This first part is a quotation from L.M. Montgomery's book Anne of the Island. This whole short story is a spin off from her work. None of the characters are mine and I tried really hard to make sure I didn't break any copyright rules! Really I did! You've got to believe me...!
" "Well, I certainly think you have treated Roy shamefully," said Phil in exasperation. "He's handsome and clever and rich and good. What more do you want?"
"I want some one who belongs in my life. He doesn't. I was swept off my feet at first by his good looks and knack of paying romantic compliments; and later on I thought I must be in love because he was my dark-eyed ideal."
"I am bad enough for not knowing my own mind, but you are worse," said Phil.
"I do know my own mind," protested Anne. "The trouble is, my mind changes and then I have to get acquainted with it all over again."
"Well, I suppose there is no use in saying anything to you."
"There is no need, Phil. I'm in the dust. This has spoiled everything backwards. I can never think of Redmond days without recalling the humiliation of this evening. Roy despises me—and you despise me—and I despise myself."
"You poor darling," said Phil, melting. "Just come here and let me comfort you. I've no right to scold you. I'd have married Alec or Alonzo if I hadn't met Jo. Oh, Anne, things are so mixed-up in real life. They aren't clear cut and trimmed off, as they are in novels."
"I hope that no one will ever again ask me to marry him as I live," sobbed poor Anne, devoutly believing that she meant it."
Quotation from Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
She buried her face in the pillow in Phil's lap.
"Oh, no you don't hope that," said Phil, stroking the almost auburn tresses in her lap. "I'm sure that deep down, if you are honest, you know that there's still a chance that someone—the right one—might still ask you." Phil could not help smiling, so it is good that Anne did not look up.
After some more silence and tears, Anne said softly, "How could Roy not be the right one, Phil? Wasn't he everything I wanted?"
"You said it yourself, Anne," Phil replied. "You ought to listen to yourself more often. You want someone who belongs in your life. You did not know that before. Maybe Roy was everything that you thought that you wanted. And now you are finding out that what you want is something different. There is no crime in that. What there is a crime in though," she looked down at Anne, "is deceiving yourself into wanting something totally different." Anne's eyes were blankly fixed on the pictures on the wall in front of her. She thought about what Phil said. She was perfectly right. So what did she really want? What was she hiding from herself all of this time? It came to her, again, in a flash.
"Phil," Anne said springing up from the window seat, "that's the second sensible thing you've said in your life!"
"Only the second!" Phil said, with mock hurt. "Well, then, what was the first?"
"Do you remember, after I—" Anne faltered over the words, "after I – refused—Gilbert—you told me that I had tricked out something in my imagination that I thought love. You were right, and I almost followed through on it. I almost married Roy! Oh Phil! I did not know my own mind because I've been closing my eyes to it all this time. I know exactly what I want. I know who belongs in my life!" and with sisterly kiss on the cheek, Anne darted from the room, leaving Phil dumbfounded. After she gained her composure, she called out the door,
"Well, it's about time you figured it out, honey, because we've known it all along!"
Anne followed her thoughts through to completion as she took another walk through the familiar park. Had she really been deceiving herself all this time? When she refused Roy, it all came to her in one sudden flash, one feeling. It was as if she told herself, enough of this ruse already. All of a sudden, she awakened to the knowledge that with Roy, something would be missing completely. And worse still was the realizing she had known that all along. She thought back to the signs...
Roy's letters were lovely and admirable to be sure, but when they arrived she never experienced the delightful pang of heart anticipation when any notation from Gilbert came. Sure Roy's eyes were dark and inscrutable, but they were not like Gil's. No, Gilbert's hazel eyes were capable of laughter and mischief, and tenderness and emotion. And Roy's sense of humor had been so terribly lacking! Anne recalled that she always felt separate from him that way. And she and Roy had not shared hopes and dreams and even fears the way she ... yes, the way she and Gilbert had. Roy did not belong in her life anymore than his violets had belonged with her at convocation. Gilbert's lilies-of-the-valley fit right in. There was a history there, shared goals and hopes and affections, a camaraderie that could not be found anywhere else.
These signs had been springing up along the path all along. But each time Anne found herself comparing Roy to Gilbert, she had tried to convince herself that Roy was the right one, he would have to be. But her heart and mind had worked together just in time.
Thank goodness, I saved myself from that! Anne reflected. She was among the pines she had loved so much. The spring twilight lingered and just the right breeze sang through the trees. There was no better time to get better acquainted with one's self. But after the bright sunshine of revealing came dark clouds of questions and uncertainty. She began to deceive herself again.
"Can Gilbert and I ever regain what I have cast aside? I have refused him, and by now he may even be engaged to Christine Stuart! But perhaps it would not have done to marry Gil anyway. To do that I would have to be madly in love with him, right? That simply will not happen. I am simply yearning for the days of auld lang syne. Could a dear friend like Gilbert be...a husband?"
