Caroline was sitting on one of the sofas at Pemberley (for there are several) weeping bitterly.
Georgiana, having heard the sorrowful sobs, ran in, “Whatever is the matter dearest Caroline?”
“It happened AGAIN!” Caroline sobbed, “I do not know if I can endure another public humiliation. Why does this always happen to me
Georgiana sat beside her beloved friend and took her hand, “What happened this time?” she asked sympathetically.
“I spent several months forming a friendship with Lady Lascelle and then suddenly, Mrs. Darcy came down to London for the season, as she always does, and everything went wrong. You know how it goes.”
Georgiana nodded compassionately, “Go on.”
“The moment she appeared I could not stop sneering. My face was horribly sore from the contortion. (You have no idea the face exercises I have to do between stories.) And, then you know, all my well studied manners flew right out the window. It’s like I lose my rational mind! You know what I have to endure, you have been witness to it often enough.”
Charles ran in and embraced his weeping sister, “I am so sorry Caroline. Would that I could have stopped it.”
“Did you just finish? I am sure you had a delightful time once I departed.”
“No no, I always miss you when we are separated.”
“Really, then how did it go after I left?” she demanded.
Charles sighed, “It was wonderfully pleasant, as usual. You know we cannot help it. We must do as we are bidden.”
“I suppose Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are still at it?” said Caroline, exasperated. Georgiana gasped. “Oh please,” said Caroline, “save it for the stories.”
“I left Jane with them,” said Charles.
Just then Jane entered the room. Caroline looked pointedly at her brother.
“They’re probably alone now,” Charles admitted.
“Right,” replied Caroline, rolling her eyes, “and we all know what that means.”
Jane sat on the other side of her sister-in-law and immediately said, “I am so sorry, Caroline, you know I didn’t mean it. I never mean it.”
Caroline struggled to compose herself, she took several deep breaths, “I know, I know. But I do not think I can take this anymore.”
Charles looked at his wife lovingly, “Dearest, haven’t you been a therapist in a few modern versions?”
Jane tried to think, “I can hardly remember, Charles, I’ve been so many things, how can I keep track of them all? I remember being a school guidance counselor. But I would be happy to try; anything to make our sister feel better.”
Georgiana exclaimed, “You were! Don’t you remember that time you helped me realize that Caroline was a false friend?”
Caroline burst into tears again.
“I’m so sorry, Caroline,” said Georgiana remorsefully. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Suddenly, Elizabeth and Darcy entered the room, looking rather disheveled. “I’m so sorry, Caroline,” they said in unison. Darcy handed her a linen square.
Jane, in her best therapist voice began, “So how did the scene you just participated in make you feel?”
They continued talking quietly and except for some loud sniffs, Caroline was beginning to recover. While this was going on, Mrs. Reynolds entered and whispered something to Elizabeth.
“Wickham is here!” Elizabeth cried, and turning on her heel, she made to walk out of the room.
Elizabeth ran back in, “I’m so sorry! I know it triggers you when I turn on my heel. It’s getting worse every time. I should have known better.”
Darcy looked at Georgiana, who was completely placid, “I’m fine,” she said, “mentioning Wickham is pretty much the worst thing that ever happens to me. I’m used to it by now.”
“I’ll handle him,” Darcy said as he left the room.
Caroline was now sobbing into Elizabeth’s shoulder while Elizabeth caressed her hair which was falling out of its pins.
Jane, who was beginning to remember some of her modern training, said softly, “I think you might have PTSD.”
“You think!” Caroline snapped, “How would you like to be the most hated woman in fiction for over two hundred years! I mean, what did I do that was so bad? Have you met Mrs. Norris? How about Fanny Dashwood?”
Georgiana shivered, “I am so glad they weren’t in our
“And that most people don’t write crossovers,” added Charles.
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth mused, “I might enjoy a crossover. Have you seen Captain Wentworth?”
Charles and Jane both looked back at her with stunned expressions.
“You know,” Elizabeth retorted, “three stories ago I was paired with Collins for like four years, let me have this one.”
“But what about Darce?” asked Charles.
“What? He isn’t even in the room. Come on, don’t tell me neither of you has ever thought about someone else?”
Jane and Charles looked at each other sheepishly, but turned back to Lizzy in complete denial. “Never,” said Jane.
“No, absolutely not,” added Charles.
“If only someone would pair me with a hero,” said Caroline, “without it meaning my ultimate demise.”
Elizabeth gave her a conciliatory glance, “You got Darcy in that dream sequence one. You survived, right?”
“I did,” Caroline was on the verge of tears.
Then Jane added, “And weren’t you married to him in another one recently?”
“Yes, but only after Lizzy died, and you know he never wanted to…do his matrimonial duty- with me. He never got over her in that story. For over sixteen years! This is my lot! This is what I am relegated to! I am only good for marrying horrid men and receiving set down after set down after vicious set down. It never ends.”
“I know, dear,” said Georgiana, “and in the original you were always so nice to me.”
“Your little design for a table really was so much better than Miss Grantley’s,” Caroline whimpered through her tears. “My raptures were real!”
“I know, I know,” said Georgiana, “and remember, you are always welcome at Pemberley.”
“No I’m not! Everyone hates me. Remember that time I was banished from England? And my own brother is always threatening to cut my allowance.”
Charles looked apologetic.”I don’t even think I could, to be honest.”
“As if!” retorted Caroline.
“But you know I never would,” added Charles quickly.
Caroline stifled another sob, “I don’t even have an allowance!”
Darcy walked back into the room. “What happened with Wickham?” asked his wife.
“I don’t know. His story pager went off before I could talk to him.”
Just then Caroline’s story pager went off. “No!” she said, “I have twenty thousand pounds, I am NOT marrying the penniless son of a steward!”
“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Darcy.
“Don’t I?” Caroline replied. Then, as a single tear slid down her cheek, she added, “Jane, please be here when I get back.”
“I hope I will be,” Jane said, reaching out her hand. “but you never know.”
Lizzy looked at the pager. “Oh it’s a regency story, you don’t even have to change clothes,” she said, as she re-pinned Caroline’s hair. “There, you look lovely.”
“Thank you,” sniffed Caroline, as she reluctantly exited the room.
A few minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst burst into the room and looking at the group around them announced, “Ah, we’ve just returned from the most pleasant sojourn to the seaside.”
No one said anything.
“What?” asked Lousia. Then looking around she said, “Wait where’s Carrie? Did it happen again? It happened again didn’t it? And I wasn’t even there to support her! I hate it when that happens!”
“But we did have a really nice time in Scarborough,” said Hurst.
His wife looked at him disapprovingly. “Don’t you have a glass of wine to drink and a sofa to fall asleep on?”
He only shrugged and threw himself onto the now empty sofa, without regard to the tear stains. “Isn’t there a servant who can bring me a glass of wine?”
“Poor Caroline,” said Louisa, shaking her head. Everyone nodded in agreement.
If you want to see Caroline finally get her happy ending,
check out Prideful & Persuaded, by Bethany Delleman.