Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- The First Noel

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve / Chapter Thirteen / Chapter Fourteen / Chapter Fifteen / Chapter Sixteen

christmas 2016 5The First Noel

Longbourn,

December 23, 1811

 

Elizabeth and Darcy blushed as Mrs. Bennet’s shrieks sent Mr. Bennet to the library. After he had requested a private word with Darcy, Elizabeth whispered to Darcy, “What will you tell him?”

“The truth,” he answered.

“You will tell my father we inexplicably have been repeating the same day?”

“I am not certain he would believe that. No, I intend to tell him that I love you.”

Elizabeth blushed but shyly smiled. “Very well. I will tell him the same.”

Before Darcy could tell Elizabeth to not be untruthful, her mother pulled her away, and Darcy was left with Mr. Bennet.

“Have a seat, Mr. Darcy,” the older gentleman said with deceptive calmness before taking his own on the opposite side of the desk.

“Allow me to apologise for taking liberties with your daughter,” Darcy said, hoping the smile he could not erase did not exasperate matters.

“She seemed far from offended,” Bennet observed.

For once, Darcy thought to himself. Of course, if kissing was what it took to
earn Elizabeth’s favour, he would gladly make himself a slave to the task.

“Ahem.”

Mr. Bennet cleared his throat, and Darcy realized he had been wool-gathering.

“Well, you have done it now,” Bennet said. “Her mother witnessed it, and there will be no mercy from her wailings. I am surprised a man of your worth managed to forget himself enough to be entangled so much.”

Mr. Bennet seemed to have found humour
in the situation.

“I love her,” Darcy blurted.

“Indeed?”

“I have asked her to marry me.” Darcy could hardly tell her father when he had done so. Nor would telling him that Elizabeth had refused help his cause.

“You are not asking for my blessing, so I assume she did not accept?”

Darcy remained mute.

“However, she seemed to welcome your…ahem…attentions
so not all hope is lost.”

“Sir?” Did Bennet want his daughter to marry him?

“I think my wife must have interrupted the settling of things.”

“Well…”

“If I am not mistaken, it has been several days in the making.”

Did Mr. Bennet also regain memory of the last fortnight?

“Now, I will call for Elizabeth. Then, we must hope your cousin does something for Mary. He is fortunate my wife will never recall a thing.”

“I do not understand…” Darcy fumbled. “How?”

“I have, at last, learned caution from your story about Wickham. I believe there must be some Christmas magic at work. Upon realizing how derelict I was in protecting my daughters, I had the most bizarre set of memories fall upon me. I can think of no way to explain your sudden arrival and Jane’s betrothal but to believe they were real, ending with an epiphany of great importance.”

Darcy blinked at the man who, he had found, acted most illogically most of his life. Mr. Bennet had married a silly wife with little fortune. He did not save for his daughters’ inheritance. He allowed them far too much liberty. However, the man had logically explained the alternate realities and time loop they inhabited for two weeks and more, believed it far easier than anyone else had. Perhaps the key lay in being both logical and ridiculous? Bennet began to laugh, interrupting Darcy’s reverie.

“Do not mind me,” the gentleman waved off Darcy’s concerned look.
“I only recalled when Collins had died. Mrs. Bennet has often wished there was no entail and I have often hoped it would not go to him. However, she did not take kindly to him keeling up before marrying one of her daughters and just after proposing to Charlotte Lucas.”

Mr. Bennet chuckled another moment. “Then you and Bingley came bounding in and immediately she turned about, elated with your return and convinced Bingley meant to offer for Jane and save us all. I daresay you will be gaining two or three very silly sisters, but your mother-in-law will always entertain.”

Darcy managed to smile at the image. At present, if he could acquire Elizabeth’s hand and if she could return his love, he would bear all things and count himself blessed. How differently he felt about any number of things in so few days!

Mr. Bennet rang for the servant and in short order, Elizabeth entered the library.

“Now, Elizabeth,” Mr. Bennet began as she sat beside Darcy. “This gentleman tells me that he loves you and has asked for your hand in marriage.”

“Yes.”

She answered nervously. Undoubtedly, she had not meant to speak to her father with Darcy in the room.

“And do you consent?”

Elizabeth glanced at Darcy. “I do.”

If he had not insulted her so soundly in his actual proposal, he would think this arrangement the height of unromantic. Still, Darcy’s heart rate increased. She was accepting him? She had not returned her eyes to her father.

“And you are not out of your senses? Currently, I mean. It would be understandable if you are after the events of the last fortnight.”

Elizabeth gasped. “You know?” She swung her head from him to gape at Mr. Bennet.

“Yes, I do, but you have not answered my question.”

“No,” Elizabeth shook her head and returned her gaze to Darcy. “No, I am in my right mind.”

“Have you not always hated him?” Mr. Bennet said with a humorous note in his voice.

Elizabeth blushed. “No. No, I have never hated him. I love him.”

Darcy’s heart skidded to a stop and then burst. The elation overspread on his face as muscles he had long forgotten he had stretched into a grin of unfettered joy.

“You love me?” He could not keep the wonder from his voice.

“I do,” she replied in a similar voice of disbelief.

He reached for her hands and raised them to his lips. “Words
cannot contain the love I have for you.”

“I do not know,” Elizabeth smiled. “Calling it ‘ardent’ certainly seemed like a good beginning to me.”

It was not the beginning he had trouble with! No, his problem was no matter how his words of love began, in his mind, the scene ended with his capturing her mouth and not relinquishing it until she was his in every way. Still, he would do this right, for her.

Keeping her hand in his, Darcy knelt on one knee. “Elizabeth Bennet, I passionately adore you. I would lay down my life for you. I will go to the ends of the earth to make you happy. I love you as no man has ever loved a woman. Will you be my wife?”

Elizabeth smiled even as a tear trickled down her cheek. “Yes, I will! I have been stupid and blind. I have been unkind and unjust. You have seen me at my worst, and I have seen you at your best. I love you, Fitzwilliam Darcy.”

Darcy could not contain his ardour any longer and met Elizabeth’s lips. When he did not hear a reproach from Mr. Bennet, he pulled back long enough to confirm the gentleman had left the room at some point during their exchange. He met Elizabeth’s lips again.

He would never have enough of her, but when he kept her in his arms as long as he dared, they separated and returned to the drawing room. Upon Mr. Bennet announcing their betrothal, they learned Richard had also sought Mr. Bennet’s blessing to wed Mary.

Darcy gave Richard a hearty handshake and Elizabeth approached her sister.

“Are you certain of this, Mary?” Elizabeth dropped her voice. “Mama does not remember the kiss. No one will be upset if you refuse him.”

Richard cleared his throat. “I will be upset.”

“Perhaps it is a bit sudden,” Darcy cautioned.

“No,” Richard said. “In all this insanity, I admit I felt attraction for another lady. I even believed I might love her.”

Mary began to hang her head in shame.

“Richard, I do not think…”

“I was wrong,” Richard said and lifted Mary’s head by hooking his finger under her chin. “She intrigued me because she was unavailable and I was a glutton for punishment. When I considered never having her, only my pride was wounded. Then you boldly walked into my life and I instantly fell.”

“Did you really?” Mary breathed, her eyes focused on Richard.

“I did,” he nodded. “And such a sweet fall it was.”

Darcy cleared his throat. “I suppose we have established your feelings.”

Elizabeth smirked. “He is only jealous because you are out-romancing him.”

Darcy flushed and looked at his feet.

Elizabeth whispered in his ear, “I still love you.”

He would never tire of her saying it. However, at the moment, they needed to address her sister’s feelings. “What do you say, Miss Mary? I recall Richard once telling me he would settle for marrying a woman who did not love him, so long as he loved her.”

Mary gasped and a surprising fierceness flooded her eyes. Darcy laughed to himself at the familial expression she shared with Elizabeth.

“Don’t you dare let me hear such a thing said of you again.” Mary poked Richard in the chest. “Do not dare think you are not worthy of love. You deserve it more than any other man and I…” Tears flooded her eyes and she wiped at them below her glasses. “I love you. I may be small and plain but I have loved you since I first saw you and—”

Richard silenced her with a kiss which drew the attention of the room again.

“Mr. Bennet! Mr. Bennet!” Mrs. Bennet cried.

“Colonel, I was going to give you my blessing anyway. Can you not speak with a father like a civilised man?” Mr. Bennet laughed. “If any young men come for Kitty or Lydia, show them in. I am quite at my leisure,” he said and withdrew a newspaper to read by the fire.

The three betrothed couples and Georgiana could not contain their amusement while Mr. Bennet’s two youngest daughters had not spared the others more than a moment’s concern as they had instead noticed a bright star in the sky.

When she had caught her breath, Georgiana declared, “Joyeux Noel!”

