Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Note: The other night I was introducing a friend of mine to LBD. What had started as an hour to show her the first few episodes turned into four hours of watching videos until we couldn't see straight. During this marathon I noticed that while Lizzie doesn't like Darcy, she doesn't truly seem to give into hating him and REALLY misunderstanding him until she's at Netherfield and has Caroline there egging her on. And while Wickham pushed it further, I think that it was Caroline that really laid the foundation for her continued misunderstanding him.
And so I couldn't help but wonder, what if she didn't know about Lizzie's videos? What if, when Lizzie and Jane came to stay with the Lee's, Caroline had to be elsewhere? Would Darcy have been constantly avoiding them? And without Caroline there to divert her, wouldn't Lizzie kind of have to interact with him more?
I kind of wanted to find out. So... here it is. The Butterfy Effect... Lizzie Bennet style.
The Netherfield Effect
1. Arriving at Netherfield.
"Now remember: you said that you'd be nice," Jane reminded her sister as Netherfield came into sight. They were to stay there for two weeks while their house was being renovated. Two weeks in the company of Caroline Lee and William Darcy - two of her least favourite people, all the while having to watch as her sister made bedroom eyes at Bing. What had she been thinking to agree to this?
Oh yeah, she was thinking the other option was to spend two weeks locking in a small space with her mother and Lydia. At the time it had seemed like an easy choice. The lesser of the two causes for insanity. Now, faced with the oversized house and the Darth Vader theme song playing in her head as they turned up the drive, she had wondered how bad it really would have been sharing a room with her youngest sister while listening to her mother rattle on and on about Jane's progress.
She shivered at the thought.
No, she figured as she acknowledged Jane's warning, the added benefit of being in one place that her mother didn't want her to be would have to be the proverbial icing on the sour cake that would be two weeks at Netherfield.
She rolled her eyes, "I said I would. I'm not mom or Lydia, I am house broken."
"I know," Jane apologized, her nerves showing as she put the car into park. "It's just that I want you to give Bing a chance. Please, Lizzie? I want you to like him."
She forced her smile wider. Sometimes it was all too easy to remember that Jane was her older sister. "I'm sure I shall."
She wanted to scream. Why did everyone bring him up? "You want me to like Darcy?"
"He'a a guest here too," Jane reminded her, "And he's Bing's best friend."
"So, maybe he should look into his taste of friends?" She said, still forcing her smile.
"Or maybe you could." Jane teased, "You are Lizzie the Spy after all."
Rolling her eyes again, Lizzie opened her door. She knew what Jane had been hinting at. In middle school Lizzie was convinced that she had to know everything about every mystery. This came after finding out that the Jesse and the Rippers weren't a real band. Wondering what other lies she had been told... well, she sought the truth. Here, Jane wanted her to use that thirst for knowledge again. She wanted her to look deep and gather all the information before she made a decision on the information that she had already gathered.
Charlotte had said the same thing to her time and time again. If there had been a dead horse, Lizzie was sure Charlotte would try to beat it.
Looking up at the large house, knowing that somewhere inside Darcy was hating and judging her, she wondered how her two best friends couldn't see what was right in front of them. Darcy was a jerk. She didn't need to waste her time on research to know the sheer depths that his assholeishness went into his very dark and empty soul.
"Hey," Bing greeted, jogging out to meet them by the trunk of their car, smiling at them both however little his attention strayed from Jane, "Sorry I wasn't out here sooner, but I just got back myself."
"Sooner?" Lizzie asked, confusion clear on her face, "Are you auditioning to be the Flash?"
"Back?" Jane put in, ignoring Lizzie's quip, smiling her thanks when Bing took her suitcase in hand, "Were you out?"
"I had to take Caroline to the airport. She got called back to work. I wasn't sure if I would get back in time to meet you. Luckily Darcy was here, if I didn't make it in time."
"That's a comfort,"Lizzie mumbled under her breath, noting with a frown that he still hadn't revealed himself. Just how rude could he be? After all, as a friend of Bing's shouldn't he be helping in greeting his guests. Course, it would have probably been too much to ask to see him help with the bags.
