Persuasion Meets Groundhog Day – A short story

Hey folks! I posted this story earlier this month on AustenAuthors. It turned into a fun, angsty look into Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Read on!


Time Loops

It’s not quite Groundhog’s Day yet, but I usually see the movie pop up sometime in January and I always have to watch at least five minutes of it. Definitely one of my Top 5 Movies of All Time.

In December I usually watch “12 Dates of Christmas” which is a festive romantic comedy with the same idea, and my husband and I both really enjoy “Edge of Tomorrow” with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt where they’re trapped in a day fighting aliens.

Twelve Dates of Christmas

I am a SUCKER for the time loop trope. I love everything about it. The confusion, the despair, the hope, the growth, the incremental learning, and the uncertain romance!

All this to say, this is my (early) Groundhog Day post! There are some great Pride and Prejudice time loop stories, but I haven’t seen one done with Persuasion. (If you know of one, let me know in the comments!) I doubt I’ll turn this into a novel, but it is so delicious to explore the idea of Anne learning and growing and changing her fate with a time loop. She can be active instead of waiting for others, as the poor woman too often had to do. Can you guess what day she’ll have to get right?

Hands Tucked In, Part 1

Anne woke at the hotel in Lyme with a sense that some impending doom had been averted. The quiet sounds of the hotel were tranquil, and she lay with her hands tucked under the pillow, not quite awake enough to question her sense of relief.

There was a murmur from the hotel man putting the gentlemen’s polished shoes back in place as one of the guests stepped into the hall to ask him about the weather. There was the nearby chink of china as one of the serving maids set the table in their private dining room for breakfast. The smell of roast beef and fish and the ocean made even Anne’s appetite awaken with a low rumble.

How happy she was to be in Lyme—how long since she had felt so happy to be anywhere! Certainly she was glad not to be returning to Uppercross with the terrible news of Louisa’s fall—


With a start, Anne sat straight up in the small bed, catching the wool blanket against her chest. Louisa had fallen onto the pavement of the Cobb and been severely injured. They feared for her life and Anne had been packed off in the coach with Captain Wentworth to tell the poor girl’s parents.

But now—a bell below tokened another guest’s arrival at the inn and the merry bellow of a ship’s horn indicated that she was certainly still at the hotel, in the harbor city of Lyme.

Had they returned with Louisa’s parents yesterday? Had Anne fainted from the anxiety and care? Why did she not remember?

Anne threw off her night things with trembling hands. She’d left the previous day’s dark blue walking dress hanging on the hook by her bed. She’d soiled it the yesterday kneeling on the wet, gritty pavement of the sea wall, but what did a thing like that matter when she was so confused? She pulled it on over her head and did up the buttons.

Though her anxiety did not lessen, she paused long enough to pull her hair into a simple knot at the back of her head. If she had fainted or otherwise been taken ill yesterday—which she more and more thought she must have done—she ought to present a decent appearance to the others or they would insist on coddling her all day when they ought to be focused on poor Louisa.

When she was neat enough, she jerked the hall door open.

The gentleman across the passage was just coming out as well—now wearing the boots he’d just gotten from the hotel man. He looked at her inquiringly, for her countenance must show agitation.

Anne blinked at him. “Mr… Mr. Elliot?” She had nearly forgotten the handsome man she briefly met yesterday during their walk. He had admired her, and she had noted it, only to be very surprised to learn after his departure that he was their estranged cousin. Louisa’s fall had put it all out of her head. “Have you come back to Lyme? I thought you were headed to Bath.”

Only her confusion and disorientation excused such a direct question to a veritable stranger.

He paused, wrinkling an intelligent brow. “Why, yes, I have not been here in some years, and I am headed to Bath later today. I am afraid you have the advantage of me, Miss…?”

One of the hotel maids exited the dining room and Anne turned to her, too intent to attend him any longer. “Excuse me, has there been word of Miss Louisa Musgrove this morning? Has my sister sent word?”

The maid jerked her head toward the dining room. “I believe Miss Louisa is still asleep, Miss Elliot, but Miss Henrietta is just in here having a cup o’ chocolate.”

“Miss Henrietta is drinking chocolate?” The last Anne had seen of Henrietta, she was prostrate with fear for her sister and had been given a composer and put to bed.

Mr. Elliot was looking bemused, and Anne recollected him with effort. “Excuse me,” she curtseyed slightly. “I—I mustn’t detain you.” At any other time, she would be quite interested to meet her cousin and see what manner of man would inherit her father’s land and titles, but not this morning.

