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Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Volume IV

Chapter 13: She's Got My Number.

She's got my number, I must confess
One look in her eyes and I feel undressed
All of the world's standing at her door
She don't even care what they're waiting for

She's Got My Number by Semisonic.
From the album All About Chemistry.

Thursday, 1st July 2004. Semi Finals.

William woke the next morning with the events of the night before still very much in his thoughts. In his dreams he and Elizabeth had not danced just one dance. Instead they had danced all the slow tunes and talked and kissed in quiet corners during the fast ones. Then they had returned to his place at the end and made love until his alarm had made her image disappear. His awakening was agony. It had felt so real. The feel of her soft, smooth skin. The curls of her dark hair. The taste of her lips and everywhere he had been permitted to touch and kiss. The sight of pleasure in her beautiful dark eyes as he entered her.

But the pillow lay devoid of any impression beside him and his arms were empty. It had been nothing but a dream. Reluctantly William rose up, switched off his alarm and moved into his bathroom for his morning ablutions. As he stared into the mirror, carefully shaving off a night's worth of beard growth, he tried to wipe the images of his dream from his mind and focus of the reality of his semi final this afternoon. It was against Christopher Brandon,1 who had cost Charles' hopes of the title two days before. William had come up against him in the past, and every match had been fierce.

He had lost against him in the last American Grand Slam, and had only just bested him during the Australian. Neither of them had yet to gain an advantage over each other, even between Grand Slams. And this time, the stakes were high. William was the British number one, and the entire nation was behind him, praying that this year would finally be the year that they did not have to give the trophy of their Grand Slam away to another land. He was at his fittest, at his best playing, he believed; everything was in his favour. Loosing himself in dreams of his love that were not reality could wait. His priorities had be elsewhere for the moment.

Yet, as he descended the back stairs to the kitchen and the company of Georgia and Mrs Reynolds, William could hear the strains of the same tune he and Elizabeth had danced to the night before. The minute he had identified it, the scene of them together returned to his mind. It seemed that not thinking of her today was going to be harder than it looked.

"Morning, William," Kate Reynolds said as he entered the large kitchen of his family's townhouse. He kissed her cheek in reply, noting silently that the tune had not been a product of his imagination, for it was playing on the stereo. "Did you?" She asked him, a knowing look upon her face.

"Yes, as it happened," William found himself replying, causing his sister to look up from her morning meal. "To this tune, in fact."

Mrs Reynolds smiled in reply, causing Georgia even more confusion. "What happened with this song?" She asked them both.

"William danced to it last night with his ladylove," Kate answered before he could deny it, causing him to blush and take a long time in getting his fruit juice from the fridge.

"Who?" Georgia eagerly asked.

"You mean you didn't see it?" Kate questioned, causing Georgia to blush herself.

"No," she replied, "I was dancing with Leo Gardiner."

"You were dancing with Leo to this?" Will sought to confirm, his protective nature coming to the fore. Leo might be one of his closest friends, but when it came to his sister, he had learnt to be cautious, else pay a deadly price.

"He was a perfect gentleman, William," Georgia assured him, before resuming with the previous subject of conversation. "Who were you dancing with?"

Fitzwilliam looked at his sister, the images of the night before still playing his in mind, together with his realisation that he had fallen in love, and relented. "Elizabeth Bennet."

Georgia seemed to need a minute to take the information in, then she put her drink down and smiled happily. "You're in love with Elizabeth Bennet! Will, this amazing!"

"So," Kate gently cut in, "when do I set the wedding date?"

"Wedding?" William spluttered out, putting down his half-eaten slice of toast. "I haven't even asked her out on a date yet, Kate."

"William, your father went down on one knee to your mother the first time they had ever met each other," Kate revealed to them.

"That doesn't mean the same will happen to me and Elizabeth," Will protested, even while his mind decided to picture such a scene. "Your imagination is too rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." He paused to pick up his toast and clear his mind of the images at the same time. "Now, if you don't mind, I have to focus on what is happening this afternoon."

"Whatever you say, William. Whatever you say," Kate Reynolds remarked, but with the sort of knowing expression which showed; whatever his protests, she knew their future to be certain.

"Good morning listeners. My name is Kurt Sampson and this is BBC Radio Five live at Wimbledon. Today we are reporting on the first two of four British hopefuls for this year's title. In the ladies championship we have our number one Jane Bennet, against America's number one Dakota Morgan-Debourgh, playing on Court number one, and in the mens; our other number one William Darcy against New Zealand's Christopher Brandon."

Elizabeth adjusted the volume of her walkman, and wished for the third time that her father had not asked her to do this. Rain was expected in London early evening, meaning that both semi final matches were starting at one o'clock to prevent delays. They were all attending Jane's, and their father wanted to know who their brother would face if he won his semi final tomorrow, and how that person was playing. So he had asked her to listen in until he and Toby could go watch it at the conclusion's of Jane's match.

Normally, Elizabeth would not have minded, but William Darcy was the last person she wanted to hear discussed right now. The moment of their dance at Netherfield had occupied all her dreams last night. And, just before she had woke, her mind had called up the image of her sister Lydia and Denny Lucas, but replaced them with William Darcy and herself. And the feelings which the imagery had awoken in her mind, had disturbed her in the extreme. She hated the man. He was arrogant, and annoying. What on earth had possessed her mind to dream up such an event? It was impossible. Impossible that it would occur, and impossible that she would be aroused by it.

In a way, the next event of the morning had been a welcome distraction. Elizabeth had come downstairs and entered the kitchen of her family's London home, to find her father, Toby and Jane in the midst of a lecture upon Lydia about her actions the night before. As usual, Lydia was paying little, if any attention to the words, and when she did reply, it was only with a wish for them to stop giving her a hard time, that she was just having fun. Or a snide comment about her siblings sex lives.

"It was only an experiment. Denny wanted to see if bad lays ran in the family," had been Lydia's last words upon the subject, causing Elizabeth to blanch as her mind brought up William Darcy once more. Grabbing a coffee, she left Jane to admonish her, and quit the room. Lydia's insult had not touched her too badly, it was the kind of comment she had expected from her. And Lucas. But still, it had not helped in making the day any better. Shortly afterwards Lydia had flounced out the back door, and Leo Gardiner dropped round to help Toby prepare for his match the next day. Then Elizabeth had returned to kitchen and her father had asked her this favour.

"Its a deceptively sunny July 1st, as we open today's Wimbledon coverage on Centre Court. This match promises to be a tough, unpredictable battle between two competitors who have met frequently before. William Darcy lost his last match against Christopher Brandon, and in the match before that, it was the British number one who claimed the win. Both men are evenly matched; they both have been pro for fourteen years, and both have won one Grand Slam in the past months. Brandon is thirty-five, Darcy; a month off his twenty-eighth birthday. Will the hopes of an entire nation give him his first Wimbledon? Lets find out."

"Time," the umpire of her sister's match announced at that moment, bringing part of Elizabeth's attention back to her surroundings. "Dakota Morgan- Debourgh verses Jane Bennet. First set, Miss Morgan-Debourgh to serve."

Elizabeth took out one headphone of her walkman out of her ear and settled into her chair. She did not know about anyone else, but her hopes were with her sister in winning title. She could not give a damn about William Darcy.

"Let, first service."

Fitzwilliam concealed a grimace and took another ball out of his pocket. This was the first time in a long while that he had had a net call. He hoped that this was not to be a sign of things to come. He threw the new ball up into the air, waited for it to descend, let his racket connect, and hit it across court. Finally.

"Fifteen all."

William took the third ball out of his pocket and made himself relax. He had earned his first point of the match. Now it was just a matter of wining the next, then the next, building up the small victories into set wins and, hopefully, a match victory. He served. The ball flew across court and his opponent's racket reached out comfortably to connect. A brief rally ensued.

"Thirty, fifteen."

He turned to collect another three balls from the ball-boys behind him. Randomly, he put two in his pocket and kept one in his hand. Carefully he bounced it on the ground behind the long white titanium line which marked the edge of the playing margins on his side of the court. Satisfied with its power, he pressed it to his racket and threw the ball into the air. Then he sent it across the court.

"Forty, fifteen."