"I'm sorry that Caroline won't be here,"Jane said and meant it, "I was looking forward to getting to know her better."
"She regrets that too. But hopefully she'll be back before you leave. Come on, I'll show you your rooms and then give you a tour."
"I swear, Charlotte," Lizzie said into her phone later that night as she went into the kitchen, seeking out a moment's peace disguised as snacks, "This place is like the Twilight zone. I will never understand rich people."
"That many rooms?"
"That many bathrooms. Who needs that many toilets?" She opened the fridge, "And the staff. They have a cook. A cook!"
"Maybe they're as bad in the kitchen as you are?"
"Oh ha ha. You burn one too many meals and suddenly you're labelled a bad cook for the rest of your life."
"Come on now, be honest. Is it really that bad there?"
Lizzie straightened from her search through the well stocked fridge and surveyed the darkened room, frowning as she really couldn't find anything to fault. "No. Architecturally speaking this house is amazing, a little gaudy in places, but I figure that's Caroline's influence. Otherwise, it's a really nice house. Hell, I'd be tempted to marry Bing if I could get a house like this."
"You would not."
Lizzie shared Charlotte's laugh, "No, I wouldn't. Nor would Jane. You should see her, Char, she's fitting in here. Course, with Bing as your host, I'm sure it's not hard to fit in when he looks at you the way that he looks at her."
"You sound jealous," Charlotte put in with a knowing smile that she knew would earn her an eye roll.
"Please! Who wants a nice, good-looking guy to dote on you? Not me. Not me at all. I'm satisfied with ice cream and Colin Firth..."
"There you are..." a new voice interrupted. An impatient voice. Darcy's voice.
She frowned, lowering her phone to her chest, uncomfortable at being caught. "You were looking for me?"
"No. Your sister has been. I believe they thought you had become lost." His expression, to her, was severe. Even vulcans were more personable than he appeared to be.
"No worries there, Darcy, I have my string and breadcrumbs. You didn't need to come find me, I can find my way."
He shifted, "I believe they are watching a movie in the home theatre. Your presence has been requested."
He arched his eyebrow, growing more agitated with every question she asked, "I'm going to do work in my room. Goodnight." With a slight bow of his head he turned on his heel and left.
"Good talk," she mumbled, holding up her hand in the vulcan symbol, "Live long and prosper."
"What was that?" Charlotte asked when she could hear Lizzie's breathing back on the other end of the line.
"That was Darcy being... Darcy. You know how I said I was happy that Caroline wasn't here? I think I'm changing my mind on that."
"But you dislike her."
"Yeah, but at least with her here, I would have someone else to focus on other than Darcy or my sister's happy couple-dom. Through dinner he stared at me. Constantly. It was like he didn't believe I knew how to use a fork without trying to comb my hair with it."
She groaned, "I AM being nice. It's just with that guy, it's so hard. He sucks all the nice out of me."
"I know. Just, for Jane's sake, please try."
"I will. And I'll prove it to you tomorrow, with my new video."
"Am I going to have to sit through half an hour of you calling him names?"
"I'll try to cap it at fifteen minutes. I'll call you after I shoot it. And Charlotte, if I don't come out of this alive, I'll miss you."
For a house with so many rooms, there seemed to be very little actual living space. By the third day she couldn't go anywhere in Netherfield without running into either Bing or Darcy or Jane or Bing and Jane. And after watching them during yet another awkward supper, Lizzie escaped to the library for what she had hoped to be a little time to recoup.
Pulling out her phone she tried Charlotte's number. No answer.
She checked her texts. Nothing new.
There was nothing from the outside world. Nothing but books.
She let out a frustrated sigh, before looking around the small room, wondering in the taste of books that Bing Lee had. There could be nothing worse on the shelves than what she could expect to find that evening in the company of the Three Stooges she was currently sharing a home with: Cheerful, Obliging and Dick-head.
