Anne Shirley Cuthbert aged 17 had never believed that any feeling ever felt by any person across all of the world would feel as horrible as she felt the moment it hit her that she had broken the heart of Gilbert Blythe.
When Matthew Cuthbert was 74 years old, a weakness of the heart took him on that bright May night. Anne was thankfully at home, she was in the freshly decorated east gable room in Green Gables that fateful afternoon when she heard Marillas shout and bound down the stairs to a terrifying sight.
Anne had just finished her year at Queens College and had a scholarship for Redmond University for the following September. She had her entire career planned out ahead of her before her self-described “bend in the road”, the young dreamer had been looking forward to a summer of long walks and reading underneath the apple trees in Blythes Orchard with Gilbert as soon as he returned home from the University of Toronto, she craved tea with Diana and Ruby in Orchard Slope, Anne longed for playing cards and games with Matthew in the long evenings after supper, and she even missed visiting Mrs. Lynde to bake and engage in silly gossip from the surrounding farms, but alas the cruel master of fate had different ideas for her.
Quiet and Shy Matthew had somehow attracted the attention of all of Avonlea for the funeral all except one were in attendance however it was a very notable absence. Josie Pye seemed to almost take pleasure in pointing out the absence of Mr. Gilbert Blythe. Gilbert was in the middle of his final exams for first year and could not leave Toronto to pay his final respects to a man he had so many fascinating, though short conversations with about all kinds of things, from Anne’s scrapes at school to the best way to grow vegetables.
Anne, hadn’t found the passion in herself to write anything much less write back to Gilbert and his lengthy letters; his words thought beautifully put, did not provide much comfort and appeared hollow knowing they weren’t met with any action, he hadn’t been there when she needed him most and though it may be considered selfish she knew if the tables were turned and poor John Blythe were alive and ill that she would have dropped everything in Queens or Redmond and returned to her struggling love to ensure he knew how loved he truly as and how she would help him greatly in this difficult time.
A few days after the funeral she decided to go for a walk and try and begin to understand her mind and confusing teenage thoughts.
“So you’re not in love with Gilbert Blythe anymore?” asked practical minded Diana. They were walking along through the haunted wood and Anne was explaining her state of mind hoping for to gain some clarity.
“Heavens no! Dear Diana, I love Gil with every fibre of my being but I just fear that the next time I see those eyes I’ll cry many tears knowing he wasn’t here for me during the most difficult time in my whole seventeen years of life, his train arrives in Bright River tonight and I don’t know if ill be willing to see him, how can I look at him knowing he doesn’t love me as much I love him” Anne wiped a tear from her eye taking a handkerchief from the sleeve of her shirt.
“I don’t think you’ll have a choice in facing him Anne” Diana murmured quietly as she put one of Anne’s curls behind her ear motioning for her to turn around. Diana scurried off that second knowing it was going to be an awkward enough interaction between the two loves without her prying eye.
Without a doubt there stood Gilbert Blythe, he had grown at least to 6 foot now and had lost his boyish cheeks in exchange for a strong tan jaw and broadened shoulders, the only part of him she was instantly pleased that hadn’t changed was his thick black curls. He had dropped his leather case in awe of Anne and her words. She begged to God above in that moment that he hadn’t heard all of what she had said but his broken expression told her otherwise.
“Ohh Gilbert, please tell me you didn’t-” Anne desperately walked to him.
“I tried my hardest to move those exams, but they wouldn’t let me, Anne, I cried for Matthew and you and Marilla in Toronto, I cried for your heart and tried to convey that in my letters. I cannot fathom how you could take this as some sort of sign that I didn’t love you when I loved you the most. The only reason I didn’t just drop out of them and come home right the second I got that telegram was because I wanted our future to have no bumps in the road after this, I wanted to make sure I could be on the fast track to my degree so I can give you the best possible life Matthew would have wanted-”
“Gilbert I was and am extremely emotional and I just needed-”
“Anne are you alright?” Gilbert begged as Anne clutched her elbow and looked down silently sobbing.
“I just needed you Gil-” Annes voice cracked and within a millisecond of saying that Gilberts strong arms were around her and pulled her close to his chest whispering into her ear over and over again.
“I’m here, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere”
Since Matthew had passed, Anne had never slept for more than forty minutes at a time, but that day after walking to the lake of shining waters and finding a nice patch of shade to sit and discuss their changing futures, while in the arms of her one true love she fell into a fast trance. Gilbert had this effect on her that no one else ever did. This calming effect that instantly made her settle. It was three hours before Gilbert stirred her to rise hearing voices coming.
Gilbert looked down at his girl before waking her up. The rise and fall of her body, the loose curls that would never stay up framing her face he smiled down at his Anne and in that moment, it was like the clouds opened and the sun burst through on her and Gilbert realised that protecting her and letting her flourish was his most important role. Loving her had to come first.
“Anne, my love?” she stirred slightly “Are you ready to go home?” Anne was groggy when her green-grey eyes opened and her dimpled showed after seeing Gilbert watching her fondly. Then the auburn girl simply leaned up to kiss Gilbert cheek and exclaimed with ease “I am home”.