“To... Their future together?” he says, in a soft voice, eyes fixed on hers and eyebrows rising up his forehead.
Anne can’t even blink as she stares back at him. It was as if he was gazing right into her soul. Why had she thought having this conversation with him would be a good idea?
“Yes,” she breathes out, her voice failing for some unknown reason.
“So... You’re suggesting I post?” Gilbert asks, confusion tainting his tone, but his eyes are shining with what looks a lot like hope.
Anne's words get stuck in her throat. What was she going to say, again? Why was she even telling Gilbert about the Take Notice board? She couldn’t quite recall. Her face starts burning and she wishes she could hide. Obviously, her cheeks must be very red and clashing horribly with her just as red hair. She probably looks hideous and Gilbert is still staring at her.
Her mouth opens, and she tries to say something, anything, but no words come out. He waits, looking expectant.
Their future together?
He still has a fond look in his eyes, staring at her. God, could he be talking about someone specific? Who isn’t Ruby? No. No, that’s preposterous. Anne really needed to control her avid imagination sometimes. Imagine, that he would ever feel like that about—
“Anne?” Gilbert calls, softly, when she doesn’t answer.
She shakes herself. She is not here to embarrass herself in front of Gilbert Blythe. Anne sets her shoulders back and looks him square in the eyes.
“I—” she starts, determinedly, but then he smiles.
It's a simple twitch of his lips, but it’s enough to render her speechless again because, apparently, she's an absolute idiot. And in front of Gilbert, of all people!
She gapes at him for a few moments. It’s completely mortifying. She wishes she could find a hole to hide herself in for the rest of eternity. Gilbert’s eyes rove over her face and she feels herself heating up even more. His lips twitch into an almost smug smile. There’s a knot in her throat and no words come out. He opens his mouth, as if about to say something else, but she can’t deal with this conversation any longer.
Anne nods her head a little viciously as an answer to his previous question. Then she turns her back on him and walks briskly back to her desk. His soft chuckle follows her as she goes, and she sinks heavily on her chair. She fights against the instinct of hiding behind her hands. God, her entire face was burning.
She doesn’t get much time to relax as Ruby is on her in seconds, her eyes shining in excitement. Before Anne can say anything, she’s already speaking.
“Did you see his face?” she gushes, weirdly happy.
Anne blinks, feeling lost. “What?”
“Did you see his face when you were talking about me?” Ruby asks, and Anne can’t help but frown. “His eyes were so full of romance I almost died happy right there and then.”
Anne freezes, staring at her friend.
There are so many confusing things in what she's said that Anne needs a moment to think about it. When had she mentioned Ruby? Had she said her name without realizing it? She couldn’t recall. And when had he had romance in his eyes? Had he been thinking about his romantic ideal and imagining what to post in the Take Notice board or had it actually been… Anne doesn’t allow herself to keep going down that path. It was obvious Gilbert Blythe did not feel that way. Especially not about her.
But how had she not noticed the so called romance in his eyes?
Ruby is still daydreaming in front of her, an impressive scope to her imagination as she muses about how Gilbert would eventually declare his love for her. Anne isn’t listening. She thinks back to their conversation, but the only thing she can remember is Gilbert looking at her the same way he always has. Almost as if there’s a superior force making her do it, Anne glances back at him.
Gilbert’s already looking at her with his fond eyes. He smiles softly and there’s a slight red tint to his cheeks. Anne feels her own heating up and she hurriedly turns back around. She can feel his eyes burning a hole in the back of her neck.
For some reason, it’s not something that bothers her.
She spends the rest of class trying to get her face back to a normal temperature.
And avoiding her instinct of looking back at him, one last time.
They're the only ones left in the coat room. Everyone else has run out to gossip over the Take Notice board. Anne glances at Gilbert from the corner of her eye as he puts on his red coat. She looks away before he can catch her looking.
(She doesn’t see when he glances at her as well.)
Taking a deep breath, her own coat in place, she turns to him.
His eyes were so full of romance…
Anne crosses the distance between them and clears her throat. Gilbert turns, a little startled when he sees her.
They're closer than she had planned.
His confusion morphs into something softer almost immediately when he sees it’s her.
Gilbert smiles again, eyes staring into hers. They're fond, as they’ve always been. She can’t see any difference from how he’s looking at her now to how he looked at her before or to how he’s looked at her all the years they’ve known each other. She can’t see the romance in his eyes that Ruby had mentioned.
“Anne?” he asks, sounding amused. “Did you forget what you were going to say?” She blinks, realizing just how long she had been staring at him.
Her cheeks burn. She wishes she wasn’t so pale and homely so that the redness wouldn’t look so stark on her skin. Gilbert would most definitely notice it. Again.
“Eyes...” is what comes out of her mouth as she peers at him, but she quickly reels back, horrified at her slip up. “Sorry, I, I mean...”
Anne tries to find something to say, to explain, but her mind seems to go blank of any words. That was a first.
Gilbert tilts his head to the side, lips twitching as if he’s about to laugh at her. She suddenly remembers why she’s always thought he was insufferable.
“Yeah?” he prompts her.
She clears her throat. “I was just wondering if I could lend your geometry notes?” she blurts out, and then words just start to leave her mouth. “Miss Stacy said I should since I can never quite grasp those numbers, so that’s why I'm asking, but you don’t have to, of course. I can probably figure it out on my own. If you want, I can help you with your essay? I can proof read it to you, or something. We both know I do better at writing than you do, and you could probably use the help. Not that you’re bad at writing, I mean, I was just...”
“Anne,” Gilbert interrupts her, at last, his eyes shining with humor. She looks up at him. “It’s fine. I'll bring you my notes tomorrow, okay?”
He lays a hand on her shoulder. Her breath catches and Gilbert drops his hand immediately, almost as if he’s been burned. His cheeks turn slightly red and Anne’s heating up, again.
“And I'd love the help with my essay,” he finishes, looking away, appearing slightly flustered.
Anne feels like her tongue is lead inside her mouth.
“Okay, then,” she manages, a little choked up.
Gilbert shifts, adjusting his bag over his shoulder, before looking up at her from under his eyelashes. It's the same look from before. The same look from always. There's a warm feeling in her chest she can’t quite figure out, and she doesn’t try to either.
“Would you like me to walk you home?” he asks, voice low.
A smile takes over her lips before Anne can control it. “That would be nice.”
When Gilbert smiles back at her, he looks like he’s glowing.
The next day, there are no posts about Anne or Gilbert. Their friends all whisper behind their hands and giggle about the new messages, while both of them watch it with amusement.
There's one note no one can quite figure out, though. One that is forgotten between all the other more explicit ones. One that brings a discreet smile to the lips of two specific students.
Remains to be seen?