Categories > Books > Pride and Prejudice > Most Happily Situated

Most Happily Situated

by dansemacabre 3 reviews

Elizabeth and Darcy return to Pemberley to begin their new life together. Oneshot. COMPLETE.

Category: Pride and Prejudice - Rating: PG - Genres: Humor, Romance - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2007-06-02 - Updated: 2007-06-03 - 1642 words - Complete

The carriage rattled down the path, its wheels kicking up gravel as it rounded the bend. Her book lying forgotten in her lap, Elizabeth gazed out the window.

Meadows and fields flashed by, low stone walls marking out the boundaries in staggered lines. Stout hedges of blackthorn lined the road, with goldenrod and the last of the bluebells hidden among the grass. The land here had a gentle rise to it, gradually ascending to rounded hills dotted with shaggy yellow gorse and scotch thistle.

Resting her elbow on the arm of her seat, Elizabeth breathed in the sweet scent of clover. Even several weeks spent in the south of France had nothing to compare to this, and she was anxious at the thought of returning to the place she could now call home... hers and Darcy's.

If her husband had any apprehensions about their homecoming it did not show, for Darcy was fast asleep. Hat balanced on one knee, he dozed with his arms folded across his chest, sitting poker-straight as if he were at a dinner party. Both cravat and collar were loosened for comfort and Elizabeth could not help but admire the graceful line of his neck and jaw, the shadowed spot beneath his chin where he'd missed shaving. She longed to feel the sandpapery scrape of stubble under her fingertips and against her cheek, but didn't want to wake him.

Reaching up with care, Elizabeth instead pushed back a stray curl back from his temple and just for a moment, buried her nose against his shoulder. He smelled of clean straw and sun and something else that she'd come to know as being only Darcy, a scent that rose warm and male off his flushed skin when she brushed her lips against it.

The night before had found them in a little inn miles from home, one so humble it had but a single room in the attic. It was tidy but bare, with little to recommend it save for a view of the sheep pasture and a large bed, the eiderdown mattress stuffed nearly to bursting. Earnest efforts were made to accomodate the unexpected guests --two chairs and a wobbly table were pulled up near the window and hastily set with pale green linen and the innkeeper's wife's best pewter candlesticks.

For a man so accustomed to luxury, Darcy did not remark upon their modest surroundings. As soon as a cold supper and a bottle of wine was sent up, her husband gave gracious thanks to the innkeeper and assisted shutting the door with a firm nudge of his boot. The day's journey had been long, but Darcy possessed only a perfunctory appetite, eating little except bread and butter with a slice of ham tucked between. Even that was consumed with unusual urgency, the wine nearly untouched...

Remembering the rest of the evening, Elizabeth blushed. Their arrival was too late after dark to appreciate the view, but they made excellent use of the bed.

She turned her face to the window, hoping the air would cool her burning face before Darcy woke and asked what was the matter. Just as it had been on her first trip to Derbyshire, the scenery provided distraction and delight enough for even her discerning eye.

Acre after acre of woods and streams made up the grounds of Pemberley, airy groves of oak and beech, shaded hollows hiding clusters of wild hyacinth. She would walk or ride every single path, Elizabeth promised herself, as many as she could until the weather grew too cold. Then come spring she would visit them all again to see the violets and daffodils in bloom.

The outer bounds of the park alone were a good ten miles or more, and it would be the work of an entire summer to explore the grounds. Elizabeth permitted herself a tiny glimmer of satisfaction at the prospect, for she was, as others had noted before, a great walker.

As proof of their travels, her complexion was scandalously brown from sightseeing among the Roman ruins, and Elizabeth had little doubt a certain Miss Caroline Bingley would disapprove if she could see her now. But Darcy vowed he would have a portrait of her looking just as she did at the Pont du Gard, tanned by the late summer sun, hair disheveled by the wind and surrounded by fields of scarlet poppies.

Elizabeth shook her head at the thought of all the paintings of various Darcy ancestors in the great hall looking down their haughty noses at the interloper. She could even imagine their sternly critical expressions, for she had seen a similar one on Miss Bingley's face not so very long ago.

