(While I was struggling with writer's block on the story I've been working on, this appeared on my screen. I'm not sure exactly what possessed me to write it, but I'm fairly certain I just earned a spot on the naughty list! Merry Christmas!)

Making Up

For the first time in he didn't know how long, Gilbert Blythe's eyes opened in the morning not to the ringing of a telephone or the stomping and banging and laughing of a house full of rambunctious children. Faint light from the rising sun filtered through the white muslin curtains on the window and illuminated the red hair on the pillow beside him.

How long had it been since he had watched her sleep? Early in their marriage he had done so regularly, so in awe he was of the realization that she really was there beside him. Back then, he always seemed to wake up just long enough before she did so he could watch the little smile on her face as she dreamed. He'd studied every freckle across her shapely nose, every contour of her pale face, every strand of her red hair. Then he'd get to witness the gentle flutter of her eyelids as they opened to reveal those starry gray eyes he had loved for so long.

But at some point, children and patients and life had interfered. And suddenly the mornings were a rush, and their time alone in the soft light of morning had dwindled.

Gilbert looked at her now as he hadn't in months. Those seven freckles still dotted her creamy skin, and her pink lips still turned up as someone thinking of something too pleasant for consciousness. And of course, her hair was as red as the long-gone day he had latched onto it in the old schoolhouse. But there were changes, too. The faint lines at the corners of her eyes and mouth hadn't always been there, nor had the hint of sadness in her smile, never gone even in dreamland since little Joyce's death.

But his pulse still quickened when she was near, as it had since the beginning, since long before he dared to dream that he'd someday share a bed, a home, a family, a life with her.

What would the Gilbert who at one time thought life may not be worth living without Anne by his side say to know he'd let anything come between him and this perfect woman — the Gilbert who awoke on such a morning exactly 15 years earlier, amazed that the previous day and night hadn't been just a dream.

Gilbert regretfully, remembered what Anne had asked him the night before. "You do love me, Gilbert? I'm not just a habit with you? You haven't said you loved me for so long."

He replayed all of the things Christine had been saying to Anne at dinner and wondered how the Anne who smashed a slate over his head would have reacted. But this Anne, tired and preoccupied by his lack of attention, just took it all in while he sat by, obsessing over his work, never once even offering a word in his wife's defense. He contemplated how he would have felt sitting through such an evening with Roy Gardner, and his heart went out to the dear woman curled up beside him.

When had he become so absent? He knew he'd been distracted, busy. But so much so that Anne — the girl he had dreamed of and worked for and waited for — would doubt the way he felt about her?

She certainly never used to have reason to doubt or to wonder. And he never wanted her to feel like that again.

Gilbert reached over and brushed a red curl behind Anne's ear. Her eyes barely opened, but she scooted herself sleepily closer to Gilbert and laid her head on his chest.

Gilbert wrapped his arms around her. How could she have been jealous of Christine? Gilbert had never realized Anne could be jealous of anyone. One of the things he'd always admired about her was how she lacked the pettiness of other girls. She had always been so above any of that, and he never realized she simply kept those feelings locked inside her. It thrilled him a little to think she felt that possessive of him after all their years together — and to think that she felt that way back when he thought she didn't care at all.

Unconsciously, Gilbert began running his fingers up and down Anne's back, over the soft white of her nightgown. He kissed the top of the head resting on him and felt her begin to stir.

Anne opened her eyes and raised them to meet Gilbert's. She smiled softly and tried to remember the last time she'd seem him looking at her life that. She raised her face toward his and waited for him to close the gap between their lips, her sleepiness discarded like a garment.

Instead of the expected kiss, Gilbert rolled her onto her back, then moved toward her. Anne lay back expectantly waiting to see what he meant to do. Their eyes were locked on each other as Anne felt his hand against her leg, sliding her nightgown up, past her knee, her thigh. She shifted as the nightgown reached her waist and sat up as Gilbert pulled it over her head.

Finally he kissed her — the kind of kiss he used to give her all the time — while his hands explored her body. Anne ran her fingers through the curls of his still-thick hair and savored the taste of his kiss and the feel of his tongue against hers. She arched her back as he slipped her underwear off. She realized she was unclothed while he still had on pajamas, so she ran her hands down his neck and began working at the buttons at his chest.

But Gilbert took her hands off his buttons and pushed them to her sides. He broke off their kiss and brought his lips to her neck. He trailed kisses down to her collar bones, then released her hands as he concentrated his efforts on her breasts. Anne watched him lick and suckle at one nipple and then the other. The desire built in her, and she wanted nothing more than to pull Gilbert's clothes off and feel his bare skin against hers.

