Anne still couldn’t quite believe this was all happening. The first thing she had done when they had woken up, slightly sore from the night spent cramped on top of the couch and both of them still in yesterday’s clothes, was use the distraction their friends offered to pinch her wrist without anyone noticing. Just to make sure it was real. When she hadn’t woken up in her bed from an admittedly very good dream, she had finally allowed herself a breath of relief.
Gilbert Blythe was indeed sitting with his arm around Anne Shirley-Cuthbert’s shoulders, who could still feel her lips tingling from the touch of his soft ones while his fingers played with the ends of her red hair.
Still, Anne is reaching her limit on how long she can stick around the apartment. Their friends’ obnoxious reactions are proving too much when all she wanted was to bask in the fact that she and Gilbert are together, together. Having Jerry in the background loudly pretend he’s puking whenever she grabs Gil’s hand or he reaches over to kiss her cheek, or Josie looking at them and snickering every five minutes, whispering under her breath about how she knew it and made it happen makes that a little difficult. Anne is starting to seriously consider bolting out the door and dragging Gil with her so they can finally be alone.
It’s not that she doesn’t love their friends (their excitement over this is actually quite sweet), but they had definitely not taken the news calmly. Apparently, Anne and Gilbert becoming a couple was something all of them had been waiting for, and even if they were all expecting it to happen sometime, finding them sleeping on the couch in the morning — Anne wearing Gil’s Christmas sweater and their legs tangled together — had still been an event. Cole had had to physically restrain Moody to stop him from jumping on top of them to celebrate.
“Took you two idiots long enough,” is the first thing Cole says with a teasing smirk.
“Can’t believe you didn’t figure out you were both in love with each other sooner,” Josie adds in her Josie Pye-way.
“Even Moody saw it ages ago,” Jerry says, laughing.
It earns him a slap from both Moody and Ruby.
“Hey!” the boy complains, while his girlfriend defends him:
“Don’t talk like that about my boyfriend!”
“At least they got here,” Diana interrupts, voice raising in a soothing way.
“Could still have been earlier,” Jerry grumbles out. “Maybe then I wouldn’t have—”
Cole shuts him up with an elbow to the ribs and Diana widens her eyes in what looks like a warning. Anne is immediately suspicious.
(She’s pretty sure she heard whispers of a bet and Jerry complaining they should have waited until New Year’s while Cole watched with a satisfied smile. She plans on getting to the bottom of it later, when she’s had a bit more sleep and isn’t so keen on sticking to Gilbert’s side every second of the day.)
By the time they had all settled down at the dinner table where Jerry and Diana had arranged breakfast earlier while everyone else was still asleep, Ruby had almost gone hoarse from the high-pitched squealing she’d let out every now and then because she was just so happy for you guys before she and Moody would start gushing about all the double dates the four of them would go to (the mere idea filled Anne with dread, but she wouldn’t tell that to Ruby in fear of hurting her feelings). Josie had rolled her eyes every single time that happened, but Anne could see the smile hiding on the corner of her lips either way. Jerry, on the other hand, sent them mischievous grins and made racy comments that made both of them blush so much she had punched her almost-brother on the arm with so much force he had winced.
It was like Gilbert and Anne being together was even more exciting than a Christmas party.
Surprisingly, Cole and Diana were the most subdued out of all of them, but the knowing looks they kept sending Anne’s way were incredibly annoying. Even Gilbert had, at one point, leaned down to her with a wary look on his face.
“I’m going to hear so much crap from Cole after,” he had said with a groan, and she had given him a pat on the back and a small kiss out of sympathy, because Cole definitely would.
Then Gilbert had taken advantage of her proximity and kissed her again, longer and deeper, one hand cupping her cheek gently, and any thoughts of her friends had vanished from her mind immediately.
