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Daniellas Bureau; A Fanfic & Desktop Site

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Volume Eight

Chapter 30: All That You Will See.

Don't call me a zero, I'm going to be a hero.
Like Phil Esposito or the Kennedys.
I'll be incorporated, and I'll be intimidated,
And overrated, but that doesn't bother me.

Celebrity, by the Barenaked Ladies.
From the Album Everything To Everyone.

Saturday 2nd July, the Ladies' Final.

Dawn broke over the courts of Wimbledon. A bright dawn, with clear blue skies, promising the prospect of a fine afternoon for the Women's championship final, on Centre Court, at one o'clock.

Hardly anyone was about at this early hour. The grass glowed a bright green with the reflection of the sun on the drew drop soaked blades. The white titanium lines which marked out the court, likewise drew the sun's rays, while they waited for the hours to pass before they would be tested for their existence, when yellow and white tennis balls landed on and around them.

Above the complex, high in the blue sky, the all lawn tennis and croquet association's peregrine falcon1, who quartered there to keep the pigeons from landing on the grass court, flew its morning patrol. Let free from its nocturnal resting place, it swooped up and down, riding the currents of the gentle antemeridian breeze.

It was at this moment that a shadow appeared upon the grass of Centre Court, casting a certain darkness upon the green blades and white lines.

The shadow was made by the figure of Elizabeth Bennet. She had arrived at Wimbledon just before dawn, and had persuaded one of the night staff to let her in to have a look and a moment at the court she was to play on this afternoon. Like her sister before her, she was to compete in her first Wimbledon final, and she wanted a moment to stand on the precipice of the empty court, and take in the atmosphere.

She had played on Centre Court before, just yesterday in fact, but it was different when it came to the final. There was a distinct atmosphere, and a feeling which accompanied it, not just of awe, but of something else, almost indefinable, but present nonetheless. The land acquired a hallowed quality, and one felt that they must pay their respects in order to assure a good battle upon it. And like any devout churchgoer, Elizabeth was present for her own morning mass.

Silently, she surveyed the court, taking in a deep breath to drink in that atmosphere. The falcon curved its flight path above her, covering the corner opposite where she stood, low enough for Elizabeth to see its magnificent wingspan and plumage, displayed against the contrasting backdrop of the morning blue shades in the sky. She watched it for a while, wondering if the sight was omen, a superstitious bent which never entered her active mind except on mornings of grand slam finals.

At Roland Garros, on the Philippe Chatrier Court2, she had done the same thing, arriving at the French complex just before dawn, with her brother. She had stood for at least half an hour, quietly observing the dark orange of the clay, contrasted with the white marking lines of the play area. Whether that morning visitation had won her the match, Elizabeth could not say, but due to the atmosphere, she was unwilling to deny the possibility.

A masculine scent conquered some part of the air near her then, and Elizabeth allowed a quiet sigh of pleasure to escape her lips as she leant back against the owner of the scent, and his strong arms wrapped themselves around her waist. She had been glad not to be met with amusement, or indeed any other reaction but understanding when she had told him last night that this was what she had wanted to do this morning. Like every other aspect of herself, he had welcomed the privilege of knowing it, and of escorting her there.

Now he stood with her, on the edge of the court which they would both play their finals upon, just like in France only a few weeks ago. Once again Elizabeth was struck by how much had happened between them since then. At Roland Garros, she would have had no idea that she would soon be in a relationship with the men's singles champion.

There had still been an awkwardness between them back then, created by their feelings for each other conflicting with the sense that the other did not reciprocate them, and the stress of striving to appear themselves in front of family, friends, cameras and press, the latter of whom required them to be together for the many interviews in the immediate aftermath of the championship. Two British winners of the French Grand Slam had been a rare sight, and the fourth estate had taken full advantage of the champion's relationship by way of mutual friend Charles Bingley, the coaching of Edward and PR management of Madeline Gardiner to interview them together as much as possible.

Looking back on it, as they had one afternoon, reviewing the interviews, kindly taped by Georgia, Elizabeth had been able to see what she had not back then; that their feelings for each other had been very much apparent to anyone who had watched them. Unconsciously, both of them had frequently looked at the other when they were not required to look at the camera, and, in the first interviews especially, they had often hesitated, or been distracted by the presence of the other when called on to answer a question.

Would it have changed anything, if either of them had chosen to watch those interviews when they appeared on television? Elizabeth did not think so. She had been so uncertain, both of her own feelings as well if he still felt for her, to believe what she could clearly see the minute they were in a relationship. Whatever she might have seen, had she watched them, she would have doubted immediately.

But now she was standing in Centre Court, with his arms around her. And it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.

William was content just stand there with her in his arms, without conversation or any touch save that which her lower arms made upon his where they rested under her breasts. He had understood perfectly when she asked if they could be here at this time the night before. After all, he did the same with every final he was ever in. It was as much of an important ritual to him as it was to her. He had been pleased to discover that it was a rite of hers as well as himself.

It was yet another thing which made him love her, and that revelation still managed to amaze him as much as it had done the first time he had realised the depth of his emotions for her. Every day he found at least one more reason to love her, and at least one more reason to never let her go.

For almost a year he had loved her from a distance, without any hope of ever attaining the same affections in return. And for twelve days now, he had revelled in gift of that love from her, which had made his own feelings for her even more powerful than before. He no longer knew what life was like without her, and he no longer cared either, for life with her was too precious to set aside time to contemplate what he knew was a torturous alternative.

Each day, this conviction grew and grew within him, steadily becoming ever more insistent. And, now with the prospect of some separation if they chose to compete in the next set of championships ahead before them, William felt he could no longer ignore the almost siren quality of its call. He knew it was soon, too soon probably, but he had no desire to endure a distance between them again. He knew he had her love, but he also knew that he wanted, needed that love for the rest of his life. Which meant asking her a particular question. Something which he had hinted at, but never uttered the actual words.

