Chapter 12: Redo


It was nearly dawn in Avonlea; the day was so new that the sun's light had yet to peak over the hills that surrounded the small town. The houses below lay under a blanket of darkness. The crickets still made their sweet music in the brook, and the frogs continued to croak in a deep chorus among the grassy reeds of the Lake of Shining Waters. The soft chirps of birds could begin to be heard, as the tiny winged creatures began to stir from their nests.

An air of stillness still lay about Green Gables. The quiet snores of Mrs. Lynde could be heard in the spare bedroom, while Davy slept silently in the west gable room. In the living room, shafts of moonlight fell atop three small figures—Dora lay on the couch while Minnie Mae and Mary slept equally as soundly on the floor atop Marilla's woven rugs, and covered by Mrs. Lynde's tobacco-stripe quilts.

The sense of peace and quiet in the country house was all encompassing, until it was interrupted by the creak of the stairs, as a pair of pale feet made their way down the steps and towards the kitchen. A light shone faintly behind the door, and the hallway was thrown into sharp relief as it was pulled open.

"Good morning, Marilla," Anne yawned, bringing a lightly curled fist in front of her mouth. Marilla looked up from the work table, where she was spooning flour into a ceramic bowl.

"Heavens, child! I am surprised to see you awake at this hour!" Marilla exclaimed.

"I couldn't sleep any longer," Anne said, "and besides, I like to awaken before the sun. I enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the world slowly increase in color and sharpness; it is almost like a miracle, which repeats itself every day. And knowing I am one of the few people to see it unfold also makes it sort of like a secret." She glanced out of the window as she said this, yet the garden was still shrouded in darkness.

"Well, you might as well make yourself useful," replied Marilla, who had a habit of dismissing Anne's poetic speeches. She would never admit to Anne how much she had missed them whenever she was away. "Put the kettle on, will you? I could do with some tea, now that someone else is up to enjoy it as well."

Anne got the tea started, while Marilla pumped a bit of water into the bowl. She then unbuttoned her sleeves and began to roll them up.

"Here, let me help you with that. It's easier with two hands," Anne offered, drawing herself up next to Marilla and gently rolling the sleeves up to her elbows. Marilla gave a small sigh as she allowed Anne to assist her. Anne smiled, knowing that it took a great effort for Marilla to allow someone else to do a job she could manage on her own.

"Thank you," Marilla stated simply, as she plunged her fingers into the mixture and began to knead it vigorously. She cleared her throat. "You had trouble sleeping, Anne?" Anne looked up at Marilla, surprised. How did Marilla know how sleepless her night had been?

"Hmmm?" she replied.

"You mentioned that you couldn't sleep any longer, just a minute ago," Marilla said, fixing Anne with an inquisitive look.

"Oh, did I? Yes, I did," Anne said, flustered. "It's nothing much. It was just one of those nights, I suppose." Anne turned away from Marilla, in search of a pan for the biscuits she was making, which would soon be ready for the oven. Indeed, Anne had slept very ill that night, for her mind had been full of Gilbert. She had replayed their moonlit dance over and over in her mind. She had also dwelt upon the vision of him guiding a twirling, laughing Dora around the living room. Then her thoughts had turned to expectations of the future, and wondering when, if ever, he might ask her to be his wife. Her thoughts and her dreams had intertwined so completely that she was unable to separate the two. She was clueless as to whether she had slept the whole night or merely lain in quiet contemplation. As she found the pan she was searching for, Anne turned back to face Marilla, whose eyes were directed at the bowl of dough she was mixing.

"Was there something in particular, which kept your mind from resting?" Marilla asked. Anne sighed as she set the pan down on the table. It was unusual for Marilla to be inquisitive; she must suspect a reason for Anne's restlessness. Still, she wasn't going to spill her secrets to Marilla so easily. If Marilla wanted to know about Gilbert, she would need to work for it.

