PLEASE NOTE: This story contains some mature material not intended for younger readers, though it's nothing explicit. Just keep in mind that it's rated 'T' for a reason.

Thank you for reading! Enjoy!

It was a mid-August evening as Gilbert Blythe walked down the pathway to Green Gables, eager to see the redhead whom he undeniably loved and take an afternoon stroll with her down the lane.

Anne happened to be outside sweeping the porch as Gilbert walked by. When she turned around to admire the beautiful summer evening, she saw Gilbert.

"Gil!" she called, dropping the broom with disgrace and running toward him, greeting him with a hug.

"And what are you so happy about, Miss Shirley?" Gilbert teased at Anne's unusual gesture.

Truthfully, Anne had begun to feel more romantically toward Gilbert Blythe within the past month. She was starting to feel that they belonged together, just as Rachel Lynde and Diana Barry and all of the other townsfolk of Avonlea seemed to rightfully believe. She didn't know what had spurred her sudden change in attitude regarding Gilbert; maybe it was his increasingly kind actions, his thoughtfulness, his rivalry, his intelligence, or even more likely a combination of all of the elements which she found attractive. However, despite her newfound romantic feelings toward Gilbert, Anne still did not have the courage to tell him about the way she felt, secretly worried that he no longer felt the same way toward her.

"I am just happy to see you!" Anne told him, only halfway confessing.

Gilbert smiled at the response and reached out for her hand. "Shall we take a stroll down to the Lake of Shining Waters, Anne?" he questioned, subtly tantalizing her for the idealisms she made up regarding the names of many locations across Avonlea.

"Indeed, Mr. Blythe. But I must be back within fifteen minutes, because Marilla is cooking dinner, and she'll be furious if I do not return home on time."

Gilbert nodded at the statement, making a mental note to himself to keep track of time, as Anne was always forgetful of such things. The two then walked down the lane to the Lake of Shining Waters, talking mostly of their ambitions, their hopes, and their dreams.

As Anne and Gil approached the place where Gilbert proposed during the springtime, Anne had a sudden impulse stir within her. She decided that she had to tell Gil the way she felt for him. The later I delay my confession, the less likely it'll be that he'll feel the same way, she thought. Anne decided that the spot where Gil proposed was the most appropriate of places to bring up the topic, so she stopped walking when she and Gilbert reached the end of the bridge.

"This is the place, Gilbert," Anne said nostalgically, staring at the rippling waters beneath her.

"What do you mean, Anne?" Gil asked, though he very well knew what she meant. He simply wanted to clarify that she was indeed talking about what he thought she was, and see why she brought up the subject in the first place.

"It's where…you proposed to me. Last spring. Don't you remember?" she said, the mood becoming suddenly melancholy.

"Of course I remember, Anne. How could I forget that you…" Gil stopped himself, partly because he didn't want to make Anne fell sorry that she declined his proposal, and partly to keep himself from tearing up and getting emotional over nothing but the past.

"I just need to explain something to you, Gil. Please listen to me so that I know you understand." Anne paused and looked at Gil, who nodded in return.

"I was hardly eighteen when you asked me to marry you, Gil. It's not that I didn't love you. I did love you. It just wasn't in the way you wanted, at least not yet. It wasn't until the past few months that I…started having…deeper feelings toward you." Anne swallowed and kept her eyes glued to Gilbert's shoes.

Gilbert found himself unable to speak. He inhaled quickly, his heart pounding against his chest forcefully. Anne had deeper feelings for him? This moment was too rich to be captured into the monotony of reality.

"You…have…deeper…feelings…for…for me?" Gilbert finally managed to stumble out.

"Yes Gil. Undeniably so. I have deeper feelings for you than you will ever begin to fathom." Anne sighed, turning her body to face to rippling wavy depths beneath the bridge, unable to look Gilbert in the eye.

For several moments, she waited for a response, unable to allow herself to turn around, in fear of what the expression his face might hold.

Finally, Gilbert began to reply. "Anne, please don't…" he began, though she predictably interrupted him mid-sentence.

"You don't care, do you, Gil?" Anne's mind jumped to conclusions as the perceived truth echoed in her mind as a lone tear slid down her face. "You only want to be friends…is that it? I cannot believe how utterly foolish I was, thinking that you would care," Anne whimpered, the tears increasing in quantity. She was practically weeping now. "I knew that the possibility of you loving me again was too good to be true. I will always be an orphan…alone…uncared for…unloved…and it is all my own fault." Anne sniffled loudly now as she slowly turned around to look at Gilbert.

She expected to see him to look at her unaffectedly considering his unhopeful reply, but he appeared quite the contrary.

