Author's Note

Yes, yes, yes I know I should finish Fairytale Magic before writing new stories, but that is continuing to refuse to behave so we must continue, for now, to wait. I offer you, instead, a Halloween story. This came from a prompt to write a Halloween story set in the Anne-verse, of no more than 1874 words that mentions at least three of the following: Autumn harvest, Jack o lanterns, Thursday, Black cat/s, Blue dog/s, Poetry, politics, gothic architecture, lace handkerchiefs and psychic ability/fortune telling (I managed to hit all 10, can you spot them?). I had an idea immediately and drafted up a story of around 5,000 words!, so I'm hoping this cut down version still makes sense. This comes towards the end of Anne of the Island, and assumes you know that story and its characters. With apologies to LMM for putting her beloved characters into a Disney-esque setting, I hope you enjoy this bit of silliness.

Part 1: An unusual dilemma

The storm brewing outside Patty's Place one murky Thursday morning, was nothing compared to the argument erupting within its walls.

On impulse, Gilbert Blythe, having received a large package of tarts and preserves from Avonlea's annual 'Autumn Harvest Festival,' had decided to gift the preserves to Anne Shirley. Surely, he thought, this gesture would be kindly received and begin the rebuild of shattered friendship?

Anne was delighted with the gift, until she read the label on the jars. It was not, as Gilbert thought, jam, but small jars of carrot and pumpkin preserves. Labelled by the maker, in a misdirected fit of creativity, 'carrot top' and decorated it with a sketch of a pumpkin, with flaming red hair.

Seeing it Anne erupted into an anger that matched the storm now whipping around the house.

"After all these years you still mock my hair?" she shouted, "Don't you know me at all?" Picking up a jar she thrust the label towards him, adding "Do you think I look like this…. jack-o'-lantern?"

Before Gilbert could reply, a large clap of thunder sounded overhead and a sharp flash of lightning struck the house, knocking both Anne and Gilbert off their feet.

Momentarily dazed, they sat up rubbing bumped heads and looked at the other, rubbed their eyes and looked again. A feminine gasp emanated from Gilbert's mouth and a 'What the…' from Anne's as they both found themselves looking at the other who was ….. themself.

Two blue spotted china dogs looked on over the next forty-five minutes as, over several pots of tea, they learnt that their combined knowledge of nature, science and the bible could not explain how they had swapped bodies, or how it could be reversed. It should have been impossible, and yet they were each other.

Exhausted, Anne stood, "The storm has passed" she said, drawing aside the curtain and slipping her hand into her trouser pocket. As frustrated as she was being 'Gilbert,' she found freedom in the comfort of male clothing.

"Not that we can go outside" replied Gilbert, shifting uncomfortably, hitching his skirts to his knees to enable him to sit more comfortably.

"I'd appreciate" said Anne primly, looking at her own legs" if you didn't expose my ankles, calves and knees to the world!"

Gilbert shrugged, adjusting his skirts, turning sharply as the mantle-clock struck 1pm.

The Coopers!" he exclaimed, I have my final interview in one hour!"

"And I have my Literary Society reading" responded Anne. "My final grade depends on it!"

Looking at each other, they realised they had no choice.

"We can't miss these appointments" said Gilbert practically.

"Could we?" responded Anne

"We will have to "he said decidedly, writing down the address for the Coopers Interview and handing it to Anne "be each other for the afternoon"

Part 2 Gilbert's afternoon as Anne

Gilbert stood on stage in front of Redmond's Literary Society as "Anne." He had spent his preparation time learning to walk like Anne and supressing his usual nervous habit of running his fingers through his hair, having quickly learnt this displaced Anne's carefully arranged bun. Taking as deep a breath as the corset would allow, he looked down at the paper Anne had given him and started to read her final exam poem, "My Life as an Orphan."

His early training in public recitation stood him in good stead as he read with a clear, steady voice. Forgetting the audience, he quickly became lost in the beauty of her verse.

Tears pricked his eyes as he read of her challenges trusting new friendships, the teasing she'd received at the orphanage and how finding a home in Avonlea had changed her life. He felt shame at how his own teasing has made settling into that home harder, truly understanding her, perhaps for the first time.

"Congratulations," gushed the Society Chair afterwards, when the applause had died down and it was confirmed that Anne had received the highest marks possible. "How did you find talking about your early life so publicly?"

"Illuminating," Gilbert responded.

He was meditating on this as he walked back to Patty's Place through Kingsport Park. Lost in thought, he felt shocked as he felt a hand slip into his own.

"How did it go, darling," said Roy pulling at Gilbert's arm "come, let's sit in the pavilion, there's something important I want to discuss"

Trying to think how Anne would respond, Gilbert felt trapped as, distractedly, Roy pulled him toward the pavilion. The horror of the situation dawning, he found himself sitting in the middle of the pavilion with Roy holding his left hand and sinking onto one knee to say,

"Darling, you mean so much to me. Will you make me the happiest man in the world and promise to marry me?"

Gilbert wrenched his hand from Roy's grasp "No!" he almost shouted the word, "this can't be happening" Gilbert felt ill at the thought of another man proposing to Anne, forgetting in that moment he was Anne.