His second ace of the match. William spared it no more thought and took the second ball out of his pocket. He stilled while the umpire told the spectators to halt their applause and song,- due to the recent success of their Rugby team against Australia, the crowds at Wimbledon had taken up the habit of singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' whenever an English was playing a match -then executed another serve. As his opponent made the move to return it, an image of Elizabeth flashed into his mind, causing William to almost miss his chance to parry. He shook his head clear, and focused on the rally.

"Game. Darcy leads by one game to love. Brandon to serve."

William went to his required corner and bent, swinging the racket between his open legs, waiting to receive Brandon's serve. He never did. It shot straight down the line, too fast to be nothing more than a yellow blip before bouncing off the back green wall.

"Fifteen, love."

Brandon's first ace of the match. William walked to other end of his side of the court, and resumed his previous stance. His eyes fixed themselves on the next ball, following its path from Brandon's hand to the air, to the white strings of the racket, then across court. Instinct took over, he moved to connect. Another rally.

"Thirty, love."

"Game. Miss Morgan-Debourgh leads by four games to three, and by one set to love. Miss Bennet to serve."

Elizabeth shifted positions in her seat, leaning forward. Despite her determination not to give a damn about one of them, both matches were managing to capture her attention. Each had been playing for a couple of hours, and were both somewhat fraught. While her sister's second set was going by serves, William Darcy was one game down in his, having won the first on a tie break. Just as when she had watched one of his matches, Elizabeth found radio coverage of his game play just as compelling.

"Thirty, love," the umpire of Jane's match announced, followed a minute later by the umpire presiding over the other. Elizabeth felt a gasp escape her as she heard the judgement from her walkman. Great Britain's number one had just lost the second set.

Her mind flashed back to their dancing the night before. Elizabeth grimaced, trying to push the image away. Why was her mind still fixating on that? She could not understand it. The dance had not been voluntary, nothing but the presence of her relatives had persuaded her to say yes. And it had been pure chance that the music was slow instead of fast. Why had he asked her anyway?

That was another thing which Elizabeth could not understand. She had only been polite to him, nothing more. And he had barely spoken to her. Their only proper conversation had been a week ago, and had only covered their mutual career. She had caught him staring at her before that, and last night, but she had long since concluded that he found fault with her looks.

Yet, if he did, why ask her to dance? He had seemed a completely different person during the song. Hesitant to draw her into his arms, then reluctant to part from her when the music ended. Afterwards, whenever Elizabeth happened to look at him, he was back to staring at her again.

"Game and second set, Miss Bennet. One set all."

The scores for the other match came through her headsets a second later, bringing Elizabeth alittle out of her thoughts. Darcy had just broken Brandon's serve and was leading the third set by three games to two. Silently, she listened to the commentator as he judged Darcy's serve. If he found fault with her, why ask her to dance? Why be reluctant to let her go at the end?

"Game, Miss Bennet. Miss Morgan-Debourgh to serve."

It had just been the song, Elizabeth decided, leaning back in her chair. The slow haunting melody had caught both of them in its charm, nothing more. If their was one thing she could be sure of in this world, it was that William Darcy disliked her as much as she did him.

"Game, set and match, William Darcy. 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5."

William closed his racket between his hands and pressed its handle to his lips, his eyes raised to the heavens in thanks as he breathed a sigh of relief. A part of him still could not believe the score. The match had been four and a half hours of fraught fighting. He had won the first set on a tie-break, only to loose the second. Won the third only to loose the fourth. He was glad that the rules did not allow for tie-breaks in the final set. As it was, pure luck had given him the opportunity to break Brandon's serve and win the match.

The crowd was still cheering. He opened his eyes and turned to them, bowing to each side in heartfelt gratitude for their continued support through what must have been a nerve-wracking match for them as well. In response another reddition of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' was performed. William walked towards the net, and put his free hand over the top to shake Brandon's hand.

His opponent smiled at him, and offered his congratulations on a well-fought victory. William replied in the same kind, then stretched his arm up to shake the hand of the umpire. As he turned to thank his supporters again, the reality of what he had done got through to his mind.

He had won. He was through to the Wimbledon Final. It was not the first time he had made it through to the final. He had been just seventeen the first time, and twenty-five the last. Both of those years the nation had touted that this would be their chance. This year however, was the first time that William actually agreed with them.

Still in a daze, he walked to the chairs and put away his racket. Picking up his towel, he wiped the light layer of sweat off his face, then finished collecting his things. When he walked to the chairs to sign autographs, the crowd was still applauding. William allowed a grin to appear on his face and started signing autographs. He knew he should feel exhausted, but the adrenaline was still active within him. He was through! He was in the Final! The elation he felt was beyond words.

Georgia and his coach were not the only ones waiting for him when he entered his dressing room. Richard was there too, along with another of his cousins, Detroit Morgan- Debourgh. After hugging Georgia and Edward, William turned to them, a wide grin still on his face.

"How do you rate your chances then, Darce?" Richard asked him. "Think you'll do it this year?"

"After that match, I wouldn't like to say, or dare to hope," he replied, opening his locker to get his clothes. "That was tough."

"You're telling us," Detroit agreed from his position against the wall. "I thought just being a spectator was bad enough. That double fault of yours at the first match point was agony, Darce!"

"Don't remind me," William said with a grimace, sliding his t-shirt over his head. "I wanted to groan with the crowd as well."

"Well, from one trial to another," Richard mused. "No offence, Detroit."

"None taken, Rich," his cousin replied, just as William remembered what he was doing tonight. It was time for his annual dinner with his aunt, Catherine Morgan-Debourgh. "How did your sister do?" He asked Detroit.

"Lost," Detroit answered, but without any regret. "7-6, 4-6, 4-6."

"Doesn't bode well for tonight's entertainment, does it?" Richard remarked. He had been invited too.

William pulled on a jumper as rain was in the air. He finished packing the rest of his stuff into his sports bags. "Well the sooner we get there, the sooner it will be over," he predicted hopefully.

"I was most disappointed in your friend's choice of bride after today's match."

William reached up to run a hand through his hair, and conceal a roll of his eyes from his Aunt. Catherine Morgan-Debourgh was not a woman to easily forgive, especially where her children's careers were concerned.

"When do they plan to marry?" His Aunt asked him.

"Sometime after Wimbledon, I believe," he answered.

"I don't hold with whirlwind romances," Catherine remarked. "They always end in divorce or some such other tragedy."

William refrained from making a comment to that. Most of the evening he had allowed to pass him by in a blur, while his Aunt took up the main part of the conversation. She was a woman who put a great deal of faith in her opinions and rarely allowed even the merest possibility that she was wrong.

Long ago, William had found that it was best to agree with whatever she said to him- within reason -and never offer his own opinions or thoughts in return. The match he had played only two hours ago was no longer in his mind. Instead he allowed his thoughts to dwell on Elizabeth.

After six days of acquaintance, and only one dance, he was in love with her. To his Aunt, and probably others who knew him as well, it probably appeared sudden and strange, given that he had yet to even ask her out. In the past, it would have seemed to strange to himself as well, yet William did not think it strange now at all.

In fact, it felt perfectly natural.

1. Christopher Brandon is from Sense & Sensibility.

Chapter 14: Indignities.

If we were our indignities,
If we were our successes,
If we were our emotions, I'd be joining you.

Joining You, by Alanis Morissette.
from the album Supposed Informer Infatuation Junkie.

Friday, 2nd July 2004. Second day of the Semi Finals.

"Cousin Elizabeth!"

Elizabeth groaned and quickened her pace along the path to Court One, hoping he would give up. Today was her semi final match against Caroline Bingley, and the last thing she needed was Wilhiem Collins.

Fate though had decided that today was not to be her day, for the man caught up with her just before she reached the players only entrance. Reluctantly she turned round, shaking his hand off from its grip upon her wrist. "Yes, Wilhiem?" She prompted.

"I was just wondering if you felt what I felt the night of your sister's engagement party," Wilhiem replied, moving closer to her.

Elizabeth concealed her desire to flinch, or shudder,- probably both, -and backed away. She stood against the wall, her hand on the knob of the door she needed to open in order to escape. "No I'm sure I didn't," she answered.