“Mr. Bennet,” his wife exclaimed. “You take delight in vexing me!” She then clutched her head. “Oh, that clock! My salts! My salts!”

The others had just enough time to reach their seats before fainting.


 

This ends Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy, Part I of MR. DARCY’S MIRACLE AT LONGBOURN. I’ll be posting Parts II and III next week!

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- Auld Lang Syne

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve / Chapter Thirteen / Chapter Fourteen / Chapter Fifteen

christmas 2016 5Auld Lang Syne

Longbourn

December 23, 1811

 

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Elizabeth asked and arched a brow.

“I’ll take a cup of kindness,” Darcy replied smiling.

“As I recall, it was your kindness that saved me.”

Darcy shook his head. “Nay, you saved me. Wickham would not have hurt you…he always meant to injure me.”

Elizabeth thought over Darcy’s words for a moment. He seemed to complacently claim Wickham would have never wounded her. However, at the time, he had desperately clung to her. More than that, he had made sure she was safe and unharmed. Even when it came to promising Wickham tens of thousands of pounds and an estate, he agreed to it without hesitation for her sake. And he would attempt to say he had done nothing heroic? That he was to blame?

Instantly, Elizabeth felt she understood more about Mr. Darcy than she would have if she had known him for a year. Perhaps it was the strangeness of the repeating days — for she recalled that as well — or the stress of being attacked by Wickham. The fact that the man before her had been abominably abused and cast aside in favour of Wickham by nearly everyone — herself included — and yet apologised for perceived weakness and inaction proved he had no improper pride. He lacked social graces. He did not know the pretty words Wickham used or all the right places to smile. Unlike Collins, he did not attempt to practice it either. He could not act differently than he was, whether the world love or despise him.

Or perhaps it was despise and love him? Were the two entirely separate? Did she not often hate her family but always love them?

“I did not mean to make you uncomfortable again,” Darcy said, beginning to approach the door. “Please forgive me.”

“Why should I?” she blurted.

He paused at the door way. “Pardon?”

“Have you said or done something to me that you regret? That you did not mean?”

Darcy paled, incredible pain filling his eyes. He approached and whispered. “Do you mean besides my ungentlemanly behaviour for weeks?
Besides my secrecy leading to Wickham attacking you? Yes, I do have other regrets. Do you not recall?” His eyes searched hers.

Elizabeth had meant his tender attention after subduing Wickham.
She had also meant his proposal — which lacked any loving words but then it seemed actions were his strong suit. “I recall, sir, but I do not have regrets.”

“How can that be? Or are you teasing me?” He shook his head. “No, you would not be so cruel. My wishes and affections are unchanged — and never will — but I grieve ever hurting you with my arrogant presumption.”

He ran a shaking hand through his hair. “When I think of the liberties I took… I am fortunate you did not slap me.”

Elizabeth’s eyes misted to hear his self-rebuke. How could he think she felt remorse for his kiss? Such tenderness and ardent desire, she had never known. At that moment, she very much needed it, and even now her lips tingled at the memory.

“Can you not imagine how grateful I am?” she asked with her voice
rising in pitch. “Can you not understand how it comforted me?”

Some of the pain in Darcy’s expression eased. “I should not have done it. I am pleased it brought you some relief, but I cannot accept your thanks.”

He was leaving again, and something in Elizabeth’s heart told her if she did not speak now she might never have another opportunity. “Pray forgive my selfishness, even as it may wound you. As we have referenced the New Year and our new beginning, should we not seal it with a kiss?”

Elizabeth repressed an urge to laugh as she could see that Darcy had never expected such words. He opened and closed his mouth without words coming several times. At last, he found his voice.

Anxiety and indecision marred his countenance. Restrained energy thrummed from his body. “By your sister’s count, it is well past New Year. It is now the fifth.”

Elizabeth gave him a saucy grin. “Then we are long overdue, do you not agree?”

All hesitation vanished, and Darcy strode to her with determined steps. He pulled her into strong arms and Elizabeth threw hers around his neck. They held each other so tightly she could feel the rapid beat of his heart through his garments.

Just before Darcy’s lips met Elizabeth’s, he rested his forehead on hers. Through laboured breaths, he said, “Will you allow me to tell you how I ardently love you?”

“Yes, but you had much better tell me more later and kiss me now,” Elizabeth demanded.

Her words were immediately heeded and none too soon for far earlier than either would have liked their bliss was interrupted by the screeching of Mrs. Bennet.

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- Angels We Have Heard on High

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve / Chapter Thirteen / Chapter Fourteen

christmas 2016 5Angels We Have Heard on High

Darcy House, London

December 23, 1811

 

Feeling as though he had awoken from a deep slumber, Darcy resisted the urge to stretch and yawn as he looked around his dining room. Had he gone mad? A moment ago, he had Elizabeth in his arms, and now he had returned to London.

Down the table, Mr. Hurst snorted in his sleep, causing him to jump. “Pardon me! Bingley, you were…uh…saying?” He looked from one confused face to the next then shrugged and gulped the remaining port in his glass.

“I…” Bingley trailed off and blinked rapidly.

“I believe you were just saying you needed to return to Netherfield immediately,” Richard supplied.

“Yes,” Bingley’s eye’s widened, and he nodded emphatically. “Yes, I was. Thank you.”

“You want to go back to that desolation?” Hurst asked as he sloshed more port into his glass.

Richard and Bingley both swung their heads to Darcy, willing him to play along. A part of him thought he had lost his mind or dreamed. He recalled everything. Mary Bennet’s revelation of repeating December twenty-third. Wickham attacking Elizabeth. Lydia bearing his child. Collins dying. Time and time again, Darcy had found the Bennets in distress, and due to matters he could alleviate or prevent. More than this, he could still taste Elizabeth on his lips, and her perfume clung to him. As often as he had vividly imagined such an encounter, he never considered that she tasted like mulled cider or would imagine the woodsy scent of trees and dirt mixing with her usual lavender.

“What kind of master would he be if he did not attend to his house and estate?” Darcy replied to Hurst and out of the corner of his eye saw Richard and Bingley relax.

“Hurst,” Bingley said while standing, “Please see to Caroline and Louisa. You will need a hack as I’ll be leaving from Darcy House within the hour.”

“Surely it is not as urgent as that!” Mr. Hurst exclaimed and looked longingly at Darcy’s fine wine.

“Take the bottle as my thanks,” Darcy said.

Bingley’s brother-in-law instantly agreed. Bottle in hand, he left to corral his charges.

“Do you remember?” Richard asked Bingley and Darcy.

“Was it real?” Bingley asked in wonder.

“It was real,” Darcy answered. As he stood the chair scraped against the floor, echoing in the vast room. “Let us be about it, then.” He turned to leave, ever fibre in his body thrumming with the need for activity, with the need to see Elizabeth.

“What are your intentions, Darcy?” Richard called after him.

“What are yours? I am sure Miss Mary would like to know.” Darcy tempered his reply with a grin, sending Richard to laughter.

“I am going to marry Jane,” Bingley declared and walked to Darcy’s side. “With or without your blessing.”

Darcy stared his closest friend in the eye. The man he had protected like the brother he always wished he had, finally stood up to him and Darcy could not have been prouder. Extending his arm and placing a hand on one of Bingley’s shoulders, Darcy nodded. “You have it, not that you ever needed it. Can you forgive my officiousness?”

“It was kindly meant,” Bingley said with a smile. “Now, we had best be off, or I will have to interfere with your prospects.”

Darcy laughed and shook his head, his hand dropping to his side. Elizabeth may never return his affections, but he could not have Bingley play matchmaker for him. He would earn her devotion or spend his entire life striving for it. Richard approached. “What will you tell Georgie?”

“She probably has more of it figured out than we do,” Darcy said ruefully and led his friend and cousin to the drawing room.

“There you are!” Georgiana flew to his side, twisting her hands.

“Caroline and Louisa did put up some fight, but I sent them on their way. Mr. Hurst can be quite firm when motivated well enough,” she slid her brother a disapproving glare. “I have already sent for my trunk.”

This time, Darcy did not even try to argue with her. They all separated and agreed to meet in one hour. At the appointed time, they were boarding Darcy’s carriage. Bingley’s, as smaller, would follow with the luggage. The ride passed in silence, no one knowing what to feel or expect.

Arriving at Netherfield, each returned to their chambers. The sleepy looks and dark circles under each pair of eyes at the breakfast table confirmed to Darcy his supposition. No one had slept well. Before dressing this morning, Darcy had sent a message to Mr. Bennet requesting to speak with him on an urgent matter. To his surprise, and relief, the older gentleman agreed immediately and hinted that Elizabeth was behind his decision and speedy reply.

