March 15, 2003 - I first began posting this story in the fall of 2001 at DWG, but stopped after Chapter 15 because I hadn't worked out the ending sufficiently, and I knew that I'd regret releasing any more chapters until I had. So I sat on many chapters for months while I decided the ultimate outcome. In the meantime, I made this web site with the help of some friends. Fortunately, readers were very patient! It wasn't until this website was up and running on October 9, 2002, that I finally resumed posting more of the story. I reposted Chaper 15 at DWG and then slowly but surely, made my way chapter by chapter. Well, now it's finished and posted to the end. This site contains the full chapters, and for that reason has a R-rating; the PG version is still at DWG.

So if you have stumbled across my website on or after the noted date, you can read the entire story while knowing that you are free from the hassles of a procrastinating authoress. ;)

I need to thank a bunch of people for their help when writing this story, because even a humble fanfic is a big undertaking, and although I wrote up to chapter 17 without imposing on anyone except my DH, it was nice to have wider support when the panic started to set in. First, I want to thank my DH for reading and supporting from the very beginning to the bitter end. Thanks to Sade for encouraging my wackiness throughout simply by the space she's helped create. -p. Thanks to Melly, a fantastic beta reader, for stepping in on such short notice to provide valuable feedback on the second half of the story following the wedding. Finally, thanks to Jude for researching some things along the way, helping me with my appalling sense of geography, and for previewing the earliest, sketchiest version of scenes now found as parts of chapters 18-22.

A Most Convenient Mishap is my first posted Darcyfic. All blunders within these pages are admittedly mine. This story is part loving parody of and part tribute to my favourite author, with apologies. -Rebecca E.


When the clock struck three, Elizabeth felt that she must go, and very unwillingly said so. Miss Bingley offered her the carriage, and she only wanted a little pressing to accept it, when Jane testified such concern in parting with her, that Miss Bingley was obliged to convert the offer of the chaise into an invitation to remain at Netherfield for the present. Elizabeth most thankfully consented, and a servant was dispatched to Longbourn to acquaint the family with her stay, and bring back a supply of clothes.

 

Before retiring to dress for dinner, Miss Bingley informed her brother that a room had been prepared for Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

"Her trunk has not yet arrived. I cannot think why! Please see that when it does, the servant places it in the first bedroom on the right, down the left hallway."

Mr. Bingley looked up distractedly from the fire. Miss Jane Bennet’s illness was causing him grave worry.

"Did you hear me, Charles?"

"Yes, of course, Caroline. I will instruct the servant, do not worry. Now hurry, you have only an hour before dinner."

His sister ignored that last teasing reference to her vanity and hurried up the stairs. She wanted to look her best for Mr. Darcy and fully intended to out-do her unexpected competition.

Three quarters of an hour later, just as Mr. Bingley entered the hallway intent on making his own preparations before dinner, the awaited trunk finally arrived. He motioned his butler away and took care of the matter himself.

"Never mind, Johnson, my sister has given me strict orders about this!"

A relieved Johnson hurried back to help with the dining room preparations.

"Peter! You have at last returned with Miss Bennet’s trunk!"

"I’m very sorry, sir. The Mistress of Longbourn…well, er, there was a bit of a delay on that end."

"Well, never mind. Just take it up to the room that’s been freshly prepared for Miss Elizabeth Bennet. First door on the left, right hallway. And then please see that Miss Bennet is informed of the arrangements."

Peter looked at his master oddly for a moment. But Mr. Bingley was already hurrying up the stairs. With a shrug, Peter did as he was told.

Bingley passed Mr. Darcy on the stairs.

"Cutting it close again, aren’t you Bingley?"

"Well, you know what a careless fellow I am…oh, by the way, Darcy, did Caroline mention it? Miss Elizabeth Bennet is to be an overnight guest as well."

His friend looked surprised. "No, I have not spoken to your sister since breakfast. Why is she — that is, why is Miss Bennet staying on? Is her sister very ill, then?"

Bingley looked upset for a moment, but recovering said lightly "She is somewhat feverish today. The apothecary has ordered her to stay in bed but thinks she will be well enough in a few days…her sister will be a welcome addition. I cannot think of a better way to ensure Miss Bennet’s welfare."

Darcy merely nodded and reminded his friend of the time. Whatever else he might have felt on hearing this new information about the second eldest Miss Bennet, he kept to himself.

 

Mr. Darcy was not long in the drawing room before Miss Bingley and the Hursts appeared, hastily followed by his friend. At his sister’s impatient inquiry on Miss Bennet’s whereabouts, Bingley chimed in.

