Cupid's Apparent Failure

Pre-Author's Note: This is something a little different from me. A one-parter. Lots of you said that you wanted more Anne and Gil, so, here ya go!

Cupid's job kept him busy every day of the year, February 14th especially, of course. This particular Valentine's Day, though, his mother Venus, goddess of love, had bequeathed to him an unusual assignment. He let his wings carry him through the frigid winter air, over the Atlantic, over Prince Edward Island, until he finally spotted the correct borough on the banks of Nova Scotia and swooped down. Destination: Kingsport, home of Redmond College, dwelling place of a pair of estranged souls.

**********

"Anne!" Priscilla's voice shook the walls of Anne's cozy blue bedroom, where she sat curled up on the window seat, building castles in Spain.

"Anne, Roy's going to be here in ten minutes! Hurry up, we have to go!"

Anne snapped out of her reverie without reluctance, an abnormality for her. She'd been imagining herself as Roy's bride, their wedding, their home, their first child-a certain culmination of all her ideals. To top that off, it was all within her grasp. Her loftiest goals were actually attainable! Considering all of that, why had her fancy been, well, *boring*? She'd almost had to force herself to maintain interest in the daydream.

She sighed, stood up, and stretched her cramped limbs. Perhaps she was just antsy. After all, today was Valentine's Day, the date of a particularly preeminent Redmond ball in addition to its importance as a lovers' holiday.

She picked up her gown from her bed and smoothed it out. So every other girl at the dance would probably be clad in some shade of red or pink. So what. Anne shrugged and slipped on her green silk dress, a much richer, more elegant, better-suited color than any form of pink or red could possibly be.

Anne trod down the stairs in her stockings, absently wondering where her slippers were located. Only a pause at the foot of the stairway saved her from crashing into an extremely frantic Philippa, hair mussed and apron strings coming undone. Phil was not attending the ball but entertaining Jonas instead. Anne knew how much of a sacrifice that was for Redmond's foremost social butterfly and applauded her for it.

"We're all out of flour! What am I going to do, Anne? I NEED flour! I must have flour! Oh, Anne, have you ever heard of biscuits made without flour?" Phil asked, wringing her hands in despair.

"There's more flour in the bottom cupboard, Phil. Check there," came Stella's voice from the sitting room, where Priscilla was hurriedly twisting and sticking pins in her hair.

Apron trailing behind her, Phil rushed to the kitchen, where she let out a cry of relief upon discovering the flour. She had insisted on preparing everything for Jonas' tea herself, an endeavor of which the inhabitants of Patty's Place, especially Aunt Jamesina, were highly skeptical.

"Here it is, thank goodness," Phil said, highly relieved. "Oh, Anne, some flowers came for you. I put them on the table in the sitting room."

"Mmmm," Anne responded, pulling on her slippers, which she'd found under Phil's bed, and entering the sitting room.

Goodness, Roy...Honestly, could he have any less tact? She loved pink roses, but now she'd have to find other flowers to wear in her hair at the dance.

She picked up the roses listlessly and read the accompanying card. It contained a verse that would make any self-respecting girl blush daintily. Well, why wasn't she blushing? What was wrong with her? Wasn't she self-respecting? She dropped the flowers, exasperated. Only then did she notice the other bouquet on the table. White violets. Where on earth had anyone obtained white violets at this time of year? They were hard enough to find in the spring. She picked them up curiously to look for a card, but none existed.

"Who are the other flowers from, Phil?" she called into the kitchen.

"I don't know. Roy's roses came earlier this morning and those just got here." Something clattered and fell to the floor with a great clank. "I'm all right! Nothing's broken."

Anne looked at the violets thoughtfully. Something was tugging at her mind about the flowers, some memory she couldn't quite grasp. What was it? Suddenly she remembered-and her heart skipped a beat. Sophomore year-the day that she'd-the day she'd refused Gilbert. Yes. That was it. She'd tried to distract him, to prevent him from saying what she knew he was going to say by mentioning the white violets.

But Gilbert couldn't have sent the flowers. Of course not. First of all, it was a tiny little detail-surely he wouldn't remember it. Why did *she* remember it, anyway? She brushed away that subconscious thought hastily. Even if Gilbert *did* remember, which was highly unlikely, what motive could possibly be behind sending them? He certainly didn't seem bitter towards her; in fact, the last time she'd seen him he'd chatted with her congenially-very congenially-almost *too* congenially. Besides, he also had-Anne involuntarily twisted her face in the same sardonic manner she did every time she heard the name-Christine Stuart. Of course he would be at the Valentine's Day ball with her.

