STANDARD DISCLAIMER APPLIES. ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO JANE AUSTEN.
I posted this story originally on my friend's account some time ago with the title Brotherly Advice I wasn't prepared to continue it and posted it on a whim. This is my attempt to rectify it and also scratch "Write a Jane Austen fanfiction" off my bucket list.
Some notes before this story starts:
I'm not from Britain or claim to know anything intimate about its seasons, customs, etc. and will shamelessly depend on internet searches for any such mentions.
History is not a subject I am proficient in and neither is politics, so if mentioned (to my flighty fancies) will most probably be inaccurate.
As all fanfiction writers, I'll take liberties with these beloved characters of Miss Austen and hope to do them justice. I claim no ownership, rights or money earned through this posting (damn disclaimers).
Last, but not least: I'm not favoring any of the P&P movie-verses or adaptations; I just have a love of blue eyes.
And now, onward!
It amused him that things had come to this.
Easily entertained as he was, the country squire by the name of Benjamin Bennet had rarely found company in London that was not trying to his patience.
Indeed, the young man was exposed to two types of people on his visit to Town en route to university: those that either pitied or turned up their noses at his meager fortune and poor connections, and those that wanted to assist him in his appearance in Society (albeit with plans and hopes of their own).
After all his fortune, though inadequate by the fashion's standards, was not completely dismal.
In fact for any mother wanting to get rid of a daughter, Ben was a very modest catch. Not to mention his connections were far from poor if it included two particular bachelors that had yet to be metaphorically chained with marriage.
These two gentlemen were considered great catches in the eyes of London society for they were well-known, rich, young and handsome…
Good lord, if his mother heard of this there was no doubt she would descend upon him and his companions with frightening alacrity.
"Something must be truly diverting for you to not pass a comment Bennet, pray enlighten us."
Shaking his head from his reverie, his grey eyes flickered to his two friends.
The first of which was a blond man holding a cue as he stood on the opposite side of the billiards table, his unassuming air easily insisting a continuation in the discourse Ben had forgotten the contents of.
The second gentleman, a dark haired man in possession of a pair of unusual blue eyes straightened at the head of the table as he withdrew from the shot he took, sending a ball into the corner pocket. He too looked at him, his brow raised in curiosity.
Mr. Charles Bingley, the first gentleman, was a young man with a jovial disposition that matched his fair countenance. He was highly favored by most of society if it were not for his roots in trade.
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the second gentleman, was a more serious man who happened to exude an air of superiority and effortless intensity. He was even more favored than Bingley, though for no other reason than his higher monetary advantage and title.
Certainly it was a good idea to keep his mother from knowing about his friends too well, Ben thought, there was no doubt Mrs. Bennet would have Bingley and Darcy married to his sisters within the hour. The thought made him smile.
"Forgive me gentlemen, I fear my diversion is nothing but a memory caught up."
"Ah, a good one I hope," Bingley said, "it does not do well to speak of things that only manage to stir bad memories."
"Be assured sir." A cluster of balls scattered as the white collided. "Just a reminder of my mother and the fit of nerves I will have to endure when I return home, nothing to fear." He straightened with a wider smile. The prompting look from Bingley allowed him to add mischievously, "Of course the source of it will likely be the exclamation that Cambridge did me well to find her daughters suitable husbands."
Both gentlemen chuckled with Darcy asking, "How many sisters do you have in the marriageable age then Bennet, surely your mother is not as bad as you insinuate?"
"I'm afraid she is; you must know how the society mamas can be with only one daughter; imagine that with five, and all unmarried."
This admission elicited a low whistle from Bingley.
"You must be jesting; truly she cannot be that bad."
Ben snickered. "No, no. I only exaggerate in the same amount as she does over my sisters' virtues. Rest assured my mother is like every other that feels marriage is the only way to happiness; a pity that my sisters do not feel as she does."
"How singular," Bingley noted aloud, "pray, how old are your sisters that they are not inclined to the matrimonial state? Are they not yet out?"
"My eldest sister Jane is just one and twenty; Elizabeth is twenty while Mary is only eighteen. My other two sisters are sixteen and fourteen respectively."
"Interesting, my own sister has been inclined to marriage since she started school. Ask Darcy."
"Ask me what? An affirmation of Miss Bingley's desire to enter the matrimonial state is none of my concerns," stated the gentleman gruffly.
The sudden sharpness to his speech would have been a cause for concern and might have given offense if Bingley had not known his humors, and Ben had not made use of two year's worth of character study on the older of his two friends.
