Title: Mr. Collins’ Sister
Word Count: 2.5k
Prompt: Shelby6666: Pride and prejudice please! Congratulations on your new position!!
Note from Author: I am in a Matt Smith mood. Matt Smith wonderfully played Parson Collins in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and a slightly more elegant version of him is imagined here in Mr. Collins’ Sister. Can anyone tell I’ve been watching The Crown?
Mr. Collins’ Sister
Mr. Collins was not as Bella was expecting him. At least, she thought he was Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. She was nearly certain of it.
“Matthew,” Bella asked over breakfast at the parsonage, “are you entirely certain it is appropriate I should go with you?”
The man who seemed to be her brother finished covering his toast with jam and looked up. “I assure you the trip will not be too taxing, Bella dear. And I can hardly choose a wife without your support and opinion.” He took a bite of his toast and began to chew, clearly thoughtful. After swallowing, he added, “Lady Catherine De Bourg is most particular that I should make the correct choice for Hunsford.”
Bella looked down at her own piece of toast and took a bite of it so she wouldn’t have to reply.
She had fortunately yet to meet Lady Catherine De Bourg. Lady Catherine seemed to be one of Matthew’s favorite topics of conversation.
Three nights earlier, Bella had made the decision in 2004 Arizona, to let her mother Renee travel with her new husband Phil, who was a professional ball player, and she would instead go live with her father Charlie in Forks, Washington. Having made the decision, Bella had picked up her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, and had fallen asleep just before Mr. Collins arrived at Longbourn. Somehow, Bella had woken up in that part of the story—as the sister of Mr. Matthew Collins. A sister who was not even a character in the original novel.
Matthew set down his knife, which caught Bella’s attention. He was looking at her. “I also wrote to Cousin Bennet to expect you, dear one. You do not wish to disappoint our cousins. Do you also not wish to see our future home?”
Longbourn was, in fact, entailed away to Matthew Collins, at least according to Pride and Prejudice. Bella opened her mouth to respond, but Matthew suddenly said—
“Of course, of course, you will surely be married by then. We will find you a good and proper husband.”
Bella paled but Matthew didn’t seem to realize. He just went back to his toast.
The journey took a day and a half and Bella was tired at the end of it, but when they arrived it was to the entire family standing in line waiting for them, and Matthew handed her solicitously out of the trap.
“Mr. Bennet,” Matthew greeted the patriarch, coming up to him. “May I introduce my little sister, Miss Isabella Collins?”
As she had practiced, Bella came up to the man and curtsied before she was introduced to Mrs. Bennet and all five of the daughters.
Jane was indeed the prettiest and Elizabeth looked the most pleased with herself. Mary looked like she would rather be inside reading a book. Lydia, the youngest, looked like she was about to have a fit of giggles. She was clutching on the arms of Catherine, the next youngest, who seemed—oddly attentive to the proceedings.
Dinner was an awkward affair. Matthew spoke mostly to Mr. Bennet with Mrs. Bennet joining, and Bella was glad to be shown to a room she would be sharing with Mary Bennet not long afterward. Of course, Matthew would have to read Fordyce’s Sermons after dinner, but that could not be helped. He had done so every night since Bella had arrived inside the pages of the book.
Before breakfast, Bella found him reading in a window and she sat next to him. She had been in a quandary all night. Should she act as though she were living the life of Isabella Collins, or should she let the novel run its course? Seeing Matthew sitting there with his book of sermons, so resolute in thought and clearly so hopeful for his future, Bella made up her mind. So, thinking of the novel and how disastrous Mr. Collins’ proposal to Elizabeth Bennet had been, Bella murmured to him, “I did not like Elizabeth Bennet.”
“Jane is the eldest,” he agreed.
“Yes,” she said, turning to look out at the gardens below. “But if your mind turned away from her, for my sake—for Lady Catherine’s sake—” she added for good form “—not Elizabeth.”
He looked at her consideringly and then nodded. He leaned forward and affectionately kissed her on the forehead. “You are wise, dear Bella.”
That morning, after breakfast when Bella was walking outside with the five sisters, Bella saw Matthew speaking with Mrs. Bennet. It was then that there was a proposed walk into Meryton and Matthew asked Catherine Bennet to walk with him.
Bella hadn’t considered her as a potential wife, having thought perhaps Mary, but she decided to watch the two of them together, and she herself walked beside Jane, the eldest.
