As promised, this is a little bonus for you all who have been following this story- no, not an extra epilogue, just a collection of answers to questions you have asked over the last few months- about parts I never went into detail about through the story, and about things that I imagine happened afterward! I rarely write a story without fleshing out far too many details- and here are some of them now. I've always said this is like book club/story club combined- consider this the special features.
As with any story, you are free to imagine the future for this Anne and Gil in any way- but this is what I have decided is my canon. This story changed a little as I went, and some parts of it were a complete surprise to me, from chapter to chapter- but the bones of it are what I worked out back when I was still writing When Tomorrow Comes. As promised, this one is shorter- although it's hardly an achievement when you look at the word count total. As I said to you any number of times, hindsight makes decisions to cut things easier- not a luxury when you write episodically- something I still struggle to do. I write my own stories terribly out of sequence. There's a lot that I would edit out in hindsight, but part of the luxury of Fanfiction is the sheer indulgence of it- I don't know that I would cut it now.
I did go darker in this story. LMM never shied away from harder facts of life- and this isn't a book for children that has to make it through a publishers censor. I can smile as I write that, you know that my stories are certainly not M rated, (and no, that's not prudery, that's just personal choice) but I didn't want to shy away from darker emotions. The others were much lighter, but I wanted to stretch myself with Shore of Dreams. We aren't two-dimensional creatures, and at times we feel hard things that we would censor from ourselves if we could. This is an older Anne and Gil than any I have written before, and in the planning stages, Anne's age here was actually suggested to me by Katherine-with-a-K: and she was perfectly right. It did change things. Could I have gone darker still? Of course. But I didn't. I wanted to unravel the whole thing slowly though- I know everyone got impatient in the beginning, but if I was going to twist this pair up this much, they needed time to learn to trust each other again. We've always seen Anne oblivious and Gilbert barely keeping the way he feels in, I had a lot of fun reversing that- and I made him fight it as stubbornly as she ever did. One of my favourite lines to write was Gilbert's "So this was what it was like to be in love with Anne Shirley all over again." After 26 chapters, that was such a relief….
Now, you made me laugh when a few of you were worried that Anne's dream meant that she was going to wake up in canon, or Gil was going to wake up after the fever- no. That was never the plan. Anne's dream was actually a deliberate echo of the one Gil had back in chapter 5, where it was raining, children were asleep down the hall, and Anne was in bed beside him- I wrote the epilogue with that in mind. His dream came true.
So, firstly, the most commonly asked question….
Leslie and Owen
I did have Owen planned from the beginning. It's clear in canon that he and Anne are good friends- her marriage, and his love for Leslie keeps the two of them completely safe. Here, there is none of that. Leslie is missing and he is broken-hearted, Anne is single, and Gilbert doesn't even look like he's a contender in this game. So all bets are off. Now, I was asked why some fanfics make him a villain- truthfully, I never knew anyone else who did! I broke him, basically. He's melancholy and romantic anyway, I just broke his heart- and let's face it, that doesn't bring out the best in any of us. That he still hasn't come to terms with the past and blames everyone else, that's his flaw. It was needed, I think- if Gil was to know that Anne wasn't settling, she needed to get a real offer from someone else- and let's face it, Owen Ford would have looked pretty damn intimidating, and been exactly what he feared, after Roy.
I was worried about this little side story, however, I'm glad to say that it did what I wanted it to. I needed something to pull Gilbert out of his complacency, but I didn't want him to flare up in ridiculous jealousy, either- because he isn't a boy, he's grown man with a lot more experience under his belt. It didn't make him any more friendly to Owen, some of you commented that Gil wasn't a ray of sunshine to him either- and he wasn't. He's not a saint. He watched Leslie go through hell about Owen, and Owen was fawning over Anne- so he was ticked off from the outset.
In this story, Leslie is never reunited with Owen. At the end of AHoD, she was planning to go into nursing- and here, she does. I believe this Leslie fell in love with a patient eventually, someone who spent a long time in the hospital- and he, in turn, fell in love with the beautiful nurse who helped him learn to walk/sing/play the cello again. And because I am the author and can do whatever I like, she and her husband had two children- Kenneth, and little Rose.
So I mentioned in an author's note that Owen's next book is the story of a man who is caught between two women, entitled Between Fire and Ice. This is the book Anne and Gil find in a bookshop one year after Owen left and - after reading the premise Gilbert tried to read it, but it ended up making him too angry, and Anne was too busy laughing to even try and rescue it from the fireplace. (By the way, Anne was Fire, Leslie was Ice.) The book is written from his home in Japan, he left to try and gain some space for himself after the whole Four Winds season. The book was essentially a way for him to purge the emotions that he was so compromised by, and although he put a much better face on it than he had in real life, the book is about acceptance. Some people theorised that even with Anne, he would never have truly given up on Leslie- and I agree. She was the woman he loved. He cared for Anne, and he was fascinated with her, because she made him feel something again- and as Julie3113 commented, getting close to Anne clearly ticked Gilbert off- and that was just a bonus. If there was a world where Anne had gone with him, she would have always felt in Leslie's shadow- and he would never have stopped searching for her. IN his story, in fact, the protagonist chooses his real love- the Ice girl- and by doing so, Owen shows that he would have chosen Leslie.
