Amelia Marie Logan Jane Austen Fanfiction

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy walked away from Longbourn in silence until, turning onto the lane towards Oakham Mount, Elizabeth said, “I take it from Mr. Bingley's manner today that you have spoken to him about the substance of our conversation yesterday?”

“I did. He was surprised, but pleased.”

“I do not doubt that he was surprised. It took a great deal of persuasion on my side to convince Jane. I am afraid I was much too liberal in the expression of my former opinion of your character and I hope you know I very much regret it now.”

“Have you already abandoned the philosophy you were teaching me yesterday?”

“No, indeed. I stand by it wholeheartedly. But I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be to convince my father than it was to convince Jane.”

“Bingley told me that his conversation with Mr. Bennet was very easy.”

“Surely you do not take his experience as an example of what to expect in your own case?”

“Certainly not, but nor do I think I am the one who will have to overcome his doubts. I shall have no difficulty, I believe, in convincing him of my own feelings – of my sincere attachment to you. But he will not take my word for your feelings.”

“You may find it more challenging to convince him of your feelings than you think. He believes you to be indifferent to me.”

“And what would occasion him to say so? I had thought Lady Catherine expressed her suspicions to you privately.”

“He learned nothing from Lady Catherine, but he shares her source. Mr. Collins wrote to warn him of your aunt's disapproval. My father was rather amused by the notion that such a rumor could be believed by anyone.”

“Your father thinks me indifferent because I have never allowed myself to be open when in his presence. If Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had penetration enough to suspect me at Lambton, which I have reason to believe they did, then surely an acute observer such as Mr. Bennet will perceive my sincerity when I have declared myself openly.”

“My aunt did suspect you; she suspected us both of more than existed. I suppose it was not unreasonable once she learned that I had told you of Lydia's situation. Little did she know how much I regretted having said anything to you about it – that is until I learned of all the good that resulted from the disclosure.”

“Why should you have regretted telling me?”

“You must know that I thought such an example of family weakness and disgrace must sink all hope of anything like our present happy understanding.”

He smiled. “You had begun to hope then, at Lambton?”

“I had thought about the possibility, but I did not acknowledge it as hope until after you had left me that day, when I felt sure that all hope must be lost. I had no idea what you were resolving on at the time.”

“Perhaps I ought to have told you. After you confided your troubles in me, I should have told you my intentions. I could not listen to you reproach yourself for not sharing that intelligence which could have prevented the event after I had asked for your secrecy as to at least part of it; and knowing that I was much more at fault on that score than you could ever be. The conviction of your comprehending as much, of your blaming me, is what sunk my hope that day.”

“And was it hope that brought you to Lambton that morning? I never thought to wonder what your purpose could be in coming.”

“Yes, I was hopeful. More than anything I wanted to see you, preferably out of the presence of the other ladies visiting at Pemberley. Whether anything might have come of it, I can hardly say. I had no expectation of finding you alone. But, I certainly knew what I wanted; the only question was whether your feelings had changed. If I had been able to see enough to give me any assurance on that point, I do not think I would have hesitated.”

“I do not know if I would have allowed myself to be so unguarded at that time. Indeed, without Lady Catherine to provoke us into revealing our feelings, we might never have reached an understanding.”

“I can assure you, I was determined to find out your feelings one way or the other. Lady Catherine's interference made it easier, and perhaps quicker, than it otherwise would have happened, but that is all.”

“Poor Lady Catherine. She has refused her consent in vain. I daresay she is unaccustomed to not being heeded.”

“Thankfully, I do not require her consent, nor did I ever expect it.”

“Nevertheless, her disapprobation has vindicated your early struggles.” He began to shake his head and she continued, “You perhaps did not express them in a manner likely to promote your suit, but your objections were not wholly unjustified – as painful as it was for me to admit it to myself.”

“Whether my objections were justified or not, once I had made up my mind, there was certainly no reason to mention them at all, especially at such a moment. It is no wonder you reacted as you did.”

“I suspect your declaration was more ill-timed than you suppose. I had heard only that very afternoon of your efforts on behalf of Mr. Bingley. So you see, I was out of humour with you before you even arrived.”

“My cousin told me he had met you in the park and walked with you a little that afternoon. I had no idea he had mentioned Bingley to you.”

“He could not have known the vexation he was causing by making the disclosure.”

“That is why you did not come to Rosings that evening.”

“I had worked myself into a severe state of distress which brought on a headache.”

Mr. Darcy smiled. “I had, at the time, deceived myself into believing you had stayed behind on purpose to give me an opportunity to speak.”

“Did you?”

“I had made up my mind to meet you in the grove that very day and confess all, but you met my cousin instead and I was forced to wait.”

“And you could not know the harm Colonel Fitzwilliam had been doing to your cause in the meantime.”

“If he did so, it was unwittingly, I am sure.”

“I have wondered how much you told him. You must have said something to prepare him for the possibility that I might wish to verify the contents of your letter.”

“He already knew I had met Mr. Wickham in Meryton, I told him only that I had felt compelled to disclose my family's history with that gentleman to prevent his causing any mischief among the respectable residents of Hertfordshire.”

