Everything was grey. There was no stark white or abysmal black; just various shades of grey. Anne blinked a few times and was tempted to tap her head. There was no colour anywhere. And no idea as to why.

Anne stepped through the side gate and wandered along with the inner bailey. If she squinted hard, she could discern the lightest of hues to the wall and the ground and the banners. Doing so gave her a frightful headache, so Anne decided to simply accept the situation (as miserable as it was).

When she reached the stables, Anne was pleased to see the new addition-a large enough area for Drage. Drage, however, did not look as pleased with the situation.

"I'm sorry I haven't seen you of late. I've been busy sorting some details in … well, life." Anne hoped to lift the dragon's mood with her apology.

Drage merely raised her eyes to look at Anne. "Of course. Things to do."

Anne paused. "What is it?"

"Does this not all appear somewhat… different?"

"Well, yes. I had noticed the lack of colour. Is something wrong… with me?"

Drage's head tilted gently to one side. "In a way. But listen…"

Anne stopped to listen and noted nothing out of the ordinary. Actually, she heard nothing at all. No birds singing. No rustling leaves. Not even The Blacksmith at work. "Drage? What is going on?"

The dragon sighed as she looked up at Anne with a forlorn expression. "This world was built with your strength and imagination. This castle is your mind where you are free to explore and create and find your own way. And then you found a partner, someone who supported you. He helped you. Even gave you the sword. Where is he now?"

"Oh, so this is all about the Blacksmith? Where is he? I don't know. I can tell you where he ISN'T: In my life. By my side. I told him about my great idea and he abandoned me. Again." Anne paced along the edge of Drage's stable space.

"Abandoned you? You pushed him away! Just like you did with the sword. Just like you did in the lake so many years ago. Lovely idea, the school. Kids in hospital, learning. It's brilliant. But did you think about where HE fits in this idea of yours? Did you ask what HE wanted to do?"

Suddenly, Anne was ashamed of her actions. She had no idea what Gil thought about this. Nor did she know about his plans. She had simply bullied through, expecting him to follow.

Just like when Gilbert proposed to Anne.

"Oh, Drage. I've made a terrible mistake."

Drage raised one eyebrow. "Mm-hmm?"

"Drage, all I ever wanted was someone who belonged in my life. And I forgot about how that works!"


Anne squinted her eyes at Drage. "Do you have nothing more to say than 'mm hmm'?"

Drage smiled. "Well, I do have one more question: Where does a dragon fit in your future adventures?"

A shade of colour glimmered around the stables, and Anne's laughter flowed through the area. "You are to be my mascot, each and every day!"

Suddenly, there was a burst of colour in the sky. Anne jumped a little with the unexpected POP sound it made. "Drage? Is the colour coming back?"

"Naturally, your heart is linked to your imagination. When you are sad or feeling abandoned or pushing people away, it will reflect in the landscape here. Perhaps you should find your Blacksmith and make some future plans together? That should brighten it up a bit."

Gilbert stepped out of the dormitory building into a ghastly cold wind. He turned up the collar of his coat in an attempt to break the chill on his neck. It was mid-morning but without any sign of warming up for the day. Gilbert was fine with this; he wasn't exactly in a cheerful mood. Not grumpy but more like… determined.

As he started down the road towards the station, Gilbert heard a whisper of his name in the wind. "Gilbert! GILBERT!" He turned to see Jo running down the street towards him, red cheeks puffed with exhaustion.

"Gilbert! Oh, I'm so glad I caught you! Phil said you were leaving today. I wasn't sure I would see you before… Phew. Give a man a minute. I'll catch my breath… Oh, may I walk with you?"

"As you please."

Jo raised his eyebrows at the curt response but accepted it nonetheless. "I say, I expected you to be carrying a bit more to Avonlea."

Gilbert looked down at the satchel bag hanging from his shoulder. "This is all I need today. Shall we go?"

Puzzled, Jo merely nodded and kept pace with Gilbert down the street. Gilbert was the first to break the silence.

"I presume Anne has spoken to Phil and Phil has spoken to you."

Jo nodded, "Of sorts. Is everything okay, Gilbert? It sounded like a shock for you to hear."