In this universe though, an obsessed Owen kept receiving the paper that contained Glen Notes, had it sent to him, in the hopes that some news of Leslie would one day find him. In them he discovered that Gilbert and Anne married- and his reaction was to laugh uncontrollably, and get himself revoltingly drunk. The pieces came together for him, and he realised that the truth had been under his very nose- that Gilbert was the one she had been in love with, and he with her. He always believed that Gilbert meddled with his relationship with Leslie though, and never forgave him for that. To finish his story, I believe that he had other relationships, but was never willing to allow one to come that close again. He volunteered to go to France in 1916 to write the great war novel that his publishers were looking for, and was killed when the small village in France he was staying in was attacked. No part of the war novel was ever found.
This all started with Anne, of course. I don't know where the idea for the accident came from- it wasn't because Gilbert needed to save her, I almost saw her injury as a side issue with them, not the main plot point. I pictured the Anne who got off the train for the first time in Four Winds- a little older, matter-of-fact, dignified, walking with a limp and in mourning. I loved the idea that she wouldn't have been instantly recognisable as the Anne that we know- but that to the people of Four Winds she would merely be a successful teacher who happened to be crippled- and that it was all she would let them see. There would be gossip, wildly wrong and occasionally right- but it was only Gilbert who would see in an instant that she wasn't the girl he remembered. I walked a narrow line with her here- she couldn't be self-pitying, she had to just make the best of it, and she needed to remain independent as much as possible- but she has learned to do hard things, and won't shy away from them- including the man she loves.
I had to figure out why she wouldn't know about Gilbert's life, and why he wouldn't have known about her either- so of necessity, I removed him from the Island for two years. I also wanted him settled in before Anne gets there- there's the sense that she's on his turf now, almost trespassing. And of course, she is Anne- even in the trauma she's been through, deep down she's still herself- she makes friends, works hard in her school, and tries to remain independent, all while having to depend on her housekeeper entirely- and eventually is forced to admit that she does need a doctor.
As flighty and dreamy as Anne can be, she was still raised by Marilla. So there is a very practical training there, and I decided that in the wake of Gilbert's typhoid, her own disappointment in herself at what happened with Roy and a heart that was completely shattered when she realised that she loved Gilbert (not to mention the Pringle complications in Summerside) that to get through everything, she shut it down. I saw her pushing those raw feelings deeper to keep moving- although I believe she was still very much herself at the time. The last two blows were the ones that seemingly changed her- the accident, and Marilla's death. We don't come out of grief the same way we went in- and I didn't want Gilbert magically changing her back. Yes, they knew each other, and yes they gave each other freedom to be themselves- but they aren't who they would have been had they reconciled after typhoid. Not worse- only different. We can't be the same- I am endlessly fascinated by the way that random circumstances affect our lives.
As to her foot, I didn't think it realistic that she be healed fully- and that was okay. The real healing had to happen inside her. I decided that she would be much better in the years following the operation, able to walk without her walking stick on her good days- but that she still needed it from time to time. I liked the idea of Anne learning to rely on others- of finding the sweetness of being interdependent, and also being able to surprise Gilbert by not being the eleven-year-old who broke a slate over his head. We do grow, we do change. I wanted that to unsettle him from the beginning- she had to be different, but I wanted him to realise that she's not the same girl who pushed him away all those years ago. Actually, it gave me a lot of pleasure writing a Gilbert whose world was turned on one ear- yes, we know him as being independent himself, ambitious and determined- even without Anne, that was him. But we never saw him out of control, and I wanted to show a Gilbert who was rattled by her presence all over again. Anne is revered in literature for being who she is, idealistic, strong, and is certainly no damsel in distress. There are some people who struggled with any signs that Anne was weak in this story, however, I felt it important to acknowledge that we still need people- and Anne needed Gilbert, Susan, Diana and many others at times. Keeping the main characters themselves was something I had to continually be revising, taking into account age, the amount of time spent apart, success, failures, anger, and the practical demands placed on them both. In short, at times this nearly broke my brain. I want to take time to thank you all for how you read this and commented, you often made me question what I had written, made me go back to source material time and time again, and at times I had to decide to back myself with regards to how I interpreted the story too. I wanted this Anne to be more like her older self. I loved her impulsivity- but to me, it made sense that she's grown up, too. I wanted those things to still be in her, but in seed form- she's been operating for so long based on responsibility and necessity, especially in the last year, and I wondered what it would take to unlock that.
Anne losing Marilla was inspired by real life- I lost my darling mother six years ago now, and although the circumstances were different, grief and loss is something our family was terribly rocked by. I know many of you have missed her, I assure you it is no latent animosity towards her that made me kill her- but Avonlea defined Anne, in some ways- what happens when home stops being home? How do you find yourself again?
