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, eyes wide and unfocused. Mr. Darcy… She could scarcely believe what had happened. Proud, arrogant Mr. Darcy could never be… Was he truly in love? And with her? She had always believed him to utterly despise her. After all, taking into account his actions whenever they were in the same room, it seemed to be obvious; the way he would always stand aloof and yet still gaze upon her disapprovingly, his awkward attempts at conversation when he clearly thought talking to her beneath him… Perhaps in any other man, Elizabeth would have attributed the standing back to shyness, the gaze to be admiring, the stilted chats to be a product of nervousness – but this was Mr. Darcy! Of course he wouldn't be nervous or shy. More likely, she had correctly interpreted everything he'd said, and he simply wished for a wife very clearly beneath him in ranking, one that would never stand up to him. Yes, that was it. If Elizabeth had been thinking straight, she would have realized at once how absurd that idea was (both because he would not wish for a wife raking so far below him, and because she would never meekly obey anyone, and Darcy knew that), but she was still reeling from the tumult of her emotions, which had been in a dizzying uproar since her conversation with Colonel Fitzwilliam, and were only further incensed and confused during her conversation – argument? – no, her exchange with Mr. Darcy. That was the real reason Elizabeth was leaning back on the wall, breathing deeply and staring at the rain. She was utterly confused and shocked and angered and saddened all at once, and scarcely knew what to do; so she did nothing. -xxxFitzwilliam Darcy, striding away around the temple with quick, determined strides, was in a similar boat. He had gone from eager anticipation to the most desolation he had ever experienced, in a conversation that couldn't have lasted more than five minutes; even more proof, had he needed it, of Elizabeth's complete power over him. Without his knowledge, Darcy's quick, sure stride slowed, and soon he was standing perfectly still under the pouring rain, his fists clenched by his sides. She had refused him. She hated him. He was the last – the last man she would ever… Darcy pounded one fist into the other hand, his face suddenly contorted in anger. "The goddamned last man!" he snarled. How could she – did she truly hate him so much, that she would prefer a man like Mr. Wickham over him? Or even Mr. Collins? Elizabeth may have been drawn in by Wickham's tall tales, but she knew full well the extent of Collins' bumbling; but even so, Darcy was left to be the last man? Darcy swallowed hard, the anger on his face shifting into a strong determination. He would show Elizabeth that he was not, nor would he ever be, the last man! He began walking again, even faster than before. It occurred to him as he walked that perhaps he ought to be careful not to go about this the wrong way; after all, hadn't Elizabeth also complained about his ungentlemanly conduct? In truth, Darcy had no idea of what he would do to make things right; what could he do? He had a dim idea of correcting her impressions of Wickham, and further explaining his reasoning behind separating Miss Bennet and Bingley – but beyond that he knew nothing that could approach fixing this monumental mistake of his.
He glanced up for the first time from the ground moving rapidly under his feet when he felt the rain stop hitting his head and shoulders, and was stunned to realize that he was, once more, standing in front of Elizabeth. His feet had turned him around and carried him back to her without his knowledge or assent – and it seemed they still had a mind of their own as they continued to carry him closer. She was slumped back on the temple wall for support, hands bracing her upright, her sodden dress clinging to her skin and her dark hair hanging down heavily. Darcy's eyes, along with his feet, seemed to rebel from his control, though he couldn't really blame them for being so utterly fascinated with her profile. He knew the exact moment she glanced up and saw him, for he could not look away; their eyes met and she opened her mouth as though to say something – Darcy would never know what it was, however, because before any sound could escape her parted lips, his feet came to a halt in front of her, barely two steps away. His hands (joining the mutiny), reached out to grasp her shoulders and gently tug her forward. Elizabeth had been leaning her weight on the wall, and so when he pulled her from its support she stumbled a little, almost literally falling into his arms. Darcy stood still for the shortest, tiniest, most miniscule instant, staring down at her; she raised her head up to meet his eyes (her own sparkling more than ever), still looking completely shocked – and he could bear it no more. Finally taking the hints the rest of his body had been sending him, Darcy bent his head, and captured her lips with his. And he kissed her. -xxxElizabeth was afraid that she might be lost in a dream. How else would she find herself proposed to by Darcy? Proposed to, or… kissed? She hadn't expected him to return; in fact, judging from the slightly surprised look in his eyes when she had first glanced at him, he hadn't expected it either. However, his surprise had quickly faded to be replaced with something else – what she did not know – as he continued walking up to her. Elizabeth had opened her mouth to say something; it would not have been angry, she was sure of that, for however she felt now, confusion and an uncharacteristic sorrow were at the height of her emotions, her passionate fury already died out. But it did not matter, anyway, as the words – whatever they had been – never left her lips. Because Darcy had stopped in front of her, very close, and the look in his eyes suddenly became clear to Elizabeth: he was gazing at her, not with his customary look of boredom or aloofness, but with a naked, open face that showed the true force of his love for her. It took her breath away. While Elizabeth was entranced speechless by the emotions in Darcy's eyes, his hands were busying themselves by reaching out and gripping her shoulders, pulling her forward. Elizabeth had not expected this, and stumbled forward into him, colliding with his chest. She was astounded, and couldn't seem to properly grasp that this was real; she was not leaning against Mr. Darcy, hands splayed on his chest to support herself, his own arms on her shoulders. But she was. Elizabeth slowly raised her head up to look at him, and was suddenly shocked once more by the pure emotion in his eyes. She stared into them, entranced again, and didn't even notice them approaching her, the distance between them lessening, until his mouth descended upon her own, and he began to fiercely kiss her. And without thinking about it, without even realizing what she was doing, Elizabeth began to kiss
along with one thousand pounds. lively. her own eyes. she was a gentleman's daughter. under his. no apology will be enough. but she had yet to pull free from his arms. "I can assure you that none of my actions or words were ever intended to be hurtful to you. "I have long known you to be the most charming. And her lips. in a voice that stopped just short of shaking. He had always hoped Mr. Darcy took a deep breath. petite body. perhaps. but as long as Elizabeth believed Wickham's stories. wishing that he did not have to recount this next part. and the small of her back. Darcy closed his eyes briefly. let alone love. "Miss Elizabeth Bennet. beautiful. and Darcy even fancied that her eyes. In fact. him. For that. and she had in Netherfield on what made a woman accomplished. and began again. as she kissed him back. his eyes had closed. Wickham as a clergyman. and one began to grow on his own face as he continued (and. Wickham was the son of my father's steward. provided for by my father. Caroline Bingley. Darcy knew that only because he could no longer see Elizabeth's face. Mr. explaining the truth of the matter. both wet. and Darcy's faded accordingly. and remembered the discussion he. pressed against his own. but warm and sending sparks down his fingers straight to his heart. trying to regain his voice. Although he personally would not mind at all being forced to marry because she was compromised. and he had to break away before he did something he would regret. indeed. Wickham. Her slender. having been so used to the flirtatious ladies of the ton. her hands resting on his chest. I concede to your greater knowledge as her sister. an education for Mr. I do regret being so wrong. I do not know what he told you. staring into her eyes. he had secured in his will. so I will simply inform you of the facts. thick hair. Elizabeth trembled slightly under his fingers. Darcy had a sneaking suspicion that Elizabeth would feel differently." Elizabeth smiled tremulously as she heard the emphasis Darcy had placed on the word 'accomplished'. We grew up together. Not to mention. When my father died about five years ago. and he moved it to cup her cheek. wellmannered. Her long. and even went to Cambridge together. "Mr. she would never trust. Kissing back. softened when he apologized and resolved to act. and deserved much better. before him. and though I do not regret trying to save my friend from what I believed would have been an unhappy marriage. and like a second son to my father. Kissing him. So Darcy steeled himself. but I am resolved to write to Bingley immediately." he said. Elizabeth's smile dropped from her face. Darcy's hand on Elizabeth's hair lifted free. but she did not look away. further disconcerting her with his heretofore unseen dimples). though he did not know it. moving with him. and as a boy he was my close friend. However. which had hardened at the mention of her sister. And he needed at least the hope that she might. accomplished woman of my acquaintance." At the mention of Jane. he was my father's godson. Elizabeth Bennet was kissing Darcy. he was not aware of anything else but her. I mistook her polite propriety as a lack of interest. Darcy took heart from the smile. Deserved only the best. Wickham had grown . At the sound.back. and began: "As to your complaints about my treatment of Mr. Wickham would enter the church. and Darcy's love. intelligent. Perhaps this was how he should have proposed. He needed to know that he had done all he could. He confessed that he found it a much more enjoyable experience… Darcy cleared his throat softly. -xxxAt some point. underneath his hands. It was almost more than he could bear.
Georgiana. "Mr. I could not do more. and when our parents died. Elizabeth. she was entrusted to my. Wickham. we did not encounter eachother again until this past summer. and I would be most honored if you consented to be my wife. looking away from Elizabeth to glare at the wall. "My sister. for even she. he applied to me for yet more money. but it is due to her that I know of. Wickham followed them. Darcy truly had . the elopement. for he had a previous attachement to Mrs. She is still greatly changed by the experience. "I must beg a vow of secrecy from you regarding this next part of my tale. irrevocably in love with you." Darcy spun to look at Elizabeth." Darcy missed Elizabeth's gasp of shock at this news. Wickham. with her active imagination." For a brief moment. and though I did not believe him. "Mr. Without realizing it. Younge. She left school about a year ago. but. for fear of my sister's reputation and her feelings. she has become withdrawn to the point of barely communicating with strangers. sending him out of town. and wrote Mr. Therefore. I refused. and upon seeing me Georgiana could not bear to hide the affair from a brother that she loved and looked up to almost as a father. However. for I – I am deeply. and whispered as if in a daze.more and more disreputable and less my childhood friend in Cambridge. Elizabeth was staring at him. Wickham had implied that he would be studying the law with this money. but hardened once more as he added. not looking away from his eyes. Mr. his hand unconsciously smoothing across Elizabeth's cheek. "She was but fifteen years old at the time." Darcy swallowed multiple times before he could continue. As to those against my character – I cannot explain those away. could never have conjectured this. and any semblance of friendship or good regard dissolved instantly as he quite berated me. -xxxElizabeth was quite sure that she was not dreaming." Elizabeth nodded shakily. and he took up a thunderous expression. Younge. he let go of her and began to pace as he spoke. when (after his own father's death) he informed me that he did not wish to become a member of the clergy. two years ago. this had to be happening. but soon the topic he was addressing darkened his face. No. However." he approached her. to reconsider your judgments of me. With her help. and was able to prevent. is ten years my junior. and now he wished to be ordained. "I beg of you. and went with a companion to Ramsgate. "I promise." Darcy gently lifted Elizabeth's hands and kissed each palm with a surprising tenderness and innocence that contrasted with his hungry kiss before. indebting himself and indulging in many immoral activities. care. and was easily tricked. as these were your main objections to my suit. I only wish that you understand the reasons behind my apparent cruelty to Mr. wide-eyed. though she had uncharacteristically not yet said a word. we were most deceived of her character. and paced faster as he continued. which meant that Mr. taking her limp hands in both of his." Elizabeth observed with awe how Darcy's features softened into a loving. and to your sister. and Colonel Fitzwilliam's. to myself and doubtless to others about town. I arrived at Ramsgate several days earlier than expected. Naturally. if I would just give him the money. always shy. "Please forgive me for telling you of such distressing events. We of course dismissed Mrs. saying that he had concluded that the law was not for him. he… Wickham so enamored himself of Georgiana that she believed herself in love. and trusts few. I agreed to pay him instead the sum of three thousand pounds. Wickham was undoubtedly after Georgiana's fortune of thirty thousand pounds. but I am sure that revenging himself upon me was far from a deterrent." Darcy paused. I acted as though I did. indulgent expression when speaking of his sister. and considered all connections between us severed. and consented to elope with him. Darcy's face lit up in another brilliant smile. his eyes wet. No one must know of what I am about to tell you… Promise me.
