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You're such a big mess (And I love you)

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“Can you imagine if they had segregated the cells?” Anne Shirley-Cuthbert said, pacing the concrete floor of the police stations room. When she looked down at her beat-up sneakers, she saw she was dripping red paint onto the floor.

“We’re both white, we’d be together still,” Jerry Baynard, her partner in crime, now literally, said. He sat on the bench with his head against the graffitied wall, eyes closed as if he didn’t have a care in the world. As if they weren’t in a goddamn police station.

“I meant by sex, you dumbass.”

His eyes flew open and glared at her. “Me, the dumbass? I’m not the one that got us into this mess.”

“You’re the one that got us caught,” Anne hissed.

“Calm down,” He berated her, jumping to his feet. “We get a phone call, right? We'll be out of here soon.”

“What if they don’t let us out?” Her chest started to constrict, and she started to feel caught, like a bass in a net. “What if we get arrested, Jerry? Have you seen Orange Is the New Black? I can barely handle normal girls, what about legitimate criminals? And then Diana will abandon me for law-abiding people, and Gilbert won’t love me anymore-” She started to panic.

“You must breathe,” He stood, standing up quickly to put his hands on her shoulders. She hated when she got panic attacks, but she had to admit the circumstances were forgivable here. “C’mon, Anne, deep breaths.”

She fought back a grimace as he guided her through a breath. Then he made her do some weird timed breathing inhale for four seconds, hold for six, exhale for eight. “How did you know about that?”

He shot her a smirk, “Do you realize how often you panic?”

She smacked his shoulder, causing him to laugh.

“Are you alright?” He asked after he finished laughing, brown eyes filled with amused concern.

Anne exhaled slowly, “I believe so. I’ll feel better when this is sorted.”

He nodded, “Same.”

“So what are your names anyway?” An officer asked, approaching them. In the glint of the fluorescent lights, which were causing her head to pound, she saw the officer’s name was DIAZ.

“Don’t tell her, Jerry,” Anne blurted, trying to relax.

“Nice to meet you, Jerry,” Diaz smiled, like this was all very amusing and her college career was not on the line.

“Oh god.”

“Way to go, Anne,” Jerry huffed.

“So, Jerry and Anne, you didn’t have cell phones on you,” Diaz continued as the two teens winced. They still couldn’t tell if that was a smart move, leaving their phones at home. They both figured the less tracking devices the better since Jerry’s parents had him on Find My Phone. “Want to use the precinct phone?”

“Do we only get one call?” Anne asked.

“Or is that just a movie thing?” Jerry checked.

“You haven’t been charged with anything yet,” The officer said. “Under orders from your principal, you’ve been instructed to wait here until she and the proper guardians arrive. I’ll let you call people until someone answers, considering the ungodly hour.”

“Can we discuss this privately?” Anne asked of Officer Diaz. “There are a multitude of factors to consider.”

“Stop using such big words, it gives me a headache,” He muttered.

The officer nodded and stepped off to the edges of the hallway.

“We can’t call my parents, they’ll kill me,” Jerry said, eyes wide.

Anne grimaced, “We can’t call Marilla and Matthew either. They need their rest.” It was nearly three in the morning, and they were hardworking people. Plus, her adoptive parents were going to kill her if they found out. She needed more time to formulate her diction and frame this as a funny story and not a foray into criminal behavior.

“Call Gil.”

Anne’s heart dropped to her feet, “Oh, I can’t do that.” She didn’t want him to know how badly she’d fucked this up. And he couldn’t know why she and Jerry had broken into the school, or the fact she’d tried and failed to do this. He would be a last resort, in this case alone. “He, um, has a bio test in the morning.”

“Are you going to make a decision, kids?” The officer drawled from the other end of the hallway. “I don’t have all night.”

“Just a moment,” Anne said curtly, focused on their deliberation. “What about Diana?”

“Her parents would kill her,” Jerry said. “And then I couldn't date her anymore. Plus, they might not let you two be friends-”

“Don’t pull that,” Anne whined, then gasped in realization. “Cole! We could call Cole.”

Jerry exhaled in relief, “I knew being best friends with the smartest girl in school was good for something.”

