Chapter 1: March 1814

Elizabeth Darcy sat in the closed carriage next to her husband, as of this morning, Fitzwilliam Darcy. The wedding had gone smoothly, without any of her family disgracing themselves unduly. Now they were headed to Scotland for a month-long honeymoon. Behind the Darcy carriage was that of the other newlyweds, Charles and Jane Bingley.

Elizabeth glanced up at her husband, admiring his finely chiseled features but also a little annoyed. This was their wedding day and he had barely said a word to her since they entered the carriage an hour ago. He sat, with one arm propped on the window ledge, the other holding her hand possessively, gazing out the window in apparently deep reflection. Sighing a little, Lizzy shifted her position on the seat. Perhaps he was merely tired. She certainly was. It had been a long day after all, and they still had an hour's journey before they reached the inn where they were to spend the night. Her new position cramped her arm, the hand of which Darcy was still holding firmly. She attempted to withdraw her hand but he held on determinedly. Elizabeth decided it was time for some conversation.

"Mr. Darcy, you are hurting my hand," she said.

"It's Fitzwilliam," he answered, without looking at her.

She considered this response and then realized that during the pause he had slightly moved his own hand so that it still held hers but no longer pained it.

"Fitzwilliam…" She tried again to get him to look at her.

He turned from the window and fastened his dark eyes on her with a very disarming expression. "What is it Elizabeth?" His tone was calm but there was just a hint of a smile in the corners of his mouth.

Now she was caught, with no answer ready. "How far are we from the inn?" she asked as a way of gaining a little time even though she knew very well.

"About an hour. Do you need to rest? I can have the carriage stopped."

"Oh, no," she returned, glad that he was now paying attention to her. "I just wondered."

"I hope the ride is not unpleasant to you."

"No indeed although I might wish for a more animated traveling companion," she said, attempting to speak playfully.

He looked at her searchingly. She blushed under his gaze and he dropped his eyes and, looking back at the window again, said evenly, "I will converse with pleasure on any subject you wish my dear."

Lizzy sighed again.

Throughout the months of their engagement they had come to talk freely with each other, but now he was undeniably holding back. A sudden fear came over her that the Darcy she had first met was his true self and that the Darcy of the last few months that she had come to love so dearly was not. But this misgiving was shaken off with a quick shrug. No. Her Darcy was the real one, never very talkative, but sincere in everything he said. He had a passionate side. She had seen it in his eyes, felt it in his kiss that morning as they were driving away from the church.

She made another attempt at conversation. "I am looking forward to visiting Scotland. I have heard others speak of its beauties but always wanted to see them for myself. Many people, on being cross examined, can recount very little of what they actually saw causing one to wonder whether they were unobservant or so awed they feel they cannot do it justice with words."

"Both are possible," he replied. "However I daresay you shall have no trouble with either. You are one of the most observant people I have ever met, and I cannot imagine you at a loss for words."

"Is that a hint for me to be silent or a compliment, or a criticism for that matter?"

"It was an observation," he said with a smile.

She smiled back, she couldn't help herself. She was leaning against his arm and now lay her head on his shoulder. He twisted one of her loose curls around his finger. She lifted her face and looked at him.

"I love you," she whispered.

She had said all he needed to hear. He looked into her eyes and bent over her. His lips claimed hers.

The inn was reached. Darcy stepped out and assisted his wife from the carriage.

Jane and Bingley had alighted and were coming up. The couples made their way into the cozy dining room of the inn. After a light supper, Lizzy declared she was tired and turned to go upstairs. Jane followed her.

Darcy was standing by the fire with Bingley, discussing the route for the next day. His eyes followed Lizzy out of the room, although his mouth continued to form sentences about the weather and the roads.

The bedchamber was large and stately. Lizzy supposed it must be the best in the house. Darcy would not have settled for less. She undressed, feeling a gratitude to her husband for not rushing things and giving her time to adjust. She was sitting at the dressing table in her nightgown, brushing out her hair when he entered. She suddenly felt awkward and nervous. He crossed the room, removed his coat and cravat and sat down on the edge of the bed to remove his traveling boots. Lizzy watched him silently. He stood up and walked towards the washroom but paused by a window to look out at the still, dark landscape. Standing up, Lizzy moved towards the window. Darcy smiled at his wife. The moonlight fell on her face and shone in her beautiful eyes. He wrapped an arm around her. His lips caressed her hair and forehead. She looked up at him and laughed softly.

He frowned in mock anger. "What amuses you so Mrs. Darcy?"

"I don't know," she said honestly. "I'm just so happy."

Another moment, and he had scooped her up in his arms and carried her off to the bed.

The view was spectacular. The sun was rising like a giant ball of fire over the ruins on the hill with the purple mountains taking shape through the morning mists. Lizzy was glad she had gotten up early for this even though the March air was brisk and the mist chilly. She shivered slightly.

"You are cold," said Darcy. Even the view would not distract him from her for long.

"Only a little," she admitted. "But to look at that warms me. And this warms me still more," she said with a smile as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders. She lent back against him.

They were on the second week of their honeymoon and halfway through their tour of Scotland. It was as beautiful as she had always imagined it would be, but now Lizzy felt that she had seen enough.

