Yes, I know, this story was supposed to be a one shot. But here is a second chapter.

BEWARE! This part of the story is MATURE! (Nothing really bad, but still.)

- X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X -

The next morning, when they woke up, the light was shining through the window, eerie and blinding, through the very white curtains, on the very white sheets.

"This is perfect," Elizabeth whispered.

He didn't ask why.

- X -


- X -

He totally asked why.

Darcy smirked and stretched. "Why?" he asked smugly. "Give me three rational reasons."

Elizabeth looked at him with amused affection. Outside, kids were playing near the lake, their voices a reminder of all the beauty outside.

Strange how content she felt.

"First reason, Mr. Darcy... Your eyes. Your eyes are… very fine. Intense. They make it seem like you are having deep, clever thoughts."

"Excellent analysis." Darcy lied back on the pillows with a self-satisfied air. "My thoughts are always original and profound."

"And modest."

"I kill at modesty."

"Second reason… Your skin." They were both still naked after the previous night's shenanigans, the sheet only half covering them. "First-rate skin," Elizabeth continued, "rated on texture, aroma, everything." To prove her point, she kissed him on the lips, then the kisses went downward, on his neck, his collarbone, his chest, his stomach.

"Indeed. Please continue your perusal."

"Third reason," Elizabeth added, her hands landing south. "Your..." She waited a moment, her eyes full of mirth, before saying: "…thighs. Especially your left… Right here. I like it."

It was Darcy's turn to sigh. "Dear Miss Bennet, I find you strangely prude, especially for a med student. We are at a point in our relationship where you can use real anatomic words; nobody will disapprove."

"No, I couldn't. This is the problem with med school, actually. Words feel... crude… functional. No poetry left in them."

"Fine, then invent some," Darcy said, caressing her cheek.

"Invent… erotic words? Like, what? The… Manly Rapier and the Moist Orchid?"

"How horrifying. The 'Moist Orchid' is pretty revolting. As for 'Manly Rapier', the term is not that original. I am sure someone has already used it somewhere, in a book I'll never read."

"You are a horrible person," Elizabeth decided while giving him a friendly shove, "pushing me to invent words and then mocking me. I was right at the beginning – about you, I mean. A horrible, haughty, cruel man..."

"Hum," was Darcy's answer, he wasn't really listening, he was too busy lifting the sheet to check if Elizabeth was still naked underneath (she was), his hands caressed her briefly before going right for her moist orchid (I apologize, dear reader, Elizabeth's fault) and after some... swordplay (yes, yes, sorry,) they found themselves on the sheets again, exhausted, happy and hot, bathed in the rays of the midmorning sun.

Outside, cattle bells – faraway voices in the hotel – a turtle dove singing; Elizabeth remembered when she was a kid at her grand-parents tiny tiny house, in a tiny tiny town – there was a turtle dove in the courtyard – she loved listening to it in the morning, closing her eyes, letting her imagination wander. "What do you say of breakfast in bed?" Darcy whispered after much kissing, Elizabeth found the idea most agreeable, so he got dressed and came back a few minutes later with a tray and pastries.

Elizabeth, drinking coffee, with a view on the lake, was indeed thinking her life the epitome of perfection when Darcy asked:

"What do you mean, you were right at the beginning – and I was a horrible, haughty, cruel man?"

- X -

Wave of internal panic.

- X -

Which Elizabeth deftly hid with a smile. Then, a new sip of coffee, taking all-her-time, the problem was, Darcy was far from a fool, he understood what stalling was, and his face turned serious.

"I was not a fan of you at first," Elizabeth said, at last, deciding for sincerity. "Maybe you felt it?" She put her hand on Darcy's arm. "I had this idea that you despised me and my family… You know," she had a tense laugh, "my father's building – he could do a better job, and Lydia and Kitty – and my mom – paragons of good manners that they are… I suppose, because I was sensitive about it, I imagined disapproval in your eyes and resented you for it – don't worry, she added with a light kiss on the cheek, "they were more my issues than yours."


"I never disapproved of you."

"Oh." Elizabeth waited.

"The rest – it was not only your imagination."

She nodded. "Ok. Good to know I'm not crazy. Is it going to be a problem?"

"No." Darcy turned to her, his eyes soft. "To be honest, my misgivings seem absurd to me now. I would spend a week alone with your mother if it meant a day here in this hotel with you."

