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Daniellas Bureau; A Fanfic & Desktop Site

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Volume Six

Chapter 21: Turn The Lights Down low.(Rated NC17)

Turn the lights down low
Take it off, let me show
My love for you, insatiable

Insatiable, by Darren Hayes.
From the album, Spin.

Thursday 23rd June, Second day of the 2nd Round:

When Georgia Darcy entered the kitchen of her family's townhouse that morning, she was not surprised to find Elizabeth Bennet chatting with Mrs Reynolds as they shared breakfast duties. She had been home yesterday not two hours when William had returned home with Elizabeth in tow. For Georgia, it was a sign of things to come. Her brother had never brought a girlfriend home before.

Or rather, home as in the townhouse that their late parents had left them. Whenever they were in London and William had a date, he would take them to the apartment on Baker Street. This move however, confirmed what he had told her over the phone two days ago. He was serious about Elizabeth. More serious than he had ever been with any girlfriend before her, no matter what Caroline Bingley said.

Georgia was glad of this. Not just because she happened to like Elizabeth, and look up to her as role model in her career of choice, but because this was the first time in a long time, that she could remember ever seeing her brother completely happy. When their parents had died; their mother before Georgia had ever known her, and their father five years ago when she was eleven, her brother had seemed to loose his need for happiness overnight.

As Georgia grew up, she always saw him serious. Even when he and Charles had become friends, and she had only occasionally seen him smile, let alone laugh. Since Elizabeth however, his mood had been very different. Georgia had noticed the change from the moment he had called her the morning after what she presumed was their first night together. Her brother's tone of voice had seemed lighter somehow, as if a great burden had been suddenly lifted.

When she had noticed them together during her first round match, she had been struck by how right they looked together. Natural and accustomed to each other, despite only coming to an understanding just two days ago. By the time she had heard his match- having been unable to attend due to commitments with her continuing education -and learnt how easily he had slaughtered his opponent, Georgia knew for certain that Elizabeth Bennet was a good influence on her brother.

Dinner last night had confirmed this. The three of them had fallen naturally into conversation, and before she knew it, the evening was over. It had felt like they had always dined together. In the space of just one evening, Elizabeth had become family. And Georgia had watched her brother, as he talked, smiled and laughed, realised that he was happy, and rejoiced inside.

"Morning, Kate," Georgia said now to her and her brother's housekeeper, family friend and surrogate parent all rolled into one, as she walked into the kitchen. "Morning, Lizzy."

"Morning, Georgie," Elizabeth replied as she placed the table setting on the breakfast table in the centre of the large room, as if that had been her job every morning. Once again Georgia noted how natural it was to have her presence there. "Who do you play today?" She asked her.

"Sophia Grey,1" Georgia replied as she took her fruit juice from Mrs Reynolds. "Where's William?"

"In the shower," Elizabeth answered, blushing slightly as she remembered what they had been doing in that particular part of his ensuite only a few minutes ago. "What time is your match?"

"First thing on court three," Georgia said as the kitchen door opened once again. She turned round, expecting her brother, but to her surprise it was someone else. "Richard," she cried aloud before setting down her juice and wrapping her arms around him. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see if your brother was free for a game this morning," Richard Fitzwilliam replied as he withdrew from the greeting hug. "Is he still abed?"

"In the shower," Georgia replied. "Have you met Elizabeth Bennet?" She indicated the third woman in the kitchen.

Richard grinned in surprise and turned to face her. "No, I've not had that pleasure." He stepped forward and shook her hand. "Richard Arundel Fitzwilliam at your service."

"Pleased to meet you," Elizabeth replied. "Fitzwilliam's cousin, I presume?"

"Yes," Richard confirmed, while he raised his eyebrows in surprise, along with Georgia, at Elizabeth's use of Darcy's full first name. It was the first time he had ever heard a girlfriend of his cousin's using it. "See the family resemblance; brooding good looks?" He was blond haired and blue eyed, a complete contrast.

"Oh, definitely," Elizabeth replied in the same tone, causing them both to chuckle. "You have a match today?"

"Yes, Charles Hayter,2" Richard informed her as his other cousin entered the kitchen. He watched silently as Darcy kissed the three women one by one in greeting, saving Elizabeth till last, noting the length and the intensity. "You free for a match this morning, Darce?"

His cousin turned his face from Elizabeth to glance at him in consideration. "Actually," he began with difficulty, nervous about his presumption, "I was hoping...."

"No matter," Richard quickly replied, saving him the trouble of forming an excuse. "I should have noticed as soon as I entered the room that you would not be free."

William flushed, but could not help smiling as he noted the look of approval in his cousin's face. "Thank you, Richard."

"Well, what else did you expect?" Richard jokingly queried. "After witnessing you being crazy about this woman all last year, and now seeing you happy, I could not show disapproval of your choice. In fact, you'll need all the allies you can get."

"Allies?" Elizabeth questioned, puzzled by the remark.

"It has been the desired wish of our family, Elizabeth, or should I say, our Aunt Catherine, that Darce unites the fortunes of his family with Dakota Morgan-Debourgh. Personally, the rest of them don't mind either way, but she is usually known to screech her objections to anyone else the moment she hears."

William chuckled, surprising all present. "I can handle Aunt Catherine, Richard. When the time comes."

"Of that I have no doubt," the British number two replied, before falling into silence, as he watched the closeness between his cousin and Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing Darcy so happy, he could not help but smile.

As he imagined the future before them.

The day was fine, so when Richard and Georgia had left with their coaches for morning pre-match practice, William and Elizabeth chose to head out. Heading in the direction of Hyde Park, he wrapped an arm around her waist, and asked her what she was thinking about.

"Has it always been the expectation that you will marry your American cousin?"

"As far as my Aunt Catherine is concerned, yes," he replied, as the entered Upper Brook Street.3 "She has always insisted that her sister, my mother, and herself, made the promise while Dakota and I were in our cradles.

"But when I asked my mother about it the first time Aunt Catherine mentioned it- I must have been nine years old as the time -she denied it, telling me that I should only marry whomever I happened to hold the deepest love for."

He paused, to look at her, seeing if she understood, and was pleased to receive her blush in reply. "Whenever I felt obligated to fulfil such a promise, or became disheartened, I always remembered her words. And now I am so glad I adhered to their wisdom." He pressed his lips to her hair.

"Tell me about your family," Elizabeth requested after calming down the flutterings of her emotions from hearing his indirect proposal of marriage in the future. A year ago, she would have laughed or have been outraged. Now, she was flattered, and a little wistful at the thought of it.

"My father hailed from Pemberley," William began, "as you know, while my mother's family came from Matlock. She was the youngest of the three. The Fitzwilliams and the Darcys had always matched at some point or other through the ages, so their marriage was almost expected, if you will.

"My Uncle Matlock however, surprised everyone by marrying first an American, then a Canadian. From the first came Jolian, my eldest cousin, the second, Richard, who moved to England with my Aunt Delta when he was young. Aunt Catherine followed suit by marrying Lewis Morgan-Debourgh, bearing my other cousins, Detroit and Dakota. So Georgie and I divide our time away from the pro circuit between Derbyshire, London and America. What about your family?"

They crossed the double streets of Park Lane,4 and entered Hyde Park, walking along the area known as Lover's walk. "My father comes from Hertfordshire," Elizabeth began. "And my mother came from America. When they married, he settled into the London house, so we could be near Wimbledon. Uncle Edward is my mother's brother, he moved to London the year before my parents met. He and my Aunt first met while he was touring Derbyshire for suitable coaching candidates. I also have another Aunt, my mother's sister, Cassandra Phillips, who resides in California, so we rarely see her."

Passing the statue of Achilles,5 they turned into Serpentine Road.6 William slipped a hand into the pocket of his top and drew out his sunglasses, putting them on his face to provide instant anonymity. The habitual motion seemed suddenly strange, causing him to turn to his companion. "Elizabeth, I know we have only been dating for three nights and nearly three days, but I was wondering about what you think about us going public?"

"I thought we already were," Elizabeth replied as they came up to the Serpentine.7 "When I was watching you play yesterday, I felt the cameras flash at my presence in the players' box."

"I did too, when I was watching you," William continued, "but I didn't see anything about it in the papers. Even if there were some however, I was wondering what you wanted to do about it?"

Elizabeth halted, standing at the edge of the grass, looking at him steadily. They had only been together for nearly three days, yet already, she felt a connection, a bond that she had never felt with any other boyfriend before. She loved him, and had been in love with him since the beginning of the year and beyond.

Now that they were aware of each other's degree of affection however, it made a difference. Due to their status, both nationally, and world-wide, they were regarded as celebrities of their sport by the Fourth Estate. Which meant, sooner or later, the press would learn of their relationship. It was just a question of when and how they decided to let them. "What would you prefer?" She asked him.

"For the first time," he replied, "I really don't mind when they find out. As far as I'm concerned, this," he indicated their togetherness, "is not going away for a long time, if I can help it. But your opinion matters the most to me. If you want to keep this discreet, you just have to say."

"I don't," she answered him. "I want this to last for a long time. And I'm not going anywhere. I love you, Fitzwilliam."

"I love you too," he avowed, "and I'm not going anywhere either."

When Georgia's match had finished- Miss Darcy winning 6-2, 6-2 -she and her brother accompanied Elizabeth to her family's townhouse for the evening.

Their presence caused quite a stir, to those who did not know about them, that is. Lydia was the most surprised to see them, an emotion which quickly changed into embarrassment as she recalled William's behaviour to her and vice versa when they last met. As for the rest of Elizabeth's siblings that were unawares,. Kitty and Mary were glad to meet them both.