truly had kissed her… Had kissed her! Without conscious thought. or even to respond to his proposal – his second proposal! And despite all she'd already said! It occurred to her. her cheeks flushed bright red. -xxxThe walk was not as long as it seemed. in the silence that followed. and soon they stood. and when he raised his head. not to apologize or to explain herself. clearing it several times before he could speak again. and Darcy bowed his head. She knew that he would never wish to speak to her again after her treatment of him today. on one cheek. so it was all the more striking). there was a large red mark. to the point where Elizabeth was quite sure she might never speak again. with a note of finality in her voice. and one palm swung up to slap his cheek." he said. I insist. and they set off. she turned her head to avoid his gaze. hard. her disgust was too great. which only further embarrassed her." He reached out before she could step away." he said quietly. Elizabeth. and yet Elizabeth still slapped him for daring to ask again. and took firm hold of her arm. and let go. "The rain appears to have stopped. . and was still in quite the state of shock. his entire being suffused with a deep sadness and desperation. Elizabeth looped it through his. she pulled her hands free of his. that Darcy must think her slap the answer to his question. Upon seeing this. and done all he could do to change her mind. Darcy's emotion choked his throat. and even then it was merely a hoarse croak. "I – thank you. -xxxDarcy could barely look at her. "No. "If you will allow me to escort you to the Collins'?" He could see Elizabeth glance at him in surprise. "But I am sure I can make it on my own. and even as she let go of his arm. A loud smack echoed in the air (the rain had ceased at some point during Darcy's explanation. he gripped hers and leaned in close. truly had told her the most outrageous stories. pain welling up inside him and threatening to spill over. Elizabeth was telling him that she had heard him out. in a purely instinctive reaction to the belated realization that a man (not even her betrothed) had stolen a kiss.proposed to her. after a moments hesitation. and he had to glance away. and she was still unsure of whether she even wished him to. she could not seem to speak. Elizabeth wished fervently that she was capable of sinking into the ground. in the shape of a hand. and believed it to be a distinct warning. startled doe eyes briefly flitting over his face before returning to the view. Darcy. and in doing so missed the single tear that slid down his cheek to fall to the ground. not meeting her gaze." Darcy closed his eyes briefly. but he had said all he could say. hidden from the Collins' house by the stone wall. Darcy. It was only then that Elizabeth remembered the events surrounding the kiss. She was done with him. she could not even bear to look at him. not looking at Elizabeth. heard the finality. "God bless you. After several long moments. However. however. She had not had the time to properly absorb all of what he'd said." Elizabeth said. the still-stinging mark on his cheek attested to that. Darcy raised his head. Mr. But he could not let her go without a word. and still did not wish to associate with him. "Farewell." she faltered. and her own eager participation.
Although. Collins. and even refused to apologize for what he had done to poor Jane… . as she sat down abruptly on a nearby chair. well-rested. the man. she was not quite sure what. sunny and cloudless. but put it up to dreams of his lady-love. of course. And once he had reached Rosings and made his way to his room (leaving a sizeable mud trail) Darcy had been far too tired to do anything but collapse in his bed and sleep. She stood with a smile and walked over to the window to be met with a beautiful day that perfectly matched her mood. aching all over. sliding over the tender spot on his cheek. how he had insulted both her and her family. and he chuckled. making his way to the window and observing the beautiful day with a sour expression. and watched as she was welcomed into the warm house by a concerned Mrs. after months in Darcy's service it would have been impossible for him to note the attraction he felt. It seemed as if the world only wished to taunt him. It was only when her eyes wandered over the stone wall not far from the house that she remembered the events of the night before. too hot under his covers. before forcibly shaking such thoughts from her head. Second. the supposed gentleman. A slight smile crossed his face. not to mention taken advantage of her shocked state. had kissed her the previous night! They were not engaged! Although he certainly wishes to be… Elizabeth could not help thinking. she stepped back and ran away into the yard. but suddenly. convinced it was Darcy come to – to – well. What mattered was the way he had proposed. "The last man…" A single tear followed the words. -xxxAll through breakfast Elizabeth felt awkward and paranoid. and he could no longer prevent himself from remembering – Darcy was disturbed from his increasingly melancholy thoughts by his footman entering just in time. but she was certain that it would be horrible. before turning and beginning the walk back to Kent along the darkening.Elizabeth stood there a moment longer. Darcy watched her go. The man noticed his master's oddly flushed cheeks and glittering eyes. He stood unsteadily. and he had been forced to trudge through nearly two miles of muck in the raging downpour. and Darcy continued to chuckle brokenly. even more so since it had begun raining again as he walked back to Rosings. feeling gritty. and she instantly lost all enjoyment in the day. without another word. The last man. her stomach threatening to heave and her balance suddenly failing her. muddy road. indeed. and quite possibly the secondmost miserable he'd ever been in his life. The reasons behind Darcy's proposal were unimportant. More tears slipped down his face as he walked. But now he was free to think of it. -xxxDarcy woke. because the previous night topped the list. Elizabeth awoke feeling luxurious. shaking his head. and he almost hoped that she might be leaning closer. and recovering from a wonderful dream. jumping at every small noise. After all. that had given him the benefit of being too preoccupied with getting out of the rain to dwell on… things.
In reality. and stuttered a little in her reply. windowsills at Rosings) to ask where she had been the previous evening. However. mention of the rain prompted him begin anew. with his Aunt Catherine persistently questioning him about where he had disappeared to the previous night. And. sir. "I-I was on a walk. when I was held back by the rain. finally. She instantly flushed red. (on the magnificent and plentiful. always prided herself on being able to discern people's true characters. looking amused and calling his name. making him quite nauseous. while eager to tell her his tale of woe. not with the way his face had softened as he spoke of her. no matter how many glasses of water he drank. this time on the state of the esteemed and condescending Lady Catherine's grounds. in straightening off the wall. with indeed . A great heat swept over him. after all. and watching Elizabeth approach him. The world swam before his eyes. Darcy was beginning to feel increasingly warm. but he was oblivious. At the sight of her. -xxxBreakfast was a horrid experience for Darcy. he simply did not regret trying to protect his friend. on a bright sunny day with few clouds. he rose from the table and strode away without a word. and Elizabeth could not help but bite her lip. Darcy was still standing in the near-deserted path entrance. unable to continue mocking Darcy when remembering Mr. however. with the intent of going back inside to his room and lying down. he had hardly made it outside before a great weakness swept over him. and he was forced to lean back against a convenient wall simply to keep his balance. from simply the complexity of his tale (who would be able to come up with all those details on the spot?). Had Darcy not been so fully in the grips of his delusion. and her shape was quite less pleasing and feminine. However. he may have noticed that Elizabeth's voice was much deeper than ever before. Darcy caused his head to rush once more. Had she truly been so wrong about him? Elizabeth had. Darcy had stood from the table with the intent of taking a walk through the grounds to breathe in some fresh air and hopefully calm himself. she was sure that he would never make up something so horrible happening to his sister. and for a few short instants he was completely insensible. as well as the nature of it – however little Elizabeth might like Darcy. there was the way that Wickham. dizzying him until he squeezed them shut. his feverish mind interpreted things quite differently. Darcy smiled widely. Finally throwing down his fork. so that it seemed to him he was standing in the temple again. never dared to announce it publicly… But he was such a nice. leaving behind his untouched food and astonished Aunt.But he did apologize. and very expensive. surely she could not have been so far off the mark? But all the evidence seemed to prove Darcy correct. realizing that perhaps it was not simply heartbreak that plagued him. and his eyes turned quite glassy as he staggered forward a few steps. Wickham. and Elizabeth soon tuned him out. paused mid-sentence. falling into an illusory world." Of course. fearing for his health. Colonel Fitzwilliam joking good-naturedly with him about the same. with rain pouring down around him. charming man! Surely he could not have done such horrible things! Elizabeth was interrupted from her thoughts by Mr. Added to all of this. His thoughts were in a muddle. can I blame him for that? And what of Mr. and his own stomach rebelling against the sight and smell of the food. of course. Collins pausing in his long dissertation. his brief moment of clarity soon passed as. Darcy opened his eyes and straightened off the wall. returning to pondering what Darcy had said. Wickham? The same stubborn little voice protested.