Boarding the carriage once more, they hurtled forth swaying on a bumpy road and with equally turbulent thoughts clouding their minds. At last, they arrived at Longbourn and entered, surprised when they met with a trio of blushing Bennet sisters. It seemed that the ability to remember the events of the past week transferred to the eldest three daughters as well.

“Mr. Darcy,” Mr. Bennet greeted him, “I hope you do not mind that Elizabeth will join our discussion.”

“Of course not,” Darcy said as nervousness gnawed at his belly. He ought to have explained about Wickham long ago. It was the only thing he could think of which featured at each day they had experienced. And yet, he had never told a soul all of Wickham’s evil at once. Never had he believed the good opinion of one he loved more than life depended upon accepting his presentation of the facts.

Mr. Bennet and his second daughter left the room, and Richard nudged Darcy to follow before taking a seat beside Miss Mary, who blushed and caused her mother to stammer even more than when she had seen Bingley. He was greeted favourably by Jane while Miss Lydia and Miss Kitty fawned over Georgiana. She gave him a brave smile and a shooing motion.

Taking a deep breath, Darcy quelled his courage and left for his battle. Declining, Mr. Bennet’s offer to sit, Darcy chose to pace. While he told his tale of Wickham’s years of deceit and betrayal, he fixated his eyes on various objects in the room. Now and then, something struck him as more Elizabeth-like than what he would guess her father to enjoy. How had he dared to think less of this family? They made Elizabeth who she was, kept her healthy and happy her whole life while others were so miserable they sought to compromise him. He could not always like the behaviour of the Bennets, but what flaws they had were innocent and when looked at through the eyes of love, not so unbearable.

When Darcy relayed the news of Wickham’s desired elopement with Georgiana, he heard Elizabeth gasp. Turning to look at him, he saw tears prick her eyes.

“I had hoped it was a nightmare,” she murmured.

“What was that Elizabeth?” her father asked.

She cleared her voice and spoke more distinctly. “I said, what a nightmare.”

“Indeed,” her father said.

Darcy’s eyes never left Elizabeth’s as he carefully chose his words. “Unfortunately, all of this is true. You may corroborate with my cousin if you wish. Imagine if Georgiana had eloped with him. Once he received her money, he likely would have cast her off and seen to his own pleasures regardless of any familial duties he may have incurred.”

By the widening of her eyes, Darcy presumed she understood he referenced the period of time when Wickham had fathered Lydia’s child.

“I do not think consulting your cousin will be necessary,” Mr. Bennet said. “I suppose there is a reason you have explained all this.”

“Yes,” Darcy said finally allowing his eyes to leave Elizabeth. “The area merchants and gentlemen should be warned. Richard and I will speak with his colonel.”

Before Darcy could say more, there were happy shrieks from the drawing room followed by Mrs. Bennet’s frenzied voice.

“Mr. Bennet! Mr. Bennet!” Her rapid steps were heard down the hall. She flung open the door, chest heaving as she worked for breath. “Mr. Bennet, it is the best news imaginable! Mr. Bingley has proposed to Jane! Make haste!”

Mr. Bennet rolled his eyes, but Darcy saw the pleased smile on the older man’s face as he returned to his family. Taking a moment to consider what it would be like if he had five daughters, Darcy concluded he likely would not be half as sensible as the Bennet patriarch.

Darcy could feel Elizabeth’s eyes upon him. One side of his body tingled, and he knew she approached. Did she remember everything? Did she remember their kiss? And had she felt the passion he had?

“Thank you,” she whispered. “You did not need to come.”

Heart pounding in his chest, Darcy looked down at her. He could see she had also not slept and yet she was still the most beautiful woman in the world to him. “Yes, I did. A gentleman must right his wrongs.”

Elizabeth nervously fingered her neck. “I can still feel it…” She took a deep breath. “Do all of you recall the events?”

“Yes,” Darcy nodded. “And your sisters?”

Elizabeth nodded.

“I cannot apologise enough for allowing Wickham to harm you. If I had behaved better, you might not have trusted him. If I had done my duty and exposed him, it would have been impossible. If I had not angered you—”

Elizabeth placed a hand on his arm, silencing him. “There is nothing to forgive. If it were me, I would have protected my sister as well. You are not to blame for Wickham. I, however, must beg your forgiveness. I had been so prejudiced and blind—”

Darcy now felt it necessary to interrupt her. “We have misjudged each other. Might we begin again?”

Mr. Darcys Christmas Joy- O Holy Night

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve / Chapter Thirteen

christmas 2016 5O Holy Night

Longbourn

December 23, 1811

 

As Elizabeth left Mr. Darcy’s side and joined Wickham, something like an unpleasant memory flashed in her mind. However, it was more impression than memory, so she pushed it aside. Expecting for Darcy to leave after her refusal, she could barely contain her astonishment when he stayed for dinner. While they gathered in the drawing room before the meal, Darcy glared at her and Wickham.

The officer unabashedly enjoyed goading the arrogant gentleman. However, Wickham’s delight did not serve him well. Elizabeth’s primary interest in Wickham had been because he flattered her vanity. She was not too proud to admit that. What lady would not enjoy the attentions of a handsome man? It soon became apparent, though, that Wickham paying Elizabeth such notice flattered his ego. Out of some rivalry with Darcy — of which a valuable church living did not seem to be the motive — Wickham preyed upon her dislike of Darcy.

During the meal, Darcy sat near Mrs. Bennet. Elizabeth observed him to see how he would react to her mother’s constant raving about the good fortune of Mr. Bingley’s return and how kind he was to want to marry her eldest daughter. Soon, Mrs. Bennet hinted at Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam marrying from among her other girls. Beside her, Mary blushed scarlet. How curious. As Mrs. Bennet had not been expecting so much company, the meal had fewer courses than she would have had ordered otherwise and Elizabeth gloried in the chance to be away from the gentlemen. In fact, she felt tempted to claim illness and return to her chamber, but she did not wish to ruin the evening of Jane’s betrothal. She would not let Mr. Darcy have such a victory over her.

Surprisingly, Mary, Georgiana, and Jane had their heads together when they returned to the drawing room. Now and then they nervously glanced at the clock. Half past six.

“Lizzy,” Jane said. “Will you walk with me?”

“Jane, you cannot leave,” Mrs. Bennet screeched. “When the gentlemen return Mr. Bingley will want to sit with you!”

Elizabeth furrowed her brow as she watched alarm enter Jane’s eyes and she glanced at Mary and Georgiana.

“Mama,” Mary said suddenly, “Miss Darcy had asked to see the fountain. Jane and Lizzy know it best. We would not want to put her out, would we?”

Mrs. Bennet paused for a moment, as she had always disliked Darcy. However, seeing as he brought Bingley back as well as another single gentleman, and friendship with his sister could do wonder for her daughters, she relented. “Very well, but hurry along!”

The last rays of the sun were slipping from the horizon and dusk came closer with every passing second. Reaching the fountain, they stared at it appreciatively for a moment.

“Forgive me, but I would hate to miss Mr. Bingley’s return to the drawing room,” Jane blushed. “You cannot fault me, my dear sister, for wishing to be by his side so much after so long a separation.”

Elizabeth gave her most beloved sister an indulgent smile. “No, indeed. If Miss Darcy has no objection to staying out here with me alone, that is. Although I wonder that her brother should like it.”

“Oh, there is no worry there,” Miss Darcy said with laughter. “He often wrote of your superior intelligence and abilities.”

Before Elizabeth could do more than gape at the sister to the most complicated man in the universe, Jane excused herself.

“And what is that?” Georgiana pointed to some flowers by a copse of trees.

Elizabeth explained the species as she walked closer to gain a better view. She had assumed Georgiana followed but noticed she did not hear footsteps. Turning to see where the girl had gone, a shadow moved from a tree, catching her eye and causing her to yelp.

Immediately, Elizabeth threw an arm out to protect Georgiana from the darkened intruder. “Miss Darcy, run!”

“She has returned to the house,” Wickham said. “She never saw me. We are quite alone.”

“Mr. Wickham? Why would you scare me?” Elizabeth felt her body relax and held a hand to her chest.

“Oh, there is really nothing to fear.”

Suddenly, he grabbed her arm, holding it so tight she was certain it bruised. He pulled her hard against his chest. One arm snaked around her waist while the one that abused her limb now raked up her shoulder and neck. Taking her jaw in hand, he forcefully bent her head back to look at him. Madness shone in his eyes.

“I will finally have my revenge.”

Revenge? What revenge? What did he speak of? “Sir, if you will please come back to the house. You are unwell. We can call a physician.”

“No, no. Your words or looks will not beguile me. Tell me,” he said and thrust her chin this way and then that, “do you think you are worth thirty thousand pounds to him?”