“Smartest person in school,” She corrected, thinking of her rivalry with her boyfriend. They were both in the running to be valedictorian. She wanted the grade point average and the notoriety, but she wanted him to give the speech. She would have enjoyed writing one, but he just inspired the masses in a way she never really could.

“Wait, do you actually his number memorized?” Jerry said, furrowing his brow. “I haven’t memorized a number in six years. You nerd.”

Anne bit her lip from revealing the truth about her ability to have contingency plans. Her contingency plans had contingency plans. If Marilla and Matthew ever decided she was not wanted, her next step would be to go to Gilbert. Then the next step was Miss Barry, though she might be tired of taking in queer, homeless children after adopting Cole Mackenzie. That’s why it was important to plan.

“Don’t mock,” She went on the playful offensive as Officer Diaz walked back with the phone. “It’s about to save our asses.”

“Dial 91 to get out,” The police officer instructed, handing over the cordless phone. She still harbored the impression that phones in police stations were from the 80s. Good to know the farm’s tax dollars were going to something important.

Anne did as instructed and listened as the phone rang. She shared a worried look with Jerry, wondering if Cole and Miss Barry were asleep, then remembered it was two in the morning and there was a very real chance they would not answer.

“Hello?” Cole’s voice answered, soft and sleepy. “Better be fuckin’ ridiculous, random stranger, I was having a great dream.”

“It’s Anne,” She said. “I’m in the police station with Jerry. I need you and Miss Barry to come down and pick us up.”

Cole didn’t say anything for a moment. “Well, that’s certainly fucking ridiculous. What the hell, Anne?”

“It’s a long story...” Anne said, eyeing Diaz. “I’ll explain it all later. Can you get here?”

“I’m on it,” He yawned. “You’re lucky I love you.”

“I know,” She said. “I’m sorry to wake you.”

“It was about Lucas Hedges. You owe me your amazing scones to make up for it.”

“Deal. Thanks, Cole.”

“Anytime, my betrothed,” His voice mocked before he hang up. Anne handed the phone back to Diaz.

“Thank you,” Anne said.

“Your principal should be here in the next half an hour,” Diaz said. “We can probably move you out of the cell to the bullpen now.”

“That would be fantastic,” Anne said. “Thank you. And I’m sorry about the paint.”

Diaz let them out, eyeing Anne’s hair, which was wrapped in a police regulation towel, but the edges of her orange-turning-auburn strands still dripped Sherwin Williams’ Cherries Jubilee.

“I’d be more worried about the paint in Avonlea High’s halls,” The officer said with a shrug. “I’m excited to hear the story you two have there.”

Anne and Jerry share a wince and follow the officer to the bullpen. Since it was so late and it was Avonlea, a sleepy suburb, there were only a couple officers milling about. One was even asleep at their desk.

Diaz led them to her desk and sat them in two side chairs. Jerry immediately rested his head on Anne’s shoulder, probably getting paint dripped on his face.

“We can be productive,” She said, careful to keep her voice level. “What is litotes?”

“You have to be making that word up,” He said, not moving other than to fold his arms over his chest.

“Nope. You can’t pass Lit without it.”

“Then I’ll perish.”

“C’mon, I’ll give you an example. It’s as if I were to say ‘she’s no beauty queen.’ What does that mean?”

“That she is ugly?”

“Exactly!” She encouraged him. “So what does that mean?”

“Shit, is this one of those irony things?”

“Yes.”

“Wait, I remember. Using an understatement to say the opposite. Like ‘not too bad.’”

“Perfect,” Anne said, trying to distract herself from the way she could feel the paint on her scalp crust over. She longed for a shower.

She got Jerry to define more words, and he taught her some more French-Canadian slang, but she had a feeling he was making up a couple. Just as they were settling into this routine, she heard someone make a commotion at the front door.

“ANNE SHIRLEY-CUTHBERT!” A familiar voice boomed. Both she and Jerry straightened. “JERRY EMILE BAYNARD.”

“How did she know my middle name?” Jerry whispered, standing slowly at attention.

