Two Years Later
Elizabeth stopped to rest, her hand on her swollen stomach. She had thought that her pregnancy with little Fitzwilliam had been exhausting, but she had since realized that the condition was much more difficult when one already had an active toddler to chase.
Fitzwilliam continued to make his way down the hall, running with as much abandon as his coordination would allow. He looked like a miniature version of his father, but his demeanor favored his mother much more: he was interested in everything and utterly fearless. Elizabeth recognized those as good characteristics, but a child of that sort was tiring to mother, especially as Fitzwilliam’s brother or sister kicked her repeatedly.
Fitzwilliam’s path took him near Darcy’s study. Darcy heard his son laughing down the hall and stepped out of the study to scoop him up.
“Are you deviling your mother, little man?” Darcy asked, tossing Fitzwilliam in the air. The boy whooped in delight.
“You do know that if you drop him I shall never let you forget it,” said Elizabeth, teasing him.
“Nor should you,” said Darcy. “Thankfully I have no intention of dropping him.”
The baby in Elizabeth’s belly landed a solid kick, and she gasped and leaned against the wall.
Darcy was at her side in a moment. “Are you well?” he asked.
“I am,” she responded. “I think the little one just wants to come out and play with her brother.”
“Her?” Darcy said, raising an eyebrow and setting the boy down. “Is it a girl, do you think?”
Elizabeth smiled. “Of course I do not know, but I felt very different when I was carrying Fitzwilliam. Perhaps that is a sign.”
“You are so beautiful,” Darcy said, reaching out to caress her cheek.
She laughed, and said, “If you find me beautiful now, you must truly consider me to be. My feet are so swollen that none of my shoes fit, and this belly certainly does not flatter the newest fashion statements.”
“You are the most beautiful like this, with our child growing inside you,” he said. “I am a most fortunate man.”
“I would say that we are all the most fortunate,” said Elizabeth, smiling down at their son. “But there is much to do before the Colonel arrives, so Fitzwilliam and I must be off.”
The Darcys had planned a small, intimate dinner to celebrate Colonel Fitzwilliam’s engagement. During the ball two years prior, in the midst of the confusion over Wickham and the Duchess, Colonel Fitzwilliam had made the acquaintance of Miss Maria Davies, who was the only daughter of a wealthy merchant. She had been charmed by him from the moment that he had asked her to dance, and he was equally as entranced by her. Their courtship had begun that very night.
Now, they were to be wed. Elizabeth thought that she had rarely seen a couple better matched than the Colonel and Miss Davies. What he lacked in capital she more than made up for, and his social connections opened doors that might otherwise be closed to her. Together they made a wonderful match.
Lady Catherine was, of course, scandalized by Colonel Fitzwilliam marrying a tradesman’s daughter. Elizabeth considered that to be yet another propitious sign for their marriage.
Miss Davies was quite as lovely a young woman as anyone would want to meet. Her eyes sparkled with joy and humor, and she dearly loved to laugh, so she and Elizabeth got on wonderfully. The two of them kept quite a correspondence, sending one another letters and the most recent novels that they had read. Anne de Bourgh also corresponded with both of them often. Elizabeth was glad to have two additional allies in the family.
As Fenton styled Elizabeth’s hair, she hummed a happy tune. Elizabeth smiled, knowing that the humming was a sign that all was right between Harriet Stewart Fenton and her husband, Thomas Fenton.
“You seem to be in a good mood, Fenton,” she replied.
“I certainly am, ma’am,” Fenton said with a smile. “But it is also bittersweet.”
“What is it?”
“I am afraid, ma’am, that my time as your lady’s maid is coming to an end.”
Elizabeth startled. “But Fenton, whatever do you mean?”
Fenton moved a hand to her stomach. “We have something in common,” she said with a smile.
Elizabeth’s eyes lit up. “What wonderful news! Your child is lucky to have parents like you and Thomas!”
“But it means that I will no longer be able to be your maid, ma’am.”
“Of course it does, Fenton, but I cannot be anything aside from happy for you. How I shall ever manage without you, though, I do not know.”
“We have some time yet. I shall be able to show your new maid exactly how you like things,” said Fenton.
Elizabeth stood and took Fenton’s hands. “I am fortunate that I kept you for as long as I did,” she said. “And Thomas will not leave service here, surely?”
“Since you and Mr. Darcy were kind enough to grant us a crofter’s cottage, he has no need to do so. I do not know where we would go if it was not for your kindness.”
Elizabeth waved her hand. “Think nothing of it, Fenton. I am delighted that you will still be nearby.”
“It has been my joy to be of service,” said Fenton, and wiped away a tear. “However, if I continue to chatter on, you will be late to your dinner. Come, let us finish your hair.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Davies had arrived while Elizabeth was preparing for dinner, so she did not see them until she descended for the meal. She was so excited that she had the urge to run to them, like she did to see her sisters. Luckily, her present state precluded her from doing anything so undignified. Instead, she allowed Darcy to lead her to the table to begin the meal.
Georgiana was in fine spirits due to the arrival of her favorite cousin and his fiancee. She asked all sorts of questions about the wedding, and her eyes shone in interest in response.
“Where will you live after you are wed?” she asked.
“In town, at least at first,” Miss Davies said. “Perhaps we will look to purchase an estate.”
“But Georgiana,” said Colonel Fitzwilliam, “that reminds me. Your brother and I had a talk when I first arrived, and I was able to convince him to agree to something in regards to you.”
Darcy scoffed. “I told you it was a fine idea. Do not make it sound as if I was difficult about it.”
“Darcy, you are difficult about everything,” the Colonel said with a broad smile. Darcy smiled back.
The Colonel continued. “Since we will be in town, we thought you might like to come to London and have a season.”
Georgiana’s eyes lit up. “Truly? Brother, may I truly?” she asked Darcy.
Darcy nodded. “You have proven your discretion and good judgment, and it is time that you find a husband worthy of you,” he said. “You may go to London.”
Georgiana beamed at him from across the table.
“How exciting, Georgiana,” Elizabeth said. This news was not a shock to her; Darcy had told her that he and the Colonel would be discussing it, and Elizabeth had been certain what the outcome of that conversation would be. Yet it was still a great delight to Elizabeth to see Georgiana’s happiness.
Georgiana’s face fell as she looked at Elizabeth. “But I will be leaving you all alone, and with a new baby,” she said.
“I will remind you that I am sitting right here. I do not believe it to be the case that she will be alone,” said Darcy with mock sternness.
“You know what I mean, brother.”
“I will be fine,” said Elizabeth. “Pemberley is truly my home now, and I do not think I could be unhappy under this roof. And it is not as if you will never be back.”
Georgiana nodded. “Then it is settled. I am having a season! Oh, there will be so much work to do to prepare.”
“Luckily, you have time,” said the Colonel. “Do not forget, Miss Davies and I are not yet wed.”
Georgiana smiled. “It seems we all have some planning to do,” she said.
Elizabeth looked around at the people around the table and felt a swelling of love in her heart. Truly, she was blessed.
That night, Elizabeth laid in her bed while Darcy stroked her hair. Although she did not share his bed this late in her term, he always came to her chambers to sit with her while she fell asleep. His presence made her feel calm, comforted, and loved.
“Did you know it would be like this when you asked me to marry you?” she said to him.
“You, and the family we have created, are more than I ever dared hope for,” he said, kissing the top of her head. “I know it has not always been easy, but it has all been worth it.”
“I love you, Mr. Darcy.”
“I love you, Mrs. Darcy.”
And with her husband’s arms around her and everything right in her world, Elizabeth Darcy fell into a restful sleep.