The Perfect Month
"I've always loved September."
Marilla Cuthbert looked up from her perch in the kitchen as the slender young woman waltzed in through the entrance. Anne Shirley, half-past twenty-two, sighed as she slid contentedly into the chair adjacent to Marilla.
"Could you even imagine a more perfect month, Marilla?" the young redhead asked, carefully resting her pointed chin on the palm of her hand. Although her inquiry was directed at Marilla, her starry eyes were cast towards the window, as though she wasn't really paying attention to the elderly woman at all.
"I rather like June," replied Marilla briskly, although she was secretly wondering what had put her Anne in such a mood.
"It's the yellows," Anne decided. "The yellows, and the oranges, and the reds, and the how they all mix together to create a wonderful portrait of fall. And just think, Marilla—this is the beginning of it all…the beginning of autumn. There will be so many more yellows and reds and oranges to look forward to in the next few months, don't you think?"
Marilla shook her gray head and continued looking down at the cookbook she had been so meticulously studying before her favorite redhead had interrupted. To anyone else, she would seem disinterested in the conversation at present, but Anne noticed the tiny smile toying at he corner of Marilla's lips.
"No other month could ever compare," continued Anne, knowing full well that Marilla didn't really mind if she continued talking. "September positively glows with possibility."
Anne paused, waiting for Marilla's response. Anne, who up until that very moment had taken Marilla's silence as permission to continue raving, could no longer stand it. "Don't you want to know why, Marilla?"
Marilla's eyes lifted from the cookbook once more. "Well?" Marilla prodded briskly, although she really did want to know why Anne was in such a state over a month of the year.
A faint blush rose from Anne's neck to her cheeks, reddening her tiny nose and deepening the brown of her freckles. "Gilbert and I have decided to become engaged," she stated plainly, choosing her words carefully. After all, they had decided it together. He hadn't proposed and Anne hadn't accepted; it was a sacred agreement between to friends who loved each other, not something that could be accepted. For something that had been accepted could be denied just as easily as it had been recognized.
Marilla met Anne's grey eyes, looking at her expectantly, before turning back to her cookbook. But she did not bother to hide the smile that was so blatantly adorning her lips, and Anne reveled in it. "Well, it's about time."
Anne slender body immediately left her chair, hurtling its way towards Marilla at an enthusiastic pace. "Oh, Marilla," Anne breathed, wrapping her delicate arms around Marilla's square frame, "I'm so perfectly happy. Happier than even words can describe."
Marilla laughed and wrapped her brawnier arms around Anne, returning her embrace. "That's a first, Anne Shirley. Although I needn't be calling you Anne Shirley much longer."
Anne pulled away from Marilla and looked at her earnestly. "Oh, no," Anne told her solemnly. "Gilbert and I have decided to wait a good amount of time before getting married. He still has medical school to complete, and I've accepted the open principal position at Summerside High School."
Marilla nodded, the more selfish part of her glad that she would still have her Anne for awhile longer. Then, she remembered something. Her eyes began dance as she looked at the young woman standing before her. "Just wait until Rachel hears about this."
(Mrs. Lynde, Davy, and Dora)
The sun cascaded through the delicate curtains, falling in rays across Anne's quilt. Carefully, she opened one eyes, then slid the other eyelid open. Briefly, she wondered if the previous evening's events had all been a dream—a wonderful, unforgettable dream—but she remembered how indescribably real it had all felt, and distinctly knew that it had been real.
In a truly girlish fashion—for, even though she was engaged, Anne was still a girl—she bounded out of the east gable and down the stairs, reaching a very full breakfast table.
"You certainly slept in," noted Mrs. Lynde, who had paused in her attempt to muss Davy's untamable hair to speak to Anne. "Pleasant evening, I presume?"
"The pleasantest of pleasant evenings," Anne responded gaily, swiping a piece of toast from the center plate. Just as she placed her teeth on the bread to bite down, Davy spoke up.
Even though Davy had physically grown up in the past six years, he had yet to lose his inquisitive streak, continuing to question the reasoning for everything.
Anne cleared her throat, causing both Mrs. Lynde and Dora to look at her quizzically. Marilla merely smiled and continued sipping on the hot cup of tea she had just made. "Gilbert Blythe and I are engaged to be married."
Davy's fork fell to his plate, landing with a tink. Dora's eyes grew wide, though she spoke no words. Mrs. Lynde looked appalled, though not at the engagement; instead, she was upset that she had not heard of the engagement sooner.
"We've been waiting long enough, that's what," Mrs. Lynde announced, finally breaking the awkward silence that had settled around the table. "I always did say, Marilla, that providence had matched them two up. I'm glad to say that I was right."
"You're leaving us?"
Davy's question voiced the fears of the other four in the room—those who had all thought it, but did not want to dampen Anne's delightful mood by vocalizing it. The teenage boy had yet to learn how to hold his tongue, much to Marilla's chagrin.
"Oh, Davy, I'm not leaving," Anne assured him, reaching across the table to place her pale hand atop his tan one. "We're not to be married for a while. And I won't be leaving you when it happens, either. Think of it as a vacation that I'll be returning from as often as possible."
Her answer seemed to satisfy Davy, whose expression brightened immensely. "Well, I'm happy for you, Anne."
Dora nodded, agreeing with her brother for the first time in months, her perfect curls bouncing as she looked approvingly at Anne.
"Thank you," she told him earnestly, her eyes shining. "That means the world to me."
And it did.
Anne ran through the green fields toward her raven-haired best friend, her entire body aching to tell her the news. Though, by the sound of Diana's voice, it seemed as though she already knew.