To who? Elizabeth took a shuddering breath. She had no idea what had caused this madness or who he spoke of, but she had no time to worry about such things. She needed to be free of him. She did not think she could overpower him. Gruffly, he let go of her face and then thrust a hand into his pocket. What he withdrew flashed in the moonlight.

“I think on your knees, will be best,” he simultaneously released his hand and shoved her forward. Elizabeth stumbled to her knees. Instantly, he was beside her and gripping her around the waist again. Then, Elizabeth felt the cold, hard steel against her neck and whimpered.

“You will have to be louder than that,” he said and pressed harder against the tender skin. Elizabeth felt a trickle of blood and prayed someone might come outside.

“Look!” Wickham exclaimed, and his breath became ragged in excitement and delight. Every exhale scorched her ear. “Play nice,” he whispered harshly.

“Miss Bennet?” Elizabeth heard Darcy’s anxious tone come from the direction of the house.

He held no lantern, and it took a moment for her to make out his frame in the increasing darkness.

“Over here, Darcy,” Wickham’s foul breath flew past her ear again. “I believe we can finally talk about the matter of what you owe me.”

“Wickham,” Darcy growled out. “I owe you nothing!”

Leaves crunched signalling Darcy’s approach. Wickham tightened his hold on Elizabeth, earning a whimper from her. The shuffling of feet ceased.

“Elizabeth?” Darcy asked, fear evident in his tone.

“Go ahead, sweetheart,” Wickham commanded. “Reassure him you live.” Wickham laughed. “So long as both of you do as I say the blade will not slice her throat.”

Elizabeth remained mute. She would not let him gain anything through her. The blade cut deeper, and Elizabeth bit back on the bile rising in her throat.

“You may have anything you desire so long as you do not harm her,” Darcy said. The previous tone was gone, and he was the Master of Pemberley in command once more.

“And you?” Wickham’s hand around her waist tightened. “Do you agree as well?”

“Elizabeth,” Darcy said calmly. “Cooperate with him, and I promise you will return safely to your parents.”

How had it come to this? Wickham was crazed and threatening her life? She had been blind, so blind! No injustice he had faced in life would justify this cruelty.

“Yes,” she said firmly. “I will obey you.”

“Ah, good to see she can be biddable,” Wickham said. “Now, you may approach, Darcy.”

Darcy’s feet moved at a steady rhythm, and soon he emerged from the shadows and trees.

“Our hero,” Wickham laughed. “Or should I say our bait! You see, it was he the others intended for you to meet out here. A lover’s tryst?”

“Wickham,” Darcy said, but his eyes never left hers. His blue eyes pleaded with her to trust him. “What do you want?”

“What should have been mine! Taken from my father and raised alongside you. I should have been treated as a son!” He spat at Darcy’s boots.

“And so, you were,” Darcy said calmly. “Many younger sons enter the Church.”

Wickham shook his head. “Not a Darcy. Tell me, was your uncle expected to live off a few hundred pounds per annum.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brow. Wickham was not a Darcy, and she highly doubted he would have concealed that heritage or that Darcy would not acknowledge him. She remained mute, allowing the scene to play out.

“Would you like a house? A thousand a year?” Darcy asked and attempted to step forward.

“Get back!” Wickham barked, and Darcy complied. “Thirty thousand pounds — what I should have had from if you had not interrupted my plans with your sister and the estate in Wiltshire.”

Elizabeth bit back a gasp. That would nearly ruin Mr. Darcy. It would take all of Miss Darcy’s fortune. Suddenly, Elizabeth realized that was what Wickham meant. He had hoped to marry her? No, he could never have wanted to act so honourably nor would Darcy have allowed it. Had he planned on eloping with the young girl?

A tear trickled down Elizabeth’s face. She had been so stupid to believe in anything the man said. And based on what? Her pleased vanity?

“You are running out of time, Darcy,” Wickham said. “Others will look for her soon, and if you do not agree to my demands, they will find you…with her dead body.”

“And I have your word that you will leave me alone after this?” Darcy asked.

“What would be the fun in that?” Wickham asked.

“Very well, anything,” Darcy said. “Let her go.”

“I knew you would defend her honour. Your stupid duty guides you in everything!” Wickham released Elizabeth and kicked her forward. She landed with a groan as her head hit the ground hard. She could barely make out sounds but heard Darcy lunge for her before Wickham screamed at him to get back.

They were fighting! She could hear punches being thrown and rolling on leaves. Elizabeth struggled to stay conscious.

“This may be even more satisfying than your money,” Wickham said in laboured breaths.

Elizabeth forced her eyes open, and she saw Darcy pinned on the ground underneath Wickham who held the knife to his throat.

“No!” she screamed and threw the rock that her head had landed on.

Wickham fell over with a thud and Darcy lunged for the knife. Securing it in the waist of his breeches he ran to Elizabeth. She needed help reaching a sitting position and tears flooded her eyes. Had she killed him?

“Elizabeth, it’s going to be well,” he said. “You are safe and unharmed,” he said it even as he ran hands over her limbs to check for breaks.

“But, he could wake,” she winced when he placed a handkerchief to her throat. “Or is he — is he—?” She could not bear to say the words and sobs consumed her.

“Only unconscious, I believe.” Darcy left her side to examine Wickham. “He breathes. He will have a devil of a headache when he wakes.”

Elizabeth scarcely heard but managed to nod. Her entire body shook and tears still streaked down her face.

Darcy returned to her side and settled Elizabeth into his arms, holding her tight. “I am sorry,” he whispered into her hair. “I am so sorry. I ought to have told you about Wickham and Georgiana. I never would have thought…”

Shuddering, she looked up to see tears escaping his own eyes. “It is not your fault.” She reached up and tenderly stroked one away.

“How can you say that?” he asked. “You are too generous, much too generous!” he clutched her tightly to him again. “What would I have done without you?”

Before she could think otherwise or stop him — although she found she did not really wish it after all — his lips came crashing down on hers. The church bells rang, reminding Elizabeth of a call to celebration.

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- O Come, O Come Emmanuel

It’s been FOREVER since I posted on this story! I did finish it and then briefly had it on sale in July. I always wanted to re-release it for Christmas this year but since July and now I’ve been inspired to write two “sequels” to the original piece. It will publish as ONE book with a new title: MR. DARCY’S MIRACLE AT LONGBOURN. I’m going to post several “chapters” a day to catch up.

Previous Chapters: Chapter OneChapter Two /Chapter Four Chapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter Nine Chapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve


O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Netherfield

December 23, 1811

 

Darcy stared at first his cousin’s face and then his sister’s. What they had just told him defied all belief and logic. “I believe our travel yesterday over exerted your mind, Georgiana.”

“And mine as well?” Richard asked. “Think carefully. Besides Bingley deciding to return to this house, do you recall the events of yesterday with clarity?”

Darcy took a sip of coffee to allow himself time to think over matters. “Well, nothing of significance happened. It is not so unusual to be unable to remember exact moments of nothingness. I’ve had much on my mind of late.”

“And are those things Miss Elizabeth Bennet?” Richard asked with a raised eyebrow and knowing smirk.

Levelling his cousin a glare, Darcy put his coffee cup down in a clatter. “My personal concerns are just that.”

“Dare I ask what has Darcy acting like a bear this morning?” Bingley popped his head in the breakfast room door.

“Georgiana has come up with the most fanciful tale, and Richard is indulging her. Think nothing of it, Bingley. I suspect it is all a plot to mock me.”

Bingley entered the room and shut the door behind him. “Who could resist such a temptation?” He busied himself gathering breakfast items and said over his shoulder, “I remember Miss Elizabeth never could.”

“Bingley,” Richard said when the other had sat, “what do you recall about yesterday?”

Immediately Darcy’s friend smiled. “Well, we decided to come here, of course. And Miss Darcy I cannot thank you enough for being so persuasive as to suggest we leave immediately.”

“Yes, but what else do you recall?” Richard pressed.

“Well…I…we dined at Darcy House.”

“And what did we eat?” Georgiana asked.

Bingley paused while cutting up his food. “Well, every meal there is always so good.”

Georgiana leaned forward in interest. “You do not recall a specific dish? Did I order Fitzwilliam’s favourite or your favourite for pudding?”

“I fear I do not recall,” Bingley said with an uncharacteristic furrow forming between his brow. “Quite the memory exercise. I give up. Tell me then, which was it?”

“I do not remember either,” Georgiana said gently.

“I do not understand.” Bingley looked from one person to the next. “What is the point of this questioning?”

Darcy pushed his plate aside. His appetite had vanished. “What Richard and Georgiana have proposed is that due to some strange and inexplicable reason, we have been repeating the same day for over a week now. Creating…what did you call it?” He looked at Richard.

