This is a short one-shot inspired by the 2005 P&P film. I do love the film but think the ending could have focused a little more on the revelation of the feelings between Elizabeth and Darcy. The final chapters of the book, where they look back at how they reached their understanding, are among my favourites and I'm not sure the film really did them justice.
This fic starts at the end of the scene in the field, after the second proposal.
It seemed an eternity before Elizabeth took his hand and kissed it, her "well then" and "your hands are cold" apparently promising much but without, he realised, committing anything. There was something in her eyes, though, that he desperately hoped he had not misread, something that he urgently desired to confirm.
He rested his forehead against hers, his eyes closing as he breathed in the scent of her, and his heart swelled with the precarious optimism that she may yet return the affection, the love, which he felt for her. Stepping back a little, he curled his hands around her face, her own hands now pressed against the white of his shirt.
"My dearest Elizabeth. Can this be true? Despite the hopes occasioned by the abominable behaviour of my Aunt, I still struggle to understand your true feelings." Darcy's anxiety was betrayed by the crease at his brow and the tightening around his eyes. Elizabeth smiled, tentatively at first then wider as the enormity of her new circumstance sank in.
"But Mr Darcy, I have believed it to be obvious, even to you, that my feelings had undergone such a profound, fundamental change that it would be beyond my tolerance to refuse you." He smiled, some of the apprehension leaving his face, and she was emboldened to continue. "I was certain that my talent for deception was not adequate for the task it was set," she said. "Concealing my growing affection for you was a burden that I bore grudgingly, but it seemed preferable to the alternative. I can scarcely comprehend that the actions of my youngest sister, indeed my whole family, have not been enough to persuade you to sever your connection with me entirely."
Darcy shook his head slowly, a wry smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "It seems that your powers over me are superior even to my concern for my standing in society. I believe I would succumb to you were you the daughter of an inn-keeper. Compared to that, your family and status are highly prized indeed, and I am grateful for it."
Elizabeth looked thoughtful for a moment, although he believed he could make out the glint of a smile in her eye. She raised a hand and traced a finger lightly down the length of his cheek and he could not prevent his eyes sliding closed at her touch. He felt himself in danger of compromising her and reluctantly stepped back, immediately regretting the loss of her closeness and pulling her hand into his arm as they began the walk back towards Longbourn. Walking alongside her was a poor substitute for holding her close, and he knew he would need to make her his own as soon as propriety allowed.
Bending his head so that Elizabeth could make out his soft words, he said, "I feel we have waited longer than we have perhaps deserved. I should like to seek the consent of your father at the earliest opportunity."
Elizabeth smiled and slanted a smile up towards him. "Mr Darcy, do you fear that I may be at risk of changing my mind? For you need have no concerns in that regard. My good opinion, once gained, is gained forever."
"It is cruel of you to tease me in such a fashion. I am not yet sufficiently confident of your affections to be able to respond in kind." He realised he was stumbling but pressed ahead regardless. "No, I am merely conscious of the time we have wasted in reaching this present understanding. I would heartily prefer that we do not waste even one more second."
Elizabeth slowed, coming to a stop and turning her body towards him. A very serious look was fixed on her face. "Mr Darcy, if you have concerns about being teased by me, I fear you may begin to have reservations about your proposal. As I would certainly prefer that you should not entertain such thoughts, I would wholly support your desire to speak to my father as soon as it can possibly be arranged. For you see, my affections and wishes are the equal of yours, and it is on that basis that I tease you and seek to make you smile. You may feel entirely free to respond in whichever way suits you best."
Darcy puffed out a breath he had not realised he was holding. She loved him, and he felt at that moment as though he could conquer the world. But even in his delight he realised that no other woman begin a declaration of love in such a way, tormenting him until the last. She was before him always, wrong-footing him with her wit and slaying him with her beauty, and instead of being unthinkable it was the pinnacle of his ambition. He smiled as he lowered his head a little towards hers. "I am sure we can find a gap in your father's busy schedule very shortly. But in the meantime I must prevail upon you to address me as Fitzwilliam. Or even William, if you prefer."
Elizabeth tilted her chin so that he was better able to see the expression of wicked enjoyment on her face. "Sir!" she scolded. "I am scandalised. If I consent to use your given name, what intimacy will you demand of me next?"
The morning light played over her features, revealing the extraordinary depth of her eyes, the luscious softness of her lips, and he felt his resistance melt away. "There is one further intimacy that I seek," he said softly, lowering his head towards hers. "One I have longed for since before I can recall." He caught her hands in his and pulled her closer, his lips meeting hers for the gentlest of kisses, and he knew he was finally home.