The thing about Persuasion that just kills me is that the central premise— “I hope the person who broke my heart has a miserable life and I get to watch them be humiliated while I get everything I ever wanted” is so universal.
But Wentworth is only able to fully enjoy it for like A DAY before he starts realizing how terrible it is. He watches Anne suffer in silence and he hates it. He watches her being treated like an inconvenience and a joke and a piece of furniture and he hates it. He hears sneering comments at her expense and he hates it. He spends evening after evening in her company, where he is celebrated as a handsome, dashing hero while she is shoved to the side and ignored and he hates it.
He probably spent a lot of heartbroken hours out on the sea wishing revenge on her (like ten years’ worth), but then he gets to see it happening and revenge turns out not to be that sweet after all. He probably thought “I hope she never gets married to anyone else and she has to spend the rest of her miserable life with her miserable family, listening to them talk about nothing and regretting ever letting me go.” But then he has to watch her live through it, and it is just excruciating. Watching her bite her tongue. Watching her keep her eyes down on her clasped hands. Watching her silently accept everything as if she deserves it.
He’s like, “YES, it’s all HAPPENING! She’s all ALONE and PALE and OLD and…sad. And her family treats her terribly, and she’s— no one is talking to her. No one even knows that she’s funny and smart, they just— they just make her sit in the corner. She’s hardly eating anything. And she really isn’t that old, but they are acting like she’s dead? Her family is even worse than they used to be, how is that even possible? Why isn’t anyone helping her? Why is she the only person taking care of anyone? Why isn’t anyone taking care of her?”
And his nasty “she’s so altered I should not have known her again” comment that he KNOWS got back to her starts ringing in his ears. And his cocky “yeah I’m just here to find a YOUNG, HOT girl to marry now that I’m SUCH A CATCH, whatevs” approach starts to make him feel queasy, because she’s HELPING, she’s trying to stay out of his way and help him pick a young wife, and she hardly ever smiles anymore, not really. He watches her slip out of rooms when he enters them and he hears her laughing with her nephew sometimes but then go quiet when anyone else approaches, and he doesn’t know what to do.
Anyway, every fandom has a bunch of Pride and Prejudice AUs, but I WANT PERSUASION AUS. I NEED THEM. I NEED THEM.
…to be at sea. I was extremely keen.
‘I have loved none but you.
[…] For you alone, I think and plan.
Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?
[…] could I have read your feelings,
as I think you must have penetrated mine.’
– Persuasion (1995)
Miss Elliot, I can bear this no longer.