This one-shot takes place within the book Anne of Windy Poplars. Although it is a charming book, L.M. Montgomery doesn't include many "in person" interactions between Gilbert and Anne, as most of the story is contained within Anne's letters. I wanted to explore what their relationship might have been like during the few opportunities they had to see each other during their engagement.

This is my first attempt at fan fiction, ever! I just got the random urge to write a story for the fun of it. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Enjoy!

Thanks to L.M. Montgomery for the beautiful characters she has created. They were a pleasure to attempt to write!

An Unexpected Reunion

It was bright, sunny December afternoon, on the kind of crisp, clear day that only winter can bring. A fierce storm had made its way across the countryside not a few days before, and as it bid its farewell to the sleepy town of Avonlea, it left behind a serene sense of peace and quiet. The earth was covered in a blanket of shining white snow. A discerning pair of ears could faintly hear the "drip, drip" of beads of water, alighting upon the leaves of trees as the snow they carried in their branches began to melt under the fierce influence of the sun. Not a cloud was in sight, and the air was sharp and clean.

Anne Shirley sat perched upon a tree stump near the Dryad's Bubble, humming quietly to herself, lost in one of her frequent daydreams. The chirp from a nearby blue jay startled her out of her reverie. Awakened to the world once again, she took a moment to gaze around her at her surroundings. How lovely it was to finally be back in Avonlea! To be back in her cozy white bedroom in Green Gables! Yes, she had visited home on several weekends throughout her first term as principal of Summerside High School, but between tutoring struggling students after school, planning an end-of-term concert, and grading final exams, she been unable to return to Green Gables for nearly a month. Because of her unusually long absence, her joy in returning home was all the sweeter. Today she had woken up early and left just after breakfast to visit all of her favorite places. She had dipped her toes into the Lake of Shining Waters, stroked the smooth white bark of the trees along Birch Path, and danced in sweeping circles through Lover's Lane, finally finding herself at the Dryad's Bubble, which was frozen over with the icy chill of winter. How thrilled she had been to visit her old haunts, where many pleasant childhood memories had been made!

However, on this particular visit Anne had yet another, dearer reason to cherish her stay in Avonlea. The edges of her mouth tipped up in the traces of a smile and her cheeks reddened slightly as she thought of it. Sweeter than seeing the faces of Marilla, Dora and Davy; sweeter than embracing her bosom friend Diana; sweeter than reacquainting herself with every nook and cranny of the surrounding countryside, was the thought that in two days, Gilbert Blythe would be returning from his medical course to spend the holidays in Avonlea.

This would be her first time seeing Gilbert since their engagement late in the summer. She smiled in remembrance of the beautiful week they had spent together, both delighting in the knowledge that after eleven long, eventful years, she was finally his, and he hers. But that week had ended all too soon, for life demanded that Gilbert remove himself to Redmond to begin fall term; Anne was respectively drawn away to Summerside High. Although they had spent the past three months apart, they kept up their correspondence through dozens of letters. Even though Anne had not seen Gilbert in person, she had felt her love for him deepen with every passing day. How anxious she was to see him!

Anne's entire body tingled at the thought of looking upon her beloved Gilbert once again. She closed her eyes and imagined running her fingers through his dark, curly hair. She imagined his tall, broad-shouldered figure, and what it would feel like to be caught up once again in his embrace, their bodies pressed together, molding into one. She pictured his strong arms holding her tightly, his smooth lips brushing her own. She pictured herself breathing in the scent of his hair as she buried her face in his neck. But what Anne was looking forward to most of all was seeing his bright, hazel eyes staring down at her, with a look of love, tenderness, and desire, all mingled into one. It was a look that he reserved only for her, and she held that knowledge deeply in her heart. If only he was with her right now. "If only…" Anne found herself saying quietly to herself. "If only, if only."

"If only what?" A clear, male voice rang through the crisp winter air. The sound sent tingles in through her ears, down her entire body, to her very core. She would recognize that voice anywhere. Anne opened her eyes, sprang from her wooden seat and turned around. She gaped at Gilbert, frozen on the spot. Could he really be standing in front of her just now, as if her very thoughts had summoned him?

"If only what?" He repeated.

"Gilbert Blythe!" Anne exclaimed. "How?… What?… When?…" she stammered. In two swift strides he closed the distance between them and silenced her with his lips. Oh, the taste of him! It was sweeter than honey, more savory and satisfying than any earthly aliment. Anne melted into his arms as he kissed her passionately; one hand pressed into her waist while the other was deep in her golden-red hair. He then continued to kiss her as he drew both of his arms tightly around her, lifted her feet off the ground and twirled her around. After several seconds, or perhaps hours—Anne did not know—they broke apart. She pressed her chin against his chest as she looked up at him. His hazel eyes were twinkling down at her as he drunk her in greedily.

