A/N: This story was written for the group reread of the Anne series I'm moderating on tumblr. I enjoyed writing it immensely! If you would enjoy reading the series with myself and others you are welcome to join us on tumblr:
avonleavignettes . tumblr . (com) /tagged/reread
Anywho, drop me a review and tell me what you think! I'm not sure about the characterization of young!Gilbert and his friends, so let me know how you feel about it.
Gilbert Blythe, not yet fourteen, sauntered down the Sugar Maple-lined pathway that led from the Blythe homestead to the main Avonlea road, where he planned to intercept an unsuspecting Charlie Sloane and Moody Spurgeon MacPherson. The pair hadn't a clue that he'd returned from his voyage in New Brunswick, and he was apt to surprise them with his arrival.
From behind one of the sturdy Sugar Maples that were commonly found on the Island, Gilbert spotted his two friends walking merrily along. Charlie, as bottle-eyed as ever, was chatting animatedly with Moody, using his hands to describe something he was clearly excited about. Neither he nor Moody had spotted their brown-haired comrade by the edge of the road.
At last, his friends had become close enough that Gilbert could begin to hear their conversation. "…I'd told Tommy that mother wanted him to feed the cows, you see," Charlie told Moody, obviously detailing a prank he pulled on his younger brother. Gilbert shook his head good-naturedly—he'd missed his friends—before jumping up behind them.
"Miss me?" he asked cheekily, grinning from in between the two boys. Both Charlie and Moody jumped back in surprise, the former placing a steadying hand on Gilbert's shoulder to keep from falling.
"Sweet Jehoshaphat," swore Moody, as he stepped back to fully observe his prodigal friend. "Is that really you, Gil?"
The grin that had formed upon Gilbert's face since surprising his friends had yet to disappear. He glanced from Moody to Charlie, and shook his curly head. "My, it's good to see you two. New Brunswick is all very well—and my cousins are very welcoming—but nothing beats good old P.E.I., does it?" Both boys grinned back and shook their heads. "So, what have I missed?"
Charlie tore his gaze from Gilbert and turned to Moody, a faint blush rising beneath his goggle-eyes. Moody merely shook his and glanced at Gilbert. "Anne Shirley," he explained, causing Charlie's cheeks to turn even rosier.
"Anne Shirley?" Gilbert repeated, allowing the name to fall from his lips. He ruminated for a moment, and then—of course! "I heard mother speaking to Mrs. Lynde about her. She gave Mrs. Lynde what-for, apparently."
Moody chuckled. "That's old news now, Gil. Charlie's dead gone on the poor girl. He's been plotting a stealthy way to write her name up with his on the 'Take Notice' wall for weeks."
Gilbert laughed, marveling over the fact that Charlie had found another girl to fancy after Minnie Andrews' sore rejection a few years prior. To the Sloane boy's credit, she had only been eight and wasn't yet ready for a vigorous romantic suitor.
"Anyhow," continued Moody, once the chuckles had died down, "what happened with Tommy?"
The round-faced boy's question was directed at Charlie, whose large eyes widened in surprise at the unexpected inquiry. "Oh!" he exclaimed suddenly, remembering the story that had long been forgotten with the arrival of their friend. "Right! Well, Tommy went out to check on the cows, but he hadn't yet spotted the fishing line I'd tied between the two trees…"
Laughter erupted once more between the three young boys as Charlie finished his tale, and they then went on to discuss the inconsequential fancies of thirteen-year-old boys. Time was forgotten between the friends, as they were all overjoyed to be in each other's company once again. In what seemed to be no time at all, the group of comrades arrived in front of the Avonlea schoolhouse to join the throngs of young scholars.
From the corner of his hazel eyes, Gilbert noticed Julia Bell and her two friends glance and giggle at him. Deciding to indulge the young girls for a moment, he winked.
"Careful, Gil," warned Charlie, "your name is already up on the porch wall with Julia's."
Gilbert decided that although Julia's eyes were a wee bit too close to her nose, he didn't quite mind and simply shrugged off his friend's warning.