Someone commented that they were surprised that Anne didn't grieve for Marilla- however, the point that I was making was that she wouldn't let herself grieve for her at first- not because she didn't feel it, but that she was afraid to feel it. From experience, you can just keep going from sheer instinct, until it hits. Psychologists say we get a log-jam in our emotions- if there is something that we aren't able to process, everything else that comes builds up behind it- hence the dam metaphor. At some time, if too much pressure builds up, the dam will break. This Anne, who had compartmentalised so much after Redmond, had places she didn't let herself go- Gilbert was one, her accident was another, and Marilla's death on top of everything was just too much for her to handle. I always wanted it to be Gilbert with her when she broke down at Green Gables, even if he was there reluctantly.
I wanted to explore an Anne who had most of her world upended. I've seen how grief can change us- but I've also seen how resilient we can be, and that we really do begin to heal. I adore second chance stories- as I said when I began this, we all need to believe that they are possible. We need to know that if we've messed it up, that we can go again- and that if we hold on long enough, we'll be given another chance to seize life again.
And of course, Gil.
Gilbert Blythe was the first guy I ever fell in love with, and I didn't want to sell him short for anything. However, I knew that I didn't want to sugarcoat the way he responded when she first arrived. If we're honest, we all have times when we stuff it up, when we are bitter or weak- and the biggest test is how we respond afterwards. Gilbert was completely caught unaware, and in the most awkward situation imaginable. He was about to ask to court another woman, and after battling the faint spectre of Anne Shirley every time he went to move on, to be confronted by her in the flesh was just too much for him that night. I wanted him to have too much to be able to process- if he had been able to block the wife of Roy Gardner from his mind, to find Anne now in his town, single, in mourning, teaching, and devastatingly crippled- wouldn't you overreact? He saw himself getting dragged straight back to a past that had almost killed him. To me, he had to almost divorce the part of himself that was responding to Anne- he also had to divorce himself from the things he recognised in her again. I wanted him to be him though- I wanted him to still be the Gilbert Blythe we all fell in love with, who just can't help but try to make things right when he needs to. I hope he has been that here, as well.
Now there are a lot of ways I could have gone- I could have had Gil realise his feelings earlier, I could have had him be angry longer, and I could really have gone to town with the Owen thing, and have him freaked out that she was going to accept him- but at the end of the day, I didn't do that. I wanted the lines to be clear. I wanted Gilbert to be fairly sure Anne didn't love Owen, even if he couldn't give himself a good reason for thinking that. In the same fashion, I didn't want him getting mixed up and compromised with Penny, this story is long enough without trying to sort out that mess too!
I really liked the idea that the two of them make each other better. They could lead reasonably happy, successful lives on their own, but at the end of the day, Anne and Gilbert still belong together. They were both almost unrecognizable, in some ways to each other- the journey of the story was them finding themselves again, drawing the other person back again from exile.
Diana and Fred
I loved who they could be for her- and I reasoned that a single Anne, even while Marilla was alive would have been around there constantly in her holidays and that Fred just got to know her, and she, him. Here it was non-negotiable- Anne needed Di, and there was no way she wouldn't become the family Anne needed. When I went through a list of people who could walk Anne down the aisle, Gil himself, Andrew, John Blythe- all had good points, and John nearly won because of the Marilla connection- but Fred was the one who made me say aaaaaawwwww… so he got it! He'd opened his home to her- it was fitting to me that he should have the honour.
And then there is Di and Gilbert- I know it seems offensive in a canon world where Di and Gil are good friends, but this isn't Kansas anymore, Toto. He's been AWOL for six years, and at the end of the day, he hurt Anne. There's the deal-breaker. It's all very well to say that it took two to tango, but it's hard for a BFF to be impartial- and Di would have just broken her heart for everything Anne had been through. So when Gil shows up with every indication that he is making things worse for Anne, she was definitely going to go into super-protective mode.
I did have fun with her! Anne obviously needed someone, she couldn't have lived alone. And I just about danced when I had the brainwave to use Susan Baker. She loves Anne, has a personality of her own, and she would have been such a mother hen over Anne. One of my favourite bits in this story was at the end of chapter three, with Susan holding Anne on the floor as she cried after her confrontation with Gilbert- she needed someone to step into the place for the mother she had only recently lost. I never wanted her to replace Marilla, but as I can attest to, when we lose someone others can help us to get back on our feet again. That was Susan's role here. I also loved the idea of her scoping out the gentlemen who came to call, but not reading them as Anne does- she adored Owen in canon, so I thought it should continue here; and I liked the idea of her liking one suitor, while Gilbert is just coming and coming. She was suspicious of the way that Anne and Gilbert just are together- they argue, they know each other, and can't help but fall into old patterns of intimacy with the way they relate. And she couldn't help but worry, she could see how he affected her girl- he did make her cry in the beginning. I also chose to illustrate some of the ways Anne shut down from her usual confiding manner- she didn't talk about Gilbert with anyone in the books, (at least, not willingly) and I decided that she definitely wouldn't talk about Gilbert with anyone from the Glen, even Susan. It's too close- and everyone knows everyone too well there.
