This is the song that was running in my brain for nearly a week and I was only able to make it stop by writing a songfic of sorts. I’ve always loved this song and on my roadtrip, as it played over and over in my head, I developed the plot along the lines of the narrative of the song. Please let me know what you think! I won’t post this anywhere else before April, as I think that waiting for the 40th anniversary of Earth day would be more timely.
If you are unfamiliar with this classic song by the Hollies, it’s posted below for your enjoyment! Thanks!
~an Earth-day P&P short story songfic~
Fitzwilliam Darcy was irritated, even more so, than usual. Why? He was in a queue, waiting for a bus.
Now, to the average person, waiting in a queue for a bus may not seem like something to be upset about. However, Fitzwilliam Darcy was the CEO of Pembergy; the fastest growing energy company in Europe, and to him, standing in a queue, waiting for a bus was simply not dignified.
His predicament might not have been so altogether terrible if it weren’t for the nagging press.
Darcy pointed at the grungy looking man that appeared in serious need of a bath. “Roger Thompson for Greenpeace. Mr. Darcy, how long do you expect to continue on with this farce? We all know this is a joke. Isn’t it true that this whole stunt was devised just to draw attention away from the recent scandal with the Ramsgate hydro-plant?”
Fitzwilliam inwardly groaned. He had been taking the bus each and every day for a month and still, every day, there seemed to at least one member of the fifth estate looking to find some new angle on this story.
“It’s Mr. Thompson, correct?” The Greenpeace guy nodded yes, so Darcy began to recite the well-rehearsed answer that Richard had carefully prepared. “The Ramsgate hydro-plant incident was an anomaly. Since the incident occurred, we have worked tirelessly with many environmental groups, including Greenpeace I might add, to ensure the coastal ecosystem recovers quickly and entirely. In fact, the Pembergy Foundation has established a wildlife refuge in the area to help restore the area’s original, natural habitat to entice back wildlife that had been driven out by urban sprawl. My riding the bus is just one tiny example of how we can all work together to reduce man’s carbon footprint. As the Pembergy CEO, I have chosen to lead by example and it’s my earnest wish that other corporations will choose to do the same.”
Roger Thompson knew it would be a waste of time to try to ruffle the energy-titan’s feathers, but it had been worth a shot. “Thanks man. Good luck to you. Just know that if you stop, we’ll know, man, we’ll all know!”
Darcy replied, “Of that I’m well aware. As I’ve stated, this is no stunt. Come and check on me here any day you wish and I’ll be right here.”
“Alright man. See you soon.” Said the hippy wanna-be said over his shoulder as he walked away.
Darcy was just wondering if the endless stream of tree-huggers would end when he noticed a woman who had joined the queue. She was a petite brunette who seemed to be flustered. Her arms were overloaded with books and folders and, on her shoulders there were several bags that appeared way too heavy for her to be carrying. He was considering offering to help her carry her load, but just then the bus arrived.
It had been nearly a week since the man from Greenpeace had been at the stop and no other press people had returned. Darcy was beginning to think that perhaps his luck had changed.
Fitzwilliam had arrived early this morning. He was looking for something yet had no idea what exactly it was that he was searching for. He watched the old man pick his teeth at the news stand across the street. For a moment he watched a guy sell bootleg movies until he noticed a cop and then he took off. The guy handing out leaflets calling for the removal of troops from Afghanistan was at it again as well. A different bus stopped on the corner opposite his and as the people got off, he realized what he’d been waiting for.
The brunette beauty had arrived. Today she only carried her purse and a computer bag. Darcy had watched her each morning and was fascinated by her. She always spoke with the people around her and she had a pleasant way about her that seemed to put others at ease.
Darcy was trying to think of something clever to say to her when, seemingly out of nowhere, it began to rain. Everyone in the queue seemed to have an umbrella with them except for the brunette woman. Darcy waited a moment to see if one of the folks to whom she was always kind would now show her kindness in return. He was disappointed but not surprised when no one offered her shelter.
~She’s there. I say “Please share my umbrella.”~
Fitzwilliam let the others cut in front of him as he made his way back to the lovely, and now very wet, woman. He motioned to the large golf umbrella and asked, “Please share my umbrella.”
She carefully looked at him, checking him over to make sure he wasn’t a creep or a random leech. He had been there every morning and while he was always very reticent, he seemed harmless enough. She nodded and moved closer to him, thanking him for his kindness.
“It’s really no trouble, I assure you.” He offered his hand in a handshake and said, “Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
Taking his hand, she replied, “Elizabeth Bennet.”
“Pleased to meet you, Elizabeth Bennet.”
“Likewise, Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
Every day Darcy anxiously awaited the bus that brought Elizabeth Bennet to his stop. In the last few weeks they had made much small talk and had found they shared many similar tastes and ideas. He no longer dreaded standing in the queue and did not even mind whenever Roger Thompson, or anyone like him, came to quiz him about his company’s environmental dealings.
