Thursday’s 300: Lilacs & Lavender, Chapter 12

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We have reached the last chapter of this story. I’ll be taking a break from posting for a few weeks while I prepare the new files for upload to the vendor sites and then finish up a couple other projects.

Today I present to you chapter 12.

If you missed chapter 1, you can find it here. Chapter 2 is here.

Chapter 3 is here. Chapter 4 is here. Chapter 5 is here.

Chapter 6 is here. Chapter 7 is here. Chapter 8 is here.

Chapter 9 is here. Chapter 10 is here. Chapter 11 is here.

Did you know that Patreon patrons who pledge $2 per month or more get to read these posts an entire week early? Also, patrons at all levels get to read my current work-in-progress as I write it.


Chapter 12

Rosings, Kent

Lady Catherine slowly approached the stone marking her husband’s grave. This was the first time she had visited in the more than two years since his death. It had been too painful; she had been too full of anger. Now, however, her pain was eased and she desired to make peace with his memory. Kneeling carefully down, she gently laid the bouquet of roses, peonies, zinnias, stonecrop, and yew greenery at the base of the marble marker. Each item in the nosegay was chosen carefully, to describe her feelings. She knew Lewis was not present to see the blooms; the symbolism was more for her than for him.

“Lewis,” she whispered. “I am so sorry.” Tears began tracking down her face as she began to unburden herself before him. “I allowed myself to be hardened by our losses, then failed to trust in the love of our daughter. I was so angry with you when I heard the provisions in your will. I was grasping at things that should not have mattered. I forgot what was important. I am at peace now, Lewis. I know that Anne will never leave me alone. She has said I could live with her if she marries, and she trusts me to teach her to run Rosings. I have learned that I will not lose my place.

“I am so sorry, my dear, for not trusting you and for causing such shame amongst our families. I miss you. I miss your gentle spirit and your tenderness. I love you. Thank you for giving me Anne, and for caring so greatly for me while you were here. I promise to be a better mother and to give up my role as mistress of the house when the time comes. I promise to honor you in all things. Goodbye, husband.”

With that, the great lady of Rosings slowly gained her feet, wiped her eyes, and returned to the carriage that waited to deliver her back to the house.

Longbourn, Hertfordshire

Late June

The doors to the Longbourn church swung wide as the wedding guests swept out and lined the walk leading away from the building. The sound of the pianoforte preceded the newly-married Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy as they exited. The gathered relatives and friends of the couple showered them with rice, greetings, and well-wishes as they hurried into their carriage. Following, after a delay of a few minutes, came a second bridal couple – Jane and Charles Bingley – to be greeted with the same cheers and congratulations.

As soon as Darcy settled into the open-top carriage after handing his new wife in, he signaled the driver to proceed. Feeling it start to move, he reached over and took hold of Elizabeth’s hand.

“At last, darling! I am beyond happy to finally give you my name and my ring. I love you.” He lifted her gloved hand to his lips, bestowing a lingering kiss and reveling in the look of love in her eyes.

“And I love you, my handsome husband. I thought this day would never come! If I had to listen to Mama’s effusions one more day, I would have run mad,” she replied, rolling her eyes.

Darcy chuckled, thinking of the daily chaos Mrs. Bennet had created with her excitement and insistence that every aspect of the double wedding be perfect. Certainly, more than once his Elizabeth had rescued him from the endless, piercing exclamations of her mother over the course of the last six weeks.

“Do you recall, my love, the day she insisted on reviewing the menu for the wedding breakfast with me? How many times did I tell her it did not matter to me what she served?” The two laughed at the memory.

“You quickly acquiesced, though. I believe you realized the quickest way to silence her was to give her what she wanted.” Elizabeth’s wink caused Darcy to laugh outright, which in turn made her smile wider and squeeze his hand.

The carriage pulled up in front of Longbourn Manor and came to a stop, startling the couple out of their tete-a-tete. They disembarked quickly so their carriage could move away, allowing the Bingley equipage room to pull to the door. Once the foursome was together again, and congratulations exchanged, they entered the house to await the guests. They proceeded to the dining room, where a profusion of lavender and roses decorated the room, complementing the colors of the brides’ dresses.

Within a few minutes, Mrs. Bennet could be heard entering the house, her shrill voice proclaiming her triumph in having two daughters so well set. She bustled into the dining room, scanning the tables and interrogating Mrs. Hill, to make sure all the arrangements were complete.

Longbourn’s mistress had experienced a range of emotions upon learning of the engagements of her two eldest daughters. She was overjoyed for Jane. She was completely bewildered by Lizzy’s engagement. There was much she did not understand about it. Firstly, why anyone as rich as Mr. Darcy would want to marry her wildest daughter; and secondly, why Lizzy would want to marry such a proud, disagreeable man. Attempts had been made to explain these things to her, but Mrs. Bennet was of a mean understanding, and soon gave up her efforts at comprehension and instead focused on the pin money and carriages Lizzy would have.