(That had been around the time when Jerry had started fake-vomiting and complaining that the two of them were too mushy with each other while everyone else cat-called. Anne had punched him again and then glared at the other five obnoxious people at the table. Gilbert’s resulting arrogant smirk had made her nearly frustrated enough to want to kiss it off of him, but then she had realized that would only make everything worse and settled for elbowing his side. The pained oof he let out had been almost as satisfying. Almost.)
“So, what happened?” Ruby asks, not for the first time, her hands folded in front of her as if she’s interrogating them, interrupting Cole and Moody’s very important discussion of which Paul was drunker last night. Anne glares at her, almost snapping, because the two of them had talked just before Gilbert had arrived and she did not get to play the oblivious game right now only because her boyfriend wasn’t as caught up with things.
Gilbert shrugs. “We talked,” he says simply. “We cleared things out.”
All their friends glare at him while Anne tries to hold in a smile.
“Then we kissed,” he adds, completely unhelpfully, and while their friends find this extremely funny, her own smile dies and she elbows him again. “Ow,” he mumbles in her ear, but she can practically hear the satisfied grin in his voice. “It’s not like they didn’t know that, Carrots. They saw us do it a couple of times just now, you know?”
Anne doesn’t answer to his teasing. She tells herself it’s because there’s no point in indulging him, and not because she’s too flustered over being called Carrots by Gilbert in front of everyone. It’s insufferable, especially in the way she now finds it adorable instead of infuriating.
Josie huffs. “You’re both impossible,” she snaps. “Will you just tell us? After years having to put up with you two dancing around each other and trying to hide the fact that you’re both completely in love with one another because you were just friends, I think you owe us an answer.”
“Especially knowing we’ll now have to watch the both of you being sickeningly in love for many more years to come,” Jerry drawls out with a huff, but she can see the hints of a smirk on his lips.
Josie hums in agreement. “It might actually be worse than the hopeless pining, which I never thought would be possible,” she concludes with a sly grin.
Anne’s silently fuming over the comment, but then Gilbert’s lips press against her temple in a soft, appeasing kiss. She’s instantly not as angry anymore, looking up at him and smiling. Jerry retches again.
Yes, they’re sickening. Yes, she loves it.
“Hey, Josie,” Gilbert starts with an innocent voice, turning to their blonde friend who is still grinning like the cat who caught the canary (an image Anne finds disturbing both in metaphor and reality). “I saw you talking closely with Jane Andrews last night. How’s she doing?”
The change is immediate. Josie blushes profusely as all eyes turn to her. It’s widely known between them that the two girls have something going on with each other, but neither are doing anything about it. In the end, Anne supposes, Josie Pye is a huge hypocrite. Moody is the only one who looks a bit lost, but that’s to be expected, the poor thing. Cole drills her for answers as Ruby seems to be about to burst with joy. Diana, not one to be easily swayed, sends another knowing look in Anne’s direction. She replies by sticking her tongue out, because she’s that mature.
Gilbert takes advantage of their moment of distraction. “Hey,” he whispers in her ear, his warm breath bringing a shiver down her spine she hopes he doesn’t notice. He’d be unbearable if he did.
“Yeah?” Anne replies, her voice low as well so they can keep this conversation away from Cole and Ruby drilling Josie about Jane. His arm leaves her shoulders and she stares at the way he entangles his fingers together with hers on her lap (waffles, not pancakes, like an actual, real couple). She had never really believed in that cliché that is in every single love story she’s ever read, the whole their hands fit together like magic thing, hands were just hands after all, but she’s still mesmerized at how their hands do seem to fit perfectly together.
Yes, she is aware she is turning into a complete sap. Somehow, she doesn’t really mind it. Even if she’ll never say any of these words out loud to Gil so she doesn’t have to suffer through his ego growing even bigger than it is.
“Do you want to escape them?” he says, then, and she smiles because he’s read her mind, and this is why he’s been her best friend for so long. The tip of his nose is travelling down her hairline in a soft caress and for some reason the gesture feels incredibly romantic, like he’s breathing her in. The thought brings a (annoying) tight feeling to her chest.
