Part 7 – A Time to Rejoice

The scant light of a winter dawn gradually illuminated the mistress’ chambers, finding Darcy intently regarding his sleeping bride. He thought he should wake her yet he could not bring himself to it, preferring to treasure the intimate discoveries to be found of her. Elizabeth had wrapped her legs around his calves throughout the night, which he found more pleasant than inconvenient in spite of her frigid toes. She preferred to sleep with her back to him, her hand slung over his arm as if to prevent his withdrawal. As if he would voluntarily withdraw from such an embrace, he thought with some amusement. He brushed the hair from her cheek before placing a soft, wondrous kiss upon it.

She stirred slightly and the sleeve of her nightdress slipped down her shoulder to reveal the top of her breast. He bit his lip when its softness came to rest directly into his palm, and her lips parted into a pleased little smile. His body instantly responded, his mind full with images of her from the previous evening, of unbound dark hair and flashing dark eyes, and whispered words of love as she warmly accepted, even encouraged, his possession of her. He had expected to comfort her yet she had provided the most reassurance, he concluded with a rueful twist of his lips.

He watched as her long, fine eyelashes begin to flutter against her flushed cheeks. She opened her eyes at last, blinked, and turned toward him. “Fitzwilliam,” she greeted him with unabashed delight.

Her hand cupped his cheek, and then she snatched it away. “Oh!” she exclaimed as she wrinkled up her pert nose. “Whiskers.”

Her surprise made him laugh, and he said, “And a good morning to you, Elizabeth. Do you find me so dreadful?”

He caught his breath at her frank, approving gaze. “Not at all,” she said, raking a hand through his dishevelled hair before touching her own. “I forgot my hair; I bind it so it does not tangle. It must be wild.”

He had to admit that she did look rather wild, though he was far from displeased. “You enchant me,” he murmured, observing a faint blush spread over her cheeks. “I have been admiring you for a quarter hour at least.”

Their gentle kisses turned passionate with a rapidity that took him by surprise. He laid back without breaking their kiss, finding her eager body in his arms more provoking and unsettling than ever. The dressing room door from the hall opened and closed, causing Elizabeth to jerk her head back.

“I am very pleased to have banished the servants to the village,” Darcy said with an amused smile, though rather relieved by the interruption. His thoughts briefly returned to the previous night – there had been wincing and blood — and he did not want to postpone their journey.

Elizabeth laughed and whispered, “I am sorry. I will grow accustomed to this.”

“Oh yes,” he said, stroking her cheek. “I intend that you should unless you intend to banish me.”

“I think we settled that subject days ago,” she replied in a warm tone. “I am even more determined to keep you now that you are mine.”

His lips curved at the happy thought. When the door shut again to her dressing room, Darcy reluctantly sat up and reached for his robe. “I shall fetch your brush.”

“My brush?”

“I did tangle your hair and the remedy must be mine,” Darcy replied easily as he stood and tied his robe. She smiled at him in response, a sweet smile of affection he had often noticed bestowed upon her father or Jane, and he walked back to her in two quick steps to kiss her swiftly upon the mouth. He shook his head in amazement at his impulsiveness when he withdrew to enter the new territory of a wife’s dressing room.

An array of dresses and petticoats were scattered about, some folded within opened trunks, and upon the dressing table lay a strange assortment of feminine accessories. A happy, bewildered smile touched his lips as he searched for her brush. His life, he decided, would never again be the same.

 – 
“I asked Mrs Reynolds to delay the distribution of the Christmas baskets until we arrive. I thought I would take you to meet the tenants,” Darcy said as he turned back to the mirror and lifted the razor to his face. A brief smile touched his lips at the thought of Wilson’s astonished dismay at the discovery that his master had shaved himself. Darcy could only imagine what Elizabeth’s maid must think of her mistress, dressed in her morning gown or nightclothes, with her hair around her shoulders. It would all end at Pemberley and he thought the servants might not mind the change even if he was not so complacent, having spent some of the happiest days of his life with her in their disheveled state.

“And what other expectations will there be of Mrs Darcy?”

“Expectations?” He drug the razor over his cheek then met her gaze in the mirror.

“I am certain everyone in Derbyshire has expectations of the mistress of Pemberley,” she said lightly, though he noticed her fidgeting. “There must be traditions, required visits, balls and dinners.”

Darcy wiped the blade on his towel and answered, “My mother did entertain frequently when she was in residence and I am certain many of our neighbours hope for the same though I cannot quite agree. However, you should have all the society you wish.”

“So you will not mind if I should decide to throw a ball every fortnight and large dinners parties each evening?” Elizabeth asked with an arch smile.

Darcy smiled then inclined his other cheek toward the mirror. “I know you will be more merciful than that to me.”

Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, Mr Darcy, if you married me with expectations of mercy, you have made a grave error in judgement.”

He set down his razor, determined to come to the point. Turning to her, he said, “I have every confidence in my judgement, and I think there is more to your question than you would have me believe.”

“And to think I wished for a clever husband.”

He responded calmly, “I think you wished for more than that. I seem to recall you turning down one proposal of marriage, and from your aunt’s hints to Lady Lucas, I have come to think perhaps I was not the first.”

Elizabeth grimaced. “She did not refer to John Lucas.”

“Mr Collins?” Darcy sputtered and then laughed. “Forgive me for laughing, dearest, but I can well imagine what you would have said to that.”

“You seem unsurprised by my refusal. Some would have considered it my duty,” Elizabeth replied with some amazement.

“I know you; I admire your understanding and your courage,” Darcy said warmly. “Familial duty is important but there are other considerations, including a duty to oneself.”

“And duties to one’s husband, Mr Darcy.”

“Elizabeth!” Darcy laughed at her anxious look and took her hand. “I can hardly believe what I am hearing. What happened to the calm bride who met me at the altar?”

“I am she,” Elizabeth replied softly, inclining her head back to look at him. “I have no doubts or fears of you. My concerns are of a different nature entirely, Fitzwilliam.”

“You had better tell me,” he said in his most persuasive tone as she stepped back and twisted her fingers together.

“We are very happy, and I wish it to continue after we settle at Pemberley. I want to be a credit to you.”

His brow creased. “What sort of talk is this? I will teach you all there is to know of the neighbourhood and offer my counsel though with your good sense and friendliness, I imagine you shall have little need of it. I expect you will enjoy serving as hostess much more than did my poor sister.”

“I am more concerned for your sake than my own. I hope I may assist you in regaining the esteem of your friends.”

“My family cannot affect my happiness with you,” Darcy responded, lifting her chin gently until he could see her eyes. “Time will bear testimony to our union and I think those who choose may see the truth of it for themselves. In fact, every sort of match contains risk, whether one marries for love, for material comforts, for connections or any other reason, as my family should be very well aware.”

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow in amusement. “So you believe as Charlotte, that happiness in marriage is a matter of chance?”

“Certainly not,” he said decisively before adding, “I believe it more a matter of choice.”

“By your estimation, we may merely decide to be happy, and it shall be,” Elizabeth replied with a saucy smile. “Superiority of mind, indeed.”

“Such wilful misunderstanding!” Darcy smiled and shook his head playfully at her before adding earnestly, “We chose to marry on account of our respective situations and feelings, but also due to a most rational expectation of happiness. I have faith in our happiness if we cleave to one another. The choice is ours.”

Elizabeth retorted cheerfully, “If obstinacy guarantees happiness, my love, we shall not fail.”

“Do you refer to yours or my own?”

Elizabeth looked at him and then laughed in delight, pressing her cheek against his shoulder. “We have not had such a conversation since our stay together at Netherfield; I am not certain if this is very promising, sir.”

“I had high hopes of such pleasures when I asked to bring you here.”

“I am surprised. I thought…” Elizabeth suddenly paused and buried her face on Darcy’s shoulder.

Darcy chuckled quietly, slipping his hand into her hair. “…that I brought you here where I might make violent love to you at all hours of the day and night?”

“The thought did occur to me,” answered Elizabeth with a blushing laugh. It had seemed almost illicit to come here when all of their family thought them in London, until she reminded herself that they were married and need not explain their actions. She was very glad to have agreed to come to this cottage, where they could speak without interruption and please none beyond themselves.

“And yet you agreed to come,” he said with a sly smile. “You are merciful.”

Darcy turned back to the mirror to complete his task. He shaved his left cheek and raised his chin, not thinking much of her observation of him until he lowered his eyes. He inhaled sharply at the sight of her parted lips and dark eyes, full of open desire. She whispered his name, and the razor landed on the table with a distinct rattle.

Darcy felt his own cheeks flush, and he leaned over to wash his face, the cool water doing little to soothe his pounding heart. When he removed the towel from his eyes, he found Elizabeth at his side. She took the towel and dried his face, running her fingertips over his smooth jaw until he caught her fingers. His gaze remained fixed on her, and he lifted her hand to his mouth.

“I love you,” she whispered fervently. Her soft lips drifted over the opposite cheek until she met his lips, kissing him with a wild longing that set his heart racing.

He pulled her tautly against him and somehow remembered to shield her from walls and doors as he walked them toward the bedroom without releasing her mouth. When his thigh bumped the mattress, he lifted his shirt over his head and then froze. She was smiling provocatively at him, her fingers toying with the ties of her gown. Having captured his attention, she removed her gown before his very eyes and crawled around him to lie upon the bed.

