Pemberley, four months later…
Pemberley was bursting with activity and nervous anticipation. The servants rushed up and down the stairs and halls of the grand Darcy home under the instructions of Mrs Reynolds. Hot water and linens were brought into the room into which he had been forbidden entrance.
Darcy sat prostrated as he felt completely useless. He had failed his wife. He wanted to be with her and hold her hand as she suffered through her misfortune… Nay, he corrected himself as a slight smile touched his lips. Elizabeth would never consider giving birth to our child a misfortune… But he could not stand the sound of her cries any longer! Each one of her screams pierced through his heart and tormented him. He had dashed towards the door numerous times but for nothing. Bingley, Fitzwilliam and Mr Gardiner stopped him whenever he attempted to burst through the blasted door that kept him from joining his Elizabeth.
He was forced to wait in her sitting-room… passively… with the others. He glanced around and envied their apparent calmness. Georgiana sat peacefully as she entertained Kitty and Mary as well as the eldest Gardiner daughter, Sophie, in quiet conversation. Bingley and Fitzwilliam talked animatedly over some event they read in the papers. Mr Gardiner sat by Elizabeth’s door as he read the paper, clearly guarding the door from a very nervous husband and father-to-be.
Darcy moaned in despair as another cry came from her room. He cringed his teeth and tightened his hands against his body. He did not want her to suffer! And this was all his fault! I should not have touched her… What if she… No! No! He refused his mind to wander into such dreadful thoughts. He stood up brusquely and started pacing again.
“Mr Darcy! Please calm yourself!” Lady Sandhurst cried. She approached him and gently persuaded him to join her and her husband on the sofa facing the door to Elizabeth’s chamber. “You will not be able to see her and your child in such a state!”
“B-but… she is in pain! I cannot bear this any longer! She has been in there for hours!” he cried out loudly as his despair and frustration rushed through him. He shuddered slightly as he felt Lord Sandhurst’s hand on his shoulder.
“Please Darcy, listen… You need to calm down… My lovely Fanny is right…” he told him as he directed his beaming face towards his wife. The couple gazed at each other sheepishly.
Darcy shuddered again – quite violently – though for a different reason. He did not understand at all how on earth a man of consequence as Lord Sandhurst could have fallen in love and married Mrs Bennet.
Apparently, the man had become quite besotted with her at Bingley’s wedding. No one could fathom the reasons that lead such a man to lose his senses over such a woman. Their courtship was declared on the day which completed one year after Mr Bennet’s death. And to the astonishment of the families involved and the ton, their engagement was announced two days later. A month later they were joined in holy matrimony in London. And now the newly-weds were at Pemberley to give their support to Elizabeth and Darcy and welcome the former Mrs Bennet’s first grandchild.
It was reported in town that Miss Bingley had collapsed in a raging fit for being snubbed by Lord Sandhurst. His preference for a woman of his age, a widowed mother of five lovely ladies… did not bode well for Caroline Bingley’s reputation. Her humiliation was such that, this time, she did not even wait for her brother to send her off to her aunt in Scarborough. She willingly left to her self-imposed exile where she freely vented her frustration against the Bennet women, the roots of all the evil happenings in her life.
But Darcy’s reverie was put abruptly to an end, as the door that kept him from his wife opened. Jane smiled tiredly beckoning him to come to his Elizabeth. He dashed towards the door but halted in nervous expectation. Was she well? And the child? What if…?
Jane sensed his confusion and smiled warmly at him. “Come Fitzwilliam… Elizabeth wants you…”
He broke into a timid grin and entered the room with determination.
The room was darkened so that the Mistress of Pemberley could rest. He nodded towards the beaming Mrs Gardiner and the midwife who immediately left the room. He slowly approached the bed where a pale Elizabeth reclined against the pillows. Her eyes were closed and she breathed softly. Her curls fell damp on her pillow. Despite her weariness she had never looked more beautiful to him. A small gurgling sound diverted his attention to the crib beside her bed. He quietly reached in for the baby and tenderly caressed the beloved face with his fingers.
“Fitzwilliam…” she whispered hoarsely.
He turned his teary eyes to his wife. He felt overcome with emotion and a sob was caught in his throat. He knelt beside her and reverently kissed her hands.
“Are you well, my love?” he asked concerned.
“Yes,” she replied softly. “Tired… very tired… but blissfully happy!”
“Truly?” he whispered unbelievingly. His eyes watery, about to burst.
She reached for his hand and squeezed it affectionately. “I am well, Fitzwilliam!”
He let his head fall into her lap and sobbed as a child. The previous frustration pent up flowed out of his body as he cried. He wept for her pain, her suffering and he wept for the bliss of the moment.
She understood him. There was no need for words. She left him wash away his nervousness and frustration as she entwined her fingers into his curls.
“You have made me a very happy woman, Fitzwilliam. I love you!” Her face glowed with love for him and soon his lips met hers in a tender kiss.
“G-d Elizabeth! How I love you!” he whispered against her mouth. He kissed her again. “You have made me the happiest man in England!”
A mischievous gleam sparkled in her eyes. “You were right my love…” she said softly as she looked over to the sleeping baby. At his questioning look she explained, “Have you met your daughter, my love?”
His handsome face broke into the largest dimpled smile she had ever seen bestowed upon him. “I told you, dearest… I knew it would be a girl…”