If he could, he would utter those words now, but he had no desire to shatter the quiet, blissful calm which presently surrounded them, nor to shatter their relationship, just in case her response was not what he wished it to be. He also had no desire to cause her any more pressure upon the day of the women's final, when she had a grand slam to win. Her focus should be on the match, not on their relationship today. And his role today was that of a supportive boyfriend, not of a worrying one, more concerned about their future, rather than the prospect of her winning her first Wimbledon.

So he stood silently, his arms wrapped around her, his chin resting upon her silky dark brown, almost black hair, taking in the hallowed atmosphere of Centre Court. Watching the peregrine falcon flying above them, trying not to think if his appearance was an omen, both on the outcome of the match, and their relationship. Thinking of the perfect moment, the perfect place, and the perfect time to ask her that most important question.

And trying not to focus on what her answer might be, and what consequences it would have for their relationship.

Jane and Charles Bingley were spending some quiet time with their daughter when Elizabeth and William visited them, soon after morning training. Ismay slept peacefully in her bassinet, her appearance drawing the gaze of her parents and their guests every now again, in brief pauses between conversation.

Elizabeth told her sister of her dawn visit, and was pleased to discover such an event was a family trait, as Jane had done the same thing the year before.

"I'm pleased that you have a chance of winning it this year, Lizzy," she said as they sat together in one corner of Netherfield's large drawing room. Despite her none participation in the championship, Jane had managed to loose some of her pregnancy weight already, picking up training again with their father a few days after Ismay's birth.

"How did you feel, when you won?" Elizabeth asked her sister.

"At first, I could barely believe that I had," Jane replied, "it all felt very much like a dream, and I expected to wake up at any moment. But when I was presented with the rosewater dish, when I touched that cold metal, that's when I knew it was real. But I was incredibly lucky. There were a few moments when I almost thought it wouldn't be possible."

"I know the feeling," Elizabeth agreed. "A part of me, a very small part, doesn't feel that its as important as what I have with Fitzwilliam, though. Is that odd?"

"I remember thinking that too," Jane assured her. "Though Charles and I were engaged at the time. In the locker room before the match, we talked about our wedding, and I remember thinking that, if, god forbid, I didn't win, I would have that to look forward to." Jane paused then, and glanced over at the boys, who were engaged in a game of billiards at the other end of the room. "And what about you and William? Are the rumours of the fourth estate true?"

"He's done everything but speak the words," Elizabeth answered her, in a lower tone than normal, not wanting the men to hear. "He's hinted quite a lot that that is what he wants to happen, but he has not asked."

"And what about you? Do you want it to happen?"

"I don't know," Elizabeth admitted honestly. "I can see myself spending the rest of my life with him, but you can't predict the future, and what effect long distance will have. I don't think I will know until, if, he asks me."

Just before midday the families of Bennet, Bingley, Gardiner and Darcy returned to hallowed seats of Centre Court. Edward and Michael went with Elizabeth for a final pre-warm up in one of the empty training courts, while the rest of them found their seats and prepared themselves for the match.

William sat down in the players box, quietly reserving a seat for his girlfriend's coach, trying not to feel nervous about his next actions. He had, even before he had met and fallen in love with his daughter, always held a healthy respect and admiration for Michael Bennet. The man was a great champion, in the same generation as his own parents, a role model out of the many in his youth, but one with even more importance, as he had not been able to count the champion tennis player among his acquaintance, until now. A few years ago, even just one year ago, he would never have dreamt of asking this question. But that had been before he had fallen hopelessly and irrevocably for one of his daughters.

Clocks and watches struck the final quarter hour before one when Michael Bennet returned to the players box. William knew that soon he would have to leave his seat too, in order to give Elizabeth a final kiss and wish her good luck before the match, but he needed to ask something of the person next to him first.

"Mr Bennet," he began, suddenly feeling very nervous and uncertain, "I know its rather soon, but I have something to ask you."

"Let me guess; you want my blessing to marry my daughter?" Was the wry remark in response.

"How did you know?" William asked him.

"I remember seeing the very same expression upon the face of your friend when he asked me over a year ago," Michael remarked. "That same mixture of fear and hope, combined with a certain stubbornness just in case of refusal. Which I do not intend to give. You have my blessing, William. When will you ask her?"

"Sometime today," Darcy answered. "After the match."

"I know you deserve her. I will be pleased to call you son in law." Michael smiled at him, and placed an almost fatherly hand on his shoulder. "Now, go and see my daughter."

"Thank you sir," William said before obeying. He rose up from his seat, made his way to one of the paths between the rows of green seats, then descending to find one of the exits outside, and then the entrance to the locker rooms.

Elizabeth was fully dressed when he arrived there, and William realised that it was almost time for her to go out on court. He cast appreciative eyes over her, careful to show the depth of his love and support for her, while keeping the desire to jump her bones firmly in check. Slowly he made his way over to her, and sat down next to her.

"I want you to know that I love you," he began, taking her hand in his own, "and that it doesn't matter whether you win or loose. As long as you play your best."

"Thank you," Elizabeth replied.

"I know you'll win of course," William added with a smile, which she returned. Silently he stood up then, gently pulling her with him, then wrapped her in an embrace, letting his lips touch hers.

Elizabeth gave herself up to the kiss, only breaking off when she needed to breathe. Then she saw him to the door, returning a moment later to collect her sport bags, slinging them on her shoulders to carry them to the ballgirl who would convey them to her chair on the court. Taking a deep breath, she walked out to face the spectators and her opponent.

William had returned to his seat by the time the doors from the locker rooms to the court had opened. Around him the crowd broke into applause as the players and the two ballgirls emerged on to the sunlit Centre Court.

Elizabeth and Dakota walked down the side of the white lines of the court. Halfway down they stopped, turned and curtseyed in the direction of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, who would present the trophies after the match. They then walked the rest of the way to their chairs either side of the umpire.