Elizabeth Bennet also had come to enjoy her morning visits with the handsome man who always waited for her with a smile on his face. Occasionally there would be a delay and she would miss her connection with Darcy, but most of the time the buses were right on schedule. He seemed like a very nice man, and she was working up her courage to ask why a man who dressed in Armani each day needed to take the bus. She was sure the story was well worth hearing.
Since Elizabeth had decided to inquire how Fitzwilliam Darcy had come to be a regular bus rider, she had not had an opportunity to ask him.
On Monday, there was a scruffy looking man who was questioning Darcy and then took his picture just as the bus arrived.
Tuesday morning there was a garishly dressed woman who had possessively draped herself on Darcy. He had silently pleaded for rescue to Elizabeth with his eyes, but the bus arrived and everyone boarded before Elizabeth was able to intervene.
Wednesday saw Darcy deep in conversation with a man who was furiously typing notes into a Blackberry as they spoke. Fitzwilliam shot Elizabeth a look of apology as she passed him on the way to her seat on the bus.
The bus that usually brought Elizabeth Bennet to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s stop was quite late on Thursday, and she missed her connection.
When Friday came and Elizabeth’s bus arrived on time, they were each relieved. He had missed the easy conversations they shared and was sorry for the interruptions to their routine earlier in the week. She was very glad to see that today he was unaccompanied and they would have an opportunity to speak.
Darcy was not sure where it was that she went every day; he assumed she was going to a job of some sort. Knowing that he had wasted too much time already, he was determined to get to know Elizabeth Bennet better and he hoped she’d be amenable to letting him buy her a cup of coffee or some breakfast.
Realizing that there was no time like the present, Elizabeth asked if he needed to be somewhere immediately, or did he have time to talk to her for a while.
Smiling, Darcy admitted he could be late for work without too many consequences and offered an invitation for breakfast at a nearby cafe which she happily accepted.
Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam ordered their meals; she requested an omelet while he ordered a Full English breakfast. While they were waiting for their food, she began her questioning.
Hesitantly, she began, “So, Fitzwilliam, I’ve been meaning to ask you something. If you tell me that it’s none of my business, I’ll understand.”
Wondering what she could be so worried about, he answered, “Ask away Elizabeth. I have no secrets.”
“I’ll start by asking why a man who obviously can afford to do otherwise takes the bus to work each day and then we’ll go from there.”
He laughed and answered, “It’s a long story but if you have the time, I’ll be glad to tell you.”
She confirmed she had plenty of time, the school where she taught was having an assembly and she was free till after lunch.
Smiling at the thought of her being a teacher and how well it seemed to suit her demeanor, he began his tale, “Do you recall this spring hearing about Pembergy’s Ramsgate hydro-plant?” Elizabeth nodded that she had and he proceeded with his story.
Darcy went on to explain how during his father’s life Pembergy Power had sought to expand into more sustainable sources of energy like hydro-electricity instead of relying on nuclear. It seemed better for the long-term viability of the company and would, of course, be better overall for the environment as well. Fitzwilliam’s father had a prodigy named George Wickham who had been given the responsibility to oversee the Ramsgate hydro-plant. Things were well for a long time until the elder Darcy passed away and George was left unchecked as Darcy assumed things were fine and attended to other aspects of the business.
Though hydroelectricity is clean and efficient, safeguards must be in place to protect the water source and the surrounding ecosystem. George had not maintained Pembergy’s standards of operation and consequently, the fish and wildlife in the Ramsgate area had been greatly affected and Pembergy, despite being a ‘green’ power company, had been reviled for its irresponsibility. Pictures of mutilated marine life that had been caught by the blades of the giant underwater turbine engines made for sensational news.
With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the Copenhagen 350 Initiative still fresh in the news, Darcy explained that as the CEO of an energy company that wanted to be green, taking public transportation was the least he could do. If it also helped his company’s image, then that was a nice side bonus.
Elizabeth listened to Darcy’s explanation and her admiration for the man grew. There was still one thing about which she was curious.
“Why the bus? Why don’t you take the tube instead?”
He blushed a little with embarrassment. “I know that I said I had no secrets, but I suppose that’s not entirely true. I’m rather claustrophobic and the idea of traveling underground, closed in a car with lots of people, just makes my skin crawl. Riding the bus, I can see daylight, and, should there be a problem, I can get off easy enough.”
Elizabeth stifled a laugh. She realized that it must have taken a lot for such a man to admit a phobia and despite her natural inclination, she would not tease him. “Ah, so then you are a practical man. I can appreciate that.”
Darcy knew she was referring to his choice but held out hope that her interest wasn’t merely passing and replied, “I certainly hope so.”
They passed the rest of that Friday morning enjoying each other’s company and learning the finer basics of their lives. He had studied geothermal engineering at Oxford. She took her teaching programme from the University of Derby. This had delighted Darcy as he was from Derbyshire. His family was small while hers was large, so they compared notes on growing up with only one versus four siblings.
