For everyone who followed One More Day with You, thank you for returning for the sequel! I'm grateful to be telling another story, and I hope I can bring you some happiness while I'm doing it. I appreciate your feedback so much, and I hope you will continue to ask questions that prompt my imagination! I love and appreciate LMM's wonderful characters, I hope that any story I tell from this platform honours what she saw in Anne and Gilbert herself.
So, if you are willing to trust me, and settle in for the long haul with a cuppa: to you Anne-Girls on here I would like to present When Tomorrow Comes.
When Tomorrow Comes
Twilight was falling over Avonlea, the glorious pink and saffron sunset surrendering to the deep indigo flooding from the east. Faint stars were beginning to appear over snow covered fields, and dark wooden fences crisscrossed the landscape in every direction.
A couple in heavy coats stood outside a horse and buggy in the lane, blissfully occupied in each other's touch and pointedly ignoring the open curtains in the window of the nearby farmhouse.
"Dearest, I'm sure this could wait until we are out of sight of the house." Anne Shirley said to Gilbert Blythe, with a little giggle. His reply was gruff, as he pulled her even closer.
"Maybe you can wait. I haven't seen you in twenty-four hours. Mrs. Lynde can go ahead and scold me."
Anne laughed. "You needed to see your Uncle Dave, and I had the Ladies Aid benefit tea. I even spent some time with your mother there." He raised an eyebrow at her pointedly and moved to kiss her again, and she gave a sigh that echoed straight through him pleasurably.
"Would they miss us if we didn't show up?" he mumbled, barely moving from her mouth.
"Why, Gilbert Blythe!" Anne said, pulling away from his warm lips with a twinkle in her eyes. "You told me how much you wanted to go to the dance, you said you were looking forward to it!"
"That was before! This is now. I like now." he said crossly, sounding like the petulant boy he might have been two decades ago.
Anne chuckled. "I fear this doesn't bode well for our long engagement, darling."
Gilbert smiled then and rested his head against hers with a deep sigh.
"True. It is however what is before us, so I have to summon the grace to release you- for a few minutes, at least."
He handed her into the buggy carefully, and as he climbed in, he distinctly saw Mrs. Lynde peering through the kitchen window of Green Gables.
"She's watching again," he said mischievously, knowing exactly what Anne's reaction would be. She quickly turned and took his face in her hands, kissing him with enough force to make him slip sideways on the seat. Helpless laughter arose from the two of them, and after a moment Gilbert took his seat again and a hold of the reins still chuckling.
"We really shouldn't keep doing that; we might give her heart failure one of these days," Anne said guiltily
"Admit it, you enjoy it." he teased, making her laugh again as the buggy began to move.
"I really do," she said thoughtfully, and sighed, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm. "I missed this." She nuzzled her face into his shoulder.
"I missed you too."
"No, not just that, I missed you- this is the you I missed while we were apart." She smiled up at him. "I missed your teasing, Gil- I missed the ever-so-slightly wicked you. I never saw that look on your face, I never saw any glimpse of the boy that would pull hair or pin braids to a seat."
Gilbert laughed incredulously. "You missed that fellow? The one you wouldn't speak to for five years?"
"The one I couldn't help being attracted to? Yes." Anne stated, her eyes twinkling. "The very one who tormented the Avonlea matrons with me, and wrote those Observer notes, and inspired at least a dozen personal lectures from Mrs. Lynde. You'll have to remind me to tell you about the most recent."
He smiled down at her lovingly. "Maybe it takes you to bring it out in me."
Anne snorted then. "Oh? And who inspired you when you were a child? Your mother has been telling me stories, dear."
"Hmm. You must bring out my inner child. That doesn't bode well for us as parents, I'm afraid." he commented, with a saucy grin. "Are you sure you're up for a household full of Blythes in the future?"
"If I can handle their father, I'm sure I can deal with anything," she said, with a conscious little smile. Suddenly an expectant silence came between them. He turned to her, his eyes tender, and she gazed up at him longingly. So much needed to remain unspoken, and yet Anne found herself wanting nothing more than the freedom to share every veiled thought, every unspoken dream that of late had filled her heart. She let out a deep breath and rested her head on his shoulder. For now, it was safer to leave things unsaid.
Gilbert pulled her closer to him, watching the emotions play across her face. His answering smile was loving, recognising the look in her grey eyes. It was the same one he knew reflected in his own.
The dance at the Avonlea Hall was in full swing by the time Anne and Gilbert arrived. Homely light shone down from the old fashioned lamps, painstakingly cleaned for the purpose of the evening by a disgruntled caretaker. Tables of food been set up on the left side of the hall, guarded carefully by the Avonlea matrons from young fellows who had more appetite for food than for dancing.