eyes speaking of tenderness and love. Darcy laughed and stepped forward. all mirth left him. his smile fading as he gazed sadly at Fitzwilliam. though. in yanking his arm away from Elizabeth's hand (though he wasn't quite sure why he had done so. she had been so caught up in her thoughts upon leaving. and stumbled back several steps. upset his precarious balance. Darcy's cheeks were flushed bright red. shouting through his rage how she did not have the right to touch him. and her hair considerably shorter. However. that she realized where she was. "Aren't you tired. "Darcy? Are you alright?" At this innocent question. terrible. as he was floating away from his body. the Colonel's smile soon dropped off his face when he took in the sight of his cousin. yes. as he would love nothing more than to be held by her and to hold her in return). Darcy. she would be seeming to avoid the thoughts that plagued her mind. who had followed him shortly after he left the breakfast table. is it not?" At first. and she was so preoccupied. and Elizabeth prided herself on never backing down from a challenge. closing her eyes. Darcy? Let's go back to Rosings. drawing closer. but when he began to talk about the nonexistent. alright?" He reached out to take his cousin's arm. and the world tilted sideways. A great trick. the lovely Miss Elizabeth. colors shifting and lights sparkling across his field of vision. When he finally caught himself. "Yes. He heard a familiar voice cry his name as if from a great distance. to be sure. but her own nature would not allow her to. has it not?" He chuckled again. but he had no way to reply. he visibly rallied his spirits. his eyes glassy.no light curves to feast his eyes upon. but Darcy snatched it back. however. "What prompted that? I don't think I've ever seen our dear Aunt so offended. Looking slightly demented. Then. in turning and leaving. and suddenly he was advancing forward. disagreeable man. and gestured at the sky. he began to speak. "Horrible rain we're having. and all was fading to black… -xxxAfter breakfast. if apparently heavy. and he stepped forward. and drew a hand across her face with a sigh. hoping to clear her head. when it became apparent that Darcy was mistaking him for their acquaintance. Fitzwilliam was amused. his odd smile growing wider. Elizabeth instantly wished she could turn back. in the process of walking forward. and wore a rather disturbing grin. How could she dwell on such things? She hated the proud. but from you? The model of politeness?" However." he said indulgently. Elizabeth walked forward to the place she had stood last night. "Darcy!" he now called smilingly. it's been quite an experience at this spot for us both. Darcy's 'Elizabeth' was in reality his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. Elizabeth had taken advantage of the beautiful day to go for a long walk. "Ah! My dearest Miss Elizabeth… Charmed to see you here again. Almost instantly. and always had! . he was swaying unsteadily. not after how she had so brutally rejected him… Somehow. that it was not until she began to climb the hill leading to it. Surely this was a challenge if there ever was one! Finally reaching the temple. taking his cousin by the arm. and leaned on the wall once more. muttering something about being 'the last man'. her imagination conjured up the image of Darcy standing in front of her. somewhat incoherently. a furious heat spilled through his body. rain. soft voice beseeching her to accept him… She quickly opened her eyes. her face older. her chin rounder. and of course her eyes not the ones he had always so admired: in short. that she had unwittingly begun to walk down the same path that led to the temple. his legs buckled.
and his dearest friend. and not a fair basis for any deep dislike. indeed. the passion in Darcy's speech – not to mention the incredibly personal nature – touched something deeper within her than Wickham's simple list of misfortunes. Bennet (who was so favorable to her eldest and youngest two daughters that she dismissed the second-eldest and middle out of hand) Elizabeth could not help but be a little bit self-conscious about her appearance. he had not actually slighted anyone other than her. "Yes. Darcy's considerable pride: yes. Elizabeth could scarcely believe that she had ever been fooled by Wickham's shallow acting. though. but with a sister like Jane. Thinking with a clear head. play the devil's (in this case. trying to justify herself: he was proud. Elizabeth possessed quite the pride of her own. simply because of his money. upon further thought. after what she had heard the previous night. if she could not dismiss outright most of them. in a fashion. directed towards Darcy in the past). that when someone tried to question it. having witnessed the true depth of Darcy's feelings on the subject. and I can hardly blame him for his treatment of the man now. Elizabeth wasn't sure why that even belonged on her list of grievances. his manner had seemed deeply saddened. but was it necessarily a bad one? After all. Elizabeth ran out of reasons. which was less easy for her to forgive. been perfectly polite. on the whole." she murmured aloud. Elizabeth could freely admit . she had joked about it. in a most ungentlemanly manner… At this. Darcy's) advocate and attempt to refute her own arguments." That was truer than she'd known. it was not a good trait.Elizabeth was well on her way to storming back down the hill in a fit of righteous anger and indignation (of the type that had been. simply distant. was quite ashamed to admit to herself that. if she wished to forgive herself of her own. he had cruelly mistreated Mr. but brave.. and had. I think I ought to commend him for his restraint!" Having easily dismissed one of her main reasons to dislike Darcy. perhaps. Yes. she found that she could at least concede that they were merely human faults. And had Darcy himself not explained this just several days previous? "We neither of us perform to strangers. However. I do believe that Mr. While there was little true evidence either way. but hadn't Darcy given her good reason to question it now? What were her reasons? Elizabeth laid them down. now that she was actively attempting to find ways to excuse him. and as such. On the topic of performing to strangers. when she was brought up short by a single thought: But why? Why did she hate him? Elizabeth had always been so sure in her hate. Wickham's true nature. Elizabeth could hardly mock him for such a fault. "Yes. Elizabeth set out to prove the others similarly wrong. Bingley's happiness. which she had to admit had been slighted – and could that be another reason for her dislike of Darcy? Elizabeth. she felt obliged to think over the ones she had set out – to. At the time." Perhaps – laughable though it seemed – Darcy truly was shy. Indeed. he had similarly interfered with both her sister. he had taken the liberty to kiss her and embrace her. he looked down on all as below him. she dismissed them on the spot. and.. Jane. and. a great foundation for her dislike had been built when Darcy offended her with his comment about her being 'barely tolerable'. For instance. so Darcy's comment had unwittingly cut her deeper than she'd shown. he was rude. Darcy was right all along about Mr. due to her inherent fairness. and a mother like Mrs. The most obvious place to start with was Wickham. if had he not mortified mine. but now. much of his rudeness and apparent scorn derived from his refusals of conversation or dancing. Elizabeth could see that. perhaps too often. he had insulted her entire family. What was it she had told Jane? "I could easily forgive his pride. Elizabeth thought it only fair that she forgive Darcy of his pride. And if so. yes. Wickham. Of course. he believed that everything would work out the way he wished. though she tried not to be. thinking about his pride led Elizabeth to think about Darcy's habitual rudeness and his looking down on all the people of her acquaintance.
and of the highly inappropriate embrace and kiss she and Darcy had shared. What Darcy had done was wrong in the eyes of any respectable society – he had taken liberties that. Those with money and status generally got what they wanted more often. Although she loved her daughters. it was easy to imagine why Darcy would not care for her. First. who. while there was nothing wrong with her quiet nature. he had done it with good intentions. Elizabeth could delay thinking about Darcy's – and her own – indecorous actions no longer. she had to admit were not nearly as mature as they ought to be. Elizabeth closed her eyes tightly and buried her face in her hands. unwittingly following the same path Darcy had the previous night as he explained Wickham's misdeeds to her. and so Elizabeth began attempting to sort through her feelings. the only thing that might persuade her to do so was if he reversed them – which he had promised to do. and far too obsessed with the militia. Elizabeth was far less eager to admit fault. despising or not. much as she wished to. she knew little about how to care for them. that of Mr. trying to think logically. Elizabeth knew that she was perfectly within her rights to slap him for taking advantage of her in such a way – though perhaps she ought to have done it straightaway. lack of modesty or privacy. Bingley and Jane. quite frankly. As for Mary. would have forced them into a marriage of convenience. and a man as wealthy and well-bred as Darcy had probably never been refused a thing in his life… before now. at the very best bordering the line of propriety. Collins. beyond marrying them off. if it had been in her power to save Charlotte from her loveless marriage to Mr. with an inward sigh. but even she could not deny that her father's habit of hiding in his library or study. Even just thinking about it. the way she had. while Elizabeth agreed deserved to be out. When it came to Mr. a wave of anger on her sister's behalf swept through Elizabeth – but. Her mother she could barely defend. Elizabeth had talked things out with her friend and was willing to accept her decision and support her. The slap the previous . Elizabeth finally confronted it. due to her love of gossip. However. although it was merely his distaste of fools (such as his wife) and idle conversation (such as his wife's) that led him to do so – much like Darcy. She was fully aware that she had been avoiding two issues in her mind. And now. Her piano-forte skills. Elizabeth could not truly forgive Darcy's foolish actions any time soon. Elizabeth stood at this thought and began to pace. Bennet was. the situations were highly different. as she was wont to do. having thoroughly gone over every other topic. rather than waiting until after he had re-proposed. and limited match-making skills. And as for his attitude about his wealth – well. However. Exhaling harshly and halting in place. Elizabeth may resent it. Another of her mothering faults was clearly evident in both Kitty and Lydia. a nervous fool. rather than participating in any social activity. So. and it did not recommend her much when she played in public. simply in the interest of preserving her reputation. were not as good as she liked. Mrs. Elizabeth realized with amusement. had anyone observed them. after all. Though she wished nothing but to avoid thinking about these two issues.. she could not simply leave them alone. Elizabeth could not truly despise Darcy for acting as he had. and. would Elizabeth not have done the same? Of course. But even so.that Darcy had good reason to insult her family. Bennet. The only thing that remained was to wait and see if he followed through on his promise… though Elizabeth had the odd feeling that he would. especially not when she played somber pieces at something as upbeat as a ball. though it was hardly politic to do so. And yet… And yet Elizabeth could not find it in her to be angry at Darcy. Both were the most outrageous flirts. but even she could hardly deny that it was the way of the world. too. the way Darcy had separated Jane and Bingley. What Darcy had done was most certainly wrong – there was absolutely no denying that. could be seen as quite rude. she ignored it.. and unlike Darcy. her habit of quoting Fordyce's sermons and making generally discouraging and depressing (while at the same time superior) comments was certainly disconcerting and rude.
Elizabeth was immediately accosted by a concerned Mrs. by the way her friend's . that in a single long walk and a deep examination of her feelings. and it had been beautiful. as hypocritical as the action may have been. The memories of the kiss brought back the feelings she had experienced. -xxxDarcy tossed and turned in his bed for many hours after his cousin had. Truly. And so it was. but it was not as if it would ever happen again. that Elizabeth Bennet lost all hate towards a certain Mr. and prayed for his recovery. disgusted – but still incredibly fine – eyes. for if Darcy's fever did not break within the next 48 hours. She most certainly was not in love with him. he told them. Sadly. Upon examining Darcy. the doctor said. In fact. Elizabeth turned and began the walk back to the Collins' house. and a pair of cold. becoming drenched and probably getting hypothermia. and press two fingers to her lips. while it lasted. "Oh.night had taken with it the extent of her shock and anger. The entire household. Elizabeth had truly believed his love for her. too!" Elizabeth was taken aback by this unusual display of worry and. angry. That kiss had made her feel so unbelievably cherished and loved. for a short time. strange colors. Once it did break he would be well on his to recovery – but as it was. Darcy. Darcy should be perfectly fine. given the way she had spurned Darcy. before snatching them away as she realized what she was doing. she could not help but smile almost fondly. It had been her first kiss. but she was willing to concede that he was a true gentleman that deserved her friendship at the least. a miracle that he'd managed to fight the fever and function normally as long as he had. remembering it. because she could feel it in his arms around her. that Elizabeth could not help but to respond. managed to get him there following his collapse. now. held in his arms with his lips pressed to hers: the way that. he determined that the man was a victim of a dangerously high fever. Collins. However. this realization had come one day too late. when thinking about the event. and the doctor was immediately called for. providing that his fever broke soon. could taste it on his lips. Elizabeth was filled with a feeling akin to – unexpectedly enough – nostalgia. from Lady Catherine to Fitzwilliam to even Darcy's footman. his collapse was long overdue. Upon arriving back at the Collins'. Lizzy. Elizabeth was shocked to realize that she actually felt a bit disappointed at this thought. that was what those at Rosings were worried about the most. and was not a sign of any greater disease. Shaking that emotion out of her head. even more. he was still well within its hold. the sight of the dignified man being carried urgently through the halls of Rosings attracted quite a bit of attention. When Fitzwilliam conveyed the fact that Darcy had in fact been experiencing delusions before he passed out. Of course. most likely the result of walking home through the pouring rain. and that he was far (and climbing farther) from being the last man she would ever wish to marry. the man himself was unaware of all this. It was. and now. the doctor reassured them that it came hand in hand with the fever. he was as good as dead. where were you? We were all so worried again – and after yesterday. with the help of several servants. blamed themselves for not noticing his illness sooner. trapped in a confusing world of heat. pain.