“Marilla knows all,” Anne said sagely as her adoptive parents entered the precinct. She stood as well, offering a tight-lipped smile in awkwardness as she tried to wonder how they could have possibly guessed she was there. She had assumed they had a knack for knowing when she was in trouble, but at three in the morning-

Cole. Dear god, she might have to kill Cole. She would hate to do it, but it would be necessary.

“Christ, what happened to you two?” Marilla swore, coming in. “And don’t you dare tell me you dyed your hair again.”

“That was one time,” She defended herself.

“Twice if you count the highlights,” Jerry offered.

“Shut up,” Anne hissed and turned to her parents. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to wake you-”

She got cut off by Marilla and Matthew bringing her in for a tight hug.

“I’m glad you’re okay, sweetheart,” Matthew whispered.

“Thank you,” She whispered back as they pulled away. Matthew clasped a hand on Jerry’s shoulder, offering the boy a commiserative smile.

“Now what were you thinking?” Marilla demanded, even though the worry still made her eyes shine.

“It was an honest mistake,” Anne began. “It was just supposed to be a little-”

“I’m looking for Anne Cuthbert, is she here?” She heard another familiar voice ask.

“Gilbert?” She froze, eyes going wide. She was going to kill Cole, bury your gays trope be damned.

She saw his tall head of dark curls whip towards her, and dual emotions of relief and anxiety flashed on his face.

“Thank god, you’re okay,” He said, crossing the precinct in long strides to give her a tight hug. He was wearing flannel pajamas, and hugging him was soft and warm.

She held him tight, mostly to hide the blush that burned her cheeks in his chest.

“Why are you wearing a towel?” He tugged her hair free and saw the wine-red paint crusting over her orange-red hair. To his credit, he only looked vaguely surprised. That might be to her detriment, that she can’t really surprise him anymore.

“That is a good question,” Marilla crosses her arms. “Hello Gilbert.”

“Nice to see you, son,” Matthew offered, since they loved her boyfriend, especially after his father died. Even though he had his best friend Bash LaCroix and his new wife Mary, the Cuthberts saw him as a member of the family. Her father shuffled his feet as more people started to pile into the room. He did not like crowds. 

“It’s a long story...” She offered diplomatically. Jerry started to tiptoe away but she yanked him by his collar. If they were going down, it was together.

“Christ, you’re bleeding,” He said, scrutinizing her temple.

“It’s just paint,” She said, but then he pressed his finger near where Jerry dropped the paint can on her and she yelped.

“Is there a first aid kit?” Gilbert asked the officer.

Diaz nodded and walked off.

“You’re bleeding?” Marilla demanded.

“Don’t worry, Ms. Cuthbert, it looks superficial, no stitches probably,” Gilbert reassured, moving her hair out of his way to study her. She had to admit, she found it hot when he went into Dr. Gilbert mode.

“What did you get yourselves into?”

“It’s a long story,” Both her and Jerry said at the same time.

“But the short of it is Jerry’s a klutz,” Anne did not hesitate to throw him under the bus and get some attention off her.

“And Anne’s a lovesick dumbass,” Jerry bit back.

“I want a straight answer,” Marilla said, and Anne bit her tongue at her instinctive but I’m bi response, knowing Marilla would not be amused at more nonsense. “Why are you two in here?”

Before they could answer, another familiar, bright voice rang through, “Anne, Jerry!” Diana Barry burst into the bullpen. She ran in and tackled her boyfriend into a hug.

“What am I, chopped liver?” Anne huffed, then immediately got yanked into the hug.

“Are you alright?”

“She’s bleeding,” Gilbert said, and Anne realized his hand had not left her shoulder, providing warmth.

“It’s your boyfriend’s fault,” Anne said loftily as Diana pulled away.

“Technically, we were only at the school because of you,” Jerry said, wrapping an arm around Diana. “So it’s actually your fault.”

Diaz returned with the first aid kit.

“I got it,” Gil said and started pulling out a disinfectant wipe. He started cleaning her wound. “Next time, if you’re going to be a ‘lovesick dumbass’, be more careful about it.”

Anne winced, “You should work on your bedside manner, it’s atrocious.”

He leaned over and gave her cheek a kiss. “Stop whining.”

“Anne!” A familiar voice said. "Jer!"

