It is my usual practice to pretend my published work and unpublished work are entirely separate, might as well have been done by two different people. When I am wearing my “Ann Galvia” hat, I don’t like to be associated with anything not published and don’t like to see those stories attributed to that name.
I am going to break this rule today.
I have an unpublished story called “Mending His Pen” that was written between October 2015 and December 2016. Among my JAFF reading friends, it is the most popular of my stories. When I tell my fellow Meryton Press authors that I have no interest in publishing it, they just can’t believe it.
(The story has some problematic tropes that I didn’t notice until I was over halfway through writing it because I was focused on other aspects. I would rather distance myself from it.)
When I was writing MHP, I had a lot of fun with Lydia. So much fun that when I realized the story had not provided any conceivable reason why she should not go to Brighton, I was really bummed to lose her. I had one scene in particular that ended up on the cutting room floor because she had to leave Longbourn a good 3 chapters before that scene would have taken place.
I happened upon that scene today and thought to myself, It’s a real shame that the Elizabeth in “What’s Past is Prologue” never had this conversation with Lydia. She could have benefitted from it a lot.
So, I present, the Crossover Special: A Conversation from “Mending His Pen” that would have saved everyone in “What’s Past is Prologue” many, many headaches.
Living with Lydia had always been a dangerous proposition. At times, she was more whirlwind than girl–blowing in, causing her damage and blowing out again. The doors at Longbourn were too sturdy to shake when Lydia threw them open, but sometimes, Elizabeth imagined they would quake, if they could.
“Jane,” Lydia added, belatedly noticing two sisters sat on the bed. She closed the door behind her.
“Lydia,” Elizabeth said warily. Sisters talking half the night away was not uncommon. Sisters bursting into one another’s rooms like a human storm cloud after everyone had said their good nights was.
Lydia threw herself onto the mattress, landing on her knees and seized Elizabeth’s hands. “Lizzy. You are stupid.”
“Lizzy, I think…Lizzy, I think Mr. Darcy wishes to marry you.”
Gaping, Lydia dropped her sister’s hand. “You knew!” She turned on Jane, “And you! You knew, as well, didn’t you? Why am I the last to know? I am the only one helpful!”
Elizabeth was too busy wondering how it was Lydia could consider herself helpful in this situation to stop Jane from saying, “You are not the last to know.”
“So you are engaged then?” Lydia asked eagerly.
Lydia frowned. “Why not?”
“Why not? Why should I agree to marry a man that has never showed me or our family respect?”
Throwing her head back, Lydia groaned. “Respect, respect, I am so tired of hearing you drone on about respect!”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I have no wish for a marriage like my mother and father.”
“I would not dare suggest Mama and Papa are well suited, for no one with eyes in their head could think they are, but Lizzy, you are too smart to think all unhappy people are unhappy in the same way! You are nothing like my mother and Mr. Darcy is not much like my father.”
“Lydia, imagine if you will, that I should like to be happy in marriage.”
“You would have every reason to be happy!”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? You do not think my happiness would be damaged by my husband’s character?”
“Maria Lucas says Charlotte Collins is happy in marriage. I dare you to say her husband’s character is the cause of it.”
Jane began to rally a defense of Mr. Collins, but Lydia spoke over her. “To be married is simply better than to be single.” She began to tick off on her fingers. “Your own home. Your own servants. Your own pin money. Everyone gives you presents when you are with child, and then more presents if you have a boy. We don’t know anyone with greater precedence than Mr. Darcy. You would always go first.”
“In Meryton,” Elizabeth replied. “Mr. Darcy, I know, is acquainted with many people above himself, including earls and ladies.”
“Lizzy, everyone will be so jealous of you!”
“I am afraid I do not see that as a reason to marry a man I am not otherwise inclined to marry.”
Lydia rocked back and forth on the bed. “Just think of the gowns you’d have, the jewels. The carriages and the bonnets and all the lovely presents you could buy for your sisters!”
Elizabeth smiled. “Even the thought of buying my youngest sister all her heart could desire does not sway me!”
Lydia collapsed on her back, her head disappearing over the side of the bed. “He is very dull,” she conceded. “I am sure he would be not at all interesting to be married to.”
“No,” Elizabeth quickly agreed. “I suspect you are right.”
“But,” and Lydia popped upright again, “you could…”
Elizabeth traded glances with Jane.
“What do I know?”
“About being engaged!” Lydia cried!
“Oh,” Jane said, conciliatory, “I do not think my situation and Lizzy’s are exactly comparable.”
“But, you know,” Lydia said, voice low, “that if Mr. Bingley wishes to touch you, you may let him?”
“Lydia!” Jane’s skin had turned an ugly, botchy red. Elizabeth had never see her so before. Is that what Jane looked like when indignant? Or angry?
“I am sure,” Lydia sighed, “that Mr. Bingley is a much more pleasanter man to be touched by than Mr. Darcy, but Mr. Darcy is staying with us. If you were engaged to him, my mother would pretend not to know if you went to his bed at night. You would learn to prefer having a man for a bedmate quickly, I wager. Even if he is the most boring man any of us have met!”
“Good night, Lydia!”
With more pleas, shouts and shoves, Jane and Elizabeth were able to turn Lydia out of their bedroom. A glance between them was sufficient to agree not a word of what Lydia had said need be repeated.
Once Lydia had gone, Kitty took over most of her role and was almost as fun, but that scene just didn’t suit her. I couldn’t see Kitty storming into the room to confront Elizabeth and laying down some Anna Karenina-style truths. The scene was forgotten, until today.
And now I shall resume pretending that “Ann Galvia” has only two stories to her name and not like a billion.