DISCLAIMER: Anne of Green Gables is not my creation or property. I am just borrowing the characters.
AN. This is my first time posting in the Anne of Green Gables fandom, which is always slightly scary. Basically the last time I watched Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel I was struck by the scene when Fred and Diana are taking Anne to the station and when she asks Diana is she spoke to Gilbert, she replied "I think he understands." And that was just vague enough to get me wondering what she actually said to him and how that went.
Obviously, this is Movie universe, simply because my books are in storage and I couldn't remember if that line was in the book as well (but I didn't think so, from memory). Hope you enjoy it and I haven't destroyed the characters too badly!
When Fred told Diana that he would be taking Gilbert to the train station the next day to see him off to medical school, Diana insisted on coming along.
"You don't have to, Diana."
"Gilbert's my friend as well, Fred," she reminded him, which was true although not the main reason she wanted to come along.
"Besides, I promised Anne I'd talk to him for her and this is the last chance I'll have."
That simply confused Fred, but he wasn't going to deny his bride anything, and so he agreed. Besides, he knew better to question anything that was between Anne and Diana. That was a bond and relationship he would never be privy to, even if he and Diana were married for fifty or a hundred years.
When the buggy came to a stop outside of the Blythe homestead the next morning, and Gilbert came outside with his trunk, he looked slightly surprised to see Diana there too, but quickly covered it with an easy grin.
"Good morning, Fred. Mrs Wright," he added to Diana with a tip of his hat to her.
Diana beamed, she was simply loving being newly married and being addressed as "Mrs Wright" and she felt a great affection for Gilbert just for saying it.
"Good morning, Mr Blythe," she replied back easily, with a warm smile although she knew Anne would have done it better.
"I wasn't expecting the pleasure of your company," Gilbert replied, as he and Fred stowed the trunk on the back of the buggy.
"We're old school chums, aren't we?" Diana demanded. "I couldn't not come see you off to medical school! It's such a wonderful achievement, your parents must be so proud."
"They are," Gilbert admitted, with a modest chuckle.
Gilbert said goodbye to his parents and climbed into the buggy, settling into the back behind Fred and Diana.
They'd barely been on the road for a minute, before Diana could bear it no longer and turned around to face Gilbert.
"Listen, Gil... Anne asked me to speak with you," she began gently.
Immediately, Gilbert stiffened and his jaw clenched. He looked away, finally forcing a smile and a light tone as he answered.
"I should have known she wouldn't keep anything from her bosom friend. Does everyone know? I suppose she's been laughing at me behind my back."
Diana felt a surge of anger as she immediately defended her best friend. "Gilbert Blythe! If you think Anne would do any of that, you had no business proposing!" she exclaimed furiously.
Fred looked over his shoulder, startled. "You proposed to Anne Shirley?!"
Gilbert sighed, his shoulders slumping.
"Yes," he answered Fred miserably. "Well, I tried."
"She hasn't told anyone but me, Gil," Diana said softly. "And I promise you, she's not laughing."
"I know she wouldn't," Gilbert admitted. "I just... it's so humiliating. How could I have been such a fool? I thought... what did she ask you to say, Di?"
"She just asked me to talk to you. She feels terrible, Gilbert. If you had seen her face after you spoke to her at the wedding..."
Fred was still trying to catch up. "You proposed to her at our wedding?"
Gilbert managed a faint smile as he filled in his friend on recent events. "No. I proposed after the hayride. I spoke to her again at the wedding."
He stared off across the fields as the buggy moved steadily down the road.
"Anne truly does feel awful. She never wanted to hurt you, Gil. And now she's afraid you despise her."
Gilbert laughed bitterly at that very thought. "Despise her? I could never despise Anne Shirley. Not since we were schoolchildren with Mr Phillips."
Diana's lips twitched slightly at the memory of eleven year old Anne breaking her slate over Gilbert's head. Looking back, it was easy to see that Gilbert had always been taking with the fiery redhead. Hadn't Diana even told Anne that day that Gilbert never apologised to any girl for teasing them? Yet he had to Anne.
"I've been in love with her for as long as I can remember," Gilbert admitted shamelessly. He'd told Anne this, he'd happily tell all of Prince Edward Island, all of the world if he could. "I just thought that she loved me too."
Diana glanced at Fred for a moment, full of sympathy for Gilbert's forlorn face.
"Oh, Gil. Don't you see that she does?"
Gilbert gave her a sceptical look, but Diana persisted.
"She does. She may not know that she does, but she does love you."
"What makes you so sure?" Gilbert asked. He strived to keep his voice steady, but couldn't stop his heart from leaping up hopefully. Had Anne mentioned something to Diana?
"I know Anne," Diana replied simply. "And I can see it in her eyes."
Gilbert's heart slumped back down to his stomach. "Di-"
"Think of what she's been through," Diana urged, cutting him off. "She never really had a home or a family or friends, until she came to Avonlea. Can you really expect her to recognise real love?"
Gilbert thought of Averil's Atonement and the dashing hero, Perceval.
"She writes of it," he said absent-mindedly.
Diana smiled. "She writes of romance. She dreams of love and romance like the heroes in her stories. But dreaming something up in your imagination and recognising it in the flesh and in yourself is completely different. We all know Anne has a wonderful imagination."