Anne could see some of her older students, now taking their first uncertain steps into the adult world. She smiled to see young girls fidgeting with pins in hair that had never been worn up before, dancing with gangly youths who parading them awkwardly, trying not to step on skirts that bewilderingly now touched the floor. She smiled, remembering her own first dance with Gilbert.
When coats were stored and Gilbert met Anne at the door, hegrinned at her contentedly and raised her hand to his lips.
"This is our first appearance out together since becoming a betrothed couple." he whispered, noticing the curious glances they were receiving from some people in the crowd. "Any idea how you want to play this?" he teased. "As a besotted couple, or as college sophisticates?"
Anne chuckled. "I don't think anyone would be convinced by that, Gil. There are women here who would have wiped your nose when you were a young lad. And the first thing they usually remember about me is the slate, and of course the red hair."
"The red hair I fell in love with." Gilbert pointed out. "And I think everyone here saw that long before you did." He tucked her hand under his arm, smiling at the pearl ring his fingers brushed over. She smiled back, her eyes sparkling, thinking of the moment he had placed it there.
Within minutes of Anne's arrival at the Blythe farmhouse on Christmas day, Gilbert had whisked her off to the little parlour, barely giving Anne a chance to greet her future in-laws before he had closed the door firmly behind them.
He pulled her into his arms to enthusiastically reprise the wonderful kisses from the day before, the day she had promised to marry him. When several minutes had gone by, Anne pulled away with a slight giggle, reaching up to the lock of hair that Gilbert had dislodged.
"Was this what you spirited me away for, dearest?"
He grinned. "Not exactly. But it worked well, and I didn't hear any complaints from you."
Her face turned rosy pink, and she stepped away to the small mirror to replace a pin that had been moved. Gilbert came to stand behind her, his arms coming around her waist. She sighed then, with a little smile.
"Do you suppose we will get used to this?" she asked softly.
"Never." he murmured. "I'll never take it for granted that you love me." He smiled, and his tone changed then. "Now, I have a present for you."
Anne turned to him, with a bright smile. "And I have one for you; it is however waiting for you at Green Gables, for tonight."
"Then I will look forward to heading over there later. But for now, it's your turn." he said, his eyes merry.
He took her hand and led her over to the settee, and sat as closely as he could to her. Gilbert frowned in frustration, unable to pull the neatly wrapped package from his jacket pocket, and Anne laughed at the way he had to stand to pull it out only to reposition himself by her side. He handed her the little box, his body turned to face her with eager expectation. She gave him a little smile before turning her attention to opening the parcel.
Anne's fingers shook when she saw the little box and opened it carefully, letting out a little gasp when she saw what was inside. Three pearls, one larger and two smaller sat on a golden band, little vine-like twists of gold holding each pearl in place. Her lips trembled, and she reached out a hand to touch his cheek softly. "It's so lovely." she whispered.
Gilbert turned his head to kiss the palm of her hand, his breath catching.
"I found it in Kingsport. You told me one evening that you had just been reading Of Pearls and Stars, and when I saw the ring I could only see you." His smile faltered a little then. "Anne, this is just your Christmas present, however, I wondered if you would like to wear it on your ring finger until I replace it with your actual engagement ring." he said, his voice hesitant. "A diamond takes a little longer to save for, you see." He grinned at her humbly, and was taken aback by the mutinous flash of green in her grey eyes, and the fierce way she took his face in her hands to kiss him passionately. When he came up for air, Anne held his face close to her own.
"This will be my engagement ring." Anne said softly. "I think it is the most beautiful ring that ever was, and I will not have you work for a diamond that I will not love as much as I love this."
Gilbert gave a little laugh, his hands running up and down her slender arms. "I thought you were over your prejudice against diamonds by now. It is the stone that signifies love, after all."
Anne shook her head, her smile loving. "It isn't the only one that signifies it, Gil. The scriptures never talked about the diamond of great price- it was always the pearl." she whispered, her fingers stroking the light stubble on his cheek. "You are the pearl of great price that I would give up anything for."
His kiss was tender, and he pulled back from her with a smile. "And you are mine."
She looked back into his eyes, a slight twinkle in them. "So this will be my engagement ring for all time, my love."
He chuckled at her stubbornness, holding her as closely as he was able to. "As you wish. You know, I nearly bought you a necklace. A little pink enamel heart. I'm glad I went with the ring instead."