“Alternate realities. It seems the choices we make can alter the events of the day, but we never progress to a new calendar date.”

“Except on one occasion,” Georgiana added gravely.

“What was that?” Darcy asked.

Richard frowned and looked as though he tasted something foul in his mouth. “Miss Lydia had born Wickham’s child out of wedlock.”

“Impossible,” Bingley said. “You believe you have seen the future?”

Richard held up his hands to stave off Bingley’s inquisition. “I wish I had a rational explanation, but Mary Bennet has proof in her diary. Georgiana and I have shared memories. There can be no other explanation.”

Bingley stared at his coffee for a long moment, and Darcy wondered why he was still sitting at the table and had not called a physician to examine his relatives. However, something niggled at the back of his mind. Attempts at conversations with Elizabeth that ended in an argument. He had thought it was a recurring dream.

“I think I remember,” Bingley said, at last. “I keep walking with Jane in the garden at Longbourn. I try to explain my absence and my continued affections, but we’re always interrupted. By the— ”

“Clock chiming seven,” Georgiana and Richard said in unison with Bingley.

“If…if this were somehow true,” Darcy said slowly, “how does it work? What can stop it?”

“I think we regain our memories when we have some revelation in our character,” Richard said. “I learned to take a risk on probability rather than dwell on the impossible and frivolous.”

“He means he kissed Miss Mary in front of everyone!” Georgiana declared.

“What?” Darcy cried.

“Georgie,” Richard growled.

“And I stood up to Wickham,” Georgiana said with a smile.

“What is the story there?” Bingley asked.

“Never mind,” Richard pressed on. “Thanks to Georgiana insisting we left earlier than usual yesterday. We had hoped to call on Longbourn last night but you all refused to go. Time reset. At least we now have many hours to visit before the seven o’clock deadline.”

Bingley seemed convinced, but Darcy remained sceptical.

“Come, Darcy. Go with us to Longbourn. See Miss Mary’s diary. If we are right, then you have the power to prevent a terrible travesty. If we are wrong, then you have harmed no one.”

“If I reveal the truth about Wickham to the Bennets then I could harm Georgiana’s reputation beyond repair.”

His sister raised her chin. “I do not care. What care I for the society of false friends or a gentleman that would only marry me for my acceptance in such circles?”

Darcy studied his sister. Indeed, her words and actions today and last night revealed a side to her unknown to him. Could that be the work of a mere moment or had days passed, as they said?

“Darcy,” Bingley said slowly. “I think everyone here understands how you feel about Miss Elizabeth.”

Darcy attempted to argue, but Bingley spoke over him. “Surely you could trust her with the truth. Perhaps if she did not encourage him so much, her sisters would not be endangered by him.”

It was a logical argument, even if the circumstances for the proposition made no sense. Staring at his cup, he confronted the truth of what worried him most. “What makes you think she will listen to anything I have to say?”

“It is worth the try,” Georgiana said.

Darcy gave an almost imperceptible nod of his head. Bingley called for the carriage, and on the way to Longbourn, discussion flowed around Darcy which did feel eerily familiar.

After hearing Richard and Georgiana’s stories, Darcy was relieved to see Longbourn had not changed in the least. Mrs. Bennet was loud and obnoxious. The younger daughters were rude, and Mr. Bennet was absent. Darcy allowed himself to tune out the rest of the room and rest his eyes on his sole purpose for coming. Elizabeth looked as lovely as ever. Darcy took a step toward her, but Richard pushed him toward Miss Mary.

“How do you do, Miss Mary?” Richard asked and sat next to her.

“I am well,” she said although she blushed and would not look at Richard.

Richard smiled. “Do you have your diary with you, today?”

Immediately Mary’s eyes moved to Richard’s. “You remember?” she whispered so quietly Darcy nearly missed it.

“I do.” Richard and Mary stared at each other for a long moment.

Georgiana cleared her throat. “So do I!”

“You do?” Mary asked in apparent disbelief. “And do you, Mr. Darcy?”

Richard saved him from having to answer. “Darcy would like to view your diary.”

Mary blushed again but handed over the book. Darcy leafed through it and saw pages she had to add. He also noted the repeating of December Twenty-Third, 1811. He quickly read her last entry which detailed a swift passage of time and Lydia eloping with Wickham. When he had finished, Richard looked at him expectantly.

“Very well, I will speak with Miss Elizabeth about Wickham. Although I do not see why you fear when it has apparently not come to pass.”

“Please, sir,” Miss Mary said and held out her hand for the diary. “If I may, chance or decision seems to alter our course significantly. One night all seemed normal and the next you all arrived, however, we could not receive you for our cousin Mr. Collins had just died.”

“Indeed!” Richard exclaimed.

“Yes. I presume what altered events was your choice in coming here. The next many nights did not change the timing of things, although I noted Miss Darcy one night was speaking badly and openly of Mr. Wickham. Two evenings ago, I attempted to tell Jane of matters and the next morning I awoke to Lydia having been married and becoming a mother.”

“And that is when you showed me the diary,” Richard added, causing Mary to blush.

“Yes. Both actions were quite uncharacteristic for me.”

“Me as well,” Richard said. “I hope you know I do not go around kissing ladies all the time.”

Mary turned scarlet, and her voice trembled but still she spoke. “I had meant attempting to explain my findings to Jane and to you. I hope you know not only were your actions unusual for me, but I would never go around speaking of them so openly!”

Darcy rolled his eyes as her rebuke caused Richard to blush slightly. “We have meandered from the topic. We must decipher how these loops work so we might end them.”

“Well, when I confronted Wickham I no longer lost my memories,” Georgiana said.

Richard nodded. “It seems to have worked for me just by listening to Miss Mary.”

“Yes, but life altered when Mr. Bingley chose to return to Netherfield and when I attempted to direct Jane. What do you remember about the two years that passed? Anything connected to my family?” Mary asked Richard and Georgiana.

Richard did not meet her eyes. “Little of significance.”

By the way Richard evaded Mary’s eyes, Darcy knew his cousin lied. What was more, he seemed to wish to protect Mary.

“I visited my aunt at Rosings like I do every Easter,” Richard said. “Darcy did not come, we had heard that Miss Elizabeth was residing with Mrs. Collins. To be safe, he did not return the next year either.”

“Fitzwilliam grew colder and more distant it seemed with each passing week,” Georgiana said with a remote and sad quality to her voice. “By the time we had, at last, returned here Mr. Bingley was about to give up on their friendship.”

“And neither of you had heard anything of Wickham or the Bennets in that time?” Miss Mary did not attempt to conceal her fear.

“We hardly make it a practice to follow the life of George Wickham,” Darcy said coldly.

“Perhaps you should, sir!” Mary said. “You knew his real character and never revealed it while living in the area. You tacitly agree to care for Elizabeth and still did not feel your honour called upon.”

She paused for a moment and managed to regain her composure as Richard whispered in her ear and placed a hand on hers. “For us, it was a very, very dark time. Lydia went with the Regiment to Brighton as the guest of Colonel Forster and his wife. There, she eloped with Wickham, but they never went to Scotland.

Instead, they disappeared outside of London, and we could not trace her. After several weeks, she emerged at my Uncle Gardiner’s house in little more than her petticoat and a shawl. She had traded everything else for food and lodging. She accepted Wickham did not mean to marry her and left him, at first unwilling to return to the family. A marriage was hastily arranged and with it, some respectability returned to my family, but the damage was done. There was talk of my sisters never marrying, even one as beautiful and amiable as Jane.”

By the time she had finished, Miss Mary was breathless and took a sip of water which Richard brought her. She seemed as though she had never spoken so much at one time and Darcy could well believe it. For a moment, he wished to argue back about his innocence in a hypothetical case that whether or not it seemed real, yesterday was not today. Before having a moment to reply, they were directed outside by Mrs. Bennet.

“And do not hog the Colonel, Mary. Your sisters admire a man in uniform much more than you do,” Mrs. Bennet called as they left the room. Richard immediately offered Mary his arm, and the younger sisters walked closely behind them. Jane and Bingley wandered off together, leaving Darcy, Georgiana, and Elizabeth. He walked in silence as Elizabeth and Georgiana conversed for several minutes. Passing a small bench, Georgiana seized upon the moment to sit, pressing Darcy and Elizabeth to continue without her.

After walking some yards away, Darcy turned to Elizabeth. “I apologize for my sister. Perhaps you think I should scold her, but I am only too happy to see such youthful stubbornness in her. As a child, she was just that way, but as she aged, she put it aside, and I believe that had rather disastrous consequences.”

Darcy perceived immediately, he had surprised Elizabeth with his words.

“I confess, that is not at all what I expected to hear from you,” she said in a small voice filled with wonder.

