughts as a review – I find it really beneficial reading your impressions of the story.)

'You tell me you've planted an oak
in the middle of the top field

When I ask how long before
it'll be fully grown, you nod your head

and say 'some time'
and I realise I should have known.

After all, you planted trees for our arrivals.
One for each of us at the north, south and west of the house,

and now you have planted this -
A finger- thick sapling drawn by the breeze into a long bow

loaded with the promise of what it will become,
silhouetted against a reddening sky

that could be the setting or the rising of a sun.'

- Trees, Owen Sheers.

The Setting Or The Rising Of A Sun

Part Three
Palm Prints.

Elizabeth's silence is unbearable in the dining room. Her eyes scan, skit across everywhere as if trying to look for an answer, a way out, an anything. She knows (By God she does) that her father is watching her, trying to catch her attention with that unwavering look which is nothing James has.
James' ability to melt ice with a flick of dark eyes is so much more than her father.
It's everything his father has.

It's five minutes until even she can't stand it; it's five minutes until she wants to scratch against her skin, so she looks at her father. Really looks at him and everything is confirmed. Her eyes are sure and steady but deep within them runs a fear (Please. Please don't speak. Just Know). Mr. Bennet shakes his head once, drops his gaze, and nods towards the closed door.
Find him. He's not stupid.

When she steps out of the dining room it's like stepping outside on a cold day. Or drowning.
She won't ever decide which.
The stairs cast long figures against the wall, the edges and curves make grabs for her – pushing her upwards until she's stood in the landing. Far too soon and far too close to facing this.
She really doesn't want to do this. Doing this means something, something which she's never been ready for. She wonders how easy and hard it would be to turn away from this. How long would it take Him to leave if she just hid? She gained (Lost) two years the last time she ran. What would be the price of running again?

Too much.

They're sat on the window sill together; Darcy's legs press along the spacious run of dark wood – etched and marked with all the careless movements she's ever made. They're both black against the night and their shapes blur and mould together until they just are.
Just They.
Darcy's wide palm is supportive at the small of James' back as he rocks forward, slamming his palm on the window to press prints into the condensation.
Every palm print reveals more of the blanketed sky. The stars. The Everything.
Every star revealed wipes clean the mist until they look at all the places lived under by the fathers and sons before them.

"James"
His voice is thick with a deep imbedded amusement. It's as if they've always existed together, and Elizabeth isn't sure whether to cry, simply disappear, or catch fire.
James turns towards Darcy, his palm sliding down the glass in an act of being caught red-handed. Darcy shakes his head, only the flicks of his black hair striking light, and gently pulls James' back against his chest.
Elizabeth follows the firm line of Darcy's profile. Elizabeth follows the soft curve of her sons.
She steps forward.

The moment she does is the same moment Darcy turns to her. His head resting back against the calloused wall, his eyes dark and heavy. There's a large shield between the two of them. James is on Darcy's side (His concentration is solely on his father's arm wrapped across his chest). Her son is on His side, and Elizabeth feels lost (alienated) from the body, heart, thoughts, memories, she raised.

"I don't understand" James joins the staring now, like a silent assault. His eyes explode with recognition and Darcy is terrified (more than he could ever explain) that James will pull towards Elizabeth.
If he does, if he even twitches, this is over for Darcy.
Everything was in the hands of this child.

James doesn't move away. He blinks. He turns back to his playful assault of Darcy's jumper, padding the material and gripping tightly.

"James. Your – he's your son –"

"Yes, I –" Darcy responds like a child, like a child without any knowledge of the world.
And he hates that.
That uncertain feeling where your knowledge stops (Like the Heightsi - the churning feeling and wondering if you could fall. Could allow yourself to fall) and you're dropped into a world which spins and sways around you until you scream and slit at the murky blur.

"And I couldn't tell you"

"That is what I don't understand"

x—x—x—x—x

When Elizabeth takes James from his arms, Darcy wonders if he'll ever feel him beneath his touch again. He wants to hold on and snarl until the world sighs and leaves them be. He doesn't. He hands James back to Elizabeth and follows her silently to the cot.
They stand together, watching him blink once more, smile once more, fall asleep once more.

