Fitzwilliam Darcy had always thought himself to be a good brother. It was something that he prided himself upon. Responsibility had been thrust upon him at an early age; he was barely three and twenty when his father departed from the world, leaving his son a large estate and a sister more than ten years his junior to raise.
Few expected such a young man to deal with this, but those who knew Mr Darcy saw in him what society did not; a profound sense of familial duty, combined with compassion, and gentleness. All these qualities made him address the task he had been left with most seriously, determined to do his late father proud.
Five years later however, tragedy struck. His sister Georgiana, now but fifteen, had been taken from the establishment formed for her in London to Ramsgate; under the chaperoning of a Mrs Younge. A woman in whom that Mr Darcy found later he had been most heavily deceived. For she had made the acquaintance of a man by the name of George Wickham, a person whom had long been known to Darcy, as the godson of his late father, and a close childhood companion before his character grew reckless at Cambridge.
A man of ill repute and disgraceful conduct, he had tried to persuade Georgiana to fall in love with him and consent to an elopement. By chance, Miss Darcy wrote to her brother, and her words, although only containing a slight mention of Mr Wickham and not by name, induced Mr Darcy to go down to Ramsgate.
He arrived just in time. Georgiana, fearing to disappoint a brother that she looked up to almost as a father, told him the entirety of Wickham's scheme at once. Mr Darcy only needed a brief audience with the man to set him straight and send him on his way. Mr Wickham left the next day, leaving a broken hearted Georgiana, and an ashamed Fitzwilliam Darcy.
It was after this terrible event, that Darcy came to the following conclusion. His sister needed a sister, an ally to confide matters in, when she felt she could not discuss it with him. Determined that such a failure would not happen again, and having no other sibling but her, he began to look for a wife.
But society did not possess a woman that he could trust with himself, let alone with Georgiana, leaving him only one option. That was to seek a wife in his close family. He had two such possibilities; in the form of cousins, from his mother's side of the family. The first, Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, daughter of his Uncle, was only ten years old, hardly a suitable choice. So he settled upon the second.
Anne de Bourgh was the only daughter of his mother's older sister, Lady Catherine. She stood to inherit her father's estate; Rosings Park in Kent. She was but one and twenty, an young enough age to find intimacy with Georgiana and old enough to be a suitable wife. But these were not the only reasons that made Mr Darcy chose her as his bride. Anne's mother had sheltered her from much of society, causing Anne to be pronounced as sickly, when in truth, all Miss de Bourgh needed was some freedom under which to thrive.
Having been friends from childhood, Darcy learnt of this from Anne herself, and she in turn had learnt of his trouble with Georgiana She agreed to his proposal and Lady Catherine's consent was applied for accordingly. As the match had a been a favoured wish of this lady, she accepted immediately, but the rest of the family took the news differently.
The Earl of Matlock, Darcy's maternal Uncle, urged caution to his nephew, determined in his opinion that marriage to Anne was not the way to prevent another 'Ramsgate tragedy' and his wife was likewise opposed. Their eldest son and family also disagreed. Only the younger son, a colonel in the army and thus perhaps more willing to understand a marriage of convenience than others who had the luxury of choice, accepted his cousin's decision.
Thus it was to the surprise of most of his family and all of society when Fitzwilliam Darcy married Anne de Bourgh on the ninth day of August, in the year of grace, 1811. The wedding took place at Pemberley, Mr Darcy's country estate, where he and his sister had spent nearly all of their lives. As the day faded into evening, and the newly wedded couple retired for the night, they kept their agreement of not consummating a marriage that was purely of convenience and friendship.
The next day, a Dr Dawson, family physician to the Darcys for many years came as agreed to examine the new Mrs Darcy and determine the real cause for her sickly constitution. Much to their surprise, her worse suspicions were confirmed. Anne had consumption. The word sent dread to both their hearts, worsening when the doctor pronounced her to not survive over a year.
Darcy was all prepared to blame himself, when Anne brought him to realise that the year she had would help the both of them to better cope when she did pass away and leave him eligible once more. Her husband vowed to keep the illness from the rest of their family, informing only Georgiana, and to make Anne's last year the happiest she had ever experienced.
And thus this is where our story begins, one evening in London, in Grosvenor Square, where the Darcy family have been residing to enjoy the Season approximately one and forty days.