A/N: Thanks so much to everyone reading and reviewing.
And everlasting thanks to LMM for these characters.
A few weeks later, AVIS were playing again at Patty's Place, and Fred's shoulder was sufficiently recovered enough so that he was able to play with them.
About an hour before the band were due to start, Anne and Diana were sitting on bar stools, talking to Gil and Fred who were standing next to them.
"I'm so glad I'm only a spectator tonight," Anne declared, sipping her drink. "I was a wreck at the last AVIS gig."
"Oh, come on, Anne, admit it, you loved being on stage with me," Gil grinned, moving to stand behind her stool, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her body close so her back was pressed tightly against his well-muscled chest.
"Actually, I think it was you who was loving being on stage with me," Anne snorted.
"I did," Gil admitted cheerfully. He bent slightly to rest his chin on her shoulder. "And remember the awesome pronking?"
"Yes, Gil, I remember the pronking," said Anne, rolling her eyes at him. "It really did help to calm my nerves."
"Of course it did," he said gleefully, planting a swift kiss on her cheek. "So did the gallon of punch you girls drank afterwards."
Anne rolled her eyes again.
"Oh, you're so hilarious," Anne said, but she turned to smile at him, reaching up to place her hand on his cheek and gently run the pad of her thumb along his jaw.
"Yeah, so what if we got drunk?" Di said indignantly. "We were adorable, and you know it."
"Well, it was Gil and I who had to pour you girls out of the party," Fred laughed. "So I think we'll be the judges of that."
"You told me you thought it was sweet that I fell asleep on your shoulder!" Di exclaimed.
"It was!" Fred grinned, with his arm around Di. "I'm just saying, you girls were pretty drunk. That's all…"
"Here comes the lovely Miss Gordon," said Gil. "I think we're safer over at the stage setting up, Fred. Let Phil talk to the girls for a bit."
Gil grinned and saluted Phil as he turned towards the stage.
"Hi boys," Phil waved to them, smiling brightly from beneath a tattered straw cowboy hat, the brim turned up at the sides, and with a hatband of shiny, multi coloured beads.
"See you over there, Phil," Fred waved and nodded as he and Gil sauntered off.
"Hi, girls," Phil greeted them warmly. "Jo should be finishing his shift in a mo, so he'll watch the band with you, okay?"
Anne and Di nodded and smiled as Phil caught sight of Jo and rushed over to him, standing up on her tip toes to kiss him on the lips.
"Hi, honey," Phil smiled warmly at Jo, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Will you get us some drinks, please?"
"Sure, Phil," Jo smiled and turned away from the girls to get the drinks.
Phil sat down on the stool next to Anne.
"You know, it's perfectly magnificent that you and Gil are together now, Queen Anne," Phil exclaimed. "Roy Gardner wouldn't have done for you at all. I see that now."
"I know, right!" Di agreed enthusiastically. "I'm dying for us to all go on a double date together. Hey, maybe you and Jo could come with us, too, Phil?"
"Oh, yes I'd love that," smiled Phil.
Phil spun in her seat to face the stage where Gil and Fred were setting up, shaking her head ruefully.
"I really don't know why I didn't see it coming earlier," she murmured, almost to herself. "I must be losing my touch."
Then she turned back to face the girls, smiling brightly.
"Anyway, I'm so glad Gil finally got his act together and asked you out properly, Anne," Phil said cheerily. "If only I had noticed sooner, you know I would've done something about it, honey."
"Yes, I know you would," Anne smiled.
"I told him you weren't one of those floozies throwing themselves at him," Phil went on. "So he'd have to try a bit harder."
"Floozies?" Anne laughed. "Really, Phil, you used the word floozy?"
"Of course! You didn't see what some of those girls did, Anne," Phil rolled her eyes dramatically. "Honestly, I don't know how Ruby put up with it. Those girls were ridiculous!"
"Fred said he didn't know how Gil put up with it," Di agreed. "Well, they must know they don't stand a chance with him now!"
"Yes, that boy is crazy about you, Anne," Phil grinned. "Sometimes I wonder how you don't spontaneously combust when he looks at you."