“Christ, how many of you are there?” Diaz said as Cole walked briskly in with Miss Barry at his side.

“Diana, don’t run from us, the entrance was going to be so much more dramatic with the three of us as a triumvirate,” Miss Barry berated.

Anne bit her lip to stop her laughter as Gilbert doctored up her wound with a butterfly bandage.

They’re so busy conversing with each other that they didn’t notice Principal Andrews and Vice Principal Phillips walk in.

“We’ve drawn a crowd,” Mrs. Andrews said, a smirk on her face. Anne wasn’t too worried with her, but she was worried about Mr. Phillips's reaction. He’d had it out for her, Cole, and Jerry for a while.

“I expected to find you two in prison, but maybe not so soon,” Phillips sniffed in that condescending way of his.

Anne narrowed her eyes and Jerry sneered.

Marilla turned to Diaz and said, “What have they been charged with?”

“They haven’t been arrested in the first place,” Diaz clarified. “They’re being detained until Principal Andrews is made aware of the situation and makes the decision to press charges.”

“I, for one, would love to know the situation,” Marilla said briskly, staring down Officer Diaz.

Before Diaz could, the door opened once more.

“Did you take out an ad in the goddamn paper?” Anne practically shrieked as Bash and Mary LaCroix ran in.

Beside her, Jerry’s jaw dropped and he muttered some French expletive. Diana smacked his shoulder.

“We dropped Gil off, but couldn’t find parking,” Bash explained, a bit out of breath. He then paused to look at her. “What the hell happened to your hair?”

Anne, focused like a missile on revenge, wheeled on Cole. “Cole, I would die for you, but you idiot. You told them?”

“I’m sorry,” He said. “Miss Barry made me.”

“And I have no regrets,” Josephine Barry said regally. “Seriously, you two? What kind of reckless fools get caught in these kind of shenanigans...” She scoffed. Both kids ducked their heads in shame. But then she caught the older woman wink at her. Anne ducked her head once more to hide her smirk.

“I think that’s everybody,” Marilla said, sounding increasingly exasperated. “I want to know what happened.”

“A- Are there charges?” Matthew asked, stammering a bit. Anne gave him an encouraging grin for battling his shyness.

“If charges get pressed, it seems like they would most likely be breaking and entering, vandalism, and evading arrest,” Diaz said.

“It was fight or flight reflexes,” Jerry protested. “I apologized.”

“Plus, I genuinely have a key to the school, so that’s hardly breaking anything,” Anne said. “Perks of being student body co-president.”

“I don’t think that will be a perk much longer,” Cole said.

Anne seethed in agreement. Gilbert elbowed her and leaned down to whisper, “Don’t worry, I’ll let you borrow mine.” She wrinkled her nose in distaste but he just laughed.

“Since I believe that’s everyone,” Diaz drawled out. Anne looked across their group. She and Jerry were in dark black clothes, hers splattered with red paint. Marilla and Matthew had both changed into their standard clothes, but they both looked a bit rumpled. Principal Andrews and Mr. Phillips were both in nice clothes, if she ignored Phillips’ slippers. Miss Barry was wearing a simple dress with an extravagant coat, her hair for once out of her bun. Bash, his wife Mary, Gilbert, Diana and Cole were all in pajamas, and Anne envied them. “Why don’t we get this started? First off, who are these kids?”

“Anne Shirley-Cuthbert,” Anne said. “Avonlea senior.”

“Jerry Baynard, Avonlea senior,” Jerry said. “Go Owls.” Anne rolled her eyes at the mention of their school’s mascot.

“Why were you in the school after hours?” Principal Andrews asked.

Anne shared a look with Jerry, who shrugged. Anne chose her words carefully, “There were personal matters I needed to attend to, that could only be accomplished in the obscurity of nighttime.”

“That’s not an answer,” Diaz said.

“It was a prank,” Jerry blurted. “Senior prank and stuff.”

“Anne, Jerry,” Marilla said, disappointed. “I expected better from you.”

Anne opened her mouth to tell the truth, unable to bear their disappointment, but she looked at Gilbert. She couldn’t. Not yet. She shut her mouth and hung her head in shame. Diana reached over and rubbed her shoulder.