It was when she was looking into a shop window, the others off speaking to some officers, that two gentlemen riding horses approached the sisters. Bella watched them with interest, especially when one rider broke away from the group and began to make his way in her general direction.
He seemed to be tall with bright blue eyes and curling brown hair. She watched his progress toward her and, when he was no more than ten feet away from her, their eyes caught and he paused, reigning in his horse.
On closer inspection, his eyes were green, Bella saw, and as their gazes held, Bella realized that they were drawing attention from the small party of Bennets.
The sound of footsteps and rustling cloth distracted her momentarily and she turned to see Matthew—her supposed brother and protector—walking purposely toward her with a bewildered Miss Catherine on his arm. She offered them a small smile before letting her eyes dart back to the tall gentleman on the horse who was still watching her closely.
“Sister,” Matthew greeted as he came up to her. “Come. There is talk of a ball—and although I know how much you are disinclined to dance, surely you should like to meet our cousins’ neighbors?”
This, indeed, must be the Netherfield Ball, Bella realized, and her eyes quickly went to the gentleman on the horse again who was watching them and clearly listening.
“A ball,” she murmured, wetting her lips before turning back to Matthew. “Of course, Matthew. I should not wish to disappoint you.”
“Come then,” he told her, taking her arm as his eyes drifted to the man on the horse. “Come meet our host, Mr. Bingley.”
“Do come, Miss Collins,” Catherine put in with a small smile. “Lydia and I will make you up so nicely.”—And with one last quick look toward the gentleman, Bella was led away toward the small gathering.
It was on the way back to Longbourn that Bella was able to ask Elizabeth who the gentleman was. “The one who was staring at you?” Elizabeth asked. “He is all disagreeableness. He stares at me in dislike as well.”
With a sinking feeling in her stomach, Bella asked, “He dislikes you?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth agreed. “Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. He thinks himself so far above his company. I should not let him worry you. Do not speak to him and ignore him when he looks at you, and you shall be the happier for it.”
However, Bella did not think he looked at her to dislike her. Bella was clumsy and far from pretty, unlike Jane Bennet, but she had thought that Mr. Darcy had been struck as much as she was. Matthew had thought so—he had been worried by his attention to her, even though he didn’t mention it to her later on.
Bella dreamt of Mr. Darcy’s eyes that night, that strange green that appeared blue from far away. Bella longed to see him again, even though she knew he was meant for Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth Bennet, though, just as in Pride and Prejudice, was much taken with Mr. Wickham. As Matthew paid court to Catherine Bennet who seemed to be less silly than Bella had always imagined her, Elizabeth grew enthralled by Wickham.
The invitation to the Netherfield Ball came and the day drew near. It was soon upon them, and Bella was doing her toilette with Catherine helping her put pink ribbons in her hair.
“Do you like Matthew?” Bella asked boldly. At Catherine’s startled look, she amended, “my brother, Mr. Collins?”
Catherine paused and then murmured, “He’s all my own.”
Bella hadn’t considered that before. For Catherine, the fourth of five daughters, she must have to share everything, especially with her younger sister Lydia. Every book, every ribbon, every gown, every slipper. Bella breathed a sigh of relief. “He can be all your own. You’ll only have to deal with a sister until I find my own establishment.” And wasn’t that a thought? Before waking up in Hunsford, Bella had never considered marriage. Her own parents’ marriage had been a disaster and Bella never wanted that for herself. Better to avoid it all together, she had thought. Until she came here, to this strange place, where the rules were different and the world was foreign yet familiar like a favorite book.
Catherine blushed. “I would not mind you overmuch. Not like Lydia.”
Smiling, Bella squeezed Catherine’s hand. “Has Mr. Collins engaged you for the first two dances?”
“And the Supper Dance,” she agreed.
Bella’s dance card was completely empty, but then again she did not know how to dance. She would be content to sit and watch.
Soon they were getting into the carriage and then she was handed out of it again. Netherfield Hall was awash with lights and when she looked up, she thought she saw the gentleman on the horse in a front window, looking out at her again.
Matthew led her and Catherine in, one on each arm, and abandoned her on a chaise when the notes rang out for the first dance. Bella watched as the couple danced around each other, Matthew quite light on his feet, and Catherine beautiful with her blonde hair and tall frame.