So Penelope Winston exists because I felt it important to acknowledge that Gilbert did have chances to move on- he is a rather upstanding person, and let's face it, he obviously didn't think there was a chance for he and Anne anymore. He needed someone to be around who was pleasant, and safe so that he could see her without dating, or gossips questioning their reputations- thus Andrew Winston was born. Plus, I was always annoyed that Gilbert never had any guy friends, real ones- and I made Andrew him. He needed to be intelligent, and kind of be the light-hearted side of Gilbert that had been missing. All work and no play, etc. Plus, the three Winstons anchored Gilbert in the Glen. Lizzie was basically one giant icebreaker- you want to cut tension? Get a child. And as many of you commented, Andrew's loss of Maddie was a nice reminder to Anne and Gilbert that they really needed to seize the day.
I adore Andrew's character- I think he will be one I write into his own story one day, although probably not here. I really did want to give Andrew someone in this story- however, page-time was at a premium, and there is an element of reality to his situation. Not everyone can have their fairytale ending.
However…. Since this is Andrew, I had two different plans for him. The first was the lady he was talking to at the church fete, Charlotte Linden- he and Lizzy, and she and her son form a family unit one year from this time- Charlotte becomes his comfort and stability, and he loves her to distraction. A year after the wedding, they have a little girl, finally giving Lizzie a brother and a new sister.
The second plan is more complicated- and I had actually written it as a part of the trip to Montreal- in Charlottetown, Anne is accosted at the station by Mrs Augusta Pringle, and Miss Jen Pringle. Jen, who ended up adoring her young teacher talks with them, and we learn that she is a writer/editor for the Charlottetown Times. Andrew overhears this, and jumps into the conversation, asking her if she is the J. Pringle who wrote the controversial piece on a PEI murder trial, questioning the legal precedents it set. He's intrigued by her perspective, and the now 23-year-old is invited to come to see Anne and Gilbert in their new home- and Andrew and Jen fall in love, despite being ten years apart in age. LMM always did like her age gaps… So, take your pick! I confess I was fond of the Jen idea, but it was too big a detour to take story-wise, and I cut it.
Anyhow, I really loved Andrew and Penny, as characters- so I kept writing them. Penny isn't Anne, but she was nice- and I quickly realised that I couldn't make her collateral damage from Anne and Gil- you'd all kill me! So I needed to be able to extricate her safely, without Gilbert being a jerk- and that's why I decided that he couldn't actually start anything with her. I did wonder if I could get away with having Anne and Penny become friends (after-school special, anyone?) but the two of them are pretty alone- and Penny was desperate for some company- even if the guy she kind of liked couldn't take his eyes off her new friend. It was convenient to send her home, but she needed to choose what she wanted- and her heart wasn't in the Glen. I had toyed with the idea of having her end up with Jeremy in the beginning, (and a few of you readers picked up on that VERY early) but the more I got to know Penny, the more I decided that I would do it.
Jeremy isn't Gilbert- he loves the city, knows how to play the elite game, but has a sense of humour and a good heart too. Gilbert was never the 'let's go and play golf with dad' type, it would have stifled him- for Jeremy, that was fine.
And Jeremy happened because there is no way that Gilbert was going to be alone for the five years after convocation- and the way I see it, if you spend three years dissecting things together, you're going to end up bonding over that. He' been with Gil the whole time, fun to be around, but with genuineness too. Gil wouldn't settle for less than that. He needed to be intelligent, and as someone commented, surgeons are kind of the rock stars of the medical community. So I made him one! He also had to have been there at those few weak moments where Gil might have been able to talk about Anne. I wanted him to see Anne, not just for her leg, but for him to pick what was going on between them almost immediately. I needed Jeremy to be the doctor so that he could reflect back to Gilbert that he'd lost his objectivity. We're so used to A& G being who they are, we needed an outsider to say 'hey, Gil, this isn't normal…' to make us see just how gone he is.
I stopped her writing as she went to Summerside, something you all (we all) felt in this story. To me, there was a death in her when her own imagination failed her with Roy, and the very worst outcome (apart from Gil dying) happened just when she discovered what real love was. I wanted her to not suddenly see Gil and think "hey, I should write a poem about that"- it was something she left behind her completely. But I loved the idea that Gil was saying, "No, that's not right, that's not you- you need to go again." In my mind, it was a long process, of Anne learning to dream again, and to have faith in her imagination again. I had a whole section planned where Anne and Gil talk about the two poems she gave him the night before the wedding- (that was meant to be part of the window conversation) but it was just so long already, and I needed to cut it. One of them was about grief- talking about the nature of pain, the part it has to play in the tapestry of our lives. I wanted it to speak to Gil, to let him into more of those places she hadn't taken anyone before. The second was about the two of them, as I said- and believe it or not, I toyed with the idea of trying to write them for you. Maybe one day.
So I did go down a darker path with this story- however, if you think about it, it was pretty awful even in canon. What would have happened if Anne hadn't found old Captain Pringle's diary? Here I wanted to look at what might have stopped the bullying, apart from a random stash of information. And I was once asked if Anne's accident was deliberate- but no. It really was an accident.
