For this edition of March Madness, as requested, I present to you a mashup of Elinor and Colonel Brandon. I suppose this is more of a variation than a mashup of two different JA works, but I had fun getting these two together, in a modern day setting. Enjoy Part 1!
Ellie sat in the café, dreading what was to come. She didn’t want this meeting. She didn’t want it to be up to her. She’d practiced what she was going to say on the way there, but once Brandon walked in, the words got all choked up in her throat.
“Ellie,” he said, sitting across from her at the tiny table. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too,” she lied. Not that she didn’t like seeing Brandon, it was the reason for it.
He ordered a coffee from the waitress and then settled back into his chair. “How are you?” His voice was gentle, as if he could see she was on the verge of tears.
She always seemed to be on the verge of tears these days. Ever since the man she loved went back to his high school sweetheart. He hadn’t wanted to, but she was pregnant and Edward always did the right thing. That didn’t make it any easier for Ellie, didn’t make the ache go away. She didn’t miss him any less. There were always too many emotions trying to surface. She was afraid that soon, it would be a losing battle.
Today, those emotions weren’t for herself, but for Brandon.
“Marianne has run off with John.” She gripped her chair, mortified that she’d just blurted it out instead of trying to break the news gently.
“Willoughby?” he asked slowly, as if he didn’t comprehend. “I thought he got married.”
Ellie could feel the heat rising in her cheeks, as though it was her shame, not her sister’s. “He is. Was. I don’t know. She left a note, but it didn’t say much. She won’t answer my calls or texts. I don’t even know where they are.”
Brandon stared at the table. He nodded. Finally he looked up at me and with a sad smile said, “She’s in love.”
That didn’t make it any better, Ellie thought. In her experience, love ruined everyone and everything.
“I’m sorry,” she said, though the words weren’t nearly enough for her friend.
Brandon lowered his head. “I’m sorry,” he repeated.
Ellie didn’t see Brandon again for months. They were friends because he’d been in love with her sister. Now…
So when she did see him again, it was a bit awkward.
“Ellie? Ellie Dashwood?”
She heard the voice through the noise of the crowd and turned around, trying to spot who’d called her.
Brandon was coming toward her, making his way through streams of shoppers.
“Hi,” she said, blinking in surprise.
“Hi,” he replied.
He smiled. She smiled back. People moved around them while she thought of something to say. She never expected to run into him in a shopping mall of all places.
“I was just about to—”
“Do you want to—”
She laughed nervously.
“Lunch?” He motioned toward the food court.
After they both got their food—sub sandwich for her, Indian for him—they met again at a table for two.
“It’s been awhile,” he said, stirring his curry around.
“Yes.” Ellie held her sandwich in front of her face, a tomato hanging from the bread like it was trying to escape. “Work’s been busy. What about you?” She took a bite, a hint that it was his turn to talk. She never had been very outgoing.
“Busy as well.” And then he got down to his own lunch.
Brandon had never been very talkative either.
They ate in silence. Ellie was done her sub by the time Brandon spoke again.
“How is she?”
Ellie dabbed her face with a napkin, making sure there was no stray mayo before replying. “She’s good. They’re still together.”
He met her gaze. “I’m happy for her.”
She searched his face for a hint he was lying, or still upset by the whole thing, but detected nothing.
“Really, I am,” he said as if he knew what she was looking for. “It was a rough couple of months, but I finally realized…”
“Her and I were never suited.”
Ellie raised her eyebrows. One of the first things Brandon had confessed to her when they met so long ago, was that Marianne was exactly his type.
“I really should have figured it out sooner,” he continued. “I’ve always been drawn to women like Marianne. Women who wear their hearts on their sleeve. Passionate women.”
Emotional women, thought Ellie.
“But to be honest, I don’t think I know how to deal with them.”
Ellie laughed, and then covered it up quickly.
Brandon chuckled. “No, it’s true. I figured out that I was drawn to that because I wanted to be that. But I’m not.” He finished up his last bites of curry.
“No, me neither,” Ellie said. She’d never wanted it in a partner. Not that loud and crazy kind of love, but true love. Constant love. The kind that slowly burns forever instead of explodes in massive fireworks only to fizzle out.
“You’re not, are you?” he said and she met his eyes. “I mean, not like your sister at all. I mean—”
She smiled at his fumbling. “We’re really not alike at all.” Closer than twins growing up but more different than two people could be.
“So.” He leaned back in his chair. His button-up shirt stretched across his chest outlining the contours of his muscles. It was the first time Ellie had noticed Brandon had muscles. It was the first time Ellie had noticed Brandon at all. Physically at least.
She felt her cheeks heat.
“How have you been? Dating anyone?” His question was both casual and loaded at the same time.
“Yes, I’ve been seeing my desk chair.”
He laughed, head thrown back, a deep rich sound. Ellie blushed again. What was wrong with her?
But despite her blushes, their conversation became easier after that. They talked like the friends they had been, but without Marianne between them. Or Edward. Ellie hadn’t forgotten her first love, but being with Brandon felt like…something old and new at the same time. Safe, and yet oddly exciting. She felt interesting again, and she liked it.
So when Brandon asked if he could see her again—“How about dinner sometime?”—she said yes without hesitation.
Hope you enjoyed! Come back on March 30th for Part II of Ellie and Brandon!