As Elizabeth made it to school just in time for her afternoon classes, she thought about the pleasant morning she’d spent with Darcy. She found it surprising that a man who could use his power and money to do whatever he pleased instead chose to use both to make the world a better place.
As Fitzwilliam ascended in the elevator to his office, he thought about how lucky he was to meet an attractive, witty woman who seemed to be genuinely interested in him as a person and not because of his wealth. He admired how she’d chosen to be a teacher so she could help shape the minds of the next generation and make sure they’d grow up to be responsible citizens.
Each morning they’d chat and laugh. More often than not, Fitzwilliam would be waiting for her with a cup of coffee in hand for her when she arrived. They sat together each morning on the bus, except for those times that Darcy met early with an advisor.
Elizabeth was introduced to Richard Fitzwilliam. Richard had been the man with the Blackberry on that Wednesday some month and a half ago and was, in addition to being Pembergy’s publicist, Darcy’s elder cousin.
Richard and Fitzwilliam had what could only be described as a brotherly rivalry. When Richard had first met Elizabeth, he had flirted rather shamelessly with her and seemed to enjoy making Darcy green with jealousy. It was not long before Richard saw that his many charms were lost on the lovely Miss Bennet, as she had eyes only for Darcy.
The summer half-term was approaching and Elizabeth informed Fitzwilliam that she would not be back at the stop until the seventh of June when the term would resume. Not being pleased that he would not see her for eleven whole days, he begged for a chance to see her over the break. He explained that he always had the school breaks off as well in order to spend time with his teenaged sister. When Elizabeth initially hesitated because she didn’t wish to intrude on family time, Darcy assured her she’d be doing no such thing and that, furthermore, his sister Georgiana had been anxious to meet the woman who’d changed how he felt about his morning bus ride.
On the afternoon of May 29th, Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised when she arrived at the bus stop. Awaiting her was Fitzwilliam and a lovely young woman who appeared to be about sixteen or so, who she surmised to be his sister Georgiana.
“Hello Elizabeth. I hope you don’t mind us meeting you here like this. I know that I usually don’t get the chance to see you in the afternoon because of work, but when Georgie came by the office after school, it seemed a good a reason as any to dodge out of work a little early.”
Elizabeth felt the inherent compliment that was paid. That he should wish her to be acquainted with his family was truly a mark of trust for such a private man. She smiled broadly at the shy young girl and introduced herself. “Hello there, I’m your brother’s friend Elizabeth Bennet.”
Georgiana quietly stammered, “It’s so good to meet you Miss Bennet. My brother has told me all about you! Did you really grow up with four sisters?”
Elizabeth laughed, “Yes, I really did! I’m so pleased to meet you Georgiana. I’ve heard so much about you that I feel I already know you. I hear that your recitals are going so well that you’re practically assured a spot at the Royal Academy!”
The youngest Darcy blushed, “I love to play but I do not know whether I play truly well enough to make it to the Academy!”
Swelling with pride that was equal parts fatherly and brotherly, Fitzwilliam bragged, “Nonsense Georgie! You play superbly and you well know it! I can assure you, Elizabeth, that my sister will have her pick of conservatories when the time comes.”
The bus came and the threesome rode off to the next stop which Darcy explained to Georgie was “the” stop. Knowing that the Darcys would be leaving while she would need to take the next bus home, and not wanting the afternoon to end, Elizabeth asked if they’d like to come over to her place where she’d fix dinner for the three of them.
Dinner was a success as Elizabeth was a woman of many accomplishments, not the least of which was a firm knowledge of how to cook well. Fitzwilliam could not believe how comfortable he felt in Elizabeth’s small apartment but then realized he would feel comfortable wherever he was, so long as she was there too. That was the moment Fitzwilliam Darcy knew he was falling head over heels in love with Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth Bennet was having a similar revelation as she cleaned up the dinner dishes in the kitchen. She’d lived in her tiny flat for the last three years and had never once called it “home”, and yet tonight, with the added presence of Fitzwilliam and his sister, that was exactly what it felt like. She began to hum some tune from the long-ago sixties as she finished drying the dishes and wondered precisely how long she’d been in love with Fitzwilliam Darcy.
~Under my umbrella~
The week of the half-term break flew by and each day saw lots of activity for the now inseparable trio of Elizabeth, Fitzwilliam and Georgiana. They were enjoying an afternoon playing Frisbee in Hyde Park, having already feasted on a grand picnic luncheon.
Georgiana Darcy was only pretending to read her newest novel when she was actually watching Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth try to launch a kite. She was well pleased that her dearest brother had at last found someone who made him happy and she prayed that the two would soon realize how much they truly loved each other. Georgiana admired Elizabeth and knew that in her she would find the sister she’d always longed for and the love and contentment that her brother needed.
As they made their way back to Elizabeth’s flat, the clouds that had shaded them from the sun opened up. Before they became too drenched, Fitzwilliam once again was able to offer the protection of his umbrella. Feeling keenly that three was a crowd, Georgiana reached in her bag and brought forth her own umbrella and chose instead to walk ahead of the couple.
Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth had hardly noticed they had been abandoned by the teenager. In truth, they wouldn’t have noticed the Queen doing a cartwheel either. They walked closely together, huddled under the shelter of Fitzwilliam’s large umbrella. When the wind picked up and Elizabeth’s grip slipped, his large hand covered her small one. The electricity that was generated between the two could easily have met Pembergy’s energy demands for quite a while, if only such a phenomenon could be harnessed.
~All that summer we enjoyed it~
Once Georgiana was back at her dorm and classes had resumed for Elizabeth, their morning routine began to evolve. Elizabeth found herself often taking an earlier bus so that she and Fitzwilliam could breakfast together at their café. Occasionally they shared a lunch either at her school or in his office. She met more of the people in his life, including his friend Charles and Charles’ sister Carrie, who turned out to have been the clingy woman that one morning. He had also been introduced to her sister Jane and a few of her teaching colleagues including Charlotte and Bill Lucas.
They never formalized any plans ahead of time, nor could it be said they were actually dating. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth simply knew that free time was destined to be spent together. They continued to share their pasts as well as their wishes and ambitions for the future. While it was never said aloud, it was obvious to each that the future would include them both together.
By the end of June, they had begun to make plans for the weekends too. One weekend she travelled with him to meet Georgiana at his home. They traveled by train, with a white-knuckled Fitzwilliam tightly holding Elizabeth’s hand the entire journey. She had begun to gently tease him over the last several months so that he could see the humor in his personal foibles, but she still would not mock something that was a genuine fear. He smiled at her as he knew that it was a true mark of affection that she was able to contain her wit and opted not to make a joke about his shortcomings. She was by far the most kind, compassionate and tender woman he was sure he’d ever have the privilege to meet.
Having survived the train to Derbyshire, Fitzwilliam took a great amount of pride in being able to show Elizabeth his estate. He longed for the day he would bring her here as his wife, but feared it was too soon to give voice to his fondest wish. It made his heart soar that the things he loved most about his home- the library, the gardens, the conservatory- were the very things she also seemed to like best.
Elizabeth was duly impressed with the Darcy’s ancestral home. She had toured many grand estates on her travels around the country, as most people do, but she had never witnessed a home that had achieved being grand and noble while maintaining such understated elegance. It was simply beautiful and she was proud that Fitzwilliam had taken up management of the property himself instead of turning it over to the National Trust. She imagined it was quite an undertaking and was something not everyone could do. Her respect for his discernment and abilities increased with each new facet of his character she discovered.
On the last weekend of June, they took another train ride. This time the destination was to Elizabeth’s hometown in Hertfordshire. Fitzwilliam had expressed a wish to see where she grew up and also to meet the people responsible for her upbringing.
Elizabeth had repeatedly said how she did not wish to excite his expectations; her home was nowhere near as grand as his and her parents were not like usual parents. Her father was quick-witted and loved to express his rather unique brand of caustic humor while her mother was a dim-witted gossip of the first order. She was fearful that Fitzwilliam’s opinion of her might somehow alter after meeting her parents as something nagged her consciousness about the apple not falling far from the tree.
Darcy had immensely enjoyed his visit to the Bennet’s home. He found in Mr. Bennet an entertaining debate partner and Mrs. Bennet, while a little loud and boisterous, truly loved her girls and wanted only the best for them. Who could fault a mother for that?
While waiting in the hall for Elizabeth to make the return journey to London, he had overheard a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in the study.
“Well Tom, it seems our little Lizzy has found someone at last.”
“Indeed Fran. He seems a nice enough chap and Lizzy confessed to me last night that she loves him very much. It breaks my heart that I’m being replaced by another man in my baby-girl’s heart.”
“Now who’s being sentimental? Hopefully he won’t take too long to come to the point- you know how impatient Lizzy can be.”
“That’s very true. Well, we won’t interfere… they are adults after all and free to make any mistakes they see fit.”
“Oh, Tom! Do you think they’ll realize they belong together soon? I’d love to have some grandchildren to spoil while we still can!”
“I think they have a long way to go before grandchildren become an issue Franny! But no, I don’t think it will be too long. He looks every bit as besotted with Lizzy as she is with him.”
Not wishing to be caught eavesdropping, Darcy decided to wait outside for Elizabeth. He took the moment of quiet solitude to reflect on what he’d learned. It’s one thing to believe that someone loves you and quite another, entirely different thing to know it as a fact! He knew absolutely that he loved her and was only waiting until he could be certain of her feelings before he exposed his own. It wouldn’t be long before he would tell her all that was in his heart.
~Wind and rain and shine~
Fitzwilliam had been waiting for the right moment to tell her he loved her, but, as it always seems to, life instead chose to present only wrong ones.
He had planned another picnic in the park but the wind had blown everything away and the moment was gone along with their lunch. The gingham blanket was blown up into a tree but they were able- with the help of the umbrella- to retrieve the basket so that all was not lost.
