We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Ten years later
December 23, 1822
“That’s mine,” Natalie cried as she ripped a doll from her younger brother’s hands.
“I was playing with it first!” Charlie retorted and grabbed for the doll.
“But you didn’t ask! You will break her.”
“Nat, you can come play with mine,” Felicity, now tall and robust with a healthful complexion, said and offered her own dolls.
“It’s the principle of the thing.” She stomped her foot.
“Charlie, return your sister’s toy,” Jane said patiently.
Her son handed it over and ran off to play with his cousins: David, Ben, Tom, and Jack.
She sighed and shifted her newest daughter on her hip. “Girls, Olivia is going to sit with you.”
She placed the baby, just old enough to sit upright on her own, on the carpet and returned to her seat with Mary and Elizabeth.
“Remember when I said you would have a dozen?” Elizabeth asked as she stirred her tea.
“Bite your tongue.” Jane smiled wearily. “Just over half that amount will do for me, thank you.”
“Admit it,” Elizabeth teased, “you feel like Mama with five daughters underfoot.”
“I certainly understand her more than I ever did.” Jane smiled and sipped her tea. “Although I was not the one who had no compassion for her. It would be much fairer for you to be the mother of five daughters.”
“Oh no,” Elizabeth smirked. “Imagine Fitzwilliam with five girls with Bennet blood!”
“And now Papa spending so much time in the library makes sense,” Mary answered and patted little Rob on the bottom. “At least Richard has an outlet with the fencing club. The older boys ask to visit often.”
“Are there still plans to expand from Manchester to Birmingham?” Jane asked.
“Yes,” Mary laughed. “I apologise if it means you will see less of Charles when it opens.”
Jane smiled. “I do not think I will complain about some separation.”
Considering the eight children she had in ten years, some time apart might be in order.
She turned to Elizabeth. “Will you try for a boy?”
“Well, I have news,” Elizabeth said and smiled as she placed a hand on her midsection. “Obviously we cannot know yet, but there will be a new Darcy baby in the spring. Felicity and Anne would like a brother. Of course, Cate does not care yet.”
The youngest Darcy daughter, named after her great aunt as well as her maternal aunt, toddled over to her sisters and cousins.
“Honestly, though,” Elizabeth said, “Fitzwilliam says he does not care. The estate is not entailed, so he can leave it however he likes.” Of course, if no son came, they would rewrite the will to keep each well-funded while also protecting Pemberley from being sold off.
“What do we have here?” Elizabeth asked as many others entered the room.
The grown men, the boys, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, the Gardiners and their unmarried children, and the trio of unmarried aunts—Georgiana, Kitty, and Lydia—came in.
Darcy kissed Elizabeth’s cheek and sank into a chair. Cate toddled over to him, and he scooped her up to bounce on his knee, making her squeal with laughter.
“We were told to come for a concert,” Richard said.
“How delightful!” Jane beamed and applauded as some of them gathered around a makeshift stage.
“Lydia,” Georgiana called.
Kitty closed the curtains while the children lined up on stage. Georgiana dashed to the pianoforte. Playing a simple melody, she nodded as her nieces and nephews began singing.
“We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
Elizabeth and the adults applauded the first verse, then were treated to a second.
“Oh, bring us a figgy pudding!” the children cried in tune to the first verse.
Another one followed: “We won’t go until we get some.”
After solemn vows from the adults that they would, indeed, have figgy pudding with dinner, they gave the last verse.
“Good tidings we bring, to you and your kin, good tidings. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
As the thundering herd of children clamoured to the dining room, Elizabeth smiled. Since the fateful Christmas ten years before, her heart had been full of love and joy. Each year had brought a truly merry Christmas, and each year brought more happiness.
Darcy had hung back with her and now gathered her in his arms before kissing her deeply.
“What was that for?” Elizabeth asked with a laugh.
“Do you ever wonder if we are still in an alternate reality?”
“If we are,” she said and stroked her husband’s cheek, “then I wish for no other than the one I have right now with you.”
Darcy squeezed her close again. “What if there is a version of me living without you?”
“Impossible, Fitzwilliam, impossible.” She kissed him and poured all her love for him into it. “We were meant to be, whether by Christmas magic or fortunate decisions. We were meant to be.”
“Come on,” Felicity called.
Felicity and Anne ran back to their parents and tugged on their hands. Cate half-walked, half-crawled towards them as well.
“The figgy pudding!” Anne cried.
Darcy and Elizabeth’s eyes met, and laughter filled the room and their hearts before they allowed their children to direct them to the dining-room for a shared birthday celebration and more Christmas festivities.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!