Part 6 – A Beginning for Mrs. Darcy

Her new room was entirely lovely.  From the light coloured walls to the elegant furniture to the beautiful paintings on the walls, which even in her ignorance of art, she suspected were rather fine, she could find no fault with it. She could hardly believe her husband had done this for her until she recalled her tour of the pretty sitting room at Pemberley, and Mrs Reynolds’ boasts of her master’s efforts to bring pleasure to his sister.

Darcy, she noted, seemed to be regarding her with curiosity, if not a little apprehension, and she held out her hands with a beaming smile. “Thank you, my love. I can hardly believe such an elegant room is mine to occupy.”

“There is no gift too fine for you,” he replied with a grave sort of smile and tightened his fingers around hers.

“Oh! Gifts! Perhaps I should wait until later, but I am eager to see it finished,” Elizabeth proclaimed in delight as she spotted a parcel on her bedside table. She handed it to her husband with an excited smile. “I resolved to buy a wedding gift for you when I came to London for my trousseau, though I found it very difficult to settle on an object for a man who needs nothing. My uncle knows the painter, and my aunt suggested you might appreciate a reminder of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

The smile on his face grew with her lively speech until he untied the string and stared at the small portrait of her in silence. “I – you — Elizabeth, thank you. You are wearing my favourite gown of yours,” he finally whispered in a tone of awe. “I will hang it in my chambers.”

“Would you not rather hang it downstairs?” she asked, taking pleasure in the surprised gratitude on his face as he set it carefully aside.

“Certainly not,” he proclaimed firmly, his words softened by a slight smile. “Your gift is too precious for the public eye.”

His left hand traced the side of her face with a delicate, light touch, followed by his lips, every bit as tender. Elizabeth caught her breath and placed her arms around his neck, fully intent on responding to him when her maid began bustling about in the dressing room. She started at the sound, blushing furiously at Darcy’s amusement. “How can you laugh at me?” she cried with some indignation.

He pressed his lips together before replying, “I did not laugh even though you leapt three feet.”

She stared at him for a moment until the humour of the situation caused her to laugh at herself. She barely managed not to jump when the sounds began again. “Your maid apparently awaits you. I shall meet you downstairs, madam,” Darcy said with a kiss on her hand.

“Fitzwilliam, wait,” she blurted out, not quite willing to be left alone. She kissed him hard upon the mouth and pulled back to smile vibrantly at his delighted expression. “I love you.”

He embraced her tightly and pressed his bent cheek against hers. “You are the most beautiful bride,” Darcy said softly in her ear. “Did I tell you?”

“No,” she replied as quietly, “though I guessed a little of your thoughts. You appeared well pleased at the altar.”

He laughed against her neck. “Elizabeth?”

“Hmm?”

“After supper, may we retire?” he asked in a low tone, his lips against her ear. “It should not seem peculiar to retire early in light of our departure in the morning.”

Her cheeks flushed though she answered, “Yes.”

*****

The very efficient maid changed her into a nightdress directly after supper, brushed out and then plaited her hair within eighteen minutes, leaving her with twelve minutes in which to fret.  She again surveyed her new room until she came upon a bevelled mirror surrounded by a gilded frame. The young lady staring back at her seemed familiar yet she felt very unlike herself, unsteady and nervous.

She looked down at her very elegant and rather revealing sleeping gown, fidgeted with her new ring, then paced a little with her arms crossed over her waist. She could hear the whispered words of matrons, even her mother and aunt’s less frightening, though more frank, words. She became increasingly unsettled and annoyed with herself for being so. When Darcy knocked, her stomach fluttered and she grasped one of the bedposts before she bade him to enter.

He was most properly attired for bed, though he made a very different picture in his nightshirt and grey robe from her father. He stared at her with something akin to bewilderment in his gaze which intensified her blush. “Fitzwilliam, what is the matter?”

“Nothing at all,” he said when he reached her, his own face flushed. “You – I have never seen you in nightclothes. You seem very small, even your feet.”

“I once thought we would never have the same opinion or feelings on any subject.” She gratefully sank down on the soft cushion when he led her to the settee and added, “You are not small, of course.”

When he abruptly turned, muttering about the fire, she came to realize that he was nervous. “There has not been anyone in these chambers for several years which must excuse this neglected fire. Mrs Tate should remind…” his voice trailed off and a half-smile touched his lips as he caught her appraising gaze. He finished building up the fire and came to stand in front of her. “She should remind the upstairs maids not to neglect this room.”

He brushed her upper arm, and she shivered at the movement of the smooth satin fabric in concert with the heat of his hand. “Are you cold, dearest?” he asked.

“No — yes,” she whispered in confusion. “My feet are cold.”

“I see,” he said, his hand continuing its distracting movement upon her arm. He sat beside her and patted a space on his lap. “Your feet, madam.”

Elizabeth bit her lip and gingerly shifted, her heels barely touching his hard thigh. She pressed her burning cheek onto the back of the settee and wondered how she would ever regain her composure.

“Your toes are colder than ice,” Darcy exclaimed as his fingers closed around her left foot.

Her foot flinched instinctively, and Darcy glanced at her sideways with a smile. Elizabeth laughed. “Now you have discovered how I irritate Jane at my leisure. Since we were little girls, she could not tolerate my touching her with cold feet in bed.”

