Story Title: Neither Duty Nor Honor
Author Name: Beaky
Category: Pride & Prejudice
Story Url: Story Link 1
Alternate Url: Story Link 2
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 41,300 words
Story Summary: Fitzwilliam Darcy was four and twenty when he married Anne de Bourgh. In doing so, he fulfilled his duty to his family. Life with Anne was comfortable, if not joyous. However, a year into their marriage she died fulfilling what she saw as her duty – bearing him a child. Fitzwilliam Darcy was eight and twenty when he accompanied his oldest friend to Hertfordshire with his sister and daughter. It was widely known that he had no intention of marrying again. His duty was, after all, already fulfilled. But that firmly held conviction will not hold long against the charms of one Elizabeth Bennet.
I’ve had this lovely story on my To Be Read list for far too long. What a treat it was when I finally had an opportunity to read it through in one sitting!
I’ve seen other stories in which Mr. Darcy was previously married to Anne. To be honest, I’ve avoided them, because the thought of either Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth (but especially Darcy, for some odd, hypocritical reason) involved in previous relationships made me feel queasy, much as if I were imagining my own beloved husband in a previous marriage. Eww. But this story was so beautiful, it was impossible not to love it, forcing me to relinquish my illogical little bias. The author quickly put me into Elizabeth’s POV, and her perspectives on the grieving widower and his adorable daughter are easy to understand.
The sequence of events is noticeably altered by the presence of the young Miss Darcy, as evidenced by the rapidity with which the story is concluded compared to the timeline in canon. But what I particularly enjoyed was the fun in observing how the other characters in the story relate to the sweet child. Miss Bingley, Darcy, Elizabeth, and even Mrs. Bennet all have their own unique responses to young Miss Julia Darcy. Furthermore, the alterations do not mean that Beaky skips over the necessary life lessons which our protagonists need to learn in order to be happy in the long run.
Aside from the inclusion of the 3-year-old Miss Darcy, and the delight of seeing some major maturation and overall improvement in Lydia (another plot device that’s fast becoming a favorite for me in JAFF, I believe my favorite AU moment in this story is the confrontation with Lady Catherine. Oh, it’s marvelous. Absolutely delicious. I’m sorely tempted to spoil you with all the reasons why that scene is so much fun to read, but I’ll stay strong. Go read it for yourselves. You’ll be glad you did.
My Only Critique: I’m struggling to come up with something. There were no typos, no grammatical errors, nothing at all that I think would inhibit anyone’s enjoyment. Oh – I do remember catching one minor redundancy (the same point was mentioned in two paragraphs in a row regarding Mary’s travel plans), but that’s a rather absurd bit of nitpicking on my part, and I’m really, really stretching at this point. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that will bother readers. This story is a pure joy to read.