Disclaimer: Pride and Prejudice was written by Jane Austen. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Elizabeth overhears Mrs. Hurst tell Jane that a husband ceases to visit his wife once she becomes with child. The possibility fills her with anguish on her wedding night. OOC, AU, HEA

A/N: Please be advised that I'm reaching the heights of silliness with this one. Beware of pseudo-angsty, fluffy nonsense.

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Elizabeth stepped into her husband's bedroom when her knock received no answer. She heard him in the bathroom, and, hesitating, started pacing in front of his fireplace. She pulled at the hem of her sleeve, torn and filled with anxiety. She was nervous, of course, before her wedding night. She worried if he would find her pleasing, if she could bring him pleasure, if he would hurt her. (Of course he would, she knew it could not be helped.)

Yes, those matters concerned every maiden before her wedding night, and Elizabeth was no exception. But then she had worries that made those doubts pale in comparison. She had heard Mrs. Hurst tell Jane that, fortunately, a husband ceased to visit his wife once she became with child to find pleasure elsewhere. Elsewhere! How that word had haunted Elizabeth. Jane, of course, had found assurance in Mr. Bingley, who affirmed that he could never do such a thing for Jane would always be the most beautiful and desirable woman he'd ever meet. Oh, how true those words were!

But, Elizabeth, who did not have the fortune of a pleasing form and whose husband had not considered her to be handsome enough to tempt him (who might have only changed his mind because he loved her, not because she became beautiful); Elizabeth, whose husband was a man of high station of whom society, it could be said, almost expected to find an affair. Oh, wretched, wretched thing! How was Elizabeth to convince him otherwise? Could she? Could he learn to love her once she was with child, and not find pleasure elsewhere? Elsewhere! Never had a word tortured her so.

Elizabeth had expected her wedding night with pleasant if nervous anticipation until the comments of Mrs. Hurst. She knew she must not focus on such matters because it might be a while before she became with child, but she could not help but feel awash with fear. She wanted a child, his child, a little Mr. Darcy, but was she to make a choice between having a husband or having children? How could such a choice be made?

Could she learn to accept his affairs? Could she, at the very least, make sure that he found an affair with a woman who could be trusted not to bring disease into the household? The mere thought of it made Elizabeth fight tears, and so distracted was she that she missed the sound of her husband's heavy footsteps.

Mr. Darcy smiled at the sight of his wife in his room, in a nightgown. She felt the warm touch of his palm against her arm, and stared at his chest, firm and hairy beneath the linen of his shirt. He was tall, handsome, capable, of high station—how was she to keep him from extramarital affairs? How was she to never fall ill when he wished to spend the night with her? How was she to make sure she could forever keep his attention?

She raised her eyes to meet his, and watched the smile disappear as he whispered, "Elizabeth?"

Had a man ever been so attractive, so tender, so lovely? How could she ever share him? Oh, she did not wish to share him!

Swallowing back tears, Elizabeth stared at his blue eyes, feeling her own fill with tears. Embarrassed and in pain, she took a step away from his reach and curtsied.

"Please forgive me, Mr. Darcy."

She left the room in a shuffle of the muslin against her feet, falling against the door after she had closed it behind her. She pressed a hand against her mouth to keep her crying from making a sound. She had to ask him, she knew, but what if he affirmed her suspicions? Or, worse, what if he denied and continued behind her back? But he would not do that, surely. Even if he did think it necessary to find a mistress when she became with child, surely his sense of honour would prevent him from lying (if not from taking a mistress).

Could she convince him not to find pleasure elsewhere? How could she ever convince him to find her form pleasing once she was with child when he already had to convince himself of her beauty?

A light knock echoed in the room.


She heard anguish in his low voice, and she swallowed to be able to respond without revealing her trembling voice.

"I apologise," she whispered, clearing her throat. "I only need a moment."

She rested her chin between her knees, wrapping arms around her feet as she attempted to gather her composure. But she must've fallen asleep for, next thing she knew, a candle flickered in front of her face, casting light on the man kneeling before her. Tenderly, he caressed her hair, shutting his eyes as he rested his forehead against hers.