The last word hung in the air, and Darcy’s smile grew though he did not comment. She eventually relaxed enough to allow her feet to rest heavily upon him. When her toes felt wonderfully warm, he lifted the hem of her nightgown to touch her calves, and she stiffened.

“I hope you are not afraid of me,” Darcy said sombrely, turning his grey eyes to hers.

Elizabeth bit her lip again and reached forward to touch the silk at his wrist, where his pulse raced beneath her fingertips. “No, Fitzwilliam, no, I am not.  I must seem rather silly, but I am a little nervous. I imagine most brides are on their wedding night.”

“If you find yourself unprepared, we could simply go to sleep.”

“Oh!” cried Elizabeth with a little blush, feeling more and more awkward. “I am prepared enough. Mama and Aunt Gardiner explained the duties of marriage to me…”

“Elizabeth,” Darcy interrupted, much to her surprise, “I care nothing for your duty in this. I-I love you. I want you to be comfortable with my passion for you, not merely tolerant of it.”

Elizabeth shook her head at his uncertain look and smiled in spite of her blush. “Will you kiss me?”

Darcy pulled her to sit astride his lap.  She felt the nervous flutters take full flight until his fingers gently touched her cheek and he began to kiss her with kisses as delightful and comforting as they always were. She brushed her fingers over his arms, amazed by him and his warmth, much more easily perceived through her meagre nightgown. When he drew back, she pressed her lips against his bare throat, recalling of how very much she had enjoyed similar attentions from him.

Upon hearing his quiet groan, she whispered teasingly, “Do you like this?”

“Wh-I-yes.” One of his hands moved to the end of her plait, beginning to untie the ribbon. She thought to protest — her hair would surely tangle — but as she observed his longing expression, she found herself unwilling to deny him such a small favour. “I have imagined seeing you thus in this very room – such dark, beautiful hair, my Elizabeth.”

The man looking upon her hardly seemed like the tentative suitor she had come to know. But he was now a husband, she reminded herself, her husband, and it was silly to be afraid. She recalled his letter, his solemn vows to worship her and stood up, bringing Darcy to his feet. His astonishment was evident when she took his hand and walked backwards toward her bed. “I promised,” she said, wrapping her arms about his waist when they reached her bed, “I said I would welcome you, did I not?”

Their gazes lingered for a moment, both sensing the churning tides of feeling between them. Elizabeth hardly knew herself, but did not look away when Darcy came nearer and kissed her with an unfamiliar urgency within his gentleness. She hardly noticed anything else until his fingers brushed along her bare breast, and she pulled back with a gasp.

Her cheeks were flaming as she looked down at the gown upon the floor and then to Darcy, who was hastily untying his robe. To her utter amazement, he brought her into his arms and closed the robe around her. She pressed her cheek over his heart, feeling it race with nearly the same rapidity as her own. “Forgive me, Elizabeth.”

The concern in his tone, the knowledge that he was trying to restrain himself for her sake, filled her with a sudden, tender longing. “There is nothing to forgive.” She boldly stepped out of his arms, bit her lip, then placed her fingers upon the ties of his nightshirt.

“Yes, untie it, darling,” he whispered, then began to kiss her cheek and ear.

She found the courage to work the ties, though her fingers trembled, and slid his robe and nightshirt away from his frame. She turning her hands over his broad shoulders and firm torso until she found the confidence to lower her eyes past his waist. She bit her lip, glanced up at the wild, unsteady passion in his eyes, then moved her hands lower.

“Good God, Elizabeth, I – ” Darcy grasped both sides of her waist with a breathless laugh and lifted her onto the bed, his mouth devouring hers as he crawled over her. She embraced him, feeling his quick breaths and aroused body against her, and her own answering desire. His lips traced a feverish path over her body until she could think of nothing beyond him, surrendering herself completely to her own pleasure and his.

*****

Later, Elizabeth stroked his damp hair with a sense of wonder. No descriptions of the act, from the stark to the poetic, could describe any of this, she thought with a full heart. “Now do you believe that I am not afraid of you?” she whispered with a whimsical smile when he raised his eyes to hers.

He rolled onto his back and brought her with him as Elizabeth shrieked with laughter. He pressed his smiling lips against her cheek and shoulder and wrist before replying, “I wanted more from you than the absence of fear, though I could never have imagined such pleasure — what a beautiful, enchanting siren I have captured.”

She blushed a little at his fanciful words, though she well understood such a fit of delight. “From your speech, it sounds as if I have captured you.”

He laughed again. “I cannot deny it.”

When his hand rested on her lower back, she winced. “I am merely a little sore as is to be expected,” she responded to his look of dismay, resting her cheek against his shoulder. She thought of how indescribable it was to be pressed close to his heart, to know him as she knew no other, and she gathered enough courage to say, “Hearing that married love need not be repulsive and possibly pleasant seems a very poor description of this. I admit I was a little afraid; you cannot imagine the tales I have heard.”

His fingers stilled, and he replied, “I do not intend that you should ever regret your choice.”

She lifted her head with glowing eyes, saying, “How could I? I am so happy, Fitzwilliam.”

She eventually excused herself and came back into the room to find Darcy also dressed and busily untwisting the tangle of blankets and sheets. They settled into her bed, where Darcy exclaimed again over her cold feet as her toes brushed over his hairy legs. He proceeded to warm them, though expressing the utmost sympathy for Jane, and they eventually fell into a peaceful, joyful slumber.

Go to Part 7

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Calendar

September 2009
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930