Elizabeth pointed out. "Elizabeth Bennet. she had been most cruel to him. None of her actions or words had been justified. . Elizabeth was even more mortified than she had been the previous night. Lizzy. despite knowing all she did now. Collins had spoken so vehemently against them. Now that she had sorted out her feelings towards the gentleman. surely his only motivation had been to spend time with the object of his affection. of that Elizabeth had no doubt. possibly excluding the slap – but the timing of that was surely the worst possible! Though Elizabeth was forced to admit that. in a manner reminiscent of Mrs. this morning during breakfast. and she could not ask her friend to hide any more walks from him. Charlotte's hands immediately fell to her sides and she stopped her flutterings. and he would vastly disapprove should he find us out here. the young lady could come up with a number of examples. Charlotte? I simply went on another walk. on previous jaunts. It might be difficult to get into Darcy's hands. Collins sees us. no." Finally realizing the reason for her friend's anxiousness. Yes. How. for I told him you were in your room. guilt had a great part to play as well. Elizabeth smiled gratefully and began to walk inside with her. "But it got you to stop. what on earth could you be more fascinated in than Mr. Now do come inside before Mr. I'm afraid I should not have been teasing you." Charlotte sighed. for you were only looking out for my welfare. but was cut off by the topic of discussion's loud call for his wife. Surely you are grateful! After all. then? It did not take Elizabeth long to decide that a letter might be the only viable option left. Bennet. "Oh! Thank you my dear friend. She had already done more than enough. as I often do. "That is. yes. Darcy. "What is it. Besides. surely that could not have been what transformed you into my mother!" At that. But I must ask – why is it necessary for you to deceive your husband about my whereabouts? I was. and mere politeness dictated that she apologize – although that was certainly not her only motivation. it was not in any way certain that Elizabeth would even come across Darcy on one of these walks now. Charlotte left her friend to go see to her husband. and Elizabeth completed the walk back to her room in solitary thought. that is just mean!" With a smile bordering on a smirk. Collins's diatribe against young ladies walking out alone?" Elizabeth's blush only deepened at this. suffering from a headache. Lizzy. she most likely would not accept the man's suit." Elizabeth blushed. and so surely that is not what Charlotte had done upon hearing Elizabeth's statement.hands were fluttering about in the air. for Elizabeth doubted whether she would be able to continue her walks in Hunsford now that Mr. And now he must hate her too much to wish to walk with her. but the one currently at the top of her list was Mr. after all. much as it may seem otherwise. if you were even paying attention! But of course you were. many of which not very fascinating themselves. But how could she explain this to the man? Such an address would undoubtedly be a rather long one. With a sigh and a quick apology. and she opened her mouth to respond. I merely wished to save you from another speech. you seemed quite disturbed. echoing through the air. that is all. "Oh. "Yes. and polite society would never give them privacy for such a length of time. you are very clever. what was more fascinating? In truth. just taking a short walk. didn't it?" The good wife of a parish would never be so ill-mannered as to roll her eyes. and Charlotte eyed her thoughtfully. but a letter was definitely easier than achieving privacy for the length of time necessary to explain all her feelings.
but I'm afraid that this contains matters important enough that I am quite willing to bypass propriety. I daresay it isn't. "Would you do me a great favor." Charlotte replied. and more than once. and I beg you to – " "Of course I will help you!" Charlotte interrupted her with a smile. Collins was able to arrange for Elizabeth to ride out with the post the very next morning. and deliver this letter to one of the party at Rosings? I had planned to do so myself. her father must surely be going out of his mind with desire for intelligent company! Though her friend and cousin were reluctant to see her go. I had not thought you and Miss de Bourgh to be particular friends – but what is this?" For she had turned the letter over and discovered the recipient's name written on it in Elizabeth's feminine hand. added that with Jane gone. and take her time doing so. but it appears as though I will not get the chance. but. Charlotte. However.Indeed. and after hesitating for a long moment over how she should end it. the more Elizabeth favored the idea of a letter. and torn as well between happiness that she would not have to see him even for the short length of time necessary for a letter to switch hands." Charlotte easily took the letter. The task of writing the letter was a long and difficult one. "Although I confess myself to be quite curious. In a letter. "Is this entirely proper?" Elizabeth smiled ruefully. in writing a letter to Darcy. her mind instantly going to another thing that involved her and Darcy and was far from proper (but was exceedingly pleasant). As they had not been invited to dinner that evening. However. and an odd feeling of regret about the same. after several hours. the more she pondered it. Now her only difficulty would be getting it to him. Finding her dear friend alone in the sitting room. Darcy. "Lizzy!" Charlotte exclaimed. the more horrified she became at her own behaviour. although I must say I am surprised. The longer she pondered the events of the previous evening. Elizabeth would be able to formulate her words any way she preferred. and Mr. Elizabeth went in search of Mr. and she was leaving the next morning. in fact. she would be able to begin anew should she not like the general tone of her words. if you will aid me in my attempt. What brought about this serious breach of decorum – love? Perhaps if it were the . Lizzy. for varied reasons. then folding up the letter and addressing it to one Mr. and henceforth retreated to her room. "Of course. Though startled by her cousin's remarkable success (and secretly suspecting that he had been much happier to arrange it than he showed) Elizabeth was equally pleased for it. Elizabeth decided upon a phrase and signed her name beneath it. Charlotte. Elizabeth approached her and quietly asked for a moment. Similarly. Collins. and left her room in search of Mrs. They are very serious. which would certainly be a great advantage. Elizabeth merely expressed a great homesickness that had recently plagued her. Elizabeth was not in any way obliged to see him. When questioned about her reasons for such a desire. Elizabeth was clueless on how to get the letter to Darcy. balled-up pieces of paper were thrown furiously into the fire. "Certainly Lizzy. "No. and in a humorous aside to Charlotte. still somewhat uncertain as to whether this was the best way – but she could think of none better. Collins to beg arrangement for her to leave to Hertfordshire as soon as possible. shocked. the most tempting reason was that. and she thus became certain that to stay in Darcy's company any longer than necessary would be pure torture to the both of them. "But what is it?" Elizabeth bit her lip. Elizabeth became convinced that she had managed to phrase her thoughts as best as they would ever be. with this in mind. and so she resolved herself and held out the letter. they allowed themselves to be convinced. confused by the odd seriousness that adorned Elizabeth's features. taking up pen and paper. and Mrs. she quickly shook that emotion out of her head.
before he lapsed back into sleep. a great shock for Darcy when. Charlotte. but most commonly repeated was the phrase above. but Mr." As one might expect. It had not. waved the servant that had been watching Darcy out of the room. "I confess I did as well. not even the loud worrying of his Aunt Catherine could wake him. so she remained silent. though she had known Darcy to greatly admire Elizabeth since at least the ball at Netherfield. the Colonel's face was slack with relief. and none too late! Charlotte thought. and handed it back to Fitzwilliam. though. man! Couldn't you just tell us you felt ill like a civilized person instead of walking around with a high fever?" . pleased. waking little and then only in delirium. telling him to fetch the invalid some light repast." Fitzwilliam remarked offhandedly." Fitzwilliam handed his cousin a glass of water. and they did so. He continued to sleep through breakfast. but I am afraid I cannot elaborate. -xxx"…you were the last man in the world I could be prevailed upon to marry! …the last man!" Darcy found that the Elizabeth of his dreams was alternately much sweeter or bitterer than the original. And I don't think I can remember anything after breakfast. That is all this letter contains. "Ah. I believe she remarked on your impertinence in getting sick and dying before you were properly wed to her daughter. until quite recently. and as it is our last together for the time being. either she was (rarely) professing her own love for him. through midday. not without betraying a confidence. she led the way down the hall. and a soft female voice was whispering that he would be all right." Reminded of her slanders against the man's character. a letter in his right hand. Darcy finished the water in very little time.Colonel I would understand. he was able to fuzzily discern the features of his cousin Anne. or (frequently) shouting incredibly hateful words in his face. and briefly glancing at the letter in his hand. even as he tried to say her name." Lizzy laughed. his fever finally broke. and it was only mid-afternoon when he woke. for he is witty and kind. right as his cousin was walking through the door into his room. Darcy? I had always thought you hated him. and he sat down heavily in a chair next to the bed. he would see her with Wickham. I think it is nearly time for dinner. More hours passed. he saw a figure above him. Standing and gesturing for Elizabeth to follow her. until. as Elizabeth thought. but I am trying to repair my wrongs and make a friend out of him. In fact. to the relief of all. despite his light words." However. gone unnoticed by Charlotte how she neglected to say anything about love. Darcy slept right through the night. upon drifting into consciousness for a brief moment. which distressed him most of all. eyes dark with sympathy and worry. I see! Aunt Catherine was beside herself worrying. Occasionally. dropping the subject. but Charlotte could see that her friend was quite firmly in denial. despite the bustle surrounding him. Good God. "Come. However. "considering that you collapsed outside the moment you left. or at least an indifferent acquaintance. then." "I'm not surprised. this reply only fueled Mrs. have some water before you try to speak. once he forced his eyes fully open. It was. but she could see that Elizabeth was determined to speak no more of it. Darcy only caught sight of her for a brief moment or two. "Finally awake. Darcy!" Fitzwilliam cried. I think we shall take it separately from my husband. "Wh-" – he cleared his throat – "What happened? I have the awfulest headache. "Here. Lizzy. with him fully unaware of his surroundings. his brows drawing together in confusion. Collins's curiosity. Perhaps she is finally coming around. in the very early morning. Elizabeth blushed deeply.