She paused when she came upon the Twilight Saga. Of all the books she was expecting to find in this library, these were no where on the list.
"That was an addition by Caroline," Darcy said from the doorway, causing her to jump. "Not quite what I consider classic reading."
She quirked a smile, "You know Twilight?"
"I do have a younger sister," he allowed with a frown.
She had to give him that one. She had been forced through more than one of those movies because of her younger sister's influence. And yet she couldn't see Darcy sitting through five minutes let alone four books worth.
"To his credit, Bing does have the complete works of Doyle, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, among others." He pointed towards the back of the room, again shifting uncomfortably.
"Your favourites?" She asked almost as an accusation, sensing that he would like nothing more than to be out of her presence.
"I have many."
Of course he would, she reasoned. Instead of following his directions to where the classics were housed, she continued looking at various other shelves, noticing for the first time that he had a book in his hands. "May I ask what you're reading?"
"Read," he said, correcting her tense, "I have just finished Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right. I had long been meaning to read it."
"Good book," she allowed, "Although sad."
He quirked an eyebrow, taking a step further into the room. "Sad?"
She nodded, "He was driven mad by his lack of faith and she had to suffer even though she had done nothing wrong."
"Nothing wrong?" His tone was flat. He took a further step. "Had she of just listened to her husband and ceased seeing Colonel Osborne, nothing would have happened and the insanity that had gripped him would have been for naught."
Her jaw slackened. "Listened to him? Because as his wife she's not allowed to see her friends? Her own Godfather? Or to have an opinion? How about to be trusted by her husband?"
He looked down when she stepped forward, her voice raised, meeting her argument with one of his own. "That is not what I meant. And I do not believe it was initially not trusting in her that had led to his feelings of doubt in the relationship."
She nodded, eyes rolling, leave it a man to disguise mistrust in his wife for mistrust in someone else. "You really think it was because he didn't trust Osborne?"
"No," Darcy interrupted, "While yes, he obviously didn't trust the Colonel, and for that I would not blame him considering the man's position within Emily's family and also Osborne's reputation. But rather, it was trust in himself that was lacking and therefore led to the ultimate downfall of their relationship."
"Himself?" She was taken aback, not really having expected that from him.
"Yes. He knew that he didn't deserve her. And instead of trusting that he someday might and continue to endeavour in earning her continued affections, he drove her away. I believe it is called a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy."
He stepped closer once more. They were within five feet of one another, closer than they had ever been when not forced to dance together. He was staring down at her with an intensity that always made her uncomfortable. And it took everything she had not to back down from it, or from him.
Finally, she looked away with a laugh, her throat growing dry. "I'll agree with you on one point, Darcy."
The corner of his lip turned up briefly as he looked down, book between his hands and feet wide, ready to hear whatever she had to say next, "And what is that, Lizzie?"
She blinked when he said her name, stopping her short. She didn't like to hear it on his lips. It seemed wrong for him to use the informality. It seemed way too intimate for him to call her anything but Elizabeth, or the very least, Miss Bennet.
Swallowing back the unease found when she met his eye, she forged on. "He really didn't deserve her."
He gave her a half-shrug, looking over her head, forehead crinkling as he thought of his response. "Few men truly do deserve the women they find themselves in love with. That, I believe is what courting is for, to persuade her that he someday might."
He moved past her, his eyes fixed on the empty space on the far shelf that housed the book they had been discussing, and suddenly it felt like she could breath easier. She cast a look over her shoulder, "And here I thought that's what the diamond was all about."
He paused, and smirked, glancing at her, almost sizing her up, as he did so. "No. Diamonds are meant to merely seal the deal."
She heard it in his voice. For the first time she caught that something he had said could be meant as a joke. Darcy could joke? Would wonders never cease to exist? No longer interested in reading, she quickly left, feeling more uneasy with the exchange that she would ever admit to anyone.
A/N: My apologies to Twilight fans... it just kind of happened. But really, I can see Lizzie not liking that book. Also apologies to He Knew He Was Right, it's been years since I've read it/watched the mini series and so probably got it not quite right.