"Don’t worry, she said she would be down directly. I ran into her in the hall and —"

Before Bingley could finish his thought, Miss Elizabeth Bennet herself appeared. She answered Miss Bingley’s inquiries regarding the suitability of her room, apologizing also for not taking the time to change for dinner, as her trunk had only arrived and she did not wish to hold up the proceedings. The hem of her petticoat was still somewhat muddied, though barely visible through the material of her gown. Her hair had been properly tidied, while her complexion still revealed all the benefits of her early morning exercise. Altogether, her appearance now brought back to one observer at least, the memory of her remarkable arrival at breakfast that morning. She had looked very well then…as she did now! Mr. Darcy forced himself to stop staring.

Dinner was as pleasant as might be hoped under the circumstances. Bingley was quieter than usual. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst managed to carry on as though no alteration in their lives had occurred. Mr. Hurst seemed astonished to find that Miss Bennet preferred simple fare and would not deign to converse with her after that. Darcy found that the addition of Miss Bennet added a certain interest to the evening. He observed that though she was obviously worried about her sister, she did her best to converse when she could, despite the obstacles of an unpleasant Hurst and a resentful Miss Bingley. Mr. Darcy contented himself with listening to the curious dialogue between the two young Misses that occasionally erupted, the one just managing to be civil, the other sincere yet…hmmm, there was no mistaking a slight expression in Miss Bennet's eye now and again that could not help but amuse. He was forcibly struck once again by the realization that here was a different sort of feminine creature!

He had half-expected her to be like other young ladies, and attempt to make the most of her proximity to an eligible gentleman such as himself. By the end of dinner he was forced to concede that Elizabeth Bennet was sincere in her reason for being there. Her warmest replies were reserved for Bingley and she seemed genuinely grateful for his shared concern for her sister. She made absolutely no attempt to talk to Darcy! Not that he required her attentions. Indeed, he wondered if he could have tolerated the doting remarks of all three females at table. Two was bad enough. Her lack of interest further aroused his.

Immediately after the meal ended, Miss Bennet hastened back upstairs to care for her sister. She came down later in the evening and remained only long enough to challenge his definition of a highly accomplished lady before taking her impertinent self off again! Just as he was finding the evening tedious in the extreme, she returned. She did not even acknowledge his presence, for her mind was on her sister whom she reported was worse and could not be left alone; she had time only to concur with Bingley’s offer to fetch Mr. Jones if her sister were not improved on the morrow. Mr. Darcy’s selfish wish for more of her company was suspended by his genuine concern for her and her sister, thought he had no chance to express these sentiments before she was away again.

 

Once she’d informed her hostess that she could not leave Jane alone again, Elizabeth hastened upstairs, intending to pass the chief of the night in her sister’s room. In the upper hallway, she paused. Despite having thanked Miss Bingley for her comfortable accommodations, she had not yet entered the room assigned to her, having had insufficient time before dinner to even peak inside. She opened the door, curious to see where Miss Bingley had placed her.

She was a little taken aback by the fineness of it all. This room was as at least as elegantly furnished as Jane’s accommodations. A cheerful fire burned in the grate, but no candles had yet been lit. Altogether, the room was neat and felt rather lived in somehow, though devoid of personal possessions. From where she stood, she observed that some books had been most thoughtfully placed on the closest bedside table, and a refreshment tray placed on the low table situated between the two chairs near the fire. She credited these touches, and the room assignment itself, to Mr. Bingley, and was suitably impressed with the meaning behind such a compliment to Jane’s sister.

The bed was a quite large canopy, with thick curtains drawn back while not in use. Her trunk, she quickly discovered, was placed at the end of the nearest side of the bed. She did not expect that a servant would have unpacked her trunk for her, but she wondered at it being placed here. Fortunately, it was a smaller trunk. After retrieving a nightdress and slippers, she pushed it under the bed to get it out of the way. Tomorrow would be soon enough to settle in. She decided she could just as easily prepare for bed in Jane’s room; her main concern was to get back to her sister. Gown and slippers in hand, she left the room. Once again, great thoughtfulness was in evidence, as Mr. Bingley had conveniently placed her directly across the hall from her sister.

It was very late when Elizabeth felt satisfied enough with Jane’s resting state to determine on getting some sleep herself. Already prepared for bed and dozing in a chair, she forced herself to get up and make her way across the darkened hall to her room. It was obvious that the whole household had retired some time ago.

Putting aside the blanket she had wrapped around her, she shivered and wondered yet again what her mother was thinking to have packed such a flimsy frivolous gown for her at such a time of year.

The fire was low in the grate. Elizabeth could barely see in front of her as she made her way around the bed, preferring to sleep nearer the window. She felt, rather than saw, the bed curtains in front of her, now drawn closed for the night, and managed to slip through them to find her way beneath the bedclothes. She snuggled in with a sigh of contentment at the pleasant scent and heat surrounding her. So exhausted was she, her eyes were closed almost immediately on her head hitting the pillow.

