As he sits down next to her, he's suddenly conscious of how close the seats are. Their arms brush together several times, and, in the moment, she doesn't seem to notice. Lizzie Bennet is far too busy avoiding his eyes to even notice the way his arm is rubbing against hers, much less the soft voice in which he says her name or the way he looks at her. He wonders how transparent he is actually being, but decides not to worry about it, because she's so caught up in how awkward she feels that it's almost as if he isn't there, in the room, with her.
So, while Lizzie sits there, talking about Gigi, trying not to display her intense anger (or so he would assume), Will sits next to her and attempts to work out his own feelings. He has spent weeks now trying to conquer them, but to no avail. It turns out that every time anyone says her name, or every time he thinks about her, he can't help the little smile that washes over his face before he remembers how much she loathes him and it melts right off. Gigi has noticed, as has Fitz. Bing, who exists in his own personal little sphere of Bing-ness, has not.
Will hopes that it stays that way. He cannot fathom the idea of Bing knowing, of the only person in his life that is not aware of the feelings Will has for Lizzie suddenly discovering the truth. It is truly alleviation for Darcy to be able to call Bing and not hear sympathy in his voice, or guilt, or anything remotely related to Lizzie. Bing avoids the subject, too. It's hard for him to talk about anything related to Jane. Which is all Will's fault, but he's going to figure out how to fix it.
He really is.
But for now, he has his own problems. Namely sitting in a room with the woman he is terribly in love with and trying not to remember the way her hair smells when he knows that he could lean over just a little and re-experience it. And, of course, trying not to focus on the brushing arms part of this entire ordeal. Yet he doesn't want the moment to end, wouldn't trade it for anything, because ever since that day when Lizzie told him that his pride should be some solace in his rejection, every moment he has spent with her has felt like a last. Before, when he was going through the process of falling in love with her, everything was an uphill climb. The process of falling in love with Lizzie Bennet, the woman who he was sure to be with someday, because back then he had been certain people didn't feel like this when the feelings weren't mutual. How wrong he had been, seeing where they are now. They are nearing the end of their time together, the time when they will see each other, the time in which it is possible to be able to brush arms like this. He never thought he'd have it again after the last time, and somehow he doubts that he will experience it once more after this. Not now. Not when he's trying so hard to fall out of love with her, and knows within his heart that the only way to do that is distance. Besides, she's going to have no problem distancing herself from him once her shadowing at Pemberly is over.
A thousand invitations rush into his head, come to dinner and work at my company and stay, stay, stay, anything to make her do just that. Anything to keep her in his life, to keep a connection other than lonely nights in a hotel room watching her videos and smiling at the way she talks, the way she laughs, the way she smiles. He may have fallen for the one person in the world who would be rude enough to tell him how much she hates him, but he's also fallen in love with a woman that is so utterly unique that he couldn't even trade that aspect of her for anyone. He hears himself offering her a ride in lieu of all these other invitations, because that is legitimately the smallest thing that he can give her that she would accept. Even then, she doesn't do that. She'd rather walk than ride in a car with him, and as soon as she stands up to do so, that is the end of the touching, the end of their tiny piece of infinity, a moment that will live on in his memory for months to come and which she will probably recount, laughing at his awkwardness, to Charlotte.
He wants to ask her if she believes in fate or destiny. He wants to tell her that, because they keep being thrown together, he thinks there might be a point to it all, unless it's just a higher authority torturing the nice out of him. He wants to point out that she should somehow be able to see him better, because now she knows that when he's being awkward, he's merely restraining himself from touching her or saying again what he needs to stay. Instead of this, he merely tells her to let him know if he can do anything else for her.
She reaches over. She touches his wrist, and he finds himself desperately wishing that he was wearing a short sleeved shirt, just because the only time he's ever touched her hand is when they were dancing that one time, and she didn't mean half as much to him then as she does now.
Instead, he just smiles at the light touch that she gives him and hopes to god that someday he will feel it again.
Lizzie is at the computer when he walks in, typing away feverishly at a word document, and he takes a moment to admire her intense typing skills before clearing his throat. She turns around with a broad grin on her face, and for what he thinks might be the first time, it doesn't fade when she sees him.
Progress, he thinks. It is such progress. He hadn't thought that he would ever get to a place with her that would cause her to beam when he walks into the room, and it warms him inside, causing his heart to do things that they haven't stopped doing since he realized exactly how fine that pair of eyes of hers are.
He knows what it is, too. After all these dinners and lunches with himself with Gigi and with Fitz, Lizzie finally understands him. She finally knows who he is, can see who he's trying to be, and it is really and genuinely making her happy. He doesn't exactly know why this makes her smile- though he has his own hopeful suspicions- and he doubts that she has figured it out, either, but somewhere around the third late night dinner party with the three of them sitting in his living room sipping wine and laughing, her smiles began to get directed towards him. Her laughter began to ring at his jokes. And those eyes which had spent so much time avoiding his were suddenly able to get caught in them for a few moments before looking away.
They are at the pinnacle of their relationship, and he's going to do it, today. He's going to ask her on a date again, not with Gigi or anybodyat all to get in the way of that. And, best of all, he thinks she's going to say yes. All of the warming up that she's done can't be for nothing. There's got to be a reason, and he's going to exploit it and use it to his advantage, even if it's the last thing he does.
He says her name, and she says his, and they both laugh nervously and he thinks that he probably should ask about her family, but suddenly her phone is ringing and she's giving him an apologetic glance as she goes to pick it up.