"That's Anne Shirley over there." Charlie extended his slender arm to point at a skinny redhead and a plump raven-haired girl whom Gilbert knew to be Diana Barry. "Her and Diana Barry are practically inseparable."
Gilbert took note of the eleven-year-old's red braids, drab dress, and shapely nose—he also noticed a dusting of freckles across the aforesaid shapely nose and cheeks—but this Anne Shirley had yet to look at him which quickly caused Gilbert to lose interest.
The schoolmaster rang the bell shortly thereafter, and the pupils lined up in front until roll was called. Upon entering the schoolhouse, Gilbert confidently strode up to Mr. Phillip's desk to be assigned a seat. His eyes gleamed when he noticed that he'd be sitting behind Ruby Gillis and her shiny blonde braid. As he took his seat, he passed Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, who were currently engrossed in a thrilling conversation and did not both to look up Gilbert as he passed. For some reason—some strange, inexplicable reason that Gilbert could not quite put his finger on—this bothered him. However, his spirits brightened considerably after he took his seat and heard Diana whisper his name to her redheaded companion. Now that he knew he had someone's attention—quite an understatement considering that Gilbert Blythe usually always had someone's attention—he decided to pull out the long, silver pin that had been sitting in his pocket all day, pricking away at his thigh.
Ruby's long, yellow braid was currently draped across the back of her seat, just waiting for Gilbert's pin. He smiled slightly as he poked the thin metal pin through her hair and into the hard wood of the seat, pushing it hard enough to stay fastened to the chair when Ruby next decided to stand up.
Presently, Ruby finished the sum she had spent minutes trying to figure out—although nearly half those minutes were spent dreaming of the male population of the Avonlea schoolhouse—and stood up to present her sums to Mr. Phillips. However, the pin—firmly planted to the back of her chair—pulled her shiny braid back, yanking poor Ruby back into her seat, causing her slate to clatter against her desk. Gilbert, to his merit, had already yanked the pin from her seat and began studying the history lesson laid out before him. He didn't notice the disapproving stare Mr. Phillips gave Ruby as she began to cry, but he did notice that a certain redhead was staring at him from across the aisle.
The commotion of his prank died down, and Gilbert allowed himself to glance up and meet Anne Shirley's stare. Her gray eyes were large and expressive—they clearly told Gilbert that she had seen the prank he pulled on Ruby and that he should be ashamed—and an image of those very eyes flashing with anger as she yelled at Mrs. Lynde filled his mind. Those starry, animated eyes told Gilbert that the young girl held a very large temper, although he had yet to discover just how large her temper really was.
But, Gilbert quickly realized, he was staring! To correct this, his lips curled into a droll smile—he noticed Anne's gray eyes narrow slightly at this action—and he winked. The brown-haired thirteen year old did not wait to see Anne's reaction, instead choosing to turn his attention to his history, a smile still playing on his lips. Beside him, he heard Anne turn and whisper something—presumably about him—to Diana.
The rest of the morning passed without incident, as Gilbert had preoccupied himself with his studies. Even though he was a mischievous lad—as most thirteen year olds are—and enjoyed playing the occasional prank, he very much cared about his studies and had high ambitions for his future. His father's illness was a major setback in his education, but he loved the elderly Blythe man dearly and didn't mind spending those three years in Alberta caring for him.
Now, however, the younger Blythe boy realized just how far behind he was. He glanced around the classroom at Moody and Charlie, who were diligently studying—or pretending to—their Sixth Readers. Dismally, Gilbert directed his hazel gaze downward to the fourth reader that was perched on his desk. Before his father's illness, Gilbert had been at the top of the class, outdoing every pupil in the schoolhouse. Now, he realized that he'd have to fight to catch up with his friends, something he'd never had to do before.
When the other children were released for their snack breaks, Gilbert opted to stay inside and study. By the time the students came filing in after their break, Gilbert was feeling fairly confident that he'd overtake his pupils with ease. The young boy glanced up just as Anne Shirley swept in, her freckled nose held high as she took her seat beside Diana. Gilbert stared at her, trying hard to catch her eye, but she did not once deign him with a glance.