Jane and Charles were also present, causing quite a full house as they all assembled in the living room. Michael Bennet held court over the conversation, his mixture of quick parts and caprice,8 along with a healthy dose of ready wit, managing to draw everyone in to contribute, even bringing out confidence in the shy Georgia.

These character traits, together with a varied education and years of experience, also enabled him to discover and understand the characters of his new acquaintances. By the time they had sat down to dinner, Michael had long established their personalities.

He had known both of the Darcys by association for a long time now, hearing about them through his brother and sister in law, Edward and Madeline Gardiner. Of their reputations, both professionally and personally, he had heard nothing but good. William's relationship with Elizabeth had caught him by surprise, however. Having heard her opinions regarding Darcy's break-up with Caroline Bingley a year ago, Michael had never thought to see such a reversal of emotions as he was seeing now.

He had learned some time ago that Darcy cared for his daughter. He remembered observing him while he had sat beside Elizabeth as she learnt of Lydia and Wickham. The young man's expression had been transparent. But until he saw their linked hands at Wimbledon two days ago, Michael had expected him to be eventually disappointed. Now however, he could see that while he had discovered William's state of affections, he had failed to observe Elizabeth's.

So observe them he did, for the entire evening, particularly when they announced their relationship to the family after desert. Then he could not mistake them. His daughter was happy, happier than she had ever been. Michael knew, that Elizabeth was most like him. Therefore, he knew that she could not fall in love with someone, unless she respected and valued them, that she looked upon him as equal, if not her superior. And all these traits, as he had discovered, William Darcy possessed, as well as an all-encompassing love for his daughter.

The discovery both gladdened and saddened Michael Bennet. While he knew that Elizabeth would be very happy with William Darcy, he also realised this evening, that he would soon loose his daughter.

Or more correctly, gain a son in law.

When dinner had finished, William took his sister and Elizabeth back to his townhouse on Grosvenor Square. Georgia immediately retired, and her brother also led their guest to his bedroom, though for quite a different reason than sleep.

He closed the door behind her and took off his v-neck sweater, revealing the white shirt beneath. Silently he moved to the stereo and pressed play.

When moonlight crawls along the street
Chasing away the summer heat

"I've had this song in my head all day," he explained as he moved back to her. Elizabeth gazed up at him solemnly, letting the lyrics and music wash over her. Tenderly he wrapped his arms around her waist.

Footsteps outside somewhere below
The world revolves, I let it go

Before either of them knew it, their lips were touching. William's hands moved into her hair of their own volition, cradling her head as their mouths opened and their tongues started to explore. Elizabeth found her hands wandering around the waistband of his trousers, and with a soft sigh surrendered to the temptation of pulling free his shirt to find the skin beneath.

We build our church above this street
We practice love between these sheets

His own hands did not remain innocent for long. Before he was conscious of it, William slid them down her back and set her short sleeved shirt free. He moved them round to the front and undid the buttons. Their shirts came apart at the same moment, and their arms moved of their accord to allow them to be taken off.

The candy sweetness scent of you
It bathes my skin, I'm stained in you

Air became a necessary requirement, and their mouths reluctantly broke apart. William sucked in a breath as he gazed at her wonderingly. Once more his hands moved without thought, cradling her elbows, the fingers stretching out to touch her chest, feeling the contrast between her smooth skin and the satin bra. The lyrics of the song playing repeatedly on his stereo came to him, as he realised again how true they were to them.

And all I have to do is hold you
There's a racing in my heart
I am barely touching you

Before either of them were conscious of it, their bodies had moved to stand by the bed. William kissed her again, grateful for the support of the structure behind, his legs suddenly feeling very weak. His hands moved from her elbows to her back, exploring under her long dark hair for the fastenings of her bra, and with practised hands easing out the hooks from the clips. When it fell loose, he moved to her shoulders and slipped off the straps. Elizabeth's hands moved down his front, causing him to utter a groan as she slid her fingers into his trousers and slipped her tongue into his mouth.

Turn the lights down low
Take it off, let me show
My love for you, insatiable
Turn me on, never stop
Wanna taste every drop
My love for you, insatiable

Her bra fell to the floor and William's hands were undoing her skirt before the rest of him was even aware of it. He let the skirt fall to the floor, her pants following barely a moment behind. Elizabeth undid his trousers and slid them off him at the same time, his boxers following a second later. Silently he withdrew from her mouth, and sat down upon the bed, his eyes never moving from hers. Gently he took her hand in his, and moved back, until he was lying down upon the mattress, and she was kneeling above him.

The moonlight plays upon your skin
A kiss that lingers takes me in

Elizabeth bent her head, and her hair fell around her, the long curls lingering around her breasts, creating what was for William a beautiful vision. He sucked in a breath, and she laid herself full length against him, touching his lips with her own. He returned her kiss powerfully, his hands moving to rest on her shoulder blades as he rolled her underneath him.

I fall asleep inside of you
There are no words
There's only truth

She arched her back and William suddenly found himself inside her. He broke from her lips to gaze at her, having found nothing more pleasurable than watching her face as she came. Her dark eyes gazed back at him, but he knew her mind was far away from their staring, climbing the planes of bliss with his.

Breathe in breathe out
There is no sound
We move together up and down
We levitate our bodies soar
Our feet don't even touch the floor
And nobody knows you like I do
'Cause world doesn't understand
But I grow stronger in your hands

He thrust in and out of her, his eyes never leaving hers, his hands tangling themselves in her hair while his knees pressed against the mattress to support his weight. She arched her back beneath him, pressing her hard nipples against his chest as the moment of culmination came closer and closer.

Turn the lights down low
Take it off, let me show
My love for you, insatiable
Turn me on, never stop
Wanna taste every drop
My love for you, insatiable

When they came, it was together and silent, no words of exultation leaving their lips, their mutual expressions displaying all they felt. Suddenly drained, William pressed his forehead to hers and closed his eyes, trying to regather his strength. Then he raised himself and sat up, careful to keep them joined. He gazed down at her, his eyes moving from where they were joined to her face, marvelling at their union and the expression of love he knew he reflected just as powerfully.

Turn the lights down low
Take it off, let me show
My love for you, insatiable
Turn me on, never stop
Wanna taste every drop
My love for you, insatiable

"God, Elizabeth," he uttered huskily, his hands moving of their accord once more to the dark curls resting against her breasts, as his fingers stroked their ends and her skin. "You are so beautiful." He bent and kissed her once more; a touch more a show of their bond, rather than passion or lust.

We never sleep, we're always holding hands
Kissing for hours, talking, making plans
I feel like a better man
Just being in the same room
We never sleep there's just so much to do
Too much to say
Can't close my eyes when I'm with you
Insatiable the way I'm loving you

"I love you," he remarked when he had withdrawn his lips again, the words and tone sounding just as solemn and devout as a wedding vow.

Elizabeth gazed up at him, seeing the word and tone reflected in his expression. And though she had never thought of it of before, nor even contemplated that at some point in the future he would go down on one knee before her with the same thought in mind, she found herself ready for it, whenever it came.

"I love you too," she said, returning the vow just as seriously.

Turn the lights down low
Take it off, let me show
My love for you, insatiable
Turn me on, never stop
Wanna taste every drop
My love for you, insatiable

He smiled at her, pleased that she understood him, and was not afraid of his future plans for them, despite how sudden it was, and how long they had been together. Then he wrapped his around her, and moved so they were both resting against the mattress. He pulled the duvet around them, and closed his eyes. She followed suit, holding him inside her as she joined him in the realm of sleep, neither of them moving until dawn.

Turn the lights down low
Take it off, let me show
My love for you, insatiable
Turn me on, never stop
Wanna taste every drop
My love for you, insatiable

1. Sophia Grey is from Sense & Sensibility.
2. Charles Hayter is from Persuasion.
3. Upper Brook Street is one of two streets that lead from Grosvenor Square- my traditional location for Darcy's townhouse in all my stories -in the direction of Hyde Park.
4. Park Lane is one of the main roads through central London.
5, 6, 7. All of these are landmarks of Hyde Park. Their precise locations can be obtained from any good map of the city.
8. This character trait of Mr Bennet's comes from Pride & Prejudice.

Chapter 22: How Does It Feel....(Rated NC17)

How does it feel to know you' never have to be alone
When you get home?

Sweetest Goodbye, by Maroon 5.
From the album Songs About Jane.

Friday 24th June, 3rd Round:

"Forty, love."

Match point. Elizabeth collected another ball from the back of her side of the court, turned to face the net. She bounced the ball, then threw it into the air. Her racket swung up behind it, sending it across the court, in the perfect ace she had been searching for ever since the match began.

Cheers rose up and the umpire announced the victory. "Game, set, match, Miss Bennet. 6-4, 6-7, 6-4."

Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief as she thanked the crowd for their support. Despite the fact that it was only the third round, today's match had been a struggle, if still a successful one. All credit to her opponent for that. She walked forward to the net and reached over the line to shake the hand of Anne Elliot,1 one of America's contenders this year. Unlike her, Anne's mind had obviously been entirely on the game. Whereas hers had wandered from the court altogether, except in wishing the match to finish sooner than it would.

This loss of focus had been inevitable from the moment she had discovered when her third round match was to be this morning. On Court number two, at one o'clock. And her lover's was to be at the same time, on Centre. A year before, it would never have bothered her where and when the world champion was playing.