"I—can't—believe—you," panted Diana as she rested her hands atop her knees in a very unladylike position. "I had to hear the news from Mrs. Blythe!"
Anne's face fell immediately. "So you already know?" she queried, heartbroken. "I so wanted to be the one to tell you, dearest Diana."
"I suppose you would have been," Diana admitted, placing a comforting hand on Anne's shoulder, "if I hadn't run into Mrs. Blythe earlier. She assumed I already knew, of course, and began chattering on about you and Gilbert. I was shocked, although I didn't act like it."
Anne eyed her bosom friend warily. "Then you're not upset that I didn't tell you sooner?"
"You silly goose!" Diana exclaimed joyfully. "Of course I'm not upset. I've been waiting years for this, Anne Shirley."
"Why does everyone seem to share your sentiment, Diana?" Anne asked wearily. "Both Marilla and Mrs. Lynde said some variation of your words."
"Because," Diana began slowly, "you are Anne Shirley, and he is Gilbert Blythe. Destined for each other since your first day of school."
"Why, Diana," exclaimed Anne, raising her hand to her heart. "I had no idea you were such a romantic."
Anne intertwined her arm with Diana's and together the two set off across the field, towards town, laughing and remembering their school years, and gaily recounting every encounter between Anne and Gilbert in those days.
Everyone in Avonlea had known for years that Anne Shirley was the—if sometimes undeserved—object of Gilbert Blythe's fancy. For years they had watched his futile attempts to win her heart, and for years they had watched her stubbornness take control of her heart.
Charlie Sloane had thought Gilbert's feelings a passing fancy, nothing compared to the podium he had place Anne on. It had all come crashing down the night that she had brutally rejected him, but he got over it. When she had denied Gilbert, however, he realized it wouldn't be so easy for his old chum. It was then that he had discovered just how deep his friend's feelings had run for the redheaded minx. Charlie hoped, for Gilbert's sake, that she would someday learn to return Gilbert's feelings.
Josie Pye had once fancied Gilbert Blythe. She had been dead gone on the handsome young man, to use a schoolgirl term. It caused her infinite jealousy, back in her schooldays, when said young man focused his attention solely on Anne Shirley. It wouldn't have been so bad to watch him fawn over her, if she had known that Anne didn't feel anything towards him. But Josie Pye knew that Anne's feelings ran deeper than she let on. When she heard the news of their engagement, she was not surprised in the least. There had been, after all, a small twinge of jealousy in Josie's stomach when Gertie had related the news, but it was easily quelled. After all these years, she was relieved that she no longer had to witness Gilbert Blythe chase after a girl who pretended as though she wanted nothing to do with him.
Jane Andrews, with whom Anne had lost contact after she married her Winnipeg millionaire, wrote that she was happy for her old friend, and fervently wished that she would be in town for the wedding.
Philippa wrote, as well. A few weeks after everyone in Avonlea had discovered the highly coveted news, Anne received a lengthy letter from Phil, congratulating her and Gilbert. I'm overjoyed for you, Queen Anne, she had written. I knew all along, of course, and it's high time you realized it as well. I know you won't have the wedding for a long while, but I hope you don't mind if Jo says a few words…
Paul Irving felt a tiny sting of loss when he heard the news of his beloved teacher's engagement, but was nonetheless happy for Anne as he began to propose a sonnet on the beauty of marriage.
Avonlea had always enjoyed a scene. Anne and Gilbert had caused one eleven years earlier, on a similar September day that had sealed their fate. Children and adults alike had thrilled to tell the tale of Anne's slate and Gilbert's head. Eleven years later, those same people found the same excitement when they heard the news of their upcoming nuptials. Eleven years of misunderstandings, separations, and memories had all led up to this moment.
Anne sighed and settled herself comfortably into one of the various wicker chairs spread across the Green Gables verandah. Twilight was falling, the stars were entering in the sky, and Anne was enjoying a peace that she hadn't felt in months.
The familiar sound of footsteps walking up the long pathway to the farmhouse interrupted Anne's reveries for a moment, until she realized that the footfalls belonged to the one person she hadn't seen all day.
"I heard," Gilbert began, taking each porch step carefully, "that Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe are engaged."
Anne smiled a brilliant smile as her eyes met Gilbert's. "It's about time, wouldn't you say?"
Gilbert nodded, falling into the chair beside Anne. He silently admired the glow that the twilight cast upon her auburn hair, the purple clashing with her red. "He has been in love with her for eleven years," he whispered, slowly closing the distance between them to tuck a stray wisp of hair behind her pink ear.
"And she has been stubborn for eleven years, especially where a certain Mr. Blythe was concerned." Anne's heart leapt to her throat as her gaze once again met his, although she had become quite fond of the sensation. His hazel eyes gazed steadily back at her, causing her eyes to slowly dip down and a rosy hue to spread across her cheeks attractively.
"Everyone in Avonlea knew they'd sort it out, though," he told her softly, his breath fanning across her cheeks.
"They were right, then," Anne told him. For once in life words had failed her, but she didn't mind. Words weren't needed in a situation such as theirs.
The last crevice of space between their faces was closed as Gilbert's lips captured Anne's, and the last ray of sunlight disappeared underneath the earth. Words weren't needed in a situation such as theirs; there would be plenty of time to talk and laugh with each other in the many years to come. Now, all that mattered was Anne and Gilbert, and the space between them during that perfect month.
A/N: Thank you for reading, and if you feel so inclined, please leave a review!