Marianne Dashwood sat looking at the lake, as Colonel Brandon read to her. It was their routine, every day he would call on her and read to her, and even bring her flowers. It wasn't until her illness that she realized what a good man Christopher Brandon really and truly was. He had a heart of gold, and obviously had strong feelings for her other than friendship. When she first met him, she thought him a nice man, but never one she would consider having romantic feelings for. At first, she had enjoyed his company, but soon started avoiding him at every turn after Mrs. Jennings kept making jokes saying that they were a perfect match.

It was embarrassing for them both, and Marianne didn't want the Colonel to get any false ideas. Her actions were rather rude, but she didn't think of them as rude, at first. That evening, when Marianne stood in the pouring down rain, looking forlornly at Willoughby's estate, reciting their favorite Shakespeare Sonnet, she cared not if something were to happen to her. Life wasn't worth living without the man she loved. The only other person besides Elinor, who could possibly make her feel a little bit better was her mother, and her mother had been home at Barton Cottage, while she had been in Cleveland. Marianne had been weak. Weak from days of not eating anything, weak from hardly sleeping. It didn't help that the clouds turned the weather much colder, causing her to become violently ill. Marianne hadn't remembered the exact moment she had collapsed to the ground, but she did remember a pair of strong arms wrapping themselves around her, and carrying her all the way back to the Palmer's. It was a five and a half mile walk, and she was amazed at how much strength Colonel Brandon had.

"Marianne?"

Marianne was brought out of her thoughts by the soft, deep voice of the Colonel.

"Yes, Colonel?"

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, I was just thinking about the day you rescued me. And the fact that you traveled all the way to Barton and back just to bring me my mother. You are a very good man, Colonel."

Colonel Brandon smiled at her compliment. She was so beautiful, and had a big heart. Her cheeks were rosy, and to him, they were her best feature, apart from her eyes. It had been a glorious day, indeed, for the second Colonel Brandon arrived, Marianne had thanked him for the pianoforte, and told him the wonderful news of Elinor's engagement to Edward Ferrars. At first, he had been confused, thinking he was to marry Lucy Steel, but Marianne had told him the whole story. Colonel Brandon had met Edward and congratulated him on marrying a remarkable woman. After talking, and drinking tea, where Edward thanked Colonel Brandon for the parish, Edward and Elinor had decided to take a walk while Colonel Brandon read to Marianne.

"Marianne, I have something for you."

"Another gift? Colonel, the pianoforte was more than enough."

Colonel Brandon reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box, and handed it to her.

"It belonged to my mother."

Marianne opened the box and her eyes widened when she saw what was inside. It was a two-carat diamond ring.

"Marianne, ever since I first laid eyes on you, I have loved you. Nothing could ever make me love you more. Would you do me the honor of being my wife?"

Marianne's eyes widened in shock. This she was not expecting. Colonel Brandon had been coming to her for the past three months to read to her, and he knew deep down, that Marianne had started to develop strong feelings for him.

"Oh, Colonel. It's beautiful. I-I would be honored to be your wife. This may sound silly, but that day you rescued me, I realized I was starting to fall in love with you. Yes, I did love Willoughby, but Colonel, my illness has made me rethink a lot of things, and I realize that what I had with Willoughby wasn't true love, but with you, it is. You are much more charming than he will ever be. I really do love you, and want to marry you. My answer is yes."

Colonel Brandon was just expecting a yes or no answer, but he liked this one a lot more. He took the ring and slid it onto her ring finger and then kissed it.

"Can I ask a favor, Colonel?"

"Anything."

"Let's not announce our engagement today. This day belongs to Edward and Elinor. Maybe after their wedding, we can announce it?"

Colonel Brandon smiled. That was fine by him, but suddenly, he frowned.

"What's the matter, Christopher?"

A chill went down his back at hearing her use his Christian name, but he liked it.

"They'll notice the ring."

Marianne laughed. "Oh, silly man! I will just tell them it's a friendship ring."

THE END