Another day he had planned a romantic boat excursion. They were in the middle of the pond when it began to downpour. Fitzwilliam rowed towards the shore as fast as he could, with Elizabeth all the while using the intrepid umbrella to shelter them.
They had been walking in the Jubilee Gardens and Darcy realized there was no time like the present. Wanting to give her the world, he was struck with an idea. The London Eye was nearby and he suggested they take in the view together. She was suspicious that someone who was as claustrophobic as he was would voluntarily get in one of the capsules, but he seemed determined and so she decided to be supportive and encourage him.
When they reached the front of the queue, Fitzwilliam spoke quietly with the tour operator and, after a moment’s conference and Darcy’s wallet becoming significantly lighter, they were shown into a capsule where Elizabeth was surprised to find they were the only tourists.
Darcy steeled himself as they began their slow ascent. He had longed for this moment so he could express to her what was in his heart, but now that it was here, he found that his phobia had found a friend. Though he worked in one of the tallest buildings in England, he had never suffered from vertigo before… until now. As he took in the exquisite panoramic view, he began to feel nauseous. Elizabeth saw his distress and made him sit down in the center of the capsule and focus on her. The host, who appeared to be a college-aged young man, offered to help in any way he could but was summarily dismissed by Elizabeth. The host sulkily moved back towards the rail and focused instead on watching the people in the other capsules.
Elizabeth knelt in front of him and spoke in a commanding voice which reminded him that she was most definitely a teacher. “Fitzwilliam Darcy, look at me!”
He squeezed his eyes shut even tighter and shakily said, “I can’t.”
Elizabeth sighed. “You need to open your eyes, focus on my eyes and open yours Fitzwilliam. Please.”
He squeezed her hands and promised that he’d try. “I’m sorry. This was not what I had planned at all for you Elizabeth.” He opened his eyes and she was startled by the depth of feeling she could see in them.
Thinking that teasing him a little might provide a welcome distraction she asked, “And what was it you had actually planned for me, sir?”
He closed his eyes as he swallowed hard. Darcy opened his eyes once more and tried to explain, “I thought, what I’ve been trying to say… I tried before but the wind… and then that day with the boat didn’t work either. I want to… say that… Elizabeth… I…”
She leaned forward and taking his face in her hands, she kissed him.
The panic attack had stopped. Feeling shame that he was undone by something that even small children enjoyed, he said dejectedly, “Elizabeth, I wanted to give you the world.”
Caressing his right cheek, she asked, “Do you not realize Fitzwilliam? You are my world!”
The look of heartfelt gladness that overcame his face rendered him, despite his loss of color, even more handsome than usual. “If that is the case then, Elizabeth, I give you my heart because as you say that I am your world, you are mine.”
The host could not but smile at the tender scene that had played out before him. As he audibly sighed and called attention to the fact that Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were not entirely alone, Darcy made use once again of his trusty umbrella, using it to shield them from the host’s view as they continued expressing without words how much they loved one another.
~That umbrella we employed it~
Roger Thompson was waiting for Darcy one morning at the stop when they arrived.
The young man, still in need of a good, long bath, badgered Fitzwilliam, “Mr. Darcy, I see that you’re still carrying on with this charade of pretending to care about the environment. How much longer do you think you’ll ride the bus before you’ve paid your penance for Ramsgate?”
Elizabeth touched his arm in solidarity and feeling fortified by her presence answered, “As I’ve said before, and as I’ll say any time you care to come and ask, this is not a stunt, nor am I “paying penance” for anything. I run a socially conscious energy company and how can I honestly expect the public to make lifestyle changes unless I am willing to do so as well? To not do this would be hypocritical to my way of thinking.”
Thinking he had the CEO backed in a corner, he attacked, “So are you saying that individual car ownership is inherently a bad thing?”
Trying not to show his irritation, he explained, “No, not inherently bad. Like anything, being moderate and responsible with individual car usage would make a huge difference. In metropolitan areas where public transportation is plentiful, it doesn’t make sense, environmentally or fiscally to drive your own car around. Carpooling is something that more people need to take advantage of. Trains are highly efficient and of course, on the bus, you can meet all sorts of people. I think that getting out and being with your fellow man would go a long way towards making our society pleasant and friendlier- as it was in years gone by.”
The angry young man knew he was not going to win today. He would keep trying though. “It seems you’ve given this a lot of thought. Well, you have a good day sir, and you can be assured that I’ll be back.”
“Of that I have no doubt.”
As they watched Thompson storm off, Elizabeth sighed. “Was everyone as bad as him in the beginning?”
“He’s actually rather pleasant by comparison. While I admit feeling guilty over what occurred at Ramsgate, I can honestly say that I’m not doing this out of a sense of obligation. It’s the right thing…” He paused for a moment as he kissed her temple, “…and the best thing I’ve ever done.”
“Indeed.” She laughed as he pulled her into a doorway and once again used his umbrella to afford them a bit of privacy.
~By August she was mine~
It had been five months since that first wet morning where Fitzwilliam had offered shelter to Elizabeth Bennet.