"I believe, my darling, that you have yet to answer my question. If only what?"

It took Anne a second to process what he was saying. She had been so overwhelmed with this unexpected turn of events that she had nearly forgotten where she was or how she arrived there. "Well, if you must know, I was thinking to myself that if only a tall, dark-haired, strikingly handsome gentleman were to appear here this very moment, my afternoon would be complete. I would rush into his arms and let him kiss me until the sun went down."

"I see," Gilbert replied. "And any man of this description would do?"

"Well, a certain one," Anne replied playfully.

"Well, he will be very disappointed to learn that I got here first. Because now that I am here, my sweet Anne, I can guarantee you that I will not tolerate anybody else so much as batting his eyelashes in your direction," Gilbert said, a small smirk playing at the corners of his mouth. He held her face in his hands, and tenderly stroked the ridge of her cheek with his thumb.

"Then if you must have it your way, he will just have to overcome his disappointment," she concluded. He brought her face towards him and gave her a sweet, soft kiss.

"But how, Gil!" Anne continued, "I wasn't expecting you until Saturday!"

"I only told you I was coming on Saturday, although that was the original plan. But I was able to take my last final a day early, and I rushed straight to the station the moment I finished, in order to catch the last ferry. I just couldn't bear being away from you a minute longer than was necessary. I was planning on walking the eight miles home but luckily Mr. Andrews was at the station picking up his niece from Charlottetown and drove me home. I only stayed long enough for my mother to force feed me a bit of dinner, I didn't want to offend her by running off immediately, after all, and then I set off right away to find you. Shall we take a walk, Anne-Girl?"

Anne slid her hand into Gilbert's and they made their way back to the lane. Anne couldn't help but take notice of how perfect it felt, with her hand back within his, her fair fingers alternating with his slightly darker ones. As she had always said to herself, it just felt so… right. Anne and Gilbert wandered aimlessly, chatting and catching up on everything that couldn't fit into the many letters they had written. Anne shared a particularly amusing anecdote about Rebecca Dew and a cherry pie that had Gilbert snorting with laughter, to the point where he had to pause for a moment to catch his breath. The sun was slowly making its way further across the sky as Anne and Gilbert found themselves at their old apple tree by the brook. It would be many months before the juicy red apples would once again adorn its branches, but Anne still thought the tree quite beautiful. Her thoughts flashed back to the first time Gilbert had led her to this tree. Back then, it was just a small sapling, barely yielding its first crop. In the few years that had passed, it had grown more beautiful and more mature. She wasn't sure why she treasured the little tree so much. She speculated that it was because, as far as she knew, she and Gilbert were the only ones who knew it even existed. It was their little secret. She mentioned this to Gilbert.

"You know Anne, I too have felt a special connection to this tree. I think your imaginative, otherworldly ways are rubbing off on me." He rustled the hair on the top of her head playfully as he said this. "It also is rather symbolic, don't you think? It has grown and matured, just like our love for each other. Once small, feeble, and inconsequential, it is now strong and robust." Gilbert stifled a laugh at the end of his sentence. Anne discerned the pointed note of sarcasm in his voice.

"Gilbert Blythe, you goose! Of all the corny, sentimental speeches! I was serious." But she promptly covered her mouth as she attempted to stifle the ring of laughter that was beginning to escape her lips. "Well, Miss Shirley, I do agree with you. It does rather feel as if this tree is ours. And I don't see why everyone in Avonlea shouldn't know it."

"Very funny Gilbert, and how are you going to go about making sure they know it? Are you going to place an announcement in the newspaper—front page?"

"No, I had another idea in mind." One of Gilbert's hands was deep in his pocket. He pulled out a tiny pocket knife. "I'm going to carve our initials into it, just as if I were a schoolboy once again."

Anne blushed. The idea did seem rather juvenile, but for some reason she admired him for it. Now twenty-five, he still carried with him the remnants of his teenage self. He could still be playful, still immature, but always in good proportion, and always at just the right moment. As he brought the knife to the bark of the tree, she noticed the familiar roguish glint in Gilbert's eyes, and the mischievous look that played about his features. She found herself remembering another time when she had seen that look on Gilbert's face. He had been holding out one of her bright red tresses, and speaking the name of a certain similarly colored vegetable. Anne's cheeks reddened further at the thought. She giggled girlishly as he carved into the tree; his face intent, his movements methodical.