Gilbert returned to his schoolwork shortly thereafter, stealing only a few glances at Anne Shirley. Her chin was rested upon her knuckle, propping her head up as she gazed out through the window. He couldn't blame her; her desk held a wonderful view of Barry's Pond, which reflected merrily through the window.
Still, she should look at him! Julia Bell was happily gazing at him from across the room, and she was older than Anne Shirley. Even Diana Barry took note of him from time to time, so why shouldn't her minx of a friend?
Yet her wonderful gray eyes had yet to move from the window. Without thinking it over, Gilbert quickly reached across the aisle and grabbed ahold of one of the red braids that fell across Anne's shoulder. In a tone that was meant to be teasing, not cruel, Gilbert whispered:
Anne's reaction to his words was instantaneous—he'd finally achieved her attention, but Gilbert didn't garner the reaction he'd anticipated. Immediately, Anne was out of her seat, her face growing in anger—causing her freckled cheeks to turn as red as her hair—taking her slate with her. Before Gilbert could comprehend what happening, Anne yelled:
"You mean, hateful boy! How dare you!"
Gilbert realized what had happened too late. Before he could move, argue, or even make a sound, Anne's slate came crashing down against his head. The wood holding the slate together cracked, half of it falling against his neck while the other half remained firmly in Anne Shirley's head.
Gilbert had predicted that Anne Shirley had a temper, but he had completely underestimated the power of that temper.
Gilbert's eyes were focused so steadily on Anne's face that he didn't notice the reactions of his friends and peers. He only noticed the tears that swelled underneath Anne's eyelashes, threatening to spill over as the master marched over.
"Anne Shirley, what does this mean?" the master demanded angrily. Anne, overcome with anger and hurt, could not answer. Guilt flooded Gilbert, beginning in his stomach and rising to his head. He hadn't mean to hurt Anne, or even get her into trouble with Mr. Phillips. He'd only wanted those expressive eyes to gaze at him like they gazed at Barry's Pond.
"It was my fault, Mr. Phillips," Gilbert offered eagerly. He knew it was futile—the master never listened to reason—but he had to try, anyhow. "I teased her."
"I am sorry to see a pupil of mine displaying such a temper and such a vindictive spirit," the master intoned, staring at Anne condescendingly. "Anne, go and stand on the platform in front of the blackboard for the rest of the afternoon."
The life drained out of Anne's face at his words, as though she hadn't realized that such a public display should warrant a punishment. Gilbert watched, his jaw hanging, as Anne marched up to the chalkboard, following the master.
Ann Shirley has a very bad temper. Ann Shirley must learn to control her temper.
This punishment was worse than a public whipping, Gilbert realized, because this one invited humiliation. Anne had to stand in front of the class and rewrite the sentence until the chalkboard was full of her handwriting, and Mr. Phillips had spelled her name wrong.
Yet Gilbert could not help the tiny, good-natured chuckle that escaped his lips when Anne added an 'e' to the end of her name.
Gilbert was one of the first people to leave the schoolhouse when all the pupils were dismissed. He made up his mind to apologize to Anne—he wanted to earn her friendship, and he was afraid that he'd already ruined it. It wasn't long before he spotted Anne's red hair as she exited the schoolhouse.
"I'm awfully sorry I made fun of your hair, Anne," he told her earnestly. Anne did not look at him, nor did she give any recognition of his presence. So, more desperately: "Honest I am. Don't be mad for keeps, now."
Yet Anne swept by disdainfully, acting as though she didn't hear him although Gilbert was sure her ears were in perfect working order. With a sigh, Gilbert turned and headed towards the pathway that lead to the main road, where Charlie and Moody were waiting.
Charlie immediately intercepted Gilbert before the older boy could even speak. "Why'd you have to go and tease Anne about her hair, Gil?" asked Charlie. "Everyone knows she's awfully touchy about her hair."
