Distance was all that mattered.
His feet pounded against the dirt path with all the grace of a sack of wet flour, the light springing steps of only moments earlier had long since disappeared. All the energy he had seemed to fizzle away, even though he had hardly run at all. The short distance felt as if it had stretched on for miles even though it was less than quarter mile. His stomach felt heavy and twisted in knots, his thoughts began to blur together, all of them mushing together without a way to sort them.
Something felt wrong. But then what could it be?
He had run the other way when he saw Gilbert approaching and ran for no time at all before he started to feel queasy. His body had yet to warm up from the little run, but then his breathing was heavy and uneven. He felt dry and uncomforgable, but that was normal for him. He felt physically weak, yet not completely. His legs were not tired and he had yet to begin to sweat.
Billy came to an abrupt halt, staring straight into the dirt path, but not quite seeing it. He was sorely focused on the of act sorting his thoughts. Thoughts, comments, and sentences he had heard since the first time Fido- the orphan, no. Since Anne had first come to Avonlea.
Dirty orphan. The town children had said.
Yes that's what she is. A poor orphan whom no one loved. But that wasn't true. She had a home now, she was adopted and the Cuthberts surely loved her.
A lunatic asylum? His neighbor had said.
That's right. She was a loon. Everything that came out of her mouth was crazy. But that couldn't be true, she was the smartest girl or boy in their school. Even Mr. Philips had admitted so, not to mention Miss Stacy.
A stray. His father has said.
A stray dog. Yeah, she had been in and out of orphanages her whole life, not even they wanted her. Her birth parents had, but they had died, its wasn't as if she had been thrown out like a dog.
Awful red hair. His sister had said.
She did have red hair. If Prissy had said it was an awful colour then it had to be, for she was stylish and modern wasn't she? Of course she had no control of the colour of her hair, But it had darkened to a colour almost brown. It was almost... pretty.
A trollop. His mother had said.
Yes, she had to be. How else would she know about intimate relations? But then again, did she really know? Pet mice? That is ridiculous. Of course that isn't really how it works. The look in her eyes when he confronted her about telling nasty tales didn't look that of how he expected her to look. He only saw confusion.
Vicious. His teacher had said.
Yes, she had smashed her slate across Gilbert Blythe's face for calling her carrots, but Gilbert had pulled her hair first. But he had not seen anything alike from her since. Surely one mistake couldn't be called vicious?
A liar. The minister had said.
She had been known to tell tall tales, he knew that because of the 'mouse incident'. But she had only said what she knew from past experiences, Anne was too open, surely someone like that couldnt possibly be a liar.
All these people he knew and were acquainted with were saying these awful things about her and treated her so, they had to be true, right? But he had seen things that couldnt possibly make her any of those things. Is this really, truly what he thought of her? He was excited to see the new charge the Cuthberts had taken in, but when his father called her a stray, it was in his nature to agree with him. That's when it all started.
She was an orphan, but she cleaned up rather nicely even with that plain brown dress of hers. She was from an asylum, an orphan asylum, and she was quite bright. She wasnt a stray, she had a permanent home now. She did have red hair, but whether it was awful or not was an opinion. Whether she was any of these things were opinions of people who were too blind to see the truth. He, being one of them. But now, thinking about it, the picture he thought he had of her in his mind was beginning to fade and something else was beginning clear, clear from all the ugliness other people had painted of her in his own mind.
But what was he going to see when he finally washed it all away?
Billy's head snapped up toward Fletcher and Elijah. Both of their eyes were wide with alarm, and their faces as white as a sheet. How long they had been calling his name was a mystery to him.
But now, looking up at the faces of the two people who aided him in knocking Anne overboard, that feeling of something being wrong was clear. He saw it right off and he knew it was straight away.
He had knocked her clean off the flat, even if she had slipped, it was their fault, his fault that she stood in the first place. He had laughed as she thrashed about in the water, and when she called for help, he taunted her with the fact she could not swim. And when she did not come up, he panicked and said she must by tricking them, she must have been. But why would she lie about that? Then when someone showed up, he fled like a coward.
He really was a coward.
And Anne? She really couldn't swim, could she?
Billy didn't know when it started, but his heart began to pound in his chest. Sweat started to pour down his back and the sides of his face. His body felt hot and he felt a panic creeping up on him.
He stared at his friends, his eyes wide with fear. They made eye contact, and for a moment no one so much as twitched a muscle. The sound of a pin dropping could have broken the eerie silence. And without so much as another glance, Billy turned and darted back down the path from whence he came.
Billy ran harder than he ever had before. his mind was racing faster than his feet. Twigs and branches assailed his face as he frantically tried to assess his situation. Was Anne still in the pond? How long has she been under? Surely Gilbert had rescued her.
The pained wail easily reached his ears. He was really close now, but something about it felt really wrong.
It couldn't be. No. It wasn't. Anne was okay. Gilbert was there. She should be okay. She has to be.
Billy's feet stamped into the soft dirt of the path until he came to a clearing. The pond waters were almost completely still if not for the small current.
Be looked up across the pond to the other side. That's where he saw Gilbert clutching Anne tightly to his chest.