The crowd settled into silence as the players walked on to the court, turning to catch some tennis balls for the brief warm up before commencement of play. Elizabeth, to her surprise, felt completely calm as she objectively judged the glare of the sun on her side of the court, the power of the wind, and the density of the grass. She performed a couple of practise serves, then engaged in a short rally with her opponent, before moving to her position.

"Elizabeth Bennet verses Dakota Morgan-Debourgh," the umpire began after both players had taken up their starting positions. "First set, Miss Bennet to serve."

Elizabeth turned to collect a ball, gently bounced it on the ground, then threw it up into the air and performed her first serve of the match. She watched the ball fly across the court, high over the net, bouncing just to the left of the line, then her opponent as she reached out to return the shot. Then all thoughts faded as she focused on winning the first rally.

"Fifteen, love," the umpire eventually announced. Elizabeth turned to collect another ball. Dakota was good, she could not deny it. It would take a lot of effort to win this match, but then she had known that before the match had started.

She served again. This time the ball appeared as nothing than a yellow blip in the race against the speed counter, as it swooped over the net, like one of the flight paths the peregrine falcon had taken this morning.

"Thirty, love," the umpire announced over the cheers of the crowd.

Elizabeth did not bother to glance at the speed counter as she collected another ball. Today was not a day for distractions like that. Taking a deep breath, she sent a third ball into the air.

"Forty, love."

Another serve.

"Game, Miss Bennet. Miss Bennet leads by one game to love. Ms Morgan-Debourgh to serve."

One down, a minimum of eleven to go.

As usual, it turned out to be a lot more than eleven games. The British supporters and relatives amongst the crowd all breathed sighs of relief when the tiebreak of the first set finally ended in a victory for their representative, at 12-10.

The tension grew again however during the first few games of the second set, as one by one kept on going to serve. Flags were not waved during the rest in the call for new balls, instead they were gripped tightly, as supporters prayed to whatever deity or higher power they believed in for a victory.

When the score was at 4-4, with Dakota to serve, things began to look up. When Elizabeth broke the serve, those who were of an optimistic bent in the crowd slowly fluttered their flags and posters and allowed a small, hopeful smile to appear on their faces.

With the scores 7-6, 5-4, to her, Elizabeth took another deep breath as she prepared to serve for what could be the final game of the match. Striving to be calm, to think of nothing but the next shot, she threw the ball up into the air, and swung her racket up behind it.

"Fifteen, love."

One down. Elizabeth collected another ball, and served again.

"Thirty, love."

Two down. Elizabeth threw a third ball into the air, and deftly connected her racket to it once more. She watched it fly across the court, and had to blink as she saw her third ace in a row.

"Forty, love."

Match point. The cheer from the crowd was so deafening that it took several minutes for the umpire to quieten them. Elizabeth stood upon the edge of the last backline on her side of the court, gripping the ball and racket in her hands, and trying to quell the rising sense of anticipation in her heart.

A silence finally settled over Centre Court, and Elizabeth was able to serve. Silently she watched the ball fly over the net, bounce, then bent her knees ready to dart across court as her opponent reached out to return the shot.

Tension built once more as another rally occurred between the players. Elizabeth moved carefully across her side of the court, hitting each shot her opponent threw at her, waiting for the moment, the opportunity to put an end to it. Time seemed to slow around her, along with the sounds of the outside world, until all she could hear was the sound that the ball made as it bounced from the ground to the strings of a racket then back again.

Suddenly, the moment came. Elizabeth deftly caught the ball on the centre of her taunt strings, and sent it to the unguarded area of her opponent's side of the court. Breathlessly she watched it bounce in the corner, just behind the two converging lines, undeniably in.

"Game, set and match, Miss Elizabeth Bennet," the umpire announced, and then had to shout the final scores as the crowd erupted into cheers, "7-6, 6-4."

She had won. She had won! For a moment Elizabeth could not believe it, but then the results appeared in yellow lines upon the black background of the scoreboard, and the cheering became audible to her. With a rush she was back in the world, hearing the noise caused by her victory all around her. A wide grin appeared upon her face, completely of its own accord, and she turned in the direction of the players box, to see Fitzwilliam standing up, his hands joining the others in the thunderous applause.

Forgetting her opponent, Elizabeth ran to the barrier, stretching her arms out and wrapping them around her boyfriend's neck. "Well done," he managed to breathe into her ear before she caught his lips with hers and they engaged in the most mind blowing kiss either of them had ever known.

Though it was impossible, the cheers of the crowd seemed even louder when they finally broke apart, and Elizabeth made her way over to the net to shake the hand of her opponent and her boyfriend's cousin.

"That was one hell of a battle," Dakota remarked to her as they shook hands, looking not at all disappointed at her second defeat at the Wimbledon final. "You thoroughly deserved that win. Congratulations."

"Thank you," Elizabeth replied. "It was an honour to compete against you. That was the hardest match I have ever played."

The two finished shaking hands, then walked the short distance needed to shake the hands of the umpire, before moving to pack away their kit. By the time both players had handed their bags to the ball girls, the crowd had broken into a rendition of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,' a song which seemed to be working just as well for their tennis players as well as their rugby team. The two players waved one final time, then curtseyed, before walking off the court to prepare for the presentation of the trophies.

Minutes and seconds flew by and before Elizabeth knew it she was back out on Centre Court once more, the Duchess of Kent before her, presenting the Venus Rosewater Dish, made in 1864 by the Messrs Elkington and Co. Ltd of Birmingham.3 Gently she touched the cold metal of the 18 ¾ diameter dish with something akin to a pilgrim touching an idol of a holy saint as she answered the questions of the Duchess of Kent and accepted her congratulations.

The crowd was still standing as the reporter from the BBC came over to Elizabeth requesting a few words for the nation. Her heart was pounding as she talked about what it felt like to be the second member of the Bennet quartet to win the trophy, and what her elder sister thought of her getting through this year. Then she was allowed to speak of whom she owed thanks to.

"To my family, for all their support," Elizabeth replied, "to my supporters and fans, for all their cheering and presence at every match. To my father, for his words of wisdom and advice as my coach. To my late mother for her unswerving belief in me. To my uncle for his coaching assistance, and my aunt for her brilliant PR management.

