Sorry for the delay. My life got way wacko. But I have finally finished writing this story, so I will be posting it over the next 2 weeks. Thanks for your patience.
Over the following week, Darcy was a constant guest of the Bennet family. As his townhouse was closed up, no one outside the immediate family knew of his whereabouts, which he hoped would keep the information from reaching Lady Catherine. Georgiana stayed with her aunt and uncle.
The arrival of Richard Fitzwilliam was delayed, which gave his family anxiety, for they were still unaware of his injuries. They were informed that the delay was due to severe storms in the channel, making it far too dangerous for the ships to travel to English shores.
Though Lady Matlock was concerned, she was also grateful that Elizabeth was recovering. She was certain that, if necessary, Elizabeth would be able to come to Richard’s aid in healing.
Lady Matlock spoke openly with Georgiana of what she knew of magical people. With her gift of being able to recognize their gifts, Lady Matlock was given a glimpse into the very souls of the people, seeing what made them who they were. Georgiana was intimidated at first, but soon overcame her fears and was in awe over the Bennets and her own aunt.
Each day, Darcy and Elizabeth spent time getting to know each other better. After feeling the strength of the energy Darcy felt when Mr Bennet assisted his daughter in healing herself, the Master of Pemberley was eager to learn more of their abilities.
For the first time in her life, Elizabeth did not have to hide who she was. It was liberating, while still difficult to comprehend. Fitzwilliam Darcy accepts me for what I am. I would never have expected such a turn of events. And he professes to care for me. No, not care. He claims to love me. But can that be true? Can he truly love me, or is it something new and unique? Will he tire of having to hide the family secret? And how would he feel of having children who might have magical abilities? Knowing of my abilities, does he realize the chances of my having children who have magical talents are great? My father and uncle have said that it is most likely my talents are strong due to both sides of the family being magical, so it is highly probable that I will pass on magic to any children I have.
As if reading her mind, Darcy looked upon the young lady sitting beside her on the sofa. “Miss Elizabeth…may I ask you a question which might be inappropriate?”
Elizabeth chuckled. “Mr Darcy, after spending time in my bedchamber, though I was unconscious, I believe we are beyond worrying about what is proper and what is not. Please, feel that you may ask me whatever you wish.”
“Your family history, has there been someone magical in each generation?”
“Yes, as far back as we have found documented. And, for me, it is on both sides of my family. The Bennet line is the eldest of the two, though there have been members of each generation on both sides.”
Darcy reached out his hand and took hold of hers. “So it would be natural to think that we could have a child with abilities?” His thumb was drawing circles gently on the back of her hand.
Elizabeth gasped in shock. “You…you would accept a child who is like me?”
“Do you not realize that in accepting your abilities, in loving you, it would be natural to think of a future with you? And a future would most likely include having children. Do you not wish to have a family?”
“It is not something I have ever considered. I have had to hide who I am and what I can do, so I have never thought I would marry. All of my life, I have teased Jane that I would be Aunt Lizzy, who teaches all of her children how to play the pianoforte quite ill.” Elizabeth stated with a slight giggle. “I never thought of having children of my own. Mamma and Papa knew each other long before they decided to marry, and Mamma came from a magical family. There are very few people I can call my friends, for I have always had to hide who I am from everyone. Being able to discuss this openly is new for me. I was amazed to learn that your aunt was from the Whitaker family, and that she has known from the moment we met, just what I could do.”
“After speaking with my aunt, I have learned more about myself. I was taught to think lowly of others, those who were beneath me in status. My pride at being Fitzwilliam Darcy, heir to, and later, Master of Pemberley, grandson of the previous Earl of Matlock, and one of the wealthiest young men in England, all combined to make me think less of everyone else. You are not beneath me, Miss Elizabeth. You are the daughter of a gentleman, and I am a gentleman. In that, we are equals. You have a giving, caring heart and have done so much for everyone you can. That is what drew me to you, made me fall in love with you. Now that I have found you, I cannot imagine my world without you. I cannot thank my aunt enough for bringing me back to Town in time, as I know I would have been devastated had I lost you forever.”
