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Paper Rings

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Gilbert Blythe was finally going to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Winnie Rose. They’d been together since freshman year, when they’d met in class after he’d borrowed a pen from her. The trouble was, he couldn’t find the ring that he’d gotten anywhere.
“Spurgeon!” Gilbert called out for his roommate.
They lived in an off-campus apartment the two of them shared. Both going to med school, the two had decided they wanted some place away from the booze and bongs on campus. When Gilbert’s Dad had passed away sophomore year, it had left him with the money to do it. The only good thing to come of an unfortunate situation.
“What?” Moody groaned from his bedroom.
Gilbert stormed in, crossing his arms over his chest. “Where’s the ring, man?”
Moody grinned. “What ring? You mean the engagement ring that you’ve been hiding all month?”
He frowned. “Yes, that ring Spurgeon. Where is it?”
Moody sat up in bed and shrugged innocently. “No idea. Ruby, love, you got any idea where Gilberts ring is?”
Ruby Gillis, Moody’s long-time girlfriend, groaned from where she was asleep next to him. Thankfully wearing pink stripped pajamas. Gilbert had accidentally walked in on them canoodaling more times then he cared to admit.
“Oh, Winnie’s ring?” she said.
“Yes,” said Gilbert frowning, “it was in my dresser drawer, and I’ve got no idea where it is now.”
“Bad place to hide a ring, Gil,” she said with mischief in her eyes, “but no, I haven’t seen it anywhere. You should call Anne to look for it. She’s good at this sort of thing.”
At the mention of his best friend Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, Gilbert glared at Ruby. He wasn’t an idiot. He knew very well how Moody and Ruby both felt about Winnie. They liked her well enough, but in their minds, he was still that moody love-struck boy from Avonlea who had been in love with Anne most of his life.
But what they didn’t understand was, it was Anne who had encouraged him to date Winnie in the first place. It was Anne who had helped him pick out the ring. Anne Shirley-Cuthbert had a mind of her own, one that had never thought of Gilbert as anything other than a friend and would never think of him as anything else.
Gilbert glowered at Ruby. “Ruby Gillis, if I find out you took that ring, I will personally donate all of those expensive purses you have to Good Will in the middle of the night.”
Ruby gasped. The fashion major looked slightly horrified. “You wouldn’t.”
“Including the Prada,” he threatened.
She had lived with them for the better part of last year, and Gilbert knew how much she adored those purses. They were her prized collection.
Huffing, Ruby reluctantly crawled over Moody and got up out of bed. She went to the bathroom, rummaged through what appeared to be her makeup bag, and pulled out a blue, velvet box with his Mother’s ring in it. Sulking, she walked over and handed to him.
“You’re making a mistake,” she said, putting it into Gilbert’s outstretched hand.
“Well, it’s mine to make,” he said firmly. “Besides, you guys are both wrong. There’s nothing between Anne and me. We’ve always just been friends, and it took a really, long time for us to get there. So please, don’t ruin this by making it weird, alright? I’m marrying Winnie. Besides, Anne’s happy with Roy. You like Roy. We all like Roy.”
Moody and Ruby exchanged glances with each other, something that made Gilbert falter a little.
“We do still all like Roy, right?” he said, his voice getting hard. “Did that pretentious frat boy do something to Anne?”
Moody coughed. “Ruby, come on. She told us not to tell.”
“But it’s Anne!” Ruby insisted, pouting a little.
Gilbert placed both hands on her shoulders and made her face him. “Come on Ruby don’t forget. I know where the Prada lives. Tell me what happened with Anne and Roy, or else the purses get it!”
The rich girl frowned. “You said you wouldn’t if I gave you the ring back!”
“Now I’m changing things,” he said.
“They broke up!” Ruby blurted.
Gilbert stared, certain that he’d heard wrong. “They broke up?”
Ruby nodded helplessly.
“Are you sure?”
Ruby went over to the nightstand and grabbed her phone. She showed him the text messages from Anne.
Ruby: Hey! Missed you in class. Where were you?
Anne: Broke up w Roy.:(
Ruby: Oh no! What happened?
Anne: Had a talk about the future. Two different directions. Not feeling up to class. See you at party.
Gilbert stared at the phone, in shock. Anne was friendly, smart, with freckles and beautiful red hair. In high school, they’d been rivals, always competing academically for something and they hadn’t really become friends until their senior year.
But Anne was single.
She was single, and she didn’t hate his guts, which was the really, really important thing. He gripped the ring in his hand. It suddenly felt extremely heavy.
“Alright there, Gil?” Moody asked, amusement dancing in his eyes.
“Yeah, yeah…. I’m fine. Completely fine.” He took the ring back with him. It didn’t mean anything. They had one more week left of school, then they’d graduate. He was going to New York for med school. Columbia. He’d already gotten in.
