The Barry's home wasn't enormous by any stretch of the imagination, but it was well laid out, giving a feeling of space and elegance. Diana's bedroom was furthest from the main stairs that swept down into the hall, opening onto the parlor where she was to be married.

Anne stepped out of Diana's room with a dreamy smile on her face as she thought of Diana in her bridal outfit, and slowly made her way to the top of the staircase where Gilbert was waiting. Her eyes downcast as tried, without success, to do up the buttons on her right glove without damaging the flowers she held, giving Gilbert a chance to study her as he mulled over the conversation he had overheard.

Usually when he had the chance to look at her unobserved he focused on her appearance - the beautiful, kissable, the woman of his dreams, but in light of all he heard he looked beyond that to the the girl in red pig-tales who'd come to Green Gables, desperate for a home. What had her life been like before? He used to think of it as all hard work and ill fitting clothing, but now that he was older he'd now seen enough of real poverty to wonder just how much she'd been exposed to as a child, and how foreign life on the Island must have been to her. No wonder she had studied the rules of etiquette in the Family Herald*, she needed to be accepted, to belong. And she'd certainly succeeded. Since coming to Redmond Anne had grown socially as well as academically - between Phil and Roy she was at every Kingsport event worth being at, no one would have guessed she wasn't born to that life, so well had she learnt to play by the rules.

"Played by the rules", he turned the phrase over in his mind and was suddenly overcome with a wave of remorse and understanding. He'd offered her a life with him based on his 'rules', without even asking what she wanted. He sought what he'd grown up with, his own earliest memories were of a home full of a shared love that beautified the hard work and sacrifice of life. What were her earliest memories? What had her childhood experience of love been? No wonder she focused on fairy-tales, before Green Gables it was the only depiction of love she knew. In that moment he was angry at himself for putting his only feelings and wishes ahead of hers. She deserved more, she deserved the fairy-tale. His anger extended to Roy who had ruined that for her, and left her contemplating a life without passion. In an instant he made a decision, and mentally vowed to to dedicate himself to her happiness. All that mattered was her, and what she wanted. He was under no illusions that she would change her mind about them, he was simply no longer focused on his own desires. He would put aside his own pain and dedicated himself to doing whatever he could to help her secure her own happiness, however, and with whoever, she defined it.

As Anne joined him at the top of the stairs he smiled and greeted her with all the warmth of a good friend. "Hello Anne, it's good to see you. Are you ready to help Diana and Fred to get married?"

Before she could respond Mrs Wright rushed past them, having come up the back service stairs, and gently shepherded Anne and Gilbert away from the top of the stairs to the small alcove next to the landing.

"We need to delay a few minutes " she whispered conspiratorially. "There's been a slight delay, a cream cake disaster. Young Davy was in the kitchen and decided he had to try one. As he bit into into it, the cream flew everywhere, and Mrs Barry's gown caught it. We'll be a few moments while we make the necessary adjustments! I'll wave at you when we're ready to start" She hurried back down the servants stairs, having grabbed the muslin cloth she'd come upstairs for, giving instructions as she went "just dab it Elba, if you try to rub it out you'll make it worse."

Anne and Gilbert looked at each other and shared a comradely laugh. "I'm going to kill Davy" Anne said once she'd caught her breath, still fiddling with her glove.

"I think Mrs Barry may do that for you." Gilbert smirked. "Here, let me help you with that button" he said taking the flowers from Anne's hand and placing them on the small table in the alcove. He picked up her hand and focused his attention on the pesky button.

"How's Diana?" he asked conversationally "Is she nervous?"

"A little", Anne responded, "Fred?"

"Bright red and terrified of standing in front of all these people," he said honestly, "but he'd fight an army if it meant being able to stand beside Diana. "

"As he should" smiled Anne, "And I'm betting he'd rather do that than face Mrs Barry if his tie isn't straight."

"No need, I straightened it for him!" Gilbert said with a hint of pride in having defended Fred from the potential wrath of Mrs Barry.

"You're a good friend Gilbert". Anne said softly. Something in her tone made him look up for a moment, as if she wasn't only talking about his friendship with Fred, but he dismissed it. He was past reading too much into her what she said.

"Almost got it" he said, glancing to the right he saw Mrs Wright waving from the top of the back stairs, indicating that the dress had been saved and they were now ready. "Looks like we're ready to start," said Gilbert ."There", he finished fastening the button and began straightening the glove, "are we good?"

"mmm hmmm" Anne nodded, leaning to pick up the bouquet from the side table with her left hand, while he straightened the glove, inadvertently brushing his thumb on the keyhole opening at her wrist at her sudden movement.

Anne momentarily froze at his touch. A few months ago, she'd had been to an exhibition at the University with Roy where she'd spent a spent a long evening listening to an explanation of how electricity was going to light up the world. It had been described as if it was alive, with electricity pulsating down the wires. At that moment she knew what electricity felt like as Gilbert's touch sent a surge of warmth pulsing through her veins. It left her feeling weak and strong at the same time, shivering but filled with warmth.

He sensed her hesitate "Ready?" he asked questioningly, looking at her wide eyes, unaware of the effect he was having on her. She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Smiling he linked her arm through his and they descended the staircase together as the piano started to play the entrance music. Gilbert, pleased that he'd been able to do her some small service with her glove, Anne, suddenly very aware of the feeling of her arm in his, and with a new understanding of the effects of a simple brush of a hand could have.

* "I've been studying the rules given in the Etiquette Department of the Family Herald ever since I came here" AOGG Chapter 22