I turned the corner
And there you stood
Your smile like home to me
Your heart familiar
No use pretending, not that I could
I turned the corner when I met you
- "I Turned the Corner" from Thoroughly Modern Millie
Gabriel, unseen through the mist and the trees, is calling her name.
Evangeline listens, but to her horror, she doesn't have the energy to search for him any longer – if she begins, a voice whispers in her ear, she'll look forever and never find him. Does this mean she is abandoning her search? She swore she never would. But a hand is shaking her shoulder, and the mist dissolves into darkness.
When Evangeline blinked several times, an ecstatic Father Felician appeared in front of her, and she was promptly dropped back onto the ground. "Father," she said, attempting, and failing, to be pleasant, "what's going on?"
"Evangeline, my child, I have the best of news: your long-lost Gabriel is here!"
Hope, her traitorous friend these past years, raised its head for an awful moment; but, as always, she forced it back into the dark corner of her heart that had yet to collect dust or cobwebs for constant activity – and sometimes she wished it would. She had to deal with false hope every waking moment, and, as it turned out, in her dreams as well. Surely Father Felician was aware, on some level, that she didn't need anyone else to add to it. "Please, Father, not again. Now I would like to rest before–"
"Evangeline, Gabriel is truly here! He was passing on a boat in the river and stopped when he saw our camp! Listen!"
Evangeline listened with apprehension, but there were so many people shouting that for a few seconds she wasn't sure. Then, that clear baritone voice – the one she had missed so terribly, and which caused an ache in her chest and tears in her eyes – rose above the others: "I'm so happy to see you all, but is Evangeline with you–" Evangeline was on her feet in a flash and sprinted towards the river "–Evangeline Lajeunesse, or you may still know her by her maiden name Bellefontaine? Do you know where she is? If she's not with you, then I can only stay a moment–"
Her heart started to mend, little by little.
Their eyes met for the first time in years, and she saw him saying her name, although she couldn't hear his voice for the distance. He climbed out of his longboat and she crashed into the river, and they waded hastily through the water to cling to each other. They splashed back to the bank and sank to the ground, all the while holding each other in a tight embrace. "You're here," she croaked out. "You're – this is real. I'm truly holding you, you're here." She hiccupped through her tears (in another time, back in the time at Grand-Pré that now felt almost like a dream, she would have been embarrassed. Now she couldn't give a fig.). "I thought I'd never see you again."
"I'm not going to leave you," Gabriel said, his voice hoarse. "I don't want to leave you ever again. I don't want to lose you again, I can't."
Evangeline kissed him, almost tackling him, and her tears flowed in earnest because this wasn't a dream, she was really kissing him and she was really in his arms again and he was here.
God answered many prayers that night.
Gabriel led the way to his father's farm, where Evangeline and the rest of their Acadian group were reunited with long-lost friends and family. Louisiana was akin to Eden, as Father Felician had said (or as close as they could get), but Evangeline was in no mood to hear its praises sung at the moment.
She and Gabriel sat together in the garden, apart from the celebration.
"I prayed about finding you, you know," Gabriel confessed. He took her hand in his, his eyes traveling over the scar on her right hand, but exploring each other's scars and bruises could wait for another time. "I prayed every day since we were loaded on those godforsaken ships. But – at least we're together now."
"But why did it take so long?" Evangeline's tears, again, began falling. "Do you know how many times I would believe a false trail and then not find you? Do you know how many graveyards I went into, torturing myself by thinking that you might be beneath an unmarked headstone? We should be having children by now, and instead we've been traveling beyond the Colonies to stumble upon each other. I was prepared to spend the rest of my life looking for you, but there were some days... some days my heart ached so badly I could hardly breathe for the pain of it. We shouldn't have had to do this, we should be back in Grand-Pré and..." She leaned against Gabriel's shoulder as her tears slowly splashed on his shirt. "I've missed you so terribly."
He raised his hand to touch her cheek, gently wiping away her tears even though he had tears of his own. "Evangeline, I'm here. I'm here and you're here, and God above I love you more than anything else. I am not going anywhere – not unless you're with me."
She kissed him again – would her tears never stop falling? – and swore once more, to herself and God, that she would never let him go.