Okay, so there are a few questions I never answered- either I was worried that it would spoil surprises later on, or I was trying to be a bit less "hey, I promise everything will be fine,", either way, I left them alone. However, there were a few notable ones that I had no answer for at the time. Now, I have tried to find the people who asked them, but sometimes I couldn't reply if you were guests- so I'm sorry if I missed one.
The Horse Riding: how were they sitting exactly? This made me laugh- not because you asked the question, but because I actually had an answer. So this is what I pictured (bearing in mind that I am no rider). So she is sitting directly in front of him, and both are facing the front- in the story, I say that he turned her in order to secure her in front of him. He's astride, of course. She's not sitting astride exactly, but her right leg is bent like she is sitting side saddle- which was why I said that she needed to hook her leg over something. So yes, she's well and truly sitting between his legs, and he is as close as he can be- and yes, Anne does know something about anatomy! It made me laugh when someone commented on what must have been going through their minds- they are, after all, grown-ups who are hopelessly in love. It was abominable cheek for Gil to suggest doing it, and even more for Anne to say yes- but since I fully planned for them to come home engaged, I let it slide! Perhaps Gilbert fell to thinking about dissecting eyeballs to control his hormones…..
The Honeymoon destination: really, I was just trying to find somewhere different that this pair hasn't been. My next story, (whenever I begin that, let me pass out after this one first) is set in White Sands, so I didn't want to go there- I've been studying Island maps for the past few months to try and work it out. Now, it may be a bit far, but I figured if Anne and Gil married in Avonlea, positionally close to Cavendish, I think, at about midday, and had time to catch the train to Four Winds in time to see the sunset and have a nice dinner before actually getting to their wedding night; then a NOT in a rush Anne and Gil could travel from Four Winds (set somewhere near Priest Pond, I think?) and have time to make it to Victoria by nightfall? They are there for a few weeks, so I figured they had time! I loved the idea of them being totally alone for once- I never liked that their honeymoon blended into them settling into Four Winds.
I used the theme of ghosts a lot here, as many of you have picked up. And no, I don't believe in them- not in that sense. The introduction to Anne featured three men visiting her from the board that night- that was a deliberate Dickens illusion that was echoed in Gilbert's home with the canopied bed that couldn't shut the ghosts out. I do love a Christmas Carol... There is also a wonderful book by Adrian Plass called Ghosts- one that centres around a reunion, exploring the shadows of ourselves- who we used to be, what we expected ourselves to be as adults. These are the ghosts that concerned me, in Shore of Dreams. There were the ghosts of who Anne and Gilbert were, of the versions of themselves who had become so mistaken in each other. The ghosts also of who they were supposed to be in canon, actually, and that was the reason I set the story in Four Winds. I liked the idea of it being their place, and yet there was no them, as yet. In the end we all need to let go of our ghosts- forgiving others, letting others go, but especially forgiving ourselves, and letting go of the ghosts of who we thought we should be as well.
The roses began accidentally- I needed a name for the cottage (This is Anne, after all) and I loved the idea that the environment reflected the state of Anne and Gilbert as well- love, hopelessly tangled and needing a lot of work. I actually gave you a tiny hint of timing when Anne was talking about the roses in the fall- she mentioned that she planned to have the rose beds untangled by spring when I always wanted them to get together. I used the gardens quite by accident when things needed to be sorted out, such as Anne's talk with Mrs Blythe, and the argument between Anne and Gilbert about her operation. I was always a little sad that Gilbert's white roses were called 'love dead or forsaken', Anne's pink ones were 'love, hopeful and expectant,' and Leslie and Owen got the red roses in AHoD. So here, they got to keep the whole bunch of them for themselves- I never saw this life as less for Anne and Gil, but different- and the love they share is perhaps more intense, perhaps they know to value it even more after such a time apart. So they get all three.
What went wrong
Before I began this story, my biggest problem was figuring out what went wrong between Anne and Gilbert. Others have relied on Phil's letter not coming, or on a Mrs Blythe who somehow interferes- I had to figure out my own way of separating them, and call me crazy, but I didn't want all my eggs in one basket here. I used to watch those 'Disasters Unwound' documentaries, where a disaster like the Titanic is examined- usually, it's not one big failure, but a lot of little ones. That's how I saw this one here. Josie was a part of the equation, but as you saw, not the whole. The nail in the coffin was, of course, Anne hearing Gilbert telling her to go. As to what he was actually talking about, I'll get to that later….. I did try to misdirect you a few times, although a few of you guessed early on that Gil's delirium had something to do with it.
The Josie Thing
So I admit, I did up the nastiness in her a bit- on purpose. Not that I believe it was out of character, really, she hasn't been known in literary history for being a cream puff, has she? In Canon she gets a man approximately two years after Anne and Gilbert are married, pushing it to 1892-3: which falls in the time period of this story. (Can I just say, the timelines here drove me absolutely wild- I had to know what canon Anne and Gil were doing (and what was happening around them too), what their separate timelines were, exactly when the accident happened, and how long Gil would have been in the Glen for when the story began. I have large graphs drawn that still confuse me.) You have to figure that she would have been pretty annoyed that everyone else was getting married around her. She took her chance to misinform, and she was just lucky, I suppose, that Anne and Gil were in too bad a shape to fight it. Still, without her words, Anne would have stayed, despite what he had said in delirium. Gil would still have gone to see her, and all would have been well, no matter what he said- it just would have taken a fairly frank and emotional discussion that day and one that would have got them together long before September.
