I have always wondered what happened when Gilbert "came quite often to Green Gables" after his illness. So this is my take on the in-between chapter. This is partly inspired by all you fellow fan fiction writers. There are some really great stories here! I got the idea for this story after reading "Learning to Love Again", by Bertha Willis. Great story, I recommend! Anyhow, thanks for all the inspiration, everyone. I hope you enjoy.
Anne approached the Blythe's home with trepidation. As happy as she was that Gilbert was getting better, she felt that she had no right to be there. Marilla and Rachel had made a basket of food for the Blythe's, a neighborly gesture to help see them through a difficult time. Marilla had intended to send Davy over with it, but Anne had insisted she be the one to take it. Anne knew what Pacifique Buote had said, but she needed to hear it for herself. Her desperation drove her to the task of carrying the heavy basket as she thought nothing of what she would say when she arrived other than that she needed to really know Gilbert was going to make it through.
She had slept two nights since she realized she loved Gilbert; two nights to remember what a fool she had been to think the flattered fancy she had felt for Roy Gardner had been love; two nights to really think about what she had given up when Gilbert walked out of the Patty's Place orchard the night of his ill-fated proposal. She had been so angry at him, convinced his behavior had brought on the destruction of their friendship. How wrong she had been. She remembered Phil's words that very night, when Anne cried about her crumbled world that needed to be reconstructed. "A world without any Gilbert in it," Phil had said. Anne had lived in that world for two years and it was only by ignoring everything her heart had been trying to tell her that she had made it through. Why did it take him almost dying for her to realize her feelings? Why did she only realize now, when it was likely he was engaged to someone else?
Anne tried to put these thoughts out of her mind as she knocked quietly on the Blythe door. The door opened and there stood John Blythe, Gilbert's father. A shocked look registered on his face only for a moment before he said "Well hello, Anne. I had heard you were back in Avonlea for the summer. It's nice to see you. What brings you by?"
Mr. Blythe's tone was so calm and kind that Anne was immediately set at ease. She had expected he would look more tired, but his eyes were bright and welcoming. "Thank you, Mr. Blythe. Um, Marilla and Rachel made you all a basket of food. I wanted to bring it over this morning. We hope it will be enough for at least a couple days."
John Blythe smiled warmly, "Thank you Anne, please tell Marilla and Rachel thank you. It will be helpful for Mrs. Blythe to know she's spared time in the kitchen at time like this." He took the basket from her and invited her inside.
Just then Gilbert's mother, Caroline, walked down the stairs and saw Anne standing in the doorway. Her face registered the same shock, but she quickly schooled it. What did this girl mean showing up here at a time like this? Caroline had heard her sons fevered calls for Anne, calls that went unanswered. Calls that ripped her heart out because she finally realized that Gilbert would never be over Anne. And now this girl was standing at her door.
"Anne was just here brining us some food from Green Gables," said John.
"Why, thank you Anne. Please tell Marilla and Rachel how grateful we are," Caroline said as sweetly as she could but with a coolness that did not go unnoticed.
"You're very welcome Mrs. Blythe." Anne wanted to continue, but she was having trouble. It was clear Gilbert's mother was uncomfortable with her being there. "I was just wondering – I mean, George Fletcher's hired man, he told me Gil's fever broke. Is it true? Is Gil really going to be alright?" There was a desperation in her voice that anyone could hear. John Blythe took Anne's hand and patted it gently, "Yes, Anne, Gilbert is on the mend. His fever broke two days ago and he's been resting comfortably. The doctor expects he will make a full recovery."
Anne hadn't realized how tense she had been until the moment she heard the words 'full recovery.' "Oh I am so relieved. We were so afraid for him." Anne found herself wanting to give an explanation as to why she had not been there sooner, although it was almost certain they weren't looking for one. Surely they hadn't expected her to be there, but she should have been. Anne should have been with Gilbert from the beginning.
"We would let you see him, Anne, but he's asleep," said Caroline, not really knowing or caring if it was true.
"Oh no, Mrs. Blythe, I wouldn't dream of bothering him when he's recovering. If you could," she trailed off. Oh the things she wanted to say that could not be said!
"If we could what, Anne?" asked John.
"If you could just let him know that we, that I, was praying for him. And that I hope he could come see me when he's better recovered." Anne needed Gilbert to know she was thinking of him and hoped the Blythe's didn't think too ill of her, lest they deny her request. She still remembered how Mrs. Blythe's behavior towards her had changed in recent years.
But John nodded, "We will tell him Anne. I am sure he would like to see you when he is feeling better."
"Thank you, Mr. Blythe!" Anne was grateful for his kind nature. Gilbert was so much like him. "Well I better get back. Thank you again!" Anne turned and left the Blythe's home and began the walk back to Green Gables. She was relieved to at least know for sure that Gilbert was on the mend. That was enough for her in the moment to be perfectly happy.
