Mutual Pride

Written by Lilyjoy92 though this is of course, fanfiction. I have no rights to any of Jane Austen's work. Thank you for reading!

Chapter 1

"Her favorite walk, and where she frequently went while the others were calling on Lady Catherine, was along the open grove which edged the side of the park where there was a nice sheltered path, which no one seemed to value but herself and where she felt beyond the reach of Lady Catherine's curiosity." (Jane Austen pt. 2 ch. 7)

"More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favorite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did and even a third …" (Jane Austen pt. 2 ch. 10)

Fitzwilliam Darcy was well pleased when he caught sight of Miss Bennet walking in grove ahead of him. He made his presence known by calling a greeting then quickened his pace to join her. He was eager to spend time in her company, for she was everything pleasant and lively. Miss Elizabeth's charming manners were just what he needed to counteract the frustrations of visiting his aunt. His mother's sister, Lady Catherine De'Bourg, seemed to be living under the assumption that he come to Kent every Easter for her advice, rather than to check up on her. She was an intelligent woman but had not been raised to run an estate like a male heir would have been. His father used to come out every year to go over her books and see that the steward was not taking advantage, so Darcy's continued visits were just one of the many responsibilities that he had inherited from his father. If only Lady Catherine would realize this Darcy thought, maybe she would stop offering quite so much advice! But had to admit to himself that even then, it would be unlikely for his aunt to hold herself back. After all she did not scruple to offer constant advice to Miss Bennet, a person wholly unconnected with her and without particular interest in her guidance.

Only then did he realize he had been walking next to Miss. Bennet for some minutes without saying anything after greeting her. Slightly embarrassed to have been so silent Darcy said the first thing that came into his head.

"How do you enjoy Hansford society, Miss Bennet?" Though the question felt a little abrupt he thought it was a good topic, for her eyes always seemed to light up when talking of people and their little eccentricities. He had noticed often how much she seemed to enjoy people in general. How he admired that trait. How he envied it!

"I am afraid, Mr. Darcy, that I cannot speak much on this subject as I am at the disposal of Charlotte and my cousin, whom are not very much in society." Elizabeth Bennet answered, but then her eyes did sparkle, and her mischievous dimple appeared as she added "but what society I have been exposed to has been very generous and attentive."

Darcy stifled his laugh. How he loved it her wit. For of course, her comment was a tease about his aunts uninvited assistance in all matters. How much longer could he hold out against her charms? For a moment he couldn't tear his eyes off her face. Her face alight with amusement, the sun in her hair, strength and confidence in her every step. There was something very energetic and confident in her air that entranced Darcy. That she was also every inch the polite and genteel lady completed her perfection his eyes.

Yes, his ardent admiration for Miss Elizabeth Bennet was quickly winning the war against his more pragmatic side. It was one thing to ignore the desires of his heart when he had been in her home town of Hertfordshire. For in that place every exposure to her lovely liveliness was accompanied by every reminder of her unsuitability, namely, her family.

Her father was a gentleman and well respected in the area as an estate owner and leader in the community but was far too amused by the foibles of his neighbors and family to intervene when he should. Elizabeth's mother was terror. Darcy inwardly shuddered just thinking of her. She was the daughter of a tradesmen and the low breeding showed! She laughed loudly and without restrain, actually shrieking at times. She spoke of money in public, both hers and anyone else's. Mrs. Bennet also indulged in over drinking at parties and the shameless matching-making of her daughters for financial incentive. Adding to Elizabeth's poor connections were her very silly, three younger sisters. Each one in their own way were self-involved little horrors. Also, she had Uncles that were in trade! Though the name Bennet was itself an old and respectable name, Darcy could not think to connect himself with it in its current state.

With these considerations in mind he had torn himself away from her, and his friend from her sister, four months ago, thinking that he would never see her again. But then Elizabeth had been here in Kent when he had arrived! And if anything, had grown more beautiful, more delightful then she had been four months ago when he had left her. Every night he was tortured with her image in his dreams and during the day could hardly resist running to her and proclaiming his love.

Another glance at her face and he saw she was looking at him with an odd expression. Though he wasn't sure what the expression signified, it reminded him that he had again lapsed into silence. "And how do you find your friend Mrs. Collins? And your cousin? Do you think that they are happy to be here at Hunsford?"

He hoped the Collins did like Hunsford, because if he did break down and marry Elizabeth then she would have pleasant friend in the area. For a moment he was caught up in a daydream where they were married, and she would accompany him here for his yearly visit. She would be someone he could confide in as well as a welcome break from the personalities housed here. Yes, she would make the time spent at Rosings very pleasant indeed.

"My cousin could not be more pleased, Sir, he is tremendously grateful for your aunt's condescension. Charlotte, I mean Mrs. Collins is, I think, quite satisfied. She enjoys her relative freedom and the ability to run her own home."

Darcy nodded. He liked Mrs. Collins, he saw in her a bit of a kindred spirit. She was quiet, serious person with a very practical attitude. Then Darcy disparaged his own thought. He, practical? Though he had always considered himself thus, his recent obsession with Miss Bennet seemed to argue against it.

"Colonel Fitzwilliam tells me your visit is almost at an end. How did you enjoy your time with your aunt and cousin?" Then Miss Elizabeth laughed, "But here, what could I be speaking of? You could not have but enjoyed yourself! As we all know what prestigious care Lady Catherine takes of her favorite guests."

"My time has been well spent. Her estate is in good order. As for being a guest of my aunt, few people could complain. Every comfort is looked after, and the rooms are very fine." Darcy did not want her understanding how much he disliked coming here. After all, he might someday try to convince her to accompany him.

"Oh, yes, I am sure. Not the smallest of discomforts would be overlooked." Elizabeth said solemnly but with a sparkle in her mischievous eyes. Lord, how he loved those beautiful eyes!

"It is true. Every room has its own copper tub, luxurious furniture, fresh linens every morning, and the staff is very well trained. No guest of my aunt's could want for anything." Darcy insisted. But then he was suddenly worried that he was being too transparent. She would know why he wanted to convince her of his aunt's hostess skills if he wasn't careful. He did not want to get her hopes up when he hadn't quite made up his mind yet.

But who was he fooling? How else could she interpret him finding her so often on her walks? Why this must have been the third time they had met up. But still he should not be so open without having a certainty of purpose.

"Of course, sir, I meant no offence. Your lady aunt is everything generous." said Elizabeth in a somewhat subdued voice.

Darcy didn't know what to say. If he let her know her teases were justified, that indeed his aunt did fuss and try to control every aspect of his stay with her, then it would be admitting to being miserable. But if he continued to defend his aunt then he would give away his hopes. Better to say nothing further.

"No offence taken, Miss Bennet." Darcy said just to relieve her mind and then lapsed into silence. He so loved that she didn't feel the need to fill every minute with conversation as some women did. He did enjoy their comfortable silences. Soon they had circled the park and she took her leave of him.