“What was the damage?” Marilla asked.

Diaz checked her notes, “They were in a science classroom, and they had red paint. There was security patrolling after hours, and heard a commotion. They called the police, and found these two in the science hallway, Miss Shirley-Cuthbert covered in paint. Mr. Baynard ran when we asked them to freeze.”

Reflexes-” Jerry went to fight, but straightened at the no-nonsense look in the officer’s eye. “But it was wrong and I’m sorry and please don’t call my dad.”

“What were the damages?”

“Just the paint on the tile is what security said,” Diaz relayed.

“I believe an expulsion is in order,” Phillips said.

Anne’s heart stopped in pure fear. There goes her senior year. There goes her prom. There goes her acceptance at Redmond. There goes her family, her friends, her boyfriend-

“Calm down,” Gilbert whispered in her ear, his hand rubbing slow circles on her back.

She took a deep breath.

“That is hardly an appropriate response,” Marilla gasped out, scandalized.

“I agree,” Miss Barry huffed. “Hell, if the damages are the problem, I’ll pay for them myself, and we’ll get this whole thing settled.”

“Wait,” Anne burst out. She still had a chance to make this work. “Can I please have a moment to discuss this with Principal Andrews and Officer Diaz? I can explain everything, I just need to do it confidentially.”

“Alone?” Marilla frowned. “I won’t allow you to-”

“Mom,” She said, the moniker slipping out. Normally, she still called them Marilla and Matthew, but she didn’t want to. Not then. “I can handle this, just give us a moment.”

Marilla adjusted her jacket, sharing a look with Matthew. He nodded. Marilla sighed and nodded as well, “Be good.”

“Want me to come with?” Jerry asked. “We’re in this together.”

That was the same thing he’d said when she had asked her to join him on this excursion. She smiled at him.

“Thanks, I’ll be okay.”

She turned to Gilbert, gave his hand a squeeze, and walked off with the officer and the principal.

Five minutes later, she returned. Her hair and face were still painted red, but she now had an effervescent smile on her face.

“We’ve worked out an appropriate punishment,” Principal Andrews said, clasping her hands in front of her. Anne looked up to see a secret smile on her face. “Anne and Jerry will clean up their mess tomorrow morning, bright and early before classes. There will not be a permanent mark on either of their permanent records, they will still attend prom, and they will be able to walk at graduation.”

Mr. Phillips’ groans of dissent were the only negative noise, the rest of their crowd exploded in various reactions of exuberance.

Diana leapt into Jerry’s arms and kissed him. Matthew exhaled in relief, a smiling tugging at his corners. Marilla bit down her lip to stop a similar smile. Miss Barry grinned wickedly. Gilbert, Bash and Cole whooped and clapped, with Mary whistling vibrantly.

“It is three in the morning,” Diaz berated lightly, but she was smiling too. “Since Mrs. Andrews is not pressing charges, you are all free to go.”

Anne exhaled in relief. “Thank you, Officer.”

“Good luck, kid.” The officer left.

Anne returned to the principal. “Thank you, ma’am.”

“You’re a good student, Miss Shirley-Cuthbert,” Principal Andrews acknowledged. “That gives you some wiggle room. I expect you on school grounds by 6:30.”

Anne stopped herself from wincing, even though her reaction was more due to the fact she’d have to deal with waking Jerry up at that time.

“We’ll be there,” Anne vowed, and Mrs. Andrews and Mr. Phillips left, not before the older man threw her a glare.

But who cares about him?

She threw her arms around Matthew and Marilla. “I’m sorry to get you woken up.”

“I hope you don’t expect to be free of punishment,” Marilla said with a huff. “You are in deep trouble, young lady.”

“That’s absolutely fair,” Anne said. “Can Jerry stay in the guest room? His car’s at our house already and his parents don’t know about tonight, and we have to clean the room-”

“Jerry’s always welcome,” Matthew said.

Jerry threw a friendly arm around Anne’s shoulder. “Aren’t you sick of me after sharing the slammer?”

“I was sick of you the first minute I met you,” Anne shoved his arm off playfully.