"Why does there need to be a reason for my trouble sleeping?" Anne inquired innocently. Marilla gave a small smile as she began to wad the dough into a ball.

"Well," she said. "I find, whenever I have a restless night, that my mind is wrapped up in something, whether I realize it or not." She glanced at Anne as she emphasized the last few words of her sentence.

"My life is at a kind of crossroads, now that my time at Redmond is through, and so naturally there are many things on my mind," Anne countered. "It would be hard for me to discern just which one is the cause for my disquiet."

"Indeed…" Marilla said dryly. "Well, have it your way then," she added, making it clear that she was dropping the subject for Anne's sake. Anne simply could not handle the implications of her remark.

"Well, go on then," Anne said. "Tell me what's on your mind. Clearly you have some unspoken ideas about the direction of my thoughts." Marilla took the ball of dough and placed it on the table, rolling it with a wooden pin. She was not used to having to illicit information from Anne; usually Anne saved her the hassle by supplying it willingly herself, and in abundant quantities.

"Well, when I suggested your thoughts might be wrapped up in something, I suppose I meant to say, someone."

Anne felt the blood flowing to her cheeks as she sensed Marilla's implications. She knew Marilla was a discerning woman; she must have realized the significance of Gilbert's visit the night before. It was no surprise; he hadn't come around Green Gables in two years. Resigning herself to tell the truth, Anne turned to face Marilla.

"Marilla, can I ask you something?"

"Anything, child."

"Have you ever thought you knew everything about someone—thought you knew exactly how you felt about them, and then suddenly seen them in a new light?" Anne looked silently at Marilla, waiting. Marilla smiled slightly, her suspicions about Anne confirmed. She set the rolling pin on the table and paused to look at Anne.

"Yes," she admitted. "It happens to us often in life, I think. I believe it is God's way of keeping us humble—he shows us that we are not as all-knowing as we think we are. Although, I think in your case, he made an extra thorough job of proving his point." She smiled at Anne, giving her a knowing look.

"You mean, you know? About—"

"Of course I know who you're talking about, Anne. I might add, that I am…" Marilla paused. She was not a sentimental woman; she could never truly explain to Anne the feelings of joy and relief, and fulfillment, she had experienced upon seeing her dancing with Gilbert in the garden. "—pleased. More pleased than I have been about anything, in a long while."

"Do you really mean that, Marilla?" Anne gasped, setting herself down in a chair, one leg under her and the other brushing against the floor.

"Would I ever lie to you, Anne?"

"And you don't think me… fickle… and capricious?" she asked, Christine's words from the Convocation dance echoing inside her head. Although she had shrugged them aside at the time, they remained with her, deep down. A part of her wondered if Gilbert himself might think her both of these things, and perhaps that was why he hadn't asked her to marry him—perhaps he, too, thought she might soon change her mind about him. It was this notion that had kept her from achieving sleep the night before, and the more she had pondered it over, the more she had convinced herself of its truth.

Marilla set the dough aside, staring Anne straight in the eyes. Her heart went out to the poor girl, at the thought that Anne might believe herself either of those things. She had heard the desperation in Anne's voice as she pronounced the words. "Whoever would put such an idea into your head? You aren't fickle, Anne. Stubborn, perhaps… romantic, yes…. but not fickle. And caprice is not among your faults. You've loved Gilbert Blythe all your life. I've known that for years, although I dared not suggest it, goodness knows we have Rachel for that sort of thing. I wouldn't say you've changed your feelings towards the boy—you've merely realized them." Anne looked back at Marilla through wide eyes. Her comforting words had been exactly what Anne needed. She hoped Gilbert felt the same way Marilla did.

"Goodness gracious, am I truly the last to know?" said an exasperated Anne. "Everyone seems to have perceived my love for Gilbert, except me."