“I should have used more caution that night, not allowed you to see what I was doing.”
Darcy shook his head. “I should have stayed, listened to what you had to say. Can you ever forgive my childish behavior?”
“We have spoken of this many times, Mr Darcy. Your behavior was natural. There is nothing requiring forgiveness.” Elizabeth patted Darcy’s hand, which was still holding her other hand.
Suddenly, Darcy moved from his place beside her, kneeling before her. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet, I have struggled in vain. Please allow me to tell you how ardently I love and admire you. You are everything I could ever wish for as the companion of my life. Someone to love and cherish, someone who is incredibly intelligent and talented, and, for some time now, you have been the handsomest young lady of my acquaintance. Would you do me the great honor of accepting my hand in marriage? Will you be my wife?”
Tears of joy welled in Elizabeth’s eyes. “Are you certain?”
Darcy chuckled. “That is not the answer I was looking for, but, in answer to your question, yes, I am certain.”
Elizabeth’s head began nodding, up and down, as a smile broke out on her lips. “Yes, Mr Darcy, I will marry you.”
“Then, my dearest, loveliest Lizzy, you must not call me Mr Darcy any longer. Please, would you call me William?”
“William.” She said, slightly louder than a whisper. The single word flowed over him, making his heart leap with joy.
“My Lizzy. I shall speak with your father.” Darcy took both of her hands in his own, placing kisses on the back of each. Even though he mentioned speaking with Mr Bennet, Darcy had a difficult time rising from his knee, and even greater difficulty tearing his eyes from the young lady he loved.
Elizabeth leaned forward, placing a kiss on one Darcy’s hands. “Thank you, William.”
“For what, my dearest?”
“For loving me and wanting to be with me.”
“Always, my dearest. Always.”
~~ ** ~~
A man stood in the shadows, across the street and two buildings away from the Bennet family home. He received word from one of the maids at Matlock House that Georgiana Darcy had returned to Town, rather than being at Pemberley with her brother. It was believed that Darcy had returned to Town as well.
Though the man had not seen Darcy coming and going from the house, he waited, certain that Darcy would come to pay calls on Miss Elizabeth Bennet. After witnessing Darcy’s rescue of the young lady, when the man attempted to abscond with Miss Elizabeth, the man was sure that Darcy was in love with the lady. Having known Darcy all of his life, George Wickham had never seen Darcy react in such a manner as he had that night. Well, with one exception. Darcy’s protective nature towards his sister, when Wickham attempted to convince young Georgiana Darcy to elope with him, was very similar to the behavior Wickham witnessed in the alley with Miss Elizabeth.
Having been paid to eliminate Miss Elizabeth, Wickham was displeased with having to wait for another opportunity. He needed the funds, for there were people coming to collect on his debts. Wickham had always been in debt, and he could not wait for the funds he was to receive from his work for the illustrious Lady Catherine. With her wealth, and her desire to have her daughter married to Darcy, Wickham was pleased with the fee she had offered him. It would be enough to escape the country, start a new life in the former colonies.
Wickham had been born and raised at Pemberley. His father was the steward for the late Mr Darcy, and had been well respected by the former Master. So much respected that Mr Darcy had paid for George Wickham to have a gentleman’s education, sending him to school with Fitzwilliam Darcy. Unbeknownst to the elder Mr Darcy, Wickham had grown cruel to the heir to Pemberley, and their days at school had been difficult for William. Wickham stole from William, cheated in every way he could, deflowered many young ladies, and left a trail of debts which the young Darcy paid, in an attempt to protect his father. This only excited Wickham, leading him to continue in his ways.
When William’s father had died, he had left Wickham a very valuable living, with the stipulation that Wickham was to take orders before he could be granted the living. Fortunately, for the good people of Kympton, Wickham was not meant to be a clergyman, and he knew it. So, Wickham asked for financial compensation in lieu of the living. He was granted the request, given three thousand pounds. Signing his agreement, declaring he would receive no further compensation from the Darcy family, George Wickham left Pemberley with his funds.
