|Fitzwilliam Darcy (mrdarcy_) wrote in spinningcompass,|
@ 2018-11-10 21:44:00
|Entry tags:||fitzwilliam darcy, ~ash sully|
Who? Mr & Mrs Darcy plus cameos
When? Saturday afternoon
What? A pleasant visit from a loving aunt... ha.
Rating? Mediumish, bad language.
Open? No, completed g-doc.
Their first week of married life had been just blissfully wonderful. Perhaps Ashley had seen more of Pemberley’s bedrooms than she had the countryside of Derbyshire, but there really hadn’t been any complaints. They’d taken walks in the grounds and had picnics,, and he had shown her some of the neighbouring villages. They’d dined with the Bennets and Gardiners one evening, and even survived a much more formal affair at Matlock with the Earl, who had told endless stories about Darcy’s childhood just as Ashley had requested.
Letters had arrived from all over the country with words of congratulations for them, some from mere acquaintances, distant relatives… but a reaction from Lady Catherine was surprisingly absent. Darcy dared to hope that maybe she had just decided to bite her tongue, but he knew that was highly unlikely. But he did rather hope that they might be safely back on the station by the time she had decided to say something.
So, when the door to the drawing room burst open and a very startled looking maid ran in, Darcy initially thought she was about to scream that the building was on fire or something. Turned out, it was much worse.
“Lady Catherine De Bourgh, sir!” she exclaimed breathlessly, as if she had been running to warn him. “I’m so sorry, she wouldn’t wait.”
Darcy was on his feet immediately, as if she was about to come in and literally duel him, and he only had time to shoot Ashley a panicked look before she was standing there right in front of him. Fuck.
“I might wonder why it is that you have a maid opening the front door?” she said, before any sort of greeting, and it just completely threw him from the start. He stuttered in confusion - was it a question, a criticism, or…?
“I’m sorry sir, Mr Marlcaster went into town, and Lewis is-” she started to explain, only to fall silent when given a sharp glare from Lady Catherine.
“Thank you for using your initiative, Alice. You may go,” Darcy told the young maid gently, and she gave him such a thankful look before curtseying and dashing off.
Ashley certainly had no complaints about the time spent inside the house. It was wonderful to be able to just enjoy being with her husband without any cares. There were rumors amongst some of the staff that they'd be preparing a nursery before too much longer. It did make her giggle.
She'd written back to each person offering their congratulations, thanking them personally. She got such a thrill from signing each letter as Mrs Ashley Darcy. About halfway through the process she'd gone to find Fitz, dragging him into the closest empty room.
The morning had been quite lovely and they were just enjoying being together when the maid burst in. Ashley jumped slightly and the whole mood changed at the mention of Lady Catherine. Fitz looked as if he were about to face off against a rabid beast. She got to her feet when he did and her body language changed, though not in the same way his did. She was immediately on the defensive.
“Perhaps next time, m'lady, you would prefer to wait on the stoop until the butler returns.” She offered a polite smile. This was going to be so much fun.
Darcy had felt his hands start to tremble a little almost as soon as he’d heard his aunt’s name, so formulating a cutting response had been a little beyond him. Ashley’s quick comeback really took him by surprise, and he looked over at her in surprise - but he was clearly not as shocked as Lady Catherine was, who was not used to being spoken to in such a manner.
She was about to launch into an explanation of what should be done if the butler was unavailable, but the very fact that she had to proved the point she had yet to make.
“And this is the uncivilised creature I am expected to accept as your wife, I suppose,” she directed the accusation at Darcy. “You can be at no loss to understand the reason for my visit. Your own conscience must tell you why I came. I had hoped to find this to be a scandalous falsehood, I did not wish to injure you so much as to suppose the truth of it possible, and so I had to come and see for myself,” she went on.
He knew that he should be saying something, that he should be defending his wife against this sudden attack on her character. It was all there, swirling about in his mind, but when he tried to actually force the words he was back to just awkward stuttering.
“Well? Do you have nothing to say for yourself?”
“I- um- yes- it is not a falsehood, we are married.”
