Thank you all for the lovely reviews and for following along with me here. As to whether I will be writing more Anne stories, the answer is yes. I have a number of little one-shots and perhaps another multiple chapter story bouncing around in my head, so something else will take shape soon!

As for this story, I didn't want to end it on a sad note, so I went a different direction …


Gilbert tugged the collar of his thick black coat up a little higher to protect himself from the cold wind blowing in off the Atlantic. It certainly would be warmer down below with the others, but he couldn't resist staying where he could see the land approaching in the distance.

He watched the horizon until finally he could see something on it besides the steel blue of the water. And he stood at the east edge of the boat, as if to be that much closer to where he wanted to be.

Anne wouldn't be at the station, Gilbert was sure of that. Her last letter had mentioned something about helping Diana make cookies. But by tonight, he was sure, he would see her again.

Despite all the new knowledge crammed in his head, Gilbert knew, quite without even thinking about it, that it had been three months and 13 days since he saw her last. But the memory was as fresh as if it had been the day before.

The brisk September day had begun with a gray fog hanging over the low spots between the hills, and the rising sun had made little progress in cutting through the haze the by the time his parents' buggy had pulled up at Green Gables.

He and Anne had ridden in the back seat, quieter than they usually would be together. But everything they wished to say had been said the night before as they lingered down Lover's Lane, so both had been content to sit close one last time, fingers intertwined and Anne's head on his shoulder.

His parents had slipped away discreetly after saying their goodbyes, leaving Gilbert and Anne alone on the platform. Gilbert had kissed Anne in a far more restrained fashion than what they shared in Lover's Lane, and Anne had pressed an envelope into his hand.

And before he knew it, he was watching the island — and Anne — slip away.

Not until her red hair dropped out of his sight had he turned his attention to the letter — the first love letter she'd written him and the first he'd received.

It wasn't long, but through her swirly letters, Gilbert could feel almost hear her speak the sweet words on the page.

Dearest Gilbert,

Did you realize I've never before written you a proper letter? I guess for most of the time we've known each other, nothing of that sort would have been necessary, though it certainly was a missed opportunity the two summers passed when you were gone.

In any case, it's strange to sit down and put pen to paper only moments after you parted from me at the gate. But I simply must put my feelings down while the warmth of your kiss is still on my lips and while I still can feel your strong arms holding me close.

By the time you read this, I'm sure the ferry will be well on its way to Kingsport, and I'll be halfway back to Avonlea with your parents. But know you're still on my mind and in my heart and will remain firmly in both places until my time ceases.

Today three years seems like an eternity, but it's much easier when I remember we'll spend the rest of our lives together — falling asleep together each night, waking together each morning, and experiencing all life has in store for us, every day, together. It is simply delicious to imagine what adventures may await us to take on side by side.

No matter how long the wait seems today, please know that it's well worth it to me for you to accomplish your long-held dream, and no one will be prouder of you when you return a full-fledged doctor. And while you toil away in the venerable halls of Redmond, know that I'll be dreaming of you and all the years we have in front of us.

My only wish now is for you to know that no matter how long it took me to realize what you mean to me, I know now that I love you with all my heart. And I always will.

I miss you already and am counting the days until I see you again.



Gilbert had smiled when he read it that gray September day, and he smiled again as he put the letter, now becoming worn from wear, back in his coat pocket as he watched the Bright River station come into focus.

But as he scanned the small crowd outside the small white building for his father, something else caught his eye — a certain color of red, standing out against the grays and blacks and browns.

She was there.

Anne had arrived half an hour before the ferry was supposed to pull in at Bright River. She knew when she left Green Gables she would be unreasonably early, but she couldn't bear the thought of missing Gilbert's arrival.

The station was nearly empty when she walked up from the stable where she left the Green Gables horse and sleigh. And though she tried to sit on the bench outside where once she had waited for Matthew, she simply could not hold still and instead took to pacing the platform.

As she walked, she remembered the last time she had been there, saying goodbye to him as the September fog crept over the nearby water. How hard it had been to let go of him, and harder still to watch him walk away. Though she had been determined not to cry, she could feel her eyes begin to burn. But just before Gilbert boarded the boat, he had turned and winked, that same droll, mischievous wink he'd given her the first time she'd seen him. And she'd had no choice but to smile.