The smile slides off of her face, and it's not her voice that he hears saying it, but her lips that he has learned to read so well from watching her talk animatedly from across the room at Netherfield.
Lydia. And Wickham.
Feeling his entire body tense up, he goes to put his hand on her shoulder, which is covered in a sweater. He can feel her body slump against his touch as she presses the phone harder to her ear and nods emphatically, a habit she has, as though she assumes that the person on the other end knows that she is nodding from the sheer force of her nod.
He feels awful about the entire situation, knowing from the look on her face that it certainly cannot be good, but there's a tiny part of his brain that is speaking to how she slumps against his touch instead of away from it.
Will can't ask her now. But he can do his best to make sure that he has another opportunity.
She places her hand on his neck when she kisses him for the first time.
Her hand is so smooth and warm, and he can't imagine it any other way, can't imagine that anybody has ever felt this right pressed up against him. She is Lizzie Bennet and she is kissing him, making a move that he certainly never would have made. She's brave, much braver than he is, and he adores her even more for it. After all, when he had walked into her bedroom only a few moments ago, he hadn't even taken the time to breathe, much less consider what would happen next. He had just demanded to know what she had meant when telling his Aunt Catherine that she would make no promises to not enter a relationship with him, breathlessness having nothing to do with walking up a flight of stairs to her room.
The thing is, sometimes there are these moments, and one knows that they're it. The moment. Walking up the steps to her room really, really felt like that moment. Now that she's pressed against him, fingers against the back of his neck and while the other ones wrap around his tie, he knows that he has been absolutely correct. This was supposed to be their moment. There is no hatred in either party, there is no crisis going on with her sister, there is just the two of them finally reaching the peak of what he hopes is a much calmer storyline after this.
She has been falling for him since the moment she walked into Pemberly, the moment she had been able to admit that she was wrong. It almost makes him laugh, knowing that she's kissing him because she was wrong, and because that wrongness made a completely different man out of him. However, Will wouldn't dare laugh while kissing Elizabeth Bennet, lest he scare her away. He has dreamed about this moment for far too long to actually be able to wreck it by laughing, and, besides, he feels so much at one moment that he thinks that he might explode if humor enters the situation as well.
He replays their previous words, as well. Him telling her that she's too generous to let him go on like this. Her saying that her feelings had changed. The nervous smile on her face that transported him back to the days at Netherfield when he would pace in the hallway outside of her room and wait for her to walk out and bump into him. This smile is so different, yet so similar. She's still Lizzie, but she's a different Lizzie, and somehow it feels to him that he's a different Darcy.
As soon as this thought crosses his mind, Lizzie pulls back to breathe, staring at him with bright eyes, her thoroughly swollen lips graced with a smile not dissimilar to the one he had just been thinking about. The thought propels him back towards her, hand going up to the smooth skin on her cheek, and he revels in the way she tilts her head towards the palm of his hand as they return to kissing. This is trust, this is love, and instead of the past he is suddenly so focused on the future, on the prospect of all that they could end up being if they had the courage to do it. He thinks he will. He's fought too hard for her to ever let her go. So, as they continue to kiss, he thinks about all the times he will touch her cheek, and her shoulder, and her hip, and her smile. Everything he has spent the past eleven months resisting is going to be unleashed, and finally he will be able to prove to her just how ardently he loves her.
He doesn't plan on holding back, not when he can finally be himself.
It takes far too long for Lizzie to get to him. She seems to float as she walks toward him, serene smile crossing her face when their eyes meet. He hasn't seen her for twenty-four hours. It's been a very strange twenty-four hours. Will cannot remember the last time he spent that long without seeing her, and he doesn't count the quick phone conversations throughout the day as a visitation, either. To him, it has been twenty-four hours.
They've spent the last few months a bundle of nerves, and now that it all is nearly over, he finds himself laughing at their youth. He is such a different person now, no longer Darcy-Darcy, but Lizzie-Darcy. He likes himself better this way, to be honest. He's nicer. More sociable. Has someone to step on his foot when he's being awkward and to frown comically when he puts on a scarf in the summer.
Everything before this moment suddenly does not matter- he decides this as she walks towards him, and makes a mental note to let her know later. She doesn't have a say in it, in any case, because he has decided. His life starts right now, here, with her. She's calmer than she has been in a long time, and he can see that from the look on her face, and he knows it's because she can see the look on his face and that is simply enough.
As she walks towards him, he can see her promising to always fight with him, to always challenge him, to always love him, and he almost laughs, because the fact that she can say that with her eyes must mean that they spend too much time together. She notices the humor splashed across his eyes and answers it with a questioning look of her own, head slightly cocked to fully communicate her point. It doesn't matter, because suddenly her hand is encased in his, and he's still smiling, but in a different way. In an awed way. He wants to tell her that she looks stunning in white, but he's still awkward on the inside, and he can't seem to find the right words.
Instead (and he really hopes she'll forgive him) he slips the ring fluidly onto her finger, encasing her shaking hand inside of his stable one. The promise to always protect her goes unsaid, but he likes that he gets to start in that moment, seeing the relief on her face at how steady he is. He doesn't think he's ever been so proud to hold her hand, to touch her.
It may have taken three minutes for her to walk to him, and it may have been twenty-four hours since he last saw her, and it may have taken a whole year for them to actually get together, and it may have been three years since they started dating.
It doesn't matter.
Lizzie Darcy is worth waiting for.