Ashley scoffed and rolled her eyes. Uncivilized? Oh she would be shown. She cleared her throat and again politely smiled at Lady Catherine. Though there was venom behind her eyes. Nobody treated her husband that way.
“Lady Catherine. I must apologize if I'm uninformed but I have to ask. Isn't it the custom here that even a lady such as yourself must curtsey before royalty?” She stared the woman down. “We haven't been properly introduced. Princess Ashley of New Washington.” She looked at Fitz and then back at Lady Catherine. “Which would, of course, make your dear nephew here a prince.” She crossed her arms, most definitely standing her ground. She gave the woman all of three seconds to respond.
Well, that was a curveball that Lady Catherine hadn’t anticipated, and truthfully, Darcy had rather forgotten all about the trick as well. Ashley hadn’t really mentioned the Princess thing again since her letter to Lydia had worked. None of his other relatives had been lied to, but then none of them had started demanding to know who she was or what her lineage was.
Darcy turned back to his aunt, wondering what the woman would do now. He was sure that he was as white as a sheet, and didn’t look convinced that she was going to actually do it. Lady Catherine herself looked torn, it had thrown her so far from what she had been planning on saying to them.
After an awkwardly long silence, she gave in, and did indeed give them a bit of a confused curtsey. Darcy felt himself starting to smile a little in amusement at the very sight of it.
“That's much better.” Ashley nodded in acknowledgment of the curtsey. She sent a panicked mental message to Bobby who agreed to brief the staff that during the time Lady Catherine was in the house they were to be addressed as your highness. And only until Catherine left.
“Now, Lady Catherine, what is it that concerns you about this marriage? Is it the fact that someone of royal blood would marry a man without a title?” She was trying so hard not to smirk. “Because I can assure you, your nephew is not taking advantage of me in order to gain a higher place in society.”
Now it was Lady Catherine’s turn to be at a loss for words. In fact, she seemed to have quite forgotten what her original objection was. Darcy had to admit to himself that he was getting a little bit of enjoyment out of seeing her squirm. It wasn’t a sight that he had ever seen before.
“My… my nephew may not be royalty, but he is indeed descended from a very noble line on his mother’s side,” she started, and Darcy looked at her like she was quite insane. Was the woman defending him all of a sudden? What the hell? “And although it is true that his father’s family had no title, they are respectable, honourable and ancient-” she was continuing.
“Yes, thank you. She is aware of that. Did you come all this way to tell her this?” Darcy asked, knowing that she probably had indeed - only with the intention of intimidating the untitled, lower class wife that she had expected.
“I was not aware that there was any sort of a monarchy in America,” she pointed out, and looked about ready to argue the point further - but of course, fear of being wrong seemed to be preventing her.
“I am very aware of my husband's family, Lady Catherine. As he stated.” She smiled a little. Of course she would argue about the title.
“My title comes from my uncle. While I am American, he is king of an island not far from there. I can point it out on a map if you wish…” She'd thought the whole thing through.
“Then you must have been aware of his prior engagement,” she said, hoping that it would come as a surprise, deliberately saying it to try to cause a little rift between them. Darcy didn’t even flinch this time; Ashley would know exactly what she was referring to, and therefore know that she was talking utter nonsense. “You must be painfully aware of the disappointment you have caused to your entire family. Rather than strengthen the wealth and status of your own lineage at home, you would rather selfishly throw yourself at some foreign aristocracy-” she was rambling on, but Darcy was really barely listening to her anymore.
“Have you left Miss De Bourgh out in the carriage again?” he asked.
“What do you care? What do you care if you have left your fiancee utterly devastated by this news,” she poked and prodded. He knew it was nonsense, but he still didn’t like the way she used her daughter as a pawn.
“Fine, fetch a map, let’s see this Island you’re abandoning your duty in England for,” she sighed dramatically.
Oh this woman had some nerve. But Ashley kept everything in check. She had to try to stay calm.
“Yes, he made me aware of the engagement. The moment we met, actually.” That wasn't technically a lie as she had met him in the book long before in person. “It's also my understanding that Miss De Bourgh isn't of the best health. Leaving her in the carriage in any weather could be devastating.” Ashley immediately went and opened the door.