Gilbert sighed. "First and foremost, I am worried about Anne. She has been through so much already. Nothing has changed in my feelings for her. I simply… need to change a few things myself."

Jo could hear the defeat in Gilbert's voice. This was a man who had waited for so much and seen Fate play with his dreams too often.

"Gilbert, what are you thinking of right now?"

"Honestly? I'm thinking of what I can do. I'm thinking of whether I can do anything. And, naturally, I'm thinking of what Anne would be okay with me doing."

Jo's furrowed brow turned abruptly to Gilbert. "Wait, what are you up to?"

"Jo, as a married man, are there ever times you do something, knowing full well it is better to seek Phil's forgiveness rather than exerting the energy to request her permission beforehand?"

"Well, yes. I mean, you have met my wife, Gilbert. She is not exactly known for her decision making and I only have so many years to live while waiting for her to commit anything."

Gilbert chuckled. It was the first smile he had felt in a day or so. "This is exactly like that." Gilbert stopped and turned to face Jo. "I have spent almost half of my life waiting for Anne. I have waited for her forgiveness. I have waited for her friendship. I have waited for her grief. I have waited for her studies. I have waited for rejection to pass. I have waited for her healing to begin. I have waited for Anne. When finally my waiting was rewarded, I had a moment-a brief moment-where I was free to start my plans. And then life changed again. Except for this time, I felt like other people were changing our lives. I wasn't just waiting for Anne again. I was waiting for everyone else to be with Anne."

"You know, at the end of the day, it is you that Anne will come home to?"

A small sigh escaped Gilbert, like a puff of smoke from his mouth. "I know that. But, I don't feel it. That's why I lost it the other day." The two men resumed their walk to the approaching station.

"And have you told Anne this?"

Gil swallowed. "No, but this is the part where I now do something and hope forgiveness is easier. I'm tired of waiting but I can't change what is going on. I can only change myself."

Gilbert and Jo arrived at the ticket booth. While Gilbert grabbed his wallet from the satchel bag, Jo tried to assess the situation. "Uh, I'm confused. Are you going to seek forgiveness after going to Avonlea?"

There was a small smile on Gilbert's face. "No." Gilbert turned to the lady in the ticket office. "Excuse me, good morning. I would like to make some changes to my itinerary."

Jo's face transitioned from confusion to shock to joy as he listened to Gilbert's request. Instead of Gilbert travelling to Avonlea for Christmas, Gilbert transferred the tickets for travel from Avonlea to Kingsport. Jo finally found his voice when Gilbert began to pay extra for the new tickets.

"Wait a minute. You're not going to Avonlea?"


"And you've just paid for six? Six new tickets from Avonlea here?"

"Yes. I was saving for when my studies finished next year but I think this is more important."

Jo started calculating in his head. "Miss Cuthbert, your parents. Davy and Donna?"

"Dora. It's important not to forget Dora."

Jo smiled. "Yes, Dora. And who is number six?"

Gilbert smiled. "Diana Wright. I think Anne will want Diana there for this celebration. Hmm, I'm not sure if Diana will want the children to come across at such a young age. Best to let her decide."

As Gilbert arranged for the tickets to be collected at Carmody station, Jo's smile grew across his face. "Here I thought I was coming to counsel you today when really you had it figured it out on your own!"

Gilbert looked at the new handwritten itinerary in his hands. This was his peace offering. His way of showing Anne he could now see she wasn't turning her back on Avonlea. She was adjusting her life to fill the loss. She was moving on. And he simply wanted to be allowed to move along with her.

It was a moderate walk from the Station to Anne's house. Gilbert was grateful for Jo's company if only to help settle his nerves about the upcoming conversation. He was sure he had done the right thing but the rest of the conversation was going to be a very serious one. Gilbert swallowed as they turned the corner into Anne's street.

Jo had noticed Gilbert's nerves but was more confident things would work out well for him. Gilbert's gesture of an apology was a rather considerable one. Jo knew if Anne would simply allow Gilbert to speak, these two could work it out.