She smiles, leaning away so she can look up at him, and presses her lips to his in a chaste kiss. “Yes, please,” she mutters against his mouth.
Gilbert is up in a second, bringing her with him by their still entangled hands. She follows him without complaining, barely able to hold in an excited giggle at the prospect of alone time with him. Their friends’ conversation stops abruptly before the catcalling starts over again.
“Be safe, kids,” Josie calls out, apparently forgetting her embarrassment in the face of embarrassing them, “but don’t think you’ve escaped our questions. We want the details later!” Anne glares at her over her shoulder and punches Gilbert’s arm when she sees him shaking with laughter, a sparkle in his eyes that only makes him more attractive.
She needs to get him alone. Like, now. They continue on their way, ignoring the rest of their friends’ jests. But Cole stops them before they can get very far.
“Hey! Wait up,” he calls, and they do, frowning as they look back at them. Cole is smirking as he points to a spot over their heads. “It’s tradition.”
Still confused, Anne looks up to find a branch of mistletoe hanging on the doorway above them, leftover from the party. She rolls her eyes, but can’t stop the anxiety tugging at her from the inside. The plant reminds her of drunken confusion, heartbreak and misunderstandings. Then Gilbert tugs at her hand.
She looks up at him, finding a soft smile on his lips as he glances down at her. His thumb sweeps over her knuckles in a caress. Anne smiles as well.
“You want to do this or not?” he asks, raising his eyebrows in expectation. She rolls her eyes, huffing out a laugh.
They lean in for a kiss at the same time, her free hand resting over his chest and his holding her by the waist.
Their friends are making a fuss again, the idiots, and Gilbert’s lips are twitching into a smile above hers and she can’t stop herself from doing the same. When they separate, looking at each other, Anne’s heart skips a beat at the love she finds in his eyes as he stares back at her.
Discreetly, she uses her free hand to pinch her other wrist once again, just to be sure.
Nothing changes, and Anne smiles even more.
Gilbert closes the door behind him and it’s an echo of last night, except this time Anne’s not drunk or in denial and he isn’t in the dark about her feelings for him. This time, once the doorknob clicks into place, he turns to her, their fingers still tangled together, and steps forward until he’s crowding her against his desk. His free hand cups the back of her neck and he tilts her head back. She stares up into his eyes, hazel turned darker into something that stirs a heat low in her belly, and he leans down and presses a gentle kiss to her lips.
Yep, very different from the tearful arguing of last night.
“Are you feeling okay?” he asks once they part, thumb caressing her cheek.
Anne frowns, confused, seeing the concern in his eyes. “Yeah, of course,” she replies breathily. “I’m great.” She lifts up onto her tiptoes to kiss him again to prove it, and also because she just can’t help herself.
Gilbert chuckles against her lips and separates them once again. “I’m glad, but I mean, do you have a headache?” he says, amused and worried at the same time. “Or maybe nausea? A dry throat? Sensitivity to light? You drank quite a lot last night.”
Oh. Right. A hangover. Anne had barely even thought about it, too elated by the fact she had him in her arms. Her cheeks burn in embarrassment, realizing the blackmail material she’s just handed him and that he, judging from the satisfied grin playing on his lips, knows that very well.
The truth is, she is hungover. Obviously. With the amount of mixing she had done the night before there was no way she would have come out unscathed. No matter what Gilbert Blythe effect has come over her, a miraculous cure for day-after hangovers was not one of his powers yet. There’s still a pounding inside her head that feels like her skull is about to explode and she does quite want to lay down in bed and stay there all day so she doesn’t have to face the sun, but having his hand in hers kind of makes all of it fade away.
“I guess I do,” she tells him either way, and watches in amusement as he shifts into Dr. Blythe right in front of her eyes, shoulders pushing back and concern etching his features as he grills her for symptoms.
