Sunday afternoon was lazy, a welcome respite from the bustle of the crowd at church that morning and the crowd at King Farm for dinner afterwards. Felix understood that everyone was eager to talk to him upon his reappearance after he had been listed as missing in action, but it was a little tiring. Some people were all right to talk with, but some asked questions he didn't want to answer. And almost everybody, from mere acquaintances to family members, threw significant glances at Izzy that had both her and Felix feeling thoroughly uncomfortable by the time everything quieted down. Felix had been on edge all day, afraid that someone would move past significant glances and actually pop the question on his behalf. (In a town like Avonlea, anything was possible.)
Finally, Aunt Hetty and her group had returned to Rose Cottage, Alec had pulled Janet out to take a walk with him instead of hovering over Felix, and Felicity had retired to her room for a nap.
Felix looked out the window. "Want to go for a walk, too, Iz?"
"You're really up for a walk? You had three pieces of pie at dinner."
"Those were going fast," he defended himself. "I needed to have a piece of each."
"I promise you, I will make you more pies."
"And I will hold you to that," he said. "Now will you come for a walk?"
"I'll go," Daniel piped up.
At the look on her older brother's face, Cecily intervened. "Why don't we play checkers, Daniel?"
"I want to walk with Felix."
"You can walk with Felix later. Right now you can lose at checkers."
Daniel looked offended. "I don't lose."
"Prove it," she challenged, and he ran off to get the board.
Felix mouthed a quick "thank you" to his sister and stood, holding his left hand to Izzy and raising an eyebrow in questioning expectation. She shook her head.
"Felix King the iron-stomached," she said, placing her hand in his. "All right, let's go."
They rambled hand in hand across the farmyard and into the woods, over the creek and past the old fox shack, reminiscing aloud about their past and dreaming silently about their future.
"Remember when you would never have dreamed of wearing dresses?" Felix asked when Izzy's skirt caught on a log and she had to bend down to release it.
"Remember when you told me you hoped I wouldn't be a girl when I grew up?" she retorted.
His brow furrowed. "What? When?"
"I don't remember exactly. It was over something Felicity had done, no doubt."
"You've never been that kind of girl, thank goodness. Although Felicity hasn't turned out all bad," he added with brotherly affection. "She ended up with good taste in men, after all."
"But I'm not that kind of girl," Izzy prompted, and Felix flushed.
"Maybe not," he said. "You seem to spend a lot of time with me. How good can your taste be?"
Izzy laughed. "Don't play self-deprecating, Felix, it doesn't work for you."
He gestured to a fallen tree, brushed the snow from it, and they sat down. Izzy looked around. It was their spot—where he had told her he was enlisting, where they had said their goodbyes, where they had come to talk when he was home on leave, where she had come to read his letters before she left for Halifax. When he had extended the invitation to come for a walk, she had known they would end up here.
Felix reached for her hand and she placed both in his. "I'm glad you grew up into a girl," he said. "A woman."
"Dresses and everything?"
"Dresses and everything. Besides, dress or no dress, you can still throw the best fastball I've ever seen. And make the best pies I've ever tasted."
"I've tasted your quiche," said Izzy. "You're pretty well-rounded, yourself."
"I don't know how this is going to heal," Felix said, nodding at his right arm. "The doctor at the field hospital said I can probably expect some loss of range of motion, some pain to persist...that sort of thing. I don't know what sort of work I'll be suited for until it heals, or even afterwards. And my leg isn't exactly as good as new, either."
"We'll handle it," Izzy replied, supplying the pronoun unconsciously.
"Yeah," said Felix. "Maybe it's selfish of me, but I want it to be something for us to handle."
"You could have died," she said, and she tightened her grip on his hand in acknowledgment of what she knew he was thinking. He had visited the Werts family on Saturday before she arrived. "Maybe it's selfish of me, but I'd rather you lost the arm entirely than that I lost you."
"Well, while we're being selfish," he said, and the look in his eyes set her heart pounding. "I don't have any ring. No prospects. Not much of anything, really. But I love you. I've loved you for ages."
"You call that 'not much of anything'?" she asked, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes.
"If you feel the same way," he murmured, reaching his hand to brush away the first tear that fell, "I'd call it everything."
"I love you, too," she replied.
"Izzy Pettibone, you're my best friend, even if you are a girl," he grinned. "Will you marry me?"
"Of course I will. After all," she said as he leaned in to kiss her, her ear-to-ear grin matching his, "you take a lot of looking after, Felix King."