Darcy's habit of becoming offensive when embarrassed was well known to them after all.
"Come now man, you are much too perceptive not to notice that Caroline has set her cap upon you."
"I would rather forget for the sake of not ruining our friendship," he admitted, only to have Bingley wave him off.
"Nothing you say about my sister will change my attitude towards you; she is her own master as I am mine. And if we take slight pleasure in her attempts to entrap you then our friendship shall not be terminated, is that not right Bennet?"
The man in question chuckled and clapped Darcy on the back in an attempt to ease him, which he succeeded in when Darcy claimed, "If she were to achieve compromising me, I beg you to shoot me. Hang any duel of honor."
"I would never do that Darcy. You may escape Caroline, but I will not!"
Darcy had been friends with Bingley since they began Cambridge and had become roommates in Bingley's first year. Darcy's withdrawn nature was tempered by Bingley's natural ease and modest air. Within a month, the two different gentlemen had somehow formed a friendship of sorts that grew as months turned into years.
Bingley's unconditional friendship and never wavering trust in him provided Darcy with the confidence he needed in the society he shied away from, and as the only son of an estate owner and well informed of the various businesses his family partook in, Darcy had much to offer Bingley in lieu of their completed educations in exchange.
However, it was Bingley that encouraged Darcy to make use of the ever growing market of trade, starting with a venture with a gentleman who resided in Cheapside.
Being raised as he was, Darcy would never have thought that he would one day willingly enter into the stench of trade but as a modern man he found that he had to keep up with the changing times, if only to maintain his family's economy.
Bingley much appreciated Darcy's steely resolve and purpose, cultivated by being left to an estate at a young age. From there the two set off fresh from Cambridge to begin their lives in their majority.
In Cheapside the gentlemen made the acquaintance of a Mr. Edward Gardiner, a man of good sense and intelligence who assisted them in expanding the venture which increased the fortunes of all involved.
While under the tutelage of Mr. Gardiner, the men also made the acquaintance of the man's nephew, Benjamin Bennet, a country gentleman with a small yet comfortable fortune, aged at the time at only sixteen. Equipped with a sharp wit, intelligence and good humor to keep up with the company he kept, the young man was an interesting addition to Darcy's social circle.
Two years later, Darcy had come to truly cherish the companionship the two other men offered.
Despite being different in temperament in both to him and to each other, he found that they were a much needed camaraderie outside of both his family and his sphere, both of which had done little for him in recent years.
His father's passing during his years in university, his undertaking of his younger sister's guardianship and the running of the Darcy estate left the gentleman exhausted and drained.
His already reserved mien was increasingly withdrawing into itself and he felt acutely the need for true companionship.
Thanks to his connection with Bingley and Bennet, he was less inclined to brood though still did on the occasion where his friends and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, were not available to hear him. Such was the case at present: Bennet and Bingley were already fast asleep in their respective seats on the carriage, leaving him to his devices.
Darcy knew that he should rest as well.
Visiting Ramsgate to see his sister required the energy to entertain her and his companions for the remainder of the visit.
A sigh escaped him as he thanked his good fortune that Bingley had sought other business ventures in Ramsgate and that Bennet agreed to oversee a few matters of business his uncle had in the same area.
It was not that Darcy had grown dependent on the two gentlemen to keep him company, but he was rather nervous to see his sister again.
Georgiana had never known her mother and was wholly dependent on a father that was never there, until of course he died.
Finding the dead body of her father lying in bed as if he were asleep would be a trial for anyone, especially for a girl of such a sensitive disposition as hers.
Darcy had done what he could with her upbringing, but he could not help the feeling of inadequacy.
The fact that he too was deprived of the familial assurance of his father and mother, made him feel acutely his lack of finesse in things relating to tender sensibilities.
His sister had taught him some over the years though, little by little of how to feel assured of one's affections and give in return, and for that he doted on her and her on him. He supposed his love for his sister was very odd due to such a gap in age, but he would not have it any other way.
Their physical separation had been hard though.
Ever since his business took him from the haven of Pemberley he was loathed to leave her and eventually agreed to provide a companion for her, a Mrs. Younge.
Darcy had an inkling that Georgina felt his recruiting a companion was his way of abandoning her, her letters to him had taken a somber and melancholy tone and he hated the idea that he was the cause of it.
He was nervous of how his sister would receive him which was why he was arriving unannounced.
Perhaps the surprise would render her unable to hide whatever had caused her sadness?
