September 4th, 1887
Green Gables, Avonlea P.E.I.
Another P.S. (and it really is the last one I promise)
Phil there is nothing to do but admit to you now that the reason I have taken so long to reply is not to teach you a lesson, but because I have been holding out hope (a vain, miserable hope) that I might have something ~ no not something, the very best thing ~ to relate to you. But I can no longer lie to myself.
You tell me Gilbert has known since July that Roy and I are no more. Then let me tell you I have spent nearly every day of the last two weeks in his company and he has never once mentioned it. Meanwhile all Avonlea is talking of the accomplished Miss Stuart. Everyone but Gilbert. If he loves her, Phil, he never says so. And if she loves him then why did she not come to him when he was ill? I would have been by his side in a second, and every second after that ~
But I won't continue. For one it's shameless, and two, I know very well you're laughing at me.
I suppose one day I shall laugh. Isn't that what I have to look forward to now? A life of dedication, good works and memories bittersweet. Only now there seems a shortage of sweet things. Now I am about to tuck in my ends and attend yet another wedding. Miss Alice Penhallow is about to become Mrs. Simon Drew. And Miss Anne Shirley has been spending the afternoon trying to make my green chiffon look a little less like it did when I wore it to her engagement party. I may have to wear gloves, I've scored my palms with my fingernails that many times. Clenching my fists as I'm told yet again "that it's the over particular ones who get left behind."
Knowing I might have spent the afternoon with Gilbert makes it all the more unbearable. He was here not half an hour ago wanting to know if I cared for an "old time ramble through September woods and over the hills where spices grow?" Yes, Phil, Gilbert can be every bit as poetical as I can, when he means to be. Though when I told him I couldn't come he looked no more bothered than if he'd asked Dora.
"In that case," he said, blithely, "I shall hie me home to do something now that I should otherwise do tomorrow."
Oh, Phil, I don't see how I will ever laugh about this. I feel as if I will never laugh again. Afraid the joy that burnt so brightly when I heard he would live was merely the tail of a comet, lightening the sky for one glorious moment before finally fading away.
4th September, 1887
Allwinds, Avonlea, P.E.I.
Dear Professor Keaton,
I am writing to thank you for your generous offer and to inform you I must decline. I appreciate the honour, but cannot with good heart devote my life to medicine at Halifax knowing I could better serve those on the Island. I realise the opportunity I am giving up. I also know what I one day hope to gain.
I wish you well in all your endeavours.
Respectfully, Gilbert Blythe
4th September, Green Gables
The wedding was lovely, Alice was lovelier and I am in the dust. I look at the letter I wrote to Phil and detest every word of it. But I shall send it, not least because I know I deserve her mocking reply.
The very best thing has already happened. Gilbert lives. And I am resolved to be the very best Anne I can be without him.
5th September, Allwinds
It seems I am destined to be always at war with clocks. Has an hour ever passed so slowly? I was filled with certainty at four o'clock – why didn't we arrange to meet then? Then it was only a matter of striding up to her and saying, "Would you, Miss Shirley?" Now I am creaking with doubts. I read over the last entry in my journal and I think to myself, Blythe, you are clearly still delirious. Anne love you? Anne say yes to you? What are you thinking!
It's a far more comfortable feeling being resolved to give her up, I know then nothing could hurt me again. And it still might be I have to let her go. But I could never let go of the certainty that the life I fought for would be half lived, if I never dared do what I am about to do right now.
5th September, Green Gables
It's too much, it's too, too much! For him to live and for us to regain our friendship was already more than I knew what to do with. But to love me. Still. Truly. All these years. I can't take it in. I am so burstingly full of love for him there's no room for anything else.
It can't be contained on this page, it can't be contained in this house. I have to get outside, I don't care if it's ten o'clock, I don't care if Marilla and Rachel lecture me for a week!
All I want to be now is wherever he is.
How is it one in the morning! I feel I shall always be at war with clocks. Oh, that I could go back and live this night all over again. Instead let me write it out, there's no use in trying to sleep. I wonder what Gilbert is he doing, is he sleeping the sleep of angels? Is he thinking of me? I feel as if he is. Somehow I know what lives in his heart, just as he knows what lives inside me.
I must have sat on the porch steps for an hour though I knew he wasn't due until five. It was the fairest, most golden of evenings, and as he came up the drive to Green Gables his eyes looked like stars. It was all I could do not to make wishes on them. We walked on to Hester Gray's garden in silence. We often do, there was nothing to suggest this ramble would be different to any other. Until he took my hand to help me over the stile and never let it go. I was afraid to believe it might mean something and I told myself, firmly: Remember this, Anne Shirley, in a week you may never see him again.
The garden was a paradise, filled with a silken flush of fragrance only the dusk can bring. It seemed to fill my mouth so that all I could speak of were flowers. But Gilbert is used to that. We began talking about our dreams and I was relieved the sky was darkening because I knew my face must be as red as the setting sun. I've had so many dreams about him, there are mornings I never want to get out of bed.
For the briefest of moments I thought of saying, Do you want to know what I dream of, Gilbert Blythe? I dream of standing in front of you wearing nothing at all while you clothe me with kisses. I dream I'm bathing and look down to see it's not water about me but you. I dream of lying in my favourite tree and then you become that tree. I dream of watching for you by the gate of our home, of you running into my arms and kissing my hair and the belly that holds our baby.
All those dreams slipped through my mind like beads down a broken thread. Lost to me, but without regret when my dearest dream had already come true. He was alive and his hand was in mine and nothing else mattered. There was no bitterness, no might have beens. I only felt joy that he lived.