Gilbert's mother had contrived to keep Anne's spirit up as they traveled back to Avonlea as well, her merry chatter keeping Anne's mind off the unsettling fact that it was only the first of many goodbyes she and Gilbert would have to endure before they finally could be together.

Since then, Anne had made a point of stopping by the Blythe's house when she would return from Summerside, usually after a visit to Matthew's grave. She and Gilbert's mother had many cheery chats at the kitchen table or out on the veranda. Anne found her to be another kindred spirit.

However, she hadn't been able to help but notice a vein of awkwardness during the first few visits, as if the older woman was holding back something she wanted to say. It surprised Anne, who had never known Mrs. Blythe to keep a thought from bubbling to the surface.

But unlike the rather tactless questions she had pointed at Anne several years earlier, the thought she had been concealing came out during one of their talks rather than among a crowd of other Avonlea folks.

"Dear, I shouldn't ask you this. My husband always tells me I should just leave well enough alone. But, oh, you'll understand someday when you have children of your own," she said. Anne nodded, not quite comprehending the direction of the conversation. "Anne, what happened between you and Gilbert a few years ago?"

Anne had felt rather taken back by the question but composed herself as well as she could. She could feel the blush on her cheeks growing as she answered.

"He … he … he proposed to me at the end of our sophomore year, and I turned him down. And he didn't want to be just friends with me, so we didn't have much to do with each other for awhile," Anne explained. "I didn't know what I wanted in life, and I always had these romantic notions about what it would be like if I fell in love. I didn't realize then that I already was."

"And what about the man in Kingsport?" Mrs. Blythe asked.

Anne stared at her hands for a moment. "Like I said, I had some romantic notions about being in love. I thought I'd only fall in love with someone who was mysterious and melancholy and who showered me in romance. And the year after Gilbert proposed, I met Roy, and he seemed to meet all those requirements. But, in time, I realized he was horribly boring and didn't fit in my life at all. I should have realized how I really felt when I was always comparing him to Gilbert in my mind. And because I missed Gilbert so, so much," Anne explained quietly.

Mrs. Blythe smiled at Anne. "I'm sorry for asking you," she said. "But, you know the way the old gossips crow around this town, and there are more than one who insist in saying my son was your second choice. I never believed it, but … well, like I said, you'll understand when you have children of your own. I just always want to protect him."

Anne nodded. "I understand. It's just strange to talk about it. I feel so silly now, but I think I had a lot of growing up to do then. Maybe we both did."

From that day on, the visits had no awkward undercurrent, and Anne thoroughly enjoyed her time there. It was during a visit in November that Mrs. Blythe had suggested Anne pick Gilbert up at the station at Christmas.

"I know he'll be wanting to see you, dear, and I'll be plenty busy preparing for Christmas," she had said.

And so Anne had left Green Gables traveled to Bright River, all the way wishing that making the horse trot a little faster would make the boat appear sooner, too.

When the boat did appear on the horizon, Anne ceased her pacing and instead stood and watched as it came into focus. And as it came into focus, so too did a man standing on the deck, hands gripping the rail and eyes searching the small crowd at the station. She could make out the strong line of his jaw and chin, the determined set of his eyes and locks of brown hair peeking out from under his cap.

Anne gazed up at him, and she began to bounce unconsciously on the balls of her feet. Gilbert's eyes met hers, and she felt the smile spread across her face as his jaw dropped open momentarily as realization dawned on him. He gave a quick wave, then disappeared, only to emerge near the front of the line when the boat docked.

For just a moment, they just stared, each drinking in the sight of the other. Then Gilbert sprang toward her and dropped his bag, forgotten for the moment, beside her. Anne flung her arms around his neck as he grabbed her around the waist and spun her in the air.

"Did you miss me?" she teased after he put her down.

"'All days are nights to see till I see thee,'" he quoted.

"'And nights bright days when dreams do show thee to me*,'" Anne finished with a contented sigh.