Wilhiem advanced even closer. "Oh come on, Liz," he began again, his hands reaching out to touch her, "you must have felt our connection." His hand touched her t-shirt, just under her breasts. "You feel this, surely." The hand went higher.

Elizabeth reacted instinctively, kneeing him in the crotch. Wilhiem staggered back, moaning in pain. She turned the knob and opened the door. "Don't ever try that again, cousin. I never was, and I never will be, willing to go out with you."

She slipped into the corridor and closed the door, leaning against it. Quietly she breathed a sigh of relief. Her cousin's attentions were annoying at the best of times, but especially so today. She had a match in a few minutes, which she needed to focus herself on, body and mind. Which meant no distractions, something which was fast becoming a problem.

Before her cousin's unwelcome attentions, the dance with William Darcy had been playing on her mind. Now added to those two, was the sight of Lydia and Denny, and what dreams had been derived from it. She hated the man, and yet dreams of them together continued to haunt her mind during the night and the day.

"Lizzy?" A voice called out, followed by the appearance of its owner, Jane, a moment later. She took in her sister's current facial expression of preoccupation and added, "what's the matter?"

Elizabeth forcibly shook her head clear of the images and put a smile on her face. "Nothing, Jane, I'm fine. Collins just tried it on, that's all. I managed to fight him off, don't worry. It was just one more distraction that I didn't need today."

Jane understood the tone of her sister's voice and wisely refrained from asking for details. She knew that Lizzy would confide in her eventually. But now she had to focus on her match. She smiled and put an arm around her sister, and led her into the changing rooms.

Elizabeth changed out of her t-shirt and skirt and into her tennis dress. She took her long hair into a pony tail, then exchanged her white socks for those which displayed her sponsors. She sorted out her sports bags so they contained things that she would need on the court, then hugged her sister before she left to sit in the players box. She then slung her bags on her shoulders and walked out into the corridor which led to the court exit.

It was a bright sunny day at Wimbledon as the two players walked out on to Court number one and Elizabeth had to blink away the glare of the sun, combined with the colour of her opponent's tennis dress. Caroline Bingley's favourite colour was obviously orange, and the shade that she was wearing today, did not suit her complexion. She headed for her side of the court and laid down her sports bags. Carefully she unzipped one and took out her racket. Sitting down in her chair, she unwrapped it from its plastic bag.

A few minutes of warming up, during which Elizabeth practised her serve and exchanged a few short rallies with her opponent, then she moved to her starting position, collecting a new ball and readying herself to serve.

"Miss Elizabeth Bennet verses Miss Caroline Bingley," the umpire announced. "First set, Miss Bennet to serve."

Elizabeth bounced her ball upon the grass behind the back line, then put it to her racket. She threw it up into the air, waited for gravity to kick in, then brought up her racket to connect. The ball flew up the court. Too low.

"Let, first service."

She turned and caught another ball from the ball girl at the back of her side of the court. Carefully, she refocused and repeated her actions.

"Fault," the umpire called out, as Cyclops, the net censor, beeped indignantly, announcing a wrong serve.

Elizabeth collected another ball. She took a deep breath, and refocused her mind again. Then she threw the ball up into the air. She watched its path across the court and breathed a sigh of relief. Third time lucky. Caroline swung her racket out to return, and the first rally of the match began.

Letting instinct take over, she returned the ball each time it came over to her side of the net, watching and waiting for her opportunity to end the rally and earn the first point of her first service game. Soon it came. Caroline miss hit, and Elizabeth backed away from the ball's path of return. The ball flew over the net and bounced in the sidelines reserved for doubles.

"Fifteen, love."

Elizabeth collected another ball and performed another serve. This time there were no mess-ups. The ball sailed over the net, bounced, and ricocheted into the green wall barrier. A perfect ace, her first of the match. She collected another ball and waited for the spectators to cease their applause. Then she served again.

Everything was going fine, until halfway through the first set. Both players had won three games each, all on their serves. Play had been smooth, barring the odd net call or double fault. Then abruptly, everything started to go wrong.


Elizabeth looked up, recalling the shot in her mind. She could have sworn it was in. She looked to the umpire, waiting.

"Love, fifteen."

She heard the judgement in silence and then turned to collect another ball. Serving once more, she watched its path with trepidation. The ball went over the net, bounced, and Caroline put out her racket to play a return. Rally ensued once more. And once more, the powers that be decided to intervene. This time however, it was in her favour.

"Fifteen all."

Caroline looked up at the umpire. Elizabeth could see a disgusted look upon her face. She watched her make a move to object, then changed her mind. Elizabeth collected another ball and served again.

Later on, she would realise that this trouble was the first sign to what was to come. But at the time, Elizabeth did not let it bother her. She continued to her play her game, managing to win the first set.

Then things began to fall apart.

"That ball was in!"

Elizabeth stood still, not reacting to Caroline's protests at the shot she had just hit. She had watched it come over the net, bouncing just pass the line which marked the end of their playing area. As far as she was concerned it was out.

"Forty, thirty. Set point," the umpire insisted. "Continue."

Elizabeth obeyed, walking back to the end of the court, collecting a ball and conducting her serve. She had learnt early on from her father and uncle never to object to the judgements of the match officials, even if you disagreed with the call, because it would always affect focus and have the ability to cause mistakes.

Another rally ensued between herself and Caroline. Its end was to make her realise that it was all very well following that particular piece of advice, but quite another matter to put it into practice. The ball shot down the sidelines, its low bounce masking whether it had landed in or not.

"Out," the lines-woman called.

"Deuce," the umpire declared.

Elizabeth shook off her mild frustration. She collected another ball and turned back to face the net to play another serve. Instead of one shot to try and win the second set, she now needed two.

"Advantage, Miss Bennet. Set point."

One down. One to go. Elizabeth served again.


She blinked, certain that she had miss heard. Glancing at the IBM powered board however, confirmed the bad news. Sighing, Elizabeth collected another ball and tried again to win this set.

"Advantage, Miss Bingley," the umpire declared.

Caroline smiled smugly, while Elizabeth tried to push away any objections. She had to focus. The ball was out, despite whatever she might have thought. She collected another ball, and tried again.


One set later, and things had not changed. In fact, if anything, they had got worse. Caroline had managed to win the second set, then Elizabeth stepped up her game to gain a lead in the third, despite numerous iffy and questionable line and net calls. Now it was the twelfth and potential final game of the match. Caroline's service, and she had just double faulted at thirty all.

Miss Bingley now put her hands upon her hips and addressed the umpire. "That ball was in!"

Elizabeth stayed silent. At times she had felt Caroline was justified in objecting, but that was before it had combined with everything else on her mind to put her off her game. Now she was rattled and just wanted the match to be over. Each set had taken an hour to play, due to net calls, faults, double faults, line calls and Caroline's objections every time the score did not go her way. All in all, it was proving to be the most difficult and the most controversial match of her professional career.

The umpire seemed to consider for a moment, then put his mouth back to the microphone. "Out. Thirty, forty. Break point."

Caroline huffed and walked back to her service line. Elizabeth watched her collect another and serve again. An ace.


Caroline smiled at that minor achievement, then collected another ball and served again. The ball flew from her racket across the court, appearing as a mere blip to the anxious spectators, who had stopped singing 'Swing Low' awhile ago, in favour of conserving energy for the lowering of potential stress produced by watching this match. Elizabeth glanced at the speed counter, and saw it clocked at one hundred and twenty-eight.

"Advantage, Miss Bingley. Match point."

Elizabeth walked to the other end of the back line at her side of the court, and bent, swinging the racket between her legs waiting for the serve. Trying to calm her mind down, or attempt to clear it of distractions was pointless now. She just had to wait for the serve to come and let instinct take control.

The ball shot up into the air, began to descend, then sped eastwards, spurred on by the racket which had come up behind it. Turning so fast that the white lines upon it became indistinguishable from the yellow, it sailed over the net before losing power and dropping down to prepare for a bounce.

As it neared the quarter lines, another racket stood ready, waiting for it to go down to the grass, then come back up. When it did, the racket swung out and hit it back to its starting point. The ball darted back over the net, its speed suddenly raised by the abruptness of the direction change. It reached the long, titanium white back line before making a bounce. The crowd rose up, their mouths opened in expectation of the judgement.

