Anne's green VW Beetle pulled up the driveway of Green Gables, kicking up a bit more dirt than she expected. It had been a long drive from Redmond and she was just grateful to be home.

Her foot had hardly touched the gravel before she heard Marilla calling out from the front porch. "Anne? Is that you?"

Smiling, she replied "Yes, Marilla. I'll be up in a minute. I'm just grabbing my bags."

"Don't bother," said Marilla. Anne turned to see her already walking down the path to the car. Anne's brow furrowed as she noted Matthew leaning heavily on Marilla, his usual relaxed gait looking far more weighted than usual. Without further hesitation, Anne ran up to the elderly pair and quickly draped Matthew's arm around her shoulders.

"Thank you, Anne. We need to head to Dr Spencer. He is already waiting with a test." Marilla was working hard to maintain control over her voice but Anne knew her well enough to sense how serious this was.

"Matthew?", she whispered. "How are you feeling?"

With a lazy smile, Matthew looked up at his girl and said "Tired. Shouldn't be this much work to breathe." Each word sounded like a soft grizzle in his throat. He didn't feel hot to touch but Anne could see how tired he was. Sure, Matthew was not as young as he would like people to think but he wasn't that old either.

"C'mon, Matthew. Let's get you in the front seat. It's a bit of a drive so Marilla can tell me all about your breathless adventures."

Less than ten minutes down the freeway and Matthew was asleep with a slight rasp to his breath. Anne looked up at Marilla's reflection in her rear view mirror. "I only spoke to you on the phone yesterday. What happened?"

"I'm so sorry, Anne. You just drove all this way home and we put you straight back on the road again."

"Marilla, don't be ridiculous. You know I'm here to help. If I had known he was sick, I would have been here sooner."

"And there would have been nothing for you to do. This damn virus has thrown everyone in a spin. We thought we would be fine in Avonlea. No-one was sick. The island is shutting up. All the students are being told to stay home. You would know. Are you still going to tutor your students remotely?"

Anne shrugged and returned her gaze to the road ahead. "That's the plan but I don't think anyone knows what is going on. I still have four months left before graduation. So far the professors have agreed they will base our final marks on dissertations rather than exams. Of course, we still have to tutor our assigned classes for their finals. So long as the internet still reaches my old room at Green Gables, I was planning on zooming a few study sessions and then google doc'ing the study notes." Anne looked up to see Marilla shaking her head. "Marilla, are you okay?"

"I have no idea what you just said but it sounds to me like you have a plan. Are you going to be okay, isolated away here?"

Anne smiled, though it didn't reach her eyes. "I think being home right now would be the best thing for me. Especially since I can take care of you and Matthew. Marilla, I was tested for COVID-19 before coming home, and I'm all clear. I made sure I isolated myself all the way to driving here so I know I won't infect you. But Matthew…"

She glanced over at Matthew, noticing the sweat beads on his brow. He still didn't feel warm to touch but he didn't look well either.

"Jerry tested positive last week." Marilla's voice was quiet and heavy with tension. "We had offered him to stay at Green Gables but he insisted he had to take care of his mother. Unfortunately, she refused to believe there was any risk. She's now in hospital in Charlottetown, stupid woman."

Anne sighed. "You did the right thing calling Dr Spencer. Not everyone thinks it is worth being tested but this is serious."

Marilla turned to gaze out the window. She knew they weren't too far but she didn't want to fill the car with her failure to care for her brother. They had almost lost him to a heart attack only a few years back. She had promised every day since to take care of him and the farm.

"What about the boy of yours? Roy? Has he tested?"

Marilla watched Anne tense in her seat. "Alright, girl. Spit it out. What happened?"

Anne sighed again. "We broke up."

Silence filled the car.

Marilla broke first.


"Fine. Roy wanted to go out for dinner but most of the restaurants were closed. This was a couple of weeks ago. Before the lockdown. Anyway, I offered to cook but he wanted takeaway. So we Uber'd some food and when the guy arrived, he was wearing a face mask. Roy got all angry with him, yelling that he couldn't understand what the guy was saying through his mask. By the time the UberEats guy left, I realised Roy was a guy I did NOT want to be quarantined with. So I asked him to leave."

