Title: The Rainstorm
Prompt: for Daniela: Yey!!! I love love love your Mr. Darcy x Bella Swan fictions. I always come back and reread them.
Warnings: time travel, marriage without love, past “Edward being Edward”
The heavens cried out and Bella found herself in a downpour. She knew Elizabeth would fret when she got back to the parsonage and remind her that it had looked like rain, but she found the Collins’ home stifling. Their marriage was such a farce. She didn’t understand why Charlotte Lucas would accept Mr. Collins’ hand in marriage. Elizabeth had explained that Charlotte wanted security and a home—but Bella still got knots in her stomach just thinking about it.
Life here in 19th century England was so different than 21st century America. No matter how many years passed, she just couldn’t quite seem to bend to all of society’s rules. Instead, Bella feared she might break.
When Edward had left her in the forest, Bella had chased after him. It had gotten dark and she had fallen and hit her head—and she had somehow woken up in a novel. For years Bella had tried to get back to her home as she fell into life in the Bennet household as a ward of the family. Now, she was twenty-three years old, an old maid by all accounts, and Bella knew she would never find her way back again. Still, she could not understand this place she found herself in.
Bella startled and turned to see that Mr. Darcy had also been caught out in the rain and was hovering near her under the Grecian Temple where they had both taken shelter.
Suddenly thankful she was stuck in the rain and not Elizabeth (for Elizabeth hated Mr. Darcy since a slight at the beginning of their acquaintance), Bella quickly curtsied before bringing her arms around herself to try to keep warm.
“You are cold,” he worried as he approached her. “You are not dressed properly.”
“No one,” Bella argued, “is dressed appropriately for a sudden rainstorm.” Then she saw he was wearing boots and a thick coat and realized that Mr. Darcy, at least, had been prepared. “I stand corrected.”
Before she could say anything else, Mr. Darcy was taking off his warm coat and bundling it around her shoulders.
“Thank you,” she murmured. “It seems our morning walk has coincided again.”
A wry look turned across his lips. Over the past several weeks their paths had crossed multiple times when Bella “fled” from the parsonage and on one occasion, he had even leant her a volume of Pope’s poetry so she could occupy her time out of doors. Bella knew, however, that Elizabeth had only seen him twice (and then briefly, only a touch to his hat) on her outings. Bella found the incongruence odd, but hadn’t thought on it more. Now, with Darcy looking at her so intently and still holding his coat around her…
“Miss Swan,” he breathed, “you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
She blinked in surprise, but he only continued:
“I hope my intentions have been clear. I know our positions in life differ greatly but such obstacles can be overcome. I am a gentleman and you are a gentleman’s ward. There is no one that can naysay us.”
“But—” Bella began, but he cut her off,
“I have thought of your age,” he told her carefully but firmly. “You still have many years of childbearing left. My own mother gave birth to my sister when she was in her thirties. How many years have you, my dear?”
Startled by the endearment, Bella answered automatically, “Three and twenty.”
“Not insurmountable,” he agreed with the smallest hint of a smile.
Then he waited, clearly expecting an answer. The only sound was their breathing and the rain falling all around the folly, and Bella’s mind blurred in confusion. “I never thought to marry,” she told him honestly. Indeed, Renee and Charlie had not been the best examples, nor were Mr. and Mrs. Bennet who ignored each other more than anything.
At this, Darcy looked surprised. “You cannot mean to be an old maid in the Bennet household, living on the goodwill of others?”
“No,” she disagreed firmly before realizing that was exactly what she had thought to do. Really, Bella had been coasting in life. At some point she thought she might try to find Carlisle Cullen, but the means and opportunity had never presented themselves.
“Then another is preferred?” Darcy questioned, and Bella noticed that he seemed to draw her closer to him through his hold on the coat. It was possessive but not frightening. Darcy had never frightened her.
“No,” Bella quickly denied. “No, Mr. Darcy, no one is preferred.” She blushed at the inference. There had been no one since Edward had left her in that forest. How odd that Mr. Darcy seemed to have found her in another forest. It was almost poetic.
“Then,” Darcy tried, his blue eyes gleaming, “there are no obstacles on your end, as there are none on mine.”
“No,” Bella agreed, thinking. “I suppose there are none.” Then, just to check, “Are you certain you wouldn’t prefer a younger lady? Someone less quiet?” Her mind turned to Elizabeth and how she had spent countless nights reading Pride and Prejudice before she had lost herself to a different reality. Darcy was supposed to marry Elizabeth, except Elizabeth hated Darcy and blamed him for everything, including the inclement weather, and Darcy never looked twice at Elizabeth—and Bella had been looking to check.
A light touch of cold fingers against her cheek brought her back to the present moment and she realized that Darcy was wiping away a drop of rainwater.
“Then there is no reason,” Darcy murmured, “for you to refuse unless you simply do not like me.”
Bella looked at him wryly. They had spent many a pleasant evening in each other’s company at Rosings. While Lady Catherine was holding court, making Elizabeth play piano with Colonel Fitzwilliam in attendance, they would slip off and have their own conversations or even just sit quietly while reading in each other’s presence.
Then she realized, as she was standing in the cold with Darcy looking longingly at her, he had been courting her the entire six weeks he had been in residence.—and she had not prevented him. It was true she did not ache for him as she had for Edward, did not crave him, but she did like him.
Suddenly it occurred to Bella, he had used the same opening words as the novel for his proposal—only they were directed at her and not Elizabeth—“You admire and love me?” she asked in astonishment.
Darcy stroked her face and smiled down at her. “Good. You were listening.—I admire you, Isabella Swan, more than any woman of my acquaintance.”
“Bella,” she corrected, smiling now herself. “I’m Bella.”
“Bella,” Darcy agreed, leaning down to kiss her. He hesitated for a moment, but Bella reached up and brushed their lips together before pulling back. Their eyes met, searching blue to brown, and she reached up again and kissed Darcy once more, more fully, pulling herself into his arms. He caught her eagerly and deepened the kiss and Bella felt bliss in the warmth of his touch, realizing someone had found her after all these years, lost in a forest of trees and time.