Now however, he also happened to be her boyfriend and the love of her life, so the fact that neither of them would be able to watch the whole of the other's match was something of a frustration to say the least. And as a result, Elizabeth had been unable to retain her entire focus during the three sets it had taken to win, as her mind had preferred to think about Fitzwilliam Darcy, and all that involved him. Thus each point had become a battle, as her thoughts wavered between serve and sex, return and rapture, hits and happiness. As well as an increasing desire to finish the match as quickly as she could, so she could watch his.

Cameras flashed to record photographs for reviews of the match, and Elizabeth shook the hand of the umpire, before moving to pack away her stuff as quickly as she could. Slinging the bags on her shoulders, she walked down the court to the changing rooms, pausing only to sign a couple of magazines and autograph books on the way. Inside she met her father and Aunt, and handed them her sports gear without a word. Michael Bennet and Madeline Gardiner exchanged smiles with each other as they watched her turn round and head off to Centre court. They needed no explanation, they knew where she was going.

Elizabeth slipped in near the back, and found a seat halfway up the side where the players' box was located. She adjusted her white waist length jacket, then set her gaze on the court below, her fine eyes picking out the figure of her soul mate.

"Game, Darcy," the umpire announced, as the players retired to their seats for the customary three games rest. "Darcy leads two games to one, and by one set to love."

Elizabeth's eyes followed her lover as he walked to his chair, then sought out the scoreboard to see the precise score of the first set. 7-6, a tie-break, no wonder they were just on the second set. His opponent, Robert Ferrars,2 while being the younger brother of champion Edward Ferrars,3 was ranked considerably lower than Darcy, which made her puzzled by the difficult first set. Had his mind been just as distracted as hers?

The umpire called for time, and she watched as Fitzwilliam rose from his seat. He turned as he picked up his racket, facing the crowd as he straightened. His eyes seemed to focus for a long time on that side of the court, moving back and forth, until they suddenly stopped and stared. Elizabeth felt that he was staring directly at her, as if he had somehow managed to pick her out from his distant view on the grass court. She smiled at him, and he seemed to smile back. Then he turned round and walked back to the match.

Ferrars served. The crowd, which had previously been in a hush, now broke into cheers as the British number one suddenly seemed to regain all his genius and hit a return with lighting speed and thundering accuracy. The ball whipped passed his opponent, bouncing just in the corner of the bottom right-hand quarter, then hitting the barrier behind. Ferrars had not stood a chance of returning it.

After that, things progressed at much faster pace than they had done before. What had started out as something of a surprise battle for the world champion, now turned into an easy slaughtering. Darcy was on fire. Every serve, every return, every hit, seemed intent to break the record for speed. The counter kept on rising. One hundred and thirty mph, one hundred and forty mph, one hundred and forty-five, until it reached one hundred and fifty-six mph, where it seemed content to stay. Not one shot failed to deliver, in both accuracy and points, as the skill of the world champion was displayed to fullest extent.

"Game, set and match," the umpire found himself announcing barely an hour after Elizabeth had slipped into the court, "William Darcy. 7-6, 6-1, 6-0."

The man himself seemed to notice nothing about the difference, as he raised his racket in the air, bowed and thanked the crowds for their support. When he reached the side of the players' box, he put his racket down by his side, raised a hand to his lips, bowed gallantly, and blew a kiss to someone in the crowd. Elizabeth found herself blushing and smiling, as she caught it in her hand, pleased that he had noticed her, and flattered that he seemed to attribute a great part of his victory to her presence.

Crowds and cameras turned, both divided in watching his actions, and seeking out who he was bestowing the honour upon. The champion seemed unperturbed by all the attention which he would had have loathed but a year ago, choosing to return to the net and shake his opponent's hand. He did the same with the umpire, then moved to his chair to pack up. When he was ready, he waved to the crowd again, then walked to the changing rooms, stopping to write autographs on the way.

Elizabeth had moved from her seat during all this, down to the players' box where she met Georgia and her Uncle, the latter of whom paid her only a brief greeting as he was due to meet his wife at their son's match against James Rushworth.4 The former meanwhile walked with her to the locker rooms.

William was still grinning when he met the two young women in his changing room, dropping his bags and wrapping his arms around them for a congratulatory hug. He kissed his sister's hair, then turned his head to reach Elizabeth's lips.

"How did your match go?" He asked her after he had stepped back.

"6-4, 6-7, 6-4," Elizabeth replied, noting his confused expression at her loss of a set. "I was distracted by the absence of someone."

"Were you now? Anyone I know?" He asked in teasing tone.

"You might know him, actually," Elizabeth replied in the same vein. "Tall, dark, handsome, plays a mean game of tennis."

"Sounds vaguely familiar." William smiled. His eyes raked over her outfit, noticing for the first time that she was still wearing her tennis dress. Fantasies raced through his mind. Reining it briefly in, he turned to his sister. "Georgie, have you any plans for this afternoon?"

"I have an essay to write," Georgia replied, a smile on her face as she received and understood her brother's silent message. She grinned cheekily at both of them, then embraced her brother. "Have fun," she said, before exiting the room to rejoin Mrs Annesley who was waiting outside.

William watched her leave. "She is sometimes not as innocent as I would wish her to be," he mused aloud.

"She's becoming a woman, Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth reminded him. "Which works to your advantage on this occasion, as you well know."

"True," he agreed, before picking up his sports gear. "Shall we?"

There seemed to be a number of press waiting for the world number one to exit the courts of Wimbledon. Cameras flashed and filmed as he led the British female number one to his car, arms wrapped around each other's waists.

As for Elizabeth and William themselves, they ignored the sudden onslaught of publicity, having only eyes and words for each other as he drove her to their apartments on Baker Street. Parking the car by the pavement that flanked hers, William turned off the ignition, turned, and gave her a look that left Elizabeth in no doubt of what was on his mind at this moment.

She stepped out of the car and walked up to the door, William right behind her. Silently she unlocked the door and led him inside to her apartment. Leading him into the kitchen, she put her keys on a hook, then turned round to find him standing before her. He was looking at her with an intensity which had been there since he had first caught sight of her back on centre court. Then suddenly he caught her lips with his once more.

Trapping her between himself and the breakfast table, his hands traced the seams of her tight tennis dress. They reached the end, skimming her bare thighs. Then they pushed the edge of the dress upwards; until it had become loose enough to rest about her pants. Then he lifted her gently on to the table.

Elizabeth opened her legs, letting him come closer, and her hands came up from where they had been resting around his neck to tangle in his dark hair. Darcy's hand drifted from her bare thighs to the space between them, and his fingers delved inside her pants. Finding her clit, he massaged it gently. She whimpered through their kiss, making him smile, then suddenly pressed her knees against his sides, so she could lift herself off the table for a moment. Understanding what she wanted, he withdrew from her lips, and slipped off her pants, his body following their descent until they fell from her feet to the floor.

Darcy kneeled before her, looking at her, his eyes darker with desire. Elizabeth moved until she was resting on the edge of the table, then opened her legs and placed her hands behind her so she could lean back, showing herself to him. Darcy rose up until he was level with her opening. His mouth found her clitoris, skilfully twirling his tongue around it. He heard her groan in pleasure, then felt her wriggling, and his hands came up to hold her thighs in place. He looked up at her, wanting to watch her reaction as he pleasured her. He saw her breathing becoming shallower, and realised she was close. He moved his tongue away, then bit down on her clit.

Elizabeth shuddered, called out his name, and came. Rapidly, Darcy moved from her clit to her entrance, slipping his tongue inside to receive the delightful liquid. He felt her end, then gently brought her down, licking away the remains. He slipped out of her and tenderly licked her tortured clitoris. Then he sat back on his knees and gazed up at her. She smiled back at him, and sat up. He rose from his knees to stand between her legs again. Idly he noticed that her hard nipples could now be seen through the outline of her tight dress.

Her expression changed. Her fine eyes acquired a wicked glint to match his own. Abruptly her hands reached between them and unzipped his jeans. Darcy saw what she wanted, and took off his jeans and boxers. His manhood leapt up, and her hands closed around it. Now it was his turn to be reduced to begging. Darcy closed his eyes, groaning as Elizabeth stroked him, her fingers sending him closer and closer into oblivion. He felt his control begin to snap, and reached down to stop her. Opening his eyes, he looked at her lovingly. Then he pushed her back on to the table, and climbed over her.

At first he thought the piece of furniture would not support their weight. It creaked, then settled down, and he forgot about everything else as he entered her. His lips found her hard nipples, and closed down on one of them, suckling through the material. She squeezed him in response. He switched nipples, licking until her dress had two matching wet spots, then shifted alittle, slid out of her then back in as they came.

When they had both recovered from their highs, he raised his face to gaze at her, sated exhaustion showing on his face. Suddenly the table felt very precarious beneath them. Reluctantly he withdrew from her, standing on the kitchen floor once more. He held out a hand and gently pulled her up. Elizabeth joined him on the floor.

"Shower?" She asked.

William nodded, and followed her to the bathroom, his mind alive with the prospect of a pleasurable afternoon.

Afternoon editions of the local papers were available for purchase when Caroline Bingley exited Wimbledon, fresh from her third round victory against Elizabeth Elliot.5 Admittedly that victory had been a three set struggle, but America's number four chose not to concern herself with her flagging career at this moment. Instead her mind was focused on something that at present seemed far more significant than a three third round match.

Rumours had been flying around the courts when she had finished her match, that William Darcy had declared his affections for someone in the crowds watching his game, and speculation was wild upon who it could be. Caroline herself would have never believed the rumour if a reliable friend of hers had not mentioned the incident to her as she exited the changing rooms. Nor could she proudly proclaim that she was the woman in question, for she had been in the middle of her match at the time.