“Alice, dear. Will you have Mrs Reynolds fetch me an atlas, and will you then go bring Miss De Bourgh into the house and make sure she doesn't need anything?”
“Of course, your highness.” There was a slight smirk on her face and Ashley calmed down just a bit. She then went back to stand next to her husband.
“I see you treat your own daughter as abysmally as you treat the staff.” And she was actually holding back.
“Then you knew that it was the dearest wish of his mother that he should marry my daughter,” she directed the comment at Ashley, but Darcy knew that the sting of it was really meant for him. The subtext that his mother would have been disappointed in him. Logically he knew that his mother would have only wanted him to go through with it if they had grown up and actually felt a deep affection for one another. But it had never been there. He cared for her as a cousin, but that was all. He was sure that Anne had no romantic feelings towards him either. She was just duty bound to do as she was told. His mother would never have been so fastidious.
It was clear that Ashley wasn’t about to listen to her, and that was definitely riling the woman up more. Darcy was grateful for her kindness towards his cousin - none of this was her fault, after all.
“Insolent, undignified girl! No matter what you proclaim to be!” she was losing it, and it was like a chink in her armour that Darcy had never seen before. “Can you not see that my daughter is too humiliated to enter into this household? Better that she should risk her health out of doors than be subjected to such ill-treatment as this,” she was ranting. “Darcy, you have wilfully acted against the wishes of your family, do not think for a second that this union will ever be recognised by the Fitzwilliam line. You are a disgrace, and your name will never be mentioned by any of us again.”
Darcy wanted to say something, he wanted to tell her that the Earl had already recognised their marriage, and that he had nothing but nice things to say about his wife… but there was that feeling that always seemed to take over, the one he could never understand. His chest hurt, he wasn’t breathing properly, his fingers were tingling and his vision was started to get black spots. He needed to sit down.
Ashley tried to stay calm. She really did. But the woman just kept going and going. And when she looked at Fitz, she saw it. He was tense and looked like he was about to pass out. The bitch had caused him to be on the very verge of a panic attack. She stood in front of him and put a hand on his cheek.
“Hey. You're okay. I'm right here. Come sit down, okay?” She took his hand and started leading him to the nearest chair. Mrs Reynolds came in with the atlas and just stood there. Once Fitz was safely in a chair, Ashley went over and spoke to her.
“Is Miss De Bourgh inside?”
“Yes, your highness.” Mrs Reynolds gave a slight curtsey.
“Very good. Tell her she is free to choose any room if she wishes to stay with us. Also make sure than any refreshments she may need are provided.” Again Mrs Reynolds curtsied. Ashley spoke a little quieter.
“Please bring my husband a glass of wine. Lady Catherine has managed to rile him up and I'm concerned. And bring one of the dogs.”
Mrs Reynolds looked over Ashley's shoulder and then nodded. She'd seen that look before as well. She left immediately to do as she was told.
She went back over and knelt down in front of Fitz, taking his hand. Her primary concern was making sure he was okay, not addressing Lady Catherine.
The gentle hand to his cheek brought him out of his own head for a moment and into her eyes. He took a sharp breath, remembering that he did indeed have to breathe, and then he let her take control and place him in a seat.
He knew that Lady Catherine wasn’t quite done with her attack, but it was like listening to her underwater, everything was garbled.
“You would not be so worked up if it were not that you know in your heart that I am right. This is the guilt of your conscious,” she was sounding so superior.
Ashley took his hands, and Darcy tried to give them a squeeze despite his numb fingers. This was a total disaster. He wished that he were a stronger man, capable of standing up for his wife and of asking his aunt to leave.
“Sorry,” he said softly, quietly, wanting to be sure that Lady Catherine wouldn’t think it was her he was apologising to.
Ashley smiled. “You have nothing to apologize for, my love.” Despite social customs, she gave him a quick kiss. “You just sit and relax and I will handle this.” She smiled at him again, keeping it in place until she got to her feet and stared at Catherine. She was done. Lady Catherine was about to get a good idea of what happens when you piss off a ginger.
