Fixed on Her

Summary: What if Elizabeth discovered that Darcy had taken one of her handkerchiefs? Would she recognise his interest in her? This short story takes place at Netherfield while Elizabeth is tending to her sister. (One Shot)

Disclaimer: Pride and Prejudice is the creation of Jane Austen. This story is property of the author. © 2015

Jane Austen Quote: "…Elizabeth could not help observing…how frequently Mr. Darcy's eyes were fixed on her." (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 10.)

Jane Austen Quote: "…Darcy had never been so bewitched by a woman as he was by her." (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 10.)

Elizabeth Bennet considered her powers of observation as one of her greatest abilities. Upon making the acquaintance of Mr. Charles Bingley, who had recently moved into the neighbourhood, she observed his pleasing manners and amiable conduct and instantly concluded that he was a perfect young gentleman, worthy of her respect. Of course, his marked attentions to her elder sister made him even more worthy, in her estimation. He and Jane were so alike in their demeanour and attitude that she was hopeful that they would make a match.

The gentleman's sisters, on the other hand, inspired feelings quite the contrary; their manners were everything civil, never displaying any outward rudeness or offensive behaviour, but nor did they display the enthusiastic, jovial behaviour of their brother. Miss Bingley had been everything kind and hospitable while paying her sick call to Jane's chamber and had done everything that could be expected to ensure Jane's comfort, but Elizabeth perceived an underlying discontent in her hostess. She seemed to be annoyed by the intrusion into her home of two young ladies of marriageable age. Her attentions to Mr. Darcy had been unmistakable but why she thought that Elizabeth had any aspirations in that quarter was unclear. That gentleman had made his opinion of her widely known on the night of the Meryton assembly and Elizabeth was of the firm opinion that he was far too arrogant to be considered a suitable match. Anyone who considered himself to be above company would never tempt Elizabeth to consider matrimony.

Elizabeth was staying at Netherfield Park, the neighbouring estate currently being leased by Mr. Bingley. Jane had fallen ill during her visit two days ago and Elizabeth had come to tend to her while she recuperated.

Last night when she had gone to the drawing room to sit with her hosts, she had observed Mr. Darcy tuck a lady's handkerchief into his coat pocket. She knew it was a lady's handkerchief due to the smaller size; men's handkerchiefs were much larger and, if there was any embroidery, it was usually done in darker colours, not the array of pastel colours that she observed. During the course of the evening, she observed him dip his hand into his pocket, presumably to touch the handkerchief. Miss Darcy had been the topic of conversation at the time and Elizabeth wondered if the handkerchief might belong to his sister.

Perhaps there was a sentimental side to Mr. Darcy after all, she mused. He spoke warmly of his sister and she could only imagine that he missed her terribly, judging by the frequency with which he returned his hand to his pocket. At one point, a corner of the linen protruded from the pocket and she observed embroidery in a floral motif similar to one she had stitched herself; perhaps Miss Darcy was an accomplished woman after all, she mused.

There had been much discussion about a lady's accomplishments that evening and Miss Darcy had generally been considered worthy of the term 'accomplished.' Elizabeth had voiced her opinion that she never met a woman accomplished in so many endeavours; singing, dancing, music, modern languages and drawing were only a few of the skills required to be considered accomplished in Miss Bingley's opinion. Elizabeth was not acquainted with anyone who could claim such skills; she could only claim a few of them herself. "Is that really what fashionable people discuss in the drawing rooms of London?" she wondered.


Earlier that morning, her Mama had come to visit Jane; Elizabeth could only cringe at the memory of that awkward visit. In her effort to see Jane matched to Mr. Bingley, Mama had found it necessary to sing Jane's praises to the gentleman. Why she would feel the need to do so was a mystery to Elizabeth; anyone who had made Jane's acquaintance would easily notice her gentle beauty and pleasing attitude.

During the uncomfortable visit, Elizabeth had observed Mr. Darcy dip his hand into his pocket several times, presumably to touch the handkerchief. It occurred then to her that instead of his sister, perhaps it belonged to a young lady that Mr. Darcy admired. Could he have a paramour in London or Derbyshire? Had he given his heart away to some young lady? Did he long to be in her company? Did he touch her handkerchief to remind himself of her? Elizabeth allowed her mind to flow long on the subject, finding great amusement in the idea of a man who never smiled to be violently in love with an unknown lady. "Poor Miss Bingley! How disappointed she shall be to discover that the man she has so relentlessly pursued these past few days is lost to her!" she mused.

