Pairing: Elizabeth Bennet/Fitzwilliam Darcy
Fic Title: A Most Convenient Mishap
Author: Rebecca E.
Rating/Warning(s): R / sex
Genre: Romance, Alternate Universe
Why This Must Be Read: First comes marriage, then comes love. When a comedy of errors causes Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy to marry in order to avoid scandal they are forced to re-evaluate their first impressions of one another. Forced marriage is one of my favorite tropes, and the author does a wonderful job with it here.
"Now sir, are you finally convinced that we must marry?"
Mr. Bennet nodded his agreement with the younger man. Elizabeth looked from one to the other.
"No!!! I am going away to London in two days time! I will wait for this to blow over."
"Lizzy, my child. Please! It is not going to blow over."
Darcy looked at her, not without sympathy. "Miss Bennet, I have done my best to honour your wishes in the matter, but I cannot neglect my duty any longer! As I told your father, if you go to London, I promise you, the scandal will only follow you there. I am well known among the ton. It is only a matter of time before these rumours reach their ears and they seek you out for their own amusement."
Elizabeth listened, horrified.
Turning to Mr. Bennet, he added, "Wickham is just spiteful enough to lie and say that he witnessed us in a compromising position along the road. With two such rumours, no one will ever believe your daughter's innocence now."
Mr. Bennet again concurred. "Lizzy, you neglected to tell me that Mr. Darcy made you an offer the very next day."
"I did not see why I should. We had agreed not to marry." Saying thus, she looked at Mr. Darcy reproachfully. He was unmoved, however.
"We have no choice, Miss Bennet. Neither of us can ignore the situation any longer. Marriage is the only solution."
"Why are you so insistent? If my reputation is destroyed over this, it can mean nothing to you."
She regretted her words. Mr. Darcy actually winced.
"I realize that we have made a disastrous beginning, and your opinion of me is rightly not very high. However, I hope I am not as selfish as that remark implies. I do care if your reputation is destroyed. And please remember, my own reputation has also been compromised."
"Yes, but is it worth throwing away your noble family connections on people decidedly beneath you?" she flung at him.
Mr. Darcy held his ground. "Given your opinion of me, I might ask you the same."
"Yet I have already made my wishes known to you, so there is no need to ask again."
"Yes, you did. Yet that was before society had seen fit to shun you for the last fortnight."
Although fascinated by this rapid exchange, Mr. Bennet felt compelled to settle the matter.
"Lizzy, I must tell you I am in agreement with Mr. Darcy. You must marry! Today's events have irrevocably convinced me of that. And I think you might at least show him some courtesy, considering he is offering you marriage again, though he needn't, and considering that he did rescue you from Wickham's clutches just now - something that I shall always be indebted to him for, even if you are not."
After a long, uncomfortable pause, Elizabeth answered. "Very well, father. I will do as you wish. I will marry Mr. Darcy. Now if you will excuse me..." Without a glance at the man in question, she hurried from the room and promptly burst into tears on her way to her room.
Mr. Darcy watched her go with a great deal of anxiety. Her father watched Mr. Darcy. There was no denying from the way that gentleman followed her with his eyes that he was attracted to her. Mr. Bennet wondered how it had escaped his notice before. Mr. Darcy's determination to do the right thing by Elizabeth, despite her earlier rejection, suggested to Mr. Bennet that the man's feelings ran more deeply than he was prepared to admit, or perhaps knew himself. That, together with the very serious worry over his daughter's physical safety which today's events had brought forward, were the final factors that swayed Mr. Bennet's decision.
They were to marry quietly in the church at Longbourn within the fortnight.