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The Idea of Good Company

Chapter Text

Part V.

When Georgiana next met Anne several days had passed. She had spent the majority of them enjoying the sights with the rest of her family present, and when she had ventured once more into the Pump Rooms, Miss Elliot had been elsewhere. Therefore, it was with great surprise that Georgiana set eyes on her when she and her family entered the Rooms for the evening concert.

She saw her new friend in conversation with a gentleman, that judging by her manners and expression meant a great deal to her. In comparison the gentlemen seemed disturbed, as if her very presence made him withdraw his ease. She, wanting to greet her friend before the concert, no other motive, stepped close enough to hear their conversation.

"Had it been the effect of gratitude, had he learnt to love her, because he believed her to be preferring him, it would have been another thing. But I have no reason to suppose it is so. It seems, on the contrary to have been a perfectly spontaneous, untaught feeling on his side, and this surprises me.

"A man like him, in his situation! With a heart perceived, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville was a very superior creature, and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! He ought not; he does not."

Either from consciousness, however, that his had friend had recovered, or from some other consciousness, he went no further; and Anne, who in spite of the agitated voice in which the latter part had been uttered, and in spite of all the various noises around the room, the almost ceaseless slam of the door, and the ceaseless buzz of persons walking through, had distinguished every word, was struck, gratified, confused, and, beginning to breath very quick, and feel a hundred things in a moment. It was impossible for her to enter on such a subject, that spoke so deeply of a reflection upon something past.

It was at this moment that Miss Darcy caught her eye. With great relief, Anne fixed on her immediately. "Georgiana, how wonderful! I had no idea you were to be here."

Georgie, having caught the last part of the gentleman's conversation, reacted quickly to providing her friend some ease, taking her hand and replying with joy, "nor I you! My brother managed to purchase admission at the last minute. Oh, I have missed talking to you, it has been nearly three weeks! So much has happened."

Indeed it has, Anne could not help to silently agree. "I had not realise it had been that long, I have been so remiss of you!"

"You are forgiven, indeed there is no fault, the weather has hardly been conducive to us meeting again."

"No it has not," Anne replied, remembering what the rainy weather had brought her. She gestured to her companion. "Georgiana, may I present Captain Wentworth, Captain, Miss Darcy. The Captain's sister is Mrs Croft."

Noticing the way her friend uttered his name Georgiana understood everything almost at once. "I am glad to meet you Captain Wentworth."

"Miss Darcy and I met here some days ago, when she and her family had just arrived in Bath," Anne explained to him. "Even though it was only one morning spent together, we know each other so well. It strange, is it not, that feeling of knowing someone from only one acquaintance, however brief?"

"Indeed it is," Georgiana remarked, "especially as that one acquaintance has the knack to remain imprinted upon the minds of the persons concerned. The meeting can have the ability to haunt them forever. Randomly a facet, word, or expression will press upon their recollection and be interpreted in so many ways. The meaning of everything learnt or gathered from that scene delves so deeply into your mind."

"Yes, haunt you it does," Captain Wentworth uttered, entering into the conversation, "even if it has been many years since that moment has passed, and your circumstances had changed so dramatically, yet one single word or expression that bring the moment back to you forever."

"Or make you wish to forget," Anne uttered with feeling, causing Wentworth to glance at her deeply.

Georgiana pretended not to notice, rejoining, "yes, I do believe my brother and his wife would wish to forget part of their first meeting. Would you believe that they hated each other upon first acquaintance?"

"No I would not," Anne replied as she looked at the couple, seeing something in them that she sometimes wished for herself.

"I was surprised as well, especially when I only heard the story after so much had passed between them as to change everything."

Anne was waiting for Georgiana to say more, but at the moment the cries of "Lady Dalrymple," accosted their senses, and the trio were obliged to part. Anne went to her family and lost sight of Wentworth, Georgiana also to her, own, but unlike her friend she did not lose sight of the gentleman, for her cousin was staring at him.

"Georgie," he began when she had rejoined him, "who is that man?"

"That is Captain Wentworth," Georgiana replied, adding the connection between him and her friend Anne.

"One begins to doubt the size of the world after such an event," Richard remarked, "for I knew him when I bore passage on his ship for Spain."

"You are quite a contrast to your friends, cousin," Georgiana commented teasingly, "they are so serious compared to you!"

"My dear cousin, I'll have you know, I can be perfectly serious when the occasion calls for it," Richard defended himself, as they followed their family into the concert room.

Georgiana searched for Anne, and saw her by another gentleman, who talked with her quite animatedly. Glancing to Captain Wentworth, she saw instantly and briefly how much this had affected him. "I was right."

"Right about what?" Richard asked as they sat down. In reply Georgiana discreetly pointed out her friend and companion, relating what she had overheard, the expressions, tone and mannerism which had accompanied it, and the suspicion that she had drawn from all.

"I see how much you have learnt from your sister in law," Richard remarked, "you caught the characters admirably. But without knowing more about the situation, there is very little you can do to help your friend, but continue to observe."

Georgiana followed her cousin's advice intermittently throughout the concert, looking at each of the persons involved in turn, drawing fresh conclusions every time. When the interval arrived and the change of seat initiated, She asked Richard to secure hers before moving in the direction of her friend.

She watched Captain Wentworth come up to her, enter into conversation, his stance reminding her much of her brother whenever he felt ill at ease in crowds and events, Eventually she saw the effects of Anne's presence on him bring out a change until the arrival of the other gentleman.

To this intervention there was a strong reaction on Captain Wentworth, he felt the intrusion deeply, Georgiana could tell. She saw him accost her friend, make a gesture as if to a hurried departure, implored by her friend to stay, but in vain.

Georgie caught up with her friend at the moment he left. She saw a multitude of emotions pass over her friend's face, realisation, gratitude, happiness, then despair. "Anne, whatever is wrong?"

"It is all for naught," her friend uttered in reply, "how will he ever learn the truth?" She glanced at Miss Darcy, and remembered. "Oh, Georgie, I forgot you do not know."

"Then tell me," Georgiana implored, "unless you do not trust my....."

"No," she interjected, guessing the next words, "nothing like that. I am just at a loss as to what there can be done to solve it."

"Tell him what you feel."

"I wish that I could. But I do not know when we shall meet."

"Let me try and arrange that."

Anne turned to her friend in surprise. "How?"

"A mutual friend. Now, my dear friend, tell me the whole."

Her friend obeyed, forgetting Mr Elliot, who was obliged to return to Miss Carteret. Georgiana took a seat beside her, and listened to the story told in quiet, hushed tones under the music of the concert.

Her feeling for Anne afterwards was everything that a friend should feel under such a circumstance, and her responses and assurances made Anne feel all the better for finally confiding in someone the whole, someone that would not be biased to any outcome other than happiness for both parties.

Author's note: For this you need to have Chapter 21 of Persuasion in your mind with possible reference as to what Chapter 22 brings to the future, as things are about to change slightly again.