He’s out the door the minute she finishes describing what she’s feeling, phone in hand and a pair of sweatpants to change into. He leaves her with a soft forehead kiss, a T-shirt and a boxer of his to put on so she’ll be more comfortable and a promise to make her feel better soon. It’s the first time he leaves her line of sight since he walked back into the apartment last night and there’s a brief moment where she’s sure this is it, illusion over, before her fingers find the fox pendant still hanging from her neck and her anxiety leaves her. All she’s left with is the lingering sensation of his lips on her forehead and a smile that can’t seem to leave her lips. It’s way too much for her heart to take.
When Gilbert walks back in he finds her laying on his bed with her face shoved in a pillow trying to suppress the pure giddiness of all the feelings trying to burst from her chest.
“Anne?” he calls, carefully, a hint of humor in his voice.
She whines out a response. The mattress dips down next to her a second later and a warm hand lays down on the small of her back.
“Are you feeling anything else?” Gilbert asks, humor gone as the doctor peaks back out.
“Yes,” she groans out, knowing it will freak him out but also needing to mess with him. Just a little bit.
“What is it?” he questions with emergency. “Do you have a fever? Is it nausea? Body aches?”
Slowly, she turns to look at him and finds his wide, frightened eyes searching her for any signs of discomfort. It makes her regret it a little bit, so she grabs his hand and pulls it up to her lips, leaving a chaste kiss on the back of it. He looks up at her, a deep frown between his eyebrows.
Anne sits up and smooths the spot with her thumb. “I’m feeling way too much,” she tells him, her voice almost a whisper. Gilbert still doesn’t seem to understand, so she allows herself to smile a little bit. “You’re way too good for me, Gilbert Blythe. It’s infuriating. I’m feeling way too much for you.”
He huffs even as a blinding smile appears on his face. “Jesus Christ, Anne,” he complains, his forehead falling against her collarbone as he exhales heavily. “Don’t do that. You almost gave me a heart attack.” He shakes his head before kissing her briefly. “But I’m feeling way too much for you too. Always.” There’s a beat, then his hand curls into the back of his shirt that she’s wearing. “Especially with you in my clothes,” he mumbles against her shoulder.
Anne blushes and giggles, and it’s kind of stupid, but Gilbert glows with happiness in front of her, so she doesn’t mind. Then he snaps back to business, grabs a glass of water and an Advil from his desk and presses them into her hands.
“Now, take that pill and drink up,” he tells her, stern doctor voice back on. “The whole glass. Hydration is important.”
Anne rolls her eyes but does as she’s told, choosing not to contradict him this time. When she’s done with the water, he grabs the glass from her hand and puts it back on his desk before wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her down to lay on the bed with him. Then they’re cuddling.
Full-on, actual cuddling, on his bed.
Anne Shirley-Cuthbert definitely did not imagine this was how her day would turn out when she arrived at their Christmas party with the goal of not telling Gilbert Blythe about her feelings for him.
He’s positioned her so her back is to his chest, his left arm wrapped around her waist and his hand laying on top of her belly practically burning through the thin material of his shirt (she’s wearing his shirt, oh God). His other arm is cushioning her head, his hand playing with her fingers. His face is tucked into the space between her shoulder and neck and she can feel his warm breath hitting her bare skin. Their legs are tangled together and he’s pulled up his blanket to cover them and his smell surrounds her from all sides. It’s all so wonderful it barely feels real.
“So,” Anne whispers, not wanting to raise her voice in fear of popping the bubble they’re in. “What exactly are we doing now?”
“Resting,” Gilbert replies, also in a low voice. “So you’ll feel better.”
She silently thanks the fact she has her back to him, because then she can hide the smitten smile and red blush that appears on her face at his words. The butterflies in her stomach are also hard to ignore, feeling like there’s an entire swarm of them in there wreaking havoc.