Darcy leans forward to touch his curls gently and Elizabeth watches – watches the solid lines in his arm (The sort of arm which could stop anything if it needed to). His fingertips barely trace across James' skin, but the set expression of his face does more. The underlining stability shuffles and clicks.

"Come outside with me?" Darcy draws his eyes deliberately from James and he nods. He nods because she has to seem him agree with everything he is.

It's easy to slip back through the house, the too close hands, and the fumbling lovers' steps. Everything seems different as she leads him down the back of the garden. The shed there is dressed for dinner in ivy and moss, and it arrives in a cocoon of hedges and shrubbery.
It's a place you would take your first boyfriend (Elizabeth never had. There was never anyone which compared to him) when you snuck together out of your house at night.
It's a place for soft, silly romance – not the place to take the newly discovered father of your child.

It doesn't fit them (but what does?), but it's cool and dark and it suits them.

Darcy leans against the garden wall, sliding down until he's sat on the crumpled stone slabs and pulls his knees up lazily. Elizabeth draws the moss off the shed as she sits against in; adjacent to him.
Darcy seems relaxed (an eerie lake waiting to be disturbed), but there's a sense of foreboding. A spiritual stillness about him.

"You're not angry"

"No, I'm not angry" She doesn't even need to ask, but somehow she must have. "I have my son. James, I – I love him and –"

"You don't know him!" She bites out bitterly.

He knows that isn't his fault. He doesn't remember ten minutes ago, but he can taste the freedom scratch off his tongue and knows that he can't taste it again. The feeling is familiar. The acceptance is the same. He realises now that it doesn't twinge the same way this time.
He wonders whether it would affect him at all next time.

"Sorry, I just…" She grapples with it, raking at her hair. She doesn't know he could (would) understand. There was no way to tell. There was no faith between them. "No one understands. They think they do – but, it's just the surface, and beneath that they just… they can't feel it"

"Feel what?"

"Disappointment"

He's wintery as he looks away, his lips flaking up into shadowy reminder.
"I know a lot about that"

He doesn't mean her. This isn't like that. He means himself, but in a way that he can't grasp, can't wipe away like water.
It's something that's always been there, inherently throbbing at the back of his mind.

He knows it's the Darcy curse.
He can't help but wonder why it only seems to be him alone who can't keep afloat.
Why it's only him who balances on the edge, unable to keep his flesh and soul entwined.

"Do you ever look at something and know you'll never have it. As a child did you ever look at what your parents achieved and know, really know, you'll never be good enough"

"Yes" Of course he does. He thinks of Him now, he thinks of telling Elizabeth that he stopped believing in following in someone's footsteps a long time ago. (He gave up following. They were too carved. Too distant)
He always was striving to become the man his father was. Now he just feels out of place.
Adrift.

He decides that conversation is for a different day. He isn't ready.
He may never be.

"I just look at all they have, and it's so much but so little. I just feel broken and I did this because of them" She turns to him now, her voice picking up momentum – she knows if she doesn't get this out, it'll never be able to become un-jarred, unstuck from her throat.

"I couldn't tell you because of them" He looks at her as if she's just pulled out a gun and taken a shot at his shoulder.
"I know, I know, they just stay together for us. And I didn't want James to grow up with two parents who were unhappy together. I knew if you found out while there was still time then you would have proposed or something else proper"

"Who says we wouldn't be happy?"

She looks at him and he looks at her.
She wants to stop there, stop all the clocks, and just have the feeling of her heart unfurling grip her for eternity.
She would isolate herself if those words could be the last she ever heard.

Oh.

x—x—x—x—x

"I was going to tell you"
It starts again.
"I went to your office; I sat outside the door for God knows how long" She laughs and gives him a look. His heart spikes up with a white burn – it's the lint of her voice. She's chastising. "You were talking about children and family with a woman in there. You said that you didn't want it – you don't have time for that. This was already changing my life I didn't want to change yours and have you resent me"

There's a beat and then Darcy laughs: "I was talking to Caroline Bingley. I would have done anything to get away from her"

"It's true though, of course you wouldn't have had time because –"

"Because I'm Fitzwilliam Darcy"

He can't escape the name.
It's indented into history.
Warpeduntil he
Just
Doesn't
Fit.