"And lastly, to William Darcy. Fitzwilliam," she continued, her face unconsciously turned in his direction, "you have been wonderful throughout this championship. I thank you for all your support, for your unswerving faith in me, and most of all, for your love, which I return just as devotedly." She blushed at revealing so much of her feelings on television, but then the reporter turned to Dakota, and Elizabeth could raise her trophy to the skies once more, thanking both the crowd and whatever higher power existed above her, for all their support.

It was in something of a daze which she descended from the platform a few minutes later, to carry the trophy in a victory lap around the court, pausing every now and again to allow people to take pictures. At the crowd's behest she returned to William and posed with him and the trophy for a few moments. He kissed her again, then she returned to the podium and raise the dish to the skies once more.

There was another British champion of Wimbledon.

The victory celebrations continued throughout the rest of the day, as a big party of tennis players and their close friends and family congregated on the lawn of the Darcy townhouse, which the owner had quietly allowed to be the official headquarters for the party that day, on the proviso that it did not last long, as he had a final of his own to win on the morrow.

Elizabeth stayed by his side most of the night, glancing every now and again at the miniature replica of the dish which was hers to keep, and was temporarily being stored behind the locked glass doors of the dresser in the drawing room that opened on to the garden, amongst the other trophies that had been won by the Darcy family.

"That could remain there permanently, if you want, you know," William whispered in her ear, as he rested his head upon her shoulder, his arms wrapped around her.

"What do you mean?" Elizabeth heard herself asking him before she was even aware that she had spoken.

Fitzwilliam's response was to remove his arms from her waist, then take her left hand and lead her out to the gardens. Silently he walked them into one of the quiet nooks, as yet undisturbed by guests, sheltered by two large elm trees, the branches stretching to make an arch of leaves and bark high above them.

William had not chosen this spot without design. Now, he turned to Elizabeth, and with surprisingly calm hands, removed a small black box from a pocket of his trousers. Silently he dropped to one knee before her. Taking hold of her left hand once more, he gazed up into her eyes.

"Elizabeth," he uttered, his voice only a touch higher than the pitch which he had used to whisper into her ear moments before, but perfectly audible in their surroundings, "will you do me the great honour of becoming my wife?"

Here it was. No more hints, just the actual words. Elizabeth felt her heart pounding in her chest as she contemplated her answer. A part of her felt it was too soon, while another part was practically screaming at her to answer yes.

William seemed to know her the direction of her thoughts. "I know its soon," he remarked, "but I have been in love with you for over year. And I when I was lucky enough to gain your love in return, I knew at that moment that I could never let you go. I'm not proposing just because it will soon be the end of this championship, and we might have to be apart for a while, but because I realised that I could not face the rest of my life without you by my side."

He rose up from his knees, taking her other hand, cradling the box between the four palms. "Elizabeth, I want to wake up every morning knowing that I am the luckiest man in the universe. I want to make love to you every night, to know that the bliss I feel when I'm inside you will be there forever. I want to have children with you, to watch their careers as well as our own, continue and flourish. I want to grow old with you." He paused, suddenly feeling a little nervous. He stepped closer to her. "You don't have to decide tonight." Gently he closed her hands around the little black box. "Just either return the ring inside this box, or wear it on your hand, and I'll know your answer."

He leaned forward, and kissed her softly. Elizabeth had barely begun to respond before he walked away, back inside the house. Stunned, all she could do was open her hands, then the black box within them, and gaze at the platinum band which encased a deep purple amethyst.

And, as the gemstone glittered back at her, glowing in the dark starry night, she realised what her answer would be.

1. There is really a peregrine falcon owned by the All English Lawn Tennis and Croquet Association. He is really there to keep the pigeons from landing on the grass courts. BBC regularly interview his handler and show the bird of prey in action.

2. This is the name of the court which held the 2004 French Grand Slam women's singles final. I got the name off BBC Ceefax.

3. You can find out all about the trophies for Wimbledon as I did at the following URL:


Chapter 31: I Think The Answer's Yes.

To a world where leaders finally confess
(I think the answer's yes, I think the answer's yes)
To the burning of the Stock Exchange and the bombing of the press
(I think the answer's yes, I think the answer's yes)
I think the answer's yes, yes, yes, I think the answer's yes.

I Think The Answer's Yes, by The Beautiful South.
From the album Choke.

Sunday 3rd July, the Men's Final.

The last of the guests had just left the party when William began the drive back to Wimbledon, arriving on Centre Court shortly after dawn. Despite receiving no answer from Elizabeth as yet, his mind was not in the turmoil he had expected to feel at this outcome. Instead it was almost at peace. He felt surprisingly calm, despite the prospect of his final in the afternoon.

Like Elizabeth before him, he was also to play a cousin of his; Detroit Morgan-Debourgh. William had played against him before, most recently at Roland Garros, winning in straight sets. Unless he was incredibly lucky, he could not expect the same result today. His cousin was currently ranked fourth in the world, but that placement would soon change due to the two above him; Toby Bennet and Charles Bingley, both being out of Wimbledon. He had been world number one before, and William had taken the title when he won here last year. Could things now turn full circle? William hoped not, but at the same time he could not ignore the possibility.

A small shadow appeared in front of his own upon the grass just then, and William looked up to see the peregrine falcon riding the morning currents once again. Instantly the sight of that bird of prey brought back the morning before to his mind. He felt guilty for not seeking out Elizabeth and offering for her to come with him here. He had promised to himself that he would put no pressure on her to give him an answer, yet that should not mean that he should avoid her until she did.

Suddenly, almost as if she had read his mind, two arms came around his waist. Relieved, he leaned back to let Elizabeth's face rest upon his shoulder. "Thank you for following me," he whispered huskily to her.

"Shh," she mock admonished him, "you're not supposed to talk during the ritual."

"I'd completely forgotten," he replied in the same bent. "There go my chances of retaining the title this year."