"Out. Game, set and match, Miss Bingley. 4-6, 7-6, 7-5."

Elizabeth walked up to the net, ignoring the boos of the crowd in a vain effort not to agree with them. She shook Caroline's hand, and tried to ignore the smug smile that was plastered on her face, outlined by bright orange lipstick. She turned, took a few steps, and stretched upwards to shake the hand of the umpire. Then she looked to the crowd to give her thanks for their support.

The majority of the spectators were still booing, feeling cheated from a match they thought their country could win. Elizabeth continued to try and ignore them, not wanting to get any more rattled than she already was. She walked to her chair, and quickly packed up her sports bags. Then she walked to the edge of the court and signed a few autographs, avoiding the temptation to add the phrase 'I entirely agree' to the notes of questionable defeat which some fans had written down, along with the scores and date. Then she waved goodbye to them all and to Wimbledon for this year, then went inside to her changing room.

Once inside, she dumped her sport bags down on the floor and stripped. Grabbing her discman and ministereo sets, she walked to her shower room. Setting down the latter, she turned on the water, and pressed play.

Dear darlin',
your mom, my friend,
Left a message on my machine,
She was frantic,
Saying you were talking crazy,

Elizabeth stepped into the shower and put her head under the faucet, letting the almost piping hot water, rain down over her. The artist1 she had chosen was her usual resource whenever she happened to feel angry.

That you wanted to do, away with yourself,
I guess she thought I'd be a perfect resort,
Because we've had this inexplicable connection,
Since our youth,

An unusual choice maybe, but the lyrics and the acoustic version music style always had the same effect on her. It allowed her to vent, to pour out the unwanted emotion. To calm down, and remember what was important.

And yes, they're in shock, they are panicked,
You and your chronic,
Them and their drama,
You, this embarrassment,
Us in the middle of this delusion,

Elizabeth bent her head and flipped her long dark hair over to hang in front of her face. Its volume meant that underneath it was still dry despite water pouring on the top layers. She opened her mouth and sang in time a long to the artist's voice.

If we were our bodies,
If we were our futures,
If we were our defences, I'd be joining you,
If we were our cultures,
If we were our leaders,
If we were our denials, I'd be joining you,

Her hair now completely wet, she straightened and grabbed her shampoo. As she applied it, Elizabeth brought back all her frustrations into her mind. The dance with William Darcy, the sight of Lydia and Denton. The match she had just lost, and the dreams the former two had aroused in her nightly thoughts.

I remember vividly a day, years ago,
We were camping,
You knew more than you thought you should know,
You said I don't want ever to be brainwashed,
And you were mind-boggling,
You were intense,
You were uncomfortable, in your own skin,
You were thirsty, but mostly you were beautiful,

The match frustrations were surprisingly easy to wipe away. Elizabeth found that she did not really mind losing to Caroline, especially in view of who she would have to have faced in the final. She wanted this to be Jane's year. So she called up all the questionable line and net calls, and made herself accept the umpire's judgement for each one. She had reached the semi finals. That had to be good enough for this year.

If we were our nametags,
If we were our rejections,
If we were our outcomes, I'd be joining you,
If we were our indignities,
If we were our successes,
If we were our emotions, I'd be joining you,

Those frustrations now vented, Elizabeth turned to the other thoughts which had caused her distraction and anger. Imaginings aside, she was not moved at all by the fact that her sister had had sex with her ex-boyfriend. She had never really cared for Denton, never fallen too deep before realising that he was not the one.

You and I, we're like four year olds,
We want to know why, and how come about everything,
We want to reveal ourselves at will, and speak our minds,
And never talk small,
And be intuitive,
And question mightily,
And find god, my tortured beacon,
We need to find like-minded companions,

It was just that when her mind decided to couple it with the sensations brought on by dancing with William Darcy, that Elizabeth felt anger. She could not understand why her mind continued to fixate on that three minutes. From the first moments of their acquaintance, she had found him to be an arrogant and rude man. By the time she had heard the story concerning George Wickham, she had already disliked the man, and it had be so easy to turn that dislike into hate. But then the dance had come, changing her heart, and causing this internal fight.

If we were their condemnations,
If we were their projections,
If we were our paranoias, I'd be joining you,
If we were our incomes,
If we were our obsessions,
If we were our afflictions, I'd be joining you,

Elizabeth focused on her hate now, gathering all the evidence from her memory that was in favour, determined to force her heart to comply. She did not like William Darcy. Therefore she had derived no pleasure whatsoever from dancing with him. And her dreams were just a product of a healthy sexual life, that was all.

We need reflection,
We need, a really good memory,
Feel free to call me,
A little more often.

Later however, when she had returned to her apartment, fresh from her brother's four set defeat to Edward Ferrars,2 Elizabeth found the images still persisting to exist within her mind.

1. The acoustic version of Joining You is on the Album which recorded Alanis Morissette's MTV Unplugged concert.

2. Edward Ferrars is from Sense & Sensibility.

Chapter 15: This Will Be My Year.

Then you tell yourself,
What you want to hear,
Cause you have to believe,
This will be my year.

This Will Be My Year, by Semisonic,
From the album, Feeling Strangely Fine.

Saturday 3rd July 2004. The Women's Final.

Centre Court. The size, the atmosphere, the crowd, even the grass, had a certain, unique feel to it, indefinable, but different from all the other courts of Wimbledon. Jane stood quietly on the edge of the green fresh grass, quietly taking it all in. She had arrived early, before anyone else but the grounds-men for just such a purpose. She had played on the court before, but never in the Final. She had felt the occasion, the moment, like something akin to the first time one realises that they have fallen in love, and were loved in return.

A sense of nervousness hung over her, making her believe that it would somehow be unlucky if she advanced further than the edge before the door which led to the changing rooms. A part of her felt tempted to bow before the grass and kiss a blade in humble supplication that the powers that be would allow her a victory upon it today. Standing at the edge of the court, such an idea did not seem so ridiculous. Yet Jane refrained from following it through, knowing that ultimately, her chances of victory would depend on the level of her skill during the match. And the skill of her opponent.

Caroline Bingley. Unlike her sister Elizabeth, Jane had never met her future sister in law across the net of a tennis court. Though she had also turned pro at fourteen, she and Caroline had always missed each other, due to a loss, either on one side or the other, in the match before. She had seen her play, watching videos of opponent's matches was all part of the preparation and training for facing them, but had never played against her.

Jane's opinion of Caroline, based on her acquaintance and from her conclusions drawn from watching her matches, was that her opponent was a nice person, but had of late frequent bad luck with line and net calls by umpires. And, of course, she hoped that their future relationship would not be marred by whoever won this title. Jane looked forward with delight to getting to know her future sister in law better.

A bird of prey flew overhead- Wimbledon's resident mascot of sorts -and Jane silently turned her eyes from Centre Court to consult her wristwatch. Nearly midday. Soon the court would be filling up with spectators from all walks of life. Jane took one final look at everything as it stood, then turned to the door of the changing room building and walked back inside. Once among the corridors, all the silence that had existed upon the court disappeared. Already Jane could hear the hushed, faraway murmurs of coaches and players, sport agents and their phones, trainers and bodyguards of the more affluent players. Silently she headed for her own locker room.

"Jane!" Cried a welcoming chorus as she stepped inside, closing the door behind her. All family, plus her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, and Charles, were all present, standing as her large circle of support. She felt lucky to have earned such a loyalty.

Charles was the first to advance. He came forward and embraced her, pressing his face in her blond hair. Jane wrapped her arms around his neck. "You didn't have to come," she whispered to him, "I'm playing your sister after all. You should be there to support her."

Charles sighed, clinging to her tightly, the memory of his sister's acerbic words last night still praying on his mind. Jane detected his discomfort immediately. "Its nothing," he assured her. "We'll talk about it later." He drew back to press a brief, intense kiss to her lips. "It doesn't matter now. I know who I want to win this match. The beautiful angel standing before me."

Jane blushed as he had intended. Then she took hold of his hand and made her way over to her family. "Lydia," she noted with gentle surprise, "you don't have a training lesson today?"