Hoping for some restorative exercise, Elizabeth went outside for a quick walk. She was in the habit of enjoying a daily walk whenever the weather permitted but she had not been out of doors since she had arrived to tend to Jane. Breathing in the fresh air always helped to clear her mind and set order to her disordered thoughts. Elizabeth spied Mr. Darcy sitting on a garden bench in the Netherfield garden, admiring the mysterious lady's handkerchief.

When she approached him, she was better able to view the handkerchief and, with no small amount of astonishment, she recognised it as one of her own. With six ladies living at Longbourn, handkerchiefs were frequently misplaced in the laundry; she was in the habit of embroidering her initials, EVB, in one corner. She observed Mr. Darcy reverently gliding his fingers over the initials. "Pardon me, Mr. Darcy," she wondered, not wishing to startle him.

He sprang instantly to his feet to acknowledge her, hiding the handkerchief behind his back. "Hello, Miss Elizabeth."

She returned his greeting with all due civility and she felt the awkwardness of the encounter: "Forgive me for interrupting your solitude, Mr. Darcy."

"No indeed, your company could never be unwelcome," he replied, gesturing to the garden bench.

She sat down and he resumed his seat next to her. "I could not help but notice that you have one of my handkerchiefs."

She beheld his colour rise to an uncomfortable pink; she had never seen him blush before. "Yes, please forgive me," he said in earnest, offering it to her.

She accepted it and noticed its pristine condition; having not a single wrinkle, it was as snowy white and fresh as it had been when she had tucked it into the pocket of her pelisse. Despite his frequent fondling, he had apparently taken great care of it. She wondered how it had come into his possession. "Did you find it… somewhere?" she hesitantly inquired.

He shifted his feet in an awkward manner: "I removed it from your pocket. Your pelisse was in the cloak room and I …" he trailed off and looked away, his discomfort on full display.

"But why?" she whispered.

He blushed again and his shoulders slumped in an uncharacteristic manner; at least Elizabeth had never observed such behaviour from the gentleman: "I wanted something of yours… as a memento," he admitted, keeping his eyes averted.

"Why would you want a memento?" she inquired, having not the slightest idea why he would require such a token.

He turned to gaze into her eyes: "I find myself thinking of you… constantly," he said in earnest.

She was astonished. "Surely he must be jesting," she thought, his previous insult resounding loudly in her memory; 'not handsome enough to tempt me,' he had announced at the Meryton assembly last month. "I cannot imagine why, Sir," she quietly replied, unable to look away.

"Can you not, Miss Elizabeth? You are everything lovely; your eyes, your smile, your hands," he whispered, reaching out as if to touch her hand, then drawing away.

"I thought you found me only tolerable."

"Tolerable? No indeed!" he solemnly replied. She then observed his countenance change to mortification as understanding dawned on him. She turned her head away from him. "Oh no, my dear Miss Elizabeth, I beg your pardon. I did not mean to… I should not have… I wish I had not…" he broke off, shaking his head.

She easily perceived his discomfort and despite the fact that his comment at the assembly had caused her lingering pain and humiliation, she had no desire to inflict similar pain on him. "Forgive me, Mr. Darcy, I should not have mentioned it."

He shook his head in misery: "But then I would not have the opportunity to apologize to you and make amends. I am sincerely sorry for making such an improper remark; I beg your forgiveness," he told her, once again reaching for her hand but drawing away instead.

She kept her hands clasped firmly in her lap: "You must think nothing of it, Mr. Darcy."

After an awkward moment of silence, he finally spoke: "I find you quite handsome indeed; perhaps the most handsome woman of my acquaintance," he told her, gazing directly into her eyes.

She smiled, unable to help being flattered by a compliment from the handsome gentleman: "Surely not, Sir. Surely there must be many handsome ladies in your circles," she replied, hoping to ease the tension and add some levity to the encounter.

