Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.
- Vietnamese Proverb
Gigi wakes up late but thinks nothing much of it. It's Sunday and neither she nor William will set foot in the office today. Sundays, when her parents had been alive, had been a day for family and it is one tradition she strives to keep afloat. No work on Sundays and if they do not stay in, at least they will do something together.
Gigi knows that one day her brother will marry and then she'll really be on her own, so she'll savor this late morning and any others that remain on her horizon.
William is standing at the sink in the island, running water over his breakfast plate. The house is old, Victorian and historic on the outside but modern on the inside for the most part. The wooden floors are original and the crown moulding and some of the doorknobs and fixtures to maintain the charm of the home, but the kitchen has been redone and completely for the better.
"There's coffee," William says. He isn't much of a morning person and though it is closer to noon than not, she does her best not to disrupt his silent contemplation of the granite countertop. She pours her coffee into a heavy white mug and doctors it up with cream and sugar to make it at all palatable.
William regards her quietly, amiably.
"What's up, brother?" she asks, perching on the stool across from him.
"Nothing," he says. "I thought we might make dinner tonight. Stay in."
"Okay," she says. "We'll have to go to the market. Or send Mrs. Annesley."
Mrs. Annesley is their housekeeper but even as she says it, Gigi knows that Mrs. Annesley doesn't work on Sundays and never has.
"We can go," William says. "It's sunny enough, if not warm."
"I'll get dressed," she says, slipping off of her stool and picking up her mug to carry with her.
She hesitates and he raises an eyebrow, waiting for her to add something else to their conversation. A whole day with William sounds fine; spending the day shopping, cooking something elaborate, eating together and going to sleep in their respective beds, warm and content...
"Georgiana?" he prompts.
"We could have a little dinner party," she says. "Invite Fitz at least. He could bring a date. Round out the number."
William stares her down a moment but she doesn't falter and he seems satisfied enough.
"If you'd like," he says mildly.
In her room, she picks up her phone and texts Fitz straightaway.
Bring Lizzie or don't even come.
She can't see how she could be any clearer. Because while she and William are all each other has, it shouldn't always have to be that way. He deserves more. Maybe they both do.
There is a Whole Foods close enough to walk to but it's down the hill and so they take the car. Carrying groceries uphill is unforgiving enough, but it's also quite chilly despite the bright sun.
They shop leisurely, spending time chatting up the butcher and accepting his favorite cut of beef for their meal and a quartered chicken for later in the week. They buy fresh vegetables, some winter fruits, a sack of red potatoes. William contemplates two bottles of wine for so long that Gigi complains about the ice cream melting and so he just buys both.
"Who is Fitz bringing?" Gigi asks in the car when she simply cannot contain herself any longer.
"He hasn't said," William says, backing out of the narrow parking space. There is already a car with its signal on, waiting for their space. It's a silver Prius with a middle aged woman behind the wheel. William isn't much for small talk, so she spends the rest of the drive imagining what that woman's life is like. If she is happy, if she has children. If she sees her kids often and how those children might feel if she suddenly died. Better or worse than William and herself?
They have money, of course, and she has more in a trust for when she turns 25 and they have the company which fills their days, but they have no maternal, warm, elderly relatives to dote on them. Only aunt Catherine who has not much in the way of warmth at all.
"Maybe we should switch to hybrid cars," Gigi remarks as William pulls into their garage.
William snorts. "How does your mind wander," he says which is neither agreement nor disagreement. She could buy ten hybrid cars, but it would change very little. They lapse back into silence as they unload the car and Gigi resolves not to let her mind wander back into could-have-been territory again today.
They put away groceries and then William disappears into his office and closes the door. He isn't supposed to work on Sundays but entertaining in the evening has bought him some solitude in the early afternoon. She won't press or complain because she has little leverage knowing who will show up at their door in only a few hours time.
She busies herself with pulling out her parent's china, their wedding china for today because they had married in the winter and the china seems appropriate to the season. It is silvery and delicate and bright and stands out well against their dark, antique, wooden formal dining table. She brings out the silver candlesticks, too, and is considering linens when William reappears.
"China?" he says. "Really?"
"It's a dinner party," she says.
"It's Fitz and his newest interesting companion," he retorts.
"Then we should make a good impression if we're making new acquaintances," she says. He gives her another long stare but again lets her have her way with no argument and disappears into the kitchen to start prepping for their meal. They've bought enough for at least three courses - salad and soup and the main meal and the organic ice cream if any of them have room.
Ice cream just melts down into the cracks, her mother used to say. Gigi doesn't remember it for herself but she remembers being told that, anyway.
Fitz doesn't arrive until nearly seven, but he's always late so they don't worry. Gigi's conscience gets the best of her the moment the doorbell rings and she blurts, "Please don't be mad, Will."