"Fitzwilliam," she said suddenly. "I want to go home to Pemberley."

He looked startled but not displeased. "Why?" he asked simply.

"I want to start to learn how to be mistress of the place. I, I want to see it. I am homesick for a place I have never lived. You never know how long it will be before I have… other duties and I should like to have a clear idea of how to manage first."

"I wouldn't have told you for anything," Darcy said, smiling at her with that look in his eyes she knew so well. "But I want to go home too. I am anxious about leaving Georgiana alone there all summer. Thank you for your frankness. We shall start for home tomorrow morning if that is agreeable to you."

"Indeed it is," with a bright smile. "But what of Jane and Bingely?"

"They will likely want to continue the journey. I doubt they are as eager to return to Netherfield as we are to Pemberley. In any case I shall speak to Bingley about it tonight."

"And I to Jane."

"Elizabeth… those other duties you mentioned. You don't think…"

"No Fitzwilliam. I am sorry if I made you think that. No, I have no reason to suppose that yet."

"Don't distress yourself dearest. I just wanted to be sure." He kissed her lightly to end the discussion.

Jane and Bingley, who had strolled to the opposite side of the hill, returned towards where they had left the Darcys. As they rounded a turn in the path they stopped and stood still, not wishing to disturb the pretty picture before them. Darcy and Elizabeth were silhouetted against the rising sun. Their foreheads were touching; their arms entwined. Jane caught her husband's eye and they shared a secret smile of happiness. They watched for a moment but the couple at the top of the hill did not move, so Jane and Charles turned away discreetly, down a different path.

Mrs. Reynolds!" Georgiana cried as she flew from her post at the window. "I see the carriage!"

"Now, now, Miss Darcy. No need to fly into a frenzy. Let us go down and greet the Master and the new Missus in a civilized manner."

Georgiana looked crestfallen but then, catching the sparkle of anticipation in the housekeeper's eye she smiled and hurried down the stairs. Mrs. Reynolds had been with the family before Georgiana was born and it was just her way of reminding the young lady to behave with propriety. Mrs. Reynolds was excited too.

The servants lined up along the steps, from the housekeeper and butler to the lowliest scullery maid. The Darcy carriage rolled up and stopped before the house. A footman opened the door and Mr. Darcy jumped out. A cheer arose from the servants. They couldn't help themselves. The Master had been missed. Darcy smiled almost boyishly. He held out his hand to Elizabeth who descended rather shyly. Another cheer arose at the sight of the new Mistress of Pemberley. Lizzy laughed in delight.

Darcy's eyes scanned the group for his sister. Georgiana came forward bashfully and greeted her new sister with a kiss on the cheek. She stammered something about how glad she was, even though tears of long pent up excitement, happiness and nervousness were threatening to choke her.

Lizzy studied her eyes and said, "Dearest Georgiana, I am counting on you to help me a great deal my first few weeks here. You see I am very new to my position and very nervous. Will you help me please?"

Georgiana could only nod with a shaky "Oh yes," before Darcy interrupted.

"What kind of greeting is that for an only brother?"

Georgiana turned to him and he held out his arms with a smile. He was so openly affectionate and so happy looking. She threw herself into his arms, wiped away her tears on his shoulder and laughed as he swung her around in his arms.

Mrs. Reynolds felt tears welling up in her own eyes and brushed them away hastily.

Mr. Darcy offered one arm to his wife and the other to his sister. The trio made their way up the steps behind Mrs. Reynolds who had offered her congratulations with a warm smile for Elizabeth and a hearty press of the hand for Darcy which said more than a thousand words. Their progress was slow for Mrs. Darcy stopped repeatedly to speak to this or that servant. Her sweet smile and kind words earned her the respect of her household without her realizing it.

When Lizzy collapsed into her new feather-bed that night she was asleep in less than a minute. It had been a long and tiring day, but she was content. The afternoon had been spent in getting to know the house, its routines and inmates. She had toured the building more fully than with her aunt and uncle on that first unlucky visit. That visit that had proved to be the best mistake of her life.

Elizabeth only stirred and turned in her sleep as her husband joined her an hour later. His chamber was just through a little dressing room, so it was possible to go from one to the other without entering any of the hallways. He too was asleep in a few moments, having worked hard all day catching up on business affairs.

The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Darcy rode all over Pemberley. They took the carriage because Lizzy was not comfortable yet on a horse. Darcy promised that he would teach her himself and that she would be perfectly at ease on a horse by the end of the month. He took pride in his stables of fine, well bred, mannerly yet spirited horses. Every other morning, he spent an hour working with the grooms at training the young thoroughbreds.

The workers in the fields raised their hats and called out greeting and congratulations. Elizabeth marveled at the neatness and orderliness of the fields and the village. Darcy stopped to talk with the men and inquired of a little girl if her mother were better.

Lizzy realized more fully how much responsibility rested on her husband's shoulders. It had been forced on him at a young age when many young men were idling away their time in foolish pleasures and it had made a man out of him. He worked hard, and with a precision and regularity which would never cease to amaze his wife, who vowed to herself that she would be a worthy helpmate for him and run the house and do any other tasks which fell to her lot as well as she possibly could.