Now, frustrated at this unexpected turn of events, she headed into the first newspaper shop she could find in quest of proof. A thorough scan of the back pages broadsheets and tabloids was all that was required for success. It was with considerable disgust that Caroline lifted up one of the latter and made a purchase.

The article read as follows:

World Champion No Longer Single.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, British and current world number one tennis champion, performed a gesture today which announced him to be once more off the rich, eligible bachelor lists.

The signs began with the first set of his third round match today, against the unseeded Robert Ferrars. Darcy seemed unfocused and off his game as he struggle through the first set, winning on a tie break, 7-6 (10-8).

However, during the first break in the second set, 2-1 up, a change came over him. The British number one seemed to take a long time glancing at the crowd on the side where the players' box stands, when he seemed to freeze, staring at someone.

A smile appeared on his face and Darcy returned to play. From this moment on, all traces of the former struggle were gone. With the speed counter rising and rising with every shot, the number one seed raced through the rest of the match, wining both the second and third set in half hours; 6-1, 6-0.

As he thanked the crowd at the end, like his father- the late, great champion George Darcy -before him, another indication that William Darcy was no longer single, took place. Facing the players' box side again, he bowed low and with a hand to his lips, blew a kiss to someone in the crowd. Cameras flashed, but her identity remained undetermined.

Then, when the number one left the courts, all was revealed. He left with arm wrapped around the waist of the female British number one, fellow tennis player Elizabeth Bennet. Second daughter of champion Michael Bennet, ranked number six in the world and seeded one in the championship, Elizabeth looked completely comfortable beside Darcy, her arm wrapped around his waist just as tightly as his was wrapped around hers.

The couple got into his jaguar convertible and sped away to parts unknown, apparently oblivious to cameras and reporters.

Fitzwilliam Darcy called off his supposed engagement to Caroline Bingley last year, while Elizabeth Bennet has previously linked to.....

Caroline could read no more. Elizabeth Bennet!?! Her senses were disgusted. What on earth had possessed him? To go from her to the sister of her brother's wife, who she was still convinced had married Charles for mercenary reasons and was waiting for the parentage of the baby to prove her theory right, was incomprehensible.

She sat in her car stunned and sceptical for a full ten minutes. Then its truth was forced to be believed as Caroline discovered the pictures beside the article and one the front page of the newspaper. The identity could not be mistaken, for the photographer had managed to catch a close up and clear shot of Elizabeth Bennet in Darcy's arms.

Throwing the paper aside in a fury, Caroline started her car and manoeuvred it out of the parking space with screeching speed. She made the journey to her brother's house in the same state of mind, determined to make her feelings known. First to her brother's wife, then to the nearest reporter, to whom she would claim that Elizabeth Bennet was the villain of the piece, stealing her 'devoted fiancee' away.

The orange BMW came to an abrupt halt outside the Bingley residence, and a equally frustrated orange attired woman stepped out of the car and flounced up the steps to the front door, wrenched it open and flounced inside.

Her brother, having heard her arrival- indeed it was impossible that no one in the street had not heard it -was already waiting for her in the entrance hall. Caroline instantly put a handkerchief to her crocodile tears.

"Oh Stanford!" She began, addressing him with her usual penchant for middle names, "I have just received the most dreadful news! Rainier, my beloved Rainier Darcy has been stolen from me! Stolen by that horrible, scheming Elizabeth Bennet! You must warn him immediately, brother! She is quite clearly out for his money, just like her sisters before her!"

Had Caroline the sense to stop speaking before that last sentence, perhaps her brother would not have been so annoyed. As it was, the insult to his wife, was the icing on the cake to the rest of her nauseating mannerisms. Charles acquired a grim expression and grabbed her hand, pulling it away from her face where it had been trying to artfully hold a handkerchief to the supposed floods of tears.

"Caroline, stop right there!" He commanded, his voice more forceful than his sister had ever heard it before. "Cease immediately! You can have nothing further to say. You have just insulted not only my wife, but her sister, myself and my best friend. There is nothing more that you could do to make me refuse to help you, though I never would have done anyway, no matter what spin you tried to put on Elizabeth and Darce's relationship!"

"Relationship?" Caroline echoed in outrage. "You mean you knew about this?"

"Yes, I know about it. I knew about them three days ago, when they first got together. And I confess I am more pleased with them than I was when you were with him! All of the motives you have just so readily ascribed to her, are in fact your own!"

"What are you saying, brother?" Caroline asked, shocked by his outburst.

"That you need to turn round, go home, and ignore whatever impulse is inside you to yell at my wife, her sister, or Darce, and to forget any idea about phoning your local, friendly, neighbourhood reporter with a libel claim that Elizabeth stole Darcy away from you. Because if you do, I shall tell Elizabeth and Darcy who is to be blamed and sued!"

With that, he frog-marched her out of his house. Caroline turned round as soon as he had let go of her arm, determined to walk straight back inside, only to discover that the door was now locked. Only the street was witness to her angry huff expressed before she flounced back into her car and drove home.

Inside her own luxurious apartment, Caroline paced back and forth across her wooden flooring, considering the very action which her brother had warned her against. After an hour, she was forced to concede defeat. With Charles threatening to tell Darcy about her plans, there was no way that she could turn things to her advantage.

She would just have to let him go. And pray he was just as deceived as her brother was.

1. & 5. Anne and Elizabeth Elliot are from Persuasion.
2. & 3. Robert and Edward Ferrars are from Sense & Sensibility.
4. James Rushworth is from Mansfield Park.

Chapter 23: Symphony.

There's a symphony and a melody
that plays whenever you're around.
I think that I've been found.

Can't Ever Get Enough Of You, by Darren Hayes.
From the album Spin.

Saturday 25th June, Second day of the 3rd Round:

The disappointment and disillusion of Caroline's hopes continued the next day. Cameras and reporters again caught images of the British numbers ones together as they attended the matches of Georgia Darcy verses Julia Bertram,1 Richard Fitzwilliam verses Henry Tilney,2 and Toby Bennet verses Sam Watson.3 Articles appeared in all the usual publications; detailing rumours of the couple's closeness, views of supposed intimate friends concerning how comfortable they were with each other despite the shortness of their relationship, and how they had never seen either Darcy or Miss Bennet happier.

As for William and Elizabeth themselves, the constant surveillance of the Fourth Estate never seemed to bother them. Before they would have been circumspect and discreet, refusing interviews on just the basis of hints, outraged at the disruption of their privacy.

Now however, the wild articles and constant call for pictures whenever they walked outside did not seemed to touch them on the same level as they had a year before. They were still circumspect and discreet, still firm in their refusals to confirm or deny rumours about their relationship, but at the same time, did not attempt to hide their degree of closeness with each other.

For Fitzwilliam, their intimacy was the realisation of all his dreams and more. In the past, when Elizabeth was not even known to him, he had hoped for this sort of relationship, but without any real expectation that it would actually occur for him. During the last year, when he was suffering under the disillusion of his assumptions, his mind had hoped for only the barest of harmony between, even if it meant being consigned to the state of a friend to her for the rest of his life.

Anything had been better than the constant separation, or the agony of seeing her and knowing she could never be his. Now that they were actually together, in a relationship no less, he found himself in an almost perpetual state of wonderment. Sometimes he could not believe how close they had already become, in so few days. From the moment of their reunion he had been comfortable with her. With every other woman he had found it difficult to be himself. Past relationships had been hard, almost too hard at times. But with Elizabeth, everything was easy.

Loving her was as simple and as natural as breathing. Already he was having trouble remembering his life without her. She had slid into his world so easily. Even more amazing, the same could be said for him. The Bennet family had welcomed him with open arms.

The transition might have been made more effortless by his friendship with her Uncle and Aunt, as he was coached by one and the other managed his and Georgia's sponsorships, but that did not seem to matter. He and his sister were accepted by the Bennets and family for just themselves, nothing else. It was a kind of freedom that William had never realised he needed. And one he could now never do without.

For Elizabeth, much the same could be said. A year before, she would have hated the very idea of herself and William Darcy. Now, she never wanted it to end. Nothing had prepared her for the reality of loving Fitzwilliam. The contrast between his real self and his public persona could not be more great. Before he had seemed proud, arrogant, stand-offish, and far too confident of his good looks and eligibility. But in private, he was humble, down-to-earth, and vulnerable. Elizabeth had been surprised to discover how vulnerable he was.

Two days in his world had been enough to realise why. He had been brought up by two equally famous parents, both of whom dying before their time, which left him in control of a vast fortune and guardian of a eleven year old sister. Not only that, he was thrust into the spotlight due to his heritage and his decision to follow his parents into the sport halls of fame. And what broke most children of such a background, had had the opposite effect on him.

He did not flaunt his money, his late parents, or his name for advancement, nor did he indulge in the usual addictions that seemed to be so common amongst those of money these days. Instead he accepted the public interest, and focused on keeping his life as normal as possible. While training for his chosen career from an early age, he had not ignored the usual education, earning degrees at Cambridge for economics and law in order to properly manage his inheritance and his parents' legacies, and seeing to it that his sister had the opportunity and the grades to do the same, albeit for music and literature, as Georgia planned.

He was incredibly loyal to anyone that had the luck to know him for himself, and there was nothing he would not do for those he was close to. Elizabeth had not expected her words of rejection to touch him, but they had, and now she realised why. A year ago she had only seen William Darcy, world number one, now she saw Fitzwilliam, ordinary man. She knew which one she preferred, and there was nothing ordinary about him.