A knock on the door interrupted Anne's train of thought. Aunt Jamesina answered, then called, "Anne, Royal's here!"

"Coming, Auntie!" she replied. Taking one last quizzical look at the flowers before quickly pinning them in her hair, she headed toward the front door.

**********

Directly above Patty's Place, Cupid rested atop the cottony clouds, smiling with satisfaction and puffing himself up a bit. He'd always taken pride in his research skills. The significance of those flowers had been a nice find. It helped that the girl had taken the bait just the right way. This was going to be easy.

**********

Gilbert glanced in the mirror and attempted to flatten his hair, but to no avail. It was no use-his hair was inevitably curly. What had Anne said once about it, better curly than- No, he thought angrily, why was he thinking about Anne? He wasn't *supposed* to, especially not today. He wrapped his tie around his neck and pulled at it rather fiercely, nearly choking himself. As he loosened it, gasping, he wryly made a mental note not to place anything around his neck while he was suffering from acute Anne withdrawal.

He let out a great sigh and composed himself. He wouldn't think of Anne. Today he would just have fun with Christine. No doubt Anne would be there with that dratted Gardner fellow, but that was nothing to him. She hadn't wanted him, so he didn't want her. Much.

He sat down on his bed and bent over, peering underneath it to look for his shoes. After retrieving the pair, along with a good many dustballs-I really ought to clean under there, he thought absently-he noticed a bit of crumpled paper and fished that out from the sea of dust.

He smoothed the paper out and glanced over it carelessly, only half-curious over its contents. It was a letter to Charlie Sloane from his sister Carrie. Charlie had previously occupied this room, the largest in their boarding house, until he gave it up to Gilbert in the loss of a bet.

Gilbert was just about to re-crumple the paper and toss it in the trash when he spotted Anne's name in it. He jumped off the bed, strode toward the window, where the light was better, and greedily scanned the note.

"I'm really sorry Anne refused you, Charlie, but goodness, what did you expect? She hasn't exactly given you any encouragement. Also-are you blind? I mean, she loves Gilbert Blythe," here Gilbert paused and took a deep breath "it's so obvious. You're with the two of them far more than I am, can't you see that? She blushes just about every time he looks at her. I know she always flatly refuses it, but that's probably just girlish demureness. Haven't you ever seen her eyes when she looks at him?"

Well, maybe Charlie hadn't, but *Gilbert* certainly had seen the aforementioned look in Anne's eyes. In fact, that had been one of the determining factors in his decision to speak or not to speak. On one hand, she hadn't given him much encouragement-in fact, she had nipped all attempts at sentiment mercilessly in the bud. On the other hand, her eyes...and her blushes.

Ugh! No, he was obsessing over Anne again! He made a motion as if to rip the old letter in half but something stopped him. He folded it carefully and put it in a drawer instead on his way out the door to get Christine.

**********

Cupid lolled lazily in the clouds and yawned. Humans were just so predictable. This case was a bit different, though-he hadn't even had to manufacture the letter, which, in fact, had been there the whole time. No, all he had to do was hide the shoes under the bed. The strangeness of this was lost on Cupid, though, who was patting himself on the back and thinking of how happy Venus, his mother, would be with his success. He took two arrows out of his sack and fingered them lovingly, making sure there were no glitches that would hinder their flight. But all was smooth and fully functional. His bow, too, appeared ready-to-operate-the cord was nice and springy, the back properly bendy. He idly flew through the clouds to the setting of his future victory-the ballroom.

**********

Anne glanced up at Roy and rolled her eyes. Did he even notice that she wasn't wearing the flowers he had sent her? He hadn't said anything. Perhaps he didn't even know what kind of flowers he'd sent, anyway-maybe his butler had sent them for him.

Whoa! An alarm sounded in her head. Where had *that* come from? Roy certainly hadn't done anything to deserve that uncharitable thought. What was wrong with her today, anyway? It was Valentine's Day and she had a beau, a beau who would most likely become her future husband and with whom (she insisted upon this sternly to herself) she was in love.