"Love is blinding, Anne. I know that better than most." There was an edge in her voice as she said this, and Anne knew it was true. Yet the difference between Anne and Marilla was that Anne had discovered her true feelings before it was too late; Marilla had not been so lucky. Finished with the biscuits, Marilla crossed to the sink to wash off the excess dough which clung to her fingers. Anne took the tray and placed in the oven. Marilla then dried her hands on a towel and approached Anne, placing her hands on her shoulders.

"I've never seen you as happy as you looked last night, Anne. And that makes me happy." Marilla's eyes were sparkling slightly; Anne could not tell if it was from the lamplight or from tears.

"Oh Marilla, you have no idea just how happy. Everything just makes such sense now; it is as if my entire life has been turned upside down, only for me to find it is really right side up! And it makes me feel like such a fool, yet a happy fool; a supremely, utterly, happy foul." Anne began to laugh as she said the words. It was clear to Marilla that Anne truly was happy; her joy was written on her face. Marilla found she could not help but pull her sweet little girl into a rare embrace.

"Now now, child. Let's not get too sentimental," she said, releasing Anne and regaining a sense of her usual reserve. "Too much excitement isn't good for the body." She couldn't help but let out a small smile as she said this. Anne grinned back, and went to pour the tea.

An hour later, Anne and Marilla sat together at the kitchen table, nursing cups of tea and waiting for the biscuits to cool. The sun was now in the sky, and the world was slowly becoming more vibrant. Anne recounted to Marilla various stories of Patty's Place, and of Convocation, and of her other doings at Redmond, while Marilla told Anne what she could of life in Avonlea. Anne shouldered a large share of the conversation, but neither minded—things were as they should be.

It was still quite early; the other residents of the house remained asleep, and so Anne and Marilla decided to breakfast without them. Anne placed butter and preserves on the table, and had just gone to serve the biscuits, when she saw Gilbert coming around the side of the house. Her heart began to beat quickly as she set the platter of pastries on the table and went to open the back door.

"Gilbert!" she said. "I wasn't expecting until before noon."

"Hello, Anne. Hello, Marilla," Gilbert said, stepping into the kitchen.

"Good morning, Gilbert," said Marilla plainly. "Did you walk here?"

"Yes, ma'am," Gilbert replied.

"You must have left while it was still dark," she said, eyeing him carefully, and thinking that only a lovesick boy would set out before sunrise to make a house call.

"Yes," Gilbert admitted with a shrug of his shoulders. "I had planned to help my father shoe the horses this morning. But it turns out he needs to visit the smithy first, so we'll do it on Monday instead." He then turned to Anne. "I thought we might get an early start to our outing; I know how much you love taking walks in the morning."

Anne smiled as she looked out the window; the day was absolutely beautiful and she wanted nothing more than to find herself in it—with Gilbert.

"Would you mind terribly, Marilla?" Anne said, crossing to her and placing a hand on her shoulder.

"Of course not, dear. I've plenty to do around here without your ceaseless ramblings," Marilla said. This caused both women to smile; these days Anne did not chatter on nearly as much as she used to.

Anne and Gilbert soon left for their expedition around Avonlea, but not before Gilbert had eaten four biscuits, and Anne two. They brought with them a basket containing their lunch, for they planned to spend the entire day reacquainting themselves with all of their favorite places. They strode down Lovers' Lane, past the Dryad's Bubble and through the Haunted Wood. They then continued through Violet Vale and Birch Path, finally finding themselves in the valley with their old apple tree. Gilbert climbed its rough trunk and threw down a few ripe red apples, which Anne added to the basket. Afterwards they returned back the way they had come, and turned to stroll around the Lake of Shining Waters. As they approached the shore, Anne found a particularly beautiful patch of white narcissus growing by the side of the road. Gilbert helped her pick a large bouquet of it.

"Oh, how I would love to lay these flowers on Matthew's grave! Marilla never could understand my constantly adorning the kitchen table with narcissus; it wasn't practical, she said, since one cannot eat a flower, and so I might as well have left it in the ground. But Matthew always told me he felt they brightened up the room." Anne buried her nose in the white petals.