"How heroic," Elizabeth said smilingly – so, so relieved – so – that was it? They had both told the truth and – the Apocalypse didn't happen – no WWIII, no aliens invading – just a reasonable, respectful conversation? "I like this," she said, getting closer to his naked body – he had removed his clothes to get back in bed, and was nursing his own coffee. "I love it," Elizabeth continued. "Sincerity, trust… That augurs well. Let's make a pact to be always frank with each other. Deal?"

Darcy didn't answer.

- X -

He took a sip of coffee. Then a second. Taking all-his-time.

Elizabeth raised herself, her back upon the wall. "What is the matter?"

"It is ridiculous," he said, visibly embarrassed, "but – you are right – truth and sincerity… You mean a lot to me, and I wouldn't want..."

A pause.

"I have – admired you – for almost a year," Darcy explained slowly. Not meeting her eyes. Elizabeth was getting worried. "One of the reasons I didn't talk to you earlier was – the financial difference between us. I am always wary – women can be interested. Caroline's affection for me really peaked when I inherited Pemberley – and – when you refused me, but suddenly changed your mind two days after, I was not sure… what could have motivated that change, to be honest."

At first, Elizabeth didn't understand. "What do you mean?"

"One possibility," Darcy explained with reluctance, "was that your refusal was sincere – but after – when you thought about the – practical advantages of the situation…"

Elizabeth turned pale. "Wait," Darcy was stumbling on his words. "Wait – Elizabeth – the thought just – flew through my mind – for, I don't know, a minute or so – but as soon as we arrived, to that place – with the view – I was already…"

Elizabeth couldn't talk, couldn't move. Her hands began to shake – Darcy saw, and tried to take them in his – she shook him off – her face was livid – he tried desperately to explain – "I am only telling you because – you said you wanted a relationship of trust…"

At last, she stood up – and began to frenetically look for her clothes. "I should have known," she whispered, her voice shaky, "I should have known – you know what I was thinking? What I was wondering?" She looked for her underwear – couldn't find it – her mind was in a haze, "I was thinking, it cannot be true, it cannot be so easy, so good – not with him – not with Darcy – he's always so – so spiting – feeling so superior…"

"Elizabeth," he said, trying to take her in his arms. She pushed him weakly away, trying to find her bag – to no avail. "But then I thought, no, I was wrong, I was wrong about him, he's actually great – clever and funny – but – I was not wrong… You are that awful man…"

"Elizabeth, stop – please stop…" Now she was in his arms, she was too confused to resist, or maybe a part of her didn't want to resist – so strange was the situation – both naked, standing near the bedroom's door, he holding her like dear life – it was like there were two Darcys, she thought, the bad one – the one she always knew existed – who despised people and thought females were after him for money – and the Darcy she had come to know, who held such tenderness in his eyes, who was funny and sweet and sarcastic at the same time, yes, two of them, and she didn't know who was the true one, "Elizabeth, listen to me," he said, kissing her desperately – on the temples, on the jaw, below the ear – whatever he could catch – "Listen, please, please, listen. I beg you. Listen. Please."

Then, silence.

The birds and the bells and the rustling of the leaves. But… all lies now. The lake. A lie.


The silence kept stretching – Elizabeth was slowly calming down; Darcy held her closer. Time passed. "I – your arguments are not very compelling," she whispered against his neck.

"I don't really have any. What I said… It is just – the truth of who I am, a part of who I am, and I hope – that you will," Darcy hesitated, "want me anyway. But there is… Listen…"

He told her about Wickham and Georgiana – still standing, still naked, still holding her. Most of Elizabeth's anger evaporated while she listened – she took a step back to better look at him.

"I do not know if it counts as a compelling argument," Darcy explained at the end, "but this is why my mind always goes there – instantly. Georgiana owns half of Pemberley. She was – she is a minor of course, but she still has access to a lot of money, and…"

He made a vague gesture. Elizabeth nodded. "I understand."

"So – I don't need to bar the door? You won't step outside, naked and furious?"

"No. No – you are right. I am glad you told me the truth, I suppose."

Darcy took her right hand into his.

"So there's no shadow?"

- X -

There was a shadow.

- X -

(But at least Wickham did not get near Kitty or Lydia anymore, Elizabeth made sure of that.)

- X -

They went back to town. There was no shadow when Elizabeth met Georgiana, three days later – dinner took place in a restaurant, not in Pemberley, and Darcy's sister was delightful. Shy and eager – Elizabeth was ashamed of her previous unfair prejudice and made a point to be particularly sweet and to draw the girl into conversation – Darcy's look, when he watched the two young women together – it was a thing of wonder.