Today they had no matches but those of siblings, relations and friends to attend, and Elizabeth found nothing more natural than to attend those with Fitzwilliam. They sat in the players box for Georgia's match; with her Aunt and Uncle, Mrs Annesley; their hands constantly linked, completely comfortable with each other. Five days they had been together, yet to both of them it seemed like forever. Already they had reached that stage where neither needed to speak to fill the silence. Each were content with just the presence of the other, the knowledge of them being there beside them.

William found his gaze and his thoughts switching between his sister on the court, and the woman next to him. As he watched Georgia serve and return, he was struck once more by how much she had grown since turning pro. She had always been mature for her age,- there was nothing he could do to alter that; he could not bring back their parents -but at the same time he had always seen her as his little sister, until Ramsgate had made him painfully aware of how others saw her as an adult already.

That had taken what was left of her innocence, no matter how blameless she was regarding the incident. But she had still seemed young to him when they entered Wimbledon together last year. Yet now, he could no longer ignore that she was a young woman. Instead of being frightened by the reality however, he was pleased.

Not of himself and how he had brought her up, but of her for herself. He saw in her the quiet sincerity of their mother, with her gentle yet wry sense of humour, along with the unique qualities that made up the rest of her character. He was proud of the young woman she had become, in spite of all that had befallen them. All he hoped for her now, was that she found the same happiness he had in her future partner in life.

Yes, that was what he thought of Elizabeth, even though they had been together but five days. Over a year ago, such an idea would have scared him, but he regarded it now as the most natural thing in the world. He had learnt now that time did not determine intimacy, it was disposition alone. Five days had not been enough for him and Caroline to understand each other- on her side that is, for it had taken him just three to realise that he was making a mistake -but five was more than enough for him and Elizabeth.

He had been in love with her for a year and more, but it was not until now that he actually understood and saw the real her, and fell in love with that truth. In past, it had only been an idea, the one that anyone often imagined of their ideal soulmate in life and beyond. In the present, the reality of her and of them, was if anything even more powerful. From the moment of their first time together, he had foreseen what he hoped would be their future.

The image may have been blurred, but the general theory was there. They were together, surrounded by family and friends, their hands adorned with single bands of platinum on the third of the left. Common sense may accuse such imaginings being too soon, but his heart could not be rid of that idea, nor did he want to be. From that first moment, he did not want to be single ever again.

Time and rationale however, had so far convinced him to wait before he told Elizabeth. He had rushed a year ago, and the outcome could not have been more further from his dreams. He could not loose her now, when he had only just gained her.

Afternoon drifted into late evening, and found Elizabeth still at Wimbledon. Fitzwilliam had taken temporary leave of her to drive Georgia back to their home, and she was at present sitting amongst the crowds of court number four, watching Charlotte Lucas verses Maria Bertram.4She had not seen her best friend much since the start of the championships, a situation due to her new relationship, and all that entailed.

So when Charlotte had finished her match, passing through into the fourth round, Elizabeth caught her eye from her nearness to the court, and then sent a text to her phone to meet her outside after she had changed out of her tennis clothes.

"Hello stranger," Charlotte remarked with a teasing smile as she came and sat down next to her friend a few minutes later, on the now almost empty court.

"It has been awhile, I admit," Elizabeth replied.

"Yes, but I can see none of it has gone to waste. You look good, Liz. Happy."

"I am," was all that her friend said, but for Charlotte it was more than enough confirmation. "World number one treating you well, then?" She queried teasingly.

Elizabeth smiled back. "So much so I feel guilty for everything I said and believed of him before."

"Not too much, I hope. He did need to be woken up a little."

"Not as much as you would think," Elizabeth revealed. "His public self is very different from his private persona."

"So, where is he?"

"Dropping Georgia off home," Elizabeth answered without any thought.

Charlotte raised an eyebrow. "Home, eh? Its like that already, is it?"

"Yes," Elizabeth replied, sounding just as amazed as the rest realised what her heart had already decided. "Five days. Less than that its taken actually."

"So, not all of the press rumours are entirely false, then?" Charlotte asked her.

"Probably not, though we've not discussed it ourselves and neither of us have paid any attention to them."

"Well, I insist that you tell me all about it," Charlotte said. "For they and the photos of the both of you are all the information I have had access to."

Elizabeth obligingly told her all that had occurred over the past five days since Wimbledon had begun.

"Its so surprising," she started afterwards, "yet so natural at the same time. I feel so close to him already. Everything feels completely right, and its only been five days." She paused to level her eyes with her friend. "I see our future, Charlotte. Together. And it doesn't terrify me. I'm looking forward to it."

"I'm happy for you, Lizzy," Charlotte replied. "I hope nothing comes to change it."

"Nothing will," Elizabeth replied. "We are both determined on that."

1. & 4. Julia and Maria Bertram are from Mansfield Park.
2. Henry Tilney is from Northanger Abbey.
3. Sam Watson is from The Watsons, one of Jane Austen's abandoned unfinished novels.

Chapter 24: Never Enough.(Rated NC17)

How could I know when I first met you
I'd be falling in love, never wanting to,
'cause out of the blue you came my way
so lost for words, don't know what to say
It's a craving.....
I'm falling but I can't stop, can't stop
A little bit of you is never enough

Falling, by Gabrielle
From the album Rise.

Sunday 26th June, 4th Round.

As soon as the first rays of dawn had travelled through the balcony door windows of the State bedroom of the Darcy townhouse, reaching the occupants of the grand, ornate seventeenth century four-poster bed contained within, Elizabeth opened her eyes and her mind left the realm of sleep. She blinked, then smiled as her pupils found two other dark brown eyes staring back at her, graced with frank appreciation from the face of their owner.

"Hey," she greeted him, her tone of voice sultry, warm and low. "Been awake long?"

"Not long," Fitzwilliam replied, before leaning forward to catch her lips in his. One lengthy, satisfying kiss later, and he spoke again. "Good morning."

It had only been six days, but Elizabeth knew that tone of his well. Even if she did not, the insistent but gentle pressure of his manhood upon her abdomen would have let her know what was on his mind. Willingly she leaned forward for another kiss, opening her mouth as soon as their lips touched, her desire just as awake as his own.

While their tongues duelled, William ran his hands down her body, his fingers searching out all the spots he had come to know that would produce pleasure within her. Their movements, responses, likes and dislikes were so well known to each other now, that this union in the morning had become as natural as living. At the same time however, it was still extraordinary, still novel to them, and just as momentous and sacred as the first time.

Gently Elizabeth rolled over to rest on top of him, rising up as William's hands came to rest at the base of her back, loosely holding her either side. Her hair fell around her, landing in curls which brushed against her breasts, and William found himself in worship as his eyes raked from where he had entered her just a moment before, up her slim stomach, to the breasts which had yet to drop, her neck, stopping at her face, and marvelling once more at the mixture of desire, love and lust with her expression and fine eyes which had drawn him in from the beginning, like a siren's call.

For a moment, time seemed to suspend them and the world around them, shutting out the sound, and all other images but themselves. Their eyes locked each other's gaze and hid the key, making them unable to look away, even if they wanted to. Then Elizabeth's hands, which had been resting on his abdomen, now moved upwards, her fingers drawing curvy lines on his bare and toned upper body, and her hips began the ancient dance, slow, but exact.

William responded, his hips returning the movement, his lungs breathing in and out, making his chest move as her fingers scent jolts of pleasure into him, and his hands rising from the base of her spine, over her stomach and up to her hard nipples to tease and arouse.

Their eyes remained as entwined as their bodies, as their mutual arousal gently rose into an simultaneous explosion of pleasure. Sated sighs announced the end, but, as always, both remained still, reluctant to break apart.

William's hands returned to their previous position at her back. "I love you, Elizabeth," he remarked, his tone husky and awed at just how much.

She smiled in reply, still startled at level of depth which these simple words and the sound of her name could touch her. "I love you too, Fitzwilliam."

Her tone conveyed to him a response just as powerful as his own avowal, and he felt the siren call all over again. His hands rose up to her shoulder blades and gently pressed her body down upon him, as his lips sought hers once again.

Georgia and Mrs Reynolds showed no reaction when William and Elizabeth finally emerged from upstairs into the kitchen for a late breakfast, except to exchange a mutual glance of happiness and approval of them. They had become used to the sudden preference eight instead of six am as a rising hour now expressed by the master of the household and of the billions of pounds that was the Darcy fortune, and the daily presence of Elizabeth.

William greeted both ladies in his usual manner, a kiss and hug for his sister, a kiss and charming smile for his housekeeper and surrogate parent. Elizabeth did the same, having been encouraged into the gesture from the second morning she had spent in the townhouse.

The four breakfasted on the terrace, the British summer conducive to the move, with a combination of the sun and gentle breeze to make the heat not oppressive, and the prospect of the rest of the day being warm. Conversation was easy and free flowing, almost making the occasion commonplace, though this was only the fourth time the four had come together for this meal.

Not until midday did the four separate, the tennis players climbing into William's Jaguar convertible for the short journey to Wimbledon. Cameras flashed around them as he parked the car outside and handed the keys to one of the carpark chauffeurs, the press knowing from past experience when certain players would arrive to train. None of the shots would be of good quality however, for the trio were just as experienced as the photographers, knowing to make their movements quick so they were in constant motion in the short walk from the car to the main entrance of the stadium.

A few minutes later and they were with their coaches on the warm-up courts, Georgia for her daily practice, William and Elizabeth in preparation for their matches later in the afternoon. Professional as always, they focused on the training, listening to the advice of their coaches, taking the appropriate instruction, readying their minds for their opponents this afternoon.