They settle more comfortably in the bed, Gilbert shifting behind her until his forehead rests on the back of her neck and he leaves a gentle kiss on her nape that sends shivers down her body. Anne closes her eyes, feeling the emotional exhaustion caused by the night before catching up with the few hours of sleep they had gotten. Yeah, maybe resting was a good idea, she’d probably wake up energized and with her headache gone. Gil’s breathing is already starting to even out and she is about to follow him into sleep when she realizes it.
She’d wake up.
“Wait,” Anne blurts out, panic tightening around her chest like a vice. She turns in his arms, feeling the need to look at him, at his face, and assure herself once again that this isn’t something she conjured up in her wildest imaginations.
Gil’s looking at her, frowning, eyes blinking heavily. “What is it?” he asks, tiredly, and guilt joins the panic she feels.
God, she’s the worst. After everything she had done last night, all the confusion she had caused him to the point where he had left the apartment and wandered into the cold Charlottetown night alone, she’s keeping him from sleep because she can’t get a hold of her own insecurities.
And once that thought pops up in her head, everything else rushes in.
There’s so many things they haven’t discussed yet. So many misunderstandings accumulated over the years between the two of them that had led to the explosion of last night. So many things she didn’t ask about but that still threaten to send her over the edge with her overthinking tendencies.
Really, how could Gilbert Blythe — handsome, intelligent, kind Gilbert Blythe — be in love with Anne Shirley-Cuthbert — homely, short-tempered, rash Anne Shirley-Cuthbert?
“You okay, Carrots?” he asks again, softly, his hand cupping her cheek to make her look at him.
No, she’s really not.
“Yeah, of course,” she replies instead, because she can’t be a burden and throw all of this on top of him when he’s done nothing but make her feel good and appreciated and loved.
He deserves so much better than her. She had been a selfish idiot for thinking otherwise.
“Hey, tell me,” he says, frowning. “Please.”
Again, it’s an echo of last night, this time almost too close to what had led to their fight here in his bedroom. But Anne can’t make the same mistake again. He deserves better than that.
“I think we still need to talk,” she says, quickly before she regrets it. “About stuff.”
“Okay.” He puts a bit of distance between them so they can face each other better. “I guess you’re right.” She takes a deep breath.
She’s not quite sure where to start.
“Do you want me to go first?” Gilbert asks gently, and Anne could kiss him for understanding her so easily. Except kissing him right now would probably go against the whole talking thing, so she settles on nodding.
He takes a deep breath as well, then:
“So, why did you say last night that you’ve lost me before?”
Okay, so maybe this whole talking and letting Gilbert go first wasn’t the best idea she’s ever had.
And even though all she wants right now is to run away, she owes him this answer.
“I missed you,” she starts, looking down at the dip between his collarbones so she doesn’t have to look into his eyes. When she doesn’t immediately continue, trying to pull herself together, he brings one hand down and grabs hers, a silent offer of support and a request for her to keep talking. So, she does. “When you were with Winifred.”
Gilbert lets out a weird, choked sound.
“I’m not blaming you for it, Gil,” she rushes to explain, her anxiety rearing its ugly head once again and making it slightly harder for her to breathe. “I know you two were dating and you were bound to spend more time with your girlfriend than with your friends, but I— I missed you. I missed my best friend. And it hurt. Again, that’s not your fault and I know that. It was infuriating, actually, how I couldn’t blame you for any of it.” She lets out a bitter laugh but is still too scared to look and see if he found any humor in it. “I had just recently realized how I felt about you and suddenly you were dating her and I felt like I barely saw you and when I did… Well, it was painful watching the two of you. But you were happy and I knew there was nothing I would ever do to disturb that. So, I had to stay away even when you were around for my own sanity and it felt… It felt like losing you. And it was the worst feeling in the world.”
There are tears in her eyes, a tightness in her chest and she’s pretty sure her hands would be shaking if Gilbert wasn’t keeping a death grip on them. Still, Anne keeps going.
