Chapter 13: Epilogue
(Author's Note: Thank you all for your incredible response to my fic! For those of you who asked for an epilogue, this is for you!)
(Previously: After she returned home to Longbourn, Elizabeth learned that she had shared repeated Thursdays with Anne de Bourgh.)
"Did you deliberately spill a cup of tea on me during our visit to Rosings?" William asked Elizabeth.
She was alarmed by this question but when she observed his smile, she relaxed. "Yes, William," she replied with a sly smile.
"And did you deliberately play the pianoforte quite badly?" he further inquired.
She giggled and nodded her head: "Yes, William, but to what do I owe this line of questioning?" she asked.
"Anne told me the most remarkable story; unbelievable really!" he exclaimed, shaking his head.
Elizabeth frowned; she had looked forward to discussing the repetitious Thursdays with Anne but had not considered revealing the story to William; how would he ever believe such a tale?
After one week in London, Mary and Jane had returned to Longbourn with William and Charles Bingley. Jane was blissfully engaged and the future seemed bright for the Bennet sisters. Mary told her family that Anne de Bourgh had introduced her to Lady Montgomery and both young ladies had been introduced to several eligible gentlemen. Anne elected to stay in London for another fortnight before returning to Rosings.
The two couples were out walking together with the three younger sisters acting as chaperones; however the younger girls were eagerly quizzing Mary about her experiences in London, shirking their chaperoning responsibilities, leaving the two couples with unlimited privacy. Jane and Charles had disappeared into the woods and Elizabeth and William were sitting under a shade tree.
"What story did Anne tell you?" Elizabeth asked hesitantly.
"She claims that certain events happened during our visit to Rosings; however, I have no recollection of those events. I refused to believe her but she claims that you also witnessed the same events – repeatedly," he explained.
"If he did not believe Anne, how would he believe me?" she worried. "Yes, it is quite unbelievable, but quite true. What else did Anne tell you?" she asked.
"Did you break your wrist?" he asked.
She smiled; it seemed as though Anne had relayed her whole story, or what she knew of it. "Yes, William, I fell off a horse and broke my wrist," she told him. Recalling her horrid behavior that day, she continued: "I must confess that I behaved very badly that day; I am terribly sorry that I was quite rude to you when you came to call on me," she told him, casting her eyes down.
He seemed surprised by this: "I have no recollection of it, but, even so, that is so unlike you, Lizzy!" he exclaimed.
She shook her head: "No, not really, William," she confessed. "Do you recall that horrid proposal that you rehearsed with Anne and Richard?" she asked. When he humbly nodded, she continued: "You actually did use that proposal on me," she told him to his surprise. "You pointed out my inferior connections and other shortcomings and I became quite enraged and refused you quite mercilessly," she admitted with great shame. "On the day I broke my wrist, I threw your insults back at you; I behaved quite badly, I confess, but the next morning it was as though it had never happened," she explained.
"But I have no memory of it," he replied with confusion.
"I am greatly relieved, William, it was not my best day, to be sure," she told him, filled with guilt.
"Did I follow you to the Rosings library?" he asked. When she nodded the affirmative, he continued: "What happened in the library? Anne did not know."
She smiled broadly as she recalled that particular Thursday: "I kissed you!" she told him, gazing at his lips.
"I am certain that I would remember kissing you," he said, tucking a stray curl behind her ear.
She gently outlined his lips with her finger as she had done in the library. "We kissed on other occasions as well," she whispered.
He pulled her closer: "May I have a demonstration?" he asked with a smile. Since their chaperones were nowhere in sight, she leaned in and kissed him. When her tongue touched his, he pulled away and beheld her sheepish smile. "You seem quite practiced at this, dearest Lizzy," he observed with a smile.
"Yes, I had an excellent instructor and I have missed his kisses exceedingly," she said, leaning in to kiss him again. In between kisses, she told him about his drunken proposal at the parsonage window and how she was enthralled by his kisses; about his proposal in the Rosings study and how she was enraptured by his kisses. "However, the cosmos were not satisfied with my performance, nor were my parents," she told him as she kissed him again and again.
"Your parents?" he asked, in between kisses.
"Yes, we traveled here and you asked my Papa for his consent but he was very displeased that I had ruined my reputation by allowing you to kiss me," she told him while kissing him. Upon hearing this, he immediately pulled away and she was immediately filled with disappointment.
"We should find Charles and Jane," he told her, looking quite alarmed.
"Did I offend you, William?" she asked.
"No dearest, you simply reminded me that I should not be taking such liberties with you; your father would disapprove," he said gravely.
He helped her to her feet and she grasped his arm as they walked together in silence. They quickly encountered the younger sisters and inquired about Jane and Charles. Mary became alarmed and ran into the woods calling after her charges; the three emerged from the woods a few minutes later and the entire group began the walk back to the house. William observed the guilty faces and behavior of Charles and Jane as they walked ahead. When it became apparent that they had been involved in the same activity, William relaxed.
"You are still an excellent instructor," Elizabeth whispered as they walked, smiling up at him.
He squeezed her hand and smiled: "And you are still impertinent!" he replied with a warm smile. "I should never wish to be the cause of your shame or regret," he whispered.
She stood before him with eyes aflame: "Fitzwilliam Darcy! I have a long list of regrets from my behavior over the last few weeks! Kissing you is not on that list," she told him in no uncertain terms.
He smiled and they continued walking. As they reached the house, he stopped and stood before her: "I look forward to hearing more about your mysterious story," he told her with a smile. "I imagine it is quite amazing!" he exclaimed.
"Indeed! However, I feel certain that Anne will soon have a betrothal story of her own to share with us," she replied with a smile. She added: "I hope for Anne's sake, that her acceptance of her beloved's proposal requires far less persistence than mine did!" she said as she walked into the house, leaving him outside to ponder.
~~The Final End!~~
(Author's Note: Dialogue and text were generously borrowed from the masterpiece: Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!)