Gilbert looked unquestionably sad, and his eyes were filled to the brim with tears. "Anne, I care about you more than I have cared about anyone in my entire life. You are the love of my life, the reason why I wake up each morning and endure each day. The way I feel for you cannot possibly be expressed in words, Anne. I…I need you," he murmured in a low tone, his voice cracking as few small droplets escaped from his eyes as he blinked as they trailed down his face.

"Gil…" Anne whimpered loudly, unable to control her sudden feelings toward him.

"Oh, Anne…" Gilbert groaned in response, as the two wrapped their arms around each other simultaneously, pulling one another in to an unusually tight embrace. Gilbert and Anne could both feel the other's body press warmly against them as they both jolted and moaned at the sensation, tears still streaming from both pairs of eyes.

After several minutes of the embrace, Anne pulled back, her hands still resting in Gil's curly head of dark hair.

"Anne…" Gilbert murmured as his eyes wandered to Anne's lips, and she confirmed his needs for her by leaning in toward his face. As their lips brushed together, Anne felt her body grow abnormally warm, the sensation growing from her core and spreading to the rest of her body. Her feelings continued to grow as Gilbert closed his lips around hers, his touch ever-so delicate. Though she wasn't entirely sure of what to do, Anne returned his gestures and then decided to follow her instincts, her tongue swirling at the entrance of his mouth just as a low and growly moan escaped Gilbert. Gilbert was avidly aroused by Anne's movements, and as her tongue entered his mouth gently, he found it difficult to breathe. The sensations nearly too much for him to bear, Gil pulled back out of the growing intensity. The stimulation had left Anne in a similar state as she fell backward and was forced to clasp the railing of the bridge for support.

Both Anne and Gilbert were unconditionally speechless as they both recovered. Anne's lack of balance and quick breathing roused Gilbert even more as he realized what his kissing did to her. Gilbert also noticed his own excitement; he was panting uncontrollably, his heart beating unusually fast, among other things. Anne's cheeks flushed as red as roses as she watched him curiously, secretly enthralled at the control she had over him.

"Do you love me, Anne?" Gil's voice was deep and sensual, as if it were the most important question in the world; the key to the universe.

"I…I…" Anne stumbled.

"Say it. Please. I need you to say it." Gilbert's voice was evidenced of desperateness.

"I love you, Gilbert," Anne whispered in a soft, angelic voice.

"I love you, too, Anne. More than any words can ever describe." Gilbert's found his voice to be raspier and deeper than usual.

Anne's heart melted at his words, and by necessity, she pulled Gilbert in to resume kissing him.

After several moments had passed and the couple regained their composure, Anne posed a question. "So, Gilbert, are we engaged?" she asked ever-so innocently.

"As long as you want to. You do, don't you?" he asked, though unnecessarily.

"Gilbert Blythe. Would I have…kissed you so…passionately…if I didn't want to?"

A huge grin spread across Gilbert's face as he took Anne's hands into his.

"You don't mind waiting three years while I finish medical school, do you? I won't go…if you can't wait…"

"Gilbert, you must go to medical school. I would never let you forego your passion just for me. Though I must admit, it will be quite a challenge, waiting for you for so long," Anne said with a chuckle.

"Are you positive, darling?" Gilbert inquired, not wanting to make his future-wife discouraged by his continued schooling.

Anne smiled irrepressibly as he referred to her as 'darling'. "I am as sure that I want you to go to medical school as I am that I love you. Besides, you need to have a stable career if…we ever…have a family." Anne looked up at Gil seriously, curious to know what his take would be on the slight suggestion.

"Oh, Anne," Gilbert moaned as he caressed her face, shivering as he did so. Gilbert had dreamed so much of having children with Anne, and he could not imagine a more desirable woman to bear his children. "If only words could describe my desire for you at this moment."

The couple leaned in toward one another to kiss again. After being engrossed in the amazing sensation of kissing Gilbert, Anne almost forgot about dinner.

"Oh, Gilbert! I was so captivated in our…romantic activities that I forgot about dinner! Oh, Marilla is going to be vexed with me now, Gil! However will I explain to her about why I am late? It must have been at least an hour since we left for the walk, and the sky is beginning to dim! Oh, Gil, what should I tell Marilla upon my return?"

"Don't worry, Anne. I'm sure she'll understand if you explain that we are now engaged. In fact, I bet she'll forget all about dinner."

"Oh no, I am going to have to tell Marilla about our engagement…" Anne rattled on in her usual manner.

"Well of course, you ninny, did you except us to just run away and secretly get married without anyone knowing?" Gilbert teased.

"It's just that…Rachel Lynde will act all sourly and say 'I told you so'."

"Wait, Rachel Lynde thought we were…" Gilbert paused, comprehending the piece of information.