As Caroline watched Anne walk away from the house she couldn't understand the feeling of loss that went with her. It aggravated her that she should feel Anne belonged there, by her son's side. But she felt it nonetheless. She felt it mostly because she knew Gilbert felt it. But her maternal instincts took over when she said,
"What did that girl mean coming here? And at a time like this?"
"I think it's clear she came to bring us this, my dear," said John holding up the basket. He knew his wife liked Anne, but he also realized part of her held Anne responsible for Gilbert's illness. He knew it wasn't fair, but he also knew how scared she had been so let his wife the luxury of displacing her fear.
"I just don't think it's a good idea her showing up here. She's caused Gilbert enough trouble as it is." Caroline knew that she was being unreasonable. But she couldn't help it. She had almost lost her son and she was aware that part of the reason he had been so run down in the first place was because of Anne Shirley.
"Caroline, she's one of his oldest friends. I am sure she was worried about him." John said.
"Well it's a fine time she's worrying about him now, when she's got a millionaires ring on her finger!"
"Well I can't say I was looking for one, but I didn't notice any ring anywhere. She may be engaged, but if she came as Gilbert's friend we ought to be grateful she still cares. Especially considering we know how much he still does." John had also heard his sons fevered cries for Anne. So much did they tear at his heart that he had to stop himself on more than one occasion from marching to Green Gables and pleading with Anne to help him.
"That's why I am worried. We know he still loves her. And it will destroy him when –if he finds out she's engaged. I don't want anything to hurt his recovery."
"I understand, dear. But don't be too hard on Anne. She's a sweet girl and who knows, maybe all the gossip about the millionaire is just that," said John
"Well for Gilbert's sake, I hope you're right. But in the mean time, I am going to protect him from being hurt if I can." With that Caroline began unpacking the basket Anne had brought.
Upstairs, Gilbert sat up in bed with a letter in his hand. With his fever having only broken two days before, he was unaware of when this letter had even arrived. He saw it was from Phil Blake, the former Phil Gordon. He couldn't imagine what she would be writing to him, unless perhaps she had heard of his illness. His father had brought him up several notes from friends wishing him a speedy recovery. He noticed there was nothing from Anne. He tried not to give it much thought as he turned Phil's envelope over in his hands. She was probably off somewhere with Gardner. And as that thought played over in his mind he heard voices from downstairs, they were faint, almost undetectable. He strained to listen. He could place his parents voices and he realized he recognized a third one. It sounded an awful lot like Anne. He quickly dismissed the thought. Although, if Gilbert was being honest with himself, in the back of his mind there was the slightest anger that Anne had not called on him or written him. He understood she didn't love him and never would. He understood their friendship was not and would never be the same. But at least as an old and dear friend, he hoped he had meant more to her. He thought back to Convocation, when Anne had carried his flowers. The feeling in his heart told him it meant something, but Anne's cold rejection of a dance brought him back to reality. She was always doing that to him, bringing him hope and then crushing it. He blamed himself. He tried to stop loving her, but it was like asking him to stop breathing.
He sighed, the voices faded into the background as Gilbert tore open Phil's letter.
I hope this letter finds you well. I am also hoping that when you are back in Kingsport for your medical courses you will find the time to call and Jonas and I. We would love to see you and catch up on your life. You've made quite a splash here in Kingsport by winning that Cooper Prize. Everyone is still talking about it. I have no doubt you will do well in medical school.
And now to the real reason for my letter. What, you didn't think I wrote you just to stroke your ego and tell you to come call on me did you? Forgive me, Gilbert. I don't mean to be silly, although I always have had the feeling you see me that way. I assure you I am, but not nearly as silly as some may think. I am actually quite thoughtful and that's the reason I had to write to you. I have debated for several weeks whether or not I should interfere. Jonas is of the mind I should keep out of things, but always giving himself an out, he also acknowledged that I need to be able to have a clear conscience. After all, what would a minister's wife be without a clear conscience? I bet your wishing I would just get to the point. Well here it is, Gilbert. Anne isn't marrying Roy Gardner. I won't betray her confidence by relaying the particulars of just how I know this, but believe me when I tell you I am absolutely certain of it. Anne is not engaged to him and never will be.
Now, why am I telling you this? I recently I found out, through mutual friends, that you are likewise not engaged to Christine Stuart. I must admit I was surprised at first, count me among one of the people who spread the rumor of your engagement around Redmond. But then I realized it made sense. You were no more in love with Christine than Anne was with Roy. Anne's voice has been ringing in my head these past weeks. All I will say about what happened between her and Roy is that she told me she wants someone who belongs in her life. Roy certainly didn't. But just maybe you do and just maybe Anne doesn't realize it. Forgive me for being too forward by saying this, but try again, Gilbert. I believe Anne has given up her childish fantasies. She's not looking for tall, dark, and melancholy. She's looking for you. Try again and hopefully you can make Anne see what everyone else has known for years, that you two belong together.