And he was crying.
Gilbert never cried. Not unless...
"Blythe!" Billy called across the pond. Gilbert didn't seem to hear him.
Billy took in his surroundings, he was almost right in the middle of the land behind the pond. It would take the same amount of time to get to the other side if he went either way. But somehow it felt too long, the fastest way to get there was through.
Without a second thought, he took a few steps back, ran and leaped into the gray pond water below.
Gilbert trembled and shook violently as he clutched Anne tightly to his chest. She was so cold, so small and frail. But she was strong, stronger than anyone he knew, and because of that strength, he hadn't lost her, she was alive and breathing. He brought her back from near death. But did that really mean she was going to be okay?
But Gilbert wouldn't have had to do that at all if he had been faster. If he just made it here sooner, she wouldn't have had that experience. An experience he had no doubt she would remember for the remainder of her life. He knew he would. He hated to say It, but that was just something they had to bare. He rathered her remember it forever than let the memories die along with her. It was selfish, he knew, but he couldn't let her die, not like that, not alone and well before her time. He wouldn't let her leave him just like that.
What was she doing out on the pond? Why was she there alone when she knew she could not swim? How could she be so thoughtless?
"Why, Anne?" He asked in a small whimper, but he knew she wouldn't answer.
She needed further medical attention from a doctor, but he couldn't stand. Why was he so useless? It's not like he was the one to... to drown.
Just then, a pair of sopping wet brown boots stepped into his vision.
Billy glanced down at Gilbert and Anne. Her fiery hair lost its spark, it was now only a dull orange. It's sat atop her ghostly pale face and spilled out of her braids. Her freckles stood out unnaturally on her face. Her hand hung limp from her body and he noticed a little purple bruise already beginning to form. She really did look dead. And that left the question that terrified him so much, was she?
His eyes were wide and his knees began to weaken. This was the result of their idiotic plan to knock her overboard. His plan. What had come over him to think that was a good idea? What had come over him when she yelled for help and he did nothing but laugh in her face? What had come over him when she went under, didn't come back up and all he did was flee? What did that make him?
It was only meant to be a prank, he only meant to tease her. That's what boys did their age, it was perfectly normal... only it wasn't. No normal boy with half a mind would stand and laugh as someone drowned right before their eyes. No, boys didn't do that. Monsters did that. That's what he was now, right? A monster.
Billy felt bile rise in his throat, he was almost certain he was going to throw up. The sight was sickening.
His hand shot to cover his mouth but he pushed it down. This was no time to get sick, he didn't even know for sure, right? He wanted to ask, he needed to know exactly what he had done, but his voice wouldn't come. Billy fisted his hands, his nails were digging right into the skin of his palm until he was sure they must have been bleeding.
" Is... is she...?" He began, but he couldn't find it in him to say the rest. He was panicking now, his breathing was hard and uneven and his heart throbbed. He had done this, granted she did fall, he had paved way for it to happen. He had no right to feel the way he did.
"She's breathing." Gilbert said with a suddering breath. "She's breathing."
Relief hit Billy like a brick as soon as Gilbert spoke. She was breathing! She was alive! He hadn't... He hadn't.. killed her. But how? No one could have stayed under for that long and lived. She needed a doctor, not an apprentice like Gilbert but a real doctor. So what was he doing just sitting there?
"She... Fi- Anne needs a doctor!" Billy exclaimed. Maybe he hadn't left because he couldn't? Did Gilbert feel that same weakness in his knees and couldn't stand?
"Blythe!" Billy yelled, "Are you listening to me! Anne needs a doctor now!"
"Give her to me." Billy demanded.
Gilbert's face screwed up in disgust, " She doesn't need help from you!" He snapped.
Billy recoiled momentarily and watched Gilbert struggle to stand and hold Anne at the same time.
"Look at you, Blythe! You can't even stand! How do you expect to carry her, too?" Why was Gilbert being so difficult? He wasn't normally like this. Wait... did he see? Did he know what happened? Was that why he wouldn't let him help?
Billy got a feeling her needed to run. To leave Gilbert and Anne here alone with no help. His body jerked away but he stopped himself. This was the same feeling that got himself into this mess.
"Don't be stupid!" Billy yelled and shoved Gilbert away from Anne. "You're a mess, Blythe! You couldn't carry her if you tried!" Then he picked her up under her shoulders and knees and began to walk away.
The truth was he, too, was a mess. He was just better at hiding it. The least thing he could do to for her was get her help. He owed her that much.
Gilbert hastily followed behind. Billy was right. How could he act like that in a moment like this? This was no time to act on pride. Anne's needed help and if Billy was the one who could get her some, so be it. Even though he let Billy, that didn't mean he still wasn't the one to cause it and that didn't mean Gilbert would ever forgive him. After this, there was no reason for Billy to stick around.
God knew Billy didn't deserve to even if he wanted to. He knew it too.
Which he didn't. He was just fixing the mistake he made. Just because he was helping and now would stop teasing or targeting her, didn't mean he liked her all that much. Did it? Was the fact he was here at all caring what happened to her mean he liked her as a person even the tiniest bit? Billy pushed the thought from his head. Now wasn't the time to get distracted, he needed to get her help.