"Impossible," she countered. "You cannot let an American take the British title away from you."

William laughed slightly, and turned around to take her in his arms. "Never," he vowed, whereupon all joviality stopped. As he gazed into her fine eyes, an idle thought passed through his mind, presenting the possibility that his last word could have an entirely different meaning. The Elizabeth tilted her head and kissed him, and everything was forgotten.

He never even looked, was the first thought which passed through Elizabeth's mind as she made her way back to the seat in the players' box, just before one o'clock. He had seen her twice since last night; on Centre Court just after dawn, then a few minutes ago when she had visited the locker rooms to wish him a final good luck before he had to go out and play his match. She had not been obvious about it, nor had she tried to hide it, but still he had not looked.

A cheer rose up from the crowd just then, and Elizabeth looked from the players' box to see that the doors from the locker rooms had opened, and she joined in the cheering as the two tennis champions walked out on to the court. Two ball boys followed them, carrying their sports bags, and Elizabeth gazed at William as he and his cousin turned to bow to the royal box before walking to their seats.

He seemed perfectly calm, a trait she had always noticed about him, whenever he was about to play a match. Before she had mistaken it for arrogance, a belief that he was better than anyone else, but now she knew the serenity for what it was; one of her uncle's coaching techniques.

There were times when she was so surprised by the fact that they had never met each other until almost two years ago, though her uncle had been his coach from the moment he could pick up a racket, her aunt his PR manager the moment he turned pro, and her brother one of his closest friends. It was almost as if their relationship had been destined from the beginning, due to the interconnecting of their families.

"William Darcy verses Detroit Morgan-Debourgh," the umpire announced at that moment, as the crowd silenced and tensed, "first set, Darcy to serve."

Elizabeth brushed a strand of hair away from her face with her hand, then quickly dropped it and discreetly tried to see if any of the cameras of the fourth estate had caught the confirmation of all their rumours. All were focusing on the match, as far as she could tell. She had no desire for the press to find out before she had a chance to tell William. Carefully she lay the hand back down to rest on her lap, gazing down at it for a moment.

It had not taken her long to figure out what her answer would be. Truth be known, he had had her from the moment she had realised the import of his quiet words to her in the drawing room, minutes before. Probably, if she thought about it, he had had her long before that, but, like so many things, that could only be known through hindsight, and not at the actual moment. Had it come too soon? No. So many things had happened to her over these past few days that Elizabeth was not surprised to find that they were at this stage now. He had always hinted about his desires for their future to be together, that the question had almost been expected.

The sound of a ball bouncing on hard grass, unusually loud in the quiet atmosphere of Centre Court, now brought Elizabeth back to the present, and she settled into her seat to watch him perform his first serve of the match. As the ball flew up into the air, she realised that the best time to tell him, would be after he won this match.

By the time he reached the third set, the match had acquired an almost surreal quality for William. He had been on court for only an hour, he was two sets up, and it was anything but a struggle. As he placed the towel around his shoulders, he took a look at his cousin. Detroit seemed fine. As Dakota's twin he was five years younger than himself, and had been world number one only a couple of years ago. Yet so far in this match, William had found it no trouble to win. If he did not know better, it was almost as if his world title made him invincible.


William threw the towel from his shoulders, rose up from his chair and walked back on to the court. The crowd settled back into silence as he collected a ball from the back of the court and prepared to serve. One flick of the wrist and the ball was racing towards the sky, followed by his racket as he swung it up behind its flight path to connect and divert it across to the other side of the court. Silently he watched it bounce twice, first on the grass in the white line, then off the back of the green barrier.

"Fifteen, love."

Cheers came from the crowd once more with the appearance of that ace, louder because of the prospect of this being the final set of the match. William merely collected another ball, casting an idle glance at the speed counter, noticing with surprise that he had broken his own record for the fastest serve on a grass court with that shot. But that was not the only prize to be won this day. The umpire called for the spectators to quiet, and he served again.

"Thirty, love."

Once more, as it had been with every set of this match, it seemed as if he could do no wrong. He took another glance at his cousin after he had collected his third ball, still not noticing anything about him to give an indication as to why he was not putting up a fight. William had not the arrogance to believe that he was simply the better player.

"Forty, love."

Another ball, another serve.

"Game, Darcy. Darcy leads by one game to love. Morgan-Debourgh to serve."

William bent his body in half at the receiving part of his side of the court, swinging the racket between his legs, his head almost level with the net as he watched his cousin open the second game of the third set.

Once again he could not detect anything wrong with Detroit's serve, other than it was somewhat slower than his own, but then his cousin had never been a big hitter. The ball came towards him then and he forgot about everything else except how to best return this shot. He straightened his body alittle, swung out racket, his eyes marking out the spot on the other side of the court where he wanted the ball to land.

Detroit seemed to rally little at this point, but not by much. The ball flew back and forth across the net for a while, umpire and crowd watching its every move, then William performed a drop shot which caused Detroit's return to only hit the net.

"Love, fifteen."

William walked back to his receiving position, and twirled the racket handle in his hands as he waited for his cousin to collect a ball. The twirling ceased as the ball was sent up into the air, and he tensed, waiting for it come to him.

The ball flew too low across the court and touched the net, making Cyclops beep and the umpire declare the shot to be a let, first service. Detroit collected another ball and William waited once again.

"Fault," one of the ball keepers at the back of the court cried a few seconds later. Detroit turned to collect another ball.

"Love, thirty," the umpire announced as the next shot was declared a fault as well.

Detroit served again.

This time the shot hit home. William swung out his racket and returned it, a rally ensuing once more.

"Love, forty," the umpire announced.

It was twenty minutes later, and it was match point. The crowd was collectively holding its breath, both sets of fans praying; one for it to end, the other that the match was not over yet.

William was in something of a daze as Detroit served for what would prove to be the last time. Last year he had been serving for the match, feeling completely calm as he threw the ball into the air and sent it across court for the last time. This year however, he was waiting for someone else to do that, with two sets and three match points.

