summary: an Emma retelling because I just watchedEmma. (2020) - friends to lovers excellence yada yada yada
word count: 2.7k
warnings: none, this is a family show
a/n: I messed with the timeline. Francesca marries before Anthony (big change), Eloise has the dog grooming pamphlet by episode one events (tiny change)
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Y/N Woodhouse, handsome and clever, had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Although unmarried, you are the head of the Hartfield estate as your mother had passed on when you were very young and your elder sister married a few years prior. Mister Henry Woodhouse, your father whom you loved earnestly, is a kind-hearted man but unfit to handle all of Hartfield’s affairs.
And despite not being introduced into society yourself, you have a knack for gossip especially when it came to the marriages of the ton.
“Have you bought the latest Whistledown?” you demand once you reach the Bridgerton drawing room.
“Not even a hello? Or good morning?” Benedict laughs, setting down his tea and rising from his chair to greet you. He is the only person in the room.
“You did not answer my question,” you press. You hold out her hand, and Benedict takes it to place a quick kiss upon it. “I was too overwhelmed this morning with the accounts to promenade-”
“Not that you would need to since you have yet to make your debut for a reason still unknown to me,” Benedict cuts in.
“-with your family and pick up an issue,” you finish. “But I also do not think it cost-effective for your family to purchase her pamphletandmyself when we can simply share.”
Benedict sighs, much too used to your obsession with the gossip column.
“Well?” you ask.
“Well what?” he shoots back with a glint in his eye. Oh, the things he does to get a rise out of you.
“Where’s Lady Whistledown? You always buy me a copy when I am unable to do so myself.”
Rushing over to the coffee table, you ruffle through the papers and pamphlets that lay there.
“This seems like a breach of privacy to me,” Benedict says.
“Why are you in possession of a dog grooming booklet?” You grumble, tossing it over your shoulder in frustration that it is not a Lady Whistledown’s Society Paper.
“You won’t find it there,” he chuckles.
Your head shoots up.
“I have had a very long morning, Bridgerton,” you say. “Do not play games with me.”
Benedict snorts. “Oh, that is rich coming from your scheming mouth,Woodhouse.”
“I prefer strategic,” you say lightly, strolling toward him. “Remind me, again, who predicted that my sister and Mister Knightly would be well suited?”
“You did,” he concedes.
“And Daphne and Hastings?”
You stop directly in front of him. The two of you would have been chest to chest if he were not so tall.
“AndFelicity and Mister Finch?”
“They’ve not wed yet,” he argues.
“But, they will,” you insist with a smile. “So, how could I possibly be playing a silly game when genuine love matches are the result?”
“Sometimes you are just as ridiculous as Lady Whistledown,” Benedict snorts but there is a bite behind his words.
Benedict often joked and called you foolish and meddling. Not that he was Mister Serious. That would be Anthony. But, he always poked fun in a loving way. Maybe you had finally exhausted him though you could not understand why.
“Someday,” you say, bringing your gloved hand up to pat his chest. “I hope to correctlypredict whom you will marry.”
Under your touch, he stiffens and the timing could not have been more perfect. With all the agility you can muster, you slide your fingers under his jacket, feel the sharp edge of paper, and grab hold.
“Ha!” you shriek with a laugh, pulling away from him.
Benedict groans as you throw yourself down on a love seat, engrossed in Whistledown’s words of wisdom.
“A new family!” you say to yourself giddily. “The Sharmas, how capitol.”
“Nothing you could not deduce yourself at the ball tonight,” Benedict points out, sitting down next to you.
“But it is so much more fun going in prepared,” you say, settling up against him.
You cannot exactly place when you and Benedict had become so close. Your relationship with the Bridgerton family was peculiar as a whole.
At the balls you begged your father to take you to when you were younger, you had made a friend in Francesca. After spending the majority of your time with girls who gossipped as much as you, you soon grew weary of the twisted tales that were told to you. You preferred to get down and dirty to the root of a scandal yourself. Francesca was much quieter than you but did not object when you brought her along on all your investigations.
Then she had married – something even you had not been able to predict. Without her, you were without a friend at the balls and soirees.
You and Anthony could not have been friends in a million years as neither of you could stand each other’s disposition. And for reason unbeknownst to you, Benedict practically avoided your company. Eloise disliked social events and rarely joined her family. And Daphne was too focused on finding a match to notice you wandering about events, hand drawing shapes on the wall just to do something.
