Anne Shirley did love the warmly scented magic of summer dusk. It was like a soft blanket of twilight curling around her toes as she watched the white moths come in. Surprisingly, Marilla was the first to sigh with an air of contentment. Where once there had been a feeling of dread for the end of summer, now there was a feeling of relaxed acceptance for what the next season would bring.

The two sat together on the front steps of Green Gables. Nought was said between them, as they were happy to simply soak up the atmosphere. So much had happened over the last two months, it was nice to stop and enjoy the moment.

Of course, the tranquillity of the evening was trampled with the determined footsteps of Mrs Rachel Lynde. News travelled fast in Avonlea, yet it still remained on the coattails of Mrs Lynde; especially when residents of Green Gables were involved.

"Well, wouldn't you believe it! Even when you're not involved, Anne, you're still at the center of drama!" Mrs Lynde expelled a great gasp of air as she lowered herself to the stone bench by the door. "I fairly hurried my poor legs here to find out what in the dear Lord's name you have planned at summer's end. It seems like everyone has an opinion on what is best for you and yet you haven't told me yourself!"

With a genuine shock, Anne replied, "why, Mrs Lynde? I'm guessing you heard about Redmond?"

"Of course I did! I hear you have given up your notion of going to college and better for it too! You have all the education you need. I don't believe in cramming your head full of Latin and Greek and all that nonsense…"

Anne laughed. "But I am going to study Latin and Greek just the same! In fact, I am very much looking forward to furthering my study while I teach over at Carmody."

"Yes, I heard about your appointment there. Caused quite a stir at the Avonlea school business meeting last night."

Anne took the bait. "Of what concern is my appointment to the Avonlea School Board? Didn't they promise Avonlea to Gilbert Blythe?"

Mrs Lynde smiled ever so slightly, as she replied "They most certainly did. Which is why they took offence when young Mister Blythe attempted to withdraw his application and demand they give it to you instead. Really! After all that school has done for him! Helping him go to Queens! And now he will be earning his own way through college. Now, don't you misunderstand me! Of course, I would love to keep Anne close by for her own interests, and yours too, Marilla. But think of how well this could work out for Avonlea! Gilbert Blythe would simply have to return to Avonlea after medical school and we would have a fresh young doctor in the village…"

The only reason Mrs Lynde had been allowed to prattle for so long was due to Anne's stunned silence. Why would Gilbert be so willing to give up Avonlea for her? It's not like they were friends. In fact, they had been fierce rivals… not helped by her temper and ability to hold a grudge for what has been probably too long a time.

"... Of course, the Avonlea board refused his request and have demanded he keep up his end of the bargain. Gilbert is to stay at Avonlea and fulfil his obligations here. Bless my heart! What does all the winking and blinking at the Barry gable mean?"

"Diana is signalling for me to come," laughed Anne. "Excuse me while I run over."

As she ran down into the Haunted Wood, Mrs Lynde sighed. "I am sorry she couldn't be closer to you during the year. Winter will be the hardest."

"Never you mind, Rachel. She has a plan and I pity any person who comes between Anne and her plans. Even I am not that brave."

"Why Marilla! I do believe you're mellowing in your old age!"

"Oh hush your mouth! I have faced more than I needed to this summer. And so has she. Instead of collapsing and complaining, Anne has faced her fears and found a solution no-one could argue with. Though, I do wonder why John's boy was so eager to help out?"

The next evening, Anne visited the little Avonlea graveyard to put fresh flowers on Matthew's grave. She talked softly with him, sharing her plans for the next two years and promising to take care of Marilla. It was well after sunset when she rose and thanked him for listening to her again. In Anne's mind, she wondered if she had truly been ready to travel to Redmond for study. It was only a few months ago, she had felt excited about the new adventure ahead. But then Matthew's death had changed everything. The closest she had ever had to a father figure, and he was abruptly taken from her. Nothing was certain anymore, and Anne felt a great need to bring her remaining loved ones close to her. And yet, it still didn't feel quite enough.

Half-way down the hill from the Lake of Shining Waters, a tall lad came whistling out of a gate before the Blythe homestead. Anne instantly recognised Gilbert and paused to watch him walk towards her. The sweet tune on his lips faded as he too noticed Anne, with only a slight pause to lift his cap (and not daring to do more than that, in case it provoked her).

"Gilbert," she said, with scarlet cheeks. "I want to thank you for what you said to the Avonlea board the other night." Anne offered her hand, as a sign of her gratitude.

Gilbert did not even think twice and took the hand eagerly.

"Please, there is no need to thank me. In fact, I only wish they had listened. I am sorry I could not achieve more. It was the least I could do."

"Oh, but it wasn't! I mean, it wasn't the least! It was in fact so much more! After all, we've been through over the years, I was surprised by your generous offer. To be honest, I'm still not sure as to why you did offer…"

Gilbert laughed. It was a rich yet playful laugh, like one that Anne could see released from a satyr playing in the woods. Anne could not help but smile.

"Anne, I heard you intended to delay Redmond, just like me. When our lives keep running parallel like this, wouldn't it make more sense to bring them together and face the world as friends? I had hoped to give you Avonlea as a peace offering. I mean, could you forgive me my old fault?"

Now it was Anne's turn to laugh, with a lithe sound that partnered the cheek of his satyr. "I forgave you that day by the pond landing, although I didn't know. What a stubborn goose I was. I've been … well, I may as well make a complete confession… I've been sorry ever since."

"We are going to be the best of friends," said Gilbert jubilantly. "You're continuing your studies, aren't you? So am I. And with Carmody not far away, we can be support and motivation for each other. Just like in school, but this time together. Come, I'll to walk home with you and we can compare strategies."

As the two walked to Green Gables, Anne paused only for a moment to consider Gilbert's offer of friendship before she was quickly caught up in the excitement he held for the coming year.