As far as he knew, Anne had gotten in for their journalism grad school. They’d be in New York together, and she’d be single.
Gilbert suddenly found himself uncertain about absolutely everything, and that wasn’t something that normally happened for him.
“Excuse me,” he said, and he went off to his room.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two
Someone was knocking on her bedroom door. Anne wasn’t sure who it was, but she was certain she was going to murder them for waking her up.
“Diana!” she called at her longtime friend and roommate, Diana Barry. “I swear, if this is another one of your lover boys----”
“I’ll get it, I’ll get it,” Diana groused, “I think Jerry’s supposed to be coming over.”
Anne closed her eyes, trying to go back to sleep. She heard Diana whispering to someone but then she felt someone sitting on her bed.
“Carrots,” the unmistakable voice of Gilbert Blythe said, making her groan yet again.
She opened one eye, glaring at him. “Gilbert, give me one, good reason I shouldn’t throw a textbook at you again.”
The first time they’d met in high school had been when Anne had first moved to Avonlea, and he’d been flirting with her in class while she had been trying not to get in trouble. It had resulted in him getting smacked in the head with her biology textbook, and them both having detention for a week which had solidified their frenemy status for the next four years. Until senior year, when he’d helped her protest the administration’s policy on the school dress code by wearing a mini skirt and tank top for the whole day alongside her best friend Cole Mackenzie.
He smiled at her. “Come on, Anne. Get up. I’ve got some really good news that I want to share with you, and I can’t share it with you if you’re half asleep.”
Anne sighed, and sat herself up in bed, wiping sleep from her eyes. Last night, she’d gone out with Diana drinking in an attempt to forget Roy. Her head was pounding, her mouth was dry, her hair was a mess and the very last thing she wanted was to see Gilbert Blythe.
Gilbert Blythe, who was happily planning his future with Winifred Rose, his longtime girlfriend. The pretty, blond med school student he’d been obsessed with since freshman year when she had told him that there just wasn’t a chance she could see him as anything but a friend. Stupid, foolish Anne!
How could she have done that?
It had taken her years, but the knowledge that Gilbert was getting married to someone else had sent her in a tailspin. Even though she’d been the one helping him ring shop before they’d finally settled on him using his Mom’s old one.
It had made breaking up with Roy even more difficult. Roy had never really liked Gilbert, not trusting that they were so close. And he’d been so certain she was breaking up with him because of that. But there were so many other factors.
He’d started talking about marriage a lot recently too, and when it came to it, while she cared for him Anne couldn’t see herself with him. Not like that. He wasn’t her future. She didn’t know if Gilbert was either, but she knew she wouldn’t find out if they’d stayed together. So she had ended things.
Now Gilbert Blythe was sitting on her bed, very serious and excited about who knew what. “Because, I’m having a party. We’re going to celebrate. We’re graduating. You finally dumped Gardiner!”
Anne frowned. “Hey, Roy was perfectly nice----”
“He was a meathead,” said Gilbert.
“Football player,” she corrected, “which is the only reason you didn’t like him.”
“He was also a pretentious asshole, who you met through Josie Pye and that tool boyfriend of hers.”
She frowned. “Did you really just come here to tell me that you were having a party?”
“Um, yes Carrots, because it’s going to be a fantastic party. And you have to come, because I said so.”
“Because you said so? Are you two?”
“Maybe,” he said, “buck up carrots. Plenty of other fish in the sea. We’ll find you someone. The right someone, I promise.”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay. Wonderful. Can you go away now, weirdo? I’m hungover and I want to sleep.”
“Sure, sure. But remember. Sleep today, tonight we rage!” He kissed her forehead, completely surprising her, and then nodded politely at Diana who had been watching the whole thing with an amused expression.
“Barry,” he said with a bow.
“Blythe,” she said with a wave and a raised eyebrow.
She closed the door after Gilbert had left.
Anne looked at her oldest friend. “What on earth was that about?”
Diana smiled. “Gilbert knows your single.”
“So, he’s proposing to Winnie. We went ring shopping. There’s no way he still….”
“Oh, come on Anne. Gilbert’s been in love with you for years!” Diana smiled. “Gilbert knows you’re single, and he’s going to give up Winnie for you. That’s not the look of a boy whose going to propose. That’s the look of a boy whose newly in love.”
Anne tossed her pillow at her friend, but Diana skillfully managed to duck it. “You’re crazy.”
“Maybe,” she said, “but I’m right.”
Anne chewed on her bottom lip thoughtfully, thinking of the last time she had seen Gilbert this happy. It was when he had tried asking her out freshman year, right before she’d met Roy. But there was no way he could still be in love with her, not when he was seriously plotting a future with someone else.
Could he?