But Colin Bridgerton had noticed. Had maybe even been instructed by Francesca to keep you company. It was nice to have an ally amongst the season’s madness, and you often shared multiple dances a night to keep away suitors for each other.
Alas, Colin left for his tour months ago, and you once again occupied the outskirts of parties.
You were pouring yourself a third cup of lemonade when you felt a shift in the air. Someone was hovering behind you.
You silently cursed, hoping no one would ask you to dance.
Turning around, you were met with the bashful smile of Benedict Bridgerton.
“Oh, Benedict,” you said, surprised. “Or um, Mister Bridgerton!”
“How are you?” he asked.
“I am well,” you say reflexively.
An awkward pause filled the space between the two of you.
“Have you heard from Colin?” He asked.
“Yes,” you replied with a smile. “It sounds like he is having a capitol time!”
“He has written similar sentiment to me,” Benedict said. “He also asked me how you have been, and I realized how rude it has been of me not to keep you more company.”
“Oh, do not waste your night with me on behalf of your brother,” you said with a dismissive wave.
“It would not be a waste,” he insisted. “I… want to keep you company.”
“That is very kind of you.”
You smile at the distant memory. Although you enjoyed your time getting to know Colin and Francesca, you must admit you feel most at home with Benedict.
“You know,” Benedict says, poking your cheek, bringing you back to the present. “With your passion for gossip and matchmaking, some may believeyouto be Lady Whistledown.”
Smirking, you reply, “That would not be the first time someone has pointed a finger toward me. However, I must admit that the genius woman is not me, and I secretly despise her for concocting such an idea before I could think of it.”
You slap the paper onto Benedict’s chest, making him breathe out a softoof.
“I am afraid I must be off now,” you announce, standing up. “First ball of the season and all.”
“You do know that you have no obligation to go since you’re not looking for a husband,” Benedict says, setting down the pamphlet and standing to walk you out. “Why is that, again?”
“I believe that I have not told you in the first place,” you laugh. “But, you already know I cannot leave my poor father.”
Leading you down the stairs, Benedict huffs. “I am sure that you can find a man willing to move into Hartfield. Or willing to let your father live with you.”
“I am not so sure,” you say although that is a lie.
As the two of you reach the front door, Benedict asks, “Off to the modiste, then?”
“No,” you sigh. “Off to back home. I cannot find it in our budget to buy a new dress for the next month at least.”
He hesitates but says, “I could buy you a dress if you would allow it.”
The offer hangs in the air a moment too long.
The soft look in his eye unnerves you more than you like to admit. Reminding you of the exact reason you cannot make your debut: you cannot see any other match for yourself other than Benedict. But, he has never made the slightest hint that he wishes to court you. He is simply a gentleman. A close friend at that.
It would bring you too much pain to find a lifelong partner at the same time as Benedict. So, you would abstain from partaking in the season until he was married. No longer a possibility.
“That is very kind of you… but I cannot let you do that. I have plenty of dresses.”
He nods. “I will see you tonight?”
“You will see me tonight.”
- - - -
“I should think Miss Sharma would suit well with Anthony,” you say in a conspiratorial whisper to Benedict.
He hands you a glass of lemonade. “You are already so sure?”
“Positive.” You nod fervently. “Both eldest siblings. Both have an intense air to them. And both are looking at each other as if they already know the other! What clearer of a sign of true love can one ask for?”
Benedict shrugs. “I don’t see it.”
“Just wait a fortnight, then you’ll see that I knew it all along.”
He looks around the room and turns back to you.
“And who would you match with me? MissEdwinaSharma?”
You almost choke on your lemonade.
“Why do you ask?”
“Just curious… so, is that a no?”
Your eyes scan the room to find Edwina in conversation with Lady Danbury. Her pink dress was quite pretty.Shewas quite pretty. You quickly flick your gaze to see if Benedict is admiring her, too, but his eyes are set on you.
“It’s not a no,” you admit. “She seems lovely. I would not be surprised if she is named the diamond of the season. And you, of all the eligible bachelors, deserve a diamond.”
Benedict studies your forced smile.
“Do you wish to dance with her?” you ask.
“Should you think I ask?” he replies, answering your question with a question.
You sniff. “You are your own person. I think you can decide for yourself.”
“Now, that is a first from you.”
You have had enough. With a polite grin, you take Benedict’s lemonade, causing his eyebrows to crinkle.