The ball came over the net. William waited for it to bounce, then darted forward and hit it with his racket. Like a bullet it rushed back over the net, rising high over his opponent's head to land in the left hand corner of the court.

"Game, set and match William Darcy," the umpire practically had to shout over the deafening cheers of the crowd, "6-0, 6-0, 6-0."

He had done it again. William could not believe it. Surprise hit him once more over the scores of each set, showing, much to his disbelief, that he had won every game of the match. Smiling he raised his racket to the heavens, thanking the divine power up there for the opportunity to retain his title.

Results appeared in yellow on the black scoreboard and William turned from them to see Elizabeth and his sister standing and clapping with the rest of the crowd, wide grins of both their faces. He walked, almost ran towards the player's box, hugging his sister with a smile to match her own, then wrapping his arms around his girlfriend's neck to bring her head down for a long, satisfying kiss.

Before he knew it, he was back at the net, shaking hands with his cousin, who looked exhausted despite only playing for an hour and a half. Then he shook hands with the umpire and packed up his sport bags, before heading back to the locker room to change for the trophy presentation.

Time seemed to fly by as he once more held the large cup inscribed with "The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World," and topped with a pineapple. The crowd cheered even more loudly as he raised it to the skies, then held it carefully in his hands as he strained to listen to the questions from the BBC reporter.

He thanked his coach, his sister and then Elizabeth, then jumped down from the podium to do the victory lap of the court. Signing autographs and posing for photos along the way, he ended the walk at the players box to hold it with Elizabeth, and it was then, as their hands brushed together for the first time that day, that he realised she had given him her answer.

As he breathlessly took her left hand in his and gazed at the ring adorning it, he suddenly realised that there was something far more important that the fact that there was another British champion of Wimbledon.

Elizabeth was his fiancee.

Chapter 32: Epilogue: I've Found Someone.(Rated NC17)

As for me, well I've found someone
Who's not going cheap in the sales,

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, by David Gray.
From the album, White Ladder.

Sunday, 14th August.

Hello Magazine, Friday, 12th August:

Wimbledon Champions Tie The Knot.

Once again the grand ancestral estate of the Darcy family closed the doors to the public and opened the chapel for the wedding of the patriarch, world number one and Wimbledon champion, William Darcy, and his fiancee, Wimbledon champion Elizabeth Bennet.

Pemberley glowed golden in the sunlight, as the two tennis champions tied the knot in a private family and close friends' service in the 16th century chapel.1 The couple who joined their hands in this same place only a year ago, returned the favour of roles; Jane Bingley as matron of honour to her sister, and Charles Bingley as best man to his best friend and new brother in law.

The couple announced their engagement soon after the men's singles final of Wimbledon, William Darcy bestowing on Elizabeth one of the family many jewelled family heirlooms, an amethyst and platinum engagement ring. Following the theme both wedding bands were also of the same metal, with tiny amethysts pierced through the sides.2

The wedding has taken over a month to prepare, and most of the couple's close friends and family have joined the bride and groom in withdrawing from the Tennis Masters and Rogers AT&T Cup in order to attend the service.

It was the result of a whirlwind romance, which began soon after the beginning of the British Grand Slam championship, although there are rumours that the foundations were formed a year before. Certainly, regarding William Darcy's close friendship with Charles Bingley, there is reason to suppose that the couple met many times before the women and men's tours coincided at the Australian Grand Slam.

But, whatever the truth, all speculations were set aside during the truly beautiful ceremony. The priest of Lambton parish, the nearest village, some five miles from the ten mile round estate, who has known William Darcy since childhood, presided over the catholic3 service, and friends' said that everyone could see how deeply the bride and groom loved each other as they recited their vows. Every aspect of the ceremony closely followed tradition, with the men in morning suits and the bride in a white regency style dress. Following the regency fashion, the groom wore a blue waistcoat and white cravat underneath his morning jacket. The brides bouquet was a combination of white and cream roses and lilies.

The ceremony was only marred by the absence of two family members. The first, Caroline Bingley, sister of the best man, who cited her reasons for not attending being unable to get out of the Rogers AT&T championship. Her reaction to the news that her alleged ex-fiancee- for while she claimed that they were engaged, William Darcy has frequently denied it -has yet to be gathered by any member of the press, other than a black look to any reporter who has asked, and her decision to wear a black band during her match on the day of the ceremony.

Second guest to abstained from attending was Catherine Morgan- Debourgh, wife of American billionaire businessman Lewis Morgan-Debourgh, and mother of America tennis champions Detroit and Dakota. Aunt to the groom, Catherine's objections to the match have been recorded by her photographed visits to her nephew's London townhouse and then her brother's, Matlock Fitzwilliam, the day after rumours were announced in Society Magazine.4

After the ceremony the reception was hosted in the 16th century Saloon.5 Celebrations continued long into the twilight hours, as the estate once again opened up its outbuildings and bedrooms to accommodate guests.

The couple spent their wedding night in the State Bedroom suite, which is isolated from the rest of the bedrooms on the second floor near the Long Gallery,6 before leaving the next day for their honeymoon. Details of their whereabouts have not been released to the press, but with the estate reopened to the public once more, they are most likely staying on the island owned by the Darcy family in Bermuda......

Elizabeth chuckled at reading the last line, as she learned how right the showbiz magazine had been of their whereabouts. Fortunately, said island was only accessible by the small privately Darcy owned jet which had flown the newlyweds to their destination the day before.

Laying the magazine aside, she smiled and leaned back in her chair, closing her eyes to protect them against the glare of the sun, too chilled to go to the effort of moving her sunglasses from their resting place on her hair. If someone had told her over a year that her wedding would be in a showbiz magazine, she would have thought them mad. Professional tennis leant her a certain celebrity, but she had never seen her name in that magazine before the wedding of her sister. Now it had been in again, only this time in an entire article. Being married into the Darcy family had its public price as well as its advantages.