Gilbert thought again of Anne of days gone by, of her clinging to a post after playing Elaine, and of waltzing in a meadow with an imaginary suitor asking him to call her "Cordelia" and complimenting her "starry violet eyes" and "exquisite rose leaf complexion."
"That she does," he agreed fondly. "So, what are you suggesting I do exactly?"
Diana sighed. "I know you're upset and disappointed," she said softly. "But don't give up. Anne just needs time, I'm sure. And I know you're going to be dreadfully busy with school, but don't stop being her friend. That will hurt her more than anything."
"I don't just want friendship from her," Gilbert said unhappily.
"Isn't that better than nothing?" Fred asked reasonably.
"Gilbert, it took the two of you years to become friends," Diana reminded him. "You should know by now you can't rush Anne into anything."
Gilbert knew that too.
"Don't give up... I told Anne I'd wait for her. For as long as it takes."
Diana winced visibly before she could hide it and Gilbert frowned. "What?"
"That's a lot of pressure," she said honestly. "No wonder Anne is so distraught. She'd never ask you to do something when she doesn't believe she can fulfil her end of the bargain. She's too proud for that."
Gilbert knew all about Anne's pride. It was that which had kept them apart as friends for so long, and that had had caused so many arguments between them over the years.
"She said she could never care for me that way. That she'd be unhappy and we'd end up fighting all the time."
Diana bit her lip. "Anne values friendship more than anyone. She wouldn't want to do anything to risk losing yours."
Except break my heart, Gilbert thought sadly.
"Just be her friend, Gil. In time-"
"No," Gilbert cut her off. The end of that sentence was either going to be one of two things. Either Diana was suggesting that Anne would realise her feelings for him in time; or suggesting that in time, he may meet and care for someone else. He didn't want to think about that latter. It was only marginally less painful than the picture he had painted for Anne in the carriage house after the wedding- of her meeting and falling in love with someone else.
"Of course, I'd rather have Anne's friendship than not have her in my life at all," Gilbert said. "But... it hurts too much right now."
"Give it time," Diana repeated.
They drove in silence for a while, forcing lighter, easier conversation. Gilbert asked about Fred and Diana's wedding tour and they talked about the wedding for a while, but Gilbert found even that conversation too hard. Not only did it bring back the painful memories of that last encounter with Anne, but it was hard to see Fred and Diana glowing with that much love and newlywed bliss, the picture Gilbert wanted so much with Anne.
Diana couldn't help but bring up Anne once more as they entered the final mile before the train station.
"Anne's accepted Miss Stacy's offer of teaching at Kingsport Ladies College, you know. She leaves next week."
Despite himself, Gilbert momentarily brightened. Halifax wasn't far from Kingsport, although it wasn't exactly close by. And then the more Diana's words sank in, he supressed a sigh. To think of Anne moving to Kingsport... Gilbert was sure the town would be filled with dashing, romantic young men ready to sweep Anne, his Anne, off her feet. At least in Avonlea, every boy their age seemed to know how he felt about her, if not the whole town.
Like he'd told Anne, everyone expected their union. Granted, that wasn't the most romantic statement he could have uttered at the time, but it was true.
"I don't know how often I'd have the opportunity to get to Kingsport," Gilbert replied finally, slightly reluctant. "I expect to be fairly busy."
"But just think how wonderful it would be if you could meet," Diana urged. "I imagine it would do you both a world of good to have a friendly face nearby."
"Anne will have Miss Stacy," Fred reminded his wife.
Gilbert grinned slightly however, he knew what Diana had been pushing at.
When they reached the station, Fred tied up the buggy and went to help the porter grab Gilbert's trunk.
"The train's leaving in three minutes," the porter told them as he lifted the trunk and began carrying it towards the station. Gilbert hopped out quickly, he hadn't planned on cutting his arrival that fine.
"I'll get the tags," Fred offered and hurried off before Gilbert could protest. Before Gilbert went to assist him, he turned to Diana slowly.
"You really think she cares for me?" he asked her imploringly.
"Yes," Diana replied firmly. "But I think perhaps you need some space and time to see it. As Rachel Lynde keeps saying, providence has you two made and meant for each other. But maybe it isn't time yet. Go to medical school. Work hard, meet people. You and Anne will find your way to one another if it's truly meant to be."
"And if it's not?" Gilbert dared to ask.
"Then you'll always be kindred spirits," Diana said with a smile. "Anne won't let you out of her life that easily, Gilbert Blythe."
Gilbert gave a wry grin. "You ladies just want me around for when I become a doctor," he teased.
Diana laughed. "I daresay we wouldn't object to be acquainted with Dr Blythe," she replied, trying to channel the teasing affectionate air Anne always gave him.
Gilbert gave one last smile and kissed her hand. "Take care of yourself, Mrs Wright," he tipped his hat again.
Diana nodded. "You too, Gil. Good luck."
Gilbert nodded his thanks and made to leave when Diana called after him.
"Should I say anything to Anne?"
Gilbert paused and turned back. "Tell her I understand," he said simply.
Diana nodded knowingly and lifted a gloved hand in farewell.
Gilbert waved back, smiled and hurried off towards the station, ready for, as his Anne would say, the next bend in the road. He remained hopeful that one day, Anne would be around that bend to meet him.