"Well, then why don't we? Let's go right now," Gilbert suggested. Anne thought it rather sweet of Gilbert to offer to visit Matthew's grave with her, but she worried the task might bore him; he had never really known Matthew himself.

"I don't want to drag you along," Anne replied, "I can go by myself this evening."

"Anne, you could never drag me anywhere. I'd like to go. In fact, I insist." And with that he whisked the bouquet out of her grasp and set off around the lake, in the direction of the cemetery. Sometimes Anne felt that Gilbert could be just as stubborn as her. Laughing, she ran to catch up, reclaiming the flowers from his arms.

As they walked along, Anne was reminded of days of old, when she and Gilbert would wander around Avonlea together. Their outing today was much like those of the past, yet it also felt slightly different. The dynamic between them had changed; it contained a mutual yet unspoken understanding of their feelings for each other. Neither mentioned it outwardly, yet it showed in their eyes, and their smiles, and their gestures. It was tense and exhilarating and unbearable, all at the same time.

"What was Matthew like?" Gilbert asked as they reached the cemetery. Matthew had always been rather shy, and Gilbert had never had the opportunity to get to know him. Anne pondered his question a moment, as she knelt down and laid the flowers carefully over the smooth gravestone.

"He was one of the kindest, gentlest souls God ever created," she said simply. She stood over his grave, reading the engraving that she and Marilla had chosen.

"You loved him dearly, didn't you?" Gilbert said softly.

"Yes… and how could I not? He was the first person to ever love me." Anne wore a tender look as she continued to stare down at the earth covering Matthew's grave. "Besides my parents, of course," she added. Gilbert had never thought of that before—Matthew really was the first person to have ever cared for Anne, even before Marilla. It saddened him greatly, that it had taken Anne so long to finally find someone who appreciated the beautiful person she was. He wondered how she had managed to keep the light inside her soul alive during all of those years of never being wanted by anyone. A lesser spirit would have been crushed, and hardened, yet not Anne's. Right then and there, he made the decision to love her so deeply, and with such intensity, that it would make up for all of the loveless years of her life, and then some. He decided he would start right now, by reaching for her hand and lacing his fingers into hers.

Gilbert's gesture brought Anne a similar sensation as it had the previous time. There was a certain sense of belonging that came with holding Gilbert's hand, which she treasured greatly. They stood there a while before Matthew's grave. Anne said a few carefully crafted words, and then Gilbert added in his own short tribute. Anne brought two fingers up to her mouth and kissed them. Then she pressed them against the gravestone. Afterwards, they exited the cemetery and continued on their way. Gilbert's house could be seen in the distance as they descended the hill and began to travel around the west side of the lake. They hadn't gone far when the schoolhouse came into view, off in the distance.

"We should go down and visit it," Gilbert suggested, "for old time's sake."

"During the middle of the day?" Anne asked. "There will be children there… the school year doesn't end until June."

"It's Saturday, you ninny. Have you lost track of time?"

Anne blushed as she realized her mistake, "Oh, of course!" With that they ran down the hill, laughing like they used to do when they were schoolchildren. When they arrived at the whitewashed building, winded and gasping for air, Gilbert set the picnic basket down on the step in front of the door. Then they both leaned back against the wall. Once they had both caught their breath, Gilbert took off around the side of the building.

"Where are you going, Gil?" Anne asked as she jogged to catch up with him.

"I thought it might be fun to go inside. It's been years since I've done so."

"But we can't get in, Gilbert. They never leave it unlocked."

"Does it look as if I am planning on using the front door?" Gilbert stood back now, surveying the windows along the wall. His face had adopted that familiar devilish look—it was the look he wore when he was concentrated on some form of mischief or other. "The far right window doesn't latch properly. Didn't you know that?" He crossed to the window in question and began to feel the wood around the pane.