While his head told him it was too soon, his heart knew otherwise. Had they met under different circumstances and had a more traditional relationship, then yes, it would be too soon. However, there was nothing of the traditional about either Fitzwilliam Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet. All he was waiting for was a small sign that she was ready, and then he would propose.
It had been a very busy week for Elizabeth. She had been clearing out her classroom. She had been offered a new position as Head of year but as yet was undecided about it. Elizabeth dearly loved teaching, but she had this uncertain feeling about where her future lay. She loved Darcy, she truly did, but would they marry? If they did, would he expect her to stay at home? She had no idea and as he was a reticent man, he did not always express his thoughts and feelings effusively which, sometimes, could be a bit exasperating. If the choice was hers- and she dearly hoped someday it would be- she would choose him.
They were having dinner at his townhouse. This would not be an unusual or out of the ordinary but for the fact that Fitzwilliam had wanted this evening to be absolutely perfect. What made this extraordinary was he believed the best way to achieve that would be for him to cook dinner for her all on his own. While this was a lovely idea, the reality was quite another thing!
After he pulled the remnants of what appeared to be steak from the oven, and he turned the smoke detector off and opened a window to vent the kitchen, it was decided they’d best just ring for pizza instead. Elizabeth told him how sweet he was for trying to cook just to please her but assured him it wasn’t necessary. She was already impressed by everything she knew about him and loved him dearly because of who he was, not because he did things for her.
Feeling assured that the time was right, even though once again things had not gone as planned, Fitzwilliam ushered her into the dining room and had her take a seat at the head of the table. He knelt before her and, despite the nerves that felt like they would surely render him unconscious, brought forth from his pocket a red Moroccan-leather box from his pocket. Fitzwilliam tried to speak, but was momentarily dumbstruck by the look of adoration that shone on Elizabeth’s face as she realized what was about to happen.
“Elizabeth Bennet, since I have had the great fortune to earn your love and trust, I have found that I am not whole without you. I love you more than I can ever possibly say. As you well know I am terrible with words… but I wish to say that I cannot imagine my life without you and would beg you to please marry me so that I can spend the rest of my life trying to make you as happy as you’ve made me.”
Taking the proffered box from him, she answered, “Fitzwilliam Darcy, I love you too and would love, more than anything, to become your wife.”
~Every morning I would see her waiting at the stop~
They had decided on a late fall wedding. Elizabeth took the Head of year position at Fitzwilliam’s insistence. He felt that, because of her drive and compassion for children, no one else could possibly be as effective in molding the next generation as his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth.
Their tradition of meeting every morning at the bus stop continued and would right up until the wedding. Elizabeth was pleased to find that Fitzwilliam was as old-fashioned as she was and never pressured her to move in with him before the wedding. He understood that remaining on her own for the time being was important as she wrapped up that phase of her life before she began the next with him.
Each morning they cherished their time together sharing coffee or breakfast at the little café. They made plans for the future and were now simply counting down the weeks until the wedding.
~Sometimes she’d shop and she would show me what she bought~
The plans for the wedding were in full swing and Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte, Georgiana and her sister Jane would often meet together after school to shop and purchase things for the wedding and honeymoon. Fitzwilliam had planned a tropical getaway and Elizabeth, for once in her life, decided to splurge and treat herself to a whole new wardrobe for the trip.
She had found that once word had gotten round that she was engaged to Fitzwilliam Darcy, CEO of Pembergy, there really was no issue with shopping. At first, Elizabeth wanted to make the purchases on her own, but Georgiana had been instructed by her brother to make them for her. Still a little uncomfortable with the idea of so much wealth, instead of shopping in the West End, they shopped in Camden Market where she felt more comfortable and at home.
Each day she’d meet him after his long workday, either at his office or at the stop. Sometimes she’d be loaded down with bags and packages and some days she was nearly empty-handed. One day she only had a single pink bag that was adorned with a black bow. The writing on the bag read “Agent Provocateur” and his curiosity was piqued.
When Darcy tried to sneak a peek inside, she gently pushed him away and teased that this bag was definitely for after the wedding. Now he was extremely curious and begged her to please show him what she’d bought. Having difficulty denying so simple a wish, Elizabeth set the bag on the bench and turned her back to him so she could find what she was looking for. When she found her object, she told him to turn around and close his eyes.
She said breathlessly, “You may turn around now Fitzwilliam.”
He was rewarded by seeing her blush bright red as she held up a very sexy corset for his approval. Darcy was no saint, but felt great sympathy for those who were as it took all his restraint to not devour her right then and there at the bus stop.
Seeing a look of passion in his eyes, she knew she needed to lighten up the situation. “You have nothing to say dear?” she teased her silent fiancé.
“Oh Elizabeth! I have too much to say and none of it appropriate for a bus stop! I promise, I will never ask to peek in your bags again… at least in public!”
She laughed, “No sir, I agree! Some conversations are definitely best held in private.”