It was the first day of the fourth round; one match away from the quarter finals, meaning an end to so called easy matches against first timers, or young pros. From this day on all matches would automatically become tougher, as the former champions came to face each other, with a few unseeded surprises mixed in, ready to upset and keep the title hopes alive and open.

William's match was first on the Centre Court, and it was to here where the six arrived just at the conclusion of the first match which had taken place there. The world number one paid his farewells to his relatives, girlfriend and coach before walking to the changing rooms, meanwhile the rest went to the viewing entrances.

Elizabeth followed Georgia, Mrs Annesley and Edward Gardiner to the players box, taking her now usual seat with them, ignoring the sudden flash of cameras as the Fourth Estate clocked their arrival. She and Georgia sat next to each other and kept up conversation until it was time for the players to come out on court.

"William Darcy verses Frederick Wentworth1," the umpire soon announced, as the players took up their starting positions on the grass, standing ready behind the white titanium baselines. "First set, Darcy to serve."

The British number one bounced a yellow tennis ball twice on the ground, then threw it up into the air, raised his racket up behind it, and with a deft movement of his arm, sent the ball flying across the court. Cheers and applause came from his supporters in the crowd as it ricocheted off the opposite barrier, the IBM speed counter clocking the serve at a cool one hundred and fifty mph.

"Fifteen, love," the umpire confirmed.

Number one seed paid it no mind as he collected another ball and performed his second serve. This time his opponent returned the shot, and their was a hushed silence over the court as the first rally of the match was played out. Frederick Wentworth was ranked fourth seed in the male ranking for this championship, and currently first in his native country of Canada and sixth in the world. This impressive ranking noted him as a potential challenge for his opponent. In their previous meets both had fought heavily, long and hard to set an even win between them.

"Thirty, love," the umpire was eventually able to announce as the end of the first rally, causing a thankful sigh of relief from a British crowd which had suffered over sixty years of disappointed hope and grief before the rise of William Darcy. They had only had the titles of their championship for a year, and none felt ready to loose them yet.

"Forty, love."

William collected another ball and performed his next serve. Canada's number one did not allow him a chance for an ace to seal the first game of the match, managing to return the shot. He foresaw the end trajectory however, and had time to move to meet it, wait for the bounce, and plan where he would return it to.

"Game, Darcy. Wentworth to serve."

The title holder moved from where he had been standing beside the net to the baseline of the court. William bent, swinging his racket between his legs, his eyes fixed on the movements of his opponent as he waited for the ball to come over the net towards him. Gone were the distractions which had occupied his mind in the previous matches. This was the fourth round, one day away from the start of the second week, two away from the quarter finals. Time and his opponent no longer gave him the luxury to think about anything but the three sets he needed to win in order to enter the next round.

"Fifteen, love," the umpire declared, and while the crowd exchanged muttered mumbles of objection, William paid no mind to the fact that he had not won the first points of the second game. It was part of his usual approach to any match, a habit of his traditional game play. Not fighting for the first service game of his opponent's allowed him to observe what degree of skill he was facing, and the innate mannerisms which they relied on to carry them through a game, so he could be ready for them.

"Thirty, love."

Though the crowd might worry, Elizabeth, Georgia and Edward did not, all three knowing well the strategy. The former silently marvelled once more on how entrancing her boyfriend's game play was. How he managed to combine success with uncertainty; making victory a surprise, despite having achieved the highest ranking in the world.

"Game. Darcy to serve. One game all."

Four sets later and the British supporters amongst the crowd were cheering once more as the number one seed overcame his opponent to go into the quarter finals; 6-4, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3. The victor made his customary gestures of appreciation for their support, shook his opponent's hand and the umpires, then walked to the side of the court which lay before the players box, bowed and blew a kiss to the same woman that he had honoured before, but now no longer a mystery to the crowd, who cheered even louder at the sight of both British number ones together.

Support now moved to Court One, where this third seed was to play, while the player in question joined her boyfriend in his locker room to congratulate him more personally, before walking to her own to change into her tennis dress.

William paid his coach farewell and joined Michael Bennet in the players box, smiling at the happiness of his sister as she experienced the chance once more to sit in a seat reserved for the players' family and agents' and watch her favourite tennis player in such close quarters. Ignoring the flashes of cameras, he fell into an easy conversation with his girlfriend's father and coach, while the scores of other matches flashed across the screen. Caroline Bingley vs Louisa Musgrove;2 6-4, 7-6; Jolian Fitzwilliam vs James Morland;3 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 1-1; Charles Bingley vs John Willoughby;4 6-4, 3-4.

A hush came over the crowd on Court One, and William and Michael ended their conversation as all turned to watch the British number one and Portuguese number one come out on to the court. William exchanged a look of greeting with his girlfriend, then settled back in his chair as she prepared for her match.

"Miss Elizabeth Bennet vs Ms Frances Price,5" announced the umpire. "First set; Miss Bennet to serve."

Like her boyfriend before her, Elizabeth turned her mind solely on the match ahead of her, shutting out the noise of the crowd, the awareness of his presence in the players box, as she prepared for her first serve. Her manner and focus were professional as the ball bounced off her racket and shot across the court.

"Fifteen, love," the umpire confirmed the clean ricochet on the opposite barrier. Elizabeth collected another ball and served again.

William leaned forward in his chair as the second shot of the match started off the first rally. Just as he had in the morning, he found the allure of her playing as powerful as when he made love to her. The call was even stronger than last year, for now she was at the height of her sport, number one in her country, number three in the world, the potential of going to number one if she won the British Grand Slam. He hoped that she would, even more than he would continue to hold his own title of Wimbledon champion.

"Game. Miss Bennet leads by one game to love. Ms Price to serve."

Elizabeth caught her boyfriend's eye as she made her way back to the baseline of her side of the court and smiled to herself. As she bent down, swinging the racket between her legs, her eyes trained on her opponent, waiting for her to serve, she felt gratified at his presence, and pleased in the sudden certain knowledge that somehow, no matter what, he would always be there, watching her and her career.

Just as closely as she watched his.

Evening came, and William chose to celebrate his and his girlfriend's entrance into the quarter finals by taking her out to dinner at one of the select, sumptuous and private English restaurants on Regent Street.

The Darcy family were well known to the Maiter'd, who delighted in seating Mr Darcy and his companion on his best table for two. Gentleman as ever, William held out the chair for Elizabeth before sitting down himself, and asking for menus and wine list. Gentle classical music reined around them as their chose their meal and selected their wine. Concerned only for each other, neither noticed the occasional glances from other guests of the restaurant, nor those of the passer-bys who still walked the streets of London this evening.

First course arrived before. As the couple partook of their selections, they avoided the shoptalk that would be about their next opponents, or the results of other matches which had taken place, or the prospects and possible outcomes of the second lot of fourth round that would take place tomorrow. Nor did they discuss what had happened in the world today, or current beliefs and philosophies of science, popular or classic literature, television shows, movies, or other sports. Instead they focused on each other, exchanging and receiving information about how each felt, how and where they stood on certain subjects. Such as education, religion, careers, life.

This conversation continued into the second course. Topics changed to dreams, ideals, hopes for the future, and what life targets each had set to reach by a certain age, but the theme remained the same. In other words, it was the sort of conservation which one had when it was no longer just their own future, dreams, beliefs, and ideals that concerned them. When others also had to take priority. When they would come to be united into one, single dream. Neither talked with the expectation to find the same views, or to make their views those of the others. Nor with the awakened hope of the implications, consequences and results which would occur because of this conversation. However, the commitment was still there for both of them.

In short, they were airing them because the time had come to air them. To just make sure that they were compatible not just now, but in the future. Six days had passed, yet on this no one could set a date, for like love, it depended on disposition alone. Everyone has their own individual timetable for such a talk, and what moves were to be made afterwards. And in this, Elizabeth and William were just the same as any other couple, whether in the limelight or out of it. Both had had a year to adjust to the other's feelings, to hope and wait for the other; to step back, take stock and come to decisions. Now it was only a matter of exchanging them.

Desert came and went, and the couple silently shared a last sip of wine together. Though if one looked in they would not see the thoughts, only the movement, it was clear from their expressions that they were glad to be together. Not just in love, but in a relationship that was both secure and satisfying.

Looks which said that they were ready to face the future together, no matter what obstacles or people decided to cross their path.

1. & 2. Frederick Wentworth and Louisa Musgrove are from Persuasion.
3. James Morland is from Northanger Abbey.
4. John Willoughby is from Sense and Sensibility.
5. Frances Price is the heroine of Mansfield Park.

Chapter 25: All You Really Need. (Rated R.)

Its all just people talking
Does it really matter what they say
Whatever gets you through the day.....
I think I've been here long enough
To know what things are really worth.

Whatever Gets You Through The Day, by Lighthouse Family.
From the album, Whatever Gets You Through The Day.

Monday 27th June, Second day of the 4th Round.

Seven days. That was the first thought with which William Darcy woke up as soon as his mind sensed it was morning. He had been an early riser most of his life, and his mind had become finely tuned to the time he always rose by. It had been seven days. Technically, if he wanted to be exact about this; it was six days, twelve hours and one minute.

He had been doing a lot of counting recently. Counting the days, the hours, the minutes, even the seconds which he had spent with the woman who was currently sleeping in his arms, her naked body pressed against his own, so closely that when he breathed he could feel her nipples pressing against his chest. This time a year ago, he had never imagined the hardship and the time it would take to get to this point with her, and now that they had, he was doing all he could to hold on tight and savour it. Each morning when he woke, he would add up the time they had spent together, and how long it had been since they began their relationship.