"Gilbert, I taught school here for two years. I think I would know if—" At that moment, Gilbert pressed his hands firmly on either side of the window and thrust upwards. The window opened an inch. He then stuck his fingers into the newly formed gap and pried it open. Anne stood back in amazement.

"You were saying?" he asked, wiping his hands together, his lips curled up into a roughish grin.

"How on earth did you discover that?" Anne asked in disbelief.

"Charlie, Moody and I used to sneak in here on weekends. If you really must know, we are the reason it doesn't latch properly. That is to say, we broke it… one day when the rest of the class was collecting plants outside." He smiled innocently at Anne, waiting for the stern reprimand he knew he was about to receive.

"Gilbert Blythe! You broke the window? How?"

"Wacked at the latch with a hammer," said Gilbert, as if he broke latches with hammers every day.

"A hammer?"

"Yes, Moody nicked it from his father," Gilbert stated simply. "As I was saying, we used to come in here on the weekends. We would do all of the things we knew Mr. Phillips hated."

"As in…"

"Well, we would draw crude pictures of him on the blackboard, and sometimes we would stand up at the front of the room, imitating him, or we would reenact events that we had found particularly amusing. And we would chew gum and put it under his seat, and carve our names under the desks, and bounce balls off of the walls. We broke the window once, doing that," Gilbert said, gesturing at the window to the left of the one he had opened.

"That was you?" Anne exclaimed. "I remember the day we all came and that window was broken. And Mr. Phillips lined us all up on the wall and questioned each one of us in turn!"

"Yes," replied Gilbert in a dazed voice. He was clearly recalling the memory in his head.

"And Tillie Boulter was brought to tears!"

"Yes," Gilbert chuckled.

"You boys are something else," Anne said as she folded her arms across her chest.

"Well then?" Gilbert said. "I'll help you up first, and then I'll climb in after you." He immediately bent his left knee and motioned for her to place her foot on it.

"You can hardly expect me to climb in through the window!" Anne cried. Gilbert, however, did not move; he was perfectly serious.

"Sure I can," he replied. "Come on, now."

Shaking her head and muttering under her breath, Anne approached Gilbert and placed her right foot on his knee. Slowly she stood up, putting her full weight on it. He tightened one hand around her leg, while the other grasped her side, holding her steady. Anne placed both hands on the window pane. Pushing against it, she pulled herself through the opening. As she wiggled her way inside, she thought how odd she must look from Gilbert's point of view. Not wanting to allow him the pleasure, she rolled headfirst onto the floor with a thud. She stood up, straightening her dress, as Gilbert sprang nimbly in behind her.

"Wow, it's been years since I've been inside here," Gilbert remarked, looking around.

"I know," said Anne, "four years for me."

The room looked exactly as it always had, with three rows of desks, each seat large enough to fit two students. A black stove was in the front left corner, and the master's desk was in the center, directly in front of the blackboard. So many memories came back to Anne as the stood in the little room—memories as both a student and a teacher.

"Did you really carve your names into the desks?" Anne asked.

"Sure did," Gilbert replied. "I'll show you." He led her to a desk in the front row. Then he got down on his hands and knees and peered under it. "Ah, here it is," he said, motioning for her to join him. Anne bent down as well and craned her neck under the seat. Beneath it were Gilbert, Charlie, and Moody's initials.

"That's not the only one," he said. Anne noticed that he didn't offer to show her where else his name had been carved.

"Remember the time when Ruby Gillis fainted, over there in the corner?" Anne asked, walking to the spot in question.

"Ah yes, that was when Charlie Sloane bumped his nose against his desk, and started bleeding furiously," he said, laughing at the memory. "You girls were all so silly around blood."

Anne and Gilbert continued to make their way around the room, sharing memories and recounting dozens of stories. Anne found it all rather thrilling, for it was the first time she and Gilbert had been inside the schoolhouse together on speaking terms.

