(A.N.: Thank you so much for all the kind reviews. They propelled this little idea forward. All characters belong to LMM. This is just my little idea of what happened between the final two chapters of Anne of the Island.)

Chapter 2: Dreams for tomorrow

At one time, the sight of an auburn haired young woman dancing through the Green Gables garden would not have raised any eyebrows. It had, for awhile, become more the rule than the exception.

But for the past two years, even the most casual of observers noticed Anne Shirley no longer seemed to soar to the highest heights nor crash to the deepest depths. To most people, this was attributed to the fact that she had begun finally to grow up.

Closer observers, though, worried about the change in the girl. Something seemed to have clouded her sunny disposition.

However, only the very shrewdest of onlookers had tied the change that caused Anne to tread the earth rather than soar to the heavens to the fact that a certain boy with brown curly hair and hazel eyes who had once frequented the green-gabled house no longer came around.

Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs. Rachel Lynde, being just such keen observers of the inner workings of Anne, had fretted frequently out of her hearing on the topic. No matter how often Anne said all was well and no matter how often exotic flowers and lines of poetry had arrived for her from a mysterious sender in Kingsport the previous summer, the venerable ladies despaired over the missing something in the girl's smile. Something must have gone very wrong in the universe to drive Gilbert Blythe away, but they knew Anne would never discuss the matter with them.

And since Anne's return to Avonlea after she received her long-desired B.A., she seemed to have sunk even deeper. Not that she ever said so. She had always worn her feelings on her sleeve before, and having them tucked away in a pocket was enough for those closest to her to know she wasn't quite herself anymore. She was quieter, prose replacing the poetry that had always flowed through her veins. Those keen observers also knew that the absence of those flowers likely had little to do with the change.

So the vision of Anne skipping and twirling into the kitchen early one morning should have been a welcome sight to the calmer inhabitants of the house. Instead, it made Marilla and Mrs. Lynde question whether Anne was quite in her right mind — a question they had always pondered silently anyway.

Only the night before they had watched as Anne fell apart right before their eyes at the news that Gilbert was deathly ill. Even if they hadn't suspected Anne's true feelings for the boy before — which they certainly had — they would have realized them then. Anne's face never went as white at the news that Ruby Gillis was dying, nor had the two ladies ever heard heartbreaking sobs come from the east gable when that dear friend passed on. Even Matthew's death had not inspired that strange tone in her voice.

To see Anne, then, float into the house the next morning, still wearing the same clothes in which she had arrived home from Echo Lodge in the July storm of the previous evening, was more than disconcerting to Marilla and Mrs. Lynde.

"Anne, are you feeling quite well? Where have you been?" Marilla asked, more gentle questions than she would have asked had she not been so worried about her girl's mental state.

"I'm quite well, dearest of Marillas. I've been out enjoying this beautiful morning. Nothing is quite as lovely in the world as the morning after a storm."

"Anne, have you lost your mind? After the way you carried on last night when you heard about Gilbert, I wondered if you would go stark, raving mad, and now I see I was right," said Mrs. Lynde, never one to concern herself with tact or caution.

Anne smiled, her face reddening as she arranged a bouquet of flowers at the table.

"I am quite right in my mind, Mrs. Lynde. And yes, the news shocked me horribly last night. But, in my travels this morning, I learned Gilbert is going to be fine. Pacifique Buote — George Fletcher's hired man, you know — told me that this morning when he was on his way by."

Marilla breathed a sigh of relief, for both Gilbert's sake and Anne's. She barely slept all night in worry for her girl and what losing Gilbert would mean to her.

But the relief was deepest for Anne, for whom a shaft of light had illuminated the rose of love through that dark night. She knew the rose would not wither and die but would grow and fuel the dreams of all her tomorrows.

Nearly a week had passed since that morning, a week in which Anne seemed always to sing, or at the very least hum, through her little daily duties, then lose herself to the beauty of the summer sunshine in all her old haunts. Neither Marilla nor Mrs. Lynde tried to bring her back to the ground, smiling and shaking their heads knowingly as she skipped off in the afternoons.

Anne could feel the change in herself even more acutely than those who watched her. The loneliness and emptiness that had filled her when she returned from Kingsport was no more. Instead, she felt light and young and full of dreams. She found little inspirations of fancy springing to her pen again, and she had packaged off a little packet of sketches for editors' consideration for the first time in months. The disgust she carried for herself over Roy Gardner melted away, leaving in place a peace and freedom that came with knowing she had been quite right to refuse him.

She visited Diana and little Fred often, no longer feeling quite as left behind and out of place, instead finding herself dreaming exquisite little dreams that had never fully formed before.

And mostly, Anne dreamed about the day when Gilbert would be well enough to venture out again. She never wondered if he would come see her. She was quite certain he would. Of course, she had nothing to form that thought but the feeling in her heart, for she hadn't seen him or heard from him since she received his flowers for convocation. She had hastily sent a little note that ecstatic morning when she learned he was going to live, then floated around home, waiting for things to happen.

On this particular day, Marilla and Mrs. Lynde were away at a Ladies Aid event, and Davy and Dora, the Green Gables twins, were with their respective friends. So after Anne finished her chores, she took herself outside to read in the shade of a tree and enjoy the breeze breaking up the heat of the early August sun.

The book failed to hold her attention for long, eventually sliding from her hands. She reclined against the old apple tree, her lips clasped tightly and her eyes gazing off into the distance.

But her daydreams this day did not take the shape of fairies or dryads, and there certainly were no dark, melancholy men in her house o' dreams.

Instead, Anne was replaying all the times in her mind in which she should have known she was in love with Gilbert Blythe. All their long talks and laughs over their studies. The way she flushed under his gaze after Miss Lavendar's wedding and a hundred times thereafter. How jealous she was of any other girl with whom he spent time. The way she would compare any disagreeable thing about Roy to pleasant ones about Gilbert. How much she missed the letters that never came those two summers he spent in Kingsport. Her impassioned reaction to Phil'a assertion that he was engaged to Christine Stuart. How she could talk to him like she could talk to no one else, never worrying he would misunderstand her or think her mad.

Anne began to feel quite ridiculous in her ruminations. Her imagination had once been her greatest asset, a way to seek the sun in the darkest of places. How had she allowed it to block out the light of love that had begun to form in her heart so long ago?

Unconsciously, her right hand began fiddling with the little pink heart at the hollow of her throat as she imagined what it would be like to hear Gilbert's voice again. She was so deep in her quiet contemplations that she didn't hear the footsteps approaching her.

Then, the very voice she had been hoping to hear pulled her out of her reverie.

"Hello, Anne."