He glares at her like he's known all day that she's been hiding something and when he opens the door, she can see from his expression that everything sort of clicks into place.
And as they welcome Fitz and Lizzie Bennet into their home, it becomes awfully apparent that Lizzie didn't know that William didn't know she was coming.
So for a minute, it's super awkward.
But Lizzie seems to pull herself right up by her bootstraps and says, "Your home is really beautiful, Gigi."
"Thanks," she answers.
There's another uncomfortable pause and then William says, "Would you like a tour?"
Lizzie says yes and off they go.
Fitz, who is always right at home, heads into the kitchen. He finds the wine on the counter and wastes no time opening a bottle and pouring a generous amount into two glasses.
"I'm not taking the fall for this," he says.
"Well, someone's got to do something about it!" she exclaims.
Fitz hands her one of the glasses even though she's only 20 and she takes it because courage comes in many forms.
It takes awhile before she can hear footsteps on the stairs. There's three floors of house so while it's not a sprawling mansion, there's a lot to see. Their house in L.A. is much larger.
Gigi busies herself carrying the tureen of soup to the table when they reappear and then William offers drinks, so she is saved a lecture for now, at any rate.
Talk of work takes them through soup and Lizzie's ambitious school project through salad.
Gigi brings out the main dishes because William is otherwise distracted by Lizzie really hitting her stride during a passionate rant on the Social Media Integration Theory Model. It's a concept Gigi only partially understands and absolutely doesn't care about so she doesn't mind missing the middle of Lizzie's argument to fetch the brisket.
She and Fitz load up their plates while Lizzie and William do something that almost looks like arguing but isn't quite. William seems totally relaxed and Lizzie is practically grinning.
Gigi is pleased with herself and happy for her brother and she tells herself quietly that she shouldn't be afraid because there are people moving on to new phases in life and there are people who leave you and she certainly knows the difference.
Still, when the conversation dies down and the dinner is winding to an end, it's hard not to to feel like they're all just playing at being grown ups with their fine china and bottles of wine. Because the truth of the matter is, they're just a bunch of kids who are navigating waters uncharted and William looks as scared as he ever does and Lizzie alternates between looking mad and terrified.
Fitz's phone rings - whatever engagement he planned to get him out of this one - and William offers to drive Lizzie home to compensate for Fitz's poor manners.
"Oh, I can walk, it's totally fine," Lizzie says, edging her way toward the door.
"Don't be ridiculous," Gigi hears herself snap. She's tired of the charade suddenly and tired of living with the anticipation of a big change. "It's dark and unsafe, let him drive you."
"O-okay," Lizzie says.
Lizzie puts on her coat and William leads her out to garage and Gigi finds that it's ten o'clock on a Sunday night and she is alone in her house after all.
She wonders if William will want to buy a new house or if Gigi will be expected to move out.
Both William and Lizzie will, eventually and separately, tell her that she's overreacting and it was one dinner and that doesn't change months and months of history but Gigi sees so clearly what those two cannot. Call it what one will, but William and Lizzie's future is a fast train that has already left the station and Gigi has long decided just to get out of its way.
Gigi stops by Lizzie's borrowed corner of Pemberley Digital when she knows Lizzie is filming. It's not hard to do, Lizzie's schedule is super predictable, but also Gigi likes to be in the videos. She likes to play her little part in this big game.
Gigi waves to the camera and says, "Just wanted to check on you to make sure last night was okay?"
Lizzie glances at the lens, a panicked look in her eyes.
"You... weren't going to mention that you had dinner with my brother last night?" Gigi demands.
"And you! And Fitz! It was very civil," Lizzie says.
"It was more than civil," Gigi says and winks at the camera. "My brother escorted you home."
"He gave me a ride," Lizzie corrects.
"He was gone for half an hour," Gigi says.
"There was traffic," Lizzie explains.
"You live six blocks away," Gigi says shrilly. "Your viewers want the truth, Lizzie Bennet!"
Gigi doesn't hang around to witness the damage she causes. Nothing obligates Lizzie to keep any of this footage but Gigi suspects she will because while Lizzie threatens to edit things out a lot, she very rarely does.
She passes William's office and almost gets away cleanly because his secretary is at lunch but then she hears him say quite clearly, "Georgiana."
"What?" she says.
"Come in here, please," he orders. She does, just pokes her head around the door and meets his level stare. He gives her these heavy looks like he is somehow going to crack her but she's a Darcy too and her poker face has always been better than his.
"Yes?" she says.
He clears his throat and looks away first. "Thank you," he says.
"You're welcome, dear brother."
Maybe they'll make Sunday night dinner a recurring tradition, she decides, heading back to her own desk. Maybe in time they won't need Fitz as a chaperone and maybe, just maybe, there will come a time when Gigi herself is unnecessary to the equation.
It will just be Lizzie and William as it always ought to have been.