In only two years, the funds were gone, and Wickham returned to Darcy, asking for the living he had been promised. Darcy had refused him, stating that he would give Wickham no further assistance, and that the living had been given to someone else. Wickham was furious, making threats against Darcy.
Then Georgiana Darcy went to Ramsgate for a holiday. Wickham knew of her trip, for Wickham had several spies within the Darcy House and Pemberley. Wickham was certain that his “old friend” would not have discussed his behavior with Georgiana, and she would have only remembered Wickham as a pleasant man. So it was simple enough to convince the girl that she loved him and that they should be married, and that the thrill of running to Gretna Green to elope would be exciting. Fortunately for Georgiana, and unfortunately for Wickham’s scheme, Darcy had arrived at Ramsgate the day before the intended elopement. Wickham was furious, as he wished nothing more than to get his hands on Georgiana’s dowry of thirty thousand pounds. He even threatened Darcy, claiming that he had compromised Georgiana. Darcy’s staff were loyal to him, and all claims of a compromise were found to be false, and Wickham was forced to flee Ramsgate, penniless and filled with rage.
He had been contacted by Lady Catherine, as she had suspicions that Darcy was attempting to ignore her demands that he was to marry her daughter. She hired Wickham to follow Darcy around, and to discover anything the lady could use to force her nephew into the marriage.
If only Darcy had been a few minutes later the night Wickham had pulled Elizabeth Bennet into the alley. If Wickham had had just a few more minutes, his problems would have been resolved, or so he thought.
Wickham could understand what had attracted Darcy to the young lady She was an attractive, Wickham thought, and seemed to be kind to everyone. It was clear that Darcy was attracted to her. Wickham had chuckled many times while watching is former friend with Elizabeth Bennet. Having watched young ladies fawn over him for years, it struck Wickham as curious that someone had finally caught his attention.
“Come on, Darcy. If you are in Town, I know you will come here. Then I can tell your aunt. She will give me some of the money she owes me for the news.” Wickham said to himself.
~~ ** ~~
Lady Catherine de Bourgh made her way to her brother’s townhouse. She had not heard or seen anything of her nephew and was growing tired of waiting. After being shown into the drawing room, where she found Lord and Lady Matlock, along with Georgiana, Lady Catherine began her tirade.
“Since Georgiana is in Town, I can only assume that my nephew is in Town as well. But no one has heard of or seen him in some time. What is going on? Where is Darcy?”
“We are not at liberty to discuss William’s whereabouts.” Lord Matlock proclaimed. “He is not required to tell us of his comings and goings, and we do not ask him to inform us. If there is something we need to know, we are certain he will inform us.”
“Why has he not come to honor his betrothal to Anne? I expected him to come to our townhouse, and set a date for their wedding.” Lady Catherine stated.
“Catherine, there is not going to be a wedding between William and Anne. William does not desire such a match, and I agree with him. As he does not require marriage to bring Rosings into his coffers, why should he marry where he does not desire?”
Lady Catherine was shocked. “What are you speaking of? What makes you think Darcy will be able to acquire Rosings without marrying Anne?”
Seeing the fury building in his sister, Lord Matlock smiled. “Dear sister, do you truly believe me to be daft? Do you not realize that I am well aware of your husband’s will and the details as to who would inherit? You would make William’s life a misery, simply to allow you to remain comfortable at Rosings. It will not happen. William’s assets are all protected by a trust which was set up. You will never be able to touch Pemberley, or any of Darcy’s holdings. Our solicitors have already seen to protecting William with the trust.”
“Then Georgiana is coming to live with me. Darcy is not fit to be the guardian of a young girl. Our brother was a fool to name Darcy and your son as Georgiana’s guardian. I have already spoken with my solicitor, and he says that as both of the men are unmarried, it is best that Georgiana be in the care of a lady. I am the nearest relation to Georgiana, so it is my right to take her to Rosings. The court will see that I am doing what is best for my niece.”