“But I declare that you must detain me,” he said, half-joking, half-affronted. “If you are indeed a Miss Elliot. Dare I believe that you are Miss Elliot of Kellynch Hall?”

“No,” said Anne, moving towards the dining room. “That is my older sister. I am Miss Anne Elliot.”

He fell into step next to her, smiling. “I have yet to learn that Miss Anne Elliot has less claim on the name than her sister. I suppose you must already be aware of my identity, but I am quite taken aback. Please allow me—”

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Anne, “I can attend to you presently, but I simply must ascertain the health of my sister-in-law before I do anything else.”

He had followed her into the private parlor where the Musgrove family was to be served and indeed, Henrietta was there alone. She was looking quite cheerfully out of the window and sprang up on seeing Anne. “There you are! The beach looks so lovely this morning and it is still an hour until breakfast. Do come walking with me, Anne! I feel I shall quiver myself to death with delight if I sit here any longer.”

“But—Louisa,” poor Anne protested. “How is she? Have you heard from Captain Harville and his wife? Has Louisa regained consciousness?”

Henrietta’s pretty brow furrowed. “Louisa left our room before I did. She is out walking with Captain Wentworth, and she is perfectly fine.” She smiled ruefully and a little self-consciously. “Perfectly fine except that she preferred to walk alone with the Captain and thus I was waiting for you.” Henrietta took in Mr. Elliot and blushed a little. She rose from the table and curtseyed a schoolgirl’s dip. “How do you do, sir? Are you a friend of my dear Miss Elliot?”

“I am in fact, a cousin of your dear Miss Elliot.” He bowed. “However, I am afraid perhaps that she isn’t well.”

Anne was not well. She sank down on one of the spindle legged stools against the wall and put a hand to her head. “Henrietta. Please tell me plainly, did Louisa fall and hit her head yesterday?”

“Why, no.” Henrietta looked questioningly between the two of them. “You were with us the whole time, Anne.”

“I suppose I was.” Had Anne dreamt it? Had she indulged in a perfectly frightful and realistic nightmare? On occasion, she dreamed of her mother in quite life-like moments. But then—Anne had known Mr. Elliot’s identity. She closed her eyes and pressed her hand over them.

Mr. Elliot’s gentlemanly voice was heard to request that Henrietta ring for some tea. “I think Miss Elliot has had some fright this morning.”

“To be sure,” Henrietta agreed.

When Anne had drunk some hot tea, scalding her tongue a little but not minding, for at least it was real, she felt more composed. It was inexplicable and strange, but then… she was old enough to know that all of life was inexplicable and strange and she could not put too many demands on it.

Besides which, she was distracted by Mr. Elliot, who—without being at all flippant or condescending—was blending humor and concern in such a way as to make her smile.

“Now, Miss Henrietta—do I have your name correctly? Ah, good—I believe we have chased the ghost out of her eyes. Now I believe is the perfect moment for you to renew your request for a walk. And I, being at hand and also desiring a walk in the fresh breeze I see whipping the Union Jacks along the wharf, will offer to escort you.”

Anne agreed that the sea air would help clear her head and soon she and Henrietta were on the high Cobb on either side of Mr. Elliot.

The Cobb overlooked the sparkling gray ocean, and a fine cool breeze reddened their cheeks. At intervals there were stairs leading from the highwalk to the lower one nearer the ocean and rock. The stairs made Anne uncomfortable, for she could still picture Louisa jumping a moment to soon. She could hear the horrible sound as Louisa’s head bounced off the stone stair and her body crumpled limply to the ground.

Mr. Elliot must’ve felt her tension, for he looked at her a little searchingly. He was too well-bred to demand further explanation for her confusion this morning, which she appreciated.

Anne knew, of course, that Mr. Elliot had had a falling out with her father. He had been painted as quite a black sheep, in fact. She saw nothing of it now. In fact, based on one morning’s acquaintance, she was quite encouraged to know that a man of intelligence, information, and kindness was to inherit Kellynch. The good people of Kellynch, the tenants and the village folk, would be in better hands than she had hoped.

That Mr. Elliot was equally pleased with her was clear. He seemed genuinely delighted to make an acquaintance of Sir Walter’s daughter. His eye often caught hers, and she thought that perhaps—in her dream? Premonition? Nightmare?—at least she had not been wrong that he admired her.