"She has, I'm afraid. Marilla has thought so as well. She doesn't say it straightforwardly like Rachel does, but reading between the lines, she has secretly hoped that you and I would get married eventually."

Gilbert inhaled abruptly at Anne's words, realizing how not only they wanted to be together, but how everyone else wanted them to be together, too.

"So," Gilbert began, "shall we break the news to Marilla and Rachel tonight?" Gilbert's eyes sparkled with excitement as the reality of his engagement to Anne Shirley began to sink in.

"We might as well, I suppose," Anne replied. "Besides, I want you to be there. You, my love, can be our guest of honor for the evening." Anne smiled up at Gilbert, blushing as she realized that she had referred to Gilbert as 'her love'.

Gilbert drew Anne in for a kiss at the statement, but Anne pulled away with much difficulty. "I promise you may have the honor of kissing me again later tonight, Gil. But we must continue on our way to Green Gables. We won't get there until tomorrow if you keep trying to kiss me!"

Gilbert let out a loud, rumbling laugh. Anne always had a way of cheering him up and lifting his spirits, and he knew that he'd never get tired of her endless talking and chit chat.

"Well, if you want to get to Green Gables in timely fashion," Gilbert decided, "we should race there."

"Okay, Mr. Blythe. You've got yourself a deal!" Anne immediately lifted up her skirt and began sprinting down the lane as Green Gables came into view. Anne knew that Gil was capable at running at a fast pace, but she knew that he wouldn't attempt to beat her on their engagement night.

Just as Anne was a few feet away from Green Gable's front porch, she tripped on a stick in the road and fell forcefully to the ground, landing in a pool of thick, dark mud on the side of the road still remaining from the intense rainstorm the other day.

"Anne? Anne! Are you okay? Are you hurt? Please tell me if you're okay! It's all my fault…"

"Stop your worrying, Gil! I am just fine! Now be a gentleman and help me up!" she demanded, reminding herself of a similar situation in a mud puddle that occurred nearly two years ago.

Gil extended his hand to a fully mud-covered Anne, and he too was reminded of the incident in the Lynde's potato field a few years back.

This time, however, was different. As Anne and Gil's hands touched, both were shaken by the connection, even by the simplest gesture.

If this is what it is like when I touch her hand, I can't even begin to imagine how I will feel when we share our wedding bed, Gilbert thought. He finally didn't scold himself for thinking of such mature subjects now that Anne was officially his fiancée.

"Thank you so much, Gilbert. You always seem to come to my rescue during my times of trouble," Anne said, blushing slightly, though not noticeably beneath the coat of mud. She thoughtlessly leaned in to hug Gilbert and planted a short but sweet kiss on his cheek, not realizing at first that she was still covered in mud and that Gilbert would now be, too.

"Oh Gil!" she exclaimed as she stepped back and realized what she had done. "I didn't mean to get you all covered in mud! I am afraid that I sometimes neglect to think during such circumstances, and my absent-mindedness always gets the better of me!"

"It's okay, Anne. Believe it or not, this is why I love you," Gilbert stated with a laugh, gesturing at his mud-covered self as a result of Anne's hug. "Now come on. Let's go tell Marilla and Rachel our exciting news," Gilbert suggested as he and Anne up the steps of the porch hand-in-hand.

As Gilbert and Anne walked into the parlor, they were greeted not only by Marilla and Rachel, but by Mr. and Mrs. Barry, Diana, and Minnie May as well.

"Anne Shirley! What on earth have you done?" Marilla scolded, eyeing her muddy clothing. "You have already gotten yourself into this kerfuffle; I don't understand how you managed to do so again!"

"I'm sorry, Marilla! Gil and I were racing home, and I tripped, and landed in the mud, and Gil got muddy too…"

"Anne, you need to rid yourself of your childish ways. Now you two better go wash up and join us for dessert. I am afraid that you have missed supper."

"Gilbert," Minnie May asked innocently, "why is there a muddy lip print on your cheek?"

Gilbert blushed as he realized that the muddy mark of Anne's kiss still remained on his face.

"Is there something you need to tell us, Anne and Gilbert?" Diana probed, crossing her arms stubbornly.

"Well, I guess now is as good of a time as any." Gilbert said as Anne nodded in approval. "Anne and I have an announcement to make."

The whole room dropped silent and everyone's eyes were on the muddy, dirty couple. Though everyone had their suspicions and hopes about what the news was, no one said anything before the official declaration in case it was of a different topic entirely.

The couple smiled at each other as Gil motioned for Anne to make the official proclamation. "Gil and I are engaged!" Anne blurted out, eyeing Gil excitedly.

The room was suddenly filled with noise, happy cheers, cries of joy, and various murmurings of 'I told you so…'s, since Gil and Anne's engagement was long overdue.