She, Roy, Stella, Priscilla, and their escorts had all congregated in the corner of the ballroom during a pause in the music. So far the dance had been, well, like any other-Anne had danced with Roy several times, in between taking a turn or two with friendly classmates. She had not seen Gilbert or Christine yet but, as she told herself several times, it *didn't matter*, because she didn't care.

Roy led Anne out onto the ballroom floor again, twirling her to the beat of a waltz. Roy was really an impeccable dancer, Anne reflected, much better than any other partner she'd ever had. Including the man who was slowly approached with his divinely beautiful, raven-haired, pink-clad partner. Goodness, why, of all people, did *Christine Stuart* have to look exactly like the Cordelia of Anne's childhood fancies? And why did she have to look like she belonged in the color pink? And why was Christine smiling coyly at something that Gilbert was whispering to her, as if she owned him? And why was she obsessing over this? Anne shook her head slightly to snap herself out of it. What was wrong with her? That seemed to be the constant refrain for the day. She was currently dancing with the handsomest, best-dressed, and most adept dancer in the room. Why couldn't she concentrate on *him*?

**********

Gilbert periodically glanced over Christine's head for a glimpse of her, then cursed himself for doing it. It had gotten to be an involuntary habit, for him to search for Anne at dances. Why did he do it? It only caused him added anguish and pain to see her with Roy. It was almost like he *wanted* to torture himself or something...

There she was! Dressed in a pretty shade of green that perfectly accented her eyes and hair. She was weaving gracefully in and out of the horde of couples with Gardner, who, Gilbert had to bitterly admit, *was* a good dancer.

He looked away briefly to mumble an answer to some inconsequential question of Christine's, then resumed his staring Anne-ward. Only this time the green eyes were gazing straight back at him. Well, this was awkward. Gilbert tried to look away, but it was like some force of nature kept his eyes locked on hers.

"Goodness, Gilbert, what are you staring at so intently?" Christine inquired lightly as the music began to slow down.

She let go of him and turned to face in the direction he was facing, following his eyes over to where Royal and Anne were located. "Oh, I should have known," she muttered, half to herself. Then, more loudly, "Gil, you really have a one-track mind."

Gilbert finally managed to tear his eyes away from Anne. "What?"

Christine rolled her eyes. She wished all the people who insisted upon pairing her and Gilbert could see the distinct lack of attention he'd been giving her tonight. He'd seemed preoccupied from the moment he'd picked her up. "Why don't you go at least talk to her, Gilbert, it's Valentine's Day after all," she responded. If she hadn't had a young man to whom she was as good as engaged to back home, she might have been jealous.

Gilbert glanced at Christine quizzically as she walked away. "Maybe I will," he said to himself with a new air of determination.

**********

Cupid sat in the clouds directly above the ballroom, placed the arrows in the bow (which was enchanted to shoot more than one at once), and waited, somewhat impatiently. Any time now...

**********

The music ceased, and Royal walked away to chat with some family friend. Just as Anne thought she would have to sit the next dance out, someone tapped her from behind. She whirled around and found herself gazing directly at Gilbert Blythe. Blushing, she quickly averted her eyes, then blushed more deeply because she was frustrated with herself for blushing in the first place.

"May I have this dance, or is your card full?" Gilbert asked, his tone tinged slightly with sarcasm. Anne either didn't catch it or chose to ignore it and acquiesced silently. Gilbert took her hand and gingerly placed his other one on her waist. It had been so long since he'd danced with her, so long since he'd even been close to her that he'd almost forgotten the overwhelming feelings of, well, intoxication that came over him in her presence. They began to twirl to the music.

**********

There! Cupid had his targets right where he wanted them. He drew back his bow and aimed down through the clouds towards the hall. His arrows, being enchanted, of course, could penetrate any physical barrier; only spiritual obstacles could obstruct it. But Cupid didn't think about this.

**********

Anne and Gilbert chatted quite pleasantly for a bit, of completely inconsequential things, of course. Roy and Christine were among the subjects left unmentioned. Abruptly, Gilbert's tone changed to one of greater significance. "Your flowers are rather, um, *unique*. Where did Roy find them?"