Before she could act on her thoughts, she felt Gilbert's lips moved down her ribs and down her belly. She trembled. His hands parted her thighs and he slid down lower.

Anne gasped at the feel of his tongue moving against her. It had been months, maybe years, since their lovemaking had been so leisurely, since he had worked so hard to bring her that kind of pleasure. She sank deeper into the bed and watched him, her eyes soft with love and desire.

Gilbert continued his ministrations as he noticed the way Anne writhed with his efforts, as he felt her body begin to tense up, and as he heard the softest moans escape her lips. He didn't stop until her body went languid and her breaths became heavy.

He crawled back toward her and held her.

"Good morning, Anne-girl," he said, and he kissed her neck.

It was a minute or two later until Anne caught her breath enough to respond. "Good morning. And to what do I owe such a delightful start to the day?"

Gilbert stared into her eyes and felt his heart beat a little faster at the way she gazed back at him. "I just thought maybe I was overdue for making sure you knew how much I love you."

"Mmmhmm," was Anne's only reply. She again began working at the buttons of his pajamas.

"And what are you doing?" Gilbert asked as Anne slid his shirt off.

"Well," Anne said, kissing his neck. "I may have been wallowing a wee bit, imagining you didn't love me anymore. And I don't believe I've been taking very good care of you."

She grazed her hand along the edge of his pants and grinned at his quick intake of breath and the way he startled at her caress.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked breathlessly.

Anne ran her hands up his chest and back down, coming to rest again at his waist. She kissed him passionately while she yanked at his pants and underwear. Gilbert moved slightly to help her release him from the garments.

Without taking her lips off his, she straddled him and rubbed against him. Anne meant to tease him a little first, but her impulsive nature took over. Without thinking twice, she lowered herself on to him, desperate to feel him inside her.

"Can we?" Gilbert asked, trying to still himself until he got Anne's answer. Ever since Shirley's birth had nearly cost Anne her life, Gilbert had tried — no matter how difficult Anne made it on him — to keep such a scenario from repeating. Since the surprise that was Rilla's conception, their trysts had been more and more isolated.

Anne nodded and began sliding up and down him. Gilbert cupped her breasts and prayed silently that Anne was right.

Gilbert watched her body, marked by the seven children she had carried, but to him as lovely as the first time he'd seen her like this. He knew he'd never been an objective observer of Anne, but even still he marveled at how the years and sorrows and babies had made her more beautiful. She was as full of life as the day he met her but with depth and maturation only time can bring. Her eyes were still as bright as they'd been on that long-ago afternoon in Hester Gray's garden when finally the way they looked into his told him she'd be his forever.

Her hand stroked the side of his face, and he looked into those starry eyes. Anne smiled and laid her body onto him, kissing him as she hadn't for so long.

Gilbert ran his hands along her back, and Anne sighed at how such a simple gesture could make her feel so safe and content. She wanted to stay there, enclosed in his embrace, as long as she could. But she knew well enough moments like that never last in a full household.

Anne propped herself up and moved faster, energized by the feeling of Gilbert's grip on her waist and the look in his eyes that told her how much he still enjoyed her.

The pleasure built up in her until she felt her legs begin to shake slightly as she neared her peak. A glance at Gilbert told her he was close as well, and she increased her motions and lowered herself to him in a way she knew would push him over the edge.

"Anne," he breathed, followed by a low moan of satisfaction.

And Anne felt her mind go blank as their tryst reached its climax. Breathless, she collapsed against him, burying her lips into his neck and her hands into his hair.

Gilbert wrapped his arms around her. Soon, Anne started to move off of his chest, but he held on.

"Don't go, Anne," he whispered and pulled the covers over them. "I've missed this."

"So have I," she replied, drawing his earlobe between her lips. "But you know, any moment now someone is going to knock at that door and expect us to be ready for the day."

"Let them knock. I don't want to share you with anyone just yet. Anne, I'm sorry for taking you so for granted lately. You are everything to me, always have been."

"As you are to me," Anne said with a smile.

They stayed there, tangled up with each other and sharing their secret thoughts as they used to, until the expected knock came at their door. Then they dressed in a rush and hustled out to their family and their obligations.

And though their moment seemed to have ended, more than once they caught each other's eyes over the din of the crowded breakfast table. Anne saw that smile Gilbert saved only for her, and Gilbert saw the particular sparkle in Anne's gray-green eyes. And they knew their moment never truly would end, that they still belonged to each other and always would.