"You know," Gilbert said. "There was one story that Moody and Charlie always wanted to reenact, but I never let them."

"Is that so?" Anne asked, intrigued. "What story was that?"

"I'll give you one guess," Gilbert said with a wink. Anne's face colored slightly as she realized what Gilbert was referring to.

"Of course," she said, "the slate. I'll never live that down." Although it had been many years since that unfortunate incident, Anne still grew red with embarrassment whenever it was mentioned. Her temper had been in top shape that day, and on display for all to see.

"Let's see," Gilbert said, leading Anne across the room and placing a finger pensively on his chin. "You were sitting right here," he pointed to a seat in the center aisle. Anne followed his gaze. "Well, go on then." Anne realized Gilbert wanted her to sit down. Humoring him, she did so.

"Right. And I was sitting here," he positioned himself across the aisle from her. Apparently, he thought it would be a fun game to reenact the scene. Anne thought of just how juvenile it was, to be sitting here in the same spots they had occupied all those years ago, yet it was also rather fun.

"And you had your chin propped in your hands, and you were blatantly ignoring me—"

"I wasn't ignoring you!" Anne said. Gilbert raised his eyebrows. "At least, not on purpose," she added. "I was gazing at the Lake of Shining Waters. I was thinking of what a shame it was, that we should be cooped up inside on such a beautiful day. And I was imagining instead that I was a mermaid, who dwelt in a castle at the bottom of its murky depths." Gilbert put his hand to his forehead and smiled, while shaking his head.

"I thought for sure you were ignoring me! I was doing everything I could to make you look at me. I cleared my throat, and I threw a tiny pebble at your hair, and I leaned forward in my seat, waving my arm in the open space before us…"

"I never knew that!" Anne said. "Although I can't say I'm surprised." Gilbert laughed.

"Well anyway, as I said. You were looking the other way, with your face in your hands…" he stopped, waiting for her to do so. Deciding to go ahead and play Gilbert's little game, she propped both elbows on the desk and rested her head in her hands, looking out the window. Gilbert rustled in his seat for a moment before continuing.

"Alright. And I was here, trying to get your attention. But it wasn't working, and so…" she heard him lean out into the aisle, and just as she expected, she felt a soft tug on her hair.

"Carrots! Carrots!" Gilbert hissed.

She whirled around, preparing to feign extreme outrage, when she was surprised to find Gilbert on the edge of his seat, holding a single lily in his hands. It didn't occur to her to wonder where the lily had come from; he hadn't had it when they entered. He stayed there a moment, without speaking.

"I don't think that's how it went last time, Gilbert," she said, stretching her fingers out to grab the flower. He caught her hand.

"Well this isn't last time. This is this time." As he said this, he slid gently into the aisle, placing his weight on one knee while resting an arm on the desk behind Anne.

"This is the place where I fell in love with you, Anne. Right here, in this very spot. Did you know that?" Gilbert said, staring right into her eyes. Anne shook her head softly, unable to speak. He fixed her with a look so intense, that Anne felt herself begin to tremble.

"Ever since that day, I've only known one thing for certain, and that is that you are the only one for me." Gilbert brought Anne's hand to his lips and kissed it softly. "You are so… so… unpredictable. And yet you are always, uncompromisingly, you. And that is what I love about you. And maybe I don't know everything about you yet, and probably never will, but I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life trying."

Anne could hardly believe her ears. Of all of the scenarios she had dreamed up over the past week, this had not been one of them. Anne had imagined Gilbert proposing to her in every single place in Avonlea, from her own kitchen to even the post office, but this was one idea that had never entered her mind. Yet it was such a very Gilbert thing to do, and leave it to Gilbert to catch her off her guard. She held her breath as he continued.

"I love you dearly, Anne. Will you promise to marry me, and be my wife someday?" Gilbert asked the question calmly, yet she could see the urgency in his expression. She wondered if any doubt was hidden there as well. He stared at her as if his very life depended on the answer she was about to give.