Now, back in the crowded hall, Anne looked down at her pearls with a big smile, tucking both hands into the crook of Gilbert's arm. As the music ended for the first dance, Anne and Gilbert found themselves surrounded by people talking merrily. Diana, lovely in a peach coloured gown and Fred just behind clapping Gilbert on the shoulder, Charlie looking morose without his Dear Nicole to accompany him; Moody conversing with a serious young lady Anne had never met before, and Josie who walked over towards the group with an acidly sweet smile for the couple in the centre.
"Anne, I haven't seen you in that dress for years!" Josie said, conveying exaggerated surprise as she cut through the conversation around them. "I do admire the way you reuse clothing, it's such a thrifty habit. Wouldn't you agree, Alyssa?" she said, turning to Moody's bewildered date. "And now I suppose you're here to show off that quaint little ring. It is as- unique- as you are, Anne." she said, her nose in the air. "Actually, I'm surprised that someone who dated the richest man in Kingsport would settle for a mere farm-boy from Prince Edward Island- even if she was an orphan from who knows where."
Anne's face had flushed by this point, however before she could give vent to the anger that was rapidly building, Diana had taken Josie's arm.
"Josie, could you please show me which of the tarts you made?" she asked, her pulling her away from Anne and Gilbert. "You know, my mother is most firm on the quality of pastry, and says that mine is too heavy for such light delicacies. I would be ever so grateful to get some tips from you if I could." She steered a surprised Josie away from Anne, much to Gilbert's relief. He fought to suppress a chuckle at the furious look on Anne's face.
Fred shook his head. "She hasn't got less catty over the years, has she? Glad you never got caught by that." he said bluntly, causing Gilbert to laugh. He then squeezed Anne's hand.
"Do we need to take a little turn outside?" he asked drolly.
Anne took a deep breath, and turned to her mischievous fiancé with a frown. "I'll be fine. I do begin to think at times that Christine has competition." she said grimly.
"You know she's just jealous, Anne-girl. When you come back home all eyes are drawn to you again."
Anne chuckled. "Only you would think that. And I think she is more jealous about you, Mr Blythe. All of the Avonlea mothers were hoping to add you to their family, weren't they?"
His look was earnest then. "I only wanted you, sweetheart." He looked around at the people milling in the room, his brow lowered.
"You know, it feels like there are people missing." he said, absently tracing the shell-pink nails on her fingers.
Anne looked out at the room, her head on one side, considering. "I suppose Jane is. Diana had a letter from her recently, her contract was renewed at the Winnipeg school for another year, she seems very happy there." She looked around her thoughtfully and then sighed. "And Ruby would have been here," she said softly, resting her head on Gilbert's shoulder. "Most likely married to Mr Spencer by now, with a dear little blonde baby on each arm. She always wanted little children."
Gilbert turned his head, his face in her red curls. "I know." He gave a little chuckle then. "She used to borrow the cats when she wanted to play babies, whenever she and her mother would come to see us. I can still see her little white dress chasing after the cross old ginger cat that lived in the barn."
They stood there for a little while, looking out on the moving crowd in silence. Anne's face had turned into Gilbert's shoulder, and a sigh went through her.
"What is it?" he asked, looking down on her pensive face. It was a moment before she would answer, as she watched nearby couples in their progression up the line of dancers.
"Gil, Ruby had such promise, so many plans for her life." Anne turned to him, her face wistful. "Do you suppose that all of our plans could somehow not come to fruition either?" she asked him after a moment.
Gilbert held her hand tighter, turning his body to stand in front of her, thus hiding their conversation from the rest of the room. His voice was gentle. "Sweetheart, this is the first new year where we are starting it together. We are beginning it knowing each other's hearts, knowing how precious we are to each other, and how much love there is between us." He took her other hand in his and brought them to his chest. "No matter what happens, I'm planning a long life with you. We're going to be husband and wife, we will raise a family to be as dreamy and as mischievous as you and I both were." Gilbert watched her smile, a little tear in her eye shining under the lights like a tiny diamond. "We cared about Ruby and we miss her, but she lived the life she was given. And I'm telling you, the one we have been given is meant to be together." His hazel eyes looked down into her eyes affectionately.
Anne looked up at him, a little smile on her face. "No matter what?" she whispered.
"No matter what. For every tomorrow that comes, we are together. And that's all that matters."
His intense gaze fell to her lips, his own coming closer before abruptly stopping. Anne suddenly smiled.
"What is it?" he asked quietly.
"You, Gil." she teased in an undertone. "You nearly kissed me in front of everyone then, admit it."
He laughed, his cheeks flushing. "Alright, I nearly did. Now you see why I didn't want to come. I think we get more time on our own in Kingsport." he said, his voice wry.