It made her color up a little, for she was no longer used to a man’s eyes on her face with that sort of admiration.

Henrietta was perhaps not quite oblivious to it, and when they stopped to admire the view at the end of the Cobb, where the wharf and warehouses left off and the ocean stretched away, she moved off on her own a short way.

It left Mr. Elliot and Anne in a surprisingly intimate moment. Anne sighed gently. She would not allow herself to think of how much rather she would have the moment with Captain Wentworth. He was off walking with Louisa, whom he would marry, and whom she must and would be happy for.

“This morning—” Mr. Elliot started again. “I hope that you—I was quite—”

“Please forget my confusion,” Anne said. “I cannot explain it.”

“I was not asking for an explanation,” he said, “and I could readily forgive far more, if there was anything to forgive!”

“You must think I was very silly.”

“On the contrary, I suspect that you are not at all silly.” He looked at her keenly. “I suspect, in fact, that your life has not been easy. I see in you something I recognize.”

Despite his good looks and manner, Anne did not know him. She swayed a half step away. “My life has had no great difficulty. I cannot complain.” Though even as she said it, she thought of her grief over Captain Wentworth, her grief at her mother’s passing, her grief at leaving Kellynch to strangers.

“That is exactly what I would expect you to say,” he said smiling, as if he knew her quite well. “Not at all easy, I gather, and you have the stamp of someone who has found their way despite mourning. I felt an immediate jolt of recognition when I saw you this morning—though I doubt I would’ve realized the source if you had not spoken to me. I feel as if—and I only take such a liberty on the basis of cousinship!—that you and I are something akin.”

Anne knew that his life had been difficult. He had taken a low-born wife for her fortune and been—by report—very unhappy and still more so when she died untimely.

“Perhaps there is some small similarity,” she said.

He smiled at her again, pressing her hand which was tucked around his arm. Whether he would have continued this interesting conversation, she did not know, for Henrietta returned to them. “Look, here is Louisa and Captain Wentworth coming toward us. We can walk back with them.”

Captain Wentworth’s eyes had found them out already, and he was taking in the tableau. Anne’s hand was tucked around Mr. Elliot’s arm, and he had placed his other hand over hers. His eyes were bright, and he had just been murmuring something in her ear.

Captain Wentworth’s eyes fixed on Anne’s for a moment, and there was a flash of recognition, as he suddenly saw the quiet beauty he’d fallen in love with twelve years ago.

And saw that she was being squired, appreciated, and admired by another man.

It was only a moment, and then there were introductions. That Mr. Elliot was her cousin seemed to strike Captain Wentworth between the eyes. His mouth opened slightly, and he clamped it shut, doffing his hat.

“We must walk back along the lower Cobb,” Louisa declared in her self-assured way, “where it is not quite so windy and we can test the delightful crunch of the shingle under our feet!”

Anne’s hand tightened compulsively on Mr. Elliot’s arm. The stone stairs led down the wall at an angle, with no railing and very little depth. They were slick with spray and salt and worn into softer shapes by years of wind and waves.

“Surely up here is better,” Anne said. Her words fell on deaf ears, for already Captain Wentworth was descending.

“Be careful!” Anne said. “Louisa—take care!”

Louisa laughed. “I am careful enough for my small part, and the Captain is careful enough for the rest of it. Do hop me down, Captain Wentworth!”

Anne dropped Mr. Elliot’s arm. Henrietta was on the point of following her sister, and Anne darted in front of her and onto the steps.

“Catch me!” Louisa cried happily.

Captain Wentworth was at the bottom. Perhaps he had been distracted by Mr. Elliot’s arrival and had not properly heard Louisa’s request. “Sorry, what was that?” he said, turning.

But Louisa was throwing herself toward him, expecting to be caught under the arms. Anne grabbed for her wrist or her shoulder… Surely it could not happen again!

Anne’s lunge did not save Louisa. In fact, it knocked her own neat boots loose from the precarious friction offered by the limestone steps.

They both fell and Anne saw Captain Wentworth’s horrified face before her head struck something and she knew no more.


Anne woke at the hotel in Lyme with her hands tucked under the pillow, and to the murmur of voices as the gentlemen’s boots were delivered first thing in the morning.

Her head did not hurt, thankfully, but she didn’t feel the same sense of relief as she had the last time.

What was happening to her?

<End of Part 1>

That’s it for now! Let me know if you also are a fan of time loops! If you enjoyed this, you can find Part 2 here!


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