Then, across the ballroom, she saw the gentleman with green eyes approach Mrs. Bennet and bow to her. The two spoke for a moment before Mrs. Bennet got out her fan, fluttered it once, then stood. The unlikely duo made their way around the dancers, and Bella watched them breathlessly as they came closer and closer to where she was sitting. She blinked several times and then realized that she must stand because they were almost upon her.
“Miss Collins,” Mrs. Bennet greeted with another flutter of her fan. “I do not believe you have met Mr. Darcy of Pemberley.” She turned to the tall gentleman, his eyes even greener than Bella had supposed. “Mr. Darcy, our cousin from Kent, Miss Isabella Collins.”
Hearing her heart beating in her chest, Bella curtsied as Mr. Darcy bowed to her. Then Mrs. Bennet was leaving, and Bella was all alone with him.
“Miss Collins,” Mr. Darcy began, “I do not believe you dance.”
So he had overheard Matthew—
“No,” she answered carefully. “I’m afraid I would step on your feet.”
“Then may I sit with you?” he asked, offering her his hand.
She hesitated, and then slipped her fingers into his, her eyes flitting to his green ones. They were so startlingly green.
Mr. Darcy lowered her into her seat and then sat beside her. His eyes were heavy upon her and she kept on catching glances at him, uncertain, at first, what to say. The music swelled around them and Bella heard the second dance end and knew that Matthew would soon be upon them.
“I believe we have a mutual acquaintance,” she warned, looking up at Mr. Darcy, “although I am uncertain my brother is aware. You are—I believe—a relation of Lady Catherine De Bourg?”
A startled look crossed his features, but Mr. Darcy’s face settled. “Indeed, Madam. The lady is my aunt.”
“She is my brother’s patroness,” Bella told him carefully, uncertain whether or not he knew that Matthew was a man of the cloth. “My brother has the living at Hunsford.”
The sound of clapping filled the hall and Bella glanced toward Matthew and their cousin Catherine, seeing that Matthew had taken her hand and was leading her directly toward them. She stood quickly, Darcy following her lead, and she smiled at her brother. “Matthew,” she greeted, “I was just telling Mr. Darcy that his aunt, Lady Catherine, was in the best of health not eight days ago.” She turned to Mr. Darcy and nodded at him. “My brother, Mr. Matthew Collins. I believe you know Miss Catherine Bennet, our cousin.”
“Sir,” Matthew greeted, bowing. “I am most pleased to make your acquaintance.” He looked over at Bella for a brief but intense moment. “But you were speaking with Isabella. We would not wish to intrude.”
Catherine, sensing the slight tension, asked, “Punch perhaps, Mr. Collins? I can help carry for all of us.”
Matthew looked between Catherine and Bella and then nodded. “Indeed, Cousin Catherine.” He offered his hand and led her away toward the refreshment table.
Bella smiled at Mr. Darcy and retook her seat.
“Is there an understanding between them?” Mr. Darcy asked solicitously. “I noticed Mr. Collins and Miss Catherine together in Meryton.”
Bella took a slight breath. “I expect Matthew to inform me any day now. I am most hopeful.” She glanced at Mr. Darcy. “It is a highly desirable match as Matthew will inherit Mr. Bennet’s estate and to choose one of his daughters would be the greatest compliment.” She blushed slightly.
“You would gain a sister,” Mr. Darcy noticed.
“Indeed,” she agreed. “Miss Catherine is quite affable and not as silly as some of the other sisters.”
Darcy settled a moment and looked at Bella quite openly. “Miss Catherine will find Hunsford Parsonage a suitable home. I believe my aunt made great improvements to it not a year ago.”
Bella, of course, was unaware, but she smiled at him. “It is a comfortable home,” she agreed.
Pausing, Darcy asked, “Would you hate to give up being mistress of your own establishment?”
Bella hadn’t considered this. She had barely lived at Hunsford for three days, she didn’t know what it meant to have an establishment, she didn’t know what it meant to run a household—Biting her lip in nervousness, she replied, “I’m certain Miss Catherine will do admirably.”
She looked up at that moment and her eyes met Darcy’s—brown to green—and they held for several long moments until the music began to swell again. Bella could feel the breath hover in the back of her throat as those green eyes continued to look at her. This was not a man who found Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes fine. This was a man who had been captured by someone else entirely.