“You….vile...conniving… insignificant bitch.” The words were almost growled. “How dare you come into this house and treat him this way? He doesn't feel guilty about our marriage. You know very well that he was never going to marry your daughter and that Anne didn't want it either.” Her hands were at her sides, fists clenched.
“Your brother, by the way, had a grand time at the reception and congratulated us both. We've had dinner with him on two separate occasions and I believe he said something about hoping his sons can find wives like me. He adores me.” She really wanted to punch Lady Catherine.
“As for his mother….you will never speak of her again. Each time you speak her name you defile her memory. I don't care if she was your sister. She deserves better.” Ashley moved in very close and glared at Lady Catherine. There was a fire in her eyes that had given her one brother pause in the past.
“You are no longer welcome at Pemberley under any circumstances. Your carriage will never, from this day forward, be allowed to get past the gate. Miss De Bourgh will be staying here with us, if she so desires, and you will have absolutely no say on the subject. Do I make myself clear?”
Darcy appreciated the kiss - Lady Catherine was going to hate them either way, so she might as well give him a kiss, it wasn’t going to make anything any worse. He nodded, and tried to focus on his breathing.
Ashley started to speak to Lady Catherine again, and Darcy was soon forgetting all about his own stress because she was saying everything that no one had ever dared. How often had he and Georgiana wanted to kick her out, to tell her she wasn’t coming back? And Ashley has done it. She’d actually done it.
“So this is how I am to be treated?” she exclaimed after a moment’s pause. “I am his nearest living relation, and you are to cut him off from me? Who else does he have in the world?” she was asking, a trick that had often worked in the past, only she was forgetting that something very significant had changed.
“My wife,” he said simply, and Lady Catherine shot him a look like she was surprised he’d suddenly spoken again. She’d thought he was suitably crushed.
“What?!” she practically hissed at him.
He cleared his throat, and repeated himself more slowly and clearly. “I said that I have my wife. Who else do you have? You’ve turned everyone away.”
“You are being treated the way you treat everyone else.” Ashley started. And then Darcy spoke and all Ashley could do was smile. She walked over and stood beside his chair, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“You are not his closest living relation any longer.” She cleared her throat. “Perhaps, one day, if you can find it in what's left of your heart to act like a civilized human being you may eventually be allowed to return but I highly doubt it. And now I have only one more thing to say to you, Catherine.” Ashley stepped forward from the chair a bit and pointed at the door.
“Get the fuck out of our house.”
At the hand on his shoulder, Darcy was able to manage a bit of a smile as well, and he lifted his hand to touch hers for a moment.
Mrs Reynolds has reappeared in the doorway holding a tray with the requested wine. Bingley the dog was at her heels, and he dashed across the room to his master, taking the long route to avoid Lady Catherine. The puppy had good taste.
Darcy was able to stroke at Bingley’s soft ears, and the puppy had grown to understand already as he leaned into Darcy, placing himself almost protectively in front of him to save him from the obvious cause of his distress. Mrs Reynolds stayed where she was, frozen in a sort of shock as Ashley started speaking again.
At her final comment she looked about ready to drop the wine in shock. His father had always joked that Pemberley had Ears, and it had never been more obvious than in that moment when muffled shrieks of delight and a light applause echoed from the hallway. They were clearly very pleased with the new Lady of Pemberley.
“You should be ashamed,” Lady Catherine was saying but her voice was shaking now, it didn’t command the same authority. “You should… do you… are you going to let her…” she was spluttering at Darcy.
“Mrs Reynolds can show you the door. Unless you’d like to sulk in the hallway until the butler returns to open it for you.”
Mrs Reynolds stepped fully into the room and set down the tray with the wine.
Ashley was fat too wrapped up in the moment to notice the reaction from the staff. She just continued to stare at Lady Catherine.
“If I could physically kick you out, I would do so.”
“This way, m'lady.” Mrs Reynolds motioned for Lady Catherine to go first. She stared between the two of them for a moment and scoffed.
