Important Author's Note: This story is a continuation or sequel to one of my earlier stories: Life at Pemberley. Events and characters are introduced in that story which may make this one confusing for new readers. So if you haven't read that one yet, feel free to pop on over to my page, read it, and come back here when you're done. I'd love to have you. :)

Less Important Author's Note: Well, here I am again, exactly one year and eight days after the day I posted the first chapter of Life at Pemberley. I was hoping to get this chapter up eight days ago... but it didn't work out that way obviously. :) I hope you all enjoy this installment! Here goes...

Chapter 1: May 1817

Kitty Fitzwilliam hurried down the main hall at Rosings, its large windows with their expensive glazing, once tightly closed, now open to the May breezes. There was a letter in her hand, a bright smile on her lips and a spring in her step.

At the head of the stairs she almost ran into her husband who was coming up to find her.

"Where are you going so fast and with such a happy face?" Richard asked, smiling too as he gathered her up in his arms.

"Lizzy has written, see. The letter was delayed and they shall arrive today," Kitty exclaimed brightly.

"What a wonderful bit of news. But has it really been so terrible here with me that you are made desperate for other society?" Richard questioned, raising his eyebrows inquiringly.

"You goose, of course not!" laughed Kitty, wrapping her arms about his neck and pulling at his hair playfully. "But I am eager to see Lizzy. I want her to see Rosings as it is now. I want her to meet James and see how Cathy has grown."

"And so you should," he said, hugging her to him again. "You have done wonders here Kitty, and no one has a better right to honest pride than you."

"Thank you, Richard," she whispered, tears springing to her eyes in spite of herself, for she had worked hard and his praise was very dear to her.

"Now," he said, touching her hand lightly. "I must settle a few matters before I devote myself to our prospective guests for the afternoon. If you will excuse me, my love?"

"Oh, goodness yes. I have so much to do before they get here."

"I love you Kitty."

She did not answer in words—but she blew him a kiss as she hurried down the hall.

"There is the parsonage," exclaimed Elizabeth as she caught sight of it through the trees of the long lane. "I daresay the Collins are down to the village for I do not see anyone." Another minute passed, then, "There, there is Rosings!"

Darcy, sitting opposite her and Georgiana with William on his knee and Louis' basket beside him, watched her with a somewhat amused expression.

"Might I inquire as to why the prospect gives you such delight?" he asked blandly.

Lizzy looked at him in surprise. "It is not the prospect; I confess I saw little to admire in the artificial nature of the place when last I saw it. No, it is the people who live here now and the events which have passed here that move me."

"I see they have begun trimming the bushes into a more natural shape. Richard always suggested it when he visited, and Lady Catherine always refused decidedly," Darcy commented.

Lizzy turned to look fully at her husband but addressed his sister. "Georgiana, I am obliged to think that your brother feigns such complacence to hide his true feelings. I do not believe him capable of so little emotion as he professes."

Georgiana smiled but simply said, "The bushes are indeed altered Lizzy."

"And so is the very air of the place. Every feature no longer screams Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It feels like a home," Elizabeth added warmly.

Darcy and Georgiana shared a smile as Lizzy leaned out the window to look again at the fast approaching house.

"Kitty, they are here," called Richard as he espied the carriage from a window. She appeared directly, her face alight with eagerness and they stepped out together to meet it.

In a few short moments the Darcys were out of the carriage and Kitty was trying to wrap her arms around Lizzy and Georgiana at the same time.

"Oh, how I have missed you both!" she exclaimed, gripping their hands as if she feared they might disappear if she let go.

"You look very well Kitty," Lizzy observed with a happy smile as Georgiana moved to embrace her cousin Richard. He in his turn had already greeted Darcy, where he stood nearby with his eldest son on his arm, with the warm affection that had always subsisted between them.

"If happiness can cause good health then I ought to be the healthiest woman in the world," Kitty said with a merry laugh, her looks giving proof enough of her words.

Richard now approached Lizzy who held out her hand to him. He took it and pressed it warmly. "Sister," he greeted her.

"Richard," she returned the salutation, smiling at him. "You don't know how glad I am to see you both."

"The feeling is mutual. We are very happy to have you here. Aren't we Kitty?" drawing her to his side.

"Indeed we are," she agreed. "Now please come inside, all of you. Where is my little nephew Louis?"

Lizzy turned to lift the child from his basket in the carriage and he lay in her arms, blinking drowsily at the sunlight and strange faces which peered down at him.

The party went inside and up to the nursery, for, to the new parents, it was the place of greatest interest.

Darcy set William, who had begun to squirm violently, on the floor and the little boy stood, surveying the room with a finger in his mouth. He caught sight of little Cathy, who he had not seen in over a year and certainly could not remember, and took a wobbly step backwards.

"Baby!" he said, looking up at his mother and pointing to Cathy.

Richard laughed aloud and bent down beside his adopted daughter.

The nurse had handed James over to Kitty and she, Lizzy and Georgiana were cooing over him and Louis, who regarded each-other stoically from their respective mother's arms.

Darcy moved to stand by Richard who sat on his heels behind Cathy, as she held on to his finger and regarded William dubiously from her hazel eyes.

"Baby!" William cried again.

"Her name is Cathy," said Richard.

William looked uncertain for a moment, then a smile lighted up his little face. "Baby! Catty!" He crowed.

Cathy sat down suddenly as her little legs gave way under her, as one-and-a-half-year-old legs are wont to do. William, thinking it was some sort of game, did likewise and they sat staring at each other in a friendly silence.

"I think they will be fine," remarked Richard, standing up and addressing Darcy. "Shall we?" He motioned in the direction of the door. "I doubt we shall be wanted for a solid three hours."