"I do not know what you have heard, my love, but I will do everything within my power to please you, and we do not have to proceed with anything you are not comfortable with tonight. I only wish to hold you, if that is all you will let me do. Please, let me hold you."

She would have managed to keep herself from him were it not for the hurting, gentle voice of her husband that made her want to reveal her deepest secrets. Sniffing, she threw herself in his arms so violently that candle wax spilled on his forearm, and the light went out. He pulled his sleeve away, cooling the burn, set down the candle and squeezed her against him. Nothing had felt as sweet as having Elizabeth in his arms. She smelled like a spring day, like freshly cut grass, like Elizabeth. Her hair was soft against his ear, and he could not describe how wonderful her curves felt against him.

"What horrors did you hear about tonight?" Mr. Darcy asked, rubbing her back, letting her sniff against his neck. She ran her fingers through his hair, and he shivered at the sensation. How could he keep away when having her in his arms felt so wonderful?

"Will you introduce me to your lover?"

Her quietly spoken question hung in the air before Mr. Darcy pulled back.

"What? No!"

His tone was sharp, and Elizabeth wondered if it was possible to feel physical pain travel through the body. She cowered, breathless, every heartbeat filling her with more hurt. What had she expected? Much as he loved her now, she couldn't keep his interest for long, but at least he had not lied to her. Oh, how could she find the heart to continue tonight, knowing how fleeting his love would be? How could she continue, knowing that, soon, he would spend a night with another woman?

Tears flowing in earnest, Elizabeth pulled away, pressing her lips tightly together to keep herself from crying out. She stood up.

"I appreciate your honesty."


"I always… knew I am not so lovely as to tempt you for long. I—I wish I had not been so naive, but my pain is my own doing. Do not feel bad, sir, it will pass."

Mr. Darcy stood up, hesitating, putting all the pieces of her words together. "You think—you think I will find a—lover?"

She wrapped arms around herself, fighting to keep composure.

"You just confirmed it," she whispered.

"I did no such thing," Mr. Darcy defended. He took three long strides to stand in front of her, and slowly, giving Elizabeth time to step back, he raised his hand to rub her arm. Lowering his head, he whispered, "You don't trust my love for you."

"I do," she said, but then hesitated. "I've also become aware that it is not uncommon for a man of your station to find pleasure elsewhere, once your wife becomes with child and I—I… If you want to do the same, will you—will you pretend to still find me pleasing, sometimes? I want to bear your children, but if you could still find me lovely as I do so, I would—I would… nothing could be more wonderful. I would still want to—to hug you and—and—kiss you and—"

Mr. Darcy gathered her in his arms as she started wrecking with sobs, and he sat on the edge of her bed, pulling her in his lap, holding her tightly. "Nothing, nothing is more beautiful to a man than a woman he loves carrying his child. Nothing, my love."

She sniffed against his neck, feeling his warmth, his worry and love, letting it consume her. Yet, she had more to say. "But, what if, even if you do find me beautiful, you do not find me desirable? Or, what if I have nights when I am so tired I do not feel I can please you? What if I have a headache, or what if I only want to sleep by your side?"

Mr. Darcy smiled against her ear, squeezing her before he took her hand in his, holding it. "My dear Elizabeth, I managed eight and twenty years before you. A week, a month or nine, it matters not. I cannot find myself another because there is no other."

Her head jerked back so quickly her neck cracked. "You never—?"

Perhaps it was not the wisest thing to do, admitting his inexperience to the woman he loved, but he could not help his honesty. "I never," he replied.

A sharp inhale signified her joy before she flung herself in his arms, holding on so tightly as to feel his heartbeat and share her own. Kissing his neck, she hummed, and Mr. Darcy explained, "My father once told me that he and my mother had only ever been with each other, and that sharing that kind of love was the source of their happiness. I always strived to have no less than what they shared."

Elizabeth felt his goose bumps as she breathed against his neck, and it felt incredible that she affected him as deeply as he affected her.