“You will never hear the end of this. By the time I'm through you will be a disgrace, shamed from society.” Catherine glared at them both before turning to leave.
“If anyone is a disgrace after this I believe it will be you.” Ashley crossed her arms again. Catherine made some kind of indignant noise and kept walking.
Once Ashley was sure that Lady Catherine was definitely out of the house, she let her arms drop to her sides. The adrenaline from the moment was starting to wear off and she stayed shaking.
Darcy took a mouthful of the wine as Ashley handled nearly literally kicking his aunt out of the door, and then set it down again. As soon as Lady Catherine was out of the room, Darcy felt like all the air could finally get into his lungs. Bingley was helping a great deal as well; he seemed to have taken to his role like an absolute natural.
She was definitely gone. Darcy could just make out her shouting Anne’s name in the distance, but whether or not his cousin had left with her or stayed, he would find out later. For now, he needed a moment with his wonderful wife.
Bingley jumped down as Darcy got up, and on slightly shaky legs, he went to Ashley and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a tight embrace.
Ashley melted against him, still shaking. She hadn't been that angry in a long time. Even the situation with her mother hadn't done that. She took a couple of shaky breaths, one hand gripping his waistcoat like a lifeline.
“I'm sorry...I just….she's so awful….I couldn't…” She had suddenly lost the ability to complete a sentence apparently.
They both seemed to be quite literally and figuratively leaning on each other. He was finally taking proper deep breaths, but that was mostly because he was discovering that just her scent was enough to steady and ground him again.
“You have n-noth-nothing to be sorry for,” he told her, silently cursing himself for still being all stupid and stuttery about it. “I’m sorry I didn’t… couldnt…” he sighed a little, realising that they were probably going to have to let themselves calm down a bit if they hoped to actual be able to speak in coherent sentences to each other. So, instead of trying to explain himself any further, he cupped her cheek in one hand and kissed her.
Ashley looked up at him and shook her head. She was about to protest his apology when he kissed her. Suddenly everything was right with the world again. One arm went around his waist, the hand holding onto his waistcoat slipping up to his shoulder. That kiss was a port in the storm, bringing her back to herself.
She was briefly aware of Mrs Reynolds coming back into the room but she didn't stop kissing him. It was what she needed right that moment.
Darcy melted into her kiss; it seemed to remind him of all the good in the world, and confirm that he really, truly wasn’t alone. That he didn’t have to face that kind of thing on his own anymore, and neither did she.
He didn’t even notice that Mrs Reynolds had re-entered the room, and he just kissed her until he needed to pull back a little for some air. She cleared her throat a little before she started talking softly.
“Excuse me. Lady Catherine has left, and I will communicate to all the staff that she is not to be admitted again under any circumstances,” she told them. “Miss De Bourgh is taking tea with Miss Georgiana,” she added.
Ashley blushed a little but she didn't move out of his arms. They were in their own home after all. She did shift just enough to look at Mrs Reynolds.
“Thank you, Mrs Reynolds. Could you please let Miss De Bourgh know that she is welcome to stay as long as she likes? If need be we can send someone to gather her things.” She really wanted to get Anne away from Lady Catherine.
“Yes, of course. If you need anything more, you know just to ring,” Mrs Reynolds reminded her, although it seemed like Mrs Darcy was very quickly getting used to Pemberley. It was lovely to see her settling in so well. “And… if it’s not too forward to say… we are all on your side, we are all very proud,” she told her, with a little curtsey incase she might take offense to the familiar tone of it.
Ashley blushed again. “Thank you, Mrs Reynolds.” She gave her a little nod. Mrs Reynolds curtsied again before leaving and Ashley looked up at Fitz, smiling again.
“It seems your aunt is the only one that has an issue with me.”
“Yes, and you know that is really only because she is not getting her way. She’s not very accustomed to disappointment,” he told her, knowing it was a massive understatement.
“Thank you,” he said after a moment. “I have wanted to do it for years, but I…” he trailed off with a bit of a sigh. “Well, you saw.” He was rather embarrassed, and it wasn’t something he could explain or understand about himself. He couldn’t see it as anything other than a simple weakness of character.