I don't know why she would take it upon herself to help me. and the servant Fitzwilliam had sent away returned with the food. it isn't as though you've been secretly corresponding with the lady in question…" . with a mischievous grin. but Anne insisted quite strongly. though… You looked very nervous once I mentioned it. he finally admitted. "What do women have to do with it?" Fitzwilliam's smirk grew until it covered almost the entire lower half of his face. Fitzwilliam carefully lobbed a grape at him and succeeded in landing it in Darcy's open mouth. but he still didn't stoop to answer his cousin. Fitzwilliam didn't seem bothered by it. I suppose it was the rain. he felt the need to get back at him for all the worry he'd caused. highly amused. Darcy remained frozen. was it?" "Yes. you are!" At this. The rain. he asked. and I'm sure that she helped me greatly. "Which woman?" in a very brusque tone. "Why… Oh. reaching for the tray and began to eat. Openly amused again. Fitzwilliam continued. "Not much. "I wonder what you thought you had said. what do you think you said?" Fitzwilliam returned. not very subtly. and clutching his head. briefly shaking his head. staring openmouthed at his cousin until after the Colonel had taken the tray and dismissed the servant once more." Fitzwilliam began. Darcy rolled his eyes. Fitzwilliam. however. but as a result the entire household has had to deal with our Aunt's wrath. "Oh. because our doctor here had to leave to take care of some other worse-off patient. she was talking to me…" "More than talking to you! It was Anne who was up most of the night nursing you. for somehow she blames your foolishness on the rest of us. "I am quite sure. "What did I say?" "Well. However. I know for a fact that she fancies another man. only moving when. chewing on the grape with an annoyed expression. "I…I think I remember her. she does like you! Are you entirely sure she's as opposed to marriage as you are?" At this. and said quite a few interesting things. And poor cousin Anne…" "Anne?" Darcy frowned. and he just smirked a few moments longer before grinning and saying. the door opened."Fever?" Darcy asked. I suppose you're right. Indeed. but Fitzwilliam looked contemplative. and as soon as he swallowed it. "After all. just remarking about the terrible rain we were having – on a bright sunny day. "You wouldn't believe what happened when you first collapsed. Darcy shook his head with a smile. "Yes. Shame on you! I have no idea why you didn't seek some sort of shelter. "Speaking of women. Darcy immediately clamped his lips together. You've got no secrets from me… Open like a book." Darcy frowned. The servants could have done it. after a few minutes spent squirming under his cousin's silent but heavy glare." Fitzwilliam raised his eyebrows at the news that his cousin admired someone. but I must thank her. despite her mother's anger. still confused. The one memory I have of her was very soothing. Now that he had conversed with his cousin and could be quite assured that the other man was fine. and he opened his mouth – but before he could say a word. nothing… Just the fact that you somehow mistook me for a certain lady in your delusions. I must say. but he set aside those thoughts for the moment. relaxing into his seat with a smirk. and Fitzwilliam laughed." Though Darcy's headache was already easing." Darcy relaxed greatly. Darcy?" Darcy merely scowled and chewed. might I add." Darcy's eyes grew wide. "Miss Elizabeth Bennet. and he snapped. Is there something you'd like to tell me. it was present enough to make him slightly irritable.
sir. Elizabeth had written him? But why – he had been sure that she hated him! He examined it from every angle. leaning against the side of the carriage – and even then. "Now why. not letting his shock at Darcy admitting it show. please. Fitzwilliam jumped. Darcy was penned on the letter. and Elizabeth's thoughts wandered time and time again to Darcy. but Darcy did not even hesitate. his thoughts racing as he tried to come up with reasons for such a correspondence. Richard. scolding his heart not to hope. he halted in shock. haunted her dreams. but Fitzwilliam yanked it back before his fingers could grasp it. and what would he think of her? Elizabeth was sure that he hated her before reading it at the very least. thinking about him again! She must distract herself! Elizabeth determinedly opened her book. trying to lose herself in its pages and forget all about tall. his dark eyes and words of love. his thoughts in a muddle. believing that to be too much to ask of his prideful cousin. Darcy was oblivious to his cousin's stare as he gazed at the letter he held. Darcy! Good God…" Fitzwilliam's exasperated voice cut through Darcy's musings. I'm not in the mood for games!" At Darcy's angry tone. "Wait. Now give me the letter. "Give me that letter. but could her words possibly convince him of her utter shame and guilt? Could he possibly forgive her. far from the overbearing Lady Catherine and her incredibly disconcerting nephew. and he spared a quick glare for the man before reaching to do just that. but upon seeing how the man's face paled as he said it. dark. rain falling and rapturous kisses." he said unconvincingly. proud and mysterious men. her calm countenance not betraying the tumult of her thoughts. but he didn't look away or even meet Fitzwilliam's eyes. I'm not. "No. his own fixed on where To Mr. "Here it is. until she eventually fell asleep. delivered by the Collins-Fitzwilliam mail service!" Fitzwilliam saluted smartly. Darcy. aren't you?" Now Darcy's cheeks had gone from pale to flushed in embarrassment. her melancholy enveloping her despite her attempts to distract herself with the prospect of arriving home to her family. she was farther away from him. wait! I'm not handing this over until you admit it out loud. would the lovely Mrs. but it was far too late now. He handed the letter over to its intended recipient. But it was no good." He smirked. you've caught me. who took it in shaking fingers and gazed at it as though it contained all the wonders of the world. he looked up with bewilderment written clearly on his face. And there she was. good cousin." "In love with who?" Fitzwilliam taunted. All she could think about was how Darcy was probably receiving her letter right now. Elizabeth sighed. never seriously believing that Darcy was in love with Elizabeth. ." And he reached out to snatch it. Collins be delivering you letters from a certain Miss Bennet as she visited for tea? Is there some secret arrangement I don't know about? Are you finally in love?" Fitzwilliam had been teasing his cousin. and then leaned forward to ask. "Wait – you are? You really are in love with her. "Fine. -xxxElizabeth sat in the post carriage quietly looking out the window. realizing that he had taken his fun too far. and with every second that passed. I'm in love with her. and Fitzwilliam teasingly dangled the letter he held in the air.That caught Darcy's attention. your latest missive. even if he no longer loved her? Perhaps she should have spoken to him in person. had he not already. She probably just – "Just open it already. "For God's sakes.
he was completely lost. "Well. Still. indeed. He glanced at his cousin desperately. and. and this was saying something. looking annoyed. Aunt Catherine. held in his hands. for the unannounced visitor turned out to be the prestigious Lady Catherine de Bourgh. he was all too glad he had. however much she might hate him. of course. indeed. if not actually know what the letter contained – for he was growing more and more certain that Darcy would never tell him – then at least observe his cousin's reactions and be able to speculate. to listen to his aunt and respond to her satisfaction. realizing that he had been asked a question. However." Momentarily distracted from his thoughts about the letter. and likewise at Darcy for daring to become ill in the first place. so much so that he couldn't even remember what she had last said. Darcy nodded briefly. and soon the cousins." Immediately upon her exiting the room. he would keep wondering. But it was equally – or more – unlikely to be a profession of love. I – er – quite agree. "Nothing much. glaring at her. He had completely dazed off. in fact. Of course it was welcome. without even the courtesy of a knock. But now. she was not cruel. the man slid the paper under the bedcovers. as was their wont in such situations. for he had been very eager to. considering the letter that now lay next to his thigh. and said. and he knew. then. who would surely have taken it upon herself to read her nephew's letter – and then to soundly berate him for ever proposing to the lady in question. He must read that letter! Darcy was torn from his musings by a long pause. "Yes. been paying attention to her. "But I thought that Aunt Catherine was opposed to the whole thing?" . too. she had made that much abundantly clear. as Darcy had been in the position to train himself. just to allow Anne to continue nursing you back to health. Darcy turned desperately to Fitzwilliam. with a small incline of the head. Lady Catherine. and moments later. Darcy's headache had only just faded. and he certainly wasn't eager for another one. without paying much attention to the conversation. Darcy was well aware of the cyclic directions his thoughts were taking. On instinct. Darcy was. impatient as he was to read what he had. what could the letter hold? More testimonies of her hatred? No. Darcy frowned. it seemed that was not to be. until he could read that letter. since childhood. occasionally exchanging glances of commiseration. well out of sight under the bedcovers." The Lady eyed him suspiciously for a long moment before deciding that he had. And we both know that to refuse that honor would be a dangerous undertaking. but he could not stop himself from wondering. upon observing that her favored nephew was wide awake and. I shall fetch her directly.Just as Darcy was in the process of opening the envelope. any correspondence from Elizabeth was welcome – but what could it contain? And why on earth had she not just waited to speak to him in person next visit to Rosings? Or was she truly so disgusted by him that she could no longer bear to be in his presence? – but if she were that horrified. the door banged open. until only moments ago. Colonel Fitzwilliam. instantly began to scold Fitzwilliam for not informing her sooner that he was awake. Quickly turning his eyes to his aunt again. Her tirade was quite long. Darcy was sure that. was quite frustrated by his aunt's timely arrival. "Just what did I agree to?" Fitzwilliam smirked at him. drifted off into their thoughts. he cleared his throat and looked at his aunt with worried eyes. Fitzwilliam indicated that he should agree. he couldn't help but he annoyed at his aunt. Fitzwilliam leaned back in his chair.
and amused himself watching Fitzwilliam try to puzzle out what his words might mean. Indeed. There was certainly not going to be any peace in this room for quite some time. and even Mary's behaviour likewise embarrassed her. Elizabeth didn't think she could bear it. The second proposal… It seemed as though that second proposal had completely wiped away the first one. She wasn't quite sure why it mattered so much to her. and spoke haltingly. at the same time. nothing had – her mother was the same as ever. for before he could ask one out loud – or even decide if he wished to. Darcy's rage was something to be feared – the door was opened once again and Darcy's prediction was proven true. thinking of his arrogant words. You know how she is. Lydia. though they paid her more attention for an hour or so until the glamours of her travel wore off. Elizabeth could not even summon up more than a slight disappointment. as were her younger sisters. but now she's declaring it the best idea she's ever had. Darcy glanced at the door. -xxxThere truly was no appropriate word for how Elizabeth felt upon seeing her home again. determined not to give away the events that had passed. the unchangedness of everything had awoken her to the possibility that nothing would change. she felt a deep desolation. Darcy only shook his head. and certainly knew nothing of Darcy's failed proposal – and Darcy hoped to keep it that way.Fitzwilliam rolled his eyes. Indeed. his questions were not to be answered. his own anxiety to learn more about what was going on taking him over. once more. it seemed more and more likely. he was (hopefully) quite unaware of her displeasure with Darcy. "Why ever not?" Fitzwilliam cried. and it had certainly not changed for the better. to the point that. But enough of that – open that letter!" However. and now. be (at least in Darcy's eyes) all those lovely words he had whispered to her on beginning his second proposal. imagining how poor Darcy would feel. "Past events. brought about by – as near as she could figure – the fact that nothing had changed. "have led me to believe that I am going to want both privacy and time to peruse this particular letter. Kitty. in saying 'this particular letter'? So there really was a secret correspondence? But he'd looked shocked at receiving a letter earlier… Unfortunately for Fitzwilliam. she had believed that things would be different upon her return. she was finding it hard to conjure up any bad feelings toward Darcy at all. whereas otherwise it might have comforted her. (she had told Hill she was perfectly fine doing it on her own) Elizabeth sank down on her bed and wept into her hands. though Fitzwilliam knew of his affection for Elizabeth. He could practically see the questions running through the other man's mind: what past events? Was Darcy implying that there had been previous letters." he said. perhaps even to the extent of having good thoughts instead – and that was a slippery slope . She had undergone such a momentous change in her view of the world. as soon as she managed to secure some free time in her room to unpack her things. quite pleased with his phrasing." Darcy sat back. Elizabeth was ashamed by this. having arrived in her home. Only her perception of them had. Joy didn't seem to quite convey the ecstasy in her heart – and yet. but Elizabeth was now desperate to. Almost every word out of Mrs. and yet the things she saw had not changed. on the other hand. hearing such things. "Of course she was. merely gave her a long hug and sincerely thanked her for her return before retreating to his study – and somehow. Unconsciously. for now. Her father. and I cannot foresee receiving either anytime soon. Bennet's mouth now made Elizabeth cringe. if Darcy read her letter and still thought no better of her – but now.