Her eyes twinkled at him, and she tucked her hand in his, turning him to face the long room. His throat caught at the intimacy of her tone, as she moved her mouth to his ear.
"Never mind, dearest. Just wait for an Avonlea Summer."
Over the supper tables, Anne and Gilbert made plans to spend some time with Diana and Fred, whom they would be leaving in a little over a week. Diana had Anne in stitches with little comments about the side effects of pregnancy, and at her astonishment at her dress not sitting the way it had two weeks ago. Gilbert and Fred had stepped outside to escape the stifling room, leaving the two girls on a bench watching the action in the room.
On an impulse, Diana spoke to her, as they watched the waltz beginning. "Watching you and Gilbert is certainly eye-opening." she commented, with a little smile.
Anne started at her comment. "Whatever do you mean, Di?"
Diana was careful as she spoke. "I have never seen two people more obviously in love. Or more attracted to each other, either."
Anne's face was pink as she studied Diana. "Does something worry you, Diana?" she asked.
"No. Well- not really." Doubting her wisdom for bringing it up in a busy hall, she looked at her beloved friend earnestly. "I've just never seen you this happy- now I wonder how I ever could have thought you loved anyone else." she finished, smiling at the deepening colour of Anne's cheeks.
Diana took Anne's hand in her own and smiled, the dimples in her cheeks showing. "And darling, I cannot wait to begin organising your wedding in a few years' time."
Di meant more than that. It had been on her mind to speak to her, however her Anne's gifts of quick wit and ready words were not her own, and she feared getting herself into a pregnancy-brain muddle. On the night Anne and Gilbert had announced their engagement, she herself had been so excited that she had cried- not that that was anything to remark at these days. However, even Fred had commented on the closeness of the pair when they had gone home, saying cryptically that medical school could lose its appeal before the year was out.
Her own three-year engagement was still fresh in her own mind; six months of marriage had still not removed the wonder at waking up next to Fred every morning. The pride in their dear little home, the growing farm, and the way his hands would press her waist trying to feel their baby each morning left her as giddy as a schoolgirl. The three-year wait had at times seemed interminable- Fred had even gone to her father after two years had passed, asking that the timeframe be amended, but her parents were adamant that they wanted her at home for one more year. He had appeared to submit to their request with complete respect and courtesy, however only Diana knew that Fred took his frustration out on the tumbledown shack at the back of the property, left over from the days before Abraham Fletcher built his bride a home.
Diana brought herself back with a shake of her head. She watched a laughing Gilbert and Fred approaching, Fred to walk to her side with a big smile, and Gilbert to take Anne's hand as she leaned against him contentedly. Diana gave a happy sigh. Three-year wait or no, the two of them belonged together. Turning to her husband, Di surprised him with an unapologetically public kiss, prompting Fred's face to redden boyishly, and Mrs Blair to ask Mrs Sloane what the younger generation were coming to.
At twenty minutes to midnight, Fred was putting his protesting wife into the buggy, and Gilbert and Anne likewise drove away contentedly.
"Are we becoming anti-social?" Anne asked, shivering in the cool wind. Gilbert tucked the blanket around her, holding her close to him.
"I only want to see the new year in with you, Anne-girl, not Josie or Charlie, or all of those everlasting busy-bodies." he said firmly. "This time is just for us."
When they reached Green Gables, they saw that a light had been left on in the kitchen for Anne. Gilbert walked her inside and smiled, checking his watch.
"There. We made it with ten minutes to spare."
Anne chuckled, putting her arms around his waist. "That was well planned, wasn't it?"
Gilbert pulled her close to him, his breath warm on her cheek.
"I wanted us to be alone for this particular celebration." he said softly. "This last year has incorporated some of the worst and best times of my life- but it was worth everything we suffered to be standing her with you now, knowing that we belong to each other. Anne, to have you in my heart, and to know that I'm in yours is the best thing that could ever happen to me." He bent his head to kiss her then, a soft kiss that began to build in intensity as the two of them stood together.
Anne sighed, her arms slipping around his neck, as she pulled him closer to her. She looked into his beloved face, her candid grey eyes on his.
"I love you, Gil." She smiled at him then. "You know, we have a very big year ahead of us. Together?"
Gilbert lifted her from the ground then, delighting in the feel of her body held tight against his. He grinned at her triumphantly. "Always together."
The clock over the mantelpiece began to strike, and Anne pressed her lips to Gilbert's again, as the snow began to fall outside. Gilbert remembered the promise he had made to himself exactly one year ago at that moment- the promise that he would get over her, or die trying. As her sweet scent and sweeter kiss engulfed every sense on this night, he thanked God that New Years' resolutions were made to be broken.