I had some feedback about Gilbert's revenge on Josie, saying that it was petty- and it was! Let's be honest, even the best of us want to act like that at times- and as I've already said, Gilbert isn't a saint. He's waited an awfully long time to be with Anne, and Josie was completely in the wrong. He knew it was petty, and beneath him. In my mind, he did send a wedding announcement, and ten months later an announcement that Rilla was born, however that soon ended- Josie had decided to send back her own self-congratulatory announcements to the Blythes. In one of her letters she admitted to not being sure what to do with her newborn son- and Anne saw the actual insecurity in her, and eventually the two of them formed a (mostly) cordial writing relationship- even if she did point out bluntly on a visit to Avonlea when she met the toddler, that Rilla certainly had her mother's hair. Gilbert rather uneasily judged that his pregnant and hormonal wife really shouldn't be given a chance to fly off the handle at her old nemesis, and was quick to redirect Anne towards his mother.
What Gilbert was ACTUALLY raving about in Delirium
Here's the kicker- it was actually about Christine. I did have this as a part of the main story- however, I felt that it might have been over-examining the past too much- even for me. So, on the night of Convocation, an incredibly miserable and gradually getting sicker Gilbert left the dance with a party of friends, including Christine. He had a little too much to drink (I really can't stress how miserable he would have been that night) and he was brought back to awareness by Christine asking him to stay the night with her. She told him that it wouldn't be the first time she'd done it, and that she was sure her fiance was doing the same with someone. It was a business merger for their families, nothing more.
So Gilbert reacts very badly (as he would), leaves the group and goes home to throw up violently in Mrs Saunder's pot plants.
She wasn't amused.
I would imagine it would be the sort of thing that would eat him up with guilt- even though it was no fault of his own- he was in her company for two years, after all, and hadn't suspected she would do such a thing. So in delirium, what he was saying was that she needed to go- that he was better off without her, and that she was unfaithful. After the typhoid though, I wondered if he would even remember the incident.
I don't think it would have changed much to know it- which is why I left it alone. The point was, of course, it wasn't Anne- but the poor darling believed it was for six and a half years. Was this enough to really affect everything? I think so, yes. She had just found out that she loved him, and LMM says that she was haunted by a miserable fear that her mistake could not be rectified. What she heard from Gilbert seemed to confirm that- and it completely broke her heart.
So what happens in the near future?
Jeremy and Penny's wedding comes off in early December, and Anne, Gilbert, Andrew and Lizzie make the long trek again- only this time Gilbert was able to get Anne to sleep most of the way- at three months pregnant, even teaching 2 days a week was exhausting, and in late November she was relieved to hand the class over to the very competent Rebecca. Anne still continues to tutor the Queens students for some years, who claim baby Rilla and her siblings as honorary classmates- and brag that they know the cheerful Doctor Blythe and Ingleside personally. Anne continues to be an advocate for the poorer students, and they provide meals for many years- until a more formal committee is set up by the board to address the issue, and works to give opportunities to students who want to further their education and can't afford it. She is also asked to serve on the board of the school some years down the track and advised with regards to supporting the High School in Lowbridge.
Anne and Gilbert stay in a small motel not far from the Winston house, and enjoy the time alone- they are, after all still newlyweds themselves- and she has an adorable baby bump by now that Gilbert can't keep his hands off.
Penny is a beautiful bride and Jeremy is almost bursting proudly. His house by the river becomes their new home, after being modernly furnished and well equipped for the newlyweds as the Winston's wedding present to the pair. Mr Winston insists that Anne and Gilbert come on a carriage ride around the city with him while they are there, saying that he was sure they weren't concentrating when they were last in Montreal…. The Barnes/Winston wedding is everything you would expect- big, all of the social elite are there, capably held in line by Louisa. The reception is at the house, at Penny's request, an evening dinner and dance under glittering chandeliers. Gilbert is proud as punch to dance with his wife that night- she feels safer doing so since the operation, however, she prefers to be nearer to the side of the room in case she stumbles. Andrew is the only other person she will trust herself to dance with, apart from Gilbert and Jeremy.
The couple return home to the island alone after a week away, as Lizzie and Andrew, stay in Montreal for Christmas- and the entire trip home is spent in their cabin, both catching up on lost sleep.
Christmas is at Ingleside, however, I'm not going into that. As Anne might say, I have a little cocoon of an idea- if I can, there's a little one-shot chapter I have in my mind about Christmas that I might write as a Christmas present to you. We'll see if my kids' holiday plans allow for that… but I will try.