Anne looked deeply into Gilbert's eyes—those eyes she loved so completely—and smiled. She stood up slowly, guiding him upwards as well. She took hold of the hand that was not already grasping hers.

"I once told Marilla something, that I have found to be true to this day," Anne said, looking into Gilbert's eyes. He continued to gaze at her, wondering why she should mention Marilla, yet waiting patiently. "I told her… that one encouraging thing about me is that I never make the same mistake twice."* She paused, waiting for her words to sink in. After a moment, Gilbert's expression softened, and his lips began to part in the traces of a smile.

"In case you were wondering," she continued, "that means yes. I will marry you." Gilbert's smile grew so wide that she wondered how it didn't escape his face entirely, and with that Anne threw her arms around his neck. He lifted her off her feet and spun her around, before setting her back down. He brought his hand to her face and ran his thumb along her jaw.

"I love you, Anne," he said, his voice shaking slightly.

"I love you too, Gilbert."

Gilbert pulled Anne closer, gazing deeply into her eyes. Then, in the same spot where Anne Shirley had once broken her slate over Gilbert Blythe's head, he kissed her, with all of the intensity and feeling of the first time he had done so. A wave of emotion washed over Anne as his lips met hers, strongly yet tenderly at the same time. He held her face with both hands as he moved his tongue softly against hers, then he wrapped both arms around her waist. Anne placed her hands on Gilbert's chest, clenching the fabric of his shirt in her closed fists. She closed her eyes as the hairs of her arms stood on end. Her body tingled from head to toe, and her stomach swarmed with butterflies, just as it had the day he kissed her in the park. The difference this time was that she didn't have to decide whether or not to enjoy herself. She didn't have to worry about confused feelings or impropriety. All she had to do was surrender to his touch, and allow herself to be carried away in his love.

Their current exchange carried equal passion as their first encounter in that small building, yet instead of taking the form of anger and hatred, it was replaced by one of love and belonging. Anne cherished the touch, and smell, and taste of Gilbert; his kiss only lasted for several seconds, yet it felt much longer to her. When he pulled his lips away from hers, she was overwhelmed with longing for more of him. Brushing her lips with one last peck, he stood back and held her out at arm's length.

"I don't think that is how it went last time, either," he said with a smile. His face was flushed and he was breathing more rapidly than usual. Anne wrapped her arms around him and placed her chin against his chest, looking up into his eyes.

"I think this time was better," she said. Gilbert smiled as he kissed her forehead. He cherished the simple fact that he could kiss her forehead—that she would allow him to do so. He kissed it again just because he could.

"Perhaps the ghost of eleven-year-old Anne Shirley is hovering above us now, weeping her eyes out and wailing in sorrow," Gilbert said with a smirk.

"Yes, and the ghost of thirteen-year-old Gilbert Blythe is having quite a laugh at her expense," Anne added, glancing at the ceiling above them for traces of any phantoms. Gilbert laughed and pulled her in close, stroking the back of her head with his hand. He ran his fingers through her long golden-red hair, over and over again, cherishing the feel of each soft strand between his fingertips. Anne took his other hand into hers and began to play with his fingers. They stayed that way a moment, until Anne commented that she wouldn't mind returning to the fresh air. Gilbert helped her back through the window and onto the ground. Hand in hand, they made their way back towards the lake.

"Can I ask you something?" Anne said, as they crossed the bridge over the water. Gilbert turned to lean against the wooden railing.

"Of course," he replied.

"Why now? Why did you wait?" Anne asked, remembering the question that had been burning in her mind for the past week. Gilbert took a hand and placed it on the side of Anne's head, brushing his fingers against her ear.

"Because it didn't feel right any other way," he said plainly. "I wanted to finish things where they started."

"Well, I'd hardly say you've finished things…"

"You know what I mean," he said, tapping the top of her nose.

"And you knew all along, exactly how you were going to do it?" she asked, impressed.