"You know, Gilbert. I really love this house. The beautiful bay windows out the front collect so much warmth but Anne still loves sitting out the back in the garden." Jo made small chat with Gilbert, hoping to help relax him.

Gilbert took the bait. "It's because she loves trees. Anne loves the peace and quiet amongst the trees."

"Ah, now Phil prefers the front window. She says she can people-watch all day there. I'm sure the other girls would do the same too." Jo gave Gilbert a meaningful look. It took a few seconds for Gilbert to catch on.

"Ahh! Right. Thanks, Jo. Appreciate the intercept!" With a quick pat on Jo's shoulder, Gilbert jogged off to the side path that travelled down to the back garden. Jo smiled and continued to the front door. He paused to fix his tie and then lazily rang the doorbell.

Gilbert could faintly hear Phil answering the door. It was smart of Jo to give Gilbert a few uninterrupted minutes to talk with Anne.

As expected Anne was sitting at the bottom of the apple tree, her knees tucked under her skirt. The weather was cold and she had brought a blanket with her but Gilbert was certain the damp was already seeping through.

"Anne," he said gently. He tried hard not to startle her but she still jumped at her name. "I'm sorry to scare you."

Anne quickly stood up, and then leaned on the tree for support. Too quick, it would seem. "No, it's alright. I'm alright. I … I was worried we had missed you. I thought you would be on your way by now."

"Well, you gave me a bit to think about. Do you mind if we talk? Would you prefer to go inside?"

Anne shook her head. "Not just yet. I don't think Phil will be kind to you being here without explanation."

A chortle escaped Gil's lips, and instantly Anne started to relax. Surely that was a good sign and they were still okay?

"Fortunately for both of us, Jo is already inside softening Phil. He caught me on the way to the station."

"So, I have Jo to thank for you being here?"

Gilbert shook his head. "No, he merely accompanied me on a task I was already prepared for." Gilbert offered the handwritten itinerary to Anne. She stopped to read it. And again. Before she started the third attempt, Anne looked to Gilbert and asked, "What does this mean?"

As he stepped forward to grab her hands, Gilbert answered, "It means I'm not going to Avonlea. At least not without you. It means we need to sort out a few things here. Together. Not separately. Most of all, it means we deserve to share our happiness with our family. And if we can't take it to them, then they simply have to come to us."

Anne gasped! She read the note a third time. "Six tickets? Your parents, Marilla, Davy and Dora. Is the sixth…?" Anne dared not hope.

"Yes, the sixth is for Diana."

Anne squealed with delight! Gilbert really had thought of everything. Again, the feeling of shame and disappointment rushed over her. "Oh, Gil! I should never have doubted your feelings! I am so sorry I didn't tell … tell you first!" Gil noticed the stutter but Anne brushed his hand away, determined to finish speaking. "You belong in my life. I keep saying that but I need to sh... Show you too. You're really not going?"

"I'm really not going."

Anne smiled, warmed at the thought. "Good. But what about your plans after m-m-medical school?"

Gilbert picked up Anne's blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. Gently, he guided her up the stairs to the back door. "To be honest, I'm not sure. However, I am thankful you have asked. Anne-girl, your school for the hospital kids is genius. And I am glad you have support for it, even if it is Gardner. I am sorry for my outburst in the coffee shop. I was shocked by the news and hurt because I didn't hear it first. Let's go inside and toss around a few ideas. We both know it's the first question everyone will ask when they arrive for Christmas."

"Oh my goodness! Christmas! Gilbert, where will they all stay?" Anne was suddenly terrified by the thought.

Gilbert laughed. "I'm sure between your lovely home here and our generous friends inside, we can arrange something suitable. Now, no more talking without a cup of tea."

Anne paused at the door and looked up into Gilbert's eyes. "Wait. Gil. Are … are we… okay?"

With a soft smile, Gilbert lowered his head and gently kissed Anne's lips. He breathed in her sweet smell as he felt her mouth slowly move against his, eventually making it to a smile.

Naturally, that was the moment Kate opened the door. "Seriously? Do you choose to do that outside? I'm thrilled things are sorted out between you but can you please talk about it inside where it's warm?"