Gilbert, saying Roy's name for the first time, hoped he hadn't betrayed too much disgust in his tone or facial expression. He remembered when he had seen white violets last-he wondered if Anne recalled it. But of course she didn't, it was an utterly insignificant detail, why *would* she remember? She certainly didn't replay that fateful moment in her mind every day, wishing it back.

Anne gave a start and quickly tried to meet his eyes, but in vain. So Gilbert had not sent the flowers. She didn't know why this was giving her so much anguish.

"I-I don't know where he found them, actually," Anne finally found herself saying. Why had she lied? Roy hadn't sent the flowers. She inwardly sighed and stopped trying to analyze her emotions - they were being especially ornery tonight.

"White violets, if I recall correctly, are very rare in this part of Canada," Gilbert went on.

Anne felt the heat rising in her cheeks. She merely nodded, paradoxically hoping that Gilbert would both discontinue this uncomfortable discussion and maintain it to satisfy both her curiosity and something else which she couldn't quite name.

Gilbert didn't know whether he should persist on this point or not. Her blush, as usual, baffled him. He finally brazenly continued.

"I remember a time when - oh, Anne, one of the flowers is falling out of your hair."

She futilely attempted to fix it, only succeeding in practically dislodging the entire cluster of violets.

"Here, I'll get it," Gilbert finally said.

He clumsily fumbled with the flowers, which soon dropped to the floor forgotten by both parties as his fingers experienced the softness of her hair. Anne, blushing deeply, felt a series of sparks rush through her body as he gently stroked her cheek.

**********

Pling! With a single pluck of his bow, Cupid's arrows sailed off toward their unsuspecting targets. Everything thus far had gone right.

**********

Anne finally dared to raise her green eyes to Gilbert's hazel ones, almost afraid that something would implode within her if she did. Their gazes locked and she couldn't tear away her own if she tried, which, of course, she didn't.

**********

The arrows passed easily through the ballroom ceiling and traveled through the air toward the victims without resistance. Cupid watched with satisfaction as they drew closer, and closer, and closer, and...and *dropped*, as if repelled by some invisible barrier.

**********

The music suddenly ceased, signifying the conclusion of the dance. Anne drew confusedly away from Gilbert just as Royal strutted up behind her. "Anne, there's someone I'd like you to meet," he said, frowning pointedly at Gilbert.

"Of-of course," Anne responded, shaking her head as if to retrieve it from it's night-long muddle. And without a backward gaze at Gilbert, she walked off.

**********

Cupid let out a long chain of curses from atop the cloud, sending flashes of lightning in all directions. What in the blazes had happened? Everything had been going perfectly until the end, when his extremely dependable arrows had crashed into some hidden wall and plummeted. What had constituted, or, more importantly, created this wall? His targets had been situated in an ideal position. Venus would be furious with him, he thought, as he flew back to Olympus, conceit noticeably diminished.

**********

Gilbert watched Anne walk off, thinking sarcastically of what a success *that* endeavor had been. Would he never cease to make a fool of himself in front of her? He'd almost resigned himself to completely renouncing her forever when something on the floor caught his eye. As he bent down to pick up the white violets, a rush of adrenaline flowed through him such as he'd never experienced before. He twirled the bouquet around in his fingers, staring at it but instead seeing Anne's blushing face and fervent eyes. He pocketed the flowers and trotted off with a new air of determination.

**********

The next day Anne received a packet containing the white violets along with a note in a very familiar black scrawl. It read, "I found these and thought you might want them back, seeing as how they're so rare. Happy Valentine's Day."

Anne put her head in her hands and sighed.

**********

Venus rolled her eyes at her ignorant son and inwardly smiled. It was a little cruel, she knew, to send him on such a mission, but he did have to learn sometime.

"But mother, I really don't know what went wrong," he explained. "I did everything right up to the end. I don't understand how I could have failed unless there was some kind of opposing divine interference. I know this mission was important for me, mother, so I'm sorry."

"Of course there was no divine interference!" Venus told Cupid severely. "But you're right in one thing - this mission *was* important. Important to your education. For now you know that there is something that can block any of your charms or enchantments. No matter how much cleverness, research, and cunning you use, this will rein supreme."

"What?" Cupid asked, widening his eyes.

"The existence of love that was already true and perfect between the two parties," Venus responded.

"But-but...they were with other people. They weren't together," Cupid protested.

"Yet," Venus said simply.

Post Author's Note: As always, please review!