He smiled: "If there are, none have gained my notice."

His disarming smile and the intensity of his gaze were so unexpected that she averted her eyes.

"Please say that you have forgiven me, Miss Elizabeth."

"Of course you are forgiven, Mr. Darcy," she replied with a smile.

He shook his head: "I can only imagine what you must have thought of me, uttering such an insult within your hearing."

"I imagined that you thought yourself above company," she replied, then instantly regretted speaking so plainly.

He hung his head: "Indeed, I did and I am heartily sorry for it." He turned to face her: "I never imagined that I would meet someone as lovely as you here in Hertfordshire."

"Are all the lovely ladies confined to London, Sir?" she inquired with a sly smile.

He shook his head: "The longer I reside at Netherfield, the more I am convinced that the loveliest ladies are confined to Hertfordshire," he replied, reaching for her hand and gently grasping it.

She felt the heat rise to her face and turned her attention to his hand: "You must forgive me, Mr. Darcy. I had not the smallest notion that you held any admiration for me."

He squeezed her hand: "Well then, so there is no misunderstanding between us, I must tell you that I admire you greatly."

She turned to observe him and was so surprised to see him smiling affectionately that she knew not where to fix her eyes. His smile was so genuine and his eyes were so affectionate, that she finally realized that his frequent gazes over the past two days had been not disapproval but admiration. His frequent fondling of the handkerchief was not due to some unknown lady; it had been her on Mr. Darcy's mind.

He rose and extended his hand: "Miss Elizabeth, I can only presume that you have come outdoors for some exercise and I would be honoured to accompany you on a walk around the grounds." Unable to refuse such a request from the charming gentleman, she easily accepted his hand and rose to walk next to him. He tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow as they walked on the garden path.

"I must admit, Mr. Darcy, you have caught me quite unaware," she admitted.

"Have I? You caught me gazing at you several times."

"I did notice your frequent gazes but I supposed that you only felt disapproval, especially when my Mama was here today," she explained, cringing at the memory of the visit.

He nodded his head: "I certainly felt your mother's disapproval but I assure you that I could never disapprove of you."

"I am relieved to hear it, Sir, but I must apologize for my Mama. She can be quite outspoken."

He nodded his agreement: "As can her daughter."

She could not help but laugh at his observation: "Yes, I suppose you are right. I do enjoy making my opinions known."


"I could not help but notice that you took great care of my handkerchief."

"It smells like lavender."

"Yes, that is my favourite scent."

"And now it is mine also."

"What else can you tell me about yourself, Mr. Darcy?" she inquired, hoping to learn more about him.

They walked on for another hour, absorbed in conversation, becoming better acquainted with each other. They each spoke of their sisters and parents. She admitted that her sisters sometimes caused her the greatest embarrassment. She was saddened to hear that both of his parents had passed away. He told her that he was his sister's guardian and she was impressed with his devotion to her. He mentioned her recent disappointment caused by an unscrupulous suitor. She spoke of her friends in the neighbourhood and how she loved them all, despite their quirks. He told her how he dreaded attending the parties and assemblies in London; the ladies he met there were pretty but forgettable.

On their way back to the house, they encountered Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst: "We had no idea you intended to walk out today, Mr. Darcy," Miss Bingley announced, clearly annoyed at being excluded from the excursion.

Aware of the ladies' scrutiny, Elizabeth attempted to remove her hand from Mr. Darcy's arm but he held it securely in the crook of his elbow: "Miss Elizabeth and I were just returning to the house but please continue on with your walk, ladies," he told them as he bowed briskly and continued onward.

She stole a sideways glance at him and observed his satisfied smile.

"Was I too severe?" he inquired with a mischievous grin.

"You were nothing but considerate."

"Will you allow me to call on you?" he inquired.

"Call on me?" she replied, wondering how he was to call on her when they resided in the same house.

"When you and your sister return home to Longbourn, I would like to call on you. Will you allow it?"

"If that is your desire."

He grasped her hand, raised it to his lips and kissed it: "It is," he replied, gazing into her eyes.

"Then of course I will allow it," she replied with a smile.