but Lady Catherine was the one person who neither she nor Darcy could successfully get rid of – and she was the one determined to stay. leaving Anne (who had complained of a headache just strong enough to keep her from eating the public meal. Which meant he would have to tell her about the letter. She would avoid all conversation of the man and not dwell on him in her thoughts. certainly. he'd already foolishly admitted it to Fitzwilliam. and it only resulted in Lady Catherine scolding him all the more to hurry his healing. all she felt was guilt and admiration for the man he'd turned out to be. and she might soon find herself loving him – loving him with great reason. Elizabeth knew that at the moment. But even she could not control her dreams. But the problem was his cousin's feelings.indeed to be standing near. it would be easier for her. that was. not at all. saying they were unneeded. and he would be nothing but a memory before a month had passed. but it was difficult. He desperately hoped that she had not developed any romantic affection towards him. He could always just ask for privacy – but he had tried that. but slight enough for her to continue to watch her cousin) with Darcy. and began. after all. -xxxFinally. Although of course. but her feelings were quite capable of progressing rapidly from there. as he was on bedrest (the doctor's orders) and therefore incapable of leaving his visitors behind. When she had hated him. very late the night of her return. as Darcy must hate her now. Finally. she had left for dinner. Elizabeth did not let herself think about how Jane had been so uncharacteristically quiet and melancholy since. And now. to her face. just as Jane had with Bingley. Darcy had no wish to hurt Anne by asking her. she was resolved upon this fact before even a single sleepless night had passed in her childhood bed. especially if he wanted her to stall anyone trying to enter – which he certainly did. I would like to ask you a question. to aid him with another woman! He would not have worried about this normally. Elizabeth had come to the conclusion that it was impossible for her to feel halfway about the man. So Darcy was confused as to how to approach the subject. Her only recourse now was to forget about him. Her only hope now was to nip this attraction in the bud. However. her heart heavy with resolve. he would have to offer up the information that he cared deeply about the woman who had written the letter. Yes. with little reason but with great satisfaction. Darcy didn't particularly wish to inform his cousin – either of his cousins – of his failed proposal. despite what she had said in her letter. even in her letters. she had hated him fully. and now she feared the tides had turned the other way. and Darcy thought he could do that. but never with satisfaction. Anne's concern and care throughout his illness worried him. even as she summoned servant after servant to attend to him. as he knew that he would never marry her. for he wanted to waste no more precious time – he wanted to read that letter! He cleared his throat. he needed to ask Anne to leave the room. but at the very least. Darcy thought eagerly. Elizabeth could not seem to hope for anything more than contempt from the man. he could not let that stop him. for nothing she did seemed to stop the traitorous thoughts of his kiss. no matter her letter. Anne calmly turned them all away. he might finally get his chance! But first. and yet. surely. as Darcy didn't think he could bear being halted halfway through such a correspondence. seeing as she did not love the man in question already. Elizabeth finally drifted off to sleep. as much as he appreciated it. Alone at last! He had been in quest of such a situation the whole day long. "Cousin Anne." . as he had always been under the impression that she wished to marry him exactly as much as he hoped to wed her.
" he added quickly. obviously hiding something. Darcy caught himself in his daydreams and forcibly shook them out of his head. had it not been for this letter. and he relaxed almost instantly. and this time Darcy could not restrain a fond smile. not bothering to rise to the bait. but it was easy for Anne to see the pain in it. and stared long and hard at it. it calmed most of Darcy's fears.Across the room. Darcy thanked her and watched her go. there must be some sort of arrangement. eyes devouring the words written on the front: To Mr. and a practiced study of human behaviour – to guess the meaning behind his words. "But I ask again. let alone speak of." Darcy blurted out. "Of course not. For Darcy to even admit that he admired a woman was high praise indeed." Anne's face lit up with understanding. I have received a letter from her. for it meant that she still thought of him as just her cousin. almost instantly regretting himself. She hated him! She had refused him! He must get that into his head! Darcy gently traced the letters with his hand before abruptly turning the envelope over. Miss Bennet. "Of course not!" With those firm three words. As it was. and . He especially liked the way she wrote her D. and I am very familiar with what makes the ill feel better. and he smiled slightly as he spoke. However." Darcy spoke hesitantly. Anne raised her head from her book and raised her eyebrows quizzically. and the blush that tinted his cheeks when he said so led her to believe that it was much more than admiration that he felt. where he had hidden it earlier in the day. saying that she would try to give him privacy as long as possible. "Well. and he remarked. clipped sentences. You think I would not want to ease your pain?" Relief made Darcy a bit more open than usual. what is it that prompts this need for privacy?" Darcy's face grew closed off once more. it was easy for Anne – both very familiar with Darcy's nature. his failed proposal(s) were far too painful for him to contemplate at the moment. and almost instantly. "I was wondering if you would leave the room. Darcy. Will?" In the past. "What do you mean. Anne answered Darcy's silent question. That I would like to read. He was incredibly glad that he had not needed to tell her the whole story. his childhood nickname had always been a reassurance to hear from Anne's lips. that I – I… admired our guest. and the line slightly overlapping itself in a curl… How wonderful it would be. Darcy was sure that she would me much more like his sister. "You may have heard from Fitzwilliam already. however… Darcy pulled the letter from under his pillow. and averted his gaze from his cousin's." He finished in brisk. "It's nothing you've done wrong… More of what you've done right. Will! You are my favorite cousin after all. In so many ways she reminded him of Georgiana! If only she had been raised at Pemberley. too. She continued: "Of course I cared for you. Not to mention. her playmate before she became too sickly to play outside much – and not a suitor. gently closing the door behind her. is he was receiving letters from the lady in question. and give me some privacy for a while? Forgive my rudeness. what I've do – oh. Alone." in a voice that sounded clearly of affectionate teasing. Indeed. away from her controlling mother. "What is it. she shook her head. "Favorite cousin? Fitzwilliam will be devastated. with an elegant curve. smiling. Heart swelling with hope that she might soon see her reclusive cousin happy – and somewhat selfishly awaiting the day that her mother's matrimonial hopes for her were dashed – Anne smiled and consented to leave the room. Darcy was quite sure that he would be wallowing in sorrow right now. her elegant script spelling out Elizabeth Darcy. but why do you want me gone? Have I done something?" Anne inquired nervously. Now. to see her signing letters by that name. Anne just sighed and shook her head.
home to Pemberley to distract himself from his sorrow. the hatred necessary to aim such barbed words at another and let fly! Darcy could not bear it. Bingley from my sister. your feelings. now calmed. or myself. Darcy withdrew his hand from the envelope and unfolded the papers. and in defiance of both honour and humanity. I have not known any truly bad men (or very many men at all). I must apologize profusely for the severity of my words and the vitriolic way which they were spoken. and further apology would do us neither any good. Wickham. The most I can say is how truly wrong I now realize I was. I have so much to say. He could but try. However. He was afraid. Thus resolved. but I demand it of your justice. I will not weight you. which were last night so painful for you. Before I say any more. but I am shamefully aware of how clear I made it throughout the course of our conversation – that your character was flawed in many ways and I could neither respect nor ever marry you. his hand paused in the act of reaching inside. and was. all I will say is that you were quite correct of the gist of it and my heart quickly grew sympathetic to his apparent plight. beyond what I deem absolutely necessary. when I would have questioned it in any other. First. I write without any intention of paining you. the last man! What words to torture with! How the idea haunted him with its implications. Surely whatever he read could not make his pain worse – and mayhap it would do the opposite. and I do not expect you to forgive me with just it to aid my case. You must. he couldn't force himself to make it pull out the several papers he felt there. . can not believe were deserved. but the words are choked in my throat and my fingers cannot wield my pen long enough to express them all. in the explanation of them and of my current feelings. however. on receiving this letter. I am also ashamed to admit that the man's charm and handsomeness won me over with the rest of Hertfordshire. on whose behalf I hated you quite viciously – of this topic. and had my character not required it to be written and read. therefore. whereas your reserved looks and your first comment about me that I overheard (both which I shall address later) prejudiced me to believe the worst of you quite eagerly. and somehow. I laid at your feet last night. to heal. and the effort of writing this would be wasted if you would not take the time to peruse it. I feel it necessary to address the topic of Mr. the second that. Darcy.unfolding it to withdraw the papers within. in my own way. I know. even knowing of her and his regard for the other. by dwelling on such pains. but I feel that this must be spoken of and been done with. I am under the necessity of relating more offensive words. Of what he spoke of you. Also. understandably afraid. Darcy knew that he would not truly recover for some time. and of varying degrees of magnitude. will bestow it unwillingly now. so that it may then be forgotten. plotted until he could – and now he couldn't bring himself to unfold it! Why? Darcy knew. the depressing cry of she hates me! God. quite innocent of their ways. so I shall begin. if. and my only defense can be that despite my age and clever words. Her previous words had already haunted his dreams and Darcy knew that had it not been for his illness. Wickham. The first being that you willfully detached Mr. he would be long gone by now. and moving quickly before his courage failed him. I can only say how sorry I am. Sir. –You may not be able to forgive me for such foolishness as I displayed. this is no excuse. which I. or renewal of those rebukes. of what Elizabeth Bennet might say to him. But it must be done. The letter read as thus: Be not alarmed. Still. if ever – and he could feel the sorrow building up in him even now. you ruined the immediate prosperity and destroyed the prospects of Mr. by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments. What was wrong with him? All day he had agonized over what might be in this letter. The third and final of my accusations towards you was perhaps less plainly spoken. pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention. Mr. Three offenses of very different natures. even despite various claims. for the happiness of both. eagerly awaited the moment when he might read it.