Moody Spurgeon MacPherson, who had gotten off the boat a few steps behind Gilbert, took in the scene with an amused roll of his eyes and a barely concealed smirk. He wished in that moment that all the gossips around town who insisted on whispering that Anne had accepted Gilbert only after her Kingsport romance went south could see the way his two old friends looked at each other in that moment. Not even Mrs. Harmon Andrews could mistake those looks for anything other than the deep, abiding love they had for each other.

"What happened to the cookies, with Diana?" Gilbert asked.

"Apparently all that studying has eaten into your reading comprehension," Anne said with a mischievous grin. "All I wrote was that I'd get to Avonlea on Thursday and that Diana would be making cookies on Friday. I never said I was going to make cookies."

Gilbert laughed. "You always were better with words than me."

The island shone like a winter wonderland as they journeyed toward Avonlea. The Avenue at Newbridge was as much a White Way of Delight covered in hoarfrost and snow as it was covered in apple blossoms, each bare branch shimmering a fuzzy white as if decorated for Christmas by God himself. Anne nestled into Gilbert and sighed as she watched the scene pass by.

"Even after all the times I've driven through it, that stills gives me one of the queer aches I always get when I see something so beautiful it can't be improved by my imagination," she said. "I feel I could stare at it forever and always find something new to admire."

Gilbert glanced down and smiled. "I know what you mean."

He was not immune to the glory of the winter day, but his admiration that afternoon was restricted to the girl beside him: the sun reflecting off the red locks peeking out under her hat, the rosy flush on her cheeks from the December chill and those eyes — those starry gray eyes with which he first fell in love so many years earlier — sparkling more than any frost-covered tree or star in the sky ever could.

No matter the splendor the icicles and snow created along the road, the real miracle to Gilbert was that Anne was finally beside him, reciprocating the looks of admiration he had always given her. For even after their one week together as summer gave way to fall, and even after the multitude of letters passing between them (including the ones with "just the right pen"), Gilbert still could hardly believe she finally felt the same for him as he did for her. He wondered how many years it would take until it would become real to him, then thrilled at the thought that he'd have all those years before him with Anne at his side.

They passed by the smooth, shining surface of The Lake of Shining Waters and would soon be approaching Gilbert's home. Instead, he guided the sleigh into a tree-lined field and pulled up on the reins until the horse came to a stop in the shadows.

"What are we doing here?"Anne asked.

"I just wasn't ready to say goodbye to you yet," Gilbert answered.

Anne laughed. "Well, I could have spared you the worry. Your mother insisted I stay to supper. And that I come over tomorrow for Christmas Eve dinner. She even said she'd let me borrow you on Christmas afternoon."

"Then I guess I just wanted to keep you to myself a little longer," he said as he turned along the bench and put his arms around her. "It just all feels a bit like a dream still, to have you here with me."

He kissed her, pulling her closer still and thrilling to the feel of her arms around his neck. Then she pulled back just a little and looked at him thoughtfully.

"What?" Gilbert asked.

"It all feels like a dream to you?" Anne asked.

He nodded, uncertain of why she was asking.

Anne scooted out of his arms and down the sleigh and into the snow, shallow on the field after the winter winds had redistributed it into the trees. Then she bent to the ground, and, since he couldn't see what she was doing, Gilbert followed her out of the slow.

But before he could figure out her purpose, he was blinded momentarily. That, combined with Anne's giggling, gave him his answer, and he wiped the remnants of the snowball from his face before giving chase.

He gave chase, lodging snowy missiles of his own, until they collapsed, laughing and out of breath, into a higher bank of snow.

"There. That can't seem much like a dream," Anne said as she turned onto her side to face him.

Gilbert laughed and brushed some snow from her hair. "Oh, it would take more than that to make it any less of a dream. But, at least this time I get two weeks with you. Maybe it will seem more real by then."

"And only two years, eight months and 10 days until you're stuck with me for good," Anne said. "Then you can see if it's truly all you dreamed."

"I look forward to finding out," Gilbert replied.

* Anne and Gilbert were reciting from Shakespeare's Sonnet XLIII.