Diana immediately left her seat and ran toward Anne, crashing into her bosom friend at full force and hugging her with heartfelt delight. "Oh, Anne! I knew it would happen! I just knew it! You and Gilbert must be the cutest couple in the history of Avonlea! Oh, you do not know how overcome with joy I am at this blessed moment!" she stated excitedly, kissing her friend on the cheek. Moving to Gilbert, she continued, "Gil, you are the luckiest man in the world to have Anne all to yourself!" Diana could not control her smiles at the knowledge of Anne and Gilbert's engagement.

Marilla simultaneously stood up from her set and lined up behind Diana to congratulate Anne. A huge grin was plastered across her worn face as her cheeks flushed with an abundance of red. When Diana was done with her rambling, Marilla grabbed Anne into her arms, nearly spinning her around the room in utter joyfulness. "Oh, Anne, I am so happy for you! Oh! You blessed girl!" Marilla began to choke up at the thought of Anne and Gilbert together at last.

Anne noticed Marilla's tears right as she pulled away from their embrace. "Marilla! Why are you crying? Are you upset? I'm so sorry…"

"No, Anne, I am just utterly joyed for you and Gilbert! I'm sorry for getting all teary-eyed…I just knew that you two would be together someday, and…here we are!"

Meanwhile, Rachel Lynde was blabbing on. "I just knew you and Gilbert Blythe would end up together, Anne. I just knew it. And don't you go saying otherwise. Just like I've been saying since you two were children, you two were meant for each other. Your marriage is extremely providential, that's what. And I must be honest and admit that you two make one of the finest looking couples on the Island, even with Anne's red hair and all."

After everyone had said their congratulations, Gilbert pulled Anne aside momentarily. "Anne, I know that it is past supper time, and the sun has almost vanished from the sky, but I was wondering if you would come back to my house and inform my parents with me of our engagement."

"Of course, Gil! Let me just inform Marilla," Anne said, staring into Gilbert's vast, twinkling eyes.

"Marilla, Gil and I are heading over to his house for a while, just to tell his parents the news. I promise that I'll be back soon…"

"...and I will drive Anne home when we are done, Marilla," Gilbert added. Gilbert noticed that he had forgotten to call Marilla Ms. Cuthbert, and immediately added, "I mean, Ms. Cuthbert."

"Call me Marilla, Gilbert. After all, you are family now. I trust you more than any other young man that I know. Now you two get along and…enjoy yourselves." Marilla looked up at the pair and smiled. They looked so happy together, she thought, so young, so promising. She was secretly thrilled inside that Anne had finally accepted Gilbert's proposal, as Marilla believed that there was no finer young man than Gilbert Blythe to marry.

Anne and Gil went to wash off the mud and then embarked on the journey to the Blythe farm.

The Blythe's home was located about three miles down the road from Green Gables. Though most people were discouraged from walking such a long distance, Gilbert and Anne did not mind the least. Gilbert, who was overjoyed beyond measurement that Anne loved him, and Anne, who was equally in love now that she realized her true ideals, savored each other's company throughout the walk.

Gilbert and Anne talked about their future plans with one another. Gilbert decided upon going to medical school and upon graduating, taking over the doctor's practice in Avonlea. Anne would continue teaching at the Avonlea Public School while Gilbert was away, and the two would visit each other on as many breaks as possible. They decided upon not marrying until Gilbert's completion of medical school and planned the wedding for the July when he was done with his schooling.

Soon, it began getting very dark, and Anne could hardly see where she was going. She bravely reached out her left hand to find Gilbert's so he could guide her through the darkness. Gilbert took a secret pleasure in Anne seeking out his hand, and immediately reached for her hand and squeezed it. As the pair's hands connected, again they shook is a reaction.

When Anne and Gilbert were approximately halfway between Green Gables and the Blythe farm, the skies opened up and it began pouring relentlessly.

"Oh, Gil, we're going to be soaked! And it is so chilly; what if we freeze to death before reaching your home?"

Gilbert placed his jacket around Anne at the notion that she was chilly and cuddled her in toward him. "Thank you so much, Gil. You are my shield of protection from the storm." Gilbert smiled pleasurably at the comment.

Suddenly, there was an ear-piercing, earth-shaking crack of thunder which echoed through the vast sky emptily. A powerful bolt of cloud-to-ground lightning struck immediately after the sound, flashing a ray of colors into the contrastingly black sky.

"Gilbert!" Anne cried, as she was terribly afraid of storms. Gilbert didn't reply at first, but he scooped up Anne in his arms with one swift motion and began running.

"I know of a barn that is only a small distance away from here. Hang on, Anne. I promise you'll be okay."