“I’m glad you two will be okay, but Aunt Josephine and Cole should get me home,” Diana said, knowing exactly when and how to interrupt them. She hugged her best friend and her boyfriend tight.

“Text me whatever the hell this was about,” Cole threatened her, and went off with Miss Barry and Diana.

“Boy, I’m exhausted, let’s go home,” Bash said, stretching.

“Thank you for coming,” Anne offered. “I’m sorry to wake you.”

“Oh, we weren’t awake,” Bash said a bit wickedly, nudging his wife as if to convey say no more.

“Oh god,” Gilbert groaned, kicking his head back. “You are the worst.”

“We’ll let you two say goodbye,” Mary offered, tugging her husband off to the exit of the precinct.

Gilbert turned to Anne and kissed her, gently but passionately. Just as her hand went to the back of his neck, she heard Matthew clear his throat.

They both pulled away, cheeks flushing.

“Get some ice on that bump,” Gilbert said. “I just ask that you acknowledge the incredible restraint I’m showing by not asking what the deal was.”

“You’re so unassailable,” Anne grinned. “I appreciate it, and I promise to explain. But tomorrow. Or today, I guess.”

Gil smiled. “I trust you, Carrots. And, I gotta say, I’ve always had a thing for bad girls.”

She gave him a look, “No, you haven’t.”

“Well, I’ve always had a thing for you, and this foray into lawlessness is an unprecedented but not unwelcome change,” He winked. Her fair skin betrayed her and blushed darker pink. “See you tomorrow. Or today, I guess.” He mocked. She made a face and he left, bidding farewell to Matthew and Marilla.

“You two are so gross,” Jerry said.

“At least we don’t make out in the gym,” Anne volleyed back, temporarily forgetting she was referencing her best friend.

“Enough,” Marilla berated with no heat. “It is late, I am old, we’re going home.”

The four of them left. The car ride was filled with threats like extra chores. Jerry, who already basically lived at the Cuthbert house, was included in these punishments under the stipulation that Matthew and Marilla would not tell his parents.

That night, after her shower which she relished every second of, she found Marilla in her room, folding her paint-soaked clothes in a basket.

“Why did you feel you couldn’t call us?” Marilla asked.

It was 3:30 in the morning. Anne did not necessarily want to have this conversation right then. But she’d caused her adoptive parent enough stress.

“I was afraid,” She admitted, toweling off her hair. “That you’d be disappointed in me. And you would want me to move out.” It had been her worst fear since turning eighteen. The Cuthberts had no obligation to her anymore, even with the adoption papers applied for. There was always this feeling of standing on a rug with someone ready to yank it out from under her.

“Oh, dear,” Marilla said, and pulled the still sodden Anne into a tight hug. “You’re our daughter. Nothing will change that.”

Anne’s eyes filled with tears, and she scrunched them shut as she hugged Marilla back. “I didn’t want you to worry.”

“We’ll always worry about you, it’s our pleasure,” Marilla assured. “Matthew will say the same, if he didn’t conk out as soon as he got home.”

She wiped at her eyes to chuckle. Marilla smoothed down her hair.

“Anne, this was one mistake. You are such a good kid. But, even if you made every mistake in the world, we’d still love you.”

“Thank you,” The redhead said shakily. “Sometimes, I need to hear that.”

“I think I need to get better about saying it too,” Marilla acknowledged. “But this is too much emotion for such a wretched time in the morning. Go to bed, you and Jerry have a long day ahead of you. And I expect you to tell me the full story after school.”

“I will,” Anne said with a smile. “In fact, I might just be able to show you.”

Marilla studied her before leaving. “Oh, it’s too late to decipher that. Good night, dear.”

“Night, Mom,” Anne said, liking the words. Marilla left, and Anne, in her warmest flannel pajama bottoms and one of Gilbert’s old shirts from Trinidad, flopped to the bed.

Her plan could still work.

+

Anne woke up the next morning exhausted, but excited, an emotion she only felt after she drank a double espresso on accident. (All of her friends’ reactions had been a variant of “who would want to give you caffeine??”) Her hair was still a bit damp from her shower but she felt ready for the day. 

Anne grabbed her phone and texted Cole.

