The romantic one
There is only so much kissing you can do with a falling sun and a rising wind and your chattering teeth in danger of biting your tongue – or worse, your beloved's. Reluctantly the two lovers withdrew and rose from the trampled grass. Anne's hair looked a lot like Gilbert's now, curly and wild and sticking up at all angles. This could be remedied easily enough, but the mud and grass stains were a bigger problem and not so easily explained.
"Miss Cuthbert is going to kill me," said Gilbert. He meant to sound rueful, but there was an impish lilt to his voice as he took in the state of Anne's dress – and the knowledge that he had a lot to do with it.
"Your mother is going to kill me," said Anne. "When she finds out you got yourself wet and cold, she'll never let me see you again."
Gilbert knew there was no chance of that, but he pulled Anne to him all the same. The mere thought of not seeing her made him want to make the most of every chance he had. She was trembling in his arms and her teeth began chattering again. Scanning the ground, he found his jacket and lay it over her shoulders.
"Gilbert, I can't, what about you?"
Gilbert bent his head and did up every button down her front. "You know I'm well now, don't you, Anne? I don't want you worrying over me."
As he lifted her chin Anne gave a mute nod. The memory of almost losing him was still too vivid to ignore, but she recognised the glint in his eyes; he didn't want her to think of him as ill anymore.
"What are you going to do?" she asked at last.
Gilbert answered by unbuttoning his shirt. The muscles of his lean frame writhed beneath his skin, as he dunked his shirt in the water. Anne watched mesmerised, wondering if this was his plan to warm her up, for she was feeling rather heated now.
"I can't take you back to Green Gables if we're both covered in mud." With that he slipped back in the water and began to rub at the knees of his trousers. "It's warmer in here than where you are," he said, and for a moment he thought he might invite Anne back in.
That moment passed quickly when he caught a glimpse of a child skipping through the reeds. Without knowing he was going to do it, Gilbert took a gulp of air and dunked his whole self under.
"Boy oh boy," said Davy impressed. "Anne, you look like you've been rassling hogs."
Anne's head swivelled, first to Davy then to the place where Gilbert had been, a small trail of bubbles rising to the surface.
"Did you have a message for me?" she said, placing herself squarely in Davy's way.
The small boy scratched his head. "Post arrived, didn't it? You've been getting such a pile of mail these days, Marilla thought it might be important. Hey there, Gilbert!" he called out cheerily, peering behind Anne's hip.
Gilbert had surfaced some distance away and was endeavouring to hide in the reeds. He stood up in a cavalier fashion and gave Davy a salute.
"Oh hey Davy, I was… that is, Anne… well she…"
"I lost something in the water," Anne said quickly. "Gilbert was kind enough to look for it."
"Did he find it?" said Davy, eyeing them both suspiciously.
Anne hugged the jacket close to her and sent Gilbert the sweetest smile.
"Yes he did," she said warmly, her eyes on his. "And I found something too."
"All right, all right," said Davy with a grimace, tugging hard on Anne's arm. "You can stop all that mooning now. I already missed the drop scones Mrs Lynde was making for tea, I'm not missing out on the cake too!"
Before Anne knew it, she was being pulled through the reeds, her eyes on Gilbert as she went. The last thing she saw before she passed into the trees was his tall, gleaming figure standing on the bank, a crooked smile on his lips.
Now that Anne had an escort of sorts, Gilbert found he hardly cared what he looked like. Noting she had forgotten her stockings he stuffed them into his pockets, then gambolled back to his homestead, a carefree whistle on his lips.
Gilbert might not have minded the curious looks from his neighbours, but he knew his mother would be another story. His plan was to nip into the barn where they kept a supply of old clothes for the scarecrow, and change into these before he entered the house. He had scarcely pushed on the barn door when it was pushed back hard in his face. His carefree expression changed into a frown, and he tried the door again.