whom I'm now convinced is quite the villain. Simply put. insulted by your remark. to my third accusation: that of your character. all helped me along. –When I first saw you. were unrepentantly rude this summer in Hertfordshire and I will not deny that or excuse you from it – but they still did not give me any true basis to hate you so. I cannot imagine you to ever be able to make up such horrible things. Since you left me at my dear friend's doorstep last night. Bingley and tell him the truth. –Pardon my bluntness. but do not take the decision to go after love away from him. –You see. once I no longer saw my weeping sister every time I looked into your eyes. and as time passed it only became easier for me. for I could not bear it if she knew and grew yet more miserable when he never returned. I found that most my remaining feelings were founded solely on my own pride. many of my objections against your behaviour were well-founded – you. nor do I hate you for them. I discovered a shocking fact: I have no basis to hate you. However. It all rests on you. admittedly in little detail. I remembered a statement you made not long ago. before logic. I can do so no longer. Wickham's accusations.I shall end the discussion of such events now with a statement that may be painful for you to read. your brooding silence whenever in company. But I was not then in control of . However much I enjoyed disliking you. so as to properly explain how differently I feel now. for mine was obviously not inconsiderable either. You have destroyed the happiness of my dearest sister and your own closest friend – this must be rectified. I beg of you: go to Mr. I have not yet addressed the issue of my sister. and was. the subject of which I'm sure you did not mean to hear you. in my efforts to excuse you. I have to admit no immediate dislike. and your heavy stare. which occurred at most an hour before your proposal. never once wavering. I will turn. I feel it necessary to explain what brought about such a sudden change in my feelings towards Mr. Wickham. but I feel it necessary to address at length how I felt about you. Sir. Sir. but I am afraid that I can never find it in my heart to look on you with anything more kind inside me as long as this goes uncorrected. no matter how badly I myself have wronged you. although I confess that my propensity to seek out and amuse myself with human fault did call to attention your pride –it did not occur until you made that remark about my looks to Mr. I can not hate you on that basis. it was this account of yours that. Sir. as you said you would last night. I must admit. Since then. and my (perhaps badly-timed) discovery of what you did to my sister. one by one. You may possibly wonder why all this was not told you last night. Therefore I felt it was the least I could do to excuse your pride. which felt disapproving to me. but in this instance I must concede the truth of your argument. Though I still believe that you ought to practice such a useful skill as conversing with strangers. Wickham's false account of your misdeeds was only the proof I felt I needed. Thus all my objections to you fell. Mr. thought it may have been meant differently. Not to mention. Nor can I on your feelings towards my family. spread all through the town of Hertfordshire) and for that too I am sorry. but who most certainly did. I truly do believe that I could like you if I tried. and the landscape much darker than I had presumed. and that is hardly the way to judge the whole of a man's character. then. for once attempting to prove that you were not horrid. drove me over the edge. who – it was plain in your face when you spoke of her – is very dear to your heart. I have steadfastly hated you. and be reassured that I do not feel so now. but upon forcing myself to sit down and think logically through my feelings for you. Mr. Here I must simply add how brave your sister must be. I decided upon the spot to dislike you. I love them dearly and hate to admit their fault. Indeed. and led me to examine all of my feelings for you in depth –but I shall come to that later. very offended. Wickham. as it reminds you of such unpleasant events as you felt compelled to inform me of last night. I shall not tell Jane. Darcy. and Mr. Your obvious disdain. especially in relation to your sister. Darcy. my thoughts have been in such a turmoil that I can hardly hear anything else. and how horribly it must have hurt to know that your rival had struck again and turned so many against you. Sir. Reading this part of the letter is sure to insult you. Once I had dismissed the resentment on behalf of Mr. I do not resent you for your actions. (for Mr. Your rudeness I realized I had also misjudged when. it was but the complete version of an unfinished painting. If he does not go to Jane then so be it. even without any previous knowledge of his slanders. began to change my opinion of you. Bingley. upon reflection. your account matched up with his.
becoming mixed up with new images. Some parts of the letter gave him hope. fall to the bedspread. though it. unlike the others. causing his emotions to go into a whirlpool of confusion. her dreams were a different matter. He honestly had no idea how to interpret this. a contradiction in sentiments. as to stay here any longer would cause us both unnecessary pain. I could like you if I tried. treacherous yet well worth the danger. Indeed. hope that he had thought lost forever after her brutal refusals. these outcomes ranged from as simple as her accepting his suit the second time. her thoughts inevitably ended on the man. wistfully wished for. quite wrong: what he read could and had made his pain worse. Wickham was before her. how to feel about it. unbearably so. as you did last night. she had been so preoccupied with Darcy that the possibility of this occurring had never even crossed her mind. and though she managed to distract herself swiftly each time. had occurred to Elizabeth. had made Darcy's breath catch with hope as he read of her changed emotions. on a third read. conjured up from her imagination. her cheeks coloring and her breath quickening. smiling and waving. ready to propose again. But the one thing that Elizabeth had forgotten entirely about. and more. shocked. and yet others tore deep at his soul. God bless you. One such sentence. because he had received her letter and wished to propose yet again.myself enough to know how I felt. And yet. she must come up with something. wounding him even deeper than he would have guessed possible. and indeed. had actually come true. and if she did not want the situation to swerve completely out of her control. It had taken her quite by surprise. at the same time. While the first part made Darcy mad with joy. all this time. her words had soothed him. Every sentence in the letter was such a double-edged sword. to ride over immediately. . of alternative outcomes. -xxxDarcy slowly let his hands. she was unsure of the lengths he would go to for revenge. however. Darcy had been wrong. was also one of the worst barbs: I truly do believe that I could like you if I tried. and now she was very unsure of how to handle it. repeated through her mind. especially in any sort of fond way. Somehow. and then rejected – all these. holding the letter. to such ridiculous scenes as Darcy arriving miraculously in Hertfordshire. for now that she knew his true nature. but she was pressed for time. All of these things. Elizabeth Bennet Elizabeth Bennet froze in her tracks. much less what I ought to tell you. the second part made him droop back down in shame and disappointment. For it was true. she had been preoccupied with Darcy today. once I no longer saw my weeping sister every time I looked into your eyes. had been dwelt on. how to react to it. his embrace and his rejection. I can only add. and more. and rapidly approaching speaking distance. But she must remain proper in her decorum and not anger him. to him kissing her again. even the first part of the sentence was not so hope-inducing. despite her resolve not to think of him. Both Darcy's words and kiss. I leave early tomorrow for Hertfordshire – I feel that I must. I shall endeavour to find some way to pass this letter along to your hands before I go. was a real possibility. his eyes dazed and unfocused.
If only she had not left Kitty and Lydia behind in the ribbon-shop. "What an unexpected pleasure it is to see you! I assure you madam. she did not want Wickham to be hers if she could help it. swiftly approaching and coming to a halt in front of her. that her voice. that her opinion had only grown better with the separation. and really ought to have been able to tell the difference.At reading the letter a third time. Though she may be his enemy. of a great intensity. for her part. and struggling with the loathing that welled up deep within her on the sight of him. charmingly offered his arm. trying not to release any of it. however. the awkwardness of this meeting could be lessened! Recovering. had never received any genuinely friendly looks by which to measure less welcoming ones. Anne managed to grant him his privacy into the night. "That sounds exceedingly pleasant. -xxx"Mr. "Why. and panicked." Having spoken such a bald-faced lie. Darcy noticed the mention of her leaving. please don't feel guilty. provided he fix things with Bingley. the pure agony that ripped through his soul at that moment is incapable of expression. showing none of her emotions. Overconfidence. he slept. had I known that you had returned. I would have made it a priority to call upon you sooner. was still in shock. and so the confusion continued. Wickham!" Elizabeth was honestly shocked at the sight of the man before her. and so. convinced him that Elizabeth still thought highly of him. no sir. as a certain other gentleman had managed to so long deceive himself of the feeling behind Elizabeth's words and looks. may I offer to escort you wherever it is that you are going. was willing to try – perhaps to try to accept his feelings. was one of his numerous faults. but perhaps he may be excused. until eventually even his fierce love could keep him awake no longer. the next instant he read that she no longer hated him and. but took it nonetheless. and Darcy sat long. Darcy's spirits soared at such a thought. carefully replacing the letter and hiding it under his pillow. he bemoaned the fact that Elizabeth . Or are you fresh in town?" Elizabeth. upon hearing her cry. sir. she smiled weakly. Once more. Elizabeth swallowed. so much so. and that. I admit. Would you care to walk with me to Longbourn. but continued to smile falsely. He was not the first man to make such a mistake. (and observing her flushed cheeks and quick breath to mean quite a different thing than they did) Wickham went so far as to assume the opposite. rereading and deeply examining and interpreting every word of the letter. one hand under his head to touch it and reassure himself that it was real. and realized that he had missed her. displayed none of the more negative emotions that she felt for him with such intensity. Wickham had no such excuse. entirely unaware of his companion's inner turmoil. "Well then. She knew not what he might do to her should he find out that she knew all of his misdeeds… and for the moment they were quite alone. perhaps even return. in fact. for he was quite infatuated – and in addition. And so he greeted her warmly. having encountered each-other on the road from Meryton to Longbourn. for I am just recently arrived in town. my dear Miss Elizabeth!" he cried. indeed. and. and once there perhaps take some tea?" -xxxThe first thing Darcy did upon waking was to read the letter once more. so that we may both prolong this enjoyable meeting?" Elizabeth looked down with disgust on the arm that had undoubtedly escorted many other oblivious women. Wickham. and yet. as he had been held in great esteem (though certainly not as great as he now imagined) mere weeks prior. wracking his brain for as many underlying meanings as he could find in it. it is a pleasure to see you so soon after my arrival. "Oh. perhaps just acknowledge. combined with his remembrance of the lady's hatred of Darcy. only yesterday. perhaps more warmly than was altogether proper. as she spoke his name. that Elizabeth's voice was full of liking.