"No, Geor- Mr Wickham wanted to attend the final and assumed I would as well," Lydia replied in her usual bored tone. "I couldn't see what the big deal is, but here am I anyway."

Jane refrained from admonishing her, having no wish to get into a fight with her youngest sibling an hour before her match. Instead she thanked her for coming and then turned to the rest of her family. Kitty and Mary were more forthcoming in voicing words of good luck to her, while Toby and Lizzy, the two siblings Jane was closest to, added hugs to their wishes and confident assurances that whatever the outcome, she would play her best.

Jane then turned to the Gardiners. Uncle Edward and her cousin Leo hugged her and wished her good luck as usual, the former passing on a final pearl of wisdom concerning her possible game play, while Aunt Madeline kissed her cheek, wrapped a mothering arm around her shoulders, and presented her with a piece of paper.

"I know its probably the last thing on your mind right now, but I thought you would like to know that I managed to secure them yesterday," Madeline said.

Jane opened the paper out fully. She noticed the simple logo in the top right hand corner and quietly gasped. "Knightley1 Industries! Oh Aunt, this is wonderful! Thank you!"

Knightley Industries were one of the big London based companies which tended to favour the lucrative sponsorship deals of tennis and other sports. Their name had been hunted by all athletes and their agents ever since the company owner had declared the business' availability. Gardiner Sport Reps had been one of the few who Knightley Industries had personally called on rather than the other way round. Clinching their logo and name was a big deal, and would give the holder a better freedom to pick choose which championships he or she wanted to play in.

Jane silently speed read the letter of welcome with only half of her mind paying attention to the words. She looked up at her Aunt. "When do the new outfits arrive?"

"Just in time for Stanford," Madeline replied, speaking of the Bank of West Classic in California in two week's time. "But I expect you won't want to enter that."

"No, I have luxury of the chance for a longer break," Jane mused in agreement. She folded the letter back up and returned it to her Aunt. "Thank you again, Aunt Maddy. This is really excellent news."

"Right," Mike Bennet began at this moment. "I think its time for most of us to get to our seats now."

Jane smiled and exchanged brief farewells with her family, and watched as the Gardiners, along with Mary, Kitty and Lydia made their way to the box and their seats, leaving only Toby, Elizabeth, her father and Charles present.

Toby came up to her next. "Best of luck, sis," he said as he hugged her. "I hope you slaughter her," he added in a whisper.

Elizabeth came up next. "Good luck, Jane," she said through her blond hair as she embraced her. "Play as you always play; at your best. Don't think about her, and who she is to become to you. Think only of her as your opponent, to crush."

Jane laughed, as her sister had intended, understanding her sister's lightly arched tone, laced with a deceptive sweetness.

The other members of the Bennet quartet then left the room. Their father kissed her briefly. "I shall wait outside Janie, give you a chance to change," he remarked before following them.

Once they were alone, Charles turned to her, and gently pulled her into his arms. Jane gratefully welcomed the motion, happily losing herself in the wonderfulness that was Charles' kisses. He threaded his hands through her hair, slipping his tongue into her mouth, while she did the same with her own, running her hands down his strong back.

Somehow, his kisses had got even more mesmerising since their engagement. Jane let herself be swept up in them, forgetting the world and her nervousness. Whatever the outcome, she would always remember this Wimbledon as one of her favourites, for the wonderful man it had enabled her to meet. And now she would spend the rest of her life with him.

When it got harder to breathe, Jane reluctantly parted from him, and equally reluctantly let the world come back into focus. She moved to her locker and began to change. She had long lost that sense of nervousness relating to undressing around Charles, the locker room at Wimbledon was no different. Silently she took off her pink denim blouse, put it away, and took out her tennis dress.

Carefully she slipped it over her head, then put her hands underneath her blond locks to take them out. She pulled her dress down to her waist, then undid and discarded her slightly flared blue jeans and trainers. Adjusting her dress, she made sure it was on straight and then put her hair into a tight ponytail. Then she joined her fiancee on the wooden bench while she put on her trainers and sponsor marked socks.

Charles waited until she was ready before wrapping an arm around her, his other hand grabbing her left, where he bestowed a kiss to her currently bare third finger. The engagement ring was tucked away in his jacket pocket, as Jane had no desire to have it damaged during her matches. "Any thoughts about the wedding yet?" He asked her in an attempt to distract her from her nerves.

"Quiet, family and friends," Jane mused, leaning into his arms. "No media frenzy, if either of us can possibly help it."

"England, or Savannah?"

"England," Jane decided, looking up at him to search his blue eyes for his agreement. "Me in a ivory-white dress, you in morning suit."

"Bridesmaids in blue," Charles recalled from her earlier thoughts, "Lizzy, maid of honour, Darce, best man. "Dine 'on mince and slices of quince, with a runcible spoon.2'"

"'And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, dance by the light of moon,3'" Jane finished with blissful smile. She wished the event here already.

Just before one o'clock Jane and her opponent, followed by two ball-girls who carried their sport bags, walked out of the changing rooms and on to the hallowed ground of Centre Court. The crowd broke out into cheer and song, strains of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' ringing from side to side. Some steps later Jane and Caroline turned to face the Royal box, and curtseyed to honour the presence of the HRH Duke and Duchess of Kent.4 Then they continued to their chairs at either side of the net.

Jane thanked the ball-girl who had carried her bags, then unzipped them and took out her fresh tennis racket. She slid it out of the plastic wrapping and folded that back in the bag, then held the racket up to inspect the strings. Taking deep breaths and trying to ignore the pounding of her heart.

After a few minutes of training, which involved some practice serves and short mock rallies, the umpire announced time and who was serving first. Jane walked down to the end of her side of the court, collected a ball from the back, and bounced it experimentally on the ground, until she felt ready. Silently she focused on the soft sound it made in its journey to ground then back up, blocking out the hushed noise of the crowd, indeed their very presence.

Reaching the inner centre of her calmness, Jane caught the ball and straightened, seeing nothing but her opponent, and even so not really recognising her. Then she made her serve. The ball sailed over the net, bounced in the required place, then connected to Caroline's racket, the prelude to a rally. Jane blocked out all sound but the noise which the ball made as it passed through the air or bounced on the grass. Her mind allowed her natural talent and instinct to take over, patiently playing her game until an opportunity rose for the first point.

"Fifteen, love."

Another ball collected, another test bounce. Another throw, another serve, another rally played.

"Thirty, love."

Another serve, another rally.

"Forty, love."

Collect ball, test bounce, upward throw, serve. Jane let the instinctual motions, honed by years of experience and training take control of her body. Watch the path of the ball over the net and to her opponent, wait for the bounce, then move for the return.

"Game. Miss Bennet leads by one game to love, first set. Miss Bingley to serve."

Jane walked to the end of her side of the court, her legs forming a triangle with the grass, swinging her racket like a pendulum between them. Her head at an angle, eyes trained on the form of her opponent, as she waited for the ball to come. She watched it come over the net, then bounce.


Caroline seemed to mutter, then collected another ball and tried again.

"Fault," the lines-woman called again, followed shortly by the judgement of the umpire. "Love, fifteen."

Jane moved to the other corner and resumed her previous stance, quietly waiting. Caroline collected another ball, bounced it, then threw it up for her third attempt. This time it did not go out. Jane deftly swung out her racket to connect and another rally began.

"Fifteen all."

The game continued. Caroline's game picked enough to secure her first service game, and then prepared to receive Jane's second. Jane collected a ball, and performed another serve.

"Fifteen, love."

Her first ace of the match. Jane collected another ball, bouncing on the ground until the applause had died down. Then she served again.

"Thirty, love."

Another ace. Collect fresh ball, bounce, serve. Another rally.

"Forty, love."

A new ball, bounce, serve.

"Game. Miss Bennet leads by two games to one, first set."

Time for a brief break. Jane went to her chair, rested her racket on her lap, and put her mineral water to her lips. She took a long drink, then set it back on the ground, cap screwed on tight. She glanced briefly at Caroline, who was also drinking, but with calculated slowness, designed to show off the sponsors. Jane had never been easy about touting who sponsored her, preferring discreet symbols on her dress, racket or bag. However, in that, she was one of the few.