Darcy smiled and turned to exit the room. Richard followed him out and shut the door quietly.

"You seemed very much in your element, Richard," Darcy remarked dryly.

"So are you, in Pemberley's nursery when no one is about," retorted Richard.

Darcy smiled. "I confess crowded spaces never put me at my ease."

"I hadn't the faintest idea," Richard said dryly, at the same time clapping Darcy on the shoulder. "Shall we walk or ride?"

Kitty, on coming down to the parlor late in the evening, found Georgiana alone. She was standing by a window, watching the sunset. Her golden hair shone like a halo as she turned to address her friend—silhouetted as she was against the colorful sky.

"The others are taking a turn about the garden. I thought I would wait and see if you would like to join them or sit here together until they come back."

"Thank you for thinking of me. I am a little tired and should like to wait for them here if you have no objection," Kitty said as she crossed to the window and stood beside her friend.

They watched quietly as the horizon changed from blue to amethyst and as copper and gold threads of clouds were embroidered on its clear surface by some skillful, unseen hand.

A wistful look crept into Georgiana's dark eyes and, despite being only a few months older, Kitty felt a motherly instinct towards her friend and longed to comfort her.

Georgiana slipped her hand into Kitty's and she clasped it tightly.

"Will you come and sit with me Georgiana?" she asked finally.

The younger girl nodded and they turned from the window to sit together quietly on the sofa.

"I have missed our late-night conversations Georgie," Kitty said.

"Yes," said Georgiana, smiling a little. "We would talk for hours after everyone else was asleep.

"Lizzy never found out."

"No." Georgiana laughed, but there was a sound of tears in her voice.

"You are tired dear," exclaimed Kitty tenderly, "The trip was long perhaps."

"No, not tired. Don't mind me Kitty."

"Is something wrong then?"

"It is foolish."

"I shall not think so. I am very foolish myself, although I hope I am improving."

"It is selfish, I do not mind it usually. You shall despise me if I tell you."

"I could never despise you, my sweet Georgiana! Any fault you confide to me will only relieve me, for I have so often thought your goodness and sweetness impossible to reach. Tell me Georgie."

"Well, you and Lizzy have found such happiness in your husbands and children. I wonder if such happiness will ever be mine. I suppose I am jealous, but I do not wish to lessen your happiness, only to augment my own."

Kitty almost smiled but hid it hastily. "Why Georgie, such feelings come to everyone surely. There is nothing wrong in hoping for love."

"But I begin to despair of it. And as I do so I grow more envious of the love I see around me."

Kitty looked at her friend earnestly. Georgiana was twenty years old, in the full bloom of her youth and beauty, for she was of that type whom people will call a beautiful girl, although never a pretty one.

"Surely you do not lack suitors Georgie? Why, the winter we were in town together there were many gentlemen, very eager to make your acquaintance. And I know several of them renewed their attentions this past winter. I only wondered at your being so indifferent towards them all."

"You do not know the evils of having a large dowry. I have no way of knowing if a man desires me as a wife for my own sake or for my money."

"Indeed, I know nothing of that evil. Only that of having too little," Kitty replied quietly.

Georgiana leaned back on the cushions and spoke thoughtfully. "I think it very strange that all people have troubles, no matter if they are wealthy or not, and yet people never seem to realize it and constantly seek after riches as a means of avoiding anxieties."

"It is unfortunate…" said Kitty uncertainly, for she was not quite able to follow Georgiana's thoughts, and feared to wound her by saying the wrong thing.

"I know that there are people who are starving to whom money is a blessing beyond compare but I think that those who have enough need not always be striving for excess. Society does not respect such a lifestyle however."

Kitty leaned her cheek on her hand and regarded Georgiana quietly, feeling that to unburden herself unchecked would do more for Georgiana than any words she might offer could.

After a moment the younger girl continued earnestly, "I am determined that I would rather remain unmarried than to settle for a love less beautiful than those which I have witnessed around me. Lizzy's and Fitzwilliam's, yours and Richard's, Jane's and Mr. Bingley's. I am so fortunate or so unfortunate, I hardly know which, as to have had examples before me which spoil any desire for the insipid type of union which so many of those who marry for money settle for. I realize that such an attitude may well lead to my living at Pemberley my whole life, and still I will not alter it," she ended, with more vehemence than Kitty had ever heard from her gentle, shy friend.

"I think your resolve is a noble one," Kitty exclaimed. "And Georgiana, think. If so many of those who you know have found such happiness it seems obvious that there must be another such for you. You should by no means despair so soon."

Georgiana pressed her hand and they sat silently for a minute. Then Georgiana whispered softly, "Thank you Kitty. I always feel I can talk to you."

"As you always may."

"You won't tell Lizzy or Fitzwilliam what I said, or even Richard?"

"No, but surely they wish you to be happy and would only try to help you."

"I know that, but I feel I would be reproaching them for their happiness, which I could never do. They are so good to me and Lizzy has spoken to me a few times, but I am sometimes too ashamed to admit my feelings to her."

Kitty leaned forward and placed her hand over her friend's. "Your confidences are safe with me. And I think you shall find love soon, Georgiana. But until you find someone who deserves you, you need never fear that you will lack those who cherish you. I know how much your brother and Lizzy love you, and you will always be my dearest friend."

"I am so glad we are finally here. It is so good to see you Kitty," whispered Georgiana, unable to speak aloud past the lump in her throat.

"We shall have the best times while you are here. You wait and see," Kitty said with a mischievous smile.

The sound of footsteps in the hallway told them that the others were returned from their evening stroll. Georgiana wiped her eyes hastily and was ready to great them with smiles when they entered.

The evening passed away with pleasant conversation and games before the party broke up for the night.