At the nurturing words, Anne pressed her head into Gil's chest, her red hair tickling Gilbert right underneath the nose. He shuttered at the feeling, as Anne's red hair was one of his favorite physical characteristics about her. Gilbert relished the moment, drinking in the innocence of the golden carrot strands which were bestowed upon him.

Finally, they reached the barn. Gilbert gently lowered Anne to the ground in order to open the barn door. Anne's hand remained on his upper arm, as she was afraid to let go of him during such a scary situation. Touching him, she felt as if she was in no danger during the storm. As Gilbert pulled open the heavy door, his biceps tensed, and Anne felt the strong muscles beneath her fingertips and breathed in quickly at the feeling, mumbling "Gil" almost inaudibly.

Gilbert, who heard her, was curious as to why she muttered his name, though he had his suspicions. "What is it, Anne?" he asked, just for the pleasure of her inevitable response.

"Your arms…" Anne said, unable to find any other words for her reaction.

"…Wh…what?" Gilbert choked out, stunned at what he was hearing.

"Gil, I'm so sorry; I shouldn't have said what I was thinking at the moment; if I hurt your feelings please just tell me so I can refrain from saying such things again."

"Anne, say whatever you want to say. And in no way did you hurt my feelings, in fact, quite the contrary," Gilbert pointed out as he picked up Anne again and led her into the barn, closing the door behind him.

As the lightning flashed outside, Gilbert could make out a lantern in the corner. He lighted it immediately, now getting a better view of the barn. Though the barn was deteriorating in condition, it was decent enough shelter given the circumstances, Gilbert concluded.

As another loud crash echoed through the sky, Anne quivered, grasping Gilbert's body tightly. Gilbert decided upon settling in the fresh hay pile in the barn, sitting down on the soft straws of hay and curling Anne in his lap, wrapping his arms around her.

Gilbert's began breathing quickly at the feeling of Anne in his arms, cuddled in his lap, pressing into his body. "Don't worry, Anne. I'm here for you," Gilbert mumbled in a low, growly voice.

At the intense words, Anne reached up to his face and kissed him ever-so-gently. As she became mesmerized with the kissing, Anne forgot about the thunderstorm going on around her. Gilbert's touch withheld the power to obviate Anne from the realisms of the world. As the pair continued kissing, the gestures grew in intensity, and Anne began moving her lips across Gil's jawline and down his neck to his pulse, where she felt his rapid heartbeat beneath her lips. Her hand trailed down the back of his neck to his tensed shoulder, and finally landing on her newfound favorite spot, his muscular arms.

"Gil…I need to feel…" Anne begged, gasping between kisses.

Gilbert's mind hesitated for a moment. How he would love Anne to feel his arms with no clothing in between, he thought. He couldn't come up with a reason to decline her the notion, as he also wanted to feel her touch desperately. Anne continued kissing him as he unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off, revealing his sturdy, brawny structure.

"Oh!" Anne dragged out the word in a high-pitched vocalization. "Gil, oh Gil…" she muffled as she saw his bare chest for the first time. Gil's heart melted at her reaction. She traced her fingers along his arms, feeling his muscles as she inhaled abruptly, nearly panting at the feeling.

"Carrots…" Gilbert muttered subconsciously, tingling at the sensation of her touch.

Anne continued moving her hand around his chest in a swirly motion, enthralled in the feeling of Gilbert's body. The sensation felt so good that she could not convince herself of pulling away. Subconsciously, she suddenly moved her hand and brushed it over his abdomen, brushing near the border of his pants. As she did so, Gilbert practically screamed, "Oh, Anne, oh, oh!" as he gasped for air as if he had been holding his breath for minutes.

Anne pulled away at his words, nervous that her unintentional actions upset him. For several moments, Anne and Gil recovered, and when their breathing was somewhat under control, Anne spoke.

"Gil…I'm so sorry…I…I shouldn't have done that…I didn't mean to, I promise…it just happened, and before I thought about it, it was over…" Anne had no idea what initiated Gilbert to react in such a way. As she spoke, she continued staring at his chest unavoidably.

"No, Anne, please do not be ashamed," he stated. "I just…my body was…reacting…to the touch... it felt…amazing, beyond my wildest dreams and fantasies."

"You're…breathtaking, Gil. And quite literally," Anne replied with a nervous chuckle. "Do you mind if…we just…cuddle here, until the rain has stopped, at least? If you even want to cuddle with me, that is, after the most stupid and extemporaneous gestures on my behalf." Anne looked at the floor, mortified for where her hand had went, though she enjoyed it thoroughly herself.

"Anne, I want to cuddle with your more than ever before. I wouldn't mind if you did that…those touches…more often, you know."

"Gilbert, do you honestly mean that with all of your heart? Or are you just saying such things because you feel like you would hurt my feelings if you told me that you don't want me to do it again?"