What Anne saw next gave her much reason to think that he could. In the very park she stumbled across a picnic, with several Reds there enjoying the twilight, among them Gilbert and Christine. Christine was full of animated and flirtatious chatter, while Gilbert seemed to listen intently. Anne's heart made a little stop. She simply could not interrupt them, she thought. No, she could not really love Gilbert, especially if he had already found happiness. She began to doubt herself again. She slid silently behind a tree, hoping she had not been noticed.
She tried to make her way through the pine grove without a sound. So why did she hear footsteps behind her? She quickened her pace, Patty's Place would soon be within sight. She was actually a bit nervous. Then a voice made her jump with fright.
It was Gilbert. He quickly overtook her with his spacious gait.
"Anne, where are you coming from?"
"Oh, I was just...my Gilbert, you almost frightened me, creeping up on me like that."
"I'm sorry Anne, I was hoping to catch up with you. You should have joined us at the picnic. What's going on?"
"Oh, Gilbert, there's no need for that. I need to hurry home and pack. I was just on a little walk to gather my thoughts and visit my friends the pines."
"Anne...I'm...a bit...surprised to see you...alone." Gilbert did not know quite what to say, but his face was intent, and his eyes were searching Anne for something.
"You know how much I love to walk alone, Gilbert. You I see, were quite occupied." To this Gilbert pulled a puzzled face.
"Anne, I wish you would not listen to all the Redmond gossip. There is a lot of talk that is not true. Even you have been the subject of it. And you...you would not want me to believe all of that talk would you?" He looked at her in earnest.
"Oh...well I suppose not, if you could not."
"Is there anything to it Anne? About you and Gardner?"
Anne paused. Well there was not anymore. But what was she doing discussing this with Gilbert? But this was Gilbert. She could tell him anything. He would not scoff, and would not berate her.
"There was, but no, now there is nothing. He...I...I refused him Gilbert."
"Refused? You mean that he asked you..."
"Yes, and I cannot marry him."
"Well, why on earth not, Anne?" Gilbert almost laughed, but not from mockery, but out of surprise and shock. The world which had been closed to him for two years had opened back up right in front of him. Here he was with Anne, and he had not a thing to say. But now was not the time. No, she must recover from this proposal first. He must proceed with care.
"Oh Gilbert, don't scold me. I would think you would be glad..." then she stopped herself.
"But...didn't you love him?" he truly wanted to know, and he did not want to give away his intentions just yet. Anne, looking at his face in the moonlight, realized how pale and thin he was. What had he been doing with himself this semester?
"I thought that I did...I honestly thought that I did, but...oh Gilbert, what do you know about it?"
"Anne...you do not have to make explanations to me. I have hoped, oh Anne, I have hoped that you did not love him. And that maybe..." he reached down and took the slender white hand in his own. Anne did not react as she would have two years, even a year ago. Then she would have snatched it away and almost run. But now...now she saw that she did not want the 'melancholy, inscrutable eyes' she had so dreamed of before. Instead she wanted only to look into those stirring hazel eyes, the ones which now revealed the very depth of Gilbert's soul. As she looked up she realized that the eyes she looked up into were not just the eyes of some lovestruck swain. This face was the face of a friend. In her mind she saw the moments...yes, beautiful, shared moments. When she spoke to him after he gave up the Avonlea school for her, the work together on the AVIS and studies, the dreams and aspirations and fears and confidences they had shared, even the merry visits and outings here in Kingsport. Yes, Gilbert belonged in her life, yes, maybe, just maybe...
"I might fill the place that he wanted to fit in." He looked down into the grey eyes for an answer. Anne felt a rush of her old schoolgirl impulsiveness, and grasped Gilbert, burying her face in his shoulder.
"Oh, Gilbert, that place was made just for you. I see that now. Roy could never have done that. Though he tried, oh he tried, but how could anyone else understand?"
"Oh, Anne, do you mean what I think you mean? Oh Anne, you know that I have loved you from the start. But to think that you might even begin to..."
"Gilbert, I do love you. You are the best friend that I have ever had. And there is no one in all the world who understands me as you do. We are such...partners...and I missed that so...with Roy. You and I are the most kindred of spirits there are." She smiled up at him. "How could I have been so blind? Will you forgive me for being so unsure?"
Gilbert answered her with a tender kiss, a little hesitant at first, as if he felt that it might shatter the spell of the pines and the moonlight. Then it made up for all of the missed years and misunderstanding.
"What do you think?" he asked with a smile. Then he slipped his hand into hers, and they walked hand in hand back to Patty's Place, the park and the picnic forgotten. The two friends and now lovers whispered and teased and laughed and explained the whole way back to the little white house, where three chummy girls, an auntie and several irrepressible cats were in for a joyful surprise from their two dear friends.