Furious was an understatement to what he was.
He was shaking with rage, a white hot fury burning in him as he tried to think clearly, but all that repeated in his mind was the mantra of that vile man's name: Wickham. Wickham. Wickham.
But he tried.
He tried vehemently to focus on the task at hand: His sister.
She was practically sunk into the wingback chair, sobbing into her hands as she felt the humiliation and the shame of her actions. "I am so very sorry Fitzwilliam…brother, please, I am sorry, I am sorry, I did not mean to. I did not intend for this!"
So small and fragile his sister looked.
She really was just a girl; a very dear, sweet girl who had not known what she was about. He could not blame her, he never could, but his anger was threatening to tear him apart and the only reason he had not gone to dispose of the man for the cause was because Bennet was keeping him here.
The younger gentleman had locked the door on the both of them since the discovery of Georgiana and Wickham.
From behind the closed door, Bennet said through the wood, "Speak with her, we shall deal with him."
Darcy felt indignation at being ordered around by a man that was very nearly ten years his junior.
However, before he could demand to be freed, Bennet's words were spoken calmly, a stark contrast to his own state of mind, "He does not deserve your time or your anger; your sister needs you more than he does."
His fists ceased their shaking at his sides before Darcy attempted a calming breath. Walking towards his sister, trying to be careful that his sudden closeness would not frighten her, but he noticed her flinch and pull herself further against the chair as if afraid that he would strike her.
A wave of shame washed over him as he gently took her hands in his and saw the redness of her face and the puffiness of her cheeks. Her big blue eyes stared at him beseechingly, begging him to understand, to forgive her. "Fitzwilliam…?"
"Dearest, I am sorry that I shouted."
She sniffed weakly. "You were right to…I did not think…I thought…I thought he loved me…and then…" He let her talk; the rambling seemed to cease her tears as she gave him to understand the events that led to this.
"I remembered him from when we were little and he was so very nice to me after you left, Mrs. Younge did not seem to mind…she told me he was good company to keep and so I never suspected…" She gave another sniff before accepting his offered handkerchief. "He said he loved me and that he wanted to marry me…but because he did not have a stable income that you would not let him…He wanted to go to Scotland…"
"What did you tell him?"
"I said that I could not marry without you knowing. You and Richard are all I have and I did not-I did not want you not to be there…it is such an important day, I wanted you there so much…but he said no, that you would stop us and that if I loved him, he would be enough for me…"
"Did he try to convince you any further?"
Georgiana gave a quick shake of her head. "No, he gave in and said I could write to you to come to the wedding in Gretna Green, and that he would send it by express and hope it reached you in time…" She looked at him with those tear filled eyes and asked, "He was not going to was he?"
"I am afraid not…"
"I am sorry brother…"
"Did he take any liberties before today Georgina?"
"He had not tried to, at least…Brother I was so frightened, what-what was he going to do?"
So scared, so innocent; Darcy's heart tore as his insufficiency continued to stare him in the face; his dear sister almost ruined because he could not protect her as a guardian should. He left her with that abominable woman in the mercy of the most disguising cads.
How could he let this happen to her?
He enveloped her into his arms. "Dearest I am sorry, I am so sorry."
Beyond the locked door of Miss Darcy's sitting room, the constable led George Wickham and his accomplice Mrs. Younge away; elderly lady and young man shouting injustice and profanities enough to make a decorated soldier blush.
Bingley, who had remained only slightly agitated with their reactions thus far, clenched his fist until it turned white at the words that left Wickham's mouth, "You think you can do this to me Darcy, huh? What would your father think? No one will want her now, you should just hand her over to me! You know you only did this to yourself; you should have given me my money! I deserved to get my part in the fortune, I was his favorite! I deserved it!"
Almost as hard as the constable tugged on the raving man did Bingley move to inflict a hard punch to the cad's face.
Mrs. Younge's incoherent words that played in the background of her accomplice were suddenly silent.
"Now that you deserved," muttered Bingley, while Bennet restrained him.
Both men watched Wickham and Mrs. Younge get led away, ignorant to Wickham's howls and feeling the sorrow of the Darcy siblings acutely as it filled the hallway behind them.
- Inn, Ramsgate
Dear Uncle Edward,
I am sorry to grieve you thusly, but I write this short note to inform you that your suspicions about a man owing a large sum of money to one of your distributors in Ramsgate have been confirmed. I am thankful that you had the foresight to procure his paper trail and send it with me for it was of great use in apprehending him.