But then Darcy invited Elizabeth in Pemberley, and it was – a mess, old workshops, industrial ruins, brand new buildings and a huge construction site – a work in progress – but that WIP was clearly worth a lot of money. Darcy described his plans – it was fascinating – except each future step, each new project reminded Elizabeth of… "the practical advantages of the situation."

"I wasn't sure… what could have motivated that change, to be honest."

She felt awkward. Darcy knew she did and felt tense in return – infinite combo of infinite awkwardness. And there was a moment, while they were walking in Pemberley courtyard in silence, near the noisy construction site, workers all around, men giving orders and instructions, tar smoking in the heat, when Elizabeth felt – she felt it was not worth it, to be honest.

She turned to him.


"No." He held her hand tighter. "No. Don't say it."

Because of course – Darcy could see it coming – his flash of foreboding, when they were in the mountains, under the elm trees, where he heard words Elizabeth did not say – "Sorry, Darcy, too much drama, too complicated, your family, your situation, hell no," – it was happening now, for real – in ten seconds he was gonna lose her –

It didn't happen.

Elizabeth kept silent for a while. Then she was all awkward amiableness again and thought it a good idea to invite Darcy into her world, in her studio, the next day – in the Bennet building. On the fourth floor. (The Bennet family apartment was on the sixth.)

But it was all so… shabby. The dirty paint job in the stairwell. The antiquated electrical system, not respecting any norms whatsoever. As for her small apartment – Elizabeth thought it charming – and maybe it was, but it was also old, with a low ceiling; Darcy hit his head on the beams, and to add horror to injury they met Lydia on the way down and the girl was her own boisterous self, but boisterous had transformed into vulgar in Elizabeth's mind – or maybe she imagined that the word "vulgar" was dancing in Darcy's mind, and…

- X -

This relationship is failing, she realized, a few days later.

- X -

It was a horrible realization.

Elizabeth sat on her bed and almost cried.

- X -

Come on. Who cared, right? she thought, the next morning. She had been dating Darcy for, what, two weeks? A guy she had disliked forever – it was not as if she had invested much time in this – two weeks relationships, they failed all the time, nothing to be sad about, really.

- X -

She was so sad.

- X -

She felt wretched. That night, she cried for good. Sobbed for three hours.

- X -

She received a text from Darcy the next morning.

** We have to talk **

Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Elizabeth tried not to think, better rip the band-aid, a two weeks relationship, didn't matter, who cared, certainly not her, she would go and visit Charlotte north at Collins&Collins, they would get so drunk, people healed from breakups all the time, nope, it didn't matter, two weeks, life lessons, again, who cared, ** If you want to break up ** she typed quickly, ** can you do it right now by text? I feel very cowardly this morning. **

This maybe called for a smiley, but she couldn't. She – just – couldn't.


** I do NOT want to break up with you. ** Darcy's answer arrived a nanosecond after. ** Do you? **

** … want to break up with me, I mean? **

** NO. ** was Elizabeth's instantaneous answer. Thank God for all caps.

** Good. Excellent. **

** Thank God. ** she texted right back. Then regretted it – it revealed too much – but the hell with it – she burst into relieved laughter.

- X -

Elizabeth was so happy after – like, walking on air. They still had to talk, though and after much reflection, she sent a new text.

** Can I choose the venue? ** she asked. ** I have an idea. **

- X -

"This is not the most comfortable café I've ever seen," Darcy stated dryly when he joined Elizabeth at her table. A dingy beige table with dingy chairs – but his smile, when he sat down – so happy – and hers too – Elizabeth knew why – it was the ** I do NOT want to break up with you – do you? ** ** NO ** exchange.

In a way, she thought, feeling euphoric, maybe they didn't even need to talk. Maybe the texts had been enough to burst the bubble of absurd.

He took her hands in his. They looked at each other, grinning stupidly – then Darcy kissed Elizabeth fingers, saw her blushing, seemed even happier – "Great talk," she whispered.


She smiled even more – couldn't help herself. "So, why this charming establishment?" Darcy asked after a new critical look around – which proved he was really a snob because the café was perfectly respectable if, again, a little… shabby.

"Neutral ground. Exactly halfway between Pemberley and… my proletarian neighborhood."


"It's not over. Look." Elizabeth had prepared a paper and a felt pen, and, imitating Bingley's cursive writing, she wrote: Netherfield, then put the paper on the table, like a sign. "See, we are not in a stupid café anymore. We are in Netherfield. Because," she explained with a smile, "that's where good things happen."

