I have decided this week to share with you part of a Christmas story I wrote to share on Darcyholic Diversions this week. At the end of the story there will be a link that you can click to take you to the rest of the story, where you can comment to be entered into a giveaway. The details are there, so make sure to read carefully!
Let me warn you up front that December and Christmas are difficult for me, and that the story is sweet, but not very merry. It is, however, a hopeful one at the end. The excerpt is longer than 300 words, as well, but I could not leave off the part where Darcy rushes to Elizabeth’s side. These things are why I love him so much. 😀
A Christmas for Remembering
The last few Christmas seasons had been difficult for Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. Eight years previously, her beloved father, Thomas Bennet, had passed from this earth a mere fortnight before the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Two years after that, just when she was regaining a sense of normalcy, her mother passed, on the very day that marked Mr. Bennet’s death. Elizabeth held her breath the following Christmastide, ending the season with a sense of relief that everyone she loved had survived. However, the following year, four years after her father and two after her mother, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia died in childbirth. While she was not close to that particular sibling, she was a sister, and Elizabeth had loved her. Within days of the notification of Lydia’s death, word was received at Pemberley of the deaths of her Aunt Philips and her cousin-by-marriage, Anne de Bourgh. All three had passed within days of each other, in the same week that marked the passing of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.
Elizabeth had been devastated to lose so many people she loved within such a short span…five family members in as many years, and all during the weeks leading up to Christmas. She began to dread the month of December, and refused to participate in the decorating of the house. The housekeeper who had replaced Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Baker, took over that duty. Of course, while the family was in mourning, there were no decorations at all, but the following years, Mrs. Baker did her utmost to assure that Pemberley was as festive as she could make it.
Darcy was worried about his wife, though he tried not to let it show. Elizabeth was still witty and charming, but there was a sense of sadness about her now that had never been present before. He tried to talk to her about it many times, but every time, she simply assured him she was well and changed the subject.
After three more tense Christmas seasons with no deaths, Elizabeth began to once again relax, and as this fourth December approached, she finally opened up to her husband about her feelings. Darcy was relieved to see that his beloved wife’s sadness seemed to lift after their discussion, and she began taking an interest in some of the activities she had given up during her time of grief, including making plans to decorate for the Christmas season.
Christmas Eve arrived, and with the help of the staff, Elizabeth began to place the greenery, mistletoe, and kissing boughs that she so loved in the yellow drawing room where the family and visitors would all see them. She started out well enough, though rather more stoically than might be expected. Suddenly, in the midst of arranging a spray of pine on the mantel, Elizabeth began to sob. The pain of her losses, that she had thought she had overcome, attacked her senses unexpectedly. The maids who were with her froze for a few minutes, uncertain about what to do. Eventually, though, one took off out the door to find Mrs. Baker, and another ran to the study for Darcy, while the third led her mistress to the settee and settled with her there, wrapping her arms around Elizabeth and speaking soothing words.
Darcy was seated at the desk in the study, reading a letter from his cousin, when someone began knocking frantically at the door.
The door swung open, and a panicked maid stepped in, speaking even as she curtseyed. “Begging your pardon, sir, but Mrs. Darcy needs you.”
As the maid expected, that was all it took for Darcy to rise from his seat and stride to the door.
“Where is she?”
“The yellow drawing room, sir.”
Darcy was gone before she finished speaking, bounding up the stairs to the indicated chamber. He entered to find his wife held tightly by another of the maids and sobbing as though her heart were breaking. The servant, having heard him enter, rose to allow him access to his wife, whom he picked up. Seating himself with her in his lap, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and her waist and held her tightly to himself. He let her cry her sorrow out until Mrs. Baker arrived, and then, after quietly asking the housekeeper to finish the decorations herself, rose with Elizabeth in his arms and carried her to their chambers.
Settling her on the bed, Darcy joined her there, leaning against the headboard and cuddling her beside him, once again wrapped in his embrace. Her tears had subsided, and she began to explain to him her feelings. When she had finished, they were quiet for a while, considering her words and working out in their heads a method to get her through this time.
“I am so sorry, Fitzwilliam. I had thought I was recovered from my grief.”
“No, no, you have nothing to be sorry for. You have done well in the last months, and I see the renewed joy in your mien and in your behavior. This is simply a minor setback.” Darcy paused while Elizabeth nodded, her hair rubbing his coat and becoming mussed. “What can we do to remind you of the joy of the season?”
“I do not know,” she replied in a small voice.
To read the rest of the story, and to be entered into a drawing for your choice of two of my ebooks, please visit Darcyholic Diversions (just click the name and it will take you there).