Billy carried her all through the path she called violet vale and Lovers lane with Gilbert following behind. All of them were soaked and one of them was unconscious, he couldn't imagine what it must look like to anyone else.
They were almost to Green Gables. They could see it. Billy quickened his pace, the only thing that kept him from running was the fear he was going to drop her. Otherwise, her weight was of little consequence to him.
Gilbert seemed to regain his composure and ran ahead to fetch the Cuthberts. In the distance he saw Gilbert fly onto the porch, swing the door open and rush inside. He was only in there for a few minute before he exited to enter the barn.
Billy was just at the fence line when Gilbert came out. "No one is here!" He shouted.
Billy blanched. No one was home? Was he serious?
"Take her inside." Gilbert commanded. His voice was authoritative and strong again. This was the Gilbert he knew. The one he hated and couldn't help but wish for his approval. The one that he was now almost afraid to mess with. His knows what happened last time they got into a fight. Gilbert had won.
Now that he thought of it, he really did deserve that beating. Anne hadn't really done anything wrong but he called her a stray dog and acted as if he were above her when really he was lower than dirt. That may have been when he got some sense knocked into him- quite literly, and began to see the picture of Anne that Gilbert saw, but he didn't notice until now.
Billy rushed inside and placed Anne on the table in the dining room. "Start the fire." Gilbert as as he removed her boots, stockings and her pinafore. Billy lighted the fire and cautiously placed logs into it. He didn't want to smolder it.
Billy looked at Anne after he started the fire to see her hands, feet and lipsturning blue. "Blythe!" Gilbert ran back from where he left to retrieve a blanket from a room that branched off from the parlour. "She's going blue!" 'Oh god what is happening.' Is the only thought that ran through his head. He didn't know what that meant but he knew it wasn't good.
Gilbert pressed his ear against her chest and listened to her heart. It beat slow, slower than it should have been even while resting. He began to rub the soles of her feet to simulate her body and warm it with friction. The stimulation should cause her heart to quicken.
"Fetch the doctor, Billy!" Gilbert yelled. Billy hesitated, "Now!" He turned and ran out the door.
Gilbert continued to rub her arms, hands and feet. He had a sickening feeling come over him that he was losing her.
"Stay strong, Anne!"
No. no... he couldn't... She couldn't go. It wasn't her time... it wasn't!
Then her feet were no longer blue, she was warm, but the feeling still didn't go away.
Gilbert didnt know how much time had past when Billy finally came back with the doctor. Doctor Spencer didnt even question what they were doing in Green Gables, sopping wet with an unconscious Anne sprawled across the table top.
From that point on, Gilbert barely heard a word anyone was saying until someone grasped his shoulder.
"You did a good job, Mr Blythe. If you hadn't acted as quick as you did, she would have died. Mr Andrews, explained it all..."
Gilbert barely heard anything past 'died'. His heart had seized in his chest. The world around him began to blur. That was why he got that sickening feeling, she really did almost die.
Gilbert didn't even noticed when the doctor turned to speak to Billy before leaving. He just started at Anne and tried desperately not to break down again. But at the same time he was relieved. The worse was over now and that remained was watching over her until she awoke.
Gilbert leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. He was exhausted both mentally and physically. He rested his forehead on his knees and clasped his hands together above his head and took a shaky breath.
Billy sat down at the wall next to him.
"What are you still doing here?" Gilbert asked without raising his head. He was too tired to be very angry at him right now. Plus, whether he'd like to admit it or not, Billy had helped him a lot.
"I'm not leaving you here with her alone." Billy said as if it were obvious.
Gilbert scoffed. "And why is that?"
"You'll need help if anything goes wrong," he said seriously.
"Like you would be any help." Gilbert laughed, there was no humor in it.
Billy looked at Gilbert and cocked his head to the side, "I think you may be forgetting that I was the one to bring her here while you were crying like a pathetic baby." Billy clenched his jaw and looked away. He hadn't meant to say that.
Gilbert looked down, his curly black bangs covered his eyes. "You're right." he said.
Billy turned. "Huh?"
"You're right. I am pathetic. Anne wouldn't't be here if it weren't for you."
Billy turned towards Gilbert, his eyes flaring with anger. He reached down and grabbed Gilberts collar, pulling him to his feet. "Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Anne needed your help and you came through for her! I never would have known what to do... It was my fault anyway..." he let go of Gilberts collar and stormed outside where he sat on the porch. He needed to cool off and think about things.
Gilbert walked over to Anne, she wouldn't be here if they didnt work together. He brushed some of her hair away from her face. He was so angry at Billy for what he caused, but he couldnt blame him when he came back to the scene and helped fix what he did, alone, even if he didn't cause it alone.
Hey everyone! I am back with chapter two! So sorry it took so long, I wasn't happy with the way it came out the first time so I rewrote it a bit. I bet you guys weren't expecting the chapter to mostly center Billy were you? Well, neither was I. I hope you all liked it! Please review and tell me what you think, it makes me happy to see the feedback!