“Why should you not? She is not yet sixteen and has many years left to become wise and dull.”

“Like her brother then?” Elizabeth said, but the teasing sparkle in her eye kept it from sounding impertinent or cruel.

“I shall not claim you do not know me well enough, for you, undoubtedly have some witty retort.” Not caring about the requests of his friends, Darcy acted on the selfish desire of his heart. “In fact, I would very much wish for you to know me better. Indeed, such limited knowledge between a husband and wife would not do very well at all.”

He heard Elizabeth gasped and turned to at her.

“Pardon me?” Her eyes were now wide and her colour pale.

“You will forgive me for not knowing the usual pretty words of suitors.”

Elizabeth remained fixed in her spot and speechless. A cold sweat trickled down his spine. He had never seen her at a loss for words. “I had not thought it would come as such a surprise,” he ventured, “but surely your clever mouth can think of something to say.” He took a step forward and reached for her hand. “No witticism from you, my darling?”

Like a flame leaping from a match, Darcy witnessed Elizabeth transform. She snatched her hand away, and her eyes turned dark and fiery. She spoke through clenched teeth. “Allow me to thank you for the honour you have bestowed on me. If I rightly understood and some request was intended although unsaid. However, it is impossible for me to do otherwise than refuse it.”

Instantly, it felt as though Darcy was punched in the gut. He waited for further explanation, but it seemed none was coming. “Is that all the civility I may expect?”

“How dare you expect more! While you were talking with my sister for so long, you might have taken an interest in what your friend was saying to mine.” She shook a finger at him. “I heard it from Mr. Bingley’s own lips that you had meant to keep him away from Longbourn and my sister forever! Do you think anything could prevail upon me to marry the man who wished to separate my most beloved sister from the man she loved? Do you deny it?”

Darcy could scarcely believe his ears. First, Elizabeth refused him. Secondly, Bingley put him forward in an unfavourable light. Lastly, that Jane Bennet had felt real affection for his friend. “I do not deny it. Towards him, I have been kinder than to myself.”

He must try and explain his side of matters. He wet his lips to speak, but it was too late. The harridan had more to say.

“It is not merely this matter which formed my dislike of you. Weeks ago, your character was explained to me by Mr. Wickham. Please, tell me how you mean to acquit yourself there. Another act of imagined kindness?”

“You take an eager interest in that man’s concerns!” Darcy could barely contain the rage he felt boiling beneath his skin.

“Who that knows his afflictions can help feeling concern?”

“His afflictions? Oh, yes. They are great indeed.”

“And by your making!” she cried. “How dare you treat him so sarcastically and with derision in your voice when it is he that was slighted and misused.”

“You have said more than enough, madam!” Darcy’s chest heaved. “Perhaps if I had flattered you more, you would have accepted my suit.” Darcy knew it was untrue, but he had often noted vanity seemed her weakness.

“Do not think I reject your proposal due to your pathetic attempts! I had not known you a month before I felt you were the last man in the world I could be prevailed upon to marry! As it is, your mode of declaration only spared me concern in wounding you, but I assure you I could not be tempted to accept your suit in any circumstance.”

“Darcy?” the voice of Bingley interrupted them, and he did not know whether he hated or rejoiced in the sight of Bingley and Miss Bennet.

“Darcy, we are returning to the house now. I must speak with Mr. Bennet, but I hope you will offer me your congratulations.”

Darcy could feel Elizabeth’s eyes upon him. “Indeed, many congratulations to you and best wishes to Miss Bennet. As I do not think you want for more company while you court. I will take my leave. Shall I send back the carriage at eight o’clock?”

“Leaving? No! You cannot — must not!” Bingley’s eyes darted to Elizabeth, now at Jane’s side, whose anger for Darcy could be overcome only by her happiness for her sister.

Jane turned her pale blue eyes upon him. “Please stay, Mr. Darcy. It is no matter to have an extra guest, your presence makes our joy complete.”

Elizabeth mumbled something at her side, and Jane elbowed her. “I believe we owe our engagement all to you,” she said then coughed in an attempt to cover up Elizabeth’s audible gasp.

“Very well,” Darcy said tightly.

“Splendid!” Bingley exclaimed and extended his arm for Jane. “Darcy, you had better help Miss Elizabeth, the path is uneven here.”

The two walked off as though they had no concern in the world, and perhaps they did not. Elizabeth refused to look at Darcy and fixed her eyes toward the gate. “Expecting someone?” he asked in irritation.

“Yes! And look! He has come,” Elizabeth waved gaily and smiled before walking off to meet a uniformed man. Darcy could recognize the silhouette anywhere. Wickham.

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming

Forgive me for such a long delay in this story! As I believe I have mentioned before, my son has Autism. Lately he’s been having some behavior issues at school. Dealing with them took most of my writing time but I believe we have finally turned a corner and worked out a new schedule.

There’s still a few more chapters to wrap everything up but things will begin to make more sense.

Chapter OneChapter Two and ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter Six /

Chapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter Ten Chapter Eleven

christmas-2016-5Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming

Georgiana sat in Darcy House’s drawing room. Beside her, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst rambled on with false compliments about how accomplished and lovely she was. She was not yet sixteen years old and yet, according to them, far superior most ladies with years more education and experience in the world. If only they knew the truth.

Georgiana’s eyes flitted to the clock on the mantle again. She hoped her brother and his guests would return earlier, but she knew the wish was for naught. It had been the same for six days now. She would hear their voices in the hall of Mr. Bingley and her cousin talking about plans to visit Hertfordshire and see the Miss Bennets on the morrow. Then the clock would strike seven just before they reached the drawing-room. Next, without any clear memory of the day, she would be at Mr. Bingley’s house in Hertfordshire about to call on the Bennets. However, they always arrived at nearly seven o’clock and then after a few minutes’ conversation, time would shift again.

Around her, no one else seemed to act like they knew the day was repeating continuously until two nights ago. On that night, Miss Mary Bennet had tried to show her journal to her eldest sister. Last night, the usual plans were made to leave for Hertfordshire and Georgiana did not realize at first that a grave error had been made. On the way to the Bennet estate, she learned that for everyone else, two years had passed. Arriving at Longbourn, they found the youngest Bennet daughter married and mother to George Wickham’s child. Georgiana had not learned the truth of what happened surrounding matters, but she could guess the scoundrel seduced the girl and refused to marry her.

In what looked like a desperate act, Miss Mary showed her diary to Richard, who then kissed her! Georgiana assumed it was some sort of test to see if those around them would remember the next day. It certainly did not break whatever spell or curse was upon them. In normal proceedings, Richard would have had to propose to Mary or face pistols at dawn. However, Georgiana suspected Richard’s idea was on the correct path.

She had no idea how many days her world had been repeating but knew she became aware of it after standing up to George Wickham and explaining to Elizabeth Bennet how awful the man was. It was as if she had fallen out of step with destiny and was now trying to forge a new path. Could it be the same was true with the others? If so, Georgiana dearly hoped her brother’s destiny would intertwine with Elizabeth’s.

“Pardon me,” Georgiana interrupted Caroline and bolted from her seat.

She walked at an unladylike speed back to the dining room where the men were still gathered. Glancing at the clock in the hall, it seemed she had arrived just in time. Hovering outside the door, she heard the following conversation.

Mr. Bingley chuckled. “If you only want character and do not care about money or standing, then Darcy and I know a whole host of women.”

“Indeed?” Richard asked.

“Yes, in Hertfordshire. Near the estate, I am leasing.”

“Forgive me since I am a military man, but I would think it would be best to learn more about the estate by residing in it longer than a few weeks. Should you not go back?”

“You know, I was just thinking the same.” Georgian could hear the smile in his voice. “How am I to learn how estates run in the winter if I am not there for it. I think I must return for Christmas. You’re welcome to come along, Richard. I doubt Darcy will desire to return.”

“Forgive him, he’s very busy, our Darcy.”

“I think you might hit it off with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, actually,” Bingley offered.

“I will come!” Fitzwilliam practically shouted.

“Thank you, Bingley. I will check with Command, but I believe I can leave the area for the holidays.”

Georgiana could contain herself no longer. She opened the door with so much force it slammed against the wall.

“Georgiana!” Darcy cried and put out his cigar. “Is something wrong?”

She met his eye and spoke with steely determination. “No, but I heard your conversation just now. No, do not stop to scold me. I think we ought to leave tonight and not on the morrow.”

Fitzwilliam sputtered something about her not coming, but Georgiana’s attention was focused on Mr. Bingley.

“Leave tonight?” he said.

“Yes, you could have all day tomorrow with Miss Bennet, then.”

“How quickly can you be ready, Georgiana?” Richard asked, startling her. Did he remember?

