The Loveliest Sister

TITLE: The Loveliest Sister

Author: ExcentrykeMuse

Word Count: 1.6k

Rating: PG

Prompt: For Caitlyn: I would love to read another pride and prejudice of yours, especially if its a crossover with twilight. I absolutely love any of your historical stories.

Pairing(s): Bella/Darcy

Fandom(s): Pride and Prejudice & the Twilight Saga

Warning(s): time travel, no Bennets, Darcy is caught staring too often

“You must be mistaken,” Bella told her brother Charles Bingley as the carriage carried her away from her school in London to Netherfield Hall.  “Caroline assured me it was only a matter of time before this Mr. Darcy made her an offer of marriage.”

Charles just looked at her in astonishment, his ginger eyebrows arching in surprise.  “I assure you she is overstating matters,” he told her.

Bella pursed her lips and wondered at it.  Collecting herself, she tried again, “In her letters—”

“Caroline,” Charles assured her, “means to catch Darcy, but Darcy is equally determined not to be caught by her or by anyone.”

When Bella opened her mouth to object, he cut in—

“I assure you, Isabella Marie, Darcy is my closest companion.  I know his thoughts as well as you know our dear sister’s.”  He looked momentarily uncomfortable.  “She should not have been so indiscreet as to have written to you on the matter.”

At this, Bella glanced out the carriage window.  “I am her favorite sister—”

Charles could only smile at this.  Bella was the youngest of four siblings or, rather, an adopted sibling of the older three Bingleys—Louisa Bingley Hurst, Charles Bingley, and Caroline Bingley.  She had been found with a nasty cut to her head when Mr. Bingley Senior had been out riding in Scarborough when Bella had been only five years old, and he had rather taken to her.  She could tell the Bingleys nothing of herself or where she had come from apart from her name.  The doctors believed she had suffered from amnesia after a fall, and Bingley Senior—in an uncharacteristic show of charity—chose to raise Bella as his own child.

He always said, in explanation for her sudden appearance, that she was his eldest sister’s child.  It was efficacious that Mrs. Alice Bingley Clay had recently died (although she had been childless) and no one thought to question Bingley Senior’s charity to his niece.  It was equally fortunate that although the Bingleys had been in trade, Mr. Clay had been a gentleman, although one of little fortune.

As such, Bella was a gentleman’s daughter and with the small dowry of four thousand pounds Bingley Senior left her, she had fine prospects although she was not as wealthy as her sister Caroline.

Bella, though, looked nothing like her elder siblings.  Louisa, Charles, and Caroline all had ginger hair and pale eyes while Bella, who had never outgrown her childhood clumsiness, had dark hair and even darker eyes.  No one, though, knew the looks of Mr. Clay, so no one thought anything of it.

“Well,” Bella decided, “I shall see this Mr. Darcy’s attractions for myself when we arrive.”

Charles snorted.  “His attractions, in Caroline’s minds, are his estate and yearly income.”

Bella sighed.  “She always was single minded,” Bella agreed half-heartedly.  “She will be a fine lady.”  They were now going through a small town.

Looking out the window, Charles made a noise in the back of his throat.  “This is Meryton.  It’s not so grand, but it is the closest town.”

“Then I shall make note to visit it,” Bella told him with a small smile.  Then, “I fear I will not be myself with a guest in the house.  I do not like company.”

Leaning forward, Charles took her hand.  “Darcy is an old friend.  He knows you are my little sister and he will be kind.  He is not a stranger but a friend to be made.  There is no reason to be shy.”

“I shall trip over my skirts, and he shall think I am clumsy,” Bella groused, knowing herself too well, “or I will blush over saying the wrong thing and he will think I am ugly.”

At this, Charles laughed.  “No one could think you are ugly, Isabella Marie,” he promised.  “At least you do not wear orange silks like our dear sister.”

They shared a look before they broke into a shared laugh.

When they finally came up to Netherfield, there was a flurry of activity and Charles got out of the carriage first before handing Bella down.  She turned up and looked at the house, deciding that it looked very well, before letting him lead her up the stairs.

“We shall have a ball,” Charles was promising her as they came into the drawing room, “in honor of your coming.”

“Charles,” she laughed, looking back at him and not at the assembled group awaiting them, “I don’t dance!”

There was a swish of silk and then she was being turned and embraced by Caroline.  “Of course you’ll dance, dear sister,” she was saying before she pulled away.  “What man would not wish to dance with you?—Come now,” and she turned toward a gentleman who was standing by the window but staring at the two sisters with impenetrable eyes, “you must concur, Mr. Darcy.  Would you not dance with our Isabella Marie?”

