Title: There's Another, Not a Sister
Characters/Pairing: Anne, Gilbert, Anne/Gilbert (duh)
Summary: The night of the concert on Diana Barry's birthday, it only appeared as though Anne wasn't paying attention to Gilbert's recitation.
"Bingen on the Rhine" by Caroline E. Norton, published in 1867 and now part of the public domain.
"There's another - not a sister; in the happy days gone by,
You'd have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye;
Too innocent for coquetry, - too fond for idle scorning, -
O, friend ! I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning !
Tell her the last night of my life ( for ere the moon be risen,
My body will be out of pain, my soul be out of prison ), -
I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow sunlight shine
On the vine-clad hills of Bingen, - sweet Bingen on the Rhine.
If anyone asked an attendee at the concert at the hall on the night of Diana Barry's birthday, they would have told you that the minute Gilbert Blythe took the stage to recite "Bingen on the Rhine" was the same minute Anne Shirley picked up a book and read, not even bothering with a courtesy clap when he finished.
What they didn't know is that Anne read the same two pages throughout the entire recitation.
It was a habit now, snubbing Gilbert, and tonight was no exception. However the minute he started speaking, Anne was unconsciously trapped. All she could hear was his voice, deepening and starting to sound more like a man's voice than a boy's, lilting and expertly reciting the tragic tale of a German soldier dying in Algiers.
Gilbert reached the part where the soldier recounted his soon to be lost love, and Anne felt that familiar tingle run down her spine. She always knew when Gilbert was watching her by that tingle, and as he delivered the immortal line, "There's another – not a sister; in the happy days gone by," that tingle washed over her, despite her best efforts to tune him out and read the book in her hands.
Her heart gave a little flutter as the implications hit her, but she soon quashed them. Gilbert had grievously insulted her and she would never, ever forgive him. She didn't care if he was reciting poetry at her. Anne had made up her mind to hate him and hate him she did. Or at least she tried to. Perhaps she had gotten over hating him, but she still held on to her grudge against him.
It wouldn't be until Anne and Gilbert had been married for almost twenty years that Anne would finally admit that she had heard every word he had recited that night, and hung on to them and heard them replayed over and over in her head. She also owned up to the fact that every time she read the poem she heard it in his voice, a fact that had thrilled and amused Gilbert to no end.
"I had thought you were ignoring me, you were so focused on that book," Gilbert informed her as they watched the fire burn down.
"I was trying to focus, but I couldn't. I knew you were staring at me, and the harder I tried to focus on reading, the more I couldn't. I could only listen to you," Anne admitted sheepishly.
"Well, we came far too close to emulating that poem," he said casually as he shifted in his chair, his mind drifting back to his brush with death.
Anne shuddered. "Yes, far too close. I was forced to face my greatest fear back then, the prospect of a life without you. I will say that Phil was rather surprised when I wrote her a rather lengthy letter thanking her for everything. She wrote back that she had no idea what I had been babbling about, but was pleased that you and I were finally getting married."
Gilbert chuckled at Phil's confusion, and now understood why she had looked so surprised when, at their wedding, he had talked about his bout with typhoid fever and how it had brought Anne around. "Well, I survived, and that's all that matters."
Anne met his gaze and gave him a contented smile. "Indeed."
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