"Anne, I've wanted to marry you my entire life. I've had plenty of time to decide how I wanted to ask you. I couldn't the first time, since we were in Redmond—"

"Let's not talk about the first time. We hardly need more evidence of my folly," Anne interrupted. Gilbert laughed and dropped the subject.

When they had thoroughly wandered every path and hollow Avonlea had to offer, Gilbert and Anne returned to Green Gables for tea. Anne would forever remember the reactions of the Green Gables folk, as she had told them the news.

Mrs. Lynde had sent the bucket of peas she was shelling flying into the air, and then followed her mishap with countless proclamations, in the form of "I knew it all along" and "Providence will have its way," and "Just wait until I tell Mrs. Harrison." Less than ten minutes later she had grabbed her shawl and bustled out into the lane, in order to secure herself the office of informing the entire town.

Marilla had begun to cry silent tears, which was something Anne had not seen her do since Matthew died. She had pulled Anne into a firm embrace, before approaching Gilbert and taking him into an even tighter one. She had then swept from the room, determined not to let slip another ounce of sentimentality.

Davy had simply asked, "Are you a widower or a heathen, Gilbert? Because Mrs. Lynde said that Anne would surely marry one or the other. And what is a heathen, Anne? I want to know."

Dora had been quite pleased, and congratulated Anne enthusiastically. She had been unwilling to look at Gilbert; she had yet to recover from the embarrassment of the prior evening. She also seemed a bit disappointed that her first infatuation should have to end so soon.

As evening fell upon Avonlea, the time came for Gilbert to return home. Anne saw him to the end of the lane. Upon reaching it, they stopped, and Anne brought her arms around Gilbert's waist. He mimicked her movements.

"I will see you tomorrow then?" she asked, looking up at him.

"Yes," Gilbert replied. "And the next day, and the next day."

"And the one after that?" Anne asked.

"Hmmm, I'll have to think about it," Gilbert said playfully. Anne pinched his arm. "Alright then, yes. I'll see you every day, until the summer is over."

"I fear that day already!" Anne exclaimed. "Three years is such a long time to only see you on occasion…"

"Perhaps you should enjoy the break. Because once I'm through with medical school, you'll never be able to get rid of me," he grinned. With that he kissed Anne tenderly, teasing her lower lip with his tongue. His touch was so sensual that Anne was left stupefied. She let out a small groan, which made Gilbert laugh.

"I love you," he said. Anne smiled, then abruptly her face changed; a dreamy look passed over it. She seemed to have realized something. Gilbert then kissed her temple, followed by her forehead, and then the tip of her nose.

"I love you, Anne-girl," he repeated, before kissing her lightly on the lips. He then drew back slightly. He cupped Anne's face in his hands, wanting to know just what thought could have suddenly consumed her so. He stood there awhile, waiting for her to speak, but she did not. She was looking at him with a fierce gaze; he would give anything to know what she was thinking. Even Gilbert's patience had its limits.

"Say something, Anne."

Anne continued to gaze at Gilbert. She brought her hand up to his face and twisted a lock of his brown hair around her fingertip, while biting her lip softly. She smiled as she brought herself to speak.

"I love you… my Gilbert."

The End!

AN: Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading! The fact that you've made it to the end is quite the compliment. I had a blast writing this and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Thanks so much to all who reviewed, it gave me the encouragement to keep going and going! It's been a while now since I finished this story but I still read and enjoy reviews, so don't be shy! I'd love to know what you thought.

If you are hungry for more, never fear! I have a sequel out, called "Around the Bend." That, too, is now complete. Just scroll up the list of titles and you should find it near the top.

*A special shout-out to Raindropcatcher, for letting me borrow one of her ideas. The connection between Anne accepting Gilbert's proposal and never making the same mistake twice was all hers, and it was brilliant! She graciously allowed me to use it… you can catch it in her wonderful Snatches of Sunshine story.