The man simple stared at Bella, his dark eyes focused on her.

She looked back at him utterly confused.

The room was silent for a moment too long.

Then, as if catching herself, Bella curtsied.  “A pleasure,” she murmured, lowering her eyes, but she still felt his hot gazing boring into her.  When she looked up, her eyes caught his again and she was confused once again.

Still, he stared.

After another long pause, she glanced at her sister who was looking at Darcy with as much perplexity as she was.

It was Charles who broke the silence as he came fully into the room.  “Poor Darcy, how he hates to dance!”  He took Bella’s elbow and led her fully into the room.  “He hates it almost as much as Isabella Marie detests it.”

Eyes still poised on Bella, it was only now that Darcy spoke.  “Not at all.  I would be pleased to have Miss Isabella’s first two dances.”

Caroline glanced between the two of them, but said nothing, and Bella, in turn, felt her throat go dry.

Charles, affable as ever, fortunately spoke for her.  “It is decided!  A ball for Isabella Marie to be opened with Darcy.  Now all we need is the date.  Caroline!”  At this, Caroline took her attention from Darcy (who was still looking openly at Bella) and focused on their brother.  “You must fix the date.”

“I shall put my attention to the task immediately,” she promised, glancing again at Darcy before ushering a thankful Bella toward a chaise. 

Bella’s gaze broke from Darcy as she was led away, and she realized that she was unfortunately beginning to blush.  She hated it when she blushed.

Unfortunately, Darcy remained by the window and continued to gaze at her.

“Is he always like this?” she finally murmured to Caroline after three quarters of an hour.

Caroline glanced over at Darcy and frowned.  “No,” she admitted, “and even Charles is beginning to notice.”

Bella looked over at her brother who was certainly catching glances at her as he talked at his friend who, in turn, was still decidedly gazing upon her at every opportunity.

She wasn’t certain what to do—or say, and found herself becoming more reclusive as the afternoon wore on.

When it came time to change for dinner, Caroline led her to the stairs and showed her to her room, which was right beside hers.

“Have I offended Mr. Darcy?” Bella asked, looking at her sister with wide dark eyes.

Caroline looked pensive and then shook her head.  “I fear it’s quite the opposite.”

Bella’s brows knit together in confusion, and she waited for her sister to speak.

“It’s a theory,” was all Caroline said before she quit the room, leaving Bella very much alone.

Doing little to her toilette, but knowing that she had to stay in her room for a designated amount of time for appearance’s sake, Bella took up a book of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and waited until she heard the house begin to move around her.  Still, despite her careful calculations, she made it downstairs before her sister—but not before her brother Charles or, indeed, Mr. Darcy.

“What are you about, man?”  The angry voice of her brother Charles wafted from the Drawing Room, causing Bella to pause in the hallway.  Bella did not make a habit of listening at keyholes, but she was so startled she found herself lingering in the shadows.  “Isabella Marie is barely seventeen and does not know what to make of your peculiar behavior.  Indeed, I do not know what to make of your behavior.  I know you often stare out of windows but must you stare at Isabella as if she is a particularly riveting bit of scenery?”

“That was not my intent.”  Darcy’s voice was cool but unapologetic.  Bella looked behind her to see if Caroline had descended the stairs yet, but it seemed she was all alone.

Charles, now, spoke.  “Then what was your intent?”  His voice still was tinged with anger, but now held a bit of wariness.

“I merely wished to gaze on the most beautiful woman I have ever beheld,” Darcy answered as if it should be obvious.  “Indeed,” he continued, cutting off Charles’ obvious sputter, “I am quite enchanted.  Why did you not tell me your youngest sister had the face of an angel?”

At this, Charles seemed to have been rendered momentarily silent.  Then, “All of my sisters are indeed lovely.”  His voice seemed strained as if he was forcing himself to speak.

“Well,” Darcy commented, “I daresay Miss Isabella is the loveliest and she would look even lovelier at Pemberley.”

Pemberley—Bella remembered Caroline having mentioned it in one of her letters.  It was Darcy’s estate in Derbyshire.  Still, this seemed all too much, but she could not consider it at present, for Bella could hear Caroline’s footsteps on the stairs.  So, taking a deep breath, Bella entered the Drawing Room and did her best not to blush as both Charles and Mr. Darcy turned to greet her.

The End.

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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