“Ah, but Georgiana’s care is included in the trust. You cannot remove our niece from our care, as we are members of the trust, and, if William is unable to care for his sister, the trustees can take his place. So, do not make any efforts to remove Georgiana from our home.” Lady Matlock announced, a large grin of delight shining on her lips.
“You are not fit to care for a young girl, such as Georgiana. She should be raised with my daughter, so that she can be brought up properly. Anne and Georgiana were meant to be sisters, and I will see that it happens. There is nothing you can do to stop me.” Lady Catherine reached over and took hold of Georgiana’s arm, pulling the girl to her feet.
“I am not going with you, Aunt Catherine. I will not live with you or Anne. My brother has taken good care of me, as have my aunt and uncle.” Georgiana said, tugging her arm to be released from Lady Catherine’s grasp. “My brother deserves to be loved, and you have no love for him. Neither does Anne. You cannot give him the happiness that he deserves, the happiness he will have with Miss Elizabeth.”
Lady Catherine gasped. “So, he does have feelings for that chit. Well, he will regret any relations with the likes of her. I will not allow him to marry the likes of her.”
“You cannot do anything to prevent him, Catherine.” Lord Matlock said as he attempted to assist his niece free herself from his sister’s talon grip.
With a sneer, Lady Catherine finally released her hold on Georgiana. “You wait and see, Henry. I will make Darcy regret his decision. Your attempts to protect him will come to be worthless. Darcy will be left penniless and in an asylum, after I publically ruin him and his whore.”
“You will do no such thing, Catherine.” Lord Matlock stood his full height, peering down at his sister. “If you try anything, I will see it is you who is left humiliated and in an asylum. I promise you, you will regret any attempt to ruin William, Georgiana, or any member of the Bennet family.”
“I am leaving, Henry. I will not give you my blessings, for you do not deserve them.” Lady Catherine said as she stormed from the room, nearly knocking one of the footmen out of her way as she threw open the door of the room.
Georgiana shook her head, as she watched her mother’s sister stomp from the house. “We should send word to William. Aunt Catherine will do just about anything to have her way.”
“Yes, I will send him a message. And I want you to make certain you have at least two footmen with you at all times when you leave this house, if you are not with one of us. I do not wish for you to be injured by my sister’s foolish attempts.”
~~ ** ~~
The following day, Darcy received another message from his uncle. Expecting more news on Lady Catherine’s attempts to force Darcy into marriage, he was excited to hear that his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, had arrived and was at Matlock House. Lord and Lady Matlock asked Darcy to come as soon as possible, and for him to bring Elizabeth as well. At the end of the message, Lady Matlock had added a line, requesting Elizabeth to bring her stones with her.
The last line made Darcy well aware that his cousin’s injuries were severe. Lady Matlock had made it clear that she hoped Elizabeth would be able to heal her beloved son.
There was no hesitation on Elizabeth’s part to gather her stones and herbs, placing them in a bag, and the two quickly departed for Matlock House, with Mr Bennet accompanying them.
Wickham was hidden in the shadows, watching as the couple and Mr Bennet enter the carriage and drive away. He was overjoyed, and quickly left to make his announcement to Lady Catherine.
~~ ** ~~
Darcy stepped out of the carriage and turned around to hand Elizabeth down. Elizabeth held on to his hand until she was firmly standing on the ground. Then she placed her hand on his arm and they began to walk up the stairs, as Mr Bennet trailed behind them.
The door of Matlock House opened before the trio could knock, and they were quickly ushered inside. The butler, Mr Trindle, wore a grave appearance.
“I am pleased you have come, Mr Darcy. Your cousin is in quite a bad way, and Lady Matlock is beside herself with fear.”
“Are they in Richard’s rooms?” Darcy asked.
“Yes. I am expecting her ladyship to request a physician be sent for, but no request has been made. Should I send for one? The colonel’s condition is poor.”