Ashley put a hand on his cheek and looked him in the eye. “It's not easy dealing with someone like her. Especially when you've spent your whole life getting manipulated. I had the luxury of distance.” She kissed him again.
“And I will never stand by and let someone treat you like that. Ever.” She wanted to protect him from the Lady Catherine's of the universe.
Darcy bit at his lower lip for a moment, still a little worried about it, but he did give her a nod. “She always knows just where to push and prod to get a reaction,” he explained.
“I was always taught to respect her and call her ‘my lady’ and don’t answer back. But she wasn’t like that, I mean, not when my parents were around. I think they probably kept her in check a lot more than I ever noticed,” he admitted. She’d gotten steadily worse since they’d passed away. She’d always been a snob, but this was too far.
He accepted her kiss, and then smiled at her. “Thank you,” he said simply, deciding not to go over his apology again. “You were wonderful. You made her curtsey! Her face!”
“People like her always know how to manipulate good people.” She nodded again. His next comment made her think that maybe some of it was mishandled grief. She kept that thought to herself, though. It would only cause him some guilt.
“I wasn't sure she was going to, honestly.” She chuckled. Her heart hand been pounding the whole time. “You know I'm going to be the bad guy in every version of this story that she tells.”
“I don’t think I have ever seen you so furious,” he admitted. Not that he wanted to, but it had been strangely sweet that it had been on his behalf. And some of it a little funny in retrospect.
“Oh, well. Whatever shall the Collinses think of us?” he sighed, and then gave her a teasing smile. “I shouldn’t worry. She holds much less influence these days than she thinks she does,” he told her. “Plus, everyone already knows you to be a charming young lady, don’t they?”
Ashley sighed a bit. “I really hope you never have to see that again.” She had finally stopped shaking from the whole ordeal.
Ashley laughed softly. “Oh yes, the Collinses hold such esteem, whatever shall we do?” She snuggled into him, resting her head against his chest, her arms wrapped around him.
“That's very true. Everyone that matters knows who I am. And knows Lady Catherine to be horrible.” She chuckled. “The look on her face when I didn't use her title….”
“As do I, but if it is in my defense, well… it was quite the display of love, my dear,” he nodded. He didn’t want her to worry her nerves so, but he certainly appreciated her intent.
Darcy chuckled a little with her, and ran his hands up and down her back. He felt back to himself again, too. She’d coped with him so very well. Christ, there was that urge to apologise again. He had to change that apology into a gratitude.
“Yes, they know you, and they approve of you wholeheartedly. And why shouldn’t they?” he smiled fondly. He chuckled again. “Oh, I think that shocked her almost more than all the cursing,” he admitted with a laugh.
“I will always come to your defense, my love.” She looked up at him before kissing his jaw lightly. His hands on her back did make her feel much better.
“I think she'll never stop telling the story of the horrid creature that stole her nephew.” She chuckled again. Ashley rested her head on his chest again, just listening to his heartbeat for a moment. She closed her eyes and found that it was close to a struggle to open them again.
“Liam, darling, that confrontation seems to have taken a lot out of me.” She looked up at him again. “Will you lie down with me for a bit?”
“I know you will, Ashley. I am sorry that it came to that, and…” he sighed a little. “Ah, I was trying to avoid another apology,” he shook his head. But she started to kiss at his jawline and everything just felt so much better for it.
“Yes, that’s true. But no one with any sense will believe her,” he said softly. He held her against his chest, just enjoying the closeness of her.
“Mmm. I should like that very much,” he nodded. He was utterly exhausted himself, and Georgie was more than capable of keeping his cousin company for a while.
“If you apologize again, I will pinch you.” She told him jokingly. She just held onto him for a moment before finally stepping away, though it was just enough to be able to walk comfortably.
“I love you, Mr Darcy, more than I can possibly put into words.” She took his hand and squeezed it gently.
Darcy giggled a little, mostly because as soon as she said it his automatic thought was to apologise yet again.
“I love you too, Mrs Darcy,” he told her with all honesty, as they started to walk together. “More and more every day.”