Anne: Can you please bring your camera to homeroom? I need you to film something.

Cole McDreamy: I got u

Anne exhaled in relief and went downstairs into Jerry’s room on the first floor.

“Wake up, baudet,” Anne swore in French. “We have a school to clean.”

“I hate you,” Jerry said, turning away from her.

“I’ll buy you ice cream,” Anne promised.

That got him awake.

After reassuring Marilla and Matthew they’d behave, Jerry drove himself and Anne to Avonlea High.

“I do appreciate you still being able to let me go to Prom,” He acknowledged. “My Promposal was too perfect to deny Diana the chance.”

Anne smiled thinking of his promposal. She knew it well since Diana had yet to stop gushing about it. He’d privately asked her with flowers, all her favorites, and got her permission to do an extravagant affair.

Diana, ever a romantic, readily agreed, and so Jerry hijacked the morning announcements with a speech he wrote (and Anne edited) to ask the honor of attending prom with her. Diana was thrilled, and had the original, written speech framed.

Everyone swooned, and the weak boys of the school kept saying that Jerry fucked the curve.

But then Gilbert Blythe’s knocked them out of the water.

“Do you think mine will top Gilbert’s?”

Gilbert’s was more intimate and public at the same time. He’d published a poem about her beauty and ambition and kindness in the school paper anonymously, asking her to prom and signing it only, “The Rochester to your Jane.”

Loads of boys tried to claim it was them, but Anne immediately found Gilbert when the papers were distributed and kissed him hard. Is that a yes? He had the balls to ask.

Jerry tapped his fingers on the wheel in thought. “I think the anticipation of all this ridiculousness at least will get him.”

“He has no idea I have this planned,” Anne admitted. “The only people I told the plan to were you and Ms. Stacy.” She said in reference to their biology teacher and homeroom adviser. At least Ms. Stacy approved.

Jerry jerked the car, “Shit, Anne, why?”

“Competition!” Anne yelped. “God, he can’t do the best promposal- one of the best promposals,” She amended at Jerry’s look. “And expect me to take it lying down. I must outwit him.”

“You and him have a competition kink, I swear to God.”

“I will kill you. It’ll make Diana melancholy, which I won’t appreciate, but I’m willing to do it.”

Jerry just grinned wickedly and belted out French-Canadian nursery rhymes. Thankfully, after five years of friendship, she was able to tune it out the rest of the ride.

Two hours later, everything was set up and the science lab was clean. In a stroke of luck for their final semester, Anne, Jerry, Gilbert, Diana, and Cole were all assigned the same homeroom. So Jerry was able to wait by the whiteboard and be her lovely assistant until Gilbert came in.

“Are you nervous?” Jerry asked. It was still only them, Ms Stacy, and Cole, who was filming quietly in the corner.

Anne straightened her shoulders, “Let’s say apprehensive.”

“You can say it, but I won’t know exactly what it means.”

“It means mentally upset over possible misfortune or danger, it’s just a fancy word for worried.”

“Then just say worried,” Jerry huffed. “You’re fucking with my dyslexia.”

Anne was about to banter back at him, but Diana walked in.

“What are you doing?” She asked, staring at the way Anne and Jerry stood at the front of the room.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Anne said primly, throwing her friend a smirk.

Diana squealed and sat down at their normal spot where Anne had thrown her coat.

More people came in, but Gilbert still wasn’t there. Thankfully, he carpooled with their friend Moody, who was texting her updates.

Were comin innnn!!!!!!! The text read.

“Places!” Anne snapped, and waited anxiously.

Everyone quieted, even stupid Billy Andrews.

Gilbert and Moody walked in, laughing about something, before Gilbert studied the room.

“What’s going on?” He asked, eyeing everyone, but keeping his focus on her.

Anne grinned and climbed on top of Ms. Stacy’s desk.

“Gilbert David Blythe,” She began regally, watching his eyebrows raise in pure surprise. “Before I officially ask for the honor of attending prom with you-”

"I already asked-”

Shh!” Everyone shushed him, watching the antics.

Anne continued. “I first must share a quote from the best piece of literature ever.” She cleared her throat, and stared him right in his hazel eyes, as his soft pink lips curled up in a smile.