"I know who I am. What I am. I thought I had a plan: love, wife, children" He trails off and looks away "I'm not sure where it all went wrong…I imagine it was when I met you"
She thinks he's angry, it was all she ever feared and so she hid. She hid because there was nothing else for her to do. No other path for her to take.
He's looking at her though, his strong face more open and broken than it's ever been and Elizabeth isn't sure if she can glue it back "It's okay, honestly. I know what it's like to feel broken and lost… but" He swallows thickly and stops.

"But?"

"But… it's all changing" The emotion scares her. He scares her, but this man has been something… She corrects herself: this man has been nothing; yet the closest she's ever come to something.

She turns away and looks out across the dark garden, as if she can still see the small features of the place. She realises that everything is darkening from her memory. She doesn't belong here. She can hear the slight clatter of people in the house. She can hear the slight breeze, seethe darkened shapes.

But they can feel each other.
They can feel their small child asleep upstairs.

"Do you like chairs?"

"Do I li- … what?"

"Do you like sitting on them? I mean – James doesn't, he really dislikes it. The only time he has to sit in a chair is to eat and he doesn't kick up a fuss… He just looks at you – like that. Like you're looking at me now. He looks at you like he can't even comprehend what you're doing to him"
She looks at him, and he's smiling. Beaming. It's a smile (The smile) which illuminates and blurs the years off his face, but adds years at the same time. "We don't know why he doesn't, and I just wondered if…"

"Well, I sit on them now. It would be a little unprofessional if I insisted we all sat on the floor during meetings" He pauses and almost sighs, he knows she needs this. He needs this too. He needs the connections; he wants something spiritual which ties them together. The whole world, everything he's ever known sits on the desperation to reach out and take someone's hand. Their hatred of chairs. That could be their start. "Although, I think I preferred the floor as a child"

"What about… Oh no, he definitely gets that from you"

"What is it?"

"He's such a snob"

x—x—x—x—x

"They all know don't they?"

"They never said, but yes, I think they do. I think my father always knew – even before James was born"

Darcy nods, and glances, feeling his heart caught (protected) somewhere far off. An unearthly shudder runs down his arm and thighs as all corners of his heritage pull and tighten together. It's like being spitefully mournful (or mournfully spiteful, he isn't sure), merging the mess into a gripping fever which will always beat darkly within his chest. The feeling of being lost (starved away from your parents) and knowing that you can never be collected in the same order again. The thick ends of Fitzwilliam's hair tangle at his brow; the flesh forged by those who are irretrievable.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going inside to brag about my son, who I don't know, because I actually have one and no one can stop me"

"It's not just James… I –" Her sigh is deep and exhausted, something beyond her years – but she is. Her dark pupils drop as if everything is seeping from wounds which Fitzwilliam has opened with one flash of obscurity. She has managed alone for so, so, long now; struggling against the monumental backlash of the world. Everything pushing against her and now she wonders whether that's why people love.
(How people love).
It isn't about flowers or feeling good, it's deeper than that.
It's about knowing that when the world presses tight against your shoulder, there's someone beside you on your side.
Perhaps love is just a fleeting, splitting, hope that you'll survive this (This. Life).

"You can have me, too"

A volte.

Elizabeth flickers down as she prepares to grapple for her spindling heart-strings when they snap from their china-relic hold on him (and it hurts when Fitzwilliam stands). He steps away and back into the biting air. Elizabeth shifts to track him and his eyes flicker over her. The constant rolling and curling but not the click – the key pushing harder and worming (working), the torturous drag, the hollowness of searching, and then,
Something.

He holds out his hand, palm up towards her.

End

X—x—x—x—x

AN: I am sorry that the end may seem unsatisfying.
But, it
couldn't have ended any other way.

I would like to thank everyone who read and reviewed this story.
Also, for hanging onto this thread –and half understanding. I didn't want to write something grounded – because their relationship here isn't.

i 'The Heights' – The Heights of Abraham in Derbyshire. (Where Elizabeth stands in the 2005 version)