There was a satisfactory 'hmph' from the back seat of the car. "Marilla Cuthbert! You didn't like him, did you?"

Marilla's eyes lifted to meet Anne's soulful gaze in the mirror. "It shouldn't matter whether I did or not. But I sure am I glad you realised it before the lockdown and not afterwards."

Before the conversation could continue any further, Anne's mobile started to ring. "Marilla, can you just check who it is, please?"

Marilla reached into the front for Anne's mobile phone, glancing over at Matthew. He didn't look any better but at least he was resting.

"Oh, it's Moody? Do you want me to answer it?"

"Yes, please. On loudspeaker."

Marilla leaned forward in her seat to reach Anne in the front. "Hello, Moody? It's Marilla Cuthbert here. Anne is driving the car. How are you, young man?"

"Oh! Oh, Ms Cuthbert. Uh, hi Anne. Is, uh, is everything okay?"

Marilla rolled her eyes and Anne smiled. Moody was Moody. "We're taking Matthew to the doctors. We're almost in Charlottetown. Did you make it back to the Island?"

"Uh, yeah, but Gilbert was left behind in Charlottetown. He missed the train home. Said something about heading to Doc Spencer for some protection gear or something? I don't know. But if you're already there, maybe you could offer him a lift home?"

Marilla looked up to see Anne freeze. "Of course, Moody. We'll meet him at Doc Spencer. Please let him know."

As Marilla returned the phone to its holder in the front, she watched Anne carefully roll her shoulders and stretch her neck. "Maybe Gilbert can drive on the way home. To give you a rest."

Absentmindedly, Anne mumbled "Sure."

For the remaining 15-minutes, the only sound in the car was Matthew's raspy breath.

It was a long drive indeed.

At the other end of the journey, sleeping on a couch in Doctor Spencer's surgery, was Gilbert Blythe. Tall, with broad shoulders, he looked like an Irish Wolfhound trying desperately to sleep on his owner's favourite spot. Dr Spencer was loath to wake him.

"Gilbert, my boy. You have to wake up. I have a COVID patient coming and you can't be here."

Mumbling from his slumber, Gilbert slowly sat up. "Sure thing, Doc. But if you need any help?"

"No, Gilbert. You're better off heading home. There might still be a late night train. If you have any issues, call me. I'll still be here afterwards. Have to disinfect everything, though I'll probably have to take Matthew to the hospital first."

Gilbert's spidey-sense tingled. Matthew is a very common name but something wriggled in his brain and woke him right up. "Matthew? I know it's a big world but … not … Matthew Cuthbert?"

Dr Spencer raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Why, I forget you're from Avonlea as well. Damn patient confidentiality. Look, you can't let anyone know but Marilla is bringing the poor man here. Maybe she can give you a lift home afterwards."

"But Marilla hates to drive further than Carmody. Is Jerry bringing them? Look, it doesn't matter. Even if I grab a lift home with Marilla, if Matthew is positive then I risk exposure from Marilla. I may as well stay here and help you with them. I promise I will isolate myself once I'm home. It's not like I'm going anywhere."

It took only a moment for Dr Spencer to agree with Gilbert. Like many college students, Gilbert had been sent home early while Redmond went into lockdown. Gilbert had agreed to deliver some much needed personal protection equipment to Dr Spencer before continuing on home. Unfortunately, he had arrived at the same time as a nasty first aid emergency from the local high school football team. Or rather, fortunately for Dr Spencer. Gilbert was quite handy dealing with the dislocated shoulder while Dr Spencer assessed the concussion and potential broken collar-bone.

"Fine, Gilbert. You can stay. But it means you will have to stay at Green Gables with Marilla in isolation. Understood?"

Gilbert nodded. He wouldn't mind staying at Green Gables. At least he could rely on Anne to have a good collection of reading material for the next two weeks. And she would most likely still be in Redmond with Whats-his-face so it would be relatively safe.

By the time they arrived at Dr Spencer's surgery, Anne was exhausted. Maybe, just maybe, she could grab a quick nap on Doc's couch while Matthew and Marilla were inside. However, before that was an option, Anne would have to help carry Matthew inside.