but he was reluctant to do even that. And Darcy was privately ashamed for several other reasons as well. until he was quite fit to walk about again. Of course. However. which would not normally have bothered Darcy in the slightest (while he prided himself on being polite.was gone. Throughout the day he continued to sneak in readings of the letter. despite her many harsh words. he had never claimed. but it was no use. He could certainly try. but it was difficult. tortured Darcy with regret. and which had. his bold assumption that Elizabeth was in love with him only one of many. which she had not even mentioned. in between Aunt Catharine's visits. and that he himself was ill. Darcy set about trying to amuse himself for the time being. those were the doctor's orders. when he had been trying to deny his feelings for her. Moreover. Anne came in soon with his breakfast. though even Elizabeth had conceded in her letter that he had not been wrong in his assessment of most of them. and his mind could not seem to absorb more than three words of any given book before he gave up on it. To actually experience. There was. and the doctor accompanied her. had they had enough of a relationship to justify sending letters. he was further dismayed to learn that he should not travel anywhere for at least a week. then there was the matter of Fitzwilliam and Anne to consider. of only moderate fortune and no great accomplishments. However. at the time. he found himself itching for movement. nor indeed ever been accused of. Resolved to his fate. drained all hope out of him. After a brief inspection. What on earth could Darcy do about them? He didn't think he would be able to accurately explain his relationship with Elizabeth to anyone. for an unmarried or un-betrothed man and young lady (who weren't related) to be exchanging letters was hardly proper behaviour. even in his private moments. though he already felt better than the day before. Though in the earlier days. he had often insulted Elizabeth Bennet to himself. learning both sides of the tale. being friendly). it was still careless and rude of him. Knowing Fitzwilliam. the feel of her in his arms… how could Darcy regret such a thing? And how could he. she had slapped him on his second proposal. Despite this thought. not take comfort from the fact that she had kissed him back? Certainly. Darcy dreaded another day in bed. her lips under his. Darcy knew very well that it had been wrong of him to do such a thing. He felt horrible for his quick judgments of Jane and the rest of the Bennets. as Elizabeth had informed him in her letter that they had been key to her eventual hate of him. for several reasons. He argued quite fiercely with the man. Had he only been less reclusive. Darcy had no doubt that they had spoken to each-other while he was otherwise occupied. such wild stories as a secret engagement had probably already been suggested and (thanks to Anne's slightly more practical nature) discarded. And another thing she had mentioned in her letter haunted him. as the entire matter was deeply humiliating for Darcy. of course. by this country lady. Darcy could no longer even think of such things without instantly berating himself for her sake. however briefly. he expressed his belief that all Darcy needed was another day or two of rest. After all. his 'obvious disdain' and 'brooding silence whenever in company'. but it seemed he had no choice. but by lunchtime he had given up entirely on even attempting to care. let alone two people he knew so well. and Darcy had always been the model of proper behaviour. Darcy could not stop his thoughts from wandering frequently to Elizabeth. perhaps – but it would not do to dwell on what might have been. she had then . and the one major interaction she and he had had at the temple. he could no longer slander her in such a way without feeling intense guilt. and Aunt Catharine had already been informed. and no doubt puzzling over what it could all mean. they might be suspicious of why he and Elizabeth had not been more friendly on the days when they had previously interacted. which was a certain refusal and punishment had he ever seen one. twice. The kiss. never an impatient man in the past. When Darcy asked about travel. the most obvious: that he had proposed and been refused.
without hope of doing anything about it. she remembered Darcy's words. as Wickham had certainly been amiable enough so far. and Elizabeth restrained herself every time. Darcy?" Elizabeth asked. blessed letter – and. how terrible things had become and how foolish he had been). eager to leap out of bed and ride straight to London. Surely. or the town. when there was a soft knock. he couldn't leave the room. and as soon as she mentioned the name of Collins's patron. unable to think of anything but Elizabeth and how he might make things better (and. and inwardly groaned again. when Wickham first mentioned Darcy. also happened to be visiting Rosings at the same time I was there. and Elizabeth found herself hard-pressed to hold back from informing Wickham of her utter disgust. Upon concluding this. her lips quirking in amusement at the surprise on Wickham's face. Darcy could not help but have hope. my dear. certainly I know. he is. Darcy groaned in frustration and set his book down for what must be the hundredth time since morning. Collins. I used to know him. It seemed he must resign himself to his fate. and asked in confusion whether he knew the man. Darcy. Wickham smiled.contradicted that action with her letter – that cursed. and his cousin the Colonel Fitzwilliam. "I'm sure you're unaware of this. for the time being he was stuck in bed. after all. He. glaring at the wall and cursing the doctor. looking slightly nervous. unthinking. yes. who was married to the clergyman Mr. No. Darcy became even more impatient. and worst of all. "Why. Still. but the Lady is actually the aunt of –" "Mr. such thoughts as how much alcohol should be imbibed beforehand. whether he should tell Bingley of his sister's involvement. "Ah yes. but I am afraid I do not find much opportunity to share company with the man. but the doctor had said that he could not travel for a week. Elizabeth explained who he was. though it was clear that he affected to hide it beneath . or other such harmless things. and the clear disgust on his face as he spoke of terrible crimes." Wickham hesitated. and Darcy could hardly attempt such a thing on his own. looking particularly cunning. At the name. she was wiser than that. and I do not wish to cause any of them trouble. The true test of Elizabeth's restraint came not too long after she had finally begun to believe she was fine. Darcy glanced up to find that both Fitzwilliam and Anne had entered his room. and the door opened. the sooner to having Elizabeth in his arms once more. -xxxNever had she been so exhausted by a simple tea before. but Elizabeth was worth all the time and effort in the world. firmly entrenched as he was in the belief that Elizabeth was simply flustered by his presence. whenever she found herself beginning to relax or fall prey to his easy charms. what could he do but plan to make things better? Starting with Bingley." Wickham smiled conspiratorially at Elizabeth over his teacup. once he had repaired the situation with Bingley. they were both smiling at him. and how long he might expect to be on the receiving end of Bingley's displeasure included among his musings. Lady Catharine. She had just finished informing the man of her visit to her dear friend. and Wickham never suspected a thing. by chance? I found him a very pleasant man. instead making comments about the weather. considering the way she had kissed him back and then later written that she could bring herself to like him. alternately when he felt more despondent. he could persuade her to accept him once more? It might take time and effort. cousin to Mr. Darcy had just begun to consider how he might best go about breaking the news to Bingley. and as long as he was trapped here. Do you know the Colonel. Wickham surprisingly showed signs of recognition. The main problem was Elizabeth herself." "I – certainly. of course. He had no idea what to tell them. if any. However.
and likely less worried for her own safety. sir. Elizabeth had not given Wickham much thought. However. leaned even closer." Wickham smiled conspiratorially at Elizabeth again. Darcy in fact improves himself upon greater acquaintance. just as with Darcy. Given such circumstances. startled out of her thoughts. she need not worry about having lied to him now. The steady gaze unnerved Elizabeth. for though I agree that the two cousins are very different. Elizabeth had no idea how the man would respond to such a declaration. he certainly had not changed in essentials." Wickham smiled conspiratorially at Elizabeth. for all that they were the only ones in the room. Mrs. then – you spent much time with Colonel Fitzwilliam?" "Oh yes. near three weeks in all. Elizabeth. and cleared her throat before saying. Moreover. Certainly. he had not missed Elizabeth's blushing. in essentials.an indifferent tone and a charming smile. She sat back in her seat after a moment." Elizabeth blushed slightly. and her already present blush grew. might I hope that he has finally deigned to inject some semblance of civility into his general address? For surely. not allowing it to show upon her face. at the same time. had she had more time to think things over. and yet. each for a different reason." she smiled at Wickham. and Elizabeth blinked. before she would feel ready to confront him. but she quashed it down instantly. all I meant to imply was that he seemed more pleasant in such a setting. at least those directed towards her. concerned. until she had seen him approaching her on the path several hours ago. He and Mr. she was rather pleased. less enjoyable company. much. No. And if she did later. "Well. leaning forward and lowering his voice slightly. before recovering quickly. indeed. Bennet having left not long ago to attend to a household matter. and observing that it had only occurred when their eyes met and he leaned closer to her. and Wickham was the absolute worst person to first inform of her changed opinions. and the reclusive Mary escaping soon after. Hate rose up in the woman. much as he has always been. it wasn't painting a very honest picture of Darcy." "Indeed!" Wickham cried. Elizabeth was unprepared to discuss Darcy with Wickham." she said quietly. Perhaps it was the influence of his family. had undergone such a drastic change… "No. but Elizabeth knew that she would need more time." Wickham. "Forgive me. to compose herself at the very least. of course. he then concluded that she really was fond of him. "I cannot expect him to have improved in essentials. Perhaps. Darcy were at Rosings for almost as long as I was – they are still there now. And I saw them most every day. sir. "But no. it had been scarcely three days since she learned the truth of the man. lost in distressed thoughts. I imagine that you found his friendship a relief in other. she needed time to think on it. something for which Wickham was very . his manners a very different from his cousin's. well. "I do believe that he is. before she attempted such a task. "What is it? Have I said something to offend you?" he asked. was shocked at what she had said." "Ah yes. who was understandably concerned for what Elizabeth might next observe about Darcy. Wickham too was pleased. "May I inquire. clearly very shocked. and what with her own conflicting emotions towards another certain gentleman. I could not help but notice that Mr. eyes trained intently on hers. until he finally broke the silence himself. to the best of my knowledge. But his manners. Elizabeth would have found herself more able to deal with Wickham. "I was just pondering that statement. she had almost entirely forgotten him after having written her letter to Darcy. clearly referring to Darcy. and as such remained silent for quite some time. merely her perception of the man. surely one brief falsification could not change anything for the worse." This moment in the conversation was very important to both persons. and his reasons were twofold: firstly.
"I'm terribly sorry. and not in London. he was of course gratified to have it confirmed that she still found Darcy as repugnant a man as before. And of course. However. Miss Elizabeth. and drew Elizabeth aside with him to the door. Without her older sister to confide in. soon began to squabble over who got which one. and bowed gallantly. but to her instead. and without her confidence in her own judgment (for she had lost that in that fateful conversation with Darcy). She knew that if she could just talk the whole matter out with Jane. she was saved from commenting on this by the timely reentrance of her mother. who. afraid of making the wrong decision. exiting. and she rubbed vigorously at her hand. but still failed to make a decision. and even Elizabeth. "Yes. Wickham looked even more pleased at her smile. giving her hand a kiss. If only Jane were here. grinning. lost in thoughts. "His aunt is a woman of whom he has always both feared and awed. all anxiety wiped from his face. and his behaviour around her reflects it. as Darcy had shown absolutely no inclination to offer his hand to the sickly Anne. but I must go. Ugh. Mrs. "Until next time. pronouncing that he had better be off. chatting happily and soon followed by Elizabeth's two sillier sisters. back from shopping." he said. she would be able to figure out what ought to be done about the situation. Elizabeth remained in her room until she was called down for dinner. sitting on her bed and hugging a pillow." Elizabeth's eyes widened at what she was personally very certain was an outright lie. . The moment the door shut. she was alone – and for once. He produced a ribbon for each Lydia and Kitty. that must be it. But as it was. And secondly. having promised to meet Denny some time ago. and with an apologetic smile towards Elizabeth.satisfied. Elizabeth found her mind blank of ideas. Elizabeth was paralyzed. amused at his easy handling of her sisters. he is always eager to present himself as a pleasant suitor in order to forward his match to the young Miss de Bourgh. Wickham stood. despite having spent most of the day in a ribbon shop already. Elizabeth's smile dropped off her face." he said. knowing about his terrible crimes. Bennet bustled into the room. couldn't help but smile back. that man! He was revolting – but what to do about it? She went up to her room (passing the still shrilly arguing Kitty and Lydia on the way). trapped in incertitude." he agreed.