 

Mr. Darcy awoke to the scent of lavender tickling at his senses. Brushing his hand across his face, he found that something silky was actually tickling his nose. He sighed his contentment and rolled unconsciously towards a delicious source of heat. His hand moved beneath the bedclothes, and for the moment he could not recall where he was.

The unmistakable feel of soft flesh beneath his touch caused his eyes to fly open and his hand to withdraw as though burnt. He immediately rolled onto his back in disbelief and lay there puzzled for a moment. He lifted a small portion of the bedclothes to inspect, but in the dark could not discern its appearance any better than anything else. Recovering his faculties somewhat, he remembered that he was in fact, in the bed at Netherfield, and not elsewhere. That there should not be any woman in his bed seemed to contradict the facts! For one dreadful moment, he wondered if Miss Bingley had completely lost her senses and was attempting to trap him into a marriage of necessity.

Coming more fully awake by the moment, owing to this possible perilous situation, he lifted himself, and with his outstretched hand bravely drew the drapery back enough to identify the form lying so very closely to him. It was barely day, yet the early morning yielded enough light for him to see quite clearly. Despite that, he doubted his own eyes. With great shock he finally registered that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, not Miss Bingley, was beside him! For several moments he was again too stunned to move and had no idea what he should do. The sight of her was vastly appealing. Her hair lay tumbled about her pillow and had spilled over onto his. Her lashes, so long and thick, rested on her cheek. Her full bottom lip was curved in an expression of contentment. And her gown, now somewhat revealed as a consequence of his sitting up and dragging the bedclothes with him…he tore his eyes away.

He felt the familiar stirrings in full force as his eyes returned to her of their own volition. He clenched his jaw, warring with himself. She had obviously placed herself in his room. What could she possibly hope to gain? She must have known that he would toss her out of his bed…as soon as he thought it, he felt a violent reaction against the idea….

He realized his situation was as perilous as ever! There she lay, so tempting, and well within his reach; yet her pathetic scheme raised both disappointment and contempt. He’d thought she was at least smarter than that! Mr. Darcy ignored the stab of pain that the knowledge of her lack of morality produced in him. He warred on. Temptation finally won against self-preservation. He pushed away all regrets over her perfidiousness, and recklessly, leaned forward to capture her lips with his own.

He heard her sigh of contentment as her arms eventually came up around his neck. For several glorious moments she responded to him with a whole-hearted passion that rapidly defeated any honourable intentions he might have had left. Then suddenly, quite unexpectedly, she began to struggle and push at his shoulders. He drew his face away from hers just enough to make out her expression. Even in the dim light filtering through the gap in the bed curtains, there was no missing her look of outrage.

"Get off me!"

Darcy did not move.

"I said get off me, or I shall scream!"

"Ah, you are the outraged innocent? How suitably dramatic."

He did, however, move as she’d requested. She immediately put as much space between them in the bed as she could and caught up the bedclothes to her as though to shield herself from him as much as possible.

"How dare you!" she said. "Get out of my room at once!" She grabbed at the curtain behind her, drawing it back angrily to decrease the sense of intimacy created by the enclosure of the draperies.

Darcy stared at her incredulously for a moment. Then the light of comprehension entered his eyes.

"I see. So this is your game…. Well Miss Bennet, you may as well know that I am used to far more cunning husband-hunters than you. You can pretend all you want, but we both know that this is my bedroom. And I have not the least intention of marrying you."

It was Elizabeth’s turn to stare.

"You cannot be serious!" He must be mad. There was no other explanation that presented itself to her.

"Indeed I am….However, if you drop this charade now, we might be able to come to an understanding." His calm manner belied the fact that his heart continued to pound wildly.

"Oh?" She was too shocked to know what else to say.

"Stay with me and I will see that it is an arrangement of mutual… ah, er…convenience." It sounded crass even to his own ears, but he did not know how else to phrase it. And given the inducement directly before him…

Elizabeth attempted to speak, but no words came out.

"Indeed, Miss Ben—, er, Elizabeth. You must know that you have taken my fancy! Otherwise, why would you be here?" He moved towards her and reached for her again. "I would gladly take you under my care and provide for you in London."

He thought it a very generous offer. After all, he was not in the habit of procuring such arrangements, not being a rake. He would never have considered such an arrangement with her a possibility until this morning, but Darcy was a quick thinker. It would solve an increasingly uncomfortable problem — namely what to do with his burgeoning attraction to the eminently unsuitable Elizabeth Bennet.

Pleased with himself, he was completely caught off guard by the shriek of outrage and hard slap across his cheek that followed it. The next moment, Elizabeth Bennet had disappeared from the bed. His ardor somewhat cooled, Darcy tore out his own side as soon as he realized her intentions. He grabbed for his dressing gown to cover his nightclothes, even as he scrambled to pursue her.

"Miss Bennet, do not. Miss B—"

He was too late. She reached the door and hastened from the room before he could stop her.

