Title: Every Consideration
Prompt: for Shelley Hoisington: My suggestion is a pride and prejudice story…a forced marriage scenario that ends in happy ever after for Darcy and Elizabeth. An evil Jane, Bingley and Caroline.
Warnings: mean!Jane, absent!Bingley, mean!Caroline, forced marriage
“Oh, Lizzy!” Jane exhaled as she sat on the bed. “I do not wish to criticize but tomorrow is your wedding and you are acting as if—”
“As if?” Elizabeth asked from her perch on her chair as she braided her curls. “As if I’m marrying the most miserable man in England?”
“At least he’s a man,” Jane exclaimed, which was unlike her, “and a wealthy man who can keep you and your children in ease and comfort. My Mr. Bingley is gone—”
Elizabeth did not roll her eyes, but Jane always spoke of Mr. Bingley when someone else had a problem or needed cheering up. Here Elizabeth Bennet was, in London, compromised, and marrying Mr. Darcy. She still was uncertain how this had come to pass. The past few weeks were a blur—coming to London with Jane to visit her Aunt Gardner, visiting Miss Bingley, Mr. Darcy visiting, being left alone with him.
She blinked away her thoughts before they could continue.
“Miss Bingley said she didn’t think you’d make a beautiful bride,” Jane was now saying as she was playing with a handkerchief, “but I truly believe you’re pretty, Lizzy. Mr. Darcy must think so if he’s to marry you.”
Mr. Darcy must think so. Elizabeth honestly didn’t know what Mr. Darcy thought. He was so taciturn, so terribly silent. Even when they were left alone together, he said nothing. Even when Uncle Gardiner was insisting on marriage, Darcy was silent. He merely agreed with as little words as possible and left the house, the rest being arranged through a lawyer.
“I cannot believe Mr. Bingley will not be at the wedding,” Jane opined. “You think Mr. Bingley would come to see his friend happy—that he would come to see me.” This was said in almost a whine and Elizabeth looked over at her sister in annoyance.
“Yes,” she agreed. “It is truly a disappointment that he has business in Scarborough,” Elizabeth agreed insincerely.
Jane must have heard her insincere tone because her blue eyes fixated on Elizabeth and she huffed, “Lizzy,” her pretty mouth forming into a pout. “Everyone knows the eldest should get married before the younger! Mr. Bingley and I were truly formed for one another.”
Elizabeth once again refrained from rolling her eyes. She was barely eighteen months younger than her sister and it wasn’t as if it was her choice to marry Mr. Darcy. If Elizabeth had her druthers, she would erase the last three weeks and would have turned down her aunt’s kind invitation. It would have been better if she had stayed in Hertfordshire, enjoying the company of the affable Mr. Wickham.
She was saved from answering Jane, however, as there was a knock on the door. Elizabeth and Jane turned and saw Sally, the servant girl, standing there. “Mr. Darcy to see you, ma’am,” she informed Elizabeth with a curtsey before disappearing.
“Oh, what does he want now?” Elizabeth breathed, although not loud enough for Jane to hear her.
Jane, in contrast, huffed and threw the handkerchief away from her and a frown formed on her face. “Of course he has to be gentlemanly enough to come see you the night before the wedding,” she complained. “Go,” she urged, when Elizabeth turned to her. “Go see your perfect husband-to-be. Enjoy his compliments as surely he has compliments to give!” Huffing again, she sighed, leaning back against the back of her chair. “I shall just sit here and remember the pretty compliments Mr. Bingley gave me at the Netherfield Ball before he disappeared, never to be seen again!”
Elizabeth chose not to respond and instead left the room, closing the door behind her. Taking a quieting breath, she settled herself before going downstairs to the parlor—the fateful parlor—where she knew Mr. Darcy would be waiting for her.
She entered cautiously and saw that Mr. Darcy had taken up his usual place by a window, his hands folded behind his back, as if he were nothing but a statue. The sight brought her no pleasure. However, it was exactly as she expected and Elizabeth suspected she would often find Mr. Darcy—who would be her husband in less than a day—in such a pose for the rest of their lives. For a moment, she wondered what thoughts ran through his head or if his mind was blank as he looked out of the various windows, but then she pushed the contradicting ideas out of her head and closed the door behind her.
Gathering herself, Elizabeth tried to smile although Mr. Darcy could not see it. “Mr. Darcy.”
Mr. Darcy shifted slightly and turned toward her, his face a blank mask of little to no emotion, his eyes dark pools that gave her no insight into his character. “Miss Bennet,” he greeted, his tone as emotionless as his face. “I trust you are well.”
“Very well,” she agreed as she came further into the room. “I was just with Jane.” She didn’t mention that she was glad to have escaped her sister.
At first he didn’t respond. Then, as if he realized he should speak, he haltingly agreed, “No doubt you were speaking of the wedding.”
She nodded. “Among other things.”
Silence fell between them and, wishing to not be so awkward, Elizabeth took a seat on the couch. It was then that she realized that a large jewelry box had been placed on the coffee table—and she knew that it did not belong to her aunt. Glancing quickly up to Mr. Darcy with a question in her eyes, she caught his gaze and he nodded.
Elizabeth took that to mean that she should open the box, and she reached out to open the box. She gasped when a necklace of perfectly round pearls was revealed. Her eyes flashed back to Darcy and she saw that he was watching her closely.
“My mother,” he told her after a pause, “the Lady Anne Darcy, wore these pearls at her wedding to my father.” He then licked his lips, as if nervous, and Elizabeth wondered at it. “I hope, Miss Bennet,” he continued carefully, “that you might doing the honor of wearing them tomorrow.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth breathed, “glancing down at the pearls again, taking in how the candlelight reflected off of the necklace. I would be honored, Mr. Darcy.”
She reached out carefully and touched one pearl before withdrawing her hand. Elizabeth closed the box but let her hands rest on it. When she glanced back up at her fiancé, she saw that he was looking at her avidly with that strange disapproving stare his features often wore. As if burnt, she withdrew her hands and let them rest folded in her lap.
“Thank you,” she murmured, “for placing such trust in me.”
“Not at all,” Mr. Darcy said quietly and then, as if tripping over his words—“You deserve such consideration.”
Surprised, Elizabeth’s eyes flew up to Mr. Darcy’s and she saw a smile in them although his face was still as reserved as it ever was. Carefully, she offered him a smile in return.
“You deserve every consideration,” he whispered between them.—and for the first time, Elizabeth thought that there was hope for this marriage, as strangely as it came about, and she smiled a little more warmly.