The umpire called out time a minute later and Jane rose back up to her side of the court. She resumed her receiving position, eyes trained on Caroline, waiting. Her opponent served, and Jane moved to return the ball. The rally began again.

"Love, fifteen."

Caroline served again. Then again. Double fault.

"Love, thirty."

Another serve. Another double fault.

"Love, forty."

Jane ignored the fact that she had now three break points. Instead she quietly waited for the next serve. The ball came over the net, bounced, then connected with her racket. Jane made her return, noticing with surprise that it flew pass Caroline completely. That had not been her intention, but then intent was always conquered by instinct.

"Game. Miss Bennet leads by three games to one. Miss Bennet to serve."

Jane turned to a receive a ball, bounced it on the grass, then performed another serve.

"Fifteen, love."

Another ball, another serve. This time her opponent managed to return, and a rally ensued. The players moved from one side of the court to the other, up to the net and down to the back. Back and forth, hitting and returning. Skill verses skill, instinct verses instinct.

"Thirty, love."

The score continued to rise. From thirty, love it went quickly to forty, love, then four games to one, thanks to two more aces. Caroline, through some net calls and double faults and plain near misses, lost her next service game, making it 5-1. Jane served powerfully for the first set, a series of aces resulting in 6-1. A brief break between sets then commenced, giving the players time to towel their bare skin dry, drink and snack of fruit, while the commentators waxed lyrical on their various reviews of the first set.

Some minutes later and the second set began. Caroline served for the first game, the brief respite seeming to have had a positive effect on her, as she won it with little effort. Jane served next, also wining, making it one game all.

The scores, like the players, went back and forth; two, one; two, two; three, two; three all. Then Caroline served a double fault. Her game play slipped, as the rallies stepped up their intensity. Jane broke serve; meaning four games to three, to her. She served for the eighth game, as Caroline picked her skill back up, and the rallies intensified again. The points however, never came her way, and soon it was five games to three.

As the sixth game started, Jane could no longer hear the crowd or the bounce of the ball. All her hearing seemed to be focused on the score delivered by the umpire, as she played what was to become one of her finest non-serving games. Caroline made no double faults, but each rally went a different way.

"Love, fifteen."

"Love, thirty."

"Love, forty."

Match point. Jane kept her eyes on her opponent, not allowing that factor of scores to overtake her game. Swinging her racket in her body triangle once more, she waited for the ball to come. Then she swung out her racket, sending it over the net. Caroline made a return, moving from one end of her side of the court to the other. Jane moved to return the ball, sending deftly over the net. It rushed passed Caroline, bouncing in the right hand corner, just before the two lines reserved for the doubles games.

"Game, Set and Match, Miss Bennet. 6-1, 6-3."

She had won. She had won. Jane could barely believe it. She grinned widely, waving her racket in the air, while the crowd erupted into cheers. They had their first British Champion in over sixty years. The applause rang around the court, as they attempted to deafen the entire land in their praise.

Reality of victory finally got through to Jane, making her want to do cartwheels or jump in the air. She did neither of these however, opting to just wave her racket and hands at the crowd, and blowing kisses them in thanks for their constant support. When she was facing the net once more, Jane collected herself and walked up to it, and took Caroline's hand in the traditional shake. She then turned to the umpire and shook her hand before stepping away from the net once more.

At that moment she caught sight of her family in the box reserved for players. All were raised in standing ovation with the crowd, inane grins on her faces. Jane gracefully ran towards them, reaching over the low green barrier to exchange hugs. Charles delighted her and the crowd even further, by grabbing her lips for a long, thoroughly enjoyable kiss.

Jane walked back to her chair in a daze, and packed up her sports bags, hurrying once she realised that Caroline was waiting, as it was the custom to walk back to the changing rooms together. She zipped up her bags, handed them to the waiting ball-girl, then joined her future sister in law. They advanced a few steps, made their curtsey, then briefly retired while they waited for the court to set itself up for the trophies presentation.

It seemed like only seconds later that Jane was back outside again, and receiving the Venus Rosewater Dish from HRH the Duchess of Kent. Made in 1864 by the Messrs Elkington and Co. Ltd of Birmingham, the fifty guinea silver salver was a copy of an electrotype by Casper Enderlein from a pewter original in the Louvre.

Jane would only notice the mythological symbols of Temperance in the centre and Minerva with the seven liberal arts around the rim later, when she was taking home the miniature replica.5 All she could concentrate on were the kind words of the Duchess as she congratulated her on a game well played, then the cheers and applause of the crowd as she walked her path of victory around the court, halting for photos, holding the trophy high in the air.

Next came interviews. Jane carefully held the rosewater dish in her arms while she spoke to the reporter for the BBC. Later she would remember none of the questions asked, nor the replies she had made, and would have to rely on the video of the match, which was busily recording at her home.

She managed to sound modest and humbled by the victory, which was exactly what she felt. She spoke of her honour of wining the title, for her herself, for her family, and for the country. She praised the ability of her opponent, and then sent out her thanks to all the important people in her life.

"My thanks go to my wonderful father, for his unswerving support throughout, to my late mother, whose support, wisdom and love I shall always have. To my sisters and brother, my Uncle and Aunt. And finally to my fiancee, Charles, for his loving support and faith ever since we met. Without them, I would not be here today."

The BBC then delivered their congratulations and the cheers and applause rose with the crowd again, causing Jane to raise the trophy, her joyful face now crowned with blushes as she accepted humbly all the praise.

There was a new champion of Wimbledon. And her name was Jane Bennet. British Wimbledon Ladies Champion, 2004.

1. Knightley Industries; I refer here to George Knightley's younger brother John, from Emma.
2. & 3. Jane and Bingley parody here from 'The Owl And The Pussycat,' (1871) a poem by Edward Lear, (1812-1888). Here is the original verse:

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.

4. HRH Duke and Duchess almost always attend the Wimbledon finals, and all the players make appropriate curtsies and bows. The Duchess gives the Ladies trophy to the women's champion, and the Duke, the men's.
5. You can find out all about the trophies for Wimbledon as I did at the following URL:


Chapter 16: Careful What You Wish For.

Just tell me who do you think you see?
Am I still the girl that you'd thought I'd be?
Do you care that I might be for real?

Careful What You Wish For, by Texas,
from the album Careful What You Wish For.

Sunday 4th July 2004. The Men's Final.

William Darcy entered his locker room on the day of the men's Wimbledon final with a certain amount of trepidation. While it was not his first time on Centre Court, nor his first Wimbledon final, there were other things connected with the match which concerned him. The first being that he had never played against Edward Ferrars and won.

Every single match they had played, William had lost. He had not even come close to winning. And the second, was that Jane Bennet had won her final the day before. William was happy for her victory, but the result naturally put a certain amount of pressure on to him. There had been two British players in the finals. One had won her match, thus it had become a natural and national expectation that he would win his.

It was not that William did not want to win. He did. Most desperately. But he was concerned that he had never won against his opponent before. If he had in the past, that result would have consoled his nerves. Instead, he was forced to try and focus with them still present within his mind.

"William?" A voice called then, making him look up. His coach had popped his round the door, and seeing him already dressed for the match, entered. Edward Gardiner looked his normal self. His expression seemed to be designed as a balm to the mind of the young man that was under his tuition. William instantly took comfort in it.

Edward came and sat down on the bench by him. "Nervous?" He asked him. William nodded. "Good," he added, much to William's surprise. "You need a healthy amount of nerves when facing someone you've never won against before. It makes you more determined, especially when the stakes are as high as they will be today."

William shrugged. "I'm not sure my amount is a healthy one," he remarked, calmer than he felt, to his coach.

"Yes it is," Edward answered back reassuringly. "I can tell by the tone of your voice. You just play the best you can and everything will work out." He patted him on his back. "I'll go and find your family."

William watched Mr Gardiner exit, then turned his thoughts inward once more. Only this time, they were not about the match. They were about afterwards, and what he had planned to do, whatever the result.

Since realising that he had fallen in love with Elizabeth Bennet, William had planned to ask her out tonight, during the celebrations arranged for Jane and himself, if he was lucky enough to win. He wondered how he should do it, what he should say, and where at Hunsford he should say it. Compared to the match, he had no nerves about asking her out. Nor did he have any doubts about what she would say.