"Anne, I give you my word of honor, as if my life depended on it." Gil reached back toward Anne, pulling her close to him, feeling their bodies connect once more. She fit him so well, he thought. As if they both were puzzle pieces, and she would only fit him, and he would only fit her. "Now how about you rest for a while, just until the rain stops?"

"Alright, Gil. I shall savor the feeling of being in your arms, in your embrace, for when I am with you, I am protected from all of the evilness and inhumanity of the world."

Gilbert sighed at the beautiful diction that Anne muttered. How smart and talented she was, he thought. He tightened his embrace as Anne molded into his arms.

After another thirty minutes or so, the barn was silenced by the discontinuation of the rain pitter pattering on the barn's roof. Gil, who had closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of Anne and the sounds of the thunderstorm, opened his eyes to ask Anne if she wanted him to escort her back to Green Gables, since the night was deepening in time and darkness. But, when he opened his eyes, he noticed that Anne had drifted off into a sedative sleep, which was confirmed when he whispered her name and she did not respond.

For a moment, Gilbert simply stared at Anne, attempting to memorize her face. He counted her freckles, learned the exact coloration of her vibrantly red hair, and felt her stir in her sleep in his arms. The simplicity of the moment was so beautiful and romantic, and Gilbert thought Anne looked "divinely beautiful" from the minimal light casted by the lantern.

Though Gilbert knew that Marilla and Rachel would be concerned about Anne's whereabouts, he decided that he would let Anne continue sleeping, as he did not have the heart to awaken her from her dreamy state of slumber. As the lantern faded into nothingness, Gilbert himself fell asleep, embracing his beautiful beloved in his arms, as the utter eternalness of the night lived on in the hearts of the kindred spirits.

Meanwhile, back at Green Gables, Marilla and Rachel waited impatiently in the kitchen. It was past ten o'clock and there was still no sign of Anne.

"You know, Marilla, letting her run off with that boy of hers was mighty risky. Who knows where they are now, or what they could be doing? God did not intend for girls to strut around in such a fashion. If I were you, I'd give her a darn good talking to when she returns."

"Well, Rachel, you are not me. And I am sure that wherever Anne is, Gilbert is with her, and I know for a fact that he would never let anything remotely dangerous happen to her."

"Well, I wouldn't be too sure, Marilla. People do silly things when they're in love."

Marilla rolled her eyes at her over-opinionated friend and began to get up. "I'm going to bed, Rachel. I'm sure that Anne will be home by the morning. I typically wouldn't be unconcerned, but since she is with Gilbert, I know that she must be alright. Goodnight, Rachel." With that, Marilla shuffled upstairs and crawled into bed, hoping that she was right about Gilbert taking good care of Anne. But, she decided, if he had waltzed around Green Gables for the past six years just for Anne's sake and not given in with her stubborn ways, he must be looking out for her, especially on such a stormy night.

Gilbert woke up at five o'clock, a time when he normally wakened in order to work on his family's farm. At first, Gilbert was confused about where he was, but he suddenly remembered when he saw Anne lying next to him. Her body was snuggling into his, and his arms rested around her, as if claiming her to himself. As he slept, he had buried his face in her head of hair, finding that it acted as the perfect cushioning for a comfortable night of sleep.

He waited for another hour, when the sun had adequately illuminated the sky. He listened to her rhythmic breathing, enjoying the time in which he could relax with Anne all to himself to savor.

Around six o'clock, Gilbert decided to escort Anne back to Green Gables, as he did not want Marilla and Rachel to be beside themselves with worry regarding Anne's whereabouts. He cradled Anne in his arms until she was positioned comfortably. He adjusted his coat over her body to shield her from the chilly, early morning breeze as he took off for Green Gables, hoping not to be spotted by any nosy townsfolk.

It was six-thirty in the morning as Marilla Cuthbert sat anxiously on the veranda at Green Gables, waiting for Anne's return. She had decided that if Anne did not return within the next few minutes, she would go and look for her.

Marilla sat and thought about Anne and Gilbert while waiting on that quiet summer morning. She thought about how happy they seemed together, and how perfectly matched they were. She was proud of Anne for finally coming to her senses- something that Marilla herself had failed to do when John Blythe was courting her all those years ago. If she had only apologized to him on that fateful day, what would have happened differently? Marilla would never know the answer to that question.

Because she was so involved in her thinking, Marilla didn't realize the handsome, curly-haired young man who was coming up the lane with a redheaded beauty sleeping peacefully in his arms.

"Hello, Marilla," Gilbert whispered as he walked up the front steps, Anne stirring in his arms.

Quickly returning to reality, Marilla looked up to see Gilbert clutching Anne in his arms with all of the care in the world.