“A very noble motivation for the disclosure. I suppose he never suspected you of having any other.”

“No. I do not think so. If he did, he never hinted at it.”

“At least I am acquainted with one member of your family who does not despise me (aside from Miss Darcy, of course); perhaps he will be an ally in the business of introducing me to your family. Lady Catherine warned me that none of them would approve.”

“There are some,” he said soberly, “who may find it difficult to accept my choice, but I am persuaded they will be reconciled to it in time, especially after getting to know you.”

“I shall do my best to earn their approval.”

He only smiled and replied, “We must obtain your father's approval first.”

“When shall you speak to him?”

“Today, after dinner, if you have no objection.”

“I have none. It cannot be done too soon, in my view. I do not like this secrecy and I suspect you do not either. But I must insist that I be allowed to tell my mother in my own way and in my own time.”

“If that is your wish.”

“As for my father, I believe you are right that he will want to be assured of my own feelings from me. But I shall not dislike the conversation, for I will have to say much in your favor before he is reconciled to the change in my feelings.”

He smiled a little at this. “Would that I could be present for such testimony!”

“But you need not listen to my conversation with him to hear it. I will tell you most readily what I intend to say. Shall I begin directly?”

“If you please.”

“I must first say that you are very tall, for my father has always hoped I would marry a man I can look up to.” He only smiled in response. This she considered sufficient encouragement to continue in the same playful manner. “And I will make sure to tell him of your very neat, close handwriting. It will give him great pleasure to know you are capable of writing a long and informative letter for he values his correspondence a great deal.”

“But how can you make him such an assurance? Telling him of my letter to you will not, I fear, assist your case.”

“No indeed, but thankfully I need not rely on your letter to me as the source for my knowledge of your writing style. You forget, I had every assurance of both your handwriting and the length of your letters long before then from a very reliable authority on the subject; not to mention your affinity for using four syllable words. I believe of all your habits, my father will esteem that one the most. And I will, of course have to disclose that you have not uttered a cross word – regardless of the number of syllables – since you were four years old!”

He was surprised. “And what, pray, is the source of your information?”

“Why, the unassailable testimony of the inestimable Mrs. Reynolds, of course.”

He laughed a little, “A very biased source, I assure you.”

“It is now of immeasurable importance to my future happiness that I win that lady's favour,” replied Elizabeth, “and so I shall make a beginning by declaring that I cannot allow you to impugn the credibility of that good woman!”

“I would never dream of it. But if these representations are to form the foundation upon which your pleas to your father are to be made, I fear we shall have to elope!”

“You think, then, that it would be more expedient for me to talk to my father of your character?”

“You must do as you see fit.”

“I fear such a conversation may lead to disclosures which you would prefer not be made.”

“Your father should know the truth at some point, Elizabeth; but I would not wish for his consent to be given from a sense of obligation.”

“Then I will have to endeavor to convey the extent of your generosity and other good qualities without mentioning the greatest example of them.”

“I do not consider my efforts in bringing about your sister's marriage to have been an act of generosity.”

“It was more than either of them deserved; on that, at least, I think we can agree.” She sighed. “It was such a trial when they were here. Lydia constantly boasting of her marriage without a hint of shame at how it was brought about, triumphantly taking precedence above Jane; and Wickham ....” she stopped suddenly.

“You need not fear mentioning him to me,” said her companion.

“Like his wife, he betrayed not the least consciousness of guilt. He behaved with the same affected gallantry as before, but I could no longer be taken in. Even without the disclosures you made to me, I could never have seen him in the same way after all that had happened. But the charm had been broken long before the elopement; once I acknowledged to myself that what you had written must be true.”

“I do not wonder at your having been charmed by him in the first instance; he has very engaging manners.”

“Charmed, yes, perhaps I was, but nothing else, I assure you. I know you suspected my feelings for him to have been stronger than they ever were – and it is no wonder after I defended him to you so vehemently – but I had no feelings of a tender nature to be wounded by your disclosures. The truth is I liked him and I did not like you, which made me pity him as a victim of your cruelty. I never felt for him anything like ....”

“Like what, Elizabeth?”

“Like what I feel now ... for you.”

This brought on a smile which she could not help returning. They walked on in near silence, ascending gradually towards the summit, each deep in thought about all they had been discussing. When they arrived at the top, they stood for a moment taking in the view and Elizabeth pointed out the landmarks that would be familiar to him.

After a few minutes, Darcy turned towards Elizabeth and took a step closer to her. Taking one of her hands in his, he leaned forward and whispered, “Elizabeth.” She only smiled and blushed. With his other hand, he removed his hat and she managed to look into his eyes as he smiled. At last, he closed the final few inches between them and brushed his lips gently against hers. He pulled back only a moment to look at her and, seeing nothing discouraging in her countenance, he kissed her again, less tentatively.

When Elizabeth was again able to speak, she said, “I thought you had a great curiosity to see the view from the mount.”

He smiled and replied, “I find it very inspiring.” Then he kissed her again.

FINIS