That comment was the last straw. He could take no more and the very private Fitzwilliam Darcy swept the very impertinent Elizabeth Bennet into his arms and proceeded to kiss her very thoroughly until the bus arrived.
~All the people stared as if we were both quite insane~
After what became known as the “lingerie” incident, all the other regulars on the bus had grown use to the young couple who were very clearly in love. Darcy tried to be more circumspect in his behavior since that day but sometimes he could not wait to pepper his fiancé with kisses and hold her in his arms. These were the times he was grateful he carried the umbrella each day.
Elizabeth had grown used to the “tsk-tsks” and tuttering whispers that were inevitable whenever they employed Fitzwilliam’s umbrella for a moment of privacy. She realized that most people would never find the kind of love she had and that knowledge was what helped her bear with the envious stares.
~Someday my name and hers are going to be the same~
The wedding was now only a week away. Elizabeth’s liveliness had rubbed off on her staid fiancé and he could now often be seen openly conversing with complete strangers. One morning he arrived before she did and he was lovingly explaining how he was the luckiest man alive because, in a week, he would wed the best woman alive. As Elizabeth came near, Fitzwilliam proudly boasted, “Next week my name and hers are going to be the same!”
The last week before the wedding went smoothly. Aside from the occasional reporter who’d show up in the morning to check that the stalwart CEO was still committed to riding the bus, nothing much occurred.
On a bright and clear November morning, Elizabeth Bennet did change her name to his. They exchanged their vows before a small party of family and friends and then enjoyed a honeymoon on the island of Ko Lipe. The island was off the coast of southern Thailand and they were able to witness where Pembergy was helping re-establish some basic infrastructure after a monsoon had left the island in need of some aide.
The newly married Darcys enjoyed their simple, tropical paradise for three weeks before returning to the realities of everyday life.
~That’s the way the whole thing started~
Darcy had grown accustomed now to being teased by his wife and truly loved it. One thing she liked to tease him with was that she only married him because he lived closer to the stop. They had become used to the ins and outs of living day to day with each other and found they had merged their lives fairly seamlessly.
One January morning as they were walking to the stop, Fitzwilliam mused aloud how grateful he was that he no longer needed to wait to see her every morning. She smiled and agreed that this was much more preferable. They were deep in conversation about how much their lives were changed for the better when they arrived to find Roger Thompson waiting for them.
Thompson began, “Mr. Darcy… I believe I’ve heard that congratulations are in order.”
“Thank you. They are indeed. I’d like for you to meet my wife. Elizabeth Darcy, this is Roger Thompson. Mr. Thompson works for Greenpeace.”
Thompson corrected Darcy, “Uh, no, I no longer work for Greenpeace. I’m with Oecologia now and if you don’t mind, I’d love to, if you have time that is, interview the two of you for an article.”
Elizabeth nodded her ascent to Darcy and he shrugged that it was alright with them. They walked over to the little café and ordered coffee as Darcy told their story. Nearly an hour later, he finished by saying, “…and that’s the way the whole thing started.”
~Silly, but it’s true~
When the February issue of Oecologia came out there was no immediate notice of anything different to the Darcys or to Pembergy.
It wasn’t until March that everything changed.
A writer for the Mirror had a dentist appointment and was flipping through the stacks of magazines in the lobby when an obscure science journal caught his eye because it had Darcy on the cover. Reading the article, the writer wondered how such an odd story had gone unnoticed by the mainstream press. Putting in a quick call to his boss, the reporter made plans to be at the bus stop in the morning to check and see if this was a stunt or if this was all true.
On a rainy late March morning, the Mirror reporter waited, along with a photographer, for the Darcys to arrive. He quizzed them and was reassured the story in Oecologia was very true. The reporter asked if they could get a picture and they agreed.
The next morning on the front page of the Mirror was a picture of the newlywed Darcys, waiting under their umbrella in the rain at the bus stop.
~Thinking of a sweet romance, beginning in a queue~
One positive consequence of the Darcys’ story was bus that ridership increased. Women hoped that if there wasn’t another rich CEO on board, then maybe at least there’d be another handsome socially-conscious man. Men realized that finally there was an inexpensive way to show women they could be sensitive and caring. Also, if there was another woman half so pretty as the new Mrs. Darcy, then that wouldn’t be so bad either.
People would sometimes come by just to impart their good wishes and see if the couple was really as happy as they were portrayed by the press. Each person that had the chance to meet them knew it was no exaggeration. To think that such a sweet romance had begun in a bus queue was something that could give hope to everyone. The chance for love was all around if only you chose to see it.
~Came the sun, the ice was melting~
March had passed away and with it the last vestiges of winter. The overcast days gave way to the bright sunshine once more and everyone’s mood seemed to improve along with the weather.
On the forty-first anniversary of Earth day, there was a lot of press awaiting them at the stop. It seemed that the Darcys had become the face of environmental responsibility and as much as they preferred their privacy, they were happy to help in any way they could.