"Oh, I am so glad to see that both of you are back here safely!" Marilla said with a sigh of relief. "Gilbert, Anne looks so peaceful. You really have a special way with her."

Gilbert found himself blushing slightly at the comment. "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting," he murmured. "We were on the way to my place when that violent storm hit, and Anne was so frightened. There was a old barn located right off the main road, and we waited out the storm there. And soon enough, she fell asleep in my arms."

"Gilbert, you are such a gentle soul," Marilla stood up and glanced at Anne sleeping in his arms as she placed her hand on his shoulder reassuringly. "Now come in and set Anne down on the sofa in the parlor. You must be very tired from carrying her all this way."

Gilbert followed Marilla into the house and gently placed Anne onto the sofa, fixing her hair so that it was out of her face. He took a blanket that was draped over the sofa and tucked Anne in affectionately, placing a soft kiss on her forehead.

Marilla smiled as she watched Gilbert's actions from the doorway. She then quickly retreated into the kitchen so that Gilbert would not know that she was watching him the whole time.

Gilbert then entered the kitchen himself as Marilla gathered the ingredients to make pancakes. Rachel Lynde, who had yet to notice Gilbert's presence, was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper.

"I'll be heading over to the Allan's place in a few minutes to help with the annual Avonlea Ball preparation," Rachel said to Marilla.

"All right, Rachel," Marilla replied. "And Gilbert, the pancakes should be ready in several minutes, Gilbert. Now just sit down at the table and make yourself at home!"

Rachel Lynde looked up from her newspaper to see Gilbert standing in the kitchen doorway. "It's nice to see that you've returned safely from your journey last night, Gilbert. Where's Anne?"

"She's sleeping on the sofa in the parlor," Gilbert stated. "I'm going to go check on her to make sure she's okay."

Marilla chuckled quietly to herself as Gilbert politely excused himself from the conversation and made his way back into the parlor. He kneeled next to the sofa on the floor so his face was level with Anne's. "Good morning, dearest Anne," Gilbert cooed as he caressed her cheek.

"Good morning, darling," Anne yawned as she slowly opened her eyes. "What are we doing back at Green Gables? How did you get me back here while I was sleeping?"

"I carried you back earlier this morning. Would you like to go eat breakfast with me now? Marilla's making pancakes."

"That would be lovely!" Anne said as she wrapped her arms around Gilbert's waist, pulling him in for a brief kiss.

"What was that for?" Gilbert beamed.

"It was to thank you for everything you've done for me- especially last night," Anne whispered as she planted one final kiss next to Gilbert's ear. "Now let's go and enjoy breakfast."

"Good morning, Anne," Marilla said as she flipped several pancakes onto a plate. "You're just in time for breakfast."

"Oh, Marilla, I'm sorry about last night. You must've been worried sick! I assume you must be vexed with me now!"

"Stuff and nonsense! I knew that you would be safe in Gilbert's hands," Marilla said. "Now both of you come help yourselves to some blueberry and apple pancakes. Eat as much as you'd like. Goodness knows how hungry you both must be after a cold night in the rain."

At that moment, Rachel Lynde decided to open her big mouth and speak her opinion of the situation. "You all know how I pride myself on speaking my mind," she began, eyeing Anne and Gilbert in particular. "So...I'll speak my mind right now. You see, I believe that God never intended for an unmarried man and woman to spend the night together, even in the most drastic of circumstances. It's just simply not Christian."

There. She had dropped the inevitable comment that Gilbert and Anne had both been dreading all along.

Gilbert's mouth twitched as he found himself struggling to come up with a response. He looked at Anne worriedly. She was sending Rachel a piercing glare, her eyes seemingly on fire with anger. Gilbert's heart melted as he noticed a lone tear slide down Anne's face.

Thankfully, before Anne's temper could fully erupt, Marilla spoke. "What would you have liked them to do, Rachel? There was nothing else to be done, given the situation. It is not in your place to speak of Anne and Gilbert in such a manner!"

"Spending a night together, sleeping together before being married...that's a mighty scandalous act, Marilla," Rachel declared.

"How dare you talk about me and Gilbert in that regard!" Anne shouted, a steady trail of tears now streaming down her face. "I can assure you that nothing of that sort happened, Mrs. Lynde! Gilbert and I would never...we would never..."

"Anne..." Gilbert said as he reached for her hand, stroking it gently. "It's okay, Anne."

"Now I didn't mean to make you cry, child," Rachel went on. "All I'm saying is that it was horribly inappropriate, considering the fact that you did spend the entire night snuggled up in Gilbert's arms. I'd say this whole ordeal was just a silly excuse for you two to run away together prematurely."