"So do I," Anne smiled sheepishly, blushing and tucking a red curl behind her ear.
"Check that out," Di said, nodding towards the entrance, with her eyebrows raised.
Anne turned in time to see Roy entering the bar with a pretty dark haired girl, who Anne recognised from Ruby's cheerleading squad.
"I thought Roy was with Josie Pye," Anne whispered to Phil.
Phil grinned proudly.
"Oh yes, I did that," she declared with satisfaction. "That's Prudence Middleton. She's a sweet little thing and they're perfectly happy together. Just look at them!"
Accordingly, the girls looked again. Roy and Prudence did look besotted as they smiled at each other. Roy escorted her to a table, chivalrously pulling a chair out for Prudence to sit on.
"Isn't she an heiress or something?" Di whispered, her eyes round as saucers, clearly impressed.
"Uh huh," Phil nodded. "She's some distant relative to royalty. Roy's parents couldn't be happier and Josie is livid."
At this Phil turned to indicate where Josie was standing with the football boys at the other end of the bar.
Anne and Di turned to see Josie standing with her arms crossed in front of her, glaring first at Roy and Prudence and then at Gertie, who was glowering back at her from the other side of the group of football boys. After a moment, Josie turned and leaned in towards the handsome boy she was standing with, fixing a bright smile on her face and tucking her hand into his arm.
"Well, the band's going to start soon," Phil announced. "I'd better get over there and boss those boys around a bit. See you later, girls."
A few minutes later, Charlie swept in proudly with Sophie on his arm.
Sophie waved excitedly to the girls as she made her way over to the bar and Charlie joined the rest of the band, glancing serenely at Anne as he did so.
"Hi, girls!" Sophie cried. "Isn't this exciting? I just looove watching AVIS play, don't you?"
Anne and Di smiled and nodded.
"Well of course you do!" Sophie giggled. "Your boyfriends are in the band, too, aren't they? Of course, I simply adore boys who play bass guitar the most. And Charlie's sooo talented, isn't he?"
"And what about his bass solo?" Anne asked. "It's incredible, isn't it?"
"Oh yes! And his eyes!" Sophie exclaimed. "Have you ever noticed them? They're so passionate aren't they?"
Anne and Di nodded again, their eyes wide and their eyebrows elevated in amazement.
"Charlie's so glad you could finally move on and settle for Gil," Sophie said in confidential tones. "We really couldn't be happier for you, Anne."
"Why, thank you, Sophie," Anne said, her eyes dancing. "I'm trying my hardest."
"I can see that," Sophie reached over to squeeze Anne's hand sympathetically. "I just don't think I could ever get over Charlie."
"I've been supporting her through it," Di intoned solemnly.
"Well, I'm going to save us a spot at the front of the stage," Sophie announced. "I don't want to miss out on being right in front of Charlie!"
"Thanks, Sophie. We'll meet you there," the girls both grinned broadly as Sophie hurried away.
Di caught sight of Stella and Priss who were talking to a tall, dark haired boy near the stage.
"Is that Prissy's new boyfriend?" Di asked Anne. "He's gorgeous, isn't he?"
Anne nodded, smiling over at her friends.
"Talk about tall, dark and handsome," Anne agreed, smiling. "He's in Jo's Theology class, and he's just arrived from Japan."
"Ooohhh," Di nodded and sounded impressed. "Fancy you telling me the latest news, Anne. That's a turn up for the books."
"Well, Priss is my roommate, Di," Anne smiled. "And it's about time I knew something before you."
Herb and Ruby waved to the girls as they walked past them on their way to join the group of football boys. Smiling, Ruby gestured with her hands to indicate that she approved of Anne's hairstyle.
Anne nodded her thanks and smiled back at Ruby. She had worn her hair down, as was her wont lately, with her red curls tumbling in a wild mass around her shoulders.
Jo strolled over to them, smiling warmly.
"Come on girls," Jo said, standing between them and placing his arm around each of their shoulders. "We'd better head down to the stage. Phil will kill me if I don't get us a place up the front where she can see me."