No sooner had he caught her by the arm and attempted to haul her back into his bedroom to avoid a scandal, then he realized it was all, all too late! Bingley stood just down the hall instructing a housemaid. The hand that was pointing to Miss Jane Bennet’s door instantly fell away as Bingley startled at the scene before him. The housemaid stood there gaping in shock as well. There stood Miss Elizabeth Bennet, obviously just having emerged from Mr. Darcy’s room in nothing but a fine, rather dubious, though not indecent, nightdress. And there stood Bingley’s best friend in his dressing gown, attempting to haul Miss Bennet back into his room. Both people froze on realizing that they were not alone.

Bingley hurried down the hall, concern and shock still on his features. He was thinking chiefly of Jane.

"What is the meaning of this?"

"I can explain, Bingley. This scheming piece of baggage placed herself in my bed this morning in the hopes that I would marry her."

"That is a lie! This is my room. Your friend is mad! Mr. Bingley, I demand that you order your carriage immediately. My sister and I will not stay under the same roof with such a, a — such a rake!" With that imperious order, Miss Elizabeth Bennet disappeared behind her sister’s door.

Bingley turned to his friend. "You say that she was in your room when you awoke this morning."

"Yes."

"How did you come by that red mark?"

Darcy drew himself up to his full height.

"Are you questioning my integrity, Bingley?"

"No, of course not! It’s just that… there’s a huge red mark —"

"Obviously she slapped me!" He answered somewhat testily. "Don’t you see, she’s attempting to trap me into a marriage of convenience!!…we have to ensure that none of the servants hear about this!"

They both turned. The housemaid had hurried away long ago. Darcy cursed softly. He knew very well that the gossip would spread rapidly throughout the house.

"I’d better get dressed."

"Yes, a good idea. I’ll try to sort this out. Perhaps you are wrong. Perhaps she genuinely made a mistake. She might have got confused about the room arrangements…" he finished lamely.

Darcy snorted. "Whatever the case, I don’t intend to marry her!"

"Of course not. By the look on her face, I doubt she’d agree to marry you anyway."

Darcy gave his friend the oddest look before closing the door in his face. Bingley hurried downstairs and sent for his footman.

On the servant entering, he quickly instructed him.

"Peter, I’ve ordered the carriage for our guests. I’m afraid they must leave immediately. Please retrieve Miss Bennet’s trunk and see that it is placed on the carriage. You need not worry about disturbing her. She is likely in her sister’s room at the moment."

Peter nodded and was gone directly.

 

Upon being told to enter, Peter hesitated before opening the door. There stood none other than Mr. Darcy, who had wandered distractedly from his dressing room while about to don his jacket. By all appearances, he was in a great hurry and had not even taken the time to ring for his valet.

"Yes, what is it?"

Peter did not know what to say.

"Well?" Darcy stared at him impatiently.

"Forgive me sir, there must be some mistake."

"Mistake?"

"Yes. I thought this was Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s room. That is to say, I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet was moved in here yesterday. I came to retrieve her trunk."

Darcy froze. "What makes you think it was Miss Bennet’s room? It was my room upon arriving, and I have not moved, as you can see."

Peter braved the gentlemen’s icy expression. "Then, could you tell me which room Miss Bennet was assigned to from here."

"She was assigned to no room from here. This was never her room." But even as he insisted, Darcy knew a sinking feeling. With a sigh, he asked the question he most dreaded to ask.

"Tell me why you think this is — or was — Miss Bennet’s room, Peter."

"Well, I thought it was strange at the time. Mr. Bingley instructed me to take Miss Bennet’s trunk up to the first room on the left, right hallway."

"I see. And it did not occur to you at the time that this was the same room I was assigned to?" He tried to keep the rising panic out of his voice.

"I thought you must have moved — to assist the sick lady and her sister."

"And where did you put her trunk?"

"Over here." Peter walked over to the bed. He crouched down. "Here it is. She must have pushed it under the bed."

Darcy stared at this evidence of Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s innocence and felt a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. What had happened was all too obvious.

He stared around the room. Mr. Darcy did not like clutter. There was no evidence of his presence save his few books by the side of the bed. The remainder of his possessions were neatly stashed away in the clothespress and chests of drawers in the dressing room. There were no clues to suggest to a stranger that he resided here.

"Good God, what have I done?"
 
 

 

A Most Convenient Mishap published by Rebecca E., Ontario, Canada. Copyright © held by Rebecca E.,  2001, 2002, 2003, 2004. All Rights Reserved. Lavender Girls Site published by Rebecca E., Ontario, Canada. Text © Rebecca E., 2002, 2003, 2004. Design concept and original artwork/graphics © Rebecca E., 2002, 2003, 2004. All rights reserved. No part of either this fanfiction story or this web site may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Publisher.

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