"Gilbert!" exclaimed his red-faced mother. She scurried out of the barn and leaned on the door. "My goodness, don't you ever knock?"
"On the barn door?" said Gilbert, taking in his mother's appearance. Along with her scarlet cheeks, there was a slick of sweat on her brow, and her shirt waist was entirely untucked.
Emma was just as preoccupied with her clothing, and smoothed out her skirts as though she feared they might have caught on something. That 'something' was John Blythe, who had been working his way quite nicely into his welcoming wife, and was now struggling with his overalls as he waited for the violent protuberance in his trousers to go down.
"Where's father?" Gilbert asked, hoping to find some excuse to get away before his mother noticed his own appearance.
"I'm not sure..." Emma muttered as John appeared, a goofy smile on his lips.
"Hey son, how was your walk? I uh…" John paused while Gilbert shuffled nervously in his muddy boots. "What is blazes has happened to you, Gil, you look like a drowned dog!"
This was all Emma needed to turn the tables, and she did so with relish; grabbing Gilbert by the elbow and marching him toward the house and up to his room in the eaves.
"For crying out loud, I'm fine!" Gilbert seethed, as his mother threw a nightshirt at him.
"Don't make me get the castor oil, Gilbert. Get into bed and I'll bring some hot gruel!"
So it was that less than an hour after feeling himself the king of men, Gilbert Blythe found himself banished to his room like a little boy, the door bolted shut.
He knew his mother had a right to be angry, for he had done the very thing that had brought on the typhoid in the first place. But he also knew he could get out of his room, locked door or not. He sized up the small round window and pushed it open, staring off in the direction of Green Gables and sighing like a love-sick swain.
Anne was there, his love, his own… Was she his own? Did she actually say yes? Gilbert's brow furrowed as he tried to recall those last few hours. He clearly remembered telling Anne he wanted to be her husband, and hoped he managed to say that he wanted her to be his wife, but after that the memories got quite hazy. What he was left with were impressions that even his most desperate dreams could never compete with. Her small mouth falling open as he caught her up in his arms... the little puffs of breath, hot and sweet on his cheek... the feel of her lithe body bending, almost to his will... the heavenly weight of her lying on his chest. He moaned involuntarily as he thought of that, squeezing his eyes shut as he tried to hold onto the image. The pitter patter of her heart… her full breasts spilling out of her dress… her pupils dilating as she gazed up at him...
Oh help, he was rock hard now and went to the nightstand to splash water on his face. Downstairs he could hear his mother and father moving through the rooms downstairs. He heard the front door slam, and wondered vaguely where they could be going, as he scanned his bookshelf looking for something to pass the time before he made his escape.
Grabbing his copy of 'Lancelot and Elaine,' – because how could he not? – Gilbert lit his lamp and flopped back on his bed. As soon as he did so he knew he would not be getting up again for a while. A bone deep exhaustion hit him that he knew would be useless to fight. The walk with Roy, then onto Green Gables, the sprint to Barry's pond; swimming out to the bridge to rescue Anne, the mud, the fight, the kiss...
He was woken by a throb so powerful he sucked in a breath. The air was cold, as it often is in the early hours of the morning, but Gilbert felt so hot he kicked back his blankets, and lifted the end of his nightshirt. Even the feel of the fabric slipping over him made his toes curl tight. It was not often that he gave into this need, his father had drummed the same edict into him that his grandfather had drummed into John. But he was restless and so engorged he almost ached. He wouldn't think of Anne, he wouldn't, he would concentrate on the movements of his hand, the insistence of rhythm and pressure, the smell of the rosemary inside his pillow.
He was edging closer and closer, his hips were beginning to buck, and a thick and breathless gurgle squeezed out from his throat. Her face appeared before him and he rolled onto his stomach, anxious to get her out of his head. But he couldn't, she burned in him as strongly as any fever. With a groan, he planted his face in his pillow and dared to whisper her name. He heard a rustling sound outside, but he was too close now to care. The touch that followed, a cool hand on his shoulder, gave him such a shock he rolled onto the floor.