His eyes were so soft. In fact, she thought he was going to kiss her - right here – it didn't happen – instead, he gave her hand a little squeeze.

"You know, we do not even have a problem," he explained, his voice a bit rough. "We are conscious of the fact we may have had a problem – but we don't."

"A shadow."

"Yes. And I have the solution to our current predicament."

"Do tell, sir."

"Dearest Elizabeth, you have to laugh at me. At my money, at my snobbery, at… whatever. Because if you do, then… If our issues go from unsaid to said – if they become a joke – the awkwardness will be annihilated."

Elizabeth nodded. "Clever."

"Good. Then," Darcy said, "end of the talk."

"What? That's it? I have to make fun of you? That was… The Talk?"

"It was."

"Excellent. I will happily oblige."

"And you have to offer me the same latitude. I should be allowed to say, for instance… 'with all the shyness and delicacy of your sister Lydia…' You know, when the occasion arises."

Elizabeth winced – Darcy saw. "You don't like it," he said, his eyes serious.

"I do – in the abstract. We should, and will, joke about everything – it's just…" Elizabeth sighed. "I have done some thinking, and your reaction to my family is not unwarranted. Kitty and Lydia… Their attitude is my parents' fault, of course, but I should carry part of the blame. Jane tries to help – I don't. I just roll my eyes at them – well, I did. I intend to do better."

Darcy nodded. "Do you want some help? Or at least – to discuss it?"

"You do have some experience with younger sisters."

"With mixed results."

"Yes. I want to discuss it. I need advice. But first…" Elizabeth circled the table to sit beside Darcy, then leaned forward and kissed him – it was slow – Elizabeth could feel his emotion – the kiss lasted a very, very long time - after, silence ensued – he held her in his arms – she rested her brow on his shoulder – "when we kiss," she said, "I am used to hearing cowbells, birds, crickets. Now we have… cars passing by. The discreet rumble of the subway. People yelling in the street. The hiss of the espresso machine."

"Get used to it."

They kissed again. Then: "Wait," Darcy said, thoughtfully. "Because – despite the urban ambient noise… Give me that pen," he asked, before editing:

(The mountains version of)


"It was not so much being at Bingley's that was crucial for me," he explained. "It was being – up there. Faraway. Isolated from," Darcy smiled a little shyly, "my family. My education. All my baggage. That is why I could talk to you."

"In that case... Wait." Elizabeth took the fell pen back and drew a tree. "There," she repeated, coloring a little, "we are not only in the mountains – but under the lime tree. Because this is where really good things happen."

He looked at her.

"I love you," she blurted. Then turned crimson. "I mean – no I don't. I mean – not yet – it's too soon – sorry – I mean – I didn't mean to say that," Elizabeth buried her face in her hands – "Oh my God oh my God…"

Darcy had not moved an inch. "That," he said, "is a very interesting meltdown."

"Just give me a few seconds to die from shame."

"I'll be waiting."

She laughed, then took a deep breath and straightened herself – trying to look composed – but she was still a bit red.

"What I was trying to say", she explained, her voice shaking just a bit, "is that I was very unhappy these last two days – when I thought we were done. I got quite attached to you, in such a short time. There," she added, trying to laugh, "that is what I really wanted to convey."

"Very well." Darcy's voice was a little – fragile – the difference was subtle, three weeks ago, Elizabeth would never have noticed it – she was more used to his nuances now – so – the two Darcys, she thought, they are one and the same – when she finally said "I love you," six months later, they were in bed, in Pemberley - he just looked at her and waited, an amused expression on his face – "Are you sure?" he asked at last, then made a show of looking at the time on his iPhone – "I am waiting for the meltdown," – "There is still time for you to change your mind" – "What were you really trying to convey?"- she had to hit him repeatedly with a pillow, but a few days later, she found a letter – from him – a handwritten one – when he explained all she had brought into his life – and Elizabeth knew it was true, she could see it, his harshness slowly eroding, his constant tension slowly melting, nightmares still waking him up in the middle of the night (his mother leaving, his father dying, Pemberley failing, Georgiana disappearing, choose your own darkness scenario,) "but the... frequency and the intensity are going down," Darcy explained - anyway – after the letter, one morning, Elizabeth woke up in his bed, in his arms – outside, February sun, faraway traffic jams, construction noises, workers calling each other, people in the street – and even the song of a bird or two – a delicious coffee smell coming from the kitchen –

"This is perfect," she said.

He didn't ask why.

- X -

(Or maybe he did. But this is the last chapter anyway.)