“No, we should wait for my aunt to request one. Miss Elizabeth has some herbs that may be of assistance to my cousin, perhaps my aunt wishes to try them first.”
“I will say a prayer for Colonel Fitzwilliam, and for the herbs to work.” Mr Trindle stated.
Darcy led the Bennets up the stairs, and down the family wing to the rooms Richard had used since he was ten years of age. As Darcy reached his hand to knock, the door opened, with Lord Matlock standing there.
“Thank heavens you have arrived. Miss Elizabeth, Mr Bennet, it is a blessing you have come with my nephew. Please, come in.” Lord Matlock closed the door after the trio had entered the room. “Richard…it is a miracle that he survived to make here. He is…in a very bad way.”
Elizabeth could feel the illness in the room, making her shudder. “He has taken a severe infection from his injuries. The smell of the decay is overwhelming.” She had always been able to sense when someone was ill, though never as strongly as she could now. She thought that it was perhaps due to her father’s strength which allowed her to heal which gave her the enhanced ability.
“It is severe. The military surgeon gave us no hope for his survival.”
Darcy assisted Elizabeth in removing her pelisse, and handed her the bag he carried for her. Mr Bennet moved to one side of Richard Fitzwilliam’s bed, while Elizabeth and Darcy stood at the other side. Lady Matlock wiped the tears from her eyes and gave Elizabeth’s hand a firm squeeze. “Thank you, Elizabeth. I know that you are my son’s only hope of surviving.”
“I will do my best, Lady Matlock.”
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~
Elizabeth took items out of the bag, setting them out on the bed. “Where are all his injuries?”
“He took a bullet in the shoulder, and a bayonet in the belly.” Lord Matlock stated. “There is another bullet wound on his left thigh. All of the wounds have had little care, and he has suffered from a severe fever. We were told that he had suffered a head injury as well, that he had a knot on the back of his head. When they found him, he was underneath several men who had been killed, so he had been lying there, injured for nearly two days before they even found him. By then, infection was already taking hold.”
“And it has been near a fortnight since he was discovered. Most likely in poor living conditions and then on a ship waiting for the storms to end. Very little care was given, especially if they had given up hope of his survival. The surgeons would have given the care to those they thought would survive.” Lady Matlock said, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Do not fret, my dear.” Lord Matlock said as he wrapped his wife in his arms. “Let us keep hope that Miss Elizabeth and her father can aid our boy. Remember how close to death Miss Elizabeth was, and now look at her. There is hope, is there not, Miss Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth nodded her head, keeping her attention to her patient. “There is always hope, until he is cold in his grave. And I do not intend to see him there for many years to come.”
Taking herbs in her hands, Elizabeth instructed Darcy on how to make a poultice. It amazed her that he was so willing to do what was a servant’s job, but to keep the number of people in the room to a minimum, he was willing to do his part to help. Mr Bennet assisted Darcy, while Elizabeth began placing the stones on Richard’s chest and head.
“Lady Matlock, I know you do not consider your abilities to be magical, but I beg to differ. It would be beneficial if you were to work with my father and me to heal your son. Your bond with your son will strengthen our magic.” Elizabeth said, holding a hand out to the elder lady. “All you need to do is hold on to my father or my hand, and feel our energy. It will not harm you.”
Lady Matlock moved to take her place beside Mr Bennet. She slipped her hand in his, as Mr Bennet took hold of Elizabeth’s with his other hand. Surprisingly, Darcy took hold of Elizabeth’s other hand.
“I might not be magical, but I am family. If family support is needed, I consider Richard to be a brother to me.” He announced to those in the room.
Lord Matlock watched in silence as the energy began to build in the room. The four people standing around Richard’s bed could feel the strength, could sense the healing process as it began. From holding Elizabeth’s hand, Darcy could feel the same energy course through him as he did the night Elizabeth was healed, and he felt hope building for his cousin’s survival.
The stones began to pulsate with magic, and the herbal poultices emitted a fragrance as they began to seep into the wounds. Slowly at first, the redness began to recede. Over an hour passed before the wounds were completely healed, but healed they were.