Chapter Text

Chapter Three
To say Moody was a little bit annoyed by Gilberts sudden decision to have a party was an understatement. Their friendship worked because they both weren’t party people. Moody only begrudgingly helped him rearrange the furniture and decorate, and Gilbert suspected that was because Ruby had threatened him with her patented glare.
The trouble was, how did he keep Winnie from finding out? He couldn’t very well talk to Anne about his feelings for her with Winnie there. And that was another thing.
Should he break up with Winnie before he talked with Anne? But what if he did and Anne still felt the same way about him? That they were better just friends?
No, it was better this way. He would deal with the Winnie of it all later.
“Moody,” said Gilbert as they moved the couch off to the side, “don’t grumble. It’s one party.”
“Look,” said Moody, “I’m cool with this sudden urge to party. But just tell me, does this have anything to do with Anne?”
Gilbert coughed. “Anne? I don’t know to who you are referring.”
Moody rolled his eyes. “Anne----you know. Redhead, my girlfriends’ best friend, talks a lot, wears flowers in her hair for no reason. The girl you’ve been gone over since we were fifteen. That girl.”
“Well, is the party for Anne? In a manner of speaking,” said Gilbert, “Is the party about Anne? No. This is a celebration about all of our academic accomplishments—and to cheer up our dear friend Anne, who just went through a bad break up.”
“So,” said Moody, a twinkle in his eyes that Gilbert didn’t like, “you won’t mind Ruby telling Winnie about it this afternoon?”
Gilbert coughed. “Winnie? Sh-she told Winnie? Why would Ruby do that? I didn’t say anything about wanting Winnie to come.”
Moody dropped his side of the couch, forcing Gilbert to drop his too. “Really, Blythe? Winnie’s your girlfriend. The one that you were very excited about picking out engagement rings for right up until Ruby showed you Anne’s texts about breaking up with Roy.”
Gilbert groaned. “Shit.”
Moody laughed. “I knew it! I knew this wasn’t an end of the year party, man. This is a way to tell Anne you like her again.”
“Moody, Winnie can’t come. Not until I’ve talked it over with Anne. Besides, there’s the chance Anne might not even care about me that way, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m not good enough for her.”
Moody frowned. “What do you mean, you’re not good enough for her?”
“I mean, Anne’s smart, funny, and gorgeous. I never stood a chance with her in high school, and it’s not like her not being with Roy is going to make her look at me any different.”
Moody let out a whistle. “Oh man, you’ve got no idea, do you?”
“No idea about what?”
“Gil, Anne’s always liked you! She just thought she was never good enough for you.”
Gilbert blinked. “Anne thought that she wasn’t good enough for me? But that’s ridiculous.”
“Look, Anne grew up in the foster system until her aunt and uncle had enough money to take care of her. Her parents died when she was little. She’s an orphan. You lost your Dad when you were a teenager, but you’re the golden boy of Avonlea. You had your Dad’s best friend as your guardian, you had a cider mill and apple orchard that have you rolling in dough---”
Gilbert frowned. “I’m not rolling in dough, Moody.”
“But you’re well off, compared to most people, and Anne came from nowhere and nothing. She always liked you, she just couldn’t imagine you liking her.”
“I always thought…. I always….” He tried to finish the sentence.
Moody patted him on the shoulder. “It’s alright man. Books are your thing. Love isn’t. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go tell my girlfriend to distract yours so we can avert eight years of miscommunication.”
“Yep---yeah. That sounds good.”
He sat down on the couch, still completely surprised that Anne----Anne Shirley Cuthbert of all people---had thought that she wasn’t good enough for him. They’d spent eight years dancing around each other, and now he was going to make sure she was the only one he danced with for the rest of his life.
No matter what it took.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four
The alcohol was hitting Anne hard. She hadn’t intended to be drunk at Gilbert’s party, but the breakup with Roy was hitting her harder than she thought. But she hadn’t wanted to feel anything, and that was where the drinking came in. Roy had broken up with her, and Gilbert was getting married.

They were graduating, and Anne had no idea what her future held. She had gotten into Columbia, for their graduate program. And she knew that Gilbert would be going to. But she didn’t want to think about her, Gilbert, and Gilbert’s new wife being there.

Winnie. His perfect, beautiful girlfriend that she had been responsible for him dating.