"I love you, William," she whispered, brushing her lips against his skin, her fingertips against his linen shirt, her nose against his hair. Mr. Darcy squeezed her in the most precious way, running his fingers through her hair, humming.

"I love you, too, Elizabeth," he replied. "Most ardently."

Her teeth pressed against his skin as she smiled, but he did not seem to mind.

"So if I am sick or otherwise indisposed, you will not mind… waiting?"

"My dear Elizabeth…" Mr. Darcy took her fingers, and surrounded one of them with his own. "I will not, and if I find myself impatient, I have my hands."

She blushed furiously as he squeezed her fingers. It did not feel crude, what he was trying to say, and while she found herself embarrassed by his forwardness, she also found herself curious. "Would you mind if I also tried to—please you with my hands? Would you find it improper?"

She did not think she could blush deeper, and she knew he could feel the warmth of it against his neck. Mr. Darcy, however, let out a small, unexpected laugh. "Nothing that pleases us in the martial bed is improper. I cannot imagine how much I would enjoy your hands, but I would like to return the favour."

She knew he could feel the nod against his neck because he kissed her cheek. He lingered, breathing against her skin before he said, "Elizabeth, I wish… I will always wish my wife and mistress to smell like you, taste like you, tease like you and breathe like you. I can only love a woman capable of that, and I can only ever think about making love to a woman who can do all that. If anything, carrying my child will make you even more desirable for me, if such a thing is possible. Do you trust me on this?"

"I do. I am sorry to have doubted you." Elizabeth combed her fingers through his hair. "Like you, I only wish my husband to smell like you, taste like you, talk like you and kiss like you, and no other will ever compare."

She could feel his smile against her cheek.

"Are you talking so freely because it's dark or because we are now married?"

"I am talking so freely because you are my precious Elizabeth, and I want you to always come to me with your doubts before you assume the worst."

"I'm not used to being so loved."

Gathering her in his arms, he stood up, whispering, "You better get used to it for I have plenty of love to give."

He nearly stumbled on the forgotten candle on the doorway, but he only squeezed her tighter against him before he sat on the edge of his bed and nudged her to straddle him. Hiding her blush in his neck, she did as he asked. Smiling, he trailed kisses along her neck before he rubbed her jaw with his thumb and kissed her on the lips.

"I thought you'd been told some wicked horror stories of the marital bed."

Grinning, she pushed back the hair on his forehead, enjoying the warmth of his skin and the care in his gentle hands. "I must admit to being afraid you will not find me pleasing."

"Nonsense," he replied. "I could not find you any more pleasing."

"How do you know?"

"Because you're my Elizabeth," he answered, pressing his lips against hers. She opened her mouth, gasping, tugging, breathing him in and feeling herself tingle. She slid her fingers under his shirt and started trailing a pattern upwards, pleased when Mr. Darcy shuddered against her, groaning.

"William." She smiled when he gripped her waist, panting as he held her. "May I ask a favour of you?"

He shut his eyes, keeping himself under control as he pressed his lips to her forehead. "Anything."

"May I move into your room?"

Elizabeth turned her head to see a glimpse of his eyes, but before she could see anything, he lifted her to the centre of the bed. She let out a squeal. He covered her body with his, wrapping her in his arms and rolling over so that they nearly fell off the bed. She laughed when he started tickling her. "William!"

Immediately, his fingers stopped the tickling but remained at her waist. Rubbing his nose over her face, feeling her breath and soft hair and fingers on his neck, he failed to hide his grin. A man could not contain so much happiness, surely.

"Yes," he whispered.


"Yes," he confirmed, licking her lips, tugging them open. "Forever. And you can't take it back."

Laughing, she gripped his hair at the back of his neck and pulled him to her, no less eager to learn the secrets of his body than he was to learn hers. The night was spent teasing, kissing, and learning to make love, and they fell asleep after sunrise, naked in each other's arms.

Elizabeth's possessions were moved to Mr. Darcy's room, much to the delight of the younger servants at Pemberley who liked intrigue and gossip and had no knowledge of the arrangement Mr. Darcy's parents had had. The housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds, however, could not contain her smile for years to come—her master had found a most worthy companion.