~No more sheltering, now~
Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth were once more under the protection of his large umbrella. When they had begun their walk, the weather had been sublime. Now though, the wind had picked up and they were using the umbrella as a shield from the harsh winds.
It was becoming difficult to walk against the wind and so they sought a bench in the park where they could sit a while and wait for the windstorm to subside. As they crossed over to the nearest bench, the wind changed direction and ripped the umbrella from Darcy’s hand. Before either realized it, it was gone.
When the offending wind calmed down, they searched all around but could not find the umbrella anywhere.
~Nice to think that that umbrella led me to a vow~
Fitzwilliam was not generally one to give in to melancholy but he sorely missed that umbrella. It had been the means to his greatest happiness and now he felt disappointment that he’d allowed it to be carried off in the wind like any ordinary umbrella.
Elizabeth knew her husband as well as she knew herself. She understood the sentiment attached to the lost umbrella as she had been exceedingly fond of it herself. She also knew there was one sure-fire way to distract him from his loss.
They had been married now for six months and they had been a very happiest six months of her life. She had a secret about the next six months that she needed to share and it was now her turn to try to create the perfect moment.
Elizabeth had cooked up all of Darcy’s favorite dishes and was waiting for him to come home from a meeting with his cousin. When Darcy arrived, he was pleased to see her and touched by the obvious effort she’d made in creating a special evening for just the two of them.
He followed his nose into the kitchen and, impatient as ever, began taking tastes of what was being prepared. Elizabeth handed him another place setting and asked if he would mind taking it to the table.
Darcy frowned. As much as he loved his sister, his hope was this would turn into a romantic evening for just the two of them. He made his way into the dining room and rearranged the table to accommodate his sister. Fitzwilliam swiftly returned to the kitchen and petulantly stated, “I will have a talk with Georgie. Inviting herself to dinner when you obviously had something planned is just rude! She was raised better than that.”
Elizabeth laughed at how sometimes her dear husband could act very much like a spoiled little boy. “You’ve done a lovely job of picking up where your parents left off as regards Georgiana. Now Fitzwilliam, did I actually say that Georgiana was coming?”
Darcy thought for a moment and answered, “No. Is it Richard?”
She could not help but tease, “No, it’s not Richard, nor Jane or Charles or anyone else. The place setting is for someone whom you’ve never met in all your life.”
Darcy frowned again, “Elizabeth, please put me out of my misery and tell me which soon-to-be ex-acquaintance of ours has spoiled our evening before it’s even begun!”
Elizabeth laughed. “I do not know.”
“What?” he asked incredulously.
She smiled mysteriously and answered, “I said that I do not know, for I have not met this person yet either, nor do I know their name. For that matter, I’m not certain of much at all except that I expect the acquaintance to deepen in about six months or so when we all become much more formally introduced.”
Fitzwilliam Darcy was an intelligent man. Even intelligent men can sometimes become confused when a beautiful woman decides to play games and not give direct answers to direct questions. Growing frustrated, he asked, “If this is someone we won’t even meet for six months, why are you setting a place at our table now?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, he understood. “Oh! Elizabeth, my love! Are you certain, absolutely certain?”
She grinned and confirmed, “I had an ultrasound this morning and if you can calm yourself down just a little, I’ll show you the video of the newest little Darcy.”
Darcy was ecstatic. “I’d love that! Truly? We’re going to be parents?” She nodded it was true.
They spent the rest of the evening planning for the newest member of the family. After dinner they made many calls to share the good news.
Aunts-to-be Jane and Georgiana were thrilled and Mrs. Bennet exclaimed that she always knew how it would be.
Just after their first wedding anniversary, William Darcy made his debut in the world. He was followed closely by Anne, Cecily and Alexander. As the Darcy children grew, they would occasionally complain about taking the bus or the train (only with Mum) when they had plenty of money for cars. Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam taught their children the importance of being responsible stewards of the world we all must share together, and that having money does not excuse you from your obligations to do as much as you can.
Each one of the Darcy children grew into a fine adult. William and Cecily showed interest in and were brought aboard Pembergy. Together they continued their family’s legacy and worked towards providing clean energy not just in Europe, but in other areas of the world where low-cost energy was needed. Anne became the family philanthropist and the Darcy Foundation grew a reputation for being generous and fair to anyone who truly wished to make a difference in the world. Alexander had a heart for children and eventually became a teacher like his mother. Alex saw a need for outreach in impoverished communities that were struggling, and, with his sister Anne’s aide, he founded a school for children who wanted to go to college but did not have access to better educational facilities. Once the Darcy Academy Preparatory School was established, it became a model for other schools.
Each Darcy was given a large umbrella upon their eighteenth birthday and would be forced to listen, yet again, to the tale of how Dad had met Mum because he had such an umbrella on that fortuitous morning long ago. They were instructed to keep it always close at hand because you never know what life will bring you and you need to be prepared for anything.
Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy had realized each and every one of their dreams. They had made a difference in the world by the choices they made and they knew they had been blessed many times over in return.
And it was all thanks to an umbrella.
Bus Stop by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.