The Quiet Sound of Pride

Author Tabitha Grey

Author's Note: Thank you again for all your reviews! As you know, I've had trouble not writing and doing my homework (I updated the last chapter while I was in class... that's pretty bad, I know...) and now with the story of Lizzy and Darcy put to rest, maybe I'll actually get some homework done! But really, it was a good time writing this - and I thank you again for all your reading and reviewing!

StarsWatchAsIDance: I hope I did not disappoint - I took your advice and updated today!

Chapter 18: A Happy End

I walked as quickly as I could down to the boardwalk. The air was sticky and humid and the temperature was fairly warm, the overall effect almost tropical. It reminded me of a trip we went on to Florida when I was in junior high. It had rained almost everyday we were there and the rain was warm and the air thick.

I walked down the streets, smelling the ocean before I could see it. It was such a comforting smell - especially at that particular moment.

Darcy - Kent Darcy - had made it possible for me to attend St. Mary's for one more year - my senior year... our senior year.

What could have made him do that? What on earth could have made him call up his family and get a scholarship drawn out for someone? Dare answer my own question for fear that the hope burning in my chest would be flattened.

Even so, I couldn't stop thinking: did he like me? Was it possible that he never stopped?

When I got to the boardwalk, I walked up and down - looking for him. A fine mist was coming down over everything, making the smell of the sea even more pronounced and the boardwalk a little slippery. I watched my step carefully for fear of injuring myself again. I walked past the shops, not seeing anyone that remotely resembled Darcy.

There was just no way! I scolded myself. There was no way after what I had put him through that he would still like me - right? This internal battle raged on as I walked down the boardwalk. The mist turned into droplets and I past a couple huddled under an umbrella. I envied them. Firstly for their umbrella, and second for their closeness. I wanted that - and I wanted that with Darcy. I hoped against hope that I would find him and my pessimistic thoughts would be proved wrong.

Brian had said that he had left just after I had... He had to have known that I would find out about the scholarship shortly... He had to have known it!

I quickened my pace as I walked towards the pier. I saw on top of the pier a few figures, but one in particular that I recognized.

I stayed on the boardwalk and eventually came to the pier. I walked out, about half way. There were two men fishing at the end, another that was just sitting with them, and one more that was about halfway down the pier, facing away from the direction that I had come from.

He had no umbrella, no jacket even (not that the weather really required one - being that it was so warm). I stopped about twenty feet from him. He hadn't noticed my approach.

"Kent!" I shouted over the roar of the waves and the sound of rain falling.

He turned around, surprise clear across his face. He was silent.

"I'm staying at St. Mary's," I shouted.

He just stared at me, no emotion clear on his face. Only a blank stare.

"I got a scholarship in the exact amount for one years tuition at St. Mary's," I said, waiting for a sign of recognition on his face.

His blank stare never wavered.

"I didn't apply for any scholarships," I said. "Especially not from Darcy Coffee."

At this he looked down and away from me. I closed some of the gap between us, limping a ways closer to him.

I was silent, waiting for him to speak. I wanted to hear him say what I hoped he would say.

And I was not left in suspense long. "Elizabeth," he said, not quite as loudly as I had been shouting, as I was closer to him now. "I'm a selfish person."

I furrowed my brows in confusion. "Selfish? What does that have to do with it?"

He took a few steps closer to me, so that we were but a foot apart. He smiled, the blank look disappearing. "I couldn't have stayed here - at this school - without..." He looked away, and took a deep breath, a look of concern replacing the smile.

"Without what?" I asked, nearly breathless with anticipation. Would he say exactly what I wanted to hear...

"Elizabeth," he said, looking seriously at me. "I'm going to say this one more time - and that's it. If you're opinion of me hasn't changed, that's fine - this is the last time you'll have to hear this."

I stared up at him, waiting.

"I love you," he said, simply, though it seemed to have taken a lot of effort. "I have for awhile now. I couldn't have imagined a senior year at this school without you. And I didn't want to..." I stood there in silence, letting him go on. I couldn't have spoken even if I had wanted to. "When I saw you with Wickham, I realized that I didn't want to see you with anyone else - let alone with him. I wanted you to dance with me, to sit at lunch and talk with me, and to think of me." He looked away from me at that point, and said, "See? Selfish." He smiled, sadly and looked back at me.

"Kent Darcy," I said, shaking from the adrenalin rush. The rain had started to come down harder now. "You're probably the least selfish person that I have ever met. You saved me from Wickham - you tried to save my friend from him - and you saved me from having to go home and not come back. How could you call yourself selfish?" He looked away at that and smiled, sadly again. I continued. "I love you," I said, meaning every word of it. His eyes were wide with surprise, though he was smiling. "I don't know when I realized it - and I don't care. To be honest, I was afraid that you'd hate me for all the things that I've said over this past year alone. And please," I said, smiling back at him. "Don't let that be the last time that I hear you say that - my opinion of you has changed - dramatically. So, please, tell me as often as you feel like."

"Alright," he said, laughing. "I have no problem with that."

"Good," I said. His laughter subsided and he put his hand against my cheek and turned my face up towards his and brought his lips down on mine. Any fireworks that I had felt with Wickham now seemed like birthday candles. It was a feeling unlike any I had ever felt before. My knees were weak, and the pain in my ankle dissolved as we stood there on the pier in the pouring rain.

After what seemed like minutes, Darcy pulled away, and said, "We should get out of this rain."

My eyes were still closed, savoring the last moments of the kiss. "Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed..."

Darcy laughed and took my hand. "Lets go back," he said, and I followed him.

On our way back to school, I had asked him how exactly he had gotten a scholarship together in less than twenty-four hours.

He seemed a little embarrassed but he told me anyway. "I called up my dad last night after the dance, and said that there was a student who would qualify for the scholarship at my school. He asked who and I said you, of course. He asked me why, and I said that you were second in all of the school - ranked only under me. He was impressed and said why not? And the fax was sent out this morning. Not to mention the scholarship thing is a big tax write-off for the company."

"You called him at one in the morning for this?" I asked, in disbelief. Surely the scholarship wasn't that important.

"Of course," he said. "It wasn't that late - and the last day to submit your notice of return for next year was today. If I hadn't have called him last night - you wouldn't have been able to say, with or without money."

I stared up at him. I hadn't even remembered the notice of return that we had to fill out each year. My heart swelled with gratitude.

"Either way," he said, with a smirk. "You're going to be in class with me again, next year. How do you think you'll measure up, Number Two?"

I rolled my eyes and said, "Don't think that just because you payed for my tuition I'm going to go easy on you. I will beat you at something next year!"

He stopped walking and turned to face me, "I think I know something that I lost and you won..."

"What's that?" I said, looking up at him and waiting for some smarmy remark. Instead I was greeted with a kiss.

I already had my happy ending - what more could I wish for? I wasn't sure what our senior year would bring, but I had an idea that with my friends, Brian and Kat, and my new boyfriend Kent Darcy (what?!.. insert girlish squeal here) it was going be a great year.

The End

Author's Note: Thank you again! To everyone who reviewed and like my story! I hope this end was well received! Thank you again and again!