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The Idea of Good Company

Chapter Text

Part VII.

Georgiana spent most the day after in a distracted state, caught between her hopes for her friend, and her friend's words concerning her own situation. A part of her was prepared to give herself up as stupid, for the idea that Richard might return her feelings often seemed at best an improbable notion.

He was her cousin, her guardian and fourteen years her senior. Even discounting these factors, he had seen far more of the world than she, and Georgiana had learnt from bitter experience that it was not wise to be naive about the ways of the world she was now very much a part of.

With a sigh she laid aside the latest Mrs Radcliffe, a work usually guaranteed to make her laugh, rose from the recliner, and seated herself at the pianoforte. There was no musical score on the instrument, but Georgiana had long gone past the need for such reference when she played her favourite melodies.

Absently her fingers began to tap out one, as she tried to distract her mind from thinking upon the paths it had spent most of the morning. Barely had she completed the first quarter of the first movement before she felt obliged to halt as the subject of Richard's feelings crossed her mind once.

Recollections had the oft propensity to be an irksome talent at times. All too frequently did they have a powerful and generally all consuming effect on thoughts, liable to occupy them the rest of the day.

This particular incident, Georgiana was sure, would prove most troublesome, for she knew perfectly well that her emotions were trying to make something out of what was merely a usual term of endearment between her cousin and herself.

Yet she could not deny the effect that it had had upon her. My dear cousin, that was all he had said. Georgiana had never known before that three words would effect her so much. His tone of voice had not helped matters much either.

Usual teasing had disappeared, in favour of sincerity which hinted at the possibility of a far more deeper meaning. At the time of its delivery, she had remained untouched, for it was one of his usual titles for her. But now, she was most surprised that she had not blushed at its utterance.

The moment that last thought entered her head, Georgiana rebuked herself. She was being stupid. He had called her cousin after all, not Georgiana, or Georgie, and that was the distinction to concentrate on, not the tone. By the use of that word alone it was clear exactly what he thought of her.

How he regarded her. She was his cousin, nothing more. All her supposing were just part of her mind, which was obviously still prone to wilful youthful fantasies, the like of which had no basis at all in reality.

Her recollection instantly began to mount a defence, beginning with the night of her debutante ball to the Derbyshire wealth. He had greeted her hand with a lingering kiss, and called her beautiful. He had spent most of the evening by her side, fending off suspicious looking gentlemen, and any others she did not wish to dance with.

He had called her dearest, and declared that she could never be an awful object to anyone. Since then he had spent most of his time with her, and had helped with her quest for Anne and Captain Wentworth to find the happiness they should have had years ago.

All of evidence Georgiana found she could not discount immediately. She still found herself blushing over the phrasing he had used when declaring his assistance to her plan.

Though I would never do this for anyone else save you, I will agree, those had been his words, but at the time she had been too focused on his agreement the plan rather than what he meant by 'anyone else save you.'

Perhaps it had not been a good idea to vacate her family's company. With a sigh Georgiana closed the lid of the pianoforte and left her sitting room in search of them.

It did not take long.

Opening the Drawing Room day, she was instantly welcomed in by Elizabeth and William, and the happy face of her little nephew Lawrence. Eager for the welcome distraction such a child provided, Georgiana sat next to Lizzy, and gratefully accepted the offer of holding him.

"Aunt Georgie looks a little preoccupied," Darcy commented astutely.

Georgiana raised her gaze from Lawrence to admit ruefully that such was the case, adding quickly to forbid confidence on a matter she had no desire anyone to know of yet, "it nothing that a little distraction cannot cure. And Lawrence provides that amply, don't you?" This last she uttered to the happy babe in her arms, who gurgled in reply.

Her brother smiled sympathetically back at her, managing to conceal his almost perfect understanding of the matter, of which, thanks to his beautiful wife, he knew the whole of. While he approved of the idea of his cousin as Georgianna's possible partner in life, however, he had yet to learn Richard's ideas on the matter, no doubt because his cousin was worried about talking to him about it, and until he did so, Darcy could not help but worry that his sister would be disappointed.