His jaw clenched at the sight of his raven-haired beauty reclining on the pillow with her arms stretched over her head and thick curls trailing erotically over finely formed breasts. His heart hammered within his chest as he joined her and held her hands above her head. He groaned at his lack of composure when she sighed in contentment and wrapped her thighs around him. It was too much and not nearly enough.

“What is the matter?”

“I ache for you, too much,” he admitted with some alarm.

“That cannot be.”

He opened his eyes and stared at her. Her beautiful eyes sparkled, free from fear or embarrassment, and her small toes ran the length of his calves with enticing ease, shredding whatever remained of his sanity. Elizabeth moaned softly and disengaged her hands, clinging to him as if she would crawl inside his skin if she could as he took her with unrelenting passion.

He abandoned himself to her flushed skin and cries of pleasure, to her urgent whispers and trembling body. He eventually collapsed into her arms, spent, boneless, and shaken. “I am hardly my own master any longer,” he said, not even aware he had said it aloud.

“I know,” she whispered sympathetically as she kissed his cheek and shoulder. “I feel it as well.”

At his doubtful expression, she lightly scolded, “Do you find me cool, Fitzwilliam? I never thought to give anyone such power over me, not even a husband.” She paused and then admitted, “I would be more frightened were it not for my power to move you.”

He smiled a little and traced the curves of her breast with his fingers. “It seems I should show mercy to you.”

“That is rather merciful,” she whispered and shifted into his touch. “Shall we be this happy at Pemberley?”

Darcy lifted his mouth from between her breasts and blew lightly over her skin. His lips curved when she shivered. “A different sort of happiness, I think, but yes,” he answered, pulling her over him and linking his hands around her waist. “We can hardly spend days such as this, in half-dress, if any, with your hair down around your shoulders.”

Her hair fell over them like a dark curtain, and he sighed with happiness as she flipped it over one shoulder. “I do intend we should spend very many nights in this manner,” he added softly.

He watched an impish smile form over her lips before she pressed them over his collarbone. “How I love you,” she said with such feeling that his heart and body ached. Her lips roamed over his belly and then moved down to the inside of his knee before drifting upwards. He could only think of how he adored her until she took him to a place where he could no longer think at all.

*****
Duty called them the very next day. Darcy received word that storms were threatening in the North, and he decided they must journey into Derbyshire ahead of the weather, two days earlier than expected. The Darcy equipage passed the lodge gates, and Elizabeth’s enthusiasm was evident as she looked upon their surroundings, all covered in a blanket of snow.

“What are your impressions, madam?” her husband asked.

Elizabeth looked across the carriage to him and again wished the servants were not present. He seemed very much the master of Pemberley at the moment, formal and severe, when she would rather see the passionate, adoring husband of their private moments. “’Tis magnificent, sir. I thought the grounds beautiful in the summer, but with the snow and the frozen stream and the deer!”

Her smile widened as a few of the graceful animals ran in the distance amongst the bare trees. The carriage gradually made its way up the impressive drive, and the house became clearly visible. Pemberley. Her home.

For all of the comfort and elegance of the house and all the happiness she had already found as Mrs Darcy, Elizabeth hesitated a little at the bottom step as she looked up at its grandeur. Darcy looked at her intently before squeezing her fingers, whispering, “Welcome home, Mrs Darcy.”

*****

FINIS

8 responses to “Part 7 – A Time to Rejoice”

  1. lucy6526

    I just had the pleasure of re-reading this delightful story. Thank you, Ali.
    ‘Twas just lovely!! I am glad Mr. Bennet was cognizant of Elizabeth’s feelings and let her get married at her leisure and not at his own.

  2. genevieve

    Wonderful!!

  3. Lynniern

    Bravo! What a wonderful story!

    1. Ali

      I’m so happy you liked it, Lynn!

  4. anushca

    I read this wonderful story again! I love it! Thank you

  5. tree

    hello! *waves* i felt i ought to come and actually tell you how much i love DoA, though, really, it’s not something i can express terribly well through text, as it involves rather more hand flapping and incomprehensible consonant sounds than are strictly translatable. but, it is wonderful. and you have a lovely way with all the characters. and what E said back at the beginning.

    if you are ever in need of a red pen wielding editor to tidy you up, pick me! pick me!

    1. Ali

      *Waves excitedly* Hi, tree!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m so pleased you like DoA. (Note to self: Be careful about choosing titles. This acronym freaks me out a little :) )

      Heh. Boy, you may be sorry for volunteering for that job…I may take you up on it! Thanks very much for the offer.

  6. tree

    (i did notice that and wondered if i ought not abbreviate. acronyms: use their powers for good and not evil.)

    ha! no, no, you might be sorry. ;) says she who is trying to get a job as a copy editor so that she can fix people’s mistakes all day long!

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