Carefully, Anne and Marilla woke Matthew enough to drape his arms over their shoulders and shuffle his feet towards the door. Neither woman had a strong build but they were able to manage Matthew's lean frame. Dr Spencer was waiting for them at the surgery door, fully robed and masked.

… And Gilbert Blythe?!

Anne almost dropped Matthew in shock. "Gil? What are you doing here? Wait! You can't risk exposure! Matthew might have…"

His voice was muffled but Anne knew Gilbert no matter how much of his face was covered. "I know, Anne. Did you really think I wouldn't help out once I knew Matthew was coming here?"

Tears of relief welled in her eyes. "But … You couldn't have known I was coming. I didn't know I was coming…"

Gilbert took Matthew's arm off Anne's shoulders while Doctor Spencer took the weight from Marilla. "No, I didn't know you were coming, Anne. But I knew it was Matthew. And I would never turn away from Matthew." Gilbert and Dr Spencer carefully carried Matthew into the surgery.

Anne could still hear Dr Spencer talking to Gilbert and Marilla down the hall. "He looks worse than you said on the phone, Marilla. I'll call the ambulance. He's going to need to go to Emergency. And you're not looking great either. Let's put him on the bed and…"

As both relief and exhaustion flooded Anne's body, she stumbled over to the couch and flopped onto the full length with the grace of a drunk pigeon.

Drifting off to sleep, her final thoughts were of soft pillows and the warm scent of comfort.

"Damn Magical Couch of Slumber. Seems like anyone can sleep there but me." It was Dr Spencer's voice; a deep rumble with a touch of mirth to it. Anne smiled as she woke.

"Fine, Doc. I'll just shuffle over and you can have your turn." Anne was answered with a chuckle from the doctor. Surely if he was in a good mood, the news couldn't be too bad.

Anne slowly sat up, blinking her eyes to look around the room. Dr Spencer was still fully-covered in protective gear. Neither Gilbert nor the Cuthberts were anywhere to be seen.

That feeling of certainty dissipated too quickly and Anne was left with a gnawing sense of anxiety in her belly.

"Anne, Matthew is pretty sick. He only has a few symptoms of the virus but the ones he has are pretty severe. Add to that his exposure from Jerry and I'm pretty sure Matthew is going to return a positive result. I've called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital."

The news shocked Anne to full wake. "What about Marilla? She would have been exposed too. First by Jerry and then Matthew."

Dr Spencer nodded. "Yes. And she is already showing a few milder symptoms. Now, considering her age and Matthew's deterioration, I am also sending her to the hospital. You, on the other, are young and healthy; though a bit on the lean side. You can head home and put yourself in isolation for 14-days. Get some food sent over from Orchard Slope, though I'm sure Marilla kept the pantry well stocked so you should be fine."

While Dr Spencer listed off further instructions, Anne looked up to see Gilbert enter the waiting room. To be honest, she wasn't paying any real attention to Dr Spencer. All she could see was the look of concern in Gilbert's eyes.

"Hey, Doc. I'll take Anne home. She's in no state to drive home. Is there a pamphlet or something with the instructions?"

"Wait, what? No, I can't ask that of you! You … you still have finals, don't you? You can't afford to be sick!"

Gilbert gently took his mask off and smiled at Anne. "Shirley, I just finished promising Marilla I would take care of you while they are at the hospital. And there is no way I'm heading home to my parents and possibly exposing them to this virus. So, if you don't mind me sleeping in your guest room downstairs and sucking up your wifi, I think the best solution is if I crash at Green Gables for the next two-weeks. Please?"

Dr Spencer looked from Gilbert to Anne. "It actually makes sense." Before Anne could argue further, the ambulance officers had arrived and entered the waiting room. "Look, Anne. You can argue this over with Gilbert later. In the meantime, come and say goodbye to Matthew and Marilla. It … might be some time before you have the opportunity again."

Gently, Dr Spencer guided Anne to the surgery room. Unfortunately, he knew what awaited Matthew at the hospital. He was going to need a bed in the ICU immediately, hopefully one with a respirator. That would also mean sedation. He had a 50/50 chance of ever waking up again.

Over the next few weeks, Dr Spencer knew Anne would need a friend like Gilbert.