Mrs Bennett ushered her three youngest daughters out of the drawing-room, leaving just Jane and Mr Charles Bingley alone.
Jane could not believe that Mr Bingley was standing right in front of her. It had been forever since she last saw Charles, and yet, seeing him again made her happy. Her blush deepened, and she shook her head internally. 'Jane,' she admonished, 'stop thinking about true love'. Indeed, such a thought could never happen. Perhaps she should have done her duty as the eldest of her sisters and accepted Mr Collins' hand when he indirectly proposed, but at the time she was too besotted with Charles to function. However, seeing Mr Bingley in Longbourn awakened something inside of her, the same feeling she first felt when he asked her to dance. There could only be one reason why he had finally called upon her, and Jane began to hope that just maybe her fairy-tale of marrying for true love could come true.
Unknown to Mr Bingley, or so Jane thought, the subject of him and his relations caused her much heartache the last few months. Jane had a friendly demeanour and always tried to think the best of everyone, but not even that could have prepared her for the outside world. To receive a letter of rejection from one's sister about her brother courting another female was unheard of. That incident had changed her. Too ashamed to tell anyone of the letter she received, Jane kept to herself, and tried to live amongst all the chaos, and kept calm while she helped to solve drama after drama in their already troubled household. Little did she know, Lydia knew long ago what had occurred and tried to help Jane in the only way she knew how. A tear leaked from her eye.
Mr Bingley became startled at seeing the tear roll down her cheek. Jane turned her head slightly in embarrassment. His angel was crying, and it hurt him to see her upset. He immediately took her hand in his and led her to the couch. "Miss Jane, are you alright? Do you need me to get anything? Some tea?"
Jane smiled hesitantly and accepted the offered handkerchief, her cheeks flushed at their close proximity. "Thank you, Mr Bingley, I am quite alright. I am actually happy. I had thought that…no never mind." she trailed off abruptly, as if afraid to continue. Hearing Mr Bingley's words of encouragement gave her the strength to continue, "Well… I thought you had left me. I had called on your sisters in London and they implied you were courting Mr Darcy's sister. I must have been mistaken. I am so sorry for thinking badly of your character." She bowed her head in shame.
"Oh Jane, my darling Jane, I am so sorry for all the pain I have put you through." He enclosed the distance between them and drew her into a hug, holding her tightly.
Charles was inwardly fuming as he held his Jane. Hearing of his sisters' deceit from Miss Lydia was one thing, but hearing about it from Jane was another story. They made her cry, and he would never forgive them for that. No, it was his fault. He was to blame. For too long he had allowed his sisters to involve themselves in his daily affairs. He was not always proud of their decisions and schemes, but he never confronted them about it, not wanting to cause any trouble since they were family. Louisa had a kind personality, and Charles could not believe she would cause harm to a sweet girl such as Jane. No, it had to be Caroline's doing. She knew of their weaknesses and used them to her own advantage. It was time his sisters learned that actions have consequences. A stern talking to Louisa would be sufficient, but Caroline definitely needed a firmer hand. Perhaps he should send her North to live with their aunt and uncle, the ones still active in trade. Or maybe he could just release her dowry, but that would be a last resort. No one would look twice at his sister if he did that unless they were desperate for money.
Jane's eyes widened. "No really, Charles, it is nothing, just a simple misunderstanding on my part."
"No Jane, the fault was all mine. Please forgive me."
"There is nothing to forgive Mr Bingley," Jane replied softly.
"Please, call me Charles. If you must know, I have been thinking of you almost every day since we last met, and cannot imagine life without you by my side. I had come to Longbourn to ask your father for your hand, but I understand if I am too late or…"
"I accept." Jane blurted out, cutting Charles off mid-sentence.
"Are you sure? If you need more time then that is perfectly understandable" Charles's eyes were no longer dull, but full of hope.
"Yes," Jane replied, her voice strong and full of determination, "I am quite certain."
Charles dropped down onto one knee and repeated his proposal.
"Yes, yes, yes!" Jane squealed in joy, beaming from ear to ear, her eyes full of love. Jane was finally herself and for the first time in months, she felt as light as a feather, floating on a cloud of ecstasy. He loved her. She was so happy.
Their thoughts were interrupted by some scuffling by the drawing-room door. Jane chuckled, imagining her three sisters wrestling each other for their favourite spots to listen in to their conversation.
"Come," Jane replied, taking Mr Bingley by the arm, "I am sure mother would love for you to stay for tea, and you have important business with my father." Her eyes sparkled mischievously at the last part, and Charles could not help but shudder at the situation he had put himself into.