"Thank you, Miss Elizabeth. I shall look forward to it," he whispered, with a tender smile

He was already thinking ahead to when she and Jane would leave Netherfield and return home, she noted. "You continue to surprise me, Mr Darcy."

"Pleasantly, I hope."

She could feel the heat rise to her face and averted her eyes, unable to reply. That Mr Darcy held her in esteem and wished to advance their connection was the greatest compliment she could imagine.

"I have another request before you leave me," he whispered. "May I have your handkerchief?"

The very idea that Mr. Darcy intended to continue fondling her handkerchief caused a strange but lovely fluttering sensation to float through her. She dipped into her pocket to retrieve it and handed it to him.

He raised it to his nose and inhaled: "It shall remind me of you when we are parted."

"I hope that shall be of short duration," she replied as they reached the door of the house.

He stopped and grasped her hands: "I intend to go immediately to Longbourn to speak to your father."

She was surprised: "For what purpose?"

"I wish to advise him of my intentions."

"And what are your intentions, Sir?"

"I intend to court you, Miss Elizabeth, just as soon as you will allow it."

He had surprised her once again: "I cannot allow it until you ask me, Sir," she teased.

He took a step closer: "Will you allow me to court you, my dearest loveliest Elizabeth V. Bennet? What does the V stand for?" he whispered.

She sighed: "Viola."

"Viola," he whispered with a dreamy smile.

She thought he must be the most charming man in all the world. At that moment, she could not recall a single complaint she had held against the gentleman: "I will allow it, Mr. Darcy," she replied in a soft whisper.

"Thank you, my dearest Miss Elizabeth, thank you!" he said, kissing her hand once again. "I will see you at supper," he told her, as he reached for the door handle.

She placed her hand over his to stop him: "Mr. Darcy, I can only assume that once my Papa knows of your intentions, he would not be inclined to allow me to remain at Netherfield," she suggested.

He briefly considered this and nodded his head: "That would be a wise decision. Your father would want you under his own roof to ensure your protection." She nodded her agreement. "Well then, I can only assume that once your mother knows of my intentions, she will invite me to supper," he suggested with a smile.

She laughed: "I am sure she shall," she agreed.

He kissed her hand one last time: "I will see you at supper," he repeated.


"Mr. Darcy?" Jane inquired, as though she had not heard Elizabeth's story correctly.

"I can scarcely believe it myself, Jane!" Elizabeth replied with a smile.

"I can scarcely believe that he has already gone to Papa!"

"Nor I but I have just now packed my trunk; Papa shall surely send for me once he hears the news."

"Will Papa give his consent?" Jane wondered aloud.

Elizabeth nodded confidently: "Mr. Darcy shall convince him!"

"Oh, but Mama!" Jane fretfully exclaimed. "I regret that I shall not be there to support you!"

She grasped her sister's hands: "You must recover quickly, Jane. I shall be helpless against her nervous complaints without you!" she teased.

Jane giggled with delight: "Mama shall have not a single complaint against Mr. Darcy! But Miss Bingley shall be displeased! You have stolen Mr. Darcy right out from under her nose!" she jested.

Elizabeth gasped in mock horror: "You must not breathe a word of it to anyone! Who knows what you might find in your soup!" They both dissolved into a fit giggles.


As she predicted, her father brought Mary to Netherfield to take Elizabeth's place and insisted that she return home with him. Her trunk was ready for him when he arrived and she boarded the carriage without complaint. "How fortunate I am that you were able to spare the horses today, Papa," she teased.

Papa harrumphed. "Your young man came to see me," he said with a grave demeanour. "Are you sure you know what you are about?"

"You must not be so severe, Papa. Mr. Darcy can be very charming."

"So I perceive," he grumbled. "He must have charmed you if you agreed to a courtship."

She sighed: "You must not think to discourage me, Papa. He has made marked improvements in his behaviour," she told him in earnest.

"Yes, I have only known him to be a proud and disagreeable fellow but he was polite and humble when he came to my study. Of course, it served his purposes well. He could not very well be disagreeable while asking for my consent."

She smiled at her Papa's opinion; it was only a few hours ago that she also held a poor opinion of Mr. Darcy: "He apologized for insulting me at the assembly."

He harrumphed: "Tolerable indeed! How could he even suggest such a thing?"