Aunt Mary Maria- that crazy never happens. During the years of exile she made the mistake of twitting Gilbert about some unworthy red-headed girl he had reportedly been in love with, reminding him that he was an only child and must marry well- and Gilbert is so livid that she invoked Anne that he blasted her in his rage, and she never spoke to the son of her cousin again. No loss to anyone.
And the dinner with Christine- also never happens. Gilbert in this timeline knows that Anne never did tolerate her well, and while he shows her the invitation just to see her eyes turn green (and perhaps to provoke her in all the ways he likes) the two of them decline it to spend the evening alone while Susan puts the children to bed.
And now for the really fun bit!
The Children of this Anne and Gil
Now, as to the future children of this Anne and Gilbert- here, I had a field day. So I settled on them having five children- they began a little later, and if there had been no passage perilous in the way that there was with Joy and with Shirley, they may have been a little more relaxed about when they stopped…. I was really keen on none of them going to war, but I just couldn't see Gilbert in a household full of daughters- he needs his sons too. I even tried to play with their ages to avoid it, but no. It's a reality, even in a post-fanfic-universe. So they are really only four years behind in starting a family- however, they would simply be different children, different birth orders, different looks- But I kept some things the same. I named them keeping in mind who was in their world- sadly, no James, but plenty of other beloved people in their world.
As you of course already know, Marilla Joy Blythe: born May 1895. Young Rilla was originally going to be Joy, however, I felt that in this continuity, Anne and Gilbert would have named her that in honour of Marilla. She's not exactly like Rilla- she is beautiful, of course, loads of spunk, but with her parent's ambition and desire for learning. She also has the responsibility that comes with being the eldest child as well. I always loved that some of the Blythe children having their mother's hair and their father's eyes- so Rilla is red-headed and hazel eyed, just as she is in canon.
Next are the twins- Matthew and Diana: born April 1897. Matthew is Jem completely, looks and personality, and would often be mistaken for being Rilla's twin instead. Bigger than life, adventurous and bold. He's got Gilbert's mischief and that strong moral code. Anne's twins weren't alike in canon, and they aren't alike here- his sister has brown curls like her father, and is a much more gentle personality- unbeknown to Anne or Gilbert, very like Anne's own mother. She has all of her mother's imagination and her grey eyes, but in a very different form- her family is her world and they are very protective of her. In my mind this pregnancy would have been physically much more difficult for Anne, thus explaining a bigger gap after the twins. Now, I know it could have been a surprise that there were two babies instead of one- but Gilbert's no newbie, and I think he would have been looking at Anne's dates and size, and figured it out reasonably early on- especially when poor Anne reports that she is being kicked on both sides at the same time. You can imagine that bed rest featured quite prominently for this one- although all was well, Diana just had a bit of catching up to do with her bigger brother. I imagine that Rilla would have had to step in on the playground to stop hot-headed Matthew taking on anyone who teases his twin. The girls are very different, however Anne is close to both of them.
Johnathon is named after his grandfather, (Born Dec 1900) and is far more practical- scientific, orderly, and dry-witted, and in my imagination, like LMM said of another of her characters, "he will never make a quixotic decision- but if he did it would supply the one thing lacking in him." (Kilmeny of the Orchard) Matthew's sole goal in his younger life is to rile Johnathon up- and manages it often. He is the most like Gilbert as far as looks are concerned, although he has missed out entirely on the more whimsical side of the Shirley-Blythe family.
Lastly, Walter- born in November 1902- steady, humorous, but with an untidy mop of red hair that drives Susan mad. He's an easygoing kid, wanders in for meals when he thinks of it, just as inclined to get lost in the woods as his parents. Family legend has it that as a teenager he slept on the verandah one night, because he couldn't be bothered to come inside- and was found by his father when he got home at one in the morning from a call.
And no, there was no Susan/Shirley type situation- she loved the five of them equally, although perhaps she had a soft spot for gentle home-dwelling Diana.
This is more for my own amusement, but here is what I think happened in their futures:
The Meredith's are a little older than the Blythe children, although I think Carl (?) would be Matthew's and Diana's contemporary. Rosemary still marries John Meredith, and the two families are friends, just as in canon- Matthew looks up to Jerry enormously, and Faith and Rilla are close, Una and Diana are friends and Bruce has the boys just a little closer to his age!
Rilla was nineteen when the war began- and she is in love with Jerry Meredith. Jerry wouldn't say anything to Rilla as he was leaving, thinking it best, however, this is Anne Shirley's daughter, and so she goes to him to tell him that she loves him in no uncertain terms. Rilla completes her BA by 1917, and teaches throughout the rest of the war at the Lowbridge High School. When Jerry comes home, the two of them are married.
Matthew is only 17 when war is declared, and he- like Jem in canon- is chafing at the bit to enlist. He does, and when he finds himself on the front line, he is recognised for his leadership, however, it is the thing that makes his decision that he will become a doctor like his father. After the war, and during medical school, he meets Lily Blake- Jo and Phil's little surprise bundle, born the same year Jonathon was, and the two are married. (and Phil and Jo's other baby was a girl- named Priscilla Anne, eventually making two boys, two girls. The girls are the ones who drive their Gordon grandmother crazy.) Matthew Blythe becomes a surgeon in Kingsport, proudly encouraged by the famous Doctor Jeremy Barnes, who still calls Matt's father a glorified butcher when he and Penny come to visit them in the Glen. (Jeremy and Penny have three children- all girls, all stunning, and all of them make Jeremy very nervous as they approach adulthood and boys just like him start calling.)