He never wanted to loose count for even a moment. So much of his youth had been plagued by the sudden and often traumatic loss of those who were very close to him. His mother, the late, great Anne Fitzwilliam, had died so long ago that his memory had to work hard to recall anything more than glimpses of her and their time together. Regarding his father, his recollections were more, but still some faded away before his eyes, and left him powerless to call them back. Which was why he was making sure to remember everything with Elizabeth, the one who he was now closest to most of all. He did not want to loose her ever, but at the same time was aware of the possibility.


And, as always, just before his thoughts turned depressing, the woman who held his heart would open her eyes and speak to him. And he was reminded once again that he still had her in his arms, and that she was not going away, not for awhile. He smiled back at her, and kissed her lips adoringly. Their kiss, like every other morning, turned rapidly from greeting into passionate desire, and he was rolling her underneath him before he was even aware of it. Softly, tenderly, his hands caressed her body, marvelling over every curve as his thoughts silently sent their thanks to whatever deities above had granted them this relationship. She uttered a soft, almost breathless sigh, a sound he had come to adore, as his hands spanned her thighs, teasing her slick folds apart as he entered her.

Once more, he pulled himself away from her lips and locked his eyes with her own dark fine ones, as he began the ancient dance of love. He had no idea what it was he saw in her eyes when they made love, but the black pupils always drew in his own, locking their minds as well as their gaze, making their consummation somehow even more powerful, and the bond between them drove deeper and grow even more intense.

Afterwards, when they had relaxed, their bodies still joined, he rolled them back over so they both faced the ceiling of the four poster bed, and gathered his arms loosely around her the base of her spine. Silently he smiled at her, happiness showing all over his face. She returned the smile, and then reluctantly broke the silence around them. "I'm afraid I won't be able to spend the entire morning with you."

He looked at her in shock. "Why not?"

"I'm running out of clothes."

"You could borrow mine," he offered, smiling at her. "I can't wait to see you in one of my shirts."

"You're incorrigible!" She answered, but with a smile. "Seriously, I'm running out of underwear, clothes, and I need to change my tennis equipment. Plus, I need to see to my family. I feel like I haven't seen any of them but my father and Jane since France." She paused, her gazing turning solemn. "Do you mind?"

"Of course I don't," he replied. "I even feel guilty that I haven't let you spend time with them since the beginning of us."

"You needn't do so, I wanted to stay with you. And I still do, but I also want to spend a morning with them."

"Will I see you at Georgia's match?"

"Count on it."

"Good." William kissed her. Aware of the constraints of their morning, he regretfully refrained from letting it lead to another love making session. Pulling away, he glanced at the time, and with reluctance rose from the bed.

Half an hour later, and Georgia came down to see her brother moping around the kitchen, gazing mournfully at the empty chair which Elizabeth usually sat in. "Where's Lizzy?" She asked him.

"Spending the morning with her family," William replied, as his mind pictured her recent departure from the house, attired in a long skirt and one of his shirts, the ends tied together at her waist.

Georgia chuckled at the tone of his voice. "You sound like a lost little boy," she observed with sisterly affection.

"I feel a little like one," confessed her brother, a slight smile upon him as he realised again how much he loved the women who held his heart captive at this moment, despite their distance from one another. He roused himself into contentment for the second, his sister now. "Who do you play today?"

"Catherine Morland,1" Georgia replied as she joined him with her breakfast. Mrs Reynolds was with her family as well, making the big old kitchen seem very vast and lonely all of a sudden. "First on Court three."

"Elizabeth and I will there as usual."

"What will you do today, then?"

William put down his coffee as he thought about this, suddenly realising how quickly he had become used to consulting Elizabeth in whatever they would do for the morning, and how long it felt since he had to decide on his own.

Unfortunately, whatever his decision was going to be, they would never know, for something happened just then to postpone whatever their plans were for the morning. The sound of the grand circa 17th century front door to the townhouse being opened and slammed rocketed through from the marbled Entrance Hall to the kitchen below. The siblings both jumped at the sound, laying their breakfast things down on the secure table to prevent spillage. Silently they listened to the sounds of more doors being opened and closed, in their visitor's quest to find them. Both wondering anxiously who it was that had decided to disturb them this morning.

Curiosity was soon satisfied. The kitchen door was soon opened and the six foot powerful figure of their maternal Aunt, Catherine Morgan-Debourgh, came into view. Dressed as always like a fashion designer ready for their moment of triumph on the catwalk, in the latest creation of her favourite designer Gucci, her chestnut hair rolled tightly into a French knot, she strode to the breakfast table, her high heeled shoes clicking on the chequered marble floor.

"Nephew," she began in her mixtured tone of Derbyshire, Kent, and Vermont accents, "would you please explain the meaning of this!" She threw the magazine she had been carrying on the table, and put her hands on her hips, staring down at him.

Georgia jumped, her courage always failing whenever this particular Aunt decided to drop by. William pressed her hand comfortingly, then turned his gaze to the article their visitor had laid before them.

It was from one of the Society magazines, and held a double-spread pictures of his and Elizabeth's date at Drogo's2 restaurant the night before. Below the pictures was a fully detailed article, with various hints and conjectures from the reporter, whom, Darcy was surprised to note, had managed to surmise quite correctly the subject of their dinner conversation, along with a pretty accurate conclusion as to the couple's future.

"I really don't see what there is to explain, Aunt," he eventually replied, looking from the article to her face.

"Do refrain from using contraction, Fitzwilliam, you know how much I detest it," his Aunt replied, causing William to grimace. Apart from Elizabeth, no one else used his full name, mainly because it was his express wish. Catherine however, had always ignored this rule. "And there is much to explain. Who is girl, and what are you doing with her?"

"Her name is Elizabeth Bennet," he replied, breathing deeply to keep himself calm, knowing that this conservation would last a long time. "She is currently Great Britain's number one female tennis player, ranked number three in the world, and seeded third at Wimbledon. She is the second daughter of Michael Bennet, also a tennis champion, and Sara Gardiner, the great, late American champion. As to what I am doing with her, that is my business alone, but as you insist on knowing, she is my girlfriend."


"Yes, girlfriend. As in the love of my life, the woman of my dreams."

"Please, Fitzwilliam, no platitudes. Now I humoured you when you were with Eleanor Tilney,3 and when you were with Caroline Bingley, despite what all the papers said about the two of you being engaged, but this is really the final straw. What has happened to you? You are twenty-eight years old. Dakota is twenty-three. The both of you have dallied long enough. It is now time for you to stop playing, and announce your engagement."

"No." William quietly answered. His sister turned from her Aunt to stare at him, recognising the tone he used as one when he was deliberately keeping his anger in check until the right moment for full effect. Hurriedly she finished her coffee and sat back in her chair to witness the rest.

"No?" His Aunt repeated surprised. "But it is what we have always planned for the two of you. And it would not be wise to put it off any longer. Particularly for Dakota's sake. I would like her to have the opportunity to return to tennis after children."

"The answer is no, Aunt," William continued in the same tone. "Dakota and I will never marry, not now, nor in the future."

"What nonsense is this!?! This agreement has existed between my family and your own from the moment of her birth. While you were in youth and she in her cradle, we planned your union. It was the favourite wish of your late mother, as well as my own."

"It may have been, but you have never consulted Dakota or myself on the subject. Have you ever considered that our feelings about this understanding might be wholly different from your own?"

"Not while either of you retain your sense and reason. Honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid either of you choosing anyone else. You are both descended on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and, on the father's, from a respectable, honourable, and ancient, though untitled family, and a powerful and successful American scion. Both of you have considerable fortunes to upkeep. And both of you stand to loose a great deal if you choose to marry outside the spheres in which you were brought up!"

"In marrying Elizabeth Bennet I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. She is the daughter of a landed gentleman and tennis champion, I am the son of a landed gentleman tennis champion. Both our mothers were also tennis champions. So far, we are equal."

"So it is true then? You are considering to marry this girl?"

"Yes I am," William, while his sister inwardly beamed at the idea. "And more than considering, Aunt."

"Nephew!?! Have you lost all sense of reason? Are the plans of myself and your mother to be usurped by the upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune? Oh, it is not to borne! Have you forgotten what you owe to yourself and your family? Are your so bewitched by her arts and allurements that you are determined to ruin yourself and make yourself the contempt of the world?"

"No. I only determined to act in a manner which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness without reference to you, or to any other person who chooses to object to my relationship with Elizabeth Bennet."

"You then resolved to have her? Oh, such a girl to be my niece in law! Have you forgotten that scandal last year involving her youngest sister and the son of your father's steward? Because I certainly have not! Is such a girl to be your sister in law! To be Georgia's sister in law? Heaven and earth! What are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to thus polluted?"

"You can have nothing further to say, Aunt. You have insulted Elizabeth, Georgia and myself in every possible method. You know my sentiments now. I fully intend to spend the rest of my life with Elizabeth Bennet, and no one but Elizabeth herself shall change my opinion in this matter."

"And this is your final resolve? Very well, I shall know how to act. We shall see what my husband has to say about this. We shall see what my brother, your Uncle, and his family has to say about this! And this Elizabeth Bennet!"

With that, she strode purposely back the way she had came. The siblings sat in silence until they heard the sound of the front door slamming shut once more. Then they breathed a sigh of relief, and Georgia turned to her brother.

"Did you really mean what you said to Aunt Catherine about marrying Lizzy?" She asked him.

"Yes, I did," he replied, looking steadily back at her. "Do you approve?"

"I could not be more delighted. I had no idea you two would be thinking of this so soon! It is the most wonderful news I have heard."