The 'patriarch' was dozing in the massive bedroom behind her at this moment, tired out, according to his last spoken comment, by their private celebrations of their marriage, which they had engaged in since the wedding night, the only break during the flight to the island. Elizabeth herself had been asleep a few minutes ago, before rising quietly to enjoy the view for the first time since the brief tour her husband had given her when they arrived, before sweeping her off her feet into the bedroom.

It had been a stressful set of six weeks after Wimbledon. From the moment they had announced their engagement; in a joint interview the morning after the men's final, chaos had ensued, as members of the press competed with members of their families and friends for time with them. Only after the strong, protective management of Gardiner Sport Reps had entered the fray, did the intrusion lessen. Even so, William and Elizabeth had had little time to themselves.

She had been occupied in the procuring of the bridesmaid dresses; of which there had been six; Jane, Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Georgia and Charlotte, and her wedding gown, which had been handmade. He meanwhile, had reluctantly travelled to Derbyshire a week after the announcement, in order to prepare Pemberley to close from public viewing and ready itself for the wedding. When he had returned to London a full week later, the Lambton parish priest had accompanied him, so he could plan the ceremony with them, and she could take instruction for entrance into her husband's faith, a task which Elizabeth had long agreed to, knowing it was important to Fitzwilliam that their union be recognised by the church his family had served for generations.

Catherine Morgan-Debourgh had arrived soon after the conclusion of the instruction, to declare her objections to their now imminent marriage. Not even the news of Elizabeth becoming a member of her husband's church had placated her, as she vowed to never acknowledge their marriage or attend the ceremony. Barely had she begun to say her piece, before Fitzwilliam had ordered her out of his house, for insulting his future wife. The next day a thick letter of further abuses had arrived, a piece of correspondence which her nephew only read once before muttering several choice words as he threw it into the nearest fire, declaring all association with his Aunt at an end.

Elizabeth persuaded him to talk with his Uncle and his cousins, and Lewis had promised to try and rebuild the bridge between his wife and nephew. By the time of the wedding however, the resolutions had remained unchanged. As for the other absentee, Caroline had thrown herself at Fitzwilliam upon the evening of the engagement celebrations, begging and pleading with him to change his mind, before being dragged away from her brother. Neither William or Elizabeth had seen her since.

When the third week before their wedding arrived, the former had remained in London only long enough to be measured for his morning suit, then reluctantly leaving for Derbyshire once more to sort out his family's ancestral home. It had been several years since a firstborn son of the Darcy family had chosen to marry in the chapel of the country estate, and the large household of staff needed their master's opinion on everything from the accommodations to the decorations. Elizabeth would have joined him, had she not been prevented by fittings for her dress, selling her Baker Street apartment, and readying her belongings to be moved to Darcy's townhouse and apartment.

The fourth week had welcomed the christening of Ismay Bingley, causing the couple to reunite, albeit briefly, to attend the small service in the London parish which Jane still belonged to, before parting once more. When Fitzwilliam finally returned for good to London in the fifth week; their time had been taken up by final fittings, then meetings with the law firm that handled the Darcy legal matters; to sort out prenuptial and wills.

The sixth week had seen them arriving in Derbyshire, where rehearsals and final preparations had taken place before the actual ceremony itself, causing the only time for themselves together, to be the nights till the day before the ceremony, where they had stuck to tradition and not seen each other until the service.

Elizabeth smiled as she recalled those nights. Fitzwilliam had taken her on a midnight tour round the house on the first, then on the others they had closeted themselves in Pemberley's grand state suite, sitting in large dark brown leather armchairs in the master bedroom before the large hearth, where they would talk until the fire had gone out, before retiring to the enormous four poster bed.

Needless to say, as result of those six weeks, neither of them had had a great deal of regular, uninterrupted sleep. Both of them had been grateful when they climbed on the jet, that they would be spending the next five weeks on a deserted island in Atlantic ocean before travelling to Flushing Meadows, New York, for the American Grand Slam.

And what a beautiful island. Elizabeth had been enchanted from the moment she had stepped off the plane. The large, one level holiday home was the only building that occupied the land, save for the small office that acted as air traffic control for landings on to the airstrip. It was a dark brown, plantation style house, with decking encircling, and included every luxury of the twenty-first century. It was surrounded by palm trees and other native plants of the islands and was inaccessible to everyone else.

It was at this moment that the darkness caused by her closed eyes intensified, revealing that someone was standing over her. Elizabeth carefully opened them to find her husband's face looking down at her.

"That bikini should be illegal, Mrs Darcy," he remarked as his eyes, protected by sunglasses, cast an equally illegal, hungry gaze over her body. "I am very glad that nothing but nature resides on this island," he added.

Elizabeth put on her own shades, and shifted so he could lie down beside her on the wide sun lounger. He too had little on, only a pair of shorts and sun-cream. "Well you can rest assure that you're the only person who has ever seen it on me," she said to him, before shivering slightly as his fingers began to wander a path from the base of her stomach to her breasts. "And I wager that it won't be on any longer, if you have anything to do with it."

"Is that a challenge, Mrs Darcy?" He asked her with a wicked smile, his fingers now skimming the edge of the bikini bra. He seemed unable to stop calling her by her new name, ever since the end of the wedding service. Not that she had any objection to his doing so, of course. In fact she relished hearing it from his lips.

"You may take it in whatever way you wish," Elizabeth answered him before changing the subject and gesturing to the magazine resting on the table. "They managed to gather enough information, despite not being in attendance."

Fitzwilliam glanced at the article, reading that before turning to the one photo they had chosen to release; a black and white photo of them after the ceremony, taken outside the south front of Pemberley. His expression changed over the words, as he read of the absentees, then brightened as it mentioned how easy it was to see how much in love they were. "Well, they have spies everywhere," he remarked, before tossing it aside. He held out his hand for hers. "But now I have a much better suggestion as to how we while away the hours."