Jonas sends his regards and reiterates my request to call on us when you return to Kingsport. I hope you two will have much to talk of and can become good friends.
Take care, Gilbert.
Your friend, Phil
If Gilbert had any expectation of what Phil's letter would have to say he most certainly did not expect that! Anne was not engaged to Roy! Was that even possible? Evidently it was, Phil was quite certain. But those rumors, he had heard them almost weekly. But apparently the same rumor swirled about him and Christine and that was no more real than Anne's engagement was. And what was he to make of Phil's assertion that he should 'try again'? As he tried to sort it all out in his mind, his father walked in. "Gilbert is everything alright? I knocked several times. I opened the door because I thought maybe you were sleeping."
"Oh sorry, dad, I guess I was just lost in thought. I am fine. Just tired"
"Well you are looking well. You are starting to get some color back in your face. Here," he said holding out a plate with fresh fruit and muffins on it. "Your mother says you need to start eating some real food. Are you hungry?"
Gilbert took the plate eagerly. "I am starving, thank you! Oh banana muffins, my sense of smell must not be whole yet, I can usually smell these baking from downstairs. Tell Mom I said thanks!"
John smiled. "Your mother didn't make those. They came over from Green Gables." Gilbert looked up immediately at his father, his mouth hung open slightly.
"Green Gables?" was all he could say.
"Yes, Anne brought them over herself this morning." Anne had been here, it had been her voice he heard. "She also wanted me to tell you that she's praying for you and that she hopes you can call on her when you are feeling well enough." John saw the look that came over his sons face and it only registered joy in that moment.
"Oh well, that was very nice of her- and Miss Cuthbert- to think of me. I will have to pay them a visit to say thank you when I can." Gilbert was trying to hide his enthusiasm and stifle his smile, but it was no use.
John could not help an answering smile light his own lips. He had felt that something was different with Anne when he saw her this morning. But if she were engaged, it would be so devastating to his son. He wanted to caution him, to tell him to guard his heart. But the smile on his face stayed his words. If just one minute of knowing Anne wanted to see him had this profound effect on him, then he would not interfere. And if Gilbert did get bad news, hopefully he would far enough along in recovery that he would be able to handle it.
"Do you think I could go out tomorrow? I really am feeling so much better! I would love to get out of this room." Gilbert was eager, as though two weeks of recovery had passed by in the last two minutes.
"I know you would son, but you need to watch yourself. I don't think your mother is going to take to kindly to you leaving so soon" and then he added without thinking, "Anne will still be a Green Gables when you are ready." John turned to leave the room when Gilbert's voice cut in, "She's not marrying him, Dad." He instinctively held up Phil's letter. "Anne- she's not engaged." Gilbert wasn't sure why he wanted his father to know that. But he did.
All John Blythe said in return was, "I am glad to hear that son. I really am. Now get some rest."
It was another two days before Gilbert's mother would even entertain the thought of him leaving the house. It was only after constant pleading that bordered on irritating that she relented. It was not lost on her that Gilbert was no longer a boy. He was a man, perfectly capable of making his own decisions. She realized he did not have to listen to her, but she loved him because he was a good son who knew his mother was worried.
But on the third day after the fever, she realized Gilbert was restless and ready leave the house.
"Where will you go?" Gilbert's father asked. Everyone in the room already knew the answer.
"Just for a walk." Gilbert said lightly. "Perhaps I might stop by Green Gables and thank them for their kindness."
John smiled and Caroline couldn't help smiling seeing the look on her son's face. John had told her about Anne not being engaged. Neither of them knew how Gilbert knew this information but John suspected the news was contained in one of the letters he had received. However Gilbert had found out, they were both grateful. Both were convinced that that knowledge had more to do with what the doctor had called a miraculous recovery than anything else.
Gilbert told himself he was merely going to Green Gables to say thank you. He told himself that nothing had changed between him and Anne. He had read Phil's letter a dozen times. But as happy as he was that Anne wasn't marrying Roy, he also knew that Roy was never truly his obstacle. If Anne loved him, there would never have been a Roy.
He gave himself all the caution he could muster – had almost convinced himself that he would be happy to just have Anne back in his life as a friend – because if the last two years had proved anything it was that he needed her in his life, just as he needed air to breath. If it could only be as friends he would accept that. He would repair the damage, stop his foolishness, bury his feelings and be what Anne had always wanted, a friend. He pushed Phil's letter to the back of his mind and vowed to himself that he wouldn't let get caught up in loving Anne.
But as he approached Green Gables, that silent vow was all but forgotten as he came upon Anne sitting in the garden, silently picking flowers. Her red hair glistened in the sunlight. To Gilbert, it was almost as though he was seeing her for the first time. Like he was seeing her as the man he had become, rather than the boy he had been.
She was so beautiful, more beautiful than she had been in his fevered dreams. She continued on in the flowerbed, her back slightly to him. Gilbert walked quietly towards her until he was close enough to gently call, "Hello, Carrots."