"I didn't," Gilbert told him. He wasn't in the mood for an argument; the day's events had already taken too much out of him. The rest of the walk home was spent in silence, as Charlie refused to talk to Gilbert until he apologized, and Gilbert felt he had given out all the appropriate apologies to Anne.
Dinner that night was conducted as a normal affair, but Mrs. Blythe broiled a chicken to celebrate Gilbert's first day back at school. Both Mr. and Mrs. Blythe took note of their son's depleted mood, but had yet to comment on it.
"Great chicken, Mother," Gilbert remarked at last. "Thank you for dinner."
His mother nodded in appreciation, swallowing her forkful of chicken. Afterwards, she laid the silverware gently on one of the napkins placed on the table. "I heard an interesting story to-day, Gilbert," she told him, trepidation clear in her voice. Gilbert had to resist the temptation to bolt from the table—such manners were not polite. "Mrs. Lynde told me that Anne Shirley—the orphan girl she told me about this weekend—went off on you in class."
Gilbert nodded. "It wasn't her fault," he added, quick to defend Anne. "I—I teased her."
Mrs. Blythe shook her head disapprovingly, but Mr. Blythe chuckled…well, blithely.
"May I be excused, please?" Gilbert asked anxiously. He wasn't wont to discuss his incident with Anne, especially considering he'd been mulling over it since his dismissal from school—and his dismissal from Anne's good graces. His mother nodded and allowed him to leave the table, closely followed by his father.
The two reached the parlor and Gilbert stretched out on one of the sofas, while Mr. Blythe settled into his usual wooden chair. A pile of newspapers lay next to the chair, readily available for whenever Mr. Blythe felt inclined to read one.
"I'm assuming you didn't mean to upset this girl?" asked Mr. Blythe at length. Gilbert felt a warmth spread from his neck to his cheeks at his father's inquiry.
"No-o-o." Gilbert shifted from his perch to stand up straight. Still, he averted his gaze from his father's face. "I only wanted her to look at me. Now she won't speak to me."
Mr. Blythe nodded as he took in the information. "And this is the orphan girl that Marilla Cuthbert adopted, yes?"
Gilbert nodded his head dismally, causing Mr. Blythe to chuckle once more.
The elderly Blythe grabbed a newspaper from the pile beside him and tore his gaze from his son. "Good luck with that one, son."
Gilbert hadn't a clue what his father meant but decided not to dwell on it, because to think of that girl only depressed him.
The rest of the week passed without incident. Gilbert tried eagerly to be accepted into Anne's good graces, but to no avail. She acted as though he didn't exist and, to add insult upon injury, she bested or tied him in nearly every subject. As each day passed he felt instinctively that Anne Shirley was different from any girl he had previously associated himself with, and the only girl who did not want to associate with him.
The next week, nearly all the scholars of Avonlea were late to school for picking gum in Mr. Bell's spruce grove. Gilbert, not being one of them, did not worry about punishment, for he was nearly always punctual. But the master relayed a warning for the entire class: every pupil must be in their seat on time the next day, or there would be a severe punishment. Gilbert scoffed at the idea, for Mr. Phillips was not known for his harsh punishments.
The next day, however, every student who had been in Mr. Bell's spruce grove were back there again, including Anne but excepting Gilbert. He sat promptly in his seat, going over his geometrical sums because Anne had bested him the day before.
When the master arrived, the students began running into the classroom. First came the girls—Anne was curiously missing, Gilbert noticed—followed by the loud footsteps of the boys. Anne came in a minute later, her hair adorned gloriously with flowers. Gilbert thought the wreath very attractive, and hoped that to-morrow she would wear another one.
Inwardly, Gilbert groaned. So engrossed had he been in his observations of Anne's hair ornaments that he'd forgotten she was the latest of all. She certainly had a knack for mishaps, that Shirley girl.
"Since you seem to be so fond of the boys' company we shall indulge your taste for it this afternoon," the master told her sarcastically. Anne gulped noticeably while Gilbert wondered what punishment Mr. Phillips would give out. "Take those flowers out of your hair and sit with Gilbert Blythe."
