My apologies for the wait, serves me right for coming up with problems without a solution.


As Anne turned in the doorway on her way to bed she said simply to Marilla, "thank you."

Marilla looked after her with shining eyes, "for what?"

"For being there always and forever. Just, thank you."

"Oh, my darling girl," Marilla got up from the kitchen table and embraced Anne tightly. "Of course, we'll always be here for you."


Next morning Marilla decided to give Anne a sleep in, taking care not to make too much noise as she prepared the breakfast. As it turned out it wasn't necessary, for she found a note tucked behind the coffee pot. Gone to the mainland to think. I love you both so much. Please don't worry, I'll be in touch.

Her blood chilling Marilla ran out to the barn where Matthew was finishing off the milking. Thrusting it into his face she waited while he took in the import of Anne's words. There followed the sort of conversation only two people have when they have known each other forever and when they are extremely worried, that is mostly silent and made up of pointed looks and sighs. In the end Matthew said as much to reassure himself as his sister, "she's an adult, Marilla. We have ta let her take her own time over this. She said she'll be in touch. Try not to worry." Marilla sighed heavily and nodded.


After a long and distinctly preoccupied journey to Charlottetown under a lowering sky Anne took her berth on the ferry and settled in for the journey. Before they set sail though Anne distinctly heard a hubbub out in the corridor, and she poked her head out. "Sorry Madam," said the purser. "Bad news I'm afraid. There's a storm a'brewing and we'll have to wait it out on land. Can't take the chance that we'll founder see. If you'd like to disembark, they'll take you to a nearby hotel to wait it out and hopefully we'll try again tomorrow."

Somewhat disgruntled for she was already tired, Anne gathered her belongings and joined the crowd milling around outside. Soon enough though she found herself in a carriage with an odd assortment of strangers on their way to a nearby hotel to rest up during the storm. In her exhaustion Anne absentmindedly gave her name to the booking clerk as Mrs Anne Blythe.

The only room available was a double but no matter, Anne thought. Just means I have more room to spread out. Outside the wind was beginning to pick up and the glowering clouds whipped by as the rain began to fall. Anne shuddered thankful the ferry captain had made his decision. She did not fancy being out at sea in this weather.

She sat down on the window seat gazing out at the weather which matched her mood. A certain whistling sound rattled the chimney pots above as Anne gathered a blanket around her shoulders. She jumped when she heard the door handle turn and was shocked to see Gilbert standing in the doorway his wet and windswept curls dripping onto his shoulders.

"Gil! What on earth are you doing here?"

"I was just about to ask you the same question. Anyway, I had to get away. There were too many prying faces back home. I need anonymity for a bit. What about you?"

Anne nodded, "yes, I felt the same way."

Gilbert replied, "sorry, I'll leave you alone. I'll, um, find somewhere else to sleep. They just said downstairs that this was my room, but obviously." Nervously he shuffled in the doorway.

"Oh," Anne realized she was the reason for the mistake. "Oops, I think I gave my name as Mrs. Blythe in error, or rather not error," she corrected herself. "Well, you know."

"Not really," said Gilbert unwilling to concede. "Well anyway, I'll leave you be." A particularly large crack of thunder accompanied a strong gust of wind making Anne wince and then she had a thought, "but where will you go? Are there any spare rooms, I heard they were fully booked tonight?"

"I'll hunker down in the sitting room, don't you worry about me," Gilbert reluctantly turned to leave.

"No, Gil, this is stupid. Come in, sit down," she gestured towards the chair.

When Gilbert sank down Anne noticed that his hair was dripping. She hopped off the bed and fetched a towel to rub him dry. "We can ring down for a hot drink if you like, you must be freezing."

Gilbert looked up at her ruefully, "little bit. It's rather nasty out there."

Anne touched his shoulder inadvertently, "and you're soaking. Come let's get you out of those clothes. Do you have pajamas?" As she rifled through his bag it became apparent that his belongings were wet through. "We'll have to hang these out otherwise you'll catch your death."

Gilbert wound up under the covers with his clothes limply draped over various pieces of furniture while Anne sat shivering legs akimbo on top of the bedcovers. Gilbert patted the bed saying, "you may as well join me under here."

It was only when she climbed in that she realized she was in bed once more with a naked man. That he was technically her husband did not occur to her. She jumped out again and frowned when he laughed at her. "We are married after all, Anne." She shivered not merely with cold this time. "Anne," he said pleadingly, "Anne." She set her face against him and turned away frustrated and angry at her own thoughtlessness.

"Anne, talk to me. What's really wrong? Did I do something to hurt you?"

Anne was silent for a long time. So long Gilbert wasn't sure if she'd heard him. Eventually she said, "it's just I've been so busy planning our wedding and life together I almost forgot who I am. I've been play acting for years Gilbert. Somehow when I finally married you the reality of my situation came flooding back. I suppose I had better tell you now before we go too far, and then you'll be able to annul the marriage and find someone more suitable." In a very small voice, which made her seem so very young Anne started. "Did I ever tell you about my life before.?"