Confused, a deep crimson stain flooded Roy's cheeks and tears filled his eyes. Shocked that the girl he thought adored him acted almost as if she was someone else, Roy reached into his pocket and pulled out a foppish white, lace trimmed handkerchief. Dabbing his eyes, he said with all the dignity he could muster "I cannot believe you're not the girl I thought you were. Goodbye forever"

Dramatically turning as he spoke, Roy walked away, leaving Gilbert with a dawning horror that he now had to tell Anne he'd irrevocably ruined her hoped for future.

Part 3: Anne's afternoon as Gilbert

Anne felt a freedom walking girdle-less in flat shoes, towards the Science Hall. Men's clothing was…comfortable! Despite the circumstances, she was not immune to the gothic beauty of the buildings around her. Lost in her thoughts it was several moments until she realised that a grating feminine voice was trying to catch her attention.

"Gilly! I thought you'd never hear me, I have the most exciting news" Anne stared dumbly at Christine, thinking "her skin really IS flawless."

"Umm" she faulted, but Christine, oblivious that Anne, who she thought was Gilbert had even spoken, continued.

"He is here! I never thought Andrew would make it, but he's here!

"Andrew?"

"Andrew, my fiancé silly! I thought, since he's running for the Legislative Assembly, he'd never have time for the Graduation Ball, but he's here! "She paused before simpering, "you don't mind if he takes me to the ball instead of you, do you?"

"Um…."

"Oh, I knew you wouldn't," glancing at her watch, "Is that the time, don't you have that meeting this morning, about the Copper Prize? or was that Brass? Either way good luck, toodles!"

Anne headed up the steps to the Science Hall in a daze thinking "Christine's engaged?" The head of the Committee she was soon sitting in front of was half way through his introductory comments before she could focus.

"…your results are excellent Mr Blythe; however, a Coopers' recipient is about more than good marks. A Coopers' awardee needs to be of the finest character. How would your friends describe your character?"

Anne closed her eyes, remembering every interaction with Gilbert, then opened her heart and spoke of him, as his friend. She talked of his mischievous behaviour, how it showed his love for life but more importantly taught him how to problem solve. She spoke of his loyalty and determination The school he'd given up for her. His kindness to Ruby as she was dying. She paused, realising that if she was speaking as Gilbert, she should perhaps be humbler, but before she could say more the committee head smiled and said,

"That's all we wanted to hear. Congratulations Mr Blythe you're the first student to take the Coopers' in five years. "

Anne was overjoyed, her Gilbert was the Cooper's prize winner. Her… in that moment she knew he wasn't just her friend, she wanted so much more. He belonged to her and she to him and….

"Thank you, thank you" she said, "would you mind if…"

"No, go lad, no doubt you've got a girl you want to tell!"

"A boy actually" thought Anne as she hurried to meet Gilbert.

Part 4: In the Orchard

Anne walked through the garden door into the Patty's Place orchard where Gilbert was leaning against a gray poplar, stroking a black cat curled in his arms against the gingham dress he wore. Pausing, Anne noted the beauty of the setting sun reflected off Gilbert's red hair (barely noticing in her excitement to tell Gilbert about the Coopers, how for the first time in her life she thought red hair beautiful).

"Gilbert, I'm so proud…you've won, you've won the Coopers!" she said to the girl in the green gingham.

"Anne!" Gilbert jumped, startled from his reverie, the kitten jumping down as he ran over to the man in the brown tweed suit "It's done? I've won?". He felt a momentary thrill of joy, then, remembering Anne's shattered future said, "That's not important now, I have to tell…I'm so sorry Anne, truly sorry… I never meant to ruin your happiness."

"Ruin my happiness? How can you winning the Coopers ruin my happiness?"

"It's not that, its Roy…you see,…"

As gently as he could Gilbert described how he ran into Roy, the proposal and how, in his shock he'd turned him down. Anne listened, a wave of relief washing over her.

"Thank goodness" she said, a little embarrassed. "Roy is a good man but kind of…."

"Boring?" Finished Gilbert, feeling his own wave of relief

"Boring. "Anne agreed.

They paused awkwardly, then both at once spoke of their day.

"Your poem" said Gilbert, "I never knew…."

"Talking to the committee, I realised you've always been my best friend" said Anne "In fact, I realised, I love you"

"You….Love me?"

Anne nodded.

Gilbert answered by grabbing the stubbly face in front of him and kissing her passionately. As he did, a tremor shook the earth underneath their feet and he felt as if his very soul was being torn from his body.

"I can't breath" said Anne catching her breath

"Corset" asked Gilbert enjoying the freedom of being back in this own body

"Partly" responded Anne laughing, leaning in to kiss him once more.

As they kissed, the garden gate opened and Anne's three roommates walked through, stopping their chatter to simultaneously gasp at the sight in front of them.

"I'm no psychic, said Phil, but I predict a wedding this spring.

Anne and Gilbert pulled apart, smiling, embarrassed, but happier than they'd ever known before and looked in each others eyes, before turning to the girls and agreeing that a wedding was indeed in their future.