She nodded: "He was out-of-sorts that evening. He told me he frequently avoids dancing in Town to ward off the match-making mamas. He used the same tactic here in Hertfordshire."

He chuckled: "Well, your Mama is well pleased that he failed to avoid her," he replied. "She is no doubt planning your trousseau at this very moment," he joked.


When Elizabeth arrived home at Longbourn, she found Mr. Darcy waiting for her in the drawing room.

"Oh Mr. Darcy! Here is our Lizzy now!" her Mama gushed with glee. Her mood was quickly dampened as she cast her gaze on Elizabeth's attire: "Lizzy, you must go change your gown for supper. Mr. Darcy shall be dining with us!" Allowing her no time to greet Mr. Darcy, Mama rushed her up the stairs to her chamber and closed the door: "Oh my dear Lizzy, what a clever girl you are, to catch such an eligible bachelor!" she breathlessly exclaimed.

Elizabeth was quite unaccustomed to receiving such praise from her Mama: "I am not as clever as you suppose, Mama. I had not the least notion that he admired me."

"But he does admire you and that is all that matters!" She called for the maid: "Sarah dear, come do Lizzy's hair," she instructed. "She must look her best for her suitor!" she gushed.

"I hope you approve of him, Mama."

"Why should I not approve of him? He has ten thousand a year! Oh the jewels and carriages and pin money you shall have!" Mama mused as she pulled a pale lavender muslin gown from the wardrobe.

Elizabeth became instantly alarmed: "Mama, we are not betrothed; we are only courting! You must not embarrass me by speaking of such things within Mr. Darcy's hearing," she warned.

"Oh Lizzy, he is such a fine gentleman with such pleasing manners! I was never more impressed with him when he came to speak to your Papa! Such a delightful smile!" Mama sighed. Then turning her attentions to the maid, she gave her instructions for Elizabeth's attire and left the chamber to attend to her guest.

Having no desire to subject Mr. Darcy to her Mama's effusions, Elizabeth quickly donned the gown chosen for her and made her way to the drawing room where her suitor awaited. The instant their eyes met, she found that she could not misconstrue his gaze as disapproval; she perceived only admiration in his intense gaze.

"Come, come Lizzy! Come sit by Mr. Darcy," Mama instructed, gesturing to the sofa where he had been sitting. "That colour suits Lizzy quite well, do you not agree, Mr. Darcy?" Mama cheerfully inquired, bubbling over with enthusiasm.

"Exceedingly well," he replied with a smile.

Elizabeth thanked him for the compliment and sat beside him. "Yes, he is everything charming," thought she.

"Lavender is my signature colour!" Lydia complained. "Lizzy should not have worn that gown this evening!"

"Hush, Lydia!" Mama scolded.

"Why should you be the only one allowed to wear lavender?" Kitty crossly demanded.

"Hush, Kitty!" Mama scolded.

"You shall not have my lavender ribbons, Lizzy!" Lydia scowled, ignoring her Mama.

"Why would Lizzy need your ribbons? She has plenty of her own!" Kitty smugly replied.

"Hush this instant, both of you!" Mama scolded.

Elizabeth was well accustomed to her sisters' bickering but had hoped that they would have refrained for just one evening. She was too embarrassed to glance at Mr. Darcy but when she stole a glance at Papa, he grinned and rolled his eyes.

"Mr. Darcy has a sister your age, Lydia. He tells me that she sings and plays the piano-forte all day long!" Mama gushed, apparently to win favour with Mr. Darcy.

"Oh, how wonderful," cooed Kitty. "Poor Lydia never could carry a tune," she cheerfully announced.

Lydia crossed her arms and pouted. Mama fretted and Papa rolled his eyes.

Elizabeth finally glanced at Mr. Darcy to find him offering his most charming smile. "Oh yes," she thought. "This shall be an interesting evening, to be sure!"

~~ The End ~~

(Author's Note: Inspired by the masterpiece Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813. All rights reserved. © 2015.)

(Shameless Plug Alert! Three of my short stories are now published in the e-book "Pride in Meryton" by Cassandra B. Leigh. Pride and Tolerance, Meryton Revisited and Hedgerows.)