We ended up doing a little weekend away over the holiday last weekend and I over did it. Or, rather, I just made sure to allow myself lots of rest afterward. We managed to social distance at the beach for a few hours and visit an antique shop.
This chapter is on the short side and that’s another reason for the late posting. I had to sit with it a bit to see if there was more I needed to add, but I don’t believe in adding words for the sake of words.
This is a sweet chapter that further solidifes the love between Darcy and Elizabeth. We have a few more to go, still. Someone asked in the comments if we will get to the delivery, and we will. We will have to skip some time to get there. However, after this chapter they go to the Scottish estate and then to Pemberley and the big thing will be Elizabeth and Georgiana interacting. There’s a few more things to come for our couple so don’t tune out just because they’re married and in love. Their happiness is not entirely assured yet!
Previous Chapters: Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight / Chapter Nine / Chapter Ten / Chapter Eleven / Chapter Twelve / Thirteen
Although they loved one another, they were still getting to know each other. The norms of their society were such that a couple could not truly understand one another until after the wedding. Elizabeth did indeed snore, but Darcy found it adorable. They discovered that although they had many similar interests and common feelings about them, contrary to Elizabeth’s estimation from months before, there were times when they disagreed.
Their first marital spat came on their second day of marriage before they had even left the bed. Darcy awoke eager for kisses and more from Elizabeth and to enjoy everything they had shared the night before. However, Elizabeth, at first, refused out of fear her breath was objectionable. His pleading fell on deaf ears, but he refused to allow her to leave the bed without a kiss. Not to be deterred, Darcy trailed kisses elsewhere until she begged for his lips to meet hers. In the end, they did not leave the bed until the sun was high in the sky.
A more severe disagreement occurred when they visited a book store. Darcy had long since felt it his duty to add to every library he had, selected more than a dozen volumes to purchase. Some would stay at the house in Edinburgh, others would be brought with them to the estate near Perth. When Elizabeth saw the pile he had amassed, her eyes rounded. She glanced down at the book she held before telling the proprietor to return the volume. Confused as she had clearly desired the book, Darcy attempted to override her direction. Elizabeth had stubbornly insisted that it be returned to the shelf. Although peeved, Darcy knew it was best not to press on the subject in the shop. Once home, however, he inquired about the incident.
“Why on Earth did you not buy the book?”
“You were already buying up half the store, I thought it best to leave some for others.”
“That is ridiculous. A handful of books was not going to empty the shelves.”
“My opinion is ridiculous?” Elizabeth’s eyes flashed.
Darcy paused, knowing he had misspoken. “I did not mean it in that way. I simply find your argument insufficient.”
“And if you disagree with me, my reasoning must be ridiculous.”
“You are finding a way to argue when I do not mean for there to be one.”
“I had always thought it took two people to argue. If we are having one, then you are just as complicit.”
Darcy waited to speak as a servant entered the drawing room with tea and biscuits. Once the maid had left, he raised his brow at his wife. “I am sorry to have offended and wounded you. I did not mean to.”
“You should consider your words more carefully,” Elizabeth said in a softer voice.
“I will. Can I beg your patience? I am new to being a husband and have had few people question or disagree with me before.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Yes, I knew from the start that you were unused to your opinion being challenged. I am afraid that I was raised the very opposite. It was no sign of disrespect in my household to contradict even a parent.” She furrowed her brow. “However, I would not wish for our home to be like that. I do not think it was wise for us children to see our parents treat each other that way and encourage us to do so. I could not always agree with my mother or respect her opinion. Still, she should not have been so openly ridiculed.” She shook her head. “Forgive me. I am new to being married as you are and will have to accustom myself to your wealth.”
Darcy chuckled, sobering when Elizabeth looked affronted. “I am sorry for laughing, my love. It only occurred to me that I might have the only wife in England that mourns her husband’s income as too much.” He kissed her forehead. “Purchasing so much at once made you uncomfortable? Do I understand correctly?”
Elizabeth nodded. “I suppose it reminded me of my inferior origins. I will agree with your first assessment, after all. I was ridiculous!”
Gathering his wife in his arms, Darcy pressed a kiss to her hair. “Your feelings are never ridiculous. I am exceedingly sorry that I ever gave you a reason to feel that way. Right now, all I can offer you is words of remorse. However, when we return to Hertfordshire, I will show you that I value and accept your family. I was arrogant and unthinking, miming words that I had heard all my life but had never considered how it made others feel. It was selfish of me, and I know it wounded you deeply. You have taught me to be a better man, Elizabeth. I may never be worthy of you, but I will try for as long as there is breath in my lungs.”
