Persuade Me. By Ena

The modern Persuasion.

Author's Note: AAAAAAAND I'm done. So done with this story. SO utterly done. I mean that I've finished it. Finally. It's only taken me like 6 years. Oops. My bad.

Read, enjoy, and please review!


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The weeks that follow after arriving back home alternate between unforgettable, and moments that are all but forgotten as soon as they happen. Shifts at work blur together, but each moment spent with Fred is etched into my brain, just like the moment when Penelope's Big Giant Affair Scandal reached the tabloids and (courtesy of Liz, most likely) the entirety of the press turns against Penelope immediately, labelling her all manner of nasty things, and painting my father as a truly heart-broken man who supported his (former) wife's (now non-existent) career with all he had to give. The same papers and websites also took to pouring out what the McCalls had done to dad. Reginald McCall, the father, had been my parent's lawyer before my mother died. Apparently there was some shoddy business with her will and quite a lot of her inheritance from her side of the family was channelled into his own private accounts, a tidy and high seven-figure sum that was never divided up between her children as it ought to have been. I don't care overly much for the loss of the money, but he was already being paid a handsome commission, so why did he dip into money he had no right to touch? And why did Penelope spend all these years married to my father, encouraging him in other pursuits so he wouldn't continue to investigate the loss of funds?

The tabloids said it was an ongoing investigation, which suggested the leaky sources came from our family and they openly speculated that since Penelope was linked to the McCalls, that she was the one who manipulated my father against ever finding out about how the McCalls had taken Mum's money, instead of it being "lost" as my father had reportedly been told.

I call Liz as often as possible, and email her whatever I find relating to the fall-from-grace that is Penelope. The responses I get are always gleeful, and I can tell that she's genuinely glad to have cut Penelope off and out. Dad is a little mellower, clearly his marriage was rocky, but he genuinely cared for and loved Penelope, and had no inclination that she would treat him so poorly. A police investigation followed his return to England the week following Fred and I, and there were charges of fraud, theft and others that were laid on the three. The court hearing isn't until after Christmas, but for now they're out of our lives.

Fred managed to convince Dad to help out with a model scale for some fancy building he's helping to design, and kept my father busy for eight straight days, utilising him as someone who had "superior knowledge of similar utilities". I love him even more for it. Despite my father being little more than a consumer of the fancy things in life, Fred makes sure to emphasise on my father's taste in those finer things as he makes scale models out of cardboard and draws the blueprints on thin, waxed paper.

I think Dad appreciates the feeling of being kept busy, and once the eight days of advice-giving are up, we're forced to find another project (something, anything!) for him to do. Aside from speaking to the lawyers, publicists and journalists that seem to pop up everywhere, Dad doesn't have much in the way of hobbies.

Fred and I make a list of things to suggest to Dad, and just as quickly cross most of our options off: taking up an active sport (I can hear my father say scornfully that it gives one rather a nasty complexion, no matter what sport it is); model trains (too whimsical and childish); camping (eugh, nature!); hiking (eugh, nature!); joining committees and Country Clubs (too much in the way of politics and rather expensive in upkeep); design (he would be good at it, but would quickly tire of the "awful hipsters that have descended on the scene" – I quote him here directly), before finally we settle on a few viable options that are less likely to see him lose interest. I also consult Liz, and she thinks that if dad were to take up all three of our whittled down options, he might just be fine.

In the end I manage to convince dad to take up golf, researching history (nothing makes my Dad happier than trying to figure out whether or not our Elliot family is descended from royalty, no matter which country or point in history) and even a consulting role for the stockists of a fancy interior design company. Apparently my father has "exquisite taste", according to the friend of a friend of a friend who got him the role.

Ultimately Dad keeps busy, gets divorced and life returns to a level of normalcy that I can deal with, Liz leaves Milan for Australia and things with her Footballer boyfriend turn serious, and he even takes her as his date to their fancy Brownlow Medal Award night, the pictures splashed all over Page Five and the internet. Apparently she's now officially a WAG, which appears to be the Australian Wives and Girlfriend's club for sport stars. I can't imagine she's too happy with the title, but she and Robin are happy, and she's even considering spending more time in Australia, maybe moving in with him in the next few years.

Fred and I fall together easily, our routines and life just seems to easily slot into place. We talk about moving in, maybe finding a home of our own, unmarred by everything in our past. We end up buying a block of land a few minutes out of town, and Fred goes to work in designing out home, whilst I keep the rest of my family from cracking at the seams when Dad finds out that Liz is actually serious about her Footballer and Australia and bemoans to Mary and I that we're abandoning him (we're not) and that he's going to become a lonely family-less Grinch (he's not) now that Liz has abandoned him (she hasn't).

Fred (bless him a million times over) actually incorporates my insane family into the housing design, with two bedrooms designed as spare rooms for visiting family, which brings the non-living or kitchen room count to six (a study, our bedroom, the two spares and two bedrooms which will potentially house the children we may one day have, children that we have neither discussed nor planned nor are currently expecting). I don't ask about them, but he brings it up himself,

"One for your Dad when wants to stay, and the other for Liz when she's back." Is his explanation when I encounter a draft of the blueprints one evening, an explanation that not only has me melting, but it really clicks that this man is willing to put up with my family for the sake of me. He loves me so much he's willing to put up with them, just as I love him so much that I want to shield him from them.

Aunt Agatha is still on the touch and go stage, Fred's forgiven her for persuading me to end our engagement, but he's definitely not forgotten her role in it all. Forgive but don't forget seems to be the motto when it comes to their bond, and Agatha seems to walk on eggshells around him, and will probably continue to do so until the past is entirely in the past.

And for the most part we are happy; we're living happily and comfortably, with as few dramas as we can possibly manage.

I read a quote in a stupid book once that said "You cannot be happy without loss." But I'm less inclined to believe it entirely now than I was twelve months ago. I lost Fred once and only gained him back with the strongest level of good luck, and although my happiness does not stem from being with him alone, Fred is a part of my happiness, and I am certainly happy to not lose him. In the same way, I think our family is a lot happier overall now that the business with Penelope is finished.

So ultimately I've found happiness, a home, love and a future that is quite a bit brighter than it was before, and nothing could persuade me to believe otherwise.

-fin-


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