“Molly can pack my things in less than an hour. We…well, we’re well practiced at hasty packing.” For once the reminder of her near elopement with Wickham had become a positive thing.

“Excellent,” Bingley and Richard said in unison.

Richard then left to send a message to his command and Bingley to inform his sisters of the plan, leaving Georgiana alone with her brother.

“Georgie,” Fitzwilliam said quietly but forcefully, “you are not coming. I forbid it.”

At first, Georgiana stared at her feet. It had always been so difficult to stand up to her brother or pain him. Their father had been ill most of her childhood, and her mother died after her birth. Fitzwilliam was more often her parent than her brother. However, she knew she could not back down from this. The happiness of so many was held in the balance. Poor Miss Lydia might be a silly, thoughtless girl but no one deserved to be cast aside by Wickham.

Georgiana raised her head and met her brother’s eyes. “If you want to test stubbornness, I am ready for a siege. I am too old for you to carry me away to the nursery. Punish me however you like, take away my pin money if it pleases you, but you will not stop me from boarding that carriage.”

Chest heaving and face red, she turned on her heel and left the room. Richard stood just outside.

“Bravo, Georgie! Our tender rose has thorns!”

Georgiana smiled but felt her face blush harder. “I am a Darcy and a Fitzwilliam. Is it any surprise I can be obstinate?”

The clock beside her rang seven times, and she tensed, expecting the world to fade away as it had before, but it did not.

“Can it be?” she whispered to herself.

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Richard said.

“What do you mean?” Georgiana asked nervously. She did not feel prepared to attempt to explain things to another.

Richard looked incredulous. “Do you really think I go around kissing bloody maidens and not remembering it the next day?”

Georgie attempted to stammer an answer when Fitzwilliam finally exited the dining room behind them. “If you wish to leave in an hour, you had best inform your maid,” he said while walking past them.

“Do you think he knows?” she hissed to Richard.

“Not a chance,” he shook his head. “We can not talk more now, but I have a theory.”

“Perhaps we can speak when we change horses?”

“Excellent notion,” he agreed before she scampered off.

Georgiana held her breath as she boarded the coach but Fitzwilliam said nothing. For the next two hours, she twisted her hands as she attempted to recall details of the previous days. Without a doubt, something revolutionary needed to happen before seven o’clock on December Twenty-third. What precisely was needed, she was less sure. Mary changed events by showing her diary to Jane, and the repercussions were that Bingley and Fitzwilliam did not return to Longbourn for two years and Lydia bore Wickham’s child.

At last, they reached the coaching inn to change horses. Richard offered to allow her to stretch her legs.

“It is fortunate we have so much moonlight,” Georgiana observed as they walked near the inn.

“That was fast thinking to get Bingley to leave tonight. If matters went on for another few days, we’d be in New Moon territory and traveling at night would be impossible.”

“Richard, I’ve been thinking. Time did not reset at seven o’clock as usual, so I think making drastically different choices creates a divergence in time.”

Richard nodded. “Yes, I had surmised as much. Mary trying to show her sister her diary made a monumental change, however.”

“Maybe…” Georgiana trailed off. This entire situation seemed impossible how could she think she understood it.

“Do not think you are too young to share your ideas,” he said gently.

“If not young, then stupid.”

“Fitzwilliams are never stupid!”

“Just Darcys, then?” she said with a half smile.

“Your brother, maybe,” Richard nodded to where Fitzwilliam paced near the coach.

“It has to do with him, don’t you think? And Miss Elizabeth?”

“I believe you are correct,” Richard said. “Did you have something to say about Miss Mary?”

“Only that I think for her sharing her private thoughts in her diary was a monumental change. When did you become aware of our predicament?”

“Well, after she told me but I had an epiphany last night. I have lived too much by duty or frivolity. I have not lived by my own desires.”

“Ah, see. You did something so very unlike you!”

Richard chuckled. “Indeed. And for you?”

“Do you recall our other meetings with the Bennets?”

“I do,” he nodded. “It is strange having memories others do not have. For example, last night we appeared to be two years in the future, but it is not as though I lived for two years. I can only tell you events that may have happened in relation to the Bennets.”

“Precisely. Do you recall the evening we arrived while Wickham was there? Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth, and I played cards with him? I confronted Wickham in a way. I mentioned my maid who he had dallied with and hinted strongly of our relationship. It made quite an impression on Elizabeth.”

“I was at a different table. What else happened?”

“Before anything else could happen the clock struck seven and time reset again. However, my memories were restored.”

“Ah, so you think standing up to Wickham was a profound change in your character?”

“You heard how I spoke to Fitzwilliam, did you not?”

“Yes, quite true.” Richard smiled down at her. “Well, I think we have some ideas. It is time to return to the coach. With any luck, we might break this spell we are under on the morrow. We can speak more in the morning.”

Georgiana followed him to the carriage where all occupants remained silent. After a fitful night of sleep, she awoke early the next morning and was pleased to see Richard alone in the breakfast room.

“Do you have a plan?” she asked eagerly after he finished his coffee.

“I think you were correct. Miss Elizabeth needs to know about Wickham, but Darcy must be the one to tell her.”

“Who am I supposed to talk to and what am I supposed to say?”

Georgiana gasped at the sound of her brother’s voice.

 

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Joy- What Child is This?

Sorry I’m late posting again! I’ve been so exhausted and my son is having trouble adjusting to school. I’ve been on the phone with school several times this week and had to pick him up early twice. That means less writing time! There are 3-5 chapters left after this one (depends on if I need to round anything out or decided to do an epilogue). What Child is This is one of my favorite Christmas Songs so I’ve had the idea of this from the very beginning.

Chapter OneChapter Two and ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter Six /

Chapter SevenChapter Eight Chapter NineChapter Ten 


christmas-2016-5What Child is This?

“I swear to you, I keep dreaming of Miss Bennet. It is a sign. It must be,” Bingley said as they boarded his coach again.

Out of nowhere the night before, Bingley had insisted on returning to his leased estate near Meryton, Hertfordshire. Darcy had insisted on going with him. Georgiana insisted on going with her brother. Richard insisted on going with her.

Last Darcy had heard, George Wickham was in Meryton and friendly with the Bennets. Of course, that had been two years ago. The Regiment likely was now stationed elsewhere, but with no notice, Richard had no means of finding out. However, he would never let the scoundrel near his young cousin again

“I will never understand why you renewed the lease even though you had not returned in over two years,” Darcy said coldly.

“Yes, I know all about your displeasure at my not taking your advice on the matter,” Bingley said.

Richard looked at his cousin, Georgiana. It was unlike Darcy and Bingley to have a disagreement. Darcy could be overbearing at times, but Bingley hated arguments. Wordlessly, she told him not to push the matter.

“What do you think they’re like now?” Georgiana asked.

“Ja — Miss Bennet would be as beautiful as ever,” Bingley replied instantly.

“You call it love when you only care about her looks?” Darcy asked. “What if seven years had passed instead of just two?”

Richard studied him. He expected to hear derision but instead, Darcy looked nearly as anxious as Bingley did.

“Why did you even want to come?” Bingley said in clipped tones.

“It was this or visit Aunt Catherine,” Richard said hoping humor would diffuse the tension. “You know he skipped out of going at Easter again.”

“Yes, tell us about your visit again,” Darcy said.

Richard tugged at his cravat. He did not like to speak of that time. Without Darcy’s company, Rosings was even more tedious than usual. Last year, Richard had taken to spending as much time as he could at the parsonage. Foolishly, he fell in love with a married woman. Even more foolishly, he returned to see her the following year.

Richard could guess Darcy’s reason for avoiding Rosings at Easter. Two Easters ago, Charlotte Collins had invited her dearest friend, Elizabeth Bennet to visit. As Richard’s friendship with Charlotte deepened, she confided that she was disappointed Darcy had not come as planned because she believed he was in love with her friend.

At first, Richard rejected the idea as incredulous. After observing his cousin, however, he believed it to be true. Now, Darcy sat across from him, knowing he would soon be seeing Miss Elizabeth again. He still held a torch for her. Richard could sympathize with his cousin’s pain. Darcy had been wise to avoid meeting with Miss Elizabeth, but it seemed he could no longer avoid the pull of his heart.

Richard took a sip of the flask he carried with him. Would that he and Charlotte were as free as Darcy and Elizabeth were. Darcy had ideas about rank and circumstances for marriage, but those weren’t real obstacles the way Charlotte’s marriage was. Of course, that and the fact that she had no idea of his feelings.

“Rosings was as boring as ever,” Richard said. “As you know, Darcy, there was a lively houseguest at the parsonage last year, but she was not there this year.”

“Who was the houseguest?” Bingley asked absentmindedly while looking out the window and drumming his fingers on his thigh. “At this rate, we will not get there until nearly seven!”