Richard slowly opened his eyes. “Where…am I?” He asked.
Lady Matlock sat down on the bed beside her son. “You are in Town, my dear boy. You are safe, with us.”
Richard was confused. “How did I get here? I was in battle…why am I here?”
“You were injured, Richard.” Darcy stated.
“Darce, what are you doing here? And who are these people? You are holding this young lady’s hand, am I missing something?”
Elizabeth smiled and attempted to remove her hand from Darcy’s, though he refused to lose the contact. Darcy wore a proud grin. “This is Miss Elizabeth Bennet. And you have not missed anything, yet.”
“Yet? So am I to wish you joy?” Richard asked in a sleepy voice.
“Not yet, but I am hopeful for the near future.” Darcy glanced into Elizabeth’s eyes, watching them dance with her happiness.
“So, can you explain to me as to why she is in my bedchamber?”
Lady Matlock kissed her son on the cheek. “You rest, Richard. There will be time for these questions after you have rested.”
~~ ** ~~
After all of the stones and herbs were collected, the group made their way out of Richard’s room and into the sitting room across the hall, leaving Lord Matlock’s valet to watch over Richard.
It was clear to Lord Matlock that the others were fatigued from their task, especially Mr Bennet and Elizabeth, who had to bear the greatest drain on their strength. Lord Matlock called for the housekeeper and requested refreshments for everyone.
Darcy and Elizabeth sat side by side on the sofa. He could feel her weariness, and, without thinking, wrapped his arm around her shoulder, bringing her closer to his body. Her fatigue soon found her dozing against Darcy’s shoulder as he held on to her.
Mr Bennet watched the young couple with a smile. “You do realize, Mr Darcy, that you have compromised my daughter.”
“I do, Mr Bennet, and expect you to force me into marrying her, as soon as possible.” Darcy replied. His hand gently caressed the fabric covering Elizabeth’s shoulder.
With a laugh, Mr Bennet nodded his head. “I am certain that you would, my dear boy. Well, if Lizzy is agreeable, I will not stand in your way.”
Lady Matlock was pleased with her son’s healing, though she was weary. “I have never felt such a connection to anyone before.”
“When magic is combined amongst others, it can be quite intense. For some time, you will feel the strength of what we did today, as you will hold some of our energy still coursing through you. I believe Mr Darcy felt the energy after Elizabeth’s healing.”
“I did. That is why I was not afraid of participating today. It has been an interesting experience. Unusual, but thrilling all at the same time. I am pleased that it has assisted Richard in healing.”
“We will need to put on an appearance of him still being ill, as we would not be able to explain how he was near death one moment, and hale and hearty the next. Fortunately, Jeffers has known of Richard’s abilities for years, and he will be able to assist us. Having you, William, and Georgiana aware of his magic will also be convenient in portraying the rehabilitation.” Lady Matlock stated.
A knock on the door of the sitting room announced the arrival of the refreshments. Once the trays were placed on the sideboard, the maids took their leave, and the door was closed again.
“Shall I wake Eliza…Miss Elizabeth?” Darcy asked.
“No, allow her to rest for a bit. She will not sleep for long, I am certain.” Mr Bennet replied. “She is strong, but she is still not completely recovered from her illness.”
“Mr Bennet, you should have told us.” Lady Matlock said. “I was so fixated on my son’s health that I did not even think to reach out to Elizabeth to judge her abilities. I would not have asked her, for I could not ask her to risk her own health.”
“If Lizzy had felt at all unable to do the task, she would have spoken. But I knew she was not completely up to her normal, which is why I asked to accompany her, so I could assist. Having your assistance, and yours too, Darcy, made a difference as well. Lizzy was correct, your family connection gave you a bond unlike any other. It strengthened the energy that Lizzy and I could use.”
“I have never felt closer to Richard as I do now.” Darcy said, a bit of curiosity in his voice. “It feels as if I have been inside Richard’s very soul.”
