The Tears from Courcelette
Author's Note: Hi! This is my very first fanfic, and I tried to write with LMM's style. What do you think? I hope you like it! You might want to visit my livejournal/fiction press when one day I upload something I'm working on onto them-I'll post the link even if no one's interested, so you might as well check it out then. Please review honestly-I promise I'll try not to mind! It's a learning experience, anyway. But I believe that Anne fans will be perfectly Anne-ish. Enjoy!
P.S. I'd be delighted if you also PM me, like The Imagination Addict (thanks!) did. :D
Edit: To those who've read the story, this is a slightly later draft, with some minor edits made.
Chapter 1: Anne
The night was a deep, purple hue borrowed from a raven's wing, with the stars sorrowfully smiling over the treetops reaching up to heaven. Glen St. Mary was blissfully asleep, with all the silence and tranquility that come only when the sun is set and the moon arisen. Every such blessed night, one so much like the one before and yet subtly different, the tormented village folk forgot the bloodshed among their sons on the western front, forgot the worry and anxiety that haunting their shadows in the day and forgot the heartbreaking possibility of each son never again returning or, which was just as bad, if not worse, returning severely scarred and blighted.
Mrs Dr Blythe was lying in peaceful slumber in Ingleside, with Dr Blythe's arms around her, a vase of vividly red blossoms by her bed and a rare clear brow. Anne had, in the past two years, suffered more heartache than she had ever dreamt of in her fifty-one years. At a much younger age, she would have revelled in the romance of living in a war and sending one's sons off, but now—but now. She would gladly give anything to have the horrible death warrant over and done with and welcome her sons home.
She could scarcely remember the nights when she went to bed with a smile on her face and proceeded to spend the delightfully sweet moments before sleep found her in rainbow-tinted dreams and imaginings. Now, she often went to bed with a troubled expression that governed almost all the faces of the women in the village. She only thanked the Lord that each day passed with no heartbreak, and prayed fearfully for her sons to return home for her to hold to her bosom and never let go.
But tonight was one of the very few nights when Anne Blythe slept peacefully. It had been a beautiful day, with flowers soaking up the attention from the "eye of heaven" and the trees dancing a slow, gentle waltz to the caresses of the autumn breeze.
Anne had watched as Gilbert undressed for bed, her eyes unwilling to leave her husband's form. Conscious of a very beautiful pair of eyes on him, he turned and smiled affectionately at her.
She smiled back in return, a loving smile that had been changed by so many things—Matthew's death, Joy's death, the birth of all her children and the departure of her two sons, soon to be followed by her last. Her figure was just as slender and graceful, her hair just as red with a few strands of grey in it, but her large, limpid eyes were forever transformed. Once filled with laughter and dreams, they now brimmed with grief and sorrow, but they remained overflowing with love.
"It's been a beautiful day, Gilbert," Anne said tenderly, reaching for his hand. He sat down next to her on the bed and took both her gentle hands in his. "I walked down to the shore this evening and just thought about the happy years before. I saw how the waves nibbled gently at the sand and how it yielded under my feet. There must be fairies, I think." She laughed a laugh as sweet as the one that had rang through Green Gables, the House of Dreams and Ingleside throughout the years. "At my age! But oh, there must be. There's no other way to explain how such a blissful day could exist in these days…" Her voice faltered and she stopped speaking, unwilling to talk about the war.
"The world is beautiful in itself," agreed Gilbert, smiling down and cupping her face in the hand that had saved the life of so many, and yet wished only to hold a certain red-haired queen. His brown curls had thinned only a little, but greyed much more; his hazel eyes were wiser and more patient. "But I have only place in my heart for the most beautiful."
She smiled contentedly. A sweet, simple kiss passed between them and they lay down beneath the covers as Anne blew out the candle.
Now, "cold on the stroke of midnight", Anne awoke with a start, her mind as clear as if she hadn't slept that night. Her eyes wide, she looked out the window, but the night was still friendly above her, like a faithful friend come to lead her into its cool and cooling embrace. Carefully, she slipped Gilbert's arms off her and put on her kimono.
She tiptoed across the hall with her long braid trailing down her back to Rilla's room and silently pushed open the door.
Her seventeen-year-old daughter's face was pale and serene as the kiss of a moonbeam upon a quiet sea, but the set of her mouth spoke of unshed tears that threatened to fall off the string of her heart, and cultivated patience that comes only to those who feel and love keenly. At the foot of her bed, in a crib, lay Jims, happily in Dreamland, whose only difference from daytime for him was that his eyes were closed.
Anne rested her hand softly on the beautiful girl's cheek, and admired the fine chin inherited from her father. How womanly Rilla was growing! She kept the Junior Red Cross in close to perfect order, tended to Jims with all the patience and love of a mother and gave support to her own mother in the place of her absent brothers and sisters, with even Nan and Di gone and only Shirley left.
There was a time when Anne had worried that unambitious Rilla would never grow up. And yet—she would now give anything to have the sweet-lipped girl return from premature womanhood. She gazed at the creamy cheek, the dent above her rose-like lips, her "alabaster brow" and her glossy locks. In her sleep, Rilla stirred and a slight ghost of a smile attended the aforesaid lips.
Yes, Rilla was well. But there was a queer sensation around her heart that Anne couldn't explain. It made her uneasy—and uneasiness in the time of war was very unsettling.
There was a warm pressure on her back, and she turned around to see Gilbert. Dropping a kiss on her daughter's cheek, she took his hand and closed the door behind her.
"Is something wrong?" the doctor asked, concern saturating his voice.
"No," answered Anne, but she wasn't sure at all. Sighing, she returned to the bed and lay down, as did he.
She gazed earnestly into his hazel eyes. "I woke up a minute ago for no reason; I have this peculiar squeeze around my heart—no, it's nothing a doctor needs to worry about," she said hurriedly, perceiving the alarm in his eyes. "But it's so strange. I feel as if something's wrong, so I went to check on Rilla. She's fine. Even the night looks so happy. Oh, but this fluttering in my chest!" She buried her face in her hands.
Gilbert pried them away gently. "Are you all right, Anne-girl?" His tone was a golden ray of sunlight interrupted by hard, unwelcome intrusions. "I don't like the way you look—you're too pale for night-time and your forehead is so cold."
Anne shivered. "Put your arms around me again, Gilbert," she implored, burying her face in his shoulder when he did. "I need to feel warm—I'm so desperately cold."
He rubbed her shoulders and pressed his anxious lips to her hair.
"Oh, this horrible war!" she cried bitterly. It was not until almost a week later that she would learn the name of the unwelcome sensation that had gripped her heart and refused to leave her soul—perhaps for the rest of her life.