Nestling closer to Darcy, Elizabeth turned her head, so their eyes met. “Your words would not have hurt so deeply if I had not felt there was truth to them. When we met, I laughed at your conceit. It was only after Bingley and you left Hertfordshire followed by visiting Rosings, that it occurred to me that in the world outside of Meryton, the Bennets would be ridiculed. I must feel my own worth, independent of your opinion.”
Darcy frowned. “I do not know how to help with that.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, my darling. I am afraid you cannot fix everything. Sometimes, we must merely bear with the discomfort of a situation.”
He squeezed her tighter. “I do not like that thought. I would take all pain and unease away for you if I could.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said before kissing him. “I once worried about how we would resolve our arguments and be happy with the differences in our experiences. This has given me much peace of mind.”
“I know I am an obstinate man, but I am also skilled in the art of compromise. More than that, I believe it is essential to marriage. I would do it regardless, but how can I not for the woman I love more than my own life?”
They spent the next two days exploring Edinburgh. Darcy enjoyed squiring his wife about and revelled in seeing her joy at new experiences.
They dined with Mrs. Gardiner once. She had sent an express to Mr. Gardiner and would take a few days to close up the house they had rented before returning to London.
There were strolls along the beach and kisses under the sunset as they stood at the water’s edge, allowing the waves to lap over their feet. Darcy marvelled at his good fortune to experience Elizabeth’s affection and tenderness. Early in their acquaintance, he had discovered Elizabeth’s capacity to love without restraint. He had once taken for granted that he would receive that gift. After her rejection, he feared he never would. Even now, he could not say that he deserved it, but he would be forever grateful for it.
On the third day of their newlywed life, Elizabeth finally got to experience immersing herself in the seawater via one of the bathing machines.
“I did not care for it, Fitzwilliam,” she had said when he asked once they were nestled together in the drawing room. “It seemed so silly to be enclosed in the contraption instead of enjoying the openness of the sea.” She glanced away and blushed. “I also missed having you by my side for the experience.”
“Were you frightened?” Darcy asked as he pressed a kiss to her temple.
“No. However, I am afraid you and the sea have become inexorably linked in my mind. Your presence heightens my enjoyment.” A deep frown marred her beautiful features. “Unfortunately, we can only go so far out lest my clothing becomes too immodest for any passers-by.”
Darcy stroked his jaw. “It has been unseasonably warm, and there is still quite a bit of moonlight for the next few evenings. Shall we be naughty and have a night-time adventure?” He hoped he had not shocked Elizabeth with his suggestion.
Immediately, an expression of excitement and mirth filled her face. “Do you really mean it?”
“I would not have suggested it if I did not.”
“You are full of surprises, Fitzwilliam. I never would have guessed you would think of something so improper.”
He gave her a heated gaze. “I often think of being improper with you. The image of you in the moonlight with wet clothing has filled my imagination since we arrived here.”
Elizabeth gasped at his speech before grinning and pulling his head in for a deep kiss.
The evening that they snuck out of the house and tiptoed to the shore under the light of a million stars was the stuff of Darcy’s fantasies. In the stillness and the darkness, every sensation was heightened. Elizabeth’s soft chuckle as the waves tickled her feet was a siren call. She needed mild assurance from him as they trailed deeper in the water, but as always, his Lizzy was brave. Immersing herself entirely, trusting that he would keep her safe, was nearly his undoing. When she re-merged with water glittering in her hair as a moonbeam bathed her in light, it was more than he could bear. Cupping her face in both hands, he allowed his lips to wander over her face, tasting the saltwater. Before reaching her mouth, he pulled back.
“I am no poet, my love. But my love for you is as deep and fathomless as the sea.”
Elizabeth’s eyes glittered with the expression of affection and love, which thrilled his soul as she placed her hands on his cheeks in return. “And my love for you is as unceasing as the sea. There is no end in sight.”
Darcy could not say who had moved first, only that once their lips met, there was a rushing and unstoppable current of desire that over-swept them. Once more, their passion threatened to overcome common sense. Still, they made it to their bedchamber before losing their heads completely. Stripping their sodden clothing as quickly as possible, given the extra difficulty, they united in their bed.