A soft voice spoke from beside Darcy. “It is because you have felt the energy which coursed through him, through his blood, bone and muscles. I can still feel you, from your assisting when Papa healed me.”
This news amazed Darcy. “Is that the reason for the way you look at me?” He asked.
“In what way do I look at you?” She smiled.
“As if you could read my feelings and know what is deep inside of me.”
She nodded. “In a way, I have seen your heart and soul. And it made me know how you truly felt about me.”
“Your father insists I make an honest woman of you, as I have compromised you in front of all these witnesses.” Darcy teased.
“Well, I believe we should not wait. We must marry.” Elizabeth said with a spark of mischief in her eyes. “But I believe we must wait until your cousin can attend the wedding. Perhaps a fortnight will suffice.”
“Richard will be recovered sooner, if I can help it.” Darcy growled. “It will be a miraculous recovery due to the herbal remedies used on him, and the love of his family. And it will only take a week for that to happen.”
Everyone in the room laughed. “William, my dear boy, I believe it is wisest to prepare for a fortnight.”
“But Lady Catherine would have time to cause problems.” Darcy stated as a reason to hurry the wedding along.
“We will be careful who knows of the event.” Mr Bennet replied. “Only those we know we can trust need to know.”
“What of Elizabeth’s wedding clothes?” Lady Matlock asked.
“I have plenty of clothes for the time being.” Elizabeth stated.
“But you will be Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy, and will require far different style of dressing than you are used to. We will need to hire a modiste who is discreet and will not speak of our plans.” Lady Matlock decided. “Madame Dupree will do nicely. She is pleased to have my business, and if we offer her extra to come here, I am certain all will be handled in the manner it requires.”
Lord Matlock smiled at his wife’s maneuvering of the situation. “I will speak with my cousin, the archbishop, and secure him for the service. He and Catherine have never gotten along, so it will not be a hardship for him to keep the news from her. And he will be able to assist in obtaining the special license.”
Elizabeth began giggling. “From the sounds of it, all I will be required to do is show up when told.”
“Your mother will not be pleased. She has imagined, since your births, how the weddings should be for you and your sisters.” Mr Bennet announced.
“Then your wife will come here and assist me in planning the wedding breakfast. Or we can hold the wedding breakfast at Darcy House. The wedding could be held there as well.” Lady Matlock was planning all that would be required. “No, if we have the wedding and breakfast here, there will be less suspicion of the activity than there would be of comings and goings at Darcy House.”
“Well, these things will be settled in the coming fortnight. I believe it is time I return Lizzy to our home so she may sleep.” Mr Bennet stated.
Darcy was not ready to separate from his beloved. “I should remain here with my family, though I worry for your safety.”
“Have no fear, Mr Darcy.” Mr Bennet said. “I will protect my daughter if need should arise.”
~~ ** ~~
Charles Bingley was exhausted. He had spent his days with his steward, riding over the estate, seeing to the arrival of his sheep and horses, and, when in his study, going over the mountain of paperwork which had accumulated on his desk.
“Mr Bingley, I believe we have everything moving in the right direction. We will begin breeding the horses over the next month. The mare you purchased is of the top bloodlines. Pairing her with that stallion of yours should produce some fine colts.”
“Their pedigrees are topnotch. I look forward to presenting my friend, Darcy, with the first of their offspring. He assisted me in making the deal for the stallion, as the former owner was a friend of his. Darcy was able to talk the man down in his price.” Bingley said, sitting back in his chair and taking a deep breath.
“I do believe we have covered the problems which require attention. Will you be traveling to Town soon?”
A smile grew on Bingley’s lips as his mind wandered to a blonde lady with a sweet smile. “I plan to leave tomorrow. I will be staying at Darcy House for several weeks. If there is any problem, you can reach me there.”
“Very good, Sir.”
Bingley waited until his steward left before he allowed his mind to wander. He was looking forward to reacquainting himself with Miss Jane Bennet.
~~ ** ~~
Richard Fitzwilliam looked around for a few moments before he realized where he was. He heard the door to his room open and looked across the room to see who had entered. Seeing the overjoyed expression on his mother’s continence brought pleasure to Richard.
