Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fan Fiction for Romantic Friday Writers

Romantic Friday Writers Prompt:  Write up to 1000 words of prose or poetry from famous lovers in famous stories from the past, recent or distant.

I love this idea. For some reason, the first couple I thought of was Titania and Oberon  I had all sorts of ideas, then started with the idea of writing it in verse... then I realized I was putting too much into it and the fun would be gone. Next was the super obvious Lizzie and Mr. Darcy. They needed to get it on -- but then I felt like I'd be messing with something sacred.

Thank goodness inspiration hit in a timely manner. Below, I give you, at 1050 words, Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and his first meeting with Mrs. Bennet (née Gardiner). Because there were no first names within the story, I improvised. Enjoy.

In Which Mr. Bennet Meets Miss Gardiner
 “Good Lord, she is enchanting, isn’t she William?”
William Bennet turned to look the direction his brother indicated, and saw nothing but a cluster of debutants giggling.
Charles did all but point with his flute of champagne. “Beyond the virgins, next to Lord Foxley. How much do you think she costs?”
William saw her then, her unpowdered gold ringlets piled high, still scarcely reaching Foxley’s nose. A petite little thing, a pocket Venus, she couldn’t have been older than eighteen. Her clothes indicated money, but there was an innocence to her, unjaded and honest, that set her apart from the rest of the ton. Something was different about her. Sipping his wine, he asked, “What makes you think she’s for sale?”
“Look at the way she laughs, she reeks of merchants. No gentleman will wed her, but there is already speculation at Whites about who will be the first to bed her.”
“Then those men are not gentlemen.” William tugged on the points of his waistcoat. “It is barbaric to plan the ruin of a young woman based solely on her connections or lack thereof.”
“Ah, William, so full of righteous fury at the injustices of the world. I’m surprised you came tonight if you despise all your peers so heartily. You might find these events more pleasurable if you did your thinking with,” he gestured crudely, “another head.”
William willed the tension from his jaw. He would not rise to his brother’s baiting. Bowing just enough to be polite, he excused himself.
He was here to find a wife. He didn’t have the fortune to attract a titled woman, nor the romantic inclinations to woo one. Really, women were befuddling, a riot of emotions that he could never understand. Still, as the eldest son, he must marry and sire a son lest the entail pass to Charles who would do nothing but drink it into ruin.
A slap on the back broke him from his thoughts. He looked up to find Foxley grinning at him like a fool.
“Miss Gardiner, allow me to present you my dear friend William Bennet.”
Lost in his thoughts, he’d walked straight towards them like some lovesick fool.
“Your servant, ma’am,” he said with a bow, “I…”
Whatever he’d been about to say was lost, gone, the moment his eyes met hers. Though her face was in calm repose as a lady’s should be, her eyes were smiling, laughing, as if daring him to laugh with her. A deep brown, fringed in long, dark lashes, they were a stark contrast to her blond brows and hair. Remarkable.
“I fear your beauty has quite undone my friend,” Foxley continued, plucking a fresh flute of champagne from a passing server. He took Miss Gardiner’s almost empty glass from her fingers and handed her the new one.
“My Lord, I really should not have another. The bubbles go straight to my head.” She smiled, looking up under her lashes, her eyes flashing with amusement.
“I insist,” Foxley crooned. “It is, after all, your debut upon the ton. Make the most of it.”
“William, there you are!” A shrill voice assaulted him from behind as his mother slapped him in the back with her fan. “Why are you dallying with your friends when you should be finding a wife?”
Foxley snorted, too gauche to pretend not to hear, but Miss Gardiner just smiled at him softly and took a sip of her champagne then set it on a passing footman’s tray.
“Mother, allow me to make you acquainted with Miss Gardiner. I have just found out that this is her first ball. Miss Gardiner, this is my mother, Mrs. Katherine Bennet.”
“Your mother did not host a ball in your honor then?” Somewhere in the last ten years, his mother had lost her understanding of tact.
“Father wouldn’t hear of it, but Mother was able to gain this invitation and so,” Miss Gardiner spread her gloved hands before her, “here I am.”
“And who are your parents, child?” His mother hedged closer, pushing him aside with her panniers.
“Jacob and Margaret Gardiner of Hampstead Heath.” Miss Gardiner explained, holding her chin with confidence despite his mother’s scrutiny. “Father is a banker…”
“A banker’s daughter!” His mother stepped back as if burned. “How on earth did you gain entrance to Lady Spencer’s ball?”
“Lady Spencer is my aunt, Mrs. Bennet.” The young woman’s polite words held an edge, though her eyes continued to smile.
William hid his own smile when his mother did not respond. She could hardly give the cut direct to the hostess’s niece no matter her unfortunate parentage. He cleared his throat and held out his hand, “Miss Gardiner, would you please do me the honor of joining me in this dance?”
She slipped her gloved hand into his and gave a curtsey, “Of course, Mr. Bennet. You are too kind.”
Her laughter danced along the breeze ruffling the oil lamps suspended on the terrace. Her hand snug in the crook of his arm, he fought the urge to hold her closer still. He laid his hand over hers and noted the fair skin of her arm above her glove, beneath the fall of lace at her elbow, dust over with goose bumps.
“Are you cold, Miss Gardiner? We could go inside.”
“Not at all, Mr. Bennet, but I thank you for your concern.” Turning her face up to him, she bit her lip, drawing his eyes to her sweet bow of a mouth.
“If it is not bold, I would ask you to call me William.”
She looked away as a rosy blush covered her cheeks. “Not too bold, William,” she whispered his name. “And you may call me Elizabeth, if you wish.”
Elizabeth,” he whispered her name in turn then pulled her hand to his lips and placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles. “May I call upon your father on the morrow?”
She gasped, happiness clear in her eyes, then stilled herself once more. “Yes, William. I will tell him to expect you.”
His mother may well die of apoplexy and Charles would label him a fool, but William didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, they could all go to hell so long as he could gaze into Elizabeth Gardiner’s fine eyes.


Denise Covey said...

Love this Erin. I love Pride and Prejudice and the atmosphere is recreated wonderfully. Your enjoyment in your improvisation is evident. The underlying humour moves the story of William and Elizabeth along. Nice touch of history and language. Very sweet ending.

Thank you Erin for taking part in our fan fiction challenge.


Yolanda Renée said...

Ah, love at first sight. So enchanting!

Very well done, the attitude -- wow, aren't we glad things have changed! :)

Like you, I had a hard time deciding, you did well and achieved your goal!

Thanks for sharing.

Sally said...

A great story and love at first sight, so marvellous and written in that same style.

Scheherazade said...

Very nicely done. Easy to follow. Excellent description and dialog. It was a pleasure.

dolorah said...

Oh that was splendid Erin. The voice and all the covert looks and adherence to protocol. If I didn't already know they end up together, I assure you I'd be ready for the next meeting and the continuing adventure or their romance. Well done with the concept.

Thank you for participating in RFW this month Erin. Lovely to see you again.


N. R. Williams said...

Hi Erin
Well done. You've captured the dialogue and courtier atmosphere well. I don't think it is easy to do this from our modern perspective. Interesting to see William and Elizabeth in their youth.

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