Little did he realise how much his arrogant presumption would cost him.

A few minutes before one o'clock, William followed American champion Edward Ferrars out on to Centre Court. Ball boys carried their bags, and at the appropriate point the two men turned round and bowed to acknowledge the presence of HRH the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

William reached his seat and thanked the ball boy who set down his bags, before sitting down. Silently he surveyed the court. The crowd was still cheering, and strains of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,' could be heard airing about the court. Remarkably, there were also quite a few banners and flags about for his opponent.

But mostly the area around the court was littered with the St George flag, either blank or with messages of support written on. Silently William drank in the atmosphere. The measure of crowd and support was strangely soothing. He felt himself calm down, his nerves disappear, and his determination to win coming through. He turned to his bag and took out a fresh racket. Then he rose up and moved on to the court for a few minutes of practise.

The thirteenth hour of the day struck around London, and the umpire announced time and who was serving first. William turned to collect a ball. Holding his racket in position, he bounced the ball on the ground, then threw it up into the air, swung up behind the hit, and swept the ball forward across the court.

"Fifteen, love."

His first serve of the match, and his first ace. So far, so good. William collected another ball, then a second, then a third, putting the last two in the pocket of his white tennis shorts. He bounced the ball on the ground, then performed another serve. This time a rally ensued, granting William his first chance to see how his opponent was. Skilled, as usual. Swift, as usual. But there was something lacking.

"Thirty, love."

William took a ball out of his pocket and served again. Another rally resulted, giving him further chance to try and discover why he had sensed something was missing and what it was.

"Forty, love."

He thought back to the last time they had faced each other. It had been at the Stella Artois championships at Queens. The final match, which he had lost. There had been nothing missing then about his game.

"Game, Darcy. Ferrars to serve."

William moved into the required position to wait for the serve. The missing element of his opponent still bothered him, but he pushed it to the back of his mind. This was no time to try and figure out. And it might be all in his imagination anyway. He looked across the court, and watched for the serve. It was perfect.

"Fifteen, love."

Evidently it was just his imagination. William pushed the query away and settled into the match. His opponent won his first service game, making it one game all. Then two-one, when William won his second service game. A short break, then two all. Then three-two. Three all. Four- three. Four all. Five-four. Edward was then serving to stay in the first set. William intensified his game play, and suddenly everything seemed to go his go his way. Before he knew it, the umpire was announcing the end of the first set.

"Game, set, Darcy. Darcy leads by one set to love."

The crowd was still cheering when William returned from his seat after the customary break before the second set. Silently he collected three balls, selected one, putting the rest in his pocket, and held it against his racket, waiting for the court to become silent. Eventually the umpire had to ask for silence. He threw the ball into the air and served.

"Fifteen, love."

Another ace. William let his instincts take over. He had one set in the bag, hopefully only two more to go. He served again.

"Thirty, love."

He took out the third ball from his pocket. Test bounce, throw, racket up, hit. Watch and wait for it to reach the other side of the court. Wait for the return.

"Forty, love."

Collect ball. Bounce, throw. Hit.

"Game, Darcy. Darcy leads by one game to love and one set to love. Ferrars to serve."

The scores continued the rise the same way they had done in the first set. One, love became one all. Then two-one. Two all. Three-two. Three all. Four-three. Four all. Five-four. Five all. Six-five. This time William broke Ferrars serve in the twelfth game, wining the second set.

He went to his chair in something of a daze. He had never been two sets up against Edward Ferrars before. Silently he thanked whatever was giving him this ability today. Whatever it was. Then the umpire called for time, and, without any request, the crowd grew quiet, as a hush enveloped Centre Court. The land seemed to hold its breath in wait. The sound the ball made as it bounced on the ground seemed to William incredibly loud. He threw it up into the air and served, trying to ignore the pounding of his heart.

"Fifteen, love."

With that ace the third set got underway. The crowd stayed silent, fearful perhaps that something would go wrong if they made the slightest noise. One by one the scores appeared on the large green electronic board in one corner of the court, controlled by IBM.

One, love. One all. Two, one. Two all. Three, two. Three all. The players returned to their seats for a brief break and still the crowd were reluctant to air their hopes or fears. William leaned back in his chair, took a long drink, towelled down his face, legs and arms. He held his racket up and made the necessary adjustment to the strings. The umpire called for time and he walked back on to the court.

Silence continued to hold reign over the spectators. Hands tensed, gripping banners and flags of St George tightly, as though the material might have some sway over the outcome of the match. They waited and watched in hope. A hope which steadily rose as William won his next service game, making it four, three.

Then it was Ferrars' turn. He double faulted. The crowd held their collective breaths. Ferrars served again. A rally ensued. Supporters turned their heads from side to side, following the path of the ball as it went back and forth across the court. Hope rose inside the home crowd once more, when William managed to win the game, making it five, three.

Suddenly, a mere two and a half hours later, William found himself serving for the match. He threw the ball up into the air, trying not to let the scores distract him. Trying to ignore the hushed expectation of the fans. Trying to ignore the pounding of his heart.

"Fifteen, love."

Ace. Collect another ball. Another serve.

"Thirty, love."

Another ball. Another serve.

"Forty, love."

Match point. William took a deep breath, suddenly feeling very calm. He took a ball out of his pocket, noticing absently that he would need to collect another if he missed this serve. He bounced the ground on the ground, then held it against his racket. The calm still ruled him. Deftly he threw the ball into the air, waited for gravity to kick in, then swung up his racket to connect. The ball flew across court, straight down the middle line too fast to register as anything but a blip to all present and all watching on television.

A perfect ace.

"Game, set and match William Darcy. 6-4, 7-5, 6-3."

The hush broke. Applause erupted, as one by one the crowd rose in a standing ovation. William pressed the racket to his lips, barely believing the result. He closed his eyes, then opened them and glanced at the scoreboard. It only took a moment to read the confirmation. He smiled, turned to the crowd, and bowed. Gracefully he thanked each side of the court, as 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' came to join the noise of the applause.

When he had done all four sides, William turned to the box where his family was, and walked to his sister. Georgia leapt from the box to wrap her arms around his neck, her smile as wide as her brother, the champion. William closed his eyes as he hugged her back, the score repeating inside his mind over and over again. Then he returned to the court.

Edward Ferrars was waiting at the net. He took William's hand and congratulated him on a match well played. William replied back that he still did not know how he had managed to do it. Ferrars chuckled, then added that he had simply played the best match of his life. William laughed too, then turned and shook the hand of the umpire.

The crowd were still applauding, cheering and singing when William went to pack up his stuff. Still smiling, he finished and handed the bags to the waiting ball boy, before straightening up and thanking the crowd once again. Then he joined Ferrars and made his bow to the Duke and Duchess. Finally, he exchanged the noise and appreciation of the crowd for the silence of his locker room.

A few minutes later, clothed in fresh tennis whites, William walked on to court to collect his trophy. He stood in silence as Ferrars received his runner's up trophy. Then the Duke of Kent was standing before him, and William bowed, before receiving the silver gilt cup.1 He passed a few nervous moments in conversation with the Duke, then he stepped away, and William stepped forward, and raised the cup to the sky.

Silently he read the words inscribed; "The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World." He noted the pineapple on the top, then lost time to note anything else, as tradition took over. Silently he walked around Centre Court, pausing at each side, the cup raised high, posing for photographs.

Interviews came next. William still clutched the cup in his hands as he answered the questions of the BBC reporter. Did he expect to win? No, he had not. This was the first game he had ever won against Edward Ferrars. William praised his opponent's skill. Then the reporter asked who he would like to thank.

"My sister, Georgia, for her unswerving belief in me," he began, still gripping the trophy tightly, partly in fear that he might drop it in shock at his victory. "My late parents for their skill and kindness in passing on their heritage to Georgia and myself. My coach Edward Gardiner, for his wisdom and unfailing support and encouragement. My cousin and closest friend, Richard Fitzwilliam and Charles Bingley, for their support. And finally, all the fans who have kept their faith and belief in me during the championship. Without which, I would not be here today."

The reporter thanked him then moved away, and William obligingly raised the trophy to the sky once more.

And the nation cheered, as another British Champion came into being. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Wimbledon Champion, 2004.