At that moment, she was sitting at Gilbert’s kitchen counter. Diana was with her, keeping her steady.

“Anne, come on,” she said carefully, “I think it’s time to slow down!”

Anne shook her head, despite the fact that it was pounding, and it made her wince as she did it. “I don’t want to slow down!” she blurted. “It’s okay, Diana. I don’t need anyone. I’m a free spirit.”

“Okay,” said Diana, “but could you be a sober free spirit?”

“I am not just a free spirit, Diana. I am a pirate! And a pirate needs their rum.”

“Anne, you’re drinking angry orchards,” she said, “not rum.”

Anne burped. “That’s not the point Diana! I’m a pirate! I’m a free woman. I don’t need any man----”

“Hey,” Gilbert’s familiar, friendly voice spoke up, making Anne freeze.

She turned, and slowly looked towards him. “H-h-hey, Gil. What’s up buddy?” she punched him in the arm, and Gilbert frowned.

“Is she drunk?” he asked Diana.

“As a sunk,” she replied.

“Oh, that’s not good. But um, hey do you mind if I talk with you alone, Anne?”

Anne nodded. “Of course. Need me to pick up the wedding dress for Winnie? Or the flowers? Or the cake?”

Gilbert frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“For the wedding,” she said, “I am here for you! Because we are nothing but friends. Nothing but best friends. That’s it.”

Gilbert sighed. “Come on. Let’s go somewhere private.”

“Anything for you, buddy!” she hiccuped, and Gilbert helped carry the stumbling girl into his room.

Once they were there, Gilbert closed the door behind him. “Look, I’m sorry about Roy. And I know that this might be too early, and I’m with Winnie. But Moody told me some stuff.”

Anne froze. “Moody told you some stuff?”

He nodded. “That you were in love with me. But that the reason you didn’t want to date me was because you didn’t think that I was good enough.”

“Yeah,” she admitted, “you’re you, Gilbert. You’re Avonlea’s golden boy, and I’m the little orphan girl from nowhere.”

He placed a hand on her shoulder, to stop her from swaying. She stared up at him, and he stared at her. That soul piercing stare.

“You’re more than enough, Anne. And you’re the one I want. Not Winnie, not anyone else. It’s always been you.”

And then, Anne Shirley Cuthbert, after hearing Gilbert Blythe’s beautiful words, threw up.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five
I hate accidents

The first thing Gilbert Blythe was aware of was that his head was pounding. The second thing he was aware of was that he was in a room that he didn’t recognize. The third thing was that there was a girl in his bed. A naked, redheaded girl with freckles who was wearing an emerald wedding ring on her finger that happened to look a lot like his Mothers.

Gilbert’s phone was on the nightstand, and he picked it up. There were dozens of missed calls and texts.

A string of them were from an angry, worried Diana Barry.

Diana: WHERE DID YOU TWO GO?

Diana: DID YOU BOTH ACTUALLY GET DRUNK AND TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS? I WASN’T SERIOUS!

Diana: I MEAN I WAS A LITTLE A BUT I MEANT TO BE ADULTS ABOUT THE WHOLE THING.

Diana: BLYTHE, ANSWER YOUR PHONE. IF YOU HURT ANNE I SWEAR, I WILL AXE MURDER YOU.

Then there was a string of texts from Ruby:

Ruby: Abort! Abort! Winnie’s on her way.

Ruby: She knows about the party. She knows about Anne.

Ruby: I tried to distract her, but I slipped up. Gilbert, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Don’t you DARE touch my purses.

Bash: Mind explaining the use of the private jet, Gilbert? Not angry, just concerned. And why Vegas?

Marilla Cuthbert: Gilbert, please call us back. Anne’s not answering her phone and everyone says that you were the last person she was with.

Moody: Gil, you dog! Can’t believe you actually proposed. I was kidding.

Gilbert stared at the naked girl in his bed. Oh god. He was pretty certain he’d married Anne last night in a drunken wedding. He could not imagine how they had gone from her puking on his shoes, to drinking so much they’d both gone to Las Vegas on the company jet and gotten married.

 

What had he been thinking?

 

He wanted to wake Anne, but she looked so peaceful he hated ruining that by bringing her into the mess that he’d created. What of Winnie? Had she found out about everything already?

 

Anne moaned in her sleep, muttered something about pirates, and then he watched as one eye opened. She glanced around the room and then opened both eyes, staring directly at him. “No. Oh no, no, no, no.” She sat up in bed, making sure to cover herself with the sheets. Then, she began to fiercely pinch her arm, the way she used to when they were teenagers to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. “No, no, no, no.”