A moment later his head was up, the rest of him hidden behind his bed. He was looking at her as of he wasn't quite sure if he was awake or dreaming.
"I heard moaning, were you having a bad dream – are you well, oh Gilbert, let me feel your cheek?"
Gilbert shook his head vigorously, and placed a finger to his lips. Anne realised he was listening out for his parents.
"They're out in the barn, shall I go fetch them?"
"No really – I – I'm fine." He stood up slowly, tugging at his nightshirt, and perched awkwardly on the edge of the bed. The most obvious question eluded him for the moment, instead he said:
"How do you know where my folks are?"
"I went there first," Anne said. "I made up my mind to wait the rest of the night out there so I could see you first thing in the morning. When I left you at the pond… I mean... everything happened so quickly. All I could think of was getting back to you."
"How did you get in here?" He was coming back to earth now. "My mother locked the door."
"I know," Anne said proudly, "I climbed up the verandah post and slipped in through your wind– oh!"
Anne never managed to finish as Gilbert leaped over his bed and pulled her into his arms, his lips covering hers with an impulsive kiss.
"Sorry," he breathed, as he drew away. "I had to do that." He cleared his throat and gestured to the chair where she used to sit. "Please," he said, more formally now, "take a seat."
Anne obliged and sat upon his bed. He noticed now she was wearing a raincoat and asked if she wanted him to take it.
"Well I… I suppose you could. I'm wearing a nightgown underneath, I was hoping to sneak back home before anyone missed me."
"I'm surprised you didn't get locked in like I did."
"Ah," Anne said wryly, "you clearly haven't got yourself into the endless scrapes that I have."
Gilbert gave her an admiring look. "What time is it now?" he said.
"A little after four. I imagine that will give us an hour before your father wakens and begins the day."
"So my folks were back in the barn, huh?"
"Mmmm..." Anne looked down shyly. "It seems I'm not the only one to bed down in the stables."
"When did you bed there before?"
It all came out then, as she knew it must. How she returned from Echo Lodge to discover he was dying, the night she walked through the storm. Being woken by the cart horse, and trying to find the courage to enter his house; the fury she felt when she saw there were no open windows.
Anne looked to the round window behind her, when she looked back Gilbert was sitting next to her on the bed.
"I had to see you, but I was so afraid. Then I found out about Christine and I – I knew there was no way for me to say what I longed to say to you."
"Yet you stayed anyway," said Gilbert almost to himself. "You know, I never thanked you for paying Miss Price like you did. That was very good of you, Anne."
"It wasn't particularly good of me at all, Gilbert, I was pleased to do your family some small service when they've been so kind to me."
"Mother and Miss Price couldn't stop singing your praises, they'd never seen such dedication –"
"I just wanted you to be well," Anne interrupted. "I wanted you to live – I would have done anything, Gilbert…" Her voice broke as she said his name, and her head fell against his shoulder. "When you pulled me off that bridge pile I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I was so embarrassed and so thrilled all at the same time. How did you recover so quickly?"
"I don't know – I just saw you and something kicked in. What were you doing out there anyway?"
Anne shifted away slightly, and brought her hand to her hair. "It was – well it was something to do with my work – at the High, but it doesn't matter anymore."
Gilbert was confused. "Mother said you'd been appointed the principal there. It's quite an achievement. I don't know if I could do it myself."
Anne was twisting the belt of her raincoat as he spoke. She looked nervous, but he didn't know why. She had stolen into his room in the wee sma's wearing little more than a nightgown, and seemed to feel nothing but pride. Now she was talking about her new job and could barely meet his eyes.
He lifted her chin, he loved to do that, loved knowing he could do it too. When her eyes locked on his he almost forgot his confusion, all he wanted was to kiss her again.
"Hmm, wha – oh yes, the job at the High."