"If you wish to remain in this house, Rachel, you will keep your opinions to yourself and stop meddling in other people's affairs!" Marilla stated sternly.

"Well then!" Rachel looked appalled regarding the situation. "I'm off to Reverend Allan's house to have tea. Maybe that will give Anne enough time let that temper of hers settle down!" And with that, Rachel marched out of the house, slamming the door behind her.

"Oh, Anne, don't take what Rachel said to heart." Marilla's typically cold eyes seemed to have melted, showing true sympathy for Anne at the moment.

"You just don't know how discomforting it is to be accused of something that you didn't do!" Anne wept.

"Anne, we both know that nothing of that sort happened last night. That's all that matters," Gilbert chimed in. However, he himself was very angry and distraught over the accusations that Rachel had just recently made.

"Gilbert's right, Anne," Marilla replied.

"Just be thankful that I managed to bite my tongue and not say the things that were going through my head!" Anne stated seriously.

"Now how about you help yourself to these pancakes before they're too cold to eat?" Marilla said.

Anne slowly nodded her head and dried her tears and she prepared a plate for both her and Gilbert.

"Now tell me, have you two made any plans for the wedding yet?" Marilla asked.

"Not really. But we will wait to marry until after Gil's done with medical school," Anne stated.

"That's a wise idea. Have you thought of a month yet?"

"We were thinking about July," Gilbert said. "The summer after I graduate."

"It sounds wonderful," Marilla said with a smile. "Where will you live?"

"What do you think, Anne? We haven't really discussed this question yet."

"Oh, Gil, wherever you want to live, really."

"No, wherever you want to live, Anne."

"Well, I guess I would love to stay in Avonlea. Everyone I love is here," Anne said as she gazed into Gilbert's eyes. Marilla found it quite obvious whom the statement was directed to.

"Good. I was hoping you would say that," Gilbert stated. "I'd love to set up my practice here in Avonlea. Dr. Spencer is going to be retiring soon, and he told me that I could take his position once he resigns."

"Oh, Gilbert! You never told me about that!" Anne squealed in excitement. "Oh, we can stay here and raise our family with the same wonderful people we grew up with!"

"So I assume that children are a part of your plan?" Marilla chuckled.

Anne blushed profusely at Marilla's statement, using her napkin to cover up her embarrassment.

"As long as Anne agrees. Do you, Anne?" Gilbert asked, a hint of teasing in his voice.

"I do agree, Mr. Blythe," Anne said shyly. "I just hope that none of them inherit my red hair!"

"Really? I've always hoped that they would have your red hair!"

"Always?" Anne asked with a playful smile.

"Well, you know...since we've been engaged..." Gilbert cleared his throat awkwardly.

Anne shot him a glare, even though she found herself gleaming at his statement.

"Thank you so much for your hospitality," Gilbert stated. "Marilla, your pancakes were delicious. And Anne, I'm sorry to leave so soon, but I'm afraid that my parents will be worried."

"Of course, Gilbert. I'll see you to the door," Anne said.

Once Anne and Gilbert were alone on the porch, Anne decided to talk to Gilbert personally.

"Gilbert, do you think Rachel was right? Do you think that what we did last night was a sin?" Anne asked in a serious tone.

"Anne, please do not worry yourself over this whole matter. Rachel Lynde had no right to say what she did. I won't deny that last night was very special and that I enjoyed it immensely, but we didn't engage in...in any activity that would otherwise occur on our... wedding night." Gilbert's voice deepened as he talked about such an intimate subject with Anne.

Anne's heartbeat quickened at Gilbert's words. "I guess you're right, Gil. I'll try not to let it bother me anymore."

"Good. I hate to see you upset, Anne," Gilbert said as he stroked her cheek with his hand.

Anne blushed and stared at Gilbert deeply. She hadn't noticed how expressive his eyes were and how much they kindled with emotion and passion.

"Promise you'll come back and see me again tonight, Gil? I don't know if I'll be able to live without you for such a long time!" Anne admitted.

"I promise, dearest Anne. We can even take a stroll down Lover's Lane and then you can come and formally meet my parents," Gilbert suggested. "If, of course, we do not get stuck in a thunderstorm.

Anne giggled wholeheartedly. "That sounds lovely. Oh, and Gilbert, before you go, there's just one thing I want to tell you."

"Yes?"

"I just want to thank you for waiting for me all these years...when I was blind to the true meaning of true love. I wish I could make it up to you somehow for everything that you've done."

"Do you want to know what you can do to make it up for me?" Gilbert teased.

"What?" Anne batted her eyelashes at Gilbert's goofy expression.

"Kiss me," he whispered irresistibly.

And kiss him, with all of the passion and the lust in the world, she did.

Thank you for reading! Reviews are appreciated!