Elizabeth willingly took his hand and allowed him to take her back into the large room that held their bed. He closed the glass doors as soon as they were inside, and wrapped her in his arms. Silently she took off her sunglasses, then reached across to take his, putting them on a small table beside the now closed French windows. As she gazed up into his eyes, his expression grew thoughtful. "What is it?" She asked him softly.

"Are you happy, Elizabeth?" He asked in response, her name coming out in a soft caress which he always used when they were alone.

"Of course I am," she assured him, equally softly. "Why do you ask?"

"We've come so far so soon. I just wanted to make sure."

"Fitzwilliam," she began, using her tone to caress his name in the same way he did hers, "if I wasn't sure this was right, I would not have said yes. As it was, you had me from the moment you dropped to one knee. It may seem fast, but the foundations were there over a year ago. And I have never felt happier than when I'm in your arms."

He smiled at that, then pulled her into their embrace. His hands rose to cup her face, and he leant forward to kiss her passionately. Elizabeth wrapped her arms around his neck, sighing as he moved into undoing her long hair from the loose plait she had tied it into when she had gone out to sunbathe.

They stood there kissing, hands caressing each other's hair, until breath became a necessity, whereupon William broke from her to take her hand and lead her to the bed. He sat down on the edge, and reached up to undo her bikini bra. He had already loosened the string around her neck while they were standing, now he unhooked the back, letting it fall to the floor between them.

Elizabeth stepped over it, and gently pushed him down on the bed, climbing on top him. Her long hair fell over her breasts as she kissed him, and his hands reached underneath the long brown almost black locks to gently caress them. Her own hands were not idle either, currently engaged in skimming the rim of his boxer shorts. He shivered as the cold metal of her engagement and wedding rings touched him, before returning the favour with the band on the third finger of his left hand. Just as he could not seem to stop calling her Mrs Darcy, nor had they taken off the metal circles that signified their union.

As one they eventually stretched up to remove the last garments of clothing they were wearing, before William swept her beneath him back among the sheets of the bed. His lips began a journey down her body, kissing the slightly tanned skin, then moving to enclose a nipple. Elizabeth arched her back as his mouth fixed on one, his fingers teasing the other. Her own hands traced lines upon his back, then rested above her head as he moved down to kiss the rest of her.

William soon reached the heart of her desire, and gently bent her legs, moving them apart to give him access. As he found her clit he realised that he would never tire of making love to her, and heard her agreement in the blissful sigh as she came. He lapped up all he could, then commenced on a return journey of her body.

Elizabeth kissed him briefly when he returned to her lips, before surprising him by flipping them over, sitting herself up as her hands began their own exploration of his sex. William groaned as her fingers expertly brought him to the edge, then stretched up and latched on to a breast once more to bring her to the same place.

As usual they both opened their eyes and locked expressions as she moved her hands away from his sex and pushed her own down upon it. Gently they brought each other to the brink before he surprised her and reserved their positions once more, the manoeuvre pushing them over the edge.

When the moment was over and they were climbing down from their emotional highs, William silently wrapped his arms around her, and rolled them so they both rested on the mattress on their sides. Reluctant to leave her, he ensured they were still joined, then bent an arm to support his head, while the other stroked her side.

Elizabeth gazed back at him, her hand resting on his waist. "A penny for your thoughts?" She requested softly, unwilling to break the hush which had enveloped them from the moment they were inside.

"I'm still amazed by us," he answered, still stroking her. "Amazed by how much we've been through, how close we are, how wonderful, how new it still feels." He paused, then added, "and how close I came to losing us before we ever began."

"Fitzwilliam, stop beating yourself up over that. I am just as much to blame. I barely knew you back then, and what I did know about you was based on misunderstandings and false rumours. Neither of us knew each other properly back then. And I was fighting the chemistry instead of welcoming it." She paused, then smiled at him. "From now on I want you to only remember the past as its remembrance brings you pleasure."

"I'll try," he promised her, in a tone as serious as when he had recited their wedding vows, "as long as you remind me of that whenever I fail to do so."

"I promise," she agreed, before moving her hand to restart their love making once more, caressing the small part of him that was not inside her until he groaned and pulled them closer together once more.

This time she remained on top, and they joined their left hands together, the metal clashing as they rocked against each other.

Fitzwilliam moved their clasped hands until they rested between her breasts, his thumb gently rubbing the skin nearby, until neither of them could stand the suspense any longer and came.

Silently he watched her as she came down from her high, his thoughts introspective once more. For what must be the thousandth time since their marriage, he realised how beautiful she was like this, and how much he loved the fact that she was his wife. He had felt so nervous of her answer when he had asked, that he had told her she could reply later, not knowing how soon that nervousness would turn into quiet calm, then extreme bliss in the moment his left hand had brushed hers and felt the engagement ring as he stood upon the grass of Centre Court.

For an entire year they had sparred each other in their own private tournament, until he had taken the chance and kissed her that dark night at Hunsford House. He would have never believed that that moment would lead to their marriage a year later, let alone that she would be kissing him back when he pulled her into his arms the evening of the first day of the following Wimbledon. And now he had the rest of his life to revel in the joy he felt every time they made love. There was nothing more amazing than that.

Then she kissed him and all thoughts faded away, along with the rest of the world, as they began the rest of their life together.

1. Again I am referring to the actual interior of Pemberley, aka Lyme Park, here. Source is the guide book released by the National Trust.
2. My inspiration for their rings came from the design which Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt used for their wedding rings, replacing diamonds with amethyst.
3. This is purely artistic license. As I mentioned in Till You Or Jane Return, there was a real Darcy family in the time of Henry VIII, and three of them were involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace, a religious revolt against the restoration of the monasteries in his reign, where Catholics protested against their king enforcing the Church of England faith.
4. Society Magazine is completely fictitious, as far I know.
5. Once more, I'm referring to the real interior of Lyme Park, and pictures can be obtained from the guide book, or I'll scan them on to the website if you want.
6. Most of the second floor of Lyme is private, so I have used artistic license here.

The End.

© Danielle Harwood-Atkinson 20212010.