“The horses are tired,” Richard reasoned, “and the roads are damp.”

“Yes, well,” the usually good-natured man harrumphed. “You were saying?”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet was a guest of my aunt’s clergyman, Mr. Collins. They are cousins, and she is his wife’s friend. I believe you met the man? His wife was the former Charlotte Lucas,” Richard addressed Bingley but directed his eyes at Darcy.

No one had asked if Richard desired to go to Netherfield. It was just assumed. Indeed, he never thought otherwise himself. His duty was to Georgiana. However, each turn of the wheel brought a piercing pain to his heart. The day before they left London, Lady Catherine had written and explained that Mrs. Collins would be visiting her parents over the Christmas holiday. Richard knew the Lucas family was good friends with the Bennets. Even now, she might be in Longbourn, and Richard would have to see her again.

Bingley suddenly leaned forward, interest burning in his eyes. “Did Mrs. Collins say anything about the Bennets? Why did Miss Elizabeth not return?”

“Mrs. Collins said something about it being an inconvenient time for her family but believing they were all well. She had no idea of when Miss Elizabeth might be able to visit again.” Richard shrugged his shoulders. He had spent little time speaking of Miss Elizabeth when Mrs. Collins was his true interest.

Bingley sat back, evidently disappointed.  At last, they reached the house and were shown in. The room went silent at their announcement. A quick scan produced the lovely Mrs. Collins. She was sitting next to a lady in glasses, who had a baby on her lap. It felt like a punch to his gut.

Was this her baby? It should come as no surprise after two years of marriage, and yet, she had shown no signs of pregnancy at Easter, and the child was no newborn. In fact, it could sit on its own. What little Richard understood of infants from his brother’s children, they could not do so until they were many months old.

Faintly, he registered the sound of voices. A stiff introduction and not the shrill voice he expected of Mrs. Bennet. His feet shuffled toward the baby, who fussed. The spectacled woman spoke to it in gentle tones. “Here, do you want to see the people?”

When she turned to face the child out on her lap, Richard felt all air leave him. The baby was the spitting image of George Wickham as a child. Behind him, he heard the gasps of Darcy and Georgiana.

“Colonel Fitzwilliam,” Mrs. Collins said, drawing his notice. “How nice to see you again.”

“Indeed. Nice…pleasant…” he trailed off as his brain could not master speech let alone polite conversation at the moment. He cleared his voice. “Excuses me, but I did not hear. Congratulations. He’s a fine lad,” Richard nodded at the baby.

Mrs. Collins shook her head. “You are mistaken, dear Colonel. My husband and I are not expecting our child until the Spring. This is Mrs. Spurlock’s baby.”

“Mrs. Spurlock?” Richard said as Darcy and Georgiana joined his side.

“My sister Lydia married Mr. Spurlock last year,” the woman in spectacles said. “She and her husband are visiting after being stationed in Newcastle. It is the first we have seen them since before the wedding.”

“You might have seen the announcement,” Mrs. Bennet said, “although it was not put in the way I had hoped.”

“No, I had not,” Darcy said.

“Oh, well. It had been August before last. No doubt so long ago it would have slipped your mind even if you had seen it,” she said.

Was it Richard’s imagination or did she look relieved they had not known of the announcement?

“Stationed in Newcastle? He must be an army man like myself!” Richard said, hoping he could learn more information from the man. There could be no coincidence in the baby looking so much like Wickham as a child.

“Indeed!” Mrs. Bennet beamed. “He’s over here. Let me introduce you,” she said, and Richard followed over.

Several minutes of stupid conversation later, and Richard guessed as much information as he thought he could glean from the man. Spurlock and Lydia met in London; the gentleman was an acquaintance of her uncle through his father who shared a business connection with Mr. Gardiner. After their marriage, he joined the Army and was stationed in Newcastle. He was just stupid enough to be the sort that was chosen to marry a ruined girl and think it lucky for him. A younger son of a tradesman suddenly an ensign in the army with more pay and where he might distinguish himself and with a pretty wife was enough to make many men satisfied. Richard wondered if he were stupid enough to believe the child was his.

“Colonel,” the spectacled miss appeared sans baby, “I am to make your tea,” she said and nodded at the table.

Richard instructed her and watched as she moved with grace. “Thank you, Miss ?”

She blushed. “Miss Mary. I know there are several of us. It must get confusing,” she said. “Although, you met Lizzy before, didn’t you?”

“Indeed,” Richard said as he took a sip of his tea and watched Mrs. Collins across the room dote on Mrs. Spurlock’s child. Motherhood suited her.

“I do not know why you are always so fascinated by her when she has always been taken,” Miss Mary huffed under her breath.

“Excuse me?”

“I uh–”

“And what do you mean by always?” he asked.

Miss Mary turned white, and her eyes darted to a bound journal on the other side of the table with writing materials nearby. It looked as though she had been adding pages to it. Richard reached for it, but she snatched it and held it close to her chest.

“May I speak with you?” she asked in a timid voice.

“You are speaking with me. Not making much sense, but speaking,” he said with a sigh.

“No, I know that,” she let out a nervous chuckle. “In a few minutes when everyone is distracted? I have to show you something.”

“Miss Mary, I think you are fatigued–”

“Listen! It concerns my family and yours too!” She dropped her voice, “And–and Mr. Wickham.”

Richard said nothing but grit his teeth and nodded. In a few minutes, the others were sufficiently distracted, and he made his way to Miss Mary.

“I am glad you trusted me, sir,” she whispered.

Richard said nothing and the lady pushed her glasses back on her nose. “This journal contains three hundred and sixty-five pages. It is meant to have one page per day of the year.” She quickly fanned through several entries. “As you can see, I always complete my entry in the allotted space.”

Richard’s quick eyes had scanned a few entries while she spoke. Most of the entries were short and seemed to contain no news. After Michaelmas, the entries grew longer.

“Do you see the date,” Mary pointed to one. “Look at the year.”

Richard furrowed his brows in confusion. This journal was two years old. Before he could formulate a question, she turned the page, and the same date was repeated. She leafed through eight pages, each with the same date, December 23, 1811.

“Now, read today’s entry.” She held it up for his inspection.

December 23, 1811

Today I learned two years have passed since last night. This is beyond anything I had guessed. Lydia is married, but there was some scandal about it. I heard Mama and Aunt Gardiner discussing it in hushed tones. Apparently our friends abandoned us during the time. They just started visiting again but now that Lydia is at Longbourn, Mama thinks she the others will avoid us. Strangely, Charlotte Collins has lent her support, although Mama insists it is so she can look around the house as her future domain. Mama has given up on any of us marrying. Her schemes are at an end, and it is so strange to see her quiet.

My heavens! Since writing the above, I have learned the most shocking news. Lydia eloped with Mr. Wickham last year! After several weeks it became clear to her, he had no intention of marrying, and she left him. Uncle Gardiner then patched up a marriage for her. They say her baby came early, but I would not be surprised at all to learn it is Wickham’s child. There is something familiar about his eyes.

I do not know how to heal this rift in time. Will I awake tomorrow in the past, or in the future. Is this reality inescapable? I do not know what to do. Was my meddling to blame for this turn of events?

“Read the other entries, if you like, but be quick!” Mary said when Richard looked at her in doubt.

Quickly, he read the other entries. They were different situations of him arriving with Darcy, Bingley, and Georgiana. Mary never had anything to record before dinner time. It was always vague explanations of how the day was spent. Then, Richard and the others would arrive and Mary’s memory became very detailed. Certain words were repeated in each circumstance, and everything seemed to shift at seven o’clock.

“Do you believe it?” She twisted her hands and nibbled a bottom lip, hoping for his approval.

“There is only one way to know,” he said and then impulsively kissed her.

“Mr. Bennet! Mr. Bennet!” he heard Mrs. Bennet shrieked. “Come, you must make him stop! You must make him marry her!”

The rest of the room was silent.

Richard pulled away and looked in Mary’s astonished eyes. “There. Now, if it is true as you say, then no one shall recall this tomorrow.”

Before he could say more, the clock struck seven. He held Mary’s eyes as the others around him clutched their heads.

“I will remember,” Mary said as her bottom lip trembled and tears filled her eyes.

“As will I,” he promised.

As the chimes continued, he felt like a cloud was lifting and he saw clearly for the first time in weeks. He could never forget. Why had he been so interested in a married lady who barely seemed to notice his existence? How had he missed the woman before him? Even as he asked himself the question, he knew the answer. It was safer to chase something that could never be a reality than be rejected as insufficient. He would fight tooth and nail for this reality to be the one worth keeping. As his own epiphany dawned, he considered Darcy and Bingley’s predicaments.  White light swirled around him as understanding became clearer.