William got up from his chair and wandered over to the wall where the phone was fixed. "Well, I have yet to even hint on the subject to Elizabeth. Though we did talk about our futures last night. I better warn her and her family to expect a visit from our Aunt. And we ought to have dinner at Uncle Matlock's tonight. Gather re-enforcements."

"I think the Fitzwilliams will be visited by Aunt Catherine today as well, William."

"I know, and I have no doubt of his support. But I need to prove to him that he was right to offer it anyway."

"Thanks for letting me know. Love you too. Bye."

"What is it, Lizbeth?" Her father asked when she had put down the phone. His favourite daughter turned to him with a sigh. "William's Aunt, Catherine Morgan-Debourgh, will soon be on her way over to make her sentiments known about my relationship with her nephew."

"You've been going out for a week now. Is not this a bit overdue?"

"Apparently she's only just found out about it. Our date last night was covered in one of her Society magazines."

"And she has already aired her opinions with her nephew? I hope he defended you."

"To the hilt, apparently." Elizabeth smiled.

The doorbell rang, and father and daughter fell into silence. Sounds of opening and voices eventually made their way to the breakfast kitchen of the townhouse, and a few minutes later Lydia entered with the formidable woman behind her.

"Mrs Catherine Morgan-Debourgh to see you, Lizzy," she informed her sister. Since her appearance of page three of the Sun nearly a year ago now, and all that had involved, Lydia had changed a great deal, becoming less boisterous, less of a flirt, and more focused on her studies than she ever had been before. And she had not even picked up her tennis racket once since her return to the family fold.

"That is Lady Catherine Morgan-Debourgh, young woman," corrected the woman herself as she made her stand in the second kitchen of that morning. "And are you not the sister who disgraced herself and her family by presenting yourself to all and sundry on the pages of some low, third rate tabloid?"

"I am, and its wonderful to meet a fan," Lydia replied with a wicked smile before exiting the room.

Lady Catherine looked after her in disgust, then turned to the other woman in the room. "And that is just one of my many objections to your association with my nephew."

"Yes, Fitzwilliam warned me you would have several," Elizabeth calmly remarked, her courage always rising to anyone who tried to intimidate her.

"Did he indeed? I see you have him well-trained already. No matter. This ends here and now. A report of the most alarming nature reached me this morning. I learned that you and my nephew were very likely to be soon engaged. I thought it to be a most scandalous falsehood, but nonetheless I took the trouble of visiting my nephew this morning and yourself to make my sentiments known to you."

"If you believed it to be impossible," Elizabeth observed, "why did you take the trouble of visiting us? What would your ladyship propose by it?"

"At once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted."

"Your coming here to see me and my family, and your visit to your nephew, will be a confirmation of it, rather than a repudiation."

"Insolent girl. I insist on being satisfied. Has he, my nephew, made you an offer of marriage?"

"Your ladyship has declared it to be impossible."

"You claim to be ignorant then of what my nephew said to me concerning this matter half an hour ago?"

"I choose not to answer your ladyship. You are not related to me and therefore are not entitled to know all my concerns."

"He said that he was more than considering, and fully intending to spending the rest of his life with you."

Elizabeth blushed at hearing her lover's reply. She had not realised before that that was in his motives for discussing their future plans last night, and was by no means distressed by the idea. "If that is indeed his intention, then I am flattered and in complete agreement."

"What!?! Am I to receive no support from either of you? No, such thinking as this is to be stopped at once. Fitzwilliam is engaged to my daughter. Now what do you have to say?"

"Only this, that if he is so, you can have no reason to suppose that he shall make an offer to me."

"The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy they have been intended for each other. It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as her's. Now I am to learn that my nephew not only intends to ignore this but he intends to never fulfil it. All because of the upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune, whose arts and allurements have drawn him in."

"If they I have, I shall be the last person to confess it."

"Obstinate, headstrong girl, I am ashamed of you. I have not been in habit of brooking disappointment."

"That will make your ladyship's situation at present more pitiable; but it will have no affect on me."

"You are resolved then on this action? You are determined to ruin him? You have no regard for the honour and credit of my nephew? Unfeeling, selfish girl. You are to make him the contempt of the world, by sallying him with the scandal of your youngest sister for the rest of his career?"

"I am only resolved to act in a manner which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any other person so wholly unconnected to me."

"You are just as bad as he is! Very well, I shall know how to act! I shall be informing his Uncle, Matlock Fitzwilliam. You shall come to regret this. All connections shall be severed. Your name will never be mentioned by any of us."

"That is a heavy misfortune. But as the wife of Fitzwilliam Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, on the whole, have no cause to repine."

Lady Catherine appeared shocked at this response. Then with a wordless exclamation of contempt, she exited the house.

When they had heard the front door close, Michael Bennet turned to his favourite daughter with raised eyebrows. "Lizzy, were you actually serious in your answers to that woman?"

"You're not about to raise objections, are you Dad?" Elizabeth asked.

"No, you can rest your fears on that score. I became reconciled to losing you to William a few days ago. And the possibility of gaining another son in law."

Elizabeth blushed again, but this time with a smile on her face. "Well, all I can say is, that I have never been gladder in my life to hear that such a subject is under serious consideration."

Elizabeth never heard of the matter again until Fitzwilliam arrived at her apartment to pick her up for dinner with his Uncle and family.

She opened the door to reveal him, and found herself admiring her boyfriend's physique once more, especially when it was shown to its best advantage in a tux. He had worn an ordinary black and white ensemble at the party at Hunsford House last year, but this one was different. He had added a white waistcoat and cravat, and his dinner jacket was longer, finishing just above his knees.

William himself was equally struck by her attire. He remembered vividly how beautiful she had looked in the black strapless, floor-length gown she had worn to Hunsford House, but this was nothing compared with the colour she had chosen tonight. A pale bamboo green dress, strapless again, but with a fuller skirt, which set off her pale skin and long dark hair to perfection. At her neck she wore a peridot, diamond cut, suspended upon a silver chain, and matching wrap.

"Do you actually intend for us to get to dinner tonight?" He asked when he had finally recovered the power of speech. "Because, believe me, in your present look, I cannot be held responsible for my actions in ravishing you the entire evening."

Elizabeth blushed. "You'll just have to restrain yourself. Like I'm doing right now."

William smiled at hearing that she was just as struck. He held out his hand. "I promise to behave."

She took his hand and followed him to his Jaguar. He opened the passenger side for her, saw her seated, closed the door, then walked round to the driver's side and got in.

A short journey later and they had arrived at the Fitzwilliam London residence; a grand townhouse, with exterior decor dating from the Victorian era.

They were greeted at the front door by a butler, who William chatted pleasantly with and introduced Elizabeth as he conducted them from the Entrance Hall to the Drawing room where they their names were announced to all assembled.

There were three men, four women, and two young children. The eldest man, with slightly greying hair, rose up from his armchair and walked over to them, pulling William into an embrace.

"Here you are Darcy!" He said, his tone betraying a mixture of the countries and cultures which he had spent his life in.

"Good evening, sir. Elizabeth, may I present my Uncle, Matlock Fitzwilliam, Earl of Derbyshire."

"Hey, none of that. I never use the title among family, as well you know. And if this morning's visit is anything to go by, you will soon be family, is that correct, Miss Bennet?"

"That is for your nephew to decide, sir," Elizabeth replied. "And it is Elizabeth, if you please."

"Good. No standing on ceremony here is what I say. Now, these are my first wife, Carolynn, and my second, Delta; my eldest son Jolian and his wife Jamie, and their children, Christopher, and Michael. And youngest son Richard and his wife, Britney."

Elizabeth shook hands with all she had not met before, and laughed when Richard hugged her and Georgia and slapped William on the back in congratulations.

"I heard both of you stood up to the formidable Lady Catherine Morgan-Debourgh this morning," he remarked in explanation. "My admiration and respect you have for surviving such an ordeal."

"Yes, it is pleasing to have an excuse at last for not seeing her," his father added, as he guided everyone to their seats. "Lewis and I get along fine, Detroit and Dakota inherited his manners thankfully, but though we are siblings I have never understood nor agreed with Catherine."

"I don't want to be the reason for a division between your families," Elizabeth remarked to them all.

"You won't be, my darling," Fitzwilliam replied, taking her hand in his and raising it to his lips for a kiss.

"Not at all, Elizabeth," Matlock added to his nephew's assurances. "Catherine was going to be disappointed of her hopes sooner or later anyway. Now at least Dakota will have a chance to confess to her mother and the world that she's been seeing rock star Kurt Diann for nearly two years. She just has to realise that she cannot rule the hearts of her nearest and dearest."

The dinner passed enjoyably for all concerned. At midnight Elizabeth returned with the Darcys to their townhouse, where; when Georgia had gone to bed, and as she and Fitzwilliam undressed for bed, mentioned the subject again.

"Are you really seriously considering spending the rest of your life with me?" She asked him.

William's hands left his undone cravat, and he stopped undressing to come and stand in front of her, taking her hands in his. "If you'll have me, I'm more than considering."

Elizabeth looked at his suddenly solemn face, her thoughts and her heart suddenly racing. "Is that a proposal?" She found herself asking.

"After this championship," he replied softly, "it will be." Then he put his lips to hers, and made the world fade away.

1. & 3. Catherine Morland and Eleanor Tilney are from Northanger Abbey
2. Drogo is the name of a 20th century Castle in Devon, owned by the National Trust, and the patron saint of Coffeehouse owners. Its existence as an English restaurant in London, is purely artistic license on my part.

Volume seven