Why aren’t there many stories of Darcy and Elizabeth as a married couple? This question was asked at a JAFF event I went to a couple years ago. We never came up with any definitive answer, but the discussion gave me the idea for A Pair of Pink Slippers, a short story showing how Darcy and Elizabeth handle conflicts early in their marriage. I hope you enjoy it! And although it is too long to post in its entirety here, please feel free to hop over to my blog page and download the whole thing for free! Happy reading!
Darcy stretched lazily as he slowly awoke, absent-mindedly reaching out to his wife, Elizabeth, where she lay in bed next to him. It was early morning for him, around eight o’clock, his customary time for awakening, and the sun was shining brightly in through the open windows of his bedroom. His hand, however, discovered that his wife’s place was empty, though a little residual warmth showed that she had not been gone long. Darcy was not disturbed. Elizabeth typically woke before he did each morning and, with her high level of energy, could not stand to wait for him before taking a long walk through the park, her first of several on a typical day.
He rolled over languidly instead and looked on the floor for the irrefutable proof that Elizabeth had come to his bed the night before- the pair of pink satin indoor slippers which she normally wore with her night ensemble. Darcy had come to love those slippers. On the nights when Darcy sought out Elizabeth’s bed the slippers would be primly in their place in her own room, lined up next to her side of the bed, where she could put them on first thing in the morning. But on the nights when Elizabeth came to his bed, freely, unsummoned- ah, those were the sweetest moments of all in their young marriage. On the mornings after those encounters Darcy relished the sight of the pink slippers randomly arrayed in his room, a silent token of the bond they shared and the desire his wife felt for him. For some reason she never remembered to pick them back up before repairing to her room the next day. Darcy did not know that the location of Elizabeth’s pink slippers each morning was the source of speculative mirth among his observant staff.
He shaved and dressed for the day quickly, with his valet’s help, and in a trice he entered the sitting room where breakfast was laid out on the sideboard. His swift arrival meant that he had to eat by himself for several minutes before the sound of the front door opening announced Elizabeth’s return. With a warm smile he welcomed her into the room and pulled out a chair for her before she sat down, noting how the glow in her fine eyes had been increased by the early exercise.
“Good morning, Elizabeth,” he began, conversationally, as he sat down again. “I missed you when I woke up this morning.”
“You speak as though it is an unusual occurrence to awake alone,” she replied mildly as she looked back at him. “But I hardly ever sleep later than you.”
“It may not be unusual, but it is a sensation to which I have never grown accustomed. I always reach for you and find that you are not there.”
A playful smile appeared on her face. “We have only been married six months, and we did not marry until you were eight and twenty years old. How did you survive without me all that time?”
“I have no idea. My life was empty before you came into it. Waking up alone is a pointed reminded of the time before I knew you, and one that I would rather do without.”
“Are you saying that you would like it if I stayed with you until wake up each day?” Elizabeth asked, glancing aside to be sure the servants had left the room. They had.
“What would you say if I did make that request?” Darcy’s tone was serious, but his eyes had begun to twinkle.
“That would depend. Are you referring to every morning, or only the mornings after an evening spent in each other’s company?” She arched one eyebrow.
Darcy pretended to consider this for a moment. “At first I was referring, I believe, to the second circumstance you described; but the more I think about it, the more certain I am that I would enjoy your company every time I am in bed.” His smile broadened wickedly as he waited for her response.
“Then you are not as astute as I first thought you were, Mr. Darcy.”
Darcy was enjoying the flirtatious banter more than he could express. “What have I said that lowers your opinion of my intelligence, Mrs. Darcy? Whatever it is, I must take care to reverse it immediately.”
“Why, it has apparently taken you six months to realize that you could have me in your bed as much as you want, simply by asking.” She smiled sweetly at him.
Darcy was glad that she had ensured their privacy before making such a provocative statement. “You have not answered the question, my dearest wife,” he reminded her. “What would you say if I were to ask you to remain in bed until I have risen each day?”
“I would answer that if my company is that important to you, instead of me staying in bed with you, you might try rising early with me!” She spread butter on the toast in her hand with an impudent smile, and Darcy knew he had been beaten. He could think of only one way to make his defeat a pleasant experience, and so he stood abruptly, preparing to move to his wife and show her exactly why he missed her every morning. But just then a light rap came on the door, and a moment later his steward ceremoniously bowed as he entered the room.
“Begging your pardon, Mr. Darcy, but your tenants are here for their meeting with you.”
“Tenants?” Darcy echoed, as though he had never heard of such a thing before.
“The ones who asked to meet with you regarding improvements to their homes.”
“I do not recall agreeing to such a meeting.” Darcy frowned as he searched his memory.
“They sent you a message last week asking to meet with you at half nine this morning. They have already been waiting for some time.”
“Indeed, they did,” Elizabeth chimed in. “It was just after we returned from taking the phaeton up to Curbar Edge and back. You told them you would be happy to meet with them.”
“I do not need you to remind me,” Darcy said, irritated at the interruption. “I can keep track of my own calendar.” He had planned to meet with the local magistrate later this morning regarding some poaching occurring on the estate, but now that meeting might have to be delayed. “Wheeler, show them into my office and tell them I will be with them momentarily.” If only Elizabeth had not taken so long to return from her walk! He could have eaten and been halfway through the meeting with his tenants by now.
“If I remember correctly, they were going to ask you about having their roofs repaired, or possibly even replaced. They seemed rather agitated. I hope you are able to reach a speedy resolution with them. Would it help if I had Mrs. Reynolds send in a tray of breakfast items?”
Darcy glowered. “It would only slow the process down. I can handle my own business affairs, Elizabeth.”
“Forgive me for trying to be of assistance, then,” Elizabeth replied coolly. “I will trouble you no more.” She swept out of the room before he could stop her, and Darcy silently cursed at himself. He would have to find her and apologize for his rudeness before he left for the magistrate. But first he had to deal with his tenants.
The full story can be found here.