Anne took a deep breath. "I don't know if I am going to do it either." She dug into the pocket of her raincoat and brought out a letter, offering it to Gilbert
"Mercy Price is writing to you?"
Anne nodded. "I know my time caring for you might not be enough to know for sure, but I'm beginning to think that nursing is something I would truly like to pursue. There's still time to enrol for the intake in September and –"
"Wait a minute!" Gilbert cut in, and fell on his knees before her. "Are you saying… Anne, are you saying you might return to Redmond?"
"I haven't given my answer yet, I needed to know what you thought…" Anne faltered, and took a shivery breath.
"My love," said Gilbert hoarsely, "I never thought I could feel happier than you made me today, now I – I feel like you've handed me the moon! But are you sure, I mean bedpans and bandages are a far cry from Tennyson."
"Have you forgotten already?" Anne said, touching her nose to his. "I'm as sensible as they come. You've always been the romantic one."
He did little to change her opinion now, as he trailed a hand up her neck and ruffled the short curls at her nape. His eyes darkened and his lips hovered over hers, breaths mingling in one hot breath.
"Can I walk you home?" he murmured, the coat falling from her shoulders.
Anne leaned back, savouring his touch, his broad smooth palm and fluttering fingers. "You mean now?"
"Mmmm," he said, his lips were at her collarbone, his warm tongue laying a line on her skin. "Immediately and with urgency, I have to get you home, Miss Shirley."
Anne was lying on his bed now, her coat was open, and so were her thighs. He shifted closer, still on his knees. For someone who wanted to take her home, he was taking his own sweet time. And it was sweet, so very sweet, as he slid her sleeve up to her shoulder and kissed her wrist, her forearm, her elbow, then trailed back down again. Her fingers intertwined with his, and he lay a kiss on each one. Anne never imagined that something so simple could ignite such a tumult of feelings, she was almost panting when she urged his face towards hers again.
"You never answered," she murmured.
"Neither did you," he said.
"Of course you can walk me home, but why?"
Why now, was what she wanted to say. She longed to stay up in his little room, tucked away from the rest of the world. They still had time, time enough at least, to draw out every bliss from this moment.
She did not know, because he did not want to her to know, how his body was bursting for her; how the climax he had staved off just a few minutes ago was beginning to build to something he was afraid he would be helpless to control.
"Gilbert, you're shaking."
He buried his face in her belly and mumbled something that sounded like, "I know."
"Poor darling, you're exhausted. Lie here with me," she said, and shifted over. "Hold me like you used to do."
He knew he shouldn't, but he didn't care and nestled in close beside her. Her arm stretched under his head and he nestled against her breasts, her nipples hard and dark under primly pin-tucked muslin.
"Are you coming to Redmond?" he asked her, and heard the smile in her voice as she answered yes.
"And do you love me?"
Anne nodded, and kissed the top of his head.
"And will you... will you marry me, Anne, will you take me for your own?"
He was expecting another nod and was surprised the tremor within him had taken her over as well.
Anne lifted her chin and raised her eyes to the ceiling, one small tear trickling down her cheek.
"I thought – perhaps you'd forgotten what you said to me before. I am yours, Gilbert, all of me, for now and forever, I want... oh I want so much to be your wife."
As she turned back to him and beheld the man who would be her husband, the page of girlhood turned too. The page of womanhood was now before her with all its charm and mystery, its pain and its gladness.
Gilbert kissed her with a fervour that bordered on frantic as the thought of forever played over in his mind.
"We'll have to wait a long time, Anne. It will be three years before I finish my medical course –"
"And I'll be right beside you," she assured him, weaving her body with his. "Working and waiting and dreaming... oh Gilbert, dreams will be very sweet now..."
Little tips of the hat to the endings in Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island there. I hope you approve. I am SOOOO glad you liked the kiss. Fun fact: I had to look up what UST and HEA meant, because I had no idea! kwak.