Some hours later, a party was well underway at Hunsford House, part of the Morgan-Debourgh Corporation, who were among the sponsors of the championship. The guests of honour were naturally Jane Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Present was anyone and everyone connected to the tennis world, through family, friends, coaches, sport agents, and sponsors.

One each of these species held reign over conversation in various spots in the large white marble and gold ballroom, styled in a fashion more suited to the regency than the twenty-first century. In the background, music drifted around, its source a room nearby, there being too many guests for the presence of the usual entertainment system. Songs rarely had the chance to take hold of the room however. Everyone who had a voice and felt their opinions to be worthy of airing, were waxing lyrical over the results of each final.

The Bennets and relations were clustered around the Women's singles champion. Jane, all smiles, talked mainly to Charles, Toby, and her father, or let the conversations of others wash over her, as she held her fiancee's hand, and imagined the future. Her opponent, Caroline, was flitting about the room, drifting from one group to another, in an silent quest to find someone, but so far, failing.

Elizabeth, who had been with her sister since the beginning of the party, moved from the group now to get a breath of fresh air. The ballroom was too crowded to provide any guest with an opportunity for peace and solitude, but its outside terrace which led to the gardens and grounds of Hunsford House, were deserted. Elizabeth walked outside. Instantly she felt the quiet take hold of her. Hunsford stood on the outskirts of London, in one of the rich suburbs, not too far from the Morgan-Debourgh ancestral home, Rosings Park. The normal traffic which roamed the capital late at night, failed to penetrate the grounds.

She left the terrace and wandered the formal grounds. Leaving the shaped topiary and the kitchen garden behind, in favour of the wilderness, Elizabeth was surprised to discover that she was not the only guest who had vacated the ballroom in favour of the peaceful grounds. A man sat a short distance in front of her, his gender identifiable by the long dinner jacket and dress trousers. Tonight's celebration had been black tie. He was resting upon the grass, staring it seemed, at the ha-ha2 just in front of him. Elizabeth was struck by the quiet command he seemed to have over himself and his surroundings. Silently she wondered who he was, and why he had chosen to leave the noise of the party.

Her long dress brushed a few blades of grass, ending the moment. He rose to his feet and turned round. Elizabeth gasped. The last person she had expected to see escaping the party was its other guest of honour, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

"Elizabeth," he remarked in greeting. For some reason she found the way he pronounced her name strangely alluring.

"Excuse me," she said, making a move to back away, "I had no idea anyone else would be outside. I'll leave you alone."

"Please stay," he requested, much to her surprise. "I've been wanting to talk to you all night."

Elizabeth moved to lean against a tree nearby, her hands behind her back. William stared at her, unable to move his eyes from her form. She looked beautiful tonight. The sleeveless black dress seemed to have been designed for her curves, showing all of them off.

Her slender arms were graced with an evening shawl, and her hair was long, surrounding her shoulders and waist. He longed to take her in his arms and run his fingers through it. Shaking away the temptation, he wondered how to begin. Then the words came out of his mouth of their own accord, and he opened his heart to her.

"I think I'm falling in love with you."

Elizabeth was startled. More than startled, she was astonished. Convinced she had misheard. "What?"

"No, I don't think. I know. I've fallen in love with you, Elizabeth." He advanced towards her, coming to stop when his shoes touched the foot of her dress. "Almost from the first moment we met, I have come to feel a passionate, ardent, regard. I can't get you out of my mind. I no longer want to. I think about you all the time. And I have been wanting to do this for as long as I can remember."

He leaned forward, and suddenly his lips were upon hers. Completely taken by surprise, Elizabeth was insensible of her actions for a moment. Only when his arms had pulled her into his embrace did she realise that she was actually kissing him back. Bewilderment was rapidly turned into anger. She hated this man. Slowly her hands came up and forcefully pushed him away.

"How dare you!" She cried. "You think, you dare to presume you could do that!"

He stood in shock it seemed, unable to believe what she was saying. "I thought," he began, before losing the thread of what he was going to say.

Elizabeth guessed the reply all the same. "Well, you thought wrong! From the moment I met you, I have found you to be arrogant and rude. This encounter has only confirmed the opinion I formed of you."

William could not believe what he was hearing. Slowly his mind came back to him, and he stepped closer to her again, determined to convince her that she had no idea what she was talking about. "Really! Well what about our dance? At your sister's engagement party. Don't tell me you didn't feel what I felt! Don't tell me that you can't stop thinking about it each night! Don't tell me that you didn't wish that it could have gone further!"

He paused to collect himself before continuing. "As for my arrogance, I have no idea where you got that from! I may be reserved in company, but I have been paying you every attention I could." His voice dropped to a husky whisper. "I'm crazy about you, Elizabeth. You haunt my dreams, my every waking thought. Each morning I wake up out of breath from imagining us beneath the sheets. Won't you at least give me a chance?" He reached out and cupped her face with his hand, his thumb softly caressing her cheek. "I know we could be perfect together." He leant forward to kiss her again.

Elizabeth stopped him even before their lips had touched. "No, Mr Darcy," she answered, moving away from the tree. "You have never haunted my dreams. I have never seen you be anything but arrogant, rude and conceited. Yes, conceited and unfeeling! I have seen the way you treat women! You dumped Caroline Bingley on national television, and somehow, manage to come out as the good guy! The only people I have every seen you treat with kindness are your sister and your fans. Well, I am not one of them, Mr Darcy, and I never shall be! You and I shall never go out! On that, you may be certain!"

She turned round and walked off, leaving him stunned and bewildered, on the edge of Hunsford grounds.

Sixteen days. Sixteen days had passed since that night he had driven to his London home, Georgia beside him in the front, thinking of the love he longed to find, and his hopes that he would find her during Wimbledon. Instead, all he had found, was misery and unrequitedness.

Just lately I've had a go
To find me a new world and candy home
All I needed was a little affection for my soul

A different song was playing on his stereo, but again it was seemingly appropriate to William's state of mind. His eyes concentrated on the road from Hunsford House to his ancestral London home, but his thoughts were listening to the lyrics of the song and regretting.

Hey, maybe its time to go
I should have told you a couple of years ago
And I know that's gonna play on my mind
So I meet you on the floor
Are you ready for some more?

The events of the night kept replying themselves in his mind. He kept hearing her words over and over again. He had wanted, had hoped, had wished for a moment alone with her for days. And look where it had got him.

Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,
Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,

William could not help agreeing with the artist here. He should have been more careful. He should have taken the trouble to consider what Elizabeth thought of him before stupidly declaring his feelings. She was right, he had been arrogant. He had presumed far too much that she would leap at the chance to go out with him. To go to bed with him. Like any other girl would, if he asked her.

Just tell me who do you think you see?
Am I still the girl that you'd thought I'd be?
Do you care that I might be for real?

But he did not want any other girl. He wanted Elizabeth Bennet. And she had refused him. Declared that she hated him. Well, she may not have said the actual word, but she had said everything else that went with it.

Hey, maybe its time to go
I should have told you a couple of years ago
And I know that's gonna play on my mind
So I meet you on the floor
Are you ready for some more?

Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,
Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,

His jaguar reached the gates of his family's townhouse. They opened to let the vehicle through and he parked it in the paved path in front of the garages. Georgia slipped off her seatbelt and turned towards him.

"William, are you coming in?"

"I'll be along in a moment, Georgie. I just want to listen to the end of this song," he answered, his voice sounding calm, much to his surprise.

His sister nodded and got out, William silently watched her walk into the house. When the door had closed behind her, he dropped his facade. Resting his hands on his steering wheel, he leaned his head against them.

Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,
Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,

At moment, he no longer cared that he had won the Wimbledon Championship. It no longer mattered that the eight and a half inch replica of the trophy was in the back seat of his car, seatbelt fastened over it in protection. The events of the entire afternoon could not be further from his mind. Instead, for the first time since the death of his father, five years ago, William cried.

Just be careful what you wish for,
Just be careful what you hope for,
Your wish it may come true
Your wish it may come true

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


2. A ha-ha is a ditch which surrounds around the boundary of some stately homes, marking the end of the land. The word is said to originate from the French, as the cry one makes when discovering such a ditch.

Volume five