Disappointment filled Gilbert when he realized that Anne would have to release those becoming flowers from her hair, but another emotion entirely seized his body when he realized that she would be sitting next to him. Maybe, at last, he could earn her forgiveness—!
Gilbert, too overjoyed, did not notice the color drain on her face, nor did he notice the absolute dread in her eyes as she eyed the seat beside him. It wasn't until the master asked if Anne had heard him that Gilbert realized Anne's misery.
"Yes, sir," Anne said, answering the master's inquiry as to whether or not she had heard his order, "but I didn't suppose you really meant it."
"I assure you I did," the master reminded her, intoning that idiosyncratic sarcasm that Gilbert was learning to hate. "Obey me at once."
Anne's face grew whiter than the frock she was wearing as she gazed at the seat beside Gilbert. The color continued to drain from her face as she stepped across the classroom to take her seat beside Gilbert, and then promptly buried her head in her arms.
Everyone else whispered and nudged as Anne's head stay buried beneath her elbows. For a girl to sit next to a boy was punishment enough—for every girl except, it seemed, Ruby Gillis—but for Anne Shirley to sit next to Gilbert Blythe was complete torture.
Gilbert turned back to his fractions, his whole body tense, and pretended become absorbed in them. He'd already learned them—that was one of the benefits of spending mornings in the schoolhouse instead of Mr. Bell's grove—but he pretended as though he didn't and put his whole heart into them. Soon, Mr. Phillips relinquished the pair from his gaze and returned his attention to Prissy Andrews. Gilbert was thankful, because it seemed as soon as the master acquitted his attention, so did the rest of the class.
When he felt that no one was paying attention—for Gilbert wasn't sure if he could handle another public rejection, should Anne rejection again—Gilbert found the little candy heart he had been saving if an opportunity presented itself. Now that such an opportunity had presented itself, Gilbert slowly nudged it underneath Anne's elbow. For a moment, Anne did not move, and Gilbert was left to stare at the pink heart's "You are sweet" logo until she did.
Finally, Gilbert noticed a muscle in Anne's arm twitch as she began to move. Without looking at him, she picked up the candy heart and read what was written upon it. For a moment, Gilbert's spirit soared…only to come crashing down as Anne threw the heart on the floor and crushed it underneath her boot. She then resumed her previous position without deigning to glance at Gilbert's crestfallen face.
When the pupils were released, Gilbert took his time gather his books together. Beside him, Anne hastily gathered all of her worldly possessions from her desk and marched haughtily out of the class, leaving Gilbert to stare after her.
The next morning, Gilbert met a sour-faced Charlie along the main road.
"Anne's not coming back to school," he muttered, not looking at Gilbert. Had he glanced at Gilbert, he would have noticed a very shocked expression adorning the young, handsome face. "She told Diana who told Gertie who told Carrie who told me that she wouldn't be returning."
"Oh." Gilbert didn't quite know what to say. A sickening feeling grew in his stomach—he knew it was because she would have to sit next to him, and Anne would rather be whipped painfully in front of the entire class than sit next to Gilbert.
School that day was a rather dull affair, for Anne's chatter was sorely missed along the Avonlea scholars. Diana Barry sat next to Gertie Pye, but the glimmer of friendship was gone out of her eyes. Gilbert sat and worked diligently, but not as hard as he usually would had Anne been there to compete with him. He should have been happy that he wasn't cooped up with someone who hated his very existence, yet he found that he missed Anne's presence sorely.
When the students were dismissed, Gilbert once again took his time gathering up his possessions. Charlie and Moody were waiting outside for him as he passed the porch wall, where his name was still written up with Julia Bell's. It was funny, he reflected, how only a fortnight ago he'd been acutely aware of Julia Bell, yet now he barely thought of her.
And poor Gilbert couldn't help but wish that instead of Julia's, his name had been written up beside Anne Shirley's, with a big 'Take Notice' above it.
Reviews are better than sitting next to cute boys in class (unless you're Anne Shirley)!
(Also, should I add on to this story and write more from Gil's point of view? I've been toying with the idea but I want to see if people would actually read it.)