"There," he said, stepping back with a nod of satisfaction. Anne leaned forward to admire his handiwork. There, clearly visible against the bark of the tree, was written: "AS + GB." Around the letters, Gilbert had carved a perfect heart. As silly as it seemed, she delighted in seeing her initials there, next to his. Those carved letters would see many seasons pass; fragrant springs, sweet summers, colorful autumns, and crisp winters. She really couldn't say why she treasured the sight of their initials so much, when it was just a childish notion. And yet, she loved Gilbert all the more for carving those letters there. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, ever so sweetly. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

"I love you, Gilbert Blythe; so, so much," she said, while staring up into his eyes.

"Just how much?" He asked, smiling.

"Oh, so much that there are many times I feel my heart may burst from the knowledge of it." She planted a kiss upon his forehead. "So much, that sometimes I find myself staring blankly into space, lost in my thoughts about you, and Miss Chatty and Miss Kate have to call me back to consciousness." She placed another kiss, just behind his ear. Gilbert's knees buckled ever so slightly as she did so. "So much, that the two and a half years before our wedding day stretch out before me like an eternity." She placed a kiss on his neck. Gilbert let out a small gasp at the touch of her lips. "So much, that I am left to wonder daily how in the world I didn't figure it out any sooner." She turned and placed a kiss on his jaw. Gilbert wasn't sure that he could bear it any longer. "So much, that if anything were to ever tear you away from me, I don't know if I would even be able to keep on living." She then turned and placed her lips on top of his.

"Oh, Anne, my darling. I love you more than you could ever know." With that he kissed her, more passionately than ever before. His lips then left hers, and traveled up the bridge of her nose, across her forehead, behind her ear, and down her neck. His hands traveled from her face, down to her waist, then back up her spine. They continued to her neck, and finally rested buried in her soft golden-red hair. Anne felt herself melting once again at his touch. She thought she might faint. She lost all sense of her surroundings. The colors of the trees and sky faded, along with the songs of the birds and the cold nip in the air. For one, perfect moment, there was only him. He was all she needed.

After a long while, they broke apart, breathing heavily. Anne felt tears welling up in her eyes. Her body was flooded with emotion and she felt it was more than she could bear. She gazed up at Gilbert and saw that his beautiful hazel eyes were brimming with tears as well. He pulled her into a tight embrace. She buried her head in his neck and breathed in the scent of his hair, just as she had imagined doing only hours ago when she was lost in her musings at the Dryad's Bubble.

Gilbert took her by the hand and led her over to a fallen log, which met perfectly with a handsome spruce tree behind it. He sat on the log and leaned against the tree, leading Anne to sit on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and placed his hands on top of hers. She took them, ever so gently, and began to play with the soft skin of his forehands.

"Could it be that you are finally mine?" He murmured softly into her ear. "Could it be that I am the one who gets to hold you like this, and no other? Stroke your beautiful face? Breathe in the scent of your lovely auburn hair?" Anne simply let out a satisfied sigh and continued to play with his hands. No response was needed; it was as if he could read her thoughts. They sat quietly for a while, content simply to be in each other's company. Anne felt as if electricity was running through her body, magnifying the senses of each bit of skin making contact with Gilbert. She could feel his warmth; the rushing of blood through his veins, giving him life, allowing him to be here with her in this moment. She discerned his heartbeat, thumping gently, rhythmically, inside his chest.

The sun had finally finished its descent through the sky and dusk was settling over the small town. The bold colors around them softened. The edges of trees, shrubs, streams and mountains began to lose their sharpness.

"Time to go, my love," Gilbert whispered gently into Anne's ear. Anne suddenly realized just how far along the day had gotten.

"Oh, Gil, Marilla will be so worried about me! I've missed tea, and nearly supper as well!"

"Never you mind about that. I called at Green Gables before I found you at the Dryad's Bubble. I think Marilla was hardly expecting you to return for tea," Gilbert said, a smile curling his lips. Anne gave a small sigh of relief as she stood up and stretched.

"Why don't you come in and have supper with us?" She asked as they walked back towards Green Gables, hand in hand.

"I'd like nothing better, my darling. In fact I had planned on it," Gilbert replied.

"Marilla's making a beef stew. It's one of my favorite dishes, although I've never been able to make it as well as her," Anne said.

"Well, my dearest Anne, I will eat it on one condition," Gilbert said. If Anne would have looked up at him, she would have seen a mischievous grin playing across his face.

"What's that?" She asked, puzzled.

"Are there any carrots in it?" He interjected, darting to the side as he prepared for the inevitable shove from Anne.