She tried very hard to convince the couple to host the family in London for the next season with little success. Elizabeth seemed strangely resistant to the idea. Did she not want her younger sisters to share in her good fortune? How were they to meet other rich men if she did not host them? When she took her concerns to her husband, he merely stated that what the Darcys chose to do was out of his purview. It was really quite vexing! Well, she thought, I am sure I will have more success asking Jane. She is always obedient! I may have lost that battle, but I will win the war! And so began her campaign to sway her eldest daughter to bend to her will.

Following the Bennets into the dining room were the Gardiners. Having witnessed and supervised the reconciliation between Jane and Bingley, and approved the beginnings of the courtship of Darcy and Elizabeth, they were unsurprised at the results. They felt the girls had each made a very good match with the man who perfectly met their needs. They were pleased to have played such an important part in their nieces’ lives. They had already been invited by Darcy and Elizabeth to visit Pemberley later in the summer, an offer they had every intention of accepting.

Other guests began to slowly enter. Following her daughter and nearly the last was Darcy’s Aunt Catherine. She had asked upon her arrival at Netherfield yesterday for an audience with her nephew, his betrothed, and Mr. Bennet. She had humbled herself before them, apologizing for her previous actions in attempting to prevent the marriage. Though still angry to varying degrees, the three chose to forgive her after perceiving her sincerity.

Darcy House, London

Early July

“Darling,” asked Darcy as he entered his wife’s dressing room, “are you certain we must attend this ball?”

The young couple had been married for just a week, and had spent every day of that time ensconced in their rooms, enjoying all the activities that married couples everywhere took pleasure in. Not all of their time was spent in bed, of course. They spent time cuddled in front of the fire, reading and talking. They debated a whole host of topics, from poetry to philosophy. They discussed current events. They even shared a bath a few times. All meals were taken in their rooms; no one beyond their personal servants saw them for a se’ennight, until tonight. This night, Lady Matlock was hosting a ball in their honor. It was to be Elizabeth’s introduction to society, and neither was particularly looking forward to it, other than for the opportunity to dance together.

“Yes, my love, we must. Your aunt is eager to present us as a couple, and it truly will lay the foundation for my acceptance when we return for the season next year.” Elizabeth stood from her dressing table, turned, and looked at Darcy with sympathy and love in her eyes. Tenderly, she asked, “Are you not eager to stand up with me for a set?”

Darcy, reaching her as she stood behind her stool, wrapped his arms around her waist and drew her to his chest. “Oh, yes, indeed I am. That is the only reason we are not in bed at this very moment. It will be months before we have another opportunity to dance together. I am eager to show you off to all my London acquaintance.”

Elizabeth laughed and hugged his middle tightly. “At least those still in town, yes?”

Darcy squeezed her. “Yes, minx.” Leaning down, he kissed her lingeringly. “Mmmm. You are delicious.” He kissed her again, deepening it and losing himself in the feelings the activity elicited.

Elizabeth recognized the danger of continuing on the course they were heading down. “Thank you; your taste is delightful, as well, but we must discontinue before we are so distracted from our goal that we fail to attend. I would hate to disappoint your aunt. She has been so supportive of us.”

Darcy sighed deeply before reluctantly responding. “I know. I am sorry. Come, Sweetheart, let us go now, before I throw you on that bed and forget all about dancing in public.”

Elizabeth giggled into her hand at his words, tucking her free one into the crook of the elbow he held out to her.

Later, at Matlock House, the couple got their opportunity to dance with each other. Darcy was incredibly proud of Elizabeth. She had dazzled most everyone she had met. Her poise, wit, and good humour combined with sparkling eyes and ready smile had endeared her to all who took the time to speak with her. Her beauty and fashionable gown in white and lavender inspired the ladies, who immediately inquired as to the name of her modiste, giving her an opening to begin conversation.

Of course, there were those who disliked her without bothering to get to know her. Some were jealous single ladies and their mothers; others were peers with set ideas about social expectations. In marrying a lady of lower consequence, Darcy had set their ideas upside down, and they did not respond well. Many understood the significance of the bouquets of dried lilac and lavender that decorated the ballroom, but it did not make a difference to them. Marrying for love was simply not done in their circles. In time, Elizabeth would win over many of these lords and ladies, but there were some who would never accept her.

None of this bothered the Darcys in the least. Each felt they had found their soulmate, and the opinions of those so wholly unrelated to them mattered not.

 The End



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2 thoughts on “Thursday’s 300: Lilacs & Lavender, Chapter 12

  1. This story is gentle, has lots of movement, and shows Darcy as an all-encompassing character. I appreciate the whole gambit of feelings, from love to anger, just short of committing a heinous crime. The story moves along very well, without angst or high anxiety. I read some surprises along the way; raised the question of why, but I really like this Zoe, great work.

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