He began telling me about his own dreams. His voice took on that nervous, eager sound I remembered so well and I thought, this is when he tells me he is going to marry Christine. I was determined to be happy for him, preparing to steel myself; knowing once I did that steel would never leave my heart. Instead it was if a wave of happiness broke over me as I heard him describe a dream so exactly like my own. One that belonged with me. More, that was me. It was as if that steel shard was suddenly pulled free. I couldn't speak for relief and wonder, for all the love I had for him. But he understood what I wanted to say because he knows me. He knows me.
Such a blur of words followed. I think we were both so in awe at what had happened; having found ourselves in the midst of all that feeling we needed to take shelter in familiar things. And then, Diary, it was as if the sun came out, because ~
He kissed me!
I call it a kiss but only because I lack the language to define what it really was. Our bodies kissed first. He drew me to him slowly, touching my hair and then holding me around my waist. His hands felt so right there and I moved into him with such sureness, as though expecting music to start. When he gazed at my lips there was no flicker this time. I could feel a current pass right through them. And I knew what he wanted, because I know him, too.
What I didn't know was what it would be like for Gilbert ~ Gilbert of the broken slate and the blue hall, the word games and the singalongs, the chummy silences and combative debates ~ to kiss me. I think he was curious too, the way he nuzzled his face over my hair as though remembering me all over again.
His lips grazed over my brows, then my cheek, and lingered near my mouth. I could smell peppermints on his breath and I thought, Gilbert Blythe, you knew you were going to do this all along! That's when I started shaking, really shaking. It didn't seem to matter that this was the most romantic, most longed for moment of my life. I couldn't stop this shivery smile spreading all through my body ~ I thought I was going to laugh.
"If you don't let me kiss you, Anne Shirley," he murmured, "I'll break something over your head in a minute."
So I launched myself at him, our teeth colliding with such force I thought I tasted blood. I pulled away and tried to explain that I'd never kissed anyone before, and he got such a look in his eye.
"Don't move," he told me, and Diary I know it's all sorts of wrong, but I almost melted into the garden bench when he said that to me.
He held my face between his hands and kissed me over and over. Blissfully slow and tender kisses, until my heart and my lips were finally able to catch up with his, and the kissing ran away from us completely. Spilling out onto ears, necks, noses, chins, temples. Everywhere his mouth went seemed to light something inside me, so that when he walked me home I felt sure I must be glowing.
We decided not to tell anyone until the next day. It was nine by this time ~ four hours had somehow passed us by! Gilbert was to come in the morning just as early as he could, and we would tell Marilla first, then go on to Allwinds together. We said our goodbyes at the gate, I don't know how he got home but I fairly floated through the front door. Marilla was waiting up for me and as soon as I saw her I realised there would be no need for me to say anything.
It was the moment I felt I her arms around me that I began to understand what had happened. All I could do was cry. I was anxious Marilla would think me heartbroken. I tried to get the words out, to tell her how happy I was, but the feeling refused to be put into words. She simply wiped my eyes and then her own, and told me I may as well hold my tongue as happiness was written all over my face.
I thought I would go to up my room and write it all down but I could barely hold my pen. And an hour later I was creeping down the stairs to see Marilla gazing at the fire with a rapturous expression I had never seen before.
"Please, Marilla," I begged her, "I feel I will explode if I stay inside, I just need to be close to him. I won't go to the Blythes, just down to the gate."
She said, "If he's anything like his father I believe you'll find he's there already." And I wondered if Marilla's name had been carved somewhere on the gate posts.
I gave her a quick kiss and ran from the room, out to the porch and down the drive. And he was there! Gilbert was there at the gate.
Dreaming and hoping and waiting. For me.
...then I see her running to the gate without any sign she means to stop. Her hair is loose and she makes her way towards me with this look in her eyes I have never even let myself even dream of before. I couldn't help recall the times I stood at that spot hoping to catch a glimpse of her. To see Anne run towards me like that, so alive and filled with joy, made me realise two things. One, I was about to cry, and two I wasn't going to be able to hide it because I simply couldn't move.
All at once she was scaling the gate and jumping into my arms.
"I've wanted to do that for so long," she laughed. "And something else besides."
Then she kissed me. Not the shy, trembling kisses we shared in the hours before. But with an urgent, open mouth that so excited and astonished me I thought I would drop her. I settled her on the top of the gate and she took her hands from around my neck. Running them over my face, through my hair, and over my shoulders as if wanting to be sure I was really there. I could scarcely believe it myself. I felt I would dissolve and all I could think was: this woman is going to be my wife.
"I'm so happy to discover you here," she said, "because I realised something important that I forgot to do."
It was the most perfect night of my life, the birthday of our happiness. I couldn't think of one thing that was missing, one thing that was wanting. I had everything now, because I had Anne.
She clasped my hands and brought them to her breast so I could feel the way her heart was beating through her the soft green of her dress. I knew without doubt the tears that threatened were about to spill, and she said to me,
"I love you, Gilbert Blythe."
Thank you all for reading!
I've had the most beautiful time writing this, I swear sometimes it was like I was taking dictation. But it would be nothing if I couldn't share it with you, if I didn't know you were cheering on the characters, and cheering me on as well. #thirdbuttonrule #ham #ticktock #treelove #ochre #stella&priss4ever #thirdarm #velvetcape #phoebs #anagramnerd
Don't forget to join me with the Windy Willows Love Letters!
See you there, love kwak