“Why did you-”
You stomp on the foot closest to you, giving him a resounding and satisfyingHm.Setting down the glasses on a nearby table, you march away, ignoring the curious stares of the souls lucky enough to witness such an outburst. Tomorrow, you are sure that Lady Whistledown will document it for the people unfortunate enough to miss it.
“Y/N!” Benedict calls after you, but you don’t turn around to see him limping after you.
The front doors are opened for you, and you almost trip down the stairs with the haste that has built up in your steps. Out of the corner of your eye, you catch Miss Sharma quite distressed with Anthony Bridgerton. Maybe you were wrong after all and losing your touch.
Veering away from the unhappy pair, you collapse on a bench.
“I can’t believe I just did that,” you gasp aloud.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Benedict echoes, having already caught up with you albeit panting.
“Go away,” you whine, rubbing your gloved hands over your eyes. “I can only be vexed so many times in a single day.”
“I am sorry,” Benedict says, continuing to stand to give you your space. “I did not mean to upset you.”
“You seem to resent me,” you cry out. “If you dislike my company so much, then I am not forcing your hand to spend time with me. If I recall correctly, you said youwantedto-”
“I do not dislike your company,” he argues. “I revel in it. You are my favorite person.”
“And you are mine,” you whisper.
Slowly, Benedict walks up to you and sits. “Why do you think I resent you?”
“I don’t really,” you admit, looking at your toes. “But your teasing… it makes me feel as if you do. Just sometimes.”
“I did not know I had gone too far,” he says, reaching for your hand. He gives it a quick squeeze but, to your disappointment, drops it promptly. “It was never my intent to make you feel small.”
Finally, you let your eyes meet his. Benedict looks at you the way he always does. Your heart sinks, knowing that his feelings will never change, but you still find comfort in his gentle gaze.
“I am sorry that I stomped on your foot,” you chuckle.
“I suppose I deserved it,” he admits.
You attempt to object, but he does not let you.
“I do resent a small part of you…”
Your heart sinks further. You can feel your friendship slipping from your hands like delicate sand.
“I resent the part of you that does not love me as I love you,” he says. He smiles, but his eyes are sad.
“There’s no need to try and comfort me,” he says with a shrug. “I had accepted it a long time ago. But, I was hoping maybe your mind had changed.”
You were too stunned to correct him, so he went on.
“I just thought it so twisted how you were a master at matchmaking but could not realize what a perfect match was right under your nose. The two of us… It was wickedly ironic. With enough teasing, I stupidly believed that I could make you realize that we are well suited. I am sorry to play such games.”
“You took a page out of my own book,” you mumbled and he nodded. “But you did not need to employ such tactics because I already knew that we would be a perfect match.”
At that, Benedict immediately brightens.
“You don’t mean to say-”
“I guess I am always right,” you smirk. “My games, my scheming, my belief that I always know best and that people sometimes need a little push in the right direction.”
Benedict laughs. “I cannot believe that I love you.”
“That is very kind of you.”
Reaching out to cup your cheek, he whispers, “I beg of you to say it back.”
“Say what back?”
Benedict leans in, his lips barely brushing yours. His breath dusting your own lips. “Do I need to draw it out of you?”
Accepting that as invitation, his soft lips meet yours. Both of you stubborn, you fight over who has more control, pushing and pulling from each other. Your hands come up and bury themselves in his thick hair. His hands hind the sides of your face, thumbs stroking your skin softly although he is kissing you in a way that can be described in any way but soft.
Finally, you both catch your breath, leaning on the other’s forehead for support.
“Fine,” you say, with a small gasp. “I love you, too.”
You smile at each other.
“I love you so much,” you confess before initiating the second of many kisses.
- - - -
The first official match of the season has been made. Although Y/N Woodhouse has not yet (and not ever) made her debut, This Author has it on good authority to announce that our local matchmaker has paired herself with the second eldest Bridgerton, Mister Benedict.
A curious match indeed – especially if one was fortunate enough to see the performance Miss Woodhouse put on at the first ball of the season when she stamped her footprint on Benedict Bridgerton’s left foot. This Author thinks it is safe to say the love birds reconciled quickly. A hopeful sign of a future happy marriage.
Thus marks the third match of the Bridgerton family. Tick Tock, Viscount Bridgerton. It is now more than likely that the Viscount will become an uncle before he is to become a groom.
Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers
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a/n: Hope you enjoyed dear reader, this was very fun to write ;)