“Mother, it is wonderful to see you.”
Lady Matlock wiped a tear which had escaped her eye and took a seat on the side of her son’s bed. “You have no notion just what you have put me through these past weeks. Knowing you were injured, but not knowing how severe, and then you arrive near death. I forbid you from ever frightening me in such a manner again.”
Her son laughed. “I will make every attempt to obey, Mother, though I cannot promise you I will never be injured again.”
“Oh, yes you can. You are not going back into battle. I have already discussed the matter with your father and William. You will have the estate my mother’s brother left me. It is in Hertfordshire, the Hadley estate, and it is near Longbourn, which is the estate Charles Bingley purchased.”
“So, the puppy has finally put down roots?” Richard said with a chuckle. “I am shocked that William is not there, giving Bingley his expert advice.”
“There are more important matters in your cousin’s life at the moment.”
Richard looked at his mother carefully. “William was in here earlier, was he not?” When Lady Matlock nodded, Richard continued. “And there were people here who were magical, were there not?” Again, his mother nodded. “So, am I to gather that…does William…?”
“Yes, William is aware of those who possess magical abilities. As a matter of fact, your cousin is engaged to marry a young lady from the Bennet family. You remember my telling you of the magical families I knew of. Miss Elizabeth Bennet is the daughter of Thomas Bennet and Frances Gardiner Bennet.”
“Magical on both sides of her family, she must be impressive.”
“Indeed. She is the main reason you are still alive. Between Miss Elizabeth, her father, William and myself, we were able to save your life.”
Richard’s eyes nearly bulged. “William and you assisted in the healing? I thought you have always believed yourself to be non-magical.”
“Elizabeth declared that I hold magic inside of me, as my abilities to know of someone being magical and what they can do is an ability. She also felt that my being your mother would add to the magical healing. William wished to add his familial bond to the mix. I am grateful that it worked. You nearly left us forever.” Lady Matlock could no longer control the tears stinging her eyes, and they overflowed freely.
“I am grateful to you and the others, Mother. I tried to keep from being injured, but we were overwhelmed. I remember my head feeling like it was going to split in two. Then all I remember is vague images of being in a tent with many others, moaning and wailing.”
“Well, you are healed, though we need make it appear that you are still recovering. It would do us no good to have people know you were at death’s door one moment, and whole and hearty the next.”
Richard smiled. “So, how long am I to remain to my rooms? And where are my father and brother?”
“A fortnight. You were on death’s door, after all.” Lady Matlock stated, giving her son a pointed glare. “Your brother was required to return to Matlock to contend with some difficulties, but should return in a few weeks. Your father is down the hall, with William and Georgiana. He has barely left this room since you arrived. Now, perhaps in a week, you will be able to spend a little time out of your rooms, if you promise to act as if you are still recovering.”
~~ ** ~~
Elizabeth and Mr Bennet returned to Chatham House, much to Darcy’s disapproval. He would have preferred to join them, though it was decided he would remain at Matlock House for the remainder of his bachelor life. It would give credence to Richard’s health concerns, as well as aid in the preparations for the wedding.
Elizabeth made her way upstairs, to the room she was using while staying with her parents, and found herself too fatigued to stay awake. Without even changing from her gown and shoes, she curled up on the bed, on top of the bedding. Jane came to check on her sister an hour later and draped a coverlet over her sleeping form.
Mr Bennet found himself exhausted from the day’s events as well, and made his way to his study. He had a comfortable couch in his private domain, and he made good use of the pillow and coverlet he kept stored behind the couch for just such an occasion.
With a smile on his lips, Mr Bennet fell asleep, dreaming of his beloved daughter’s wedding.
Mrs Bennet entered her husband’s study, finding the man smiling in his sleep. “Ah, it appears that we will be having an announcement in the near future. Lizzy has a similar smile. I will allow them both their rest, but as soon as they wake, I will descend upon them for all the details.”