She closed her eyes, then opened them again. Then closed them once more. Then opened them again before turning her attention to him.

Gilbert noticed then that he too was wearing a wedding ring. A white gold band.

“Gilbert,” she whispered, “tell me that we didn’t…”

“Um,” he said, “well, what do you think we did?”

She shut one eye, keeping the other open, as if somehow that would make her hide from the situation. “That we got drunk, fought a lot about our feelings, before you angrily shouted at me that I was the only person you wanted to marry. And we got married. In Vegas, with an Elvis impersonator, because I thought it would be romantic.”

“Well, yeah. That’s the gist of it.” He smiled sheepishly at her. He noticed the green dress that she’d worn last night to the party and tossed it to her. “Let’s get dressed, Mrs. Blythe.”

She shot him a chilly glare. “This is so terribly not funny Gil. You have a girlfriend! You were about to propose to her. I helped you decide on the ring.”

Gilbert took a deep breath, and then he sat down on the bed next to her. Not wanting to frighten the girl off, he made sure he was on the edge of it so there was distance between them. “Anne, this might be an unconventional way of us being together, but I don’t…. I mean…. I don’t hate it. We grew up with each other, and I’ve always been in love with you. Now do I wish we hadn’t gotten drunk on hard apple cider and gotten married with an Elvis impersonator? No. I wish that would have happened a little differently. But…. I’ve finally got you, and I don’t want to let you go.”

She took a deep breath and stared at him for a very, very long time. “You can’t be serious. You…. you want to stay married?”

He nodded. “If you’ll have me, Carrots.”

A small smile crossed her face and she hit him with a pillow. “That’s Mrs. Blythe to you, Gilbert.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Six
Except for when we went from friends to this

They tried to act normal. They got up, dressed, and then they went to have breakfast down in the hotel lobby at the buffet. Gilbert kept on glancing at the ring on Anne’s finger. She was his wife. And they’d slept together.
“Er, Anne,” he said, “I know this is probably the last thing you want to talk about, but are you…um….”

Anne glanced at him. “Am I what?”

“On birth control?” Gilbert blurted. He knew that he’d used a condom, because you didn’t get through med school and NOT use one. But he wasn’t even sure if Anne and Roy had even slept together. For all he knew, Gilbert might have been Anne’s first. Marilla and Mathew, Anne’s aunt and Uncle, were strict, church goers who believed that sex was for marriage.

At least, Gilbert suspected Marilla did. He didn’t know about Mathew.

Anne turned bright red. “Yes, Blythe,” she said, “I might be a dreamer, but I’m not a fool.”

Gilbert scratched his head, realizing for the first time what, exactly he had gotten himself into. Anne Shirley-Cuthbert was now his wife. Anne Shirley Cuthbert-Blythe, he corrected himself, and a smile crept on his face.

“What are you smiling at?” Anne asked.

“I just realized you’re going to have another name now,” he said, “mine. Quite the mouthful, Anne Shirley Cuthbert-Blythe..”

She smiled at him. “You don’t want me to give up my maiden name?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know what the world would be without Anne Shirley-Cuthbert. Though you can, if you want, of course.”

Anne looped her hand through his. It was strange, this closeness. It had taken them years to be friends, and now, they were married. He got to hold her hand, kiss her, and make love to her. She was everything that he had wanted.

And, while he wanted to wait until he was out of med school at least, he couldn’t wait to give her the family she so desperately craved.

“What?” she asked.

“What do you mean, what?” he said.

“You have this look on your face as if you were surprised by this.”

“Well, aren’t you?” he asked. “I liked you for so long, and I never thought….never dreamed….we’d end up here. Did you?”

She tugged at strands of her red hair. “I didn’t think so,” she admitted, “but I did think about it. When I first came to Avonlea, I thought that you were everyone’s golden boy. And that I wasn’t good enough for you, but I…I wanted you. I wanted us. I guess, if this is where the world is taking me, I couldn’t be happier.”

He smiled, feeling relieved. “My Anne,” he said, reaching up to stroke her cheek, “I’m so very, very glad you feel that way.”

She stared up at him, smiling. He bent down to kiss her again, and then he heard the most terrifying voice in the world.

“Anne Shirley Cuthbert!”

Marilla Cuthbert had somehow made her way to Las Vegas, and they were as good as dead. Or whatever was worse than that.

A/N: HI GUYS! I'm so sorry it took so long for me to update this chapter. My computer looked like it was crapping out on me, and then for some random reason decided to work. We also had the lovely finale and cancellation news. *sighs heavily* But this is the streaming age, so hopefully we'll find another home for the show. Fingers crossed anyway. But I'M BACK. :)