Miss Darcy saw nothing of her brother's concern, as she focused upon her nephew until it was time for his nap. Gently she rocked to him to sleep while her brother and sister talked quietly amongst themselves. She could not help to do anything but smile as Lawrence's eyes began to close.

She truly loved being an Aunt. Lawrence possessed the perfect combination of what she could only suppose her brother and Elizabeth had been like in their youth, and she delighted in amusing him to his heart's content.

Elizabeth carefully caught her attention then, quietly taking her son into her arms and away to his cot upstairs. As Georgiana rose her gaze to observe her brother watching the duo depart, she gasped as she saw who had arrived.

"Forgive my quiet arrival Georgie, I did not wish to disturb little Lawrence," Richard replied as he came forward to greet them all.

"Of, course," Georgiana responded, trying to recover her previous equilibrium. "How long have you been here?"

"Oh, not too long," Richard replied, trying to conceal the truth that he had in fact been rooted to his previous standing spot ever since he had arrived, entranced by the picture of his cousin rocking little Lawrence Darcy to sleep.

The scene had almost persuaded him that they were in the future, where all his hopes had been realised and returned with equal feeling. "And what else have you been doing this morning?" He asked in attempt to keep his own control over his emotions.

"Just the usual, shut up in the Music Room, conducting my daily practice," Georgie replied, although in reality she had spent scarcely a minute at either of the instruments on which she was a proficient.

"Surely you know most of everything off by heart now," Richard teasingly commented in response.

"Yes, nearly all," Georgiana answered modestly, "but if one does not practice one cannot expect one's performance to remain unaffected." She paused briefly, then enquired as to his activities that morning.

"Oh, you would find it very dull, just a long conversation with a tedious Major-General on the subject of the state of Europe current treaty affairs."

"I'm sure I would not," Georgiana replied truthfully. "Pray tell me about it."

"Very well, if you are sure I won't bore you."

"I do not think you ever could," Georgiana returned with a small blush.

"Do you?" Richard could not help quietly uttering, as they drifted into silence, staring at each other. Soundlessly he began to hope that all his emotions might not entirely be in vain. Could it be possible? Had he mistaken it? Could she really care for him as much as he was beginning to realise he cared for her?

Elizabeth re-entered the room, and the moment was lost. Richard waited until she had resumed her seat by her brother, and then began to describe his morning.

Only over dinner did the hopes return to Georgianna's mind once more. For the first time her thoughts recollected Richard's expression as when she noticed his arrival.

It had only existed for the briefest of moments, but she was almost sure that she could not be mistaken. In fact, she was nearly certain that she had seen the same earnest, wistful gaze as she had frequently seen on her brother whenever he looked at Elizabeth.

Then there had been his 'Do you,' alittle while later. Had she interpreted his look correctly? Georgiana had so little experience of this to be sure. Idly she contemplated what would have happened, had Elizabeth not returned at that very moment, and had her brother not been present.

"A penny for your thoughts," a voice uttered suddenly, bringing her back to reality.

Georgie looked up to her opposite number. "I think they are too numerous and too serious a subject for the dinner table."

"Then I shall just have to save my pennies until the dinner table is no longer between us," Richard replied, "for your thoughts mean a great deal to me."

"Cousin," Georgiana blushed, "do not tease me so."

"Indeed I do not tease," Richard replied earnestly. "I would dearly love to know what you are thinking."

Georgiana quickly thought of something other than what was really occupying her mind, to which she would blush even more if she ever voiced to Richard.

"I was thinking of Anne and Captain Wentworth," she replied, "wondering if there was a possibility than by the time we next meet, things have worked out for them."

"That seems unlikely," Richard remarked, feeling somewhat disappointed, "there are so many factors that it is dependent upon."

"You surprise me, Richard. Do not you believe that love can overcome all obstacles or boundaries?"

"On the contrary, I do believe it, but I think it also depends on the scale of the obstacles and the depth of those boundaries. Sometimes things are not meant to be."

"A rather gloomy philosophy, that."

"More of a realistic one I think. Prevents disappointment."

"Does it? Surely hope is not controlled by such a thing?"

"I...." Richard trailed off, as he gazed at her. "No, you are right. Hope is uncontrollable." As I have learned all too frequently of late.