“‘I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him—I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him.'"

Gilbert’s smile blew into a wide grin.

“Aww,” Diana clapped her hands together.

“Gilbert,” She began, then hopped off the desk to go to the banner she and Jerry had made at two in the morning.

Reader, I asked Gilbert Blythe to Prom.

It was done in Sherwin Williams’ Cherries Jubilee paint, with a little cartoon carrot at the end.

Gilbert strode up to her and kissed her.

Everyone cheered, and she heard people’s ringers going off as their phone cameras flashed.

Ms. Stacy whistled sharply.

“Enough of that, back to your seats,” She said. Anne and Gilbert separated, her chastened over potentially disappointing her role model. Behind her, she saw Gilbert and Jerry share a high five.

“In case it wasn’t obvious,” Her boyfriend leaned down to whisper in her ear. “That was a yes.”

She kissed his cheek, and then took her seat in between Diana and Cole. The two best friends shared a squeal, and Miss Stacy tried to corral their attention back to their homeroom announcements.

At lunch, the seven of them all sat together: Anne, Gilbert, Jerry, Diana, Moody and Ruby ate lunch and rewatched the promposal.

“We’ll have to do a poll,” Gilbert pondered, eating his grapes. “See who’s was better.”

“I loved Anne’s,” Ruby sighed. “That was so personal but public. A true declaration.”

“And my name was on it,” Anne teased.

“You love anonymity!”

“Hush, lovebirds,” Diana said. “I want to hear what the hell happened last night.”

Anne and Jerry both took a deep breath and shared a look.

“Let me tell it,” Jerry said. She nodded. “Anne asked me to drive her to the school to help her with the promposal,” He began. “So I agreed, because I’m the best.”

“You’re no longer allowed to tell the story,” Anne said. “I asked him because I’m bi and can’t drive, and he’s only good for his wheels.”

“Just get to the point,” Cole said. “I have to spend the rest of this period posting this to YouTube.”

Anne rolled her eyes but continued, “I had my co-president’s key, and got us into the building without difficulty. We had two sheets for the banner, and quickly made up the message-” Gilbert squeezed her knee in acknowledgement, causing her to blush. “And we hung it up. We were supposed to be in and out within a half an hour, but Jerry had the bright idea to add a carrot to the banner.”

“Because you two never shut up about that story.”

“I liked it,” Diana cooed. “It’s a cute piece of your history.”

“I agree,” Gilbert added. The rest of their friends nodded.

“I’m not debating that, Jerry is very clever,” She said, and Jerry held a hand to his heart, as if to say touched. She ignored him and continued. “We had to use a chair for even Jerry to stand on and he had me hold up the paint while he painted it. We heard a noise, and he bumped into the paint can, causing me to drop it on my head.”

“Explains this,” Gilbert’s thumb stroked the bandage gently.

“Certainly does,” Anne agreed. “At that point, security had seen we’d left the second door’s open and called the police, but realized we were in the science wing with the commotion of spilling paint on me and everywhere.”

“We tried to haul ass,” Jerry continued. “We heard someone call out they were with the police, and Anne was prepared to surrender like a wuss-”

“Like a reasonable person-”

“But I booked it.”

“And was immediately caught by a security guard,” Anne said. “A true icon.”

Their friends laughed.

“How was the slammer?” Moody asked.

“Poorly lit,” Anne said. “But that might’ve been the headache.”

“Creepy,” Jerry shuddered. “We were the only ones there. Should have been reassuring, but nope. Weird as hell.”

“Well, you survived,” Diana kissed her boyfriend’s cheek. “But don’t do it again.” The dark-haired girl gave her best friend a severe look.

Anne held up her hands in surrender. “Trust me, not planning on it.” She turned to Gilbert. “But I hoped you liked your promposal.”

He pecked his lips with hers, but she could still taste the grape. “I loved it. Thanks, Anne.”

“What’ll you two compete on next week?” Cole playfully teased. “Who’s best dressed at prom?”

“Ooh, or who has the better proposal,” Diana added.

Both Anne and Gilbert shared a smug look. And little did they both know, they each already had a plan.