"We don't want to disappoint Phil," Di smiled, looking eagerly over at Fred who was hooking his guitar strap around his shoulder.
Di sighed dreamily and her features softened as she watched Fred.
"Doesn't Fred look gorgeous?" she said. "It's so nice to be able to touch both of his arms now."
"You can't be making goo-goo eyes at Fred all night, Di," Anne admonished her, smiling. "Remember, he has to concentrate."
"Okay," Di breathed. "You remember to do the same for Gil, won't you?"
"I'm not sure if Fred or Gil will be able to concentrate," Jo laughed. "And I'll be doing the same for Phil, hopefully. Stick with me, girls, and I'll show you how it's done."
As the band started playing, Di blew Fred a kiss causing his round face to turn its most unflattering shade of red. Gil's bright hazel eyes had found Anne's and he winked at her, grinning broadly.
Towards the end of the first set, AVIS started playing the opening bars of the music Gil and Fred had written together.
"I wrote this song about a very special girl," Gil's eyes had locked on Anne's and he was smiling as he introduced the song. "So, this one is for her. Miss Anne Shirley."
Anne heard piercing wolf whistles from the football boys at the back of the room over the loud applause from the audience as Gil continued to stare at her, and she felt shivers of excitement coursing through her body.
Gil grabbed the microphone from its stand, and tossed his head to flick brown curls out of his eyes as he started singing.
If Anne thought Gil's singing voice had unnerving effects on her body before, listening to him sing something that she now knew he'd written for her, a song that he was singing to her, made her practically melt into the floor. She couldn't move as his intense hazel gaze seemed to keep her frozen in place, and Anne was having trouble drawing breath.
When Gil sang, "There's another, not a sister", he pointed to Anne, winking and leaving her in no doubt that he meant that line for her, and the frisson that Anne felt reverberating through her body was profound.
After AVIS finished playing, Gil leapt off the stage and practically sprinted over to Anne.
"You need to come with me," he declared, his hazel eyes intense.
"Where are we going?" Anne asked as he grabbed her by the hand.
He pulled her into a dark corner behind the stage. Deliberately, he pressed her against the wall and she could feel the heat radiating from his body. He grabbed her face in his hands, and kissed her thoroughly, pinning her body to the wall with his hips.
Finally, he let her go and they were both gasping for air.
"Sorry," he said finally, still breathing heavily. "But I've been wanting to do that all night."
He didn't look the least bit sorry, as he leaned his forehead against hers and caressed her hair gently.
Anne was unable to speak for a few moments while she tried to catch her breath and stared into his blazing hazel eyes that still looked a little wild.
"Wow," she gasped at last.
"You don't know the half of it, Anne Shirley," he panted.
"I thought you wrote that song because you still loved Christine!" Anne said accusingly.
"Why would you think that?" Gil shook his head, his pink lips parted in a broad grin with his white teeth flashing. "Of course it was for you, Anne."
After that, the crowds of girls following Gil Blythe around the Redmond campus thinned markedly. Gil was rarely very far away from Anne, usually walking with her to and from her classes. When they were together, his arm was wound firmly around Anne's waist, keeping her body pressed tight to his side and they were often laughing or gazing intensely at each other.
A week or two later, they were sitting under the birch tree together one afternoon. Anne had her back propped against its trunk and her long slim legs stretched out in front of her. She had kicked off her sandals and they were lying on the grass beside her bag of text books. Her silky cream coloured top matched the tint of her skin and her green cotton skirt was tucked around her knees. A forgotten copy of Persuasion was lying open in her lap as she listened to Gil reading. Her grey eyes were shining and her hands were clasped together in front of her, thrilling as she listened to his deep voice caressing the words.
Gil was sitting facing her with the side of his left thigh pressed up against hers. He was leaning across her, propped up on his left hand which was placed on the other side of her legs and his right hand was holding his well-loved book of poetry as he read aloud to her.
"I think you're the only boy I've ever known to read poems about death to a girl and think it's romantic," Anne observed, smiling comically.