Gilbert made a small noise of negation.

"No, I probably didn't. I wanted to put all behind me, but it's not that easy. Much as I try to forget, it's always lurking. I expect you don't realise how very ordinary I am." She paused and fiddled with her buttons for a long time while Gilbert waited, before starting up again, "you know my parents died when I was just a baby. Then I was bought up by several ahem mothers. I suppose they did their best for me. Their lives weren't easy I now understand but um," she trailed off looking into the middle distance. "Anyway," she added tonelessly. "I know I wasn't what they were looking for in a daughter or even much help around the house. I kept getting lost in my daydreams you know and of course they were busy with all those children, it's not easy for poor women. They needed help and I couldn't provide it. I don't suppose it's too much to ask, that their daughter help around the house, and I couldn't even do that, so um no wonder they got upset with me."

Gilbert longed to interrupt, to tell her that she was so very wrong, that she had missed out on a deserved childhood. Marilla had warned him that she might want to talk and that if she did, he had to keep quiet. That an overreaction from him which while completely valid would not serve much use and might even close her down. "I know you'll want to Gilbert; heaven knows I did, but we must give her the space to just talk. Cry later but remain impassive while she's unburdening herself." And that's what he was doing, but it was perhaps the hardest thing he'd ever done.

Into a gap though he replied, "it's funny you know, I think folks have the misconception that we Blythes are upstanding community members. But really what are we? Dad's an orchardist and Mum's a housewife. We're no one special. Dad ran out of money after Queens after all. They could have been in the same position as any one of your families, Anne. If they'd," he stammered, "if they'd borne too many children. And you know," he added, squeezing her hand gently. "That they didn't wasn't by choice."

"I can't see it, Gil," Anne replied slowly. I can't see her being like that, behaving like Mrs Andrews or Mrs Thomas. Your mother would never have treated anyone that way."

Another thunderclap had Anne inadvertently jumping and Gilbert put out his arms to comfort her. When she lay against him Anne remembered, perhaps for the first time since their wedding night, how much she really did love him. "Gil…"

"Shh."

She gazed up into his eyes and leant over to bestow a gentle kiss against his lips, murmuring, "I'm sorry.

"What did I do to upset you."

"No, Gil it's me I think I'm broken."

"Darling."

"I don't know if I can ever …" he softly silenced her with his lips which she allowed hesitatingly initially and then more fervently. Drawing back he whispered, "may I?" as he placed his hands upon her shoulders. Anne gazed up into his eyes trustingly and nodded. Gilbert drew back, she had to be sure. The last thing he wanted to do was force her in any way. "Really?" Anne nodded more enthusiastically this time and placed the palm of her hand upon his arm saying breathlessly, "yes." She put her hands up to the buttons on the back of her dress and urgently started unfastening them. Gilbert took over the job and gently kissed each new exposed inch as he went. He remembered his reaction when Bash had compared women to the layers of an onion but in all actuality Anne reminded him of a lobster; creamy flesh covered by a red carapace. He shook his head, what an idiot. Instead, he put those thoughts out his mind and settled to the job at hand, ergo making love to his new bride.

Lying in Gilbert's arms Anne felt like a little girl again except this time she was one who was loved. She had always longed for that and for too long had been denied. While she could never reproach her for anything, one small part wished that Marilla had been more tactile, but Gilbert. Gilbert fulfilled that very real yearning. Now lying by his side, or really, she supposed upon him with his arms around her, close as any two people could be Anne felt the peace she had always craved to the point that she had not even known she missed it.

Earlier that week Anne had told Marilla she was worried it might hurt. Far from it, the whole experience was wondrous. For once in her life Anne had no words to describe what had happened and she felt sorry that her mother would never experience it.

Bash'd said they'd be putty by the end and there was a truth to his words. After the storm passed they lay sated, boneless in each other's arms Anne fast asleep one tear glistening in the corner of her eye and her red hair messy on Gilbert's chest, the curve of her alabaster back shining in the moonlight. As sleep overcame him, Gilbert thought with joy how every night henceforth would end this way.

Sometime in the middle of the night they found themselves both awake, perhaps a particularly strong gust of wind awoke them. Into the darkness Anne spoke.

"Fancy being scared of that Gil, it was um it was," she sighed wobbily when she ran out of words.

"I've rendered you speechless, have I?"

"Oh Gil. But fancy. I feel like such a fool."

"You may be a fool but you're my fool, my beautiful wife. Do you know the best thing?" Gilbert murmured into the velvet of her ear.

"Mmm?"

"We can do it any time, not once a night."

"Ooh," exclaimed Anne with a devilish grin and she rolled over to kiss him once again.

- The End -


A/N Totally stole the lobster image from Sarah Waters. Read The Fingersmith if you get a chance.