Diana Blythe struggled terribly with Matthew's going to war, and the family are very concerned about her after he has gone in 1915. To combat her anxiety, Gilbert decides that she needs to keep herself occupied- when she doesn't want to go to Redmond with her sister, she begins to learn to nurse at his side, and becomes his right hand- something Gilbert needs at this time too. I think in her mind Rilla and Matt are the big personalities in the family- she feels unseen compared to them, and yet by doing this, she learns her own strength, and that she is valued exactly as she is. I think she married a young man from the Glen, the local apothecary, intelligent, (and someone Anne declares as the perfect boy to bring home to your parents- shy, a little awkward, but a heart of gold- she was always going to adopt him.) He was someone she had cause to see a lot in her father's work and got to know him slowly over time- much more her style than her impetuous older sister, who fell in love hard and stayed that way.
In my mind, Gilbert DID take on a partner in his practice. It's always evident in the books that he's insanely busy, and I don't think that changes, but I think he would have been all too aware that he needed to not work himself into the ground, that Anne needed him. They had a pretty rough start, that has to affect how you see things- I think he took someone on in about 1907- a young graduate who has a limp, so he can't be sent to war. (just covering my bases here.) I could imagine that he has a good relationship with his partner's wife, and Anne teases Gilbert that with so many walking sticks around, he really shouldn't tease them so often.
Johnathon (John) has all of his father's brilliance, although much less easy charm- something that he readily admits. Much better with complex equations than a football, he became entrenched in the Mathematical department of the college and began lecturing there when he finished college- close enough to see Matthew and Lily's young family from time to time. He is happy there, but could never bear to say no to his mother, and whenever Anne asks him to come home with everyone else, he will make the long trip home. He is not old enough to fight during the war, to the family's immense relief. He does marry eventually- a bouncy, bubbling young lady named Beth who stuns Anne and Gilbert utterly- their serious-minded son essentially fell in love with a girl like Tigger.
Walter is the fourth family member to go to Redmond, and eventually goes to work with his father- he takes over Gilbert's half of the practice when he retires. I really like the idea of there being another Doctor Blythe, one who is very different to Gilbert, but no less capable- and that it is their youngest child!
One final note on Ingleside, I always pictured it being one that expanded so naturally. When the twins took over the nursery the very grown-up two-year-old Rilla was moved upstairs, and eventually, Susan's room was surrounded by the children- which she secretly adored. Anne was able to go upstairs, however, she wasn't up and down all day, and the children simply grew up knowing that Mummy needed a little more time- Gilbert wouldn't have Anne being summoned upstairs in a hurry. I think there were still some falls, but they were less severe- and eventually, Anne had an entire household watching over her. Rilla was concerned at leaving the busy household for college- and an amused Anne had to remind her that it was time- she could take the Avery scholarship without feeling any guilt whatsoever, they would be fine at home. I see Anne pottering in the garden, dreaming under the trees- a Gilbert who has a bit more time to join her, children roaming the Hollow and surrounding forests, and the rose garden that was their especial delight. Susan still grew her calceolarias. The trek to the Mayflowers became a tradition- one that their children were not invited to. Anne and Gilbert often blessed the downstairs suite, and the nursery that was eventually turned into a downstairs bathroom when running water was put in the house. Besides- it was very helpful for the times when a heated discussion needed to be had without little ears listening- and Susan could attend to the children at night if their parents were otherwise occupied.
So there it is! What I envisioned for them was this future- together, no matter what. They have ups and downs, and as many writers are exploring right now, the war isn't so far away- but Anne and Gilbert are together, and they and Susan keep the family together well. With children born a little later, and different people, with a Susan whose love for Anne predates her marriage, with a couple starting out much older, and a little wiser. Different, but just as in love, just as committed to each other.
So thank you all- I couldn't have done this without you. I've loved reading what you think, and seeing the different things you all saw in it. Some of you made me sound even smarter than I am, praising me for things I did unintentionally! Thank you for your encouragement, and for giving it your time. Most especially to hecalledmecarrots, Lizzy, Kim, Eliza, and Alinya, fellow writers posting like troopers and reviewing amazingly- it's so fun to do this together. And to Julie3113 who often put me straight when I got myself in a tangle- thank you.
There is a plan for 'next', although give me a month or two to recuperate first- I'm still under doctor's orders to rest hard- but there is a sequel to One More Day and When Tomorrow Comes that I promised you a while ago, taking Anne and Gil through the three years apart and their first year of marriage- although I will be moving quickly over the former. I wasn't sure I would do it, actually- and then I somewhat accidentally sat down and wrote a chapter when Shore was being particularly painful.
In any case, thank you. See you soon.
Much love to you all,