He knew she liked him reading poetry to her, so Gil wasn't the least bit perturbed by her comment.
"Well, they worked to woo you in the first place," he grinned. "So I figure if you find them a turn on, I'll keep reading them to you."
"You wooed me?" Anne laughed. "Seriously?"
"You can't have forgotten our first date already?" Gil teased. "You were hot for me after that last poem I recited in the pavilion, remember?"
"Yes, of course," she smiled. "'O Captain! My Captain' was irresistible. And I happen to know it's your favourite."
"I loved that it moved you so much," he was smiling softly now.
"Well, it's a sad verse," Anne said. "And you recited it so beautifully. You can't blame me for getting a bit upset."
His gaze was bouncing back and forth between her sparkling eyes as he studied them intently.
"Your eyes did just exactly that when I recited it at the poetry reading," he murmured.
"What did they do?" Anne asked.
"They turn a bit greener sometimes," he whispered, staring steadily into their limpid depths. "Did you know that?"
Anne shook her head mutely, unable to drag her eyes away from his.
He leaned in to softly brush his lips against hers.
"Besides, I don't have to just read you death poetry, you know," he grinned, suddenly reaching over to tickle her bare feet and throwing his book to one side.
"Gil!" she shrieked, bending her knees up to her chin to escape. "That tickles!"
He leaned forward with one hand braced on the birch tree behind her as he started peppering her creamy white throat with a trail of playful kisses. Anne squeezed her eyes shut, her face contorted with laughter and she shrugged her shoulder as he planted loud, open mouthed kisses into the hollow of her throat and along her neck.
"I've got plenty of other poetry up my sleeve," he mumbled into her skin.
"Oh, really?" she laughed. "Like what?"
"'Flowers spring to blossom where she walks,'" Gil pressed a soft kiss to the curve of her creamy shoulder.
"Hmmm," Anne exhaled, still giggling a little.
"'The careful ways of duty...'" Gil went on, his lips moving against the column of her throat.
Another sigh drifted from her lips as she tilted her head to allow him better access to her skin.
"'Our hard, stiff lines of life with her...'" his lips were hovering just above hers now, the back of his finger softly caressing her cheek. "'Are flowing curves of beauty.'" *
Anne had stopped laughing but a gentle smile still floated around her soft, pink lips as they stared at each other.
"You can recite anything you like to me, Gil Blythe," she said. "You know I'm helpless at the sound of your voice."
"I know," he whispered, his hazel eyes smiling warmly into hers.
Anne threw her arms around his neck to draw him to her and kissed him soundly on the lips.
He drew away a little and picked up the book that had fallen off her lap from where it was lying on the grass next to her.
"Would you prefer it if I read you 'Persuasion'?" he grinned. "Although someone once told me that it's not very 'masculine' reading, I'm willing to risk it."
"I really don't think your masculinity has ever been in question, Gil," she laughed.
"I know it's your favourite," he said. "So I think it could be worth my while. Tell me, what is it you like so much about that story?"
"I think it's that Anne and Frederick still love each other after years of separation. And his letter! It's so beautiful, don't you think?"
"Yes, it's beautiful," said Gil, looking steadily down into Anne's uplifted face, "but wouldn't it have been more beautiful still, if there had been no separation or misunderstanding… if they had come hand in hand all the way through life, with no memories behind them but those which belonged to each other?"*
For a moment, Anne's heart fluttered queerly and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face as she stared into Gil's bright hazel eyes.
"Oh, yes," she breathed. "That would be beautiful, too."
Gil leaned slowly towards her and kissed her again.
"I'm glad we agree about that," Gil smiled.
* Gil is reciting from 'Among the Hills' by J. G. Whittier.
* Taken from AoA – Ch XXX 'A Wedding at the Stone House'.
A/N #2: Well, folks, that's all for now from these crazy TAB kids. I have had so much fun with them, and I can't possibly express my constant delight at how well received this story has been, ever since I posted that first funny little chapter on a whim. I have appreciated all your comments and encouragement so much, and I can't thank you enough for reading.
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful holiday season. Best wishes and smiles from FKAJ.