After the wedding, the lady's slim eyebrows and elegant mouth were pursed in pained distaste, causing Mr. Bennet to slyly inquire whether or not the lemonade had been properly sugared. Yet even the haughty opinions of Miss Bingley could not dampen her spirits today.

To be mistress of all this, one would put up with a great deal...

Elizabeth soon found that Pemberley's master was the least of her troubles. The wedding had been a trial of its own, due in no small part to the steely glances from Lady Catherine de Burgh and the nervous giggling of the younger girls-- Mary excepted, of course, who offered up a pithy speech about the advantages of matrimony complete with passages from the book of first Corinthians.

In addition to that were the agitated prostrations of Mrs. Bennet, whose delicate nerves had been set atremble with excitement for weeks upon end. The planning of weddings was her greatest joy and she fancied herself quite the expert until heated consultations about lace from Milan or Brussels sent her into a swoon that required a speedy retirement to bed with a bottle of smelling salts and a cool cloth for her forehead.

It was to Elizabeth's great relief that her mother did not feel up to the task of emerging until the day of the wedding itself, when she sallied forth in a new gown and a hat so stiffly bedecked and beribboned that it recalled to mind one of the proud flagships of the English navy.

"Mrs. Darcy!" her mother had exclaimed to no one in particular as she fanned herself with her gloves, "Ooh, my dears, how well that sounds!"

Elizabeth repressed a sigh at the memory. Her mother had not been able to resist crowing over her recent accomplishment. Three daughters married, and to such amiable partners! A veritable triumph by her estimation, though Mrs. Bennet was certain her second eldest had not been so deserving and had exercised her usual reserve in expressing that opinion.

"You must be sure to write us often, Lizzy. I shall want to hear all the news, and of course, Kitty may stay with you for a season... if she is not asked to Netherfield, that is. I daresay Mr. Bingley may have more company with many eligible young men of good standing."

Mr. Darcy's fortune had endeared him only so far to his new mother-in-law. His polite refusal to engage in the social niceties of holding frequent balls for the benefit of unmarried female relations had caused Mrs. Bennet to sniff with disdain.

"A much merrier time would be had by all if only some would deign to offer a little more encouragement. But I am certain your sisters and I will be invited to Netherfield and then no one need trouble themselves on our account."

Elizabeth offered up a guilty thought for her sister. Poor Jane. God grant her patience, for she will have need of it...

The carriage wheels hit a small crater in the road, sending Elizabeth jostling against her husband with a startled exclamation. Woken abruptly from his sleep, Darcy bestowed upon her one of his rare smiles, his gaze fondly amused as if he could read her thoughts. He yawned and stretched, tossing his hat upon the seat opposite.

"Have I slept long? I have been a most dull traveling companion."

Elizabeth shook her head and straightened his collar, brushing the back of her hand against his cheek. "Not long. We are nearly there."

Darcy peered out the window, eager as a boy. "There," he said pointing, "You can almost see it. I walked over the ridge past the elms and there you were, coming up the front walk ."

He paused and and a note of teasing entered his voice.

"All of Hertfordshire would rise up in shock if they'd seen the celebrated Miss Eliza Bennet unable to summon the wit for one of her clever speeches."

His wife laughed and gave Darcy's cravat a gentle twist. "I'll never forget. But you were not so composed that day yourself."

"I cannot deny it," replied Darcy with a relaxed stoicism as he settled back in his seat, "You have a most bewitching effect upon me."

In a few minutes they would enter the house as master and mistress, the whole staff lined up to greet them. But that moment had not yet come. While they still had the relative privacy of the carriage, he pulled her into the curve of his arm, hand clasped at her waist in so natural a gesture that she could believe they had been thus all their lives. Darcy's breath was warm on her ear as he bent to whisper.

"Welcome home, dearest Elizabeth."

Trees in their first flush of yellow and copper leaves gave way to open meadow and the lake that glimmered like a jewel in the grass. The long drive unfurled like a carpet, and beyond it, Pemberley rose tall and grand, stone columns blushed a warm gold in the late afternoon sun. Elizabeth looked up at her companion and smiled in return.

Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

It sounded very well, indeed.
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