“When the two of you broke up, you started being around again. And you didn’t even seem all that sad, so it wasn’t like I was a completely horrible person for feeling a bit glad over having my best friend back. Everything was back to normal. Except for the fact I had feelings for you and you didn’t know that.”
He doesn’t say anything, waiting for her to finish, which is a small blessing. Anne’s pretty sure if Gilbert interrupted her she wouldn’t be able to keep going.
“So, yesterday night, when you asked, I couldn’t tell you what was going on because it all revolved around how I felt about you. And I was sure you didn’t feel the same. And I was even surer that the moment I came clean about it, it’d ruin everything between us, and I’d lose you again. I couldn’t afford that. I’d have rather kept it all to myself and have you as only my best friend forever than not have you at all, Gil.”
She takes a deep breath and looks up at him. There are tears in his eyes as well.
“I never… I never meant to make you feel like that, Anne-girl,” he says, the nickname coming out of his mouth in a soft breath that hurts a little.
Her lips tilt up into a small, bittersweet smile. “I know that, Gil, believe me.”
He takes a deep breath, then starts to talk.
“The thing with Winifred, I… I was sure I had no chance with you. And after all those years hopelessly pining for my best friend, I figured I should at least try to get over you.” He snorts bitterly. “So, I did. Try, that is. Winnie was nice and pretty and she got me, but… She wasn’t you.” He smiles softly at that, and her heart skips a beat. It’s kind of stupid, but she loves it. “I had to give it a shot, though, a chance for it to work, and I suppose I put some distance between us because I knew that whenever you were around there was no one else I could think about. Took me a while to figure out that I was being a pretty crappy boyfriend, but, once I did, well. It wasn’t right what I was doing to her, and to myself, and to you, I guess. So, I broke up with her.”
Anne’s not quite sure what to say to all of that, all the things she had never even imagined when she was wallowing over Gil’s relationship with a blonde muse, so she doesn’t even try to reply. It’s good enough, she supposes, that they’re putting everything out there. She kisses him briefly. He’s more than happy to kiss her back.
But, since they’re hashing out all the misunderstandings between them, Anne might as well finish.
“So, what happened yesterday? With her?”
Gilbert stares at her in silence for a moment before chuckling.
“Okay, well, first let me make it clear that I didn’t know she was coming,” he starts, lifting his hands in surrender. She laughs, nodding in agreement to him. “We bumped into each other and, though I did break up with her, I’d like to think I did it in a way where she won’t hate forever. So, you know, we had an amicable, if tense, conversation, laughed off awkwardly the coincidence of standing underneath the mistletoe, and later she told me she was here with Prissy Andrews.”
Anne’s eyes widen. Okay, she had not been expecting that. “Wait. What?”
Gilbert nods, smirking. “Yep. You see, while none of the boys thought it’d be a good idea to invite Winnie, Prissy was invited and brought her along with her. As her date, I suppose. Which is why she came. Absolutely nothing to do with me.” He raises his eyebrows ironically. “Which means you freaked out over nothing.”
She slaps him on the shoulder. “Shut it,” she mutters. “It’s not like you made it any easier for me. Or her, for that matter.”
Gilbert stops at that, looking down at her with confusion. Anne curses herself and her big mouth silently. That had not been what she had wanted to hash out.
“What are you talking about?” he asks, and she sinks her teeth into her lower lip.
“Well,” she starts, clearing her throat. “Let’s say I had a slightly unpleasant encounter with Winifred yesterday.”
He sobers up completely at that. “What happened?”
“Well, I was drunk,” she says, wincing. “And I bumped into her while me and Josie were dancing. And she was kind of angry? I don’t know, there was a lot of noise around and alcohol inside me, so it didn’t all register, but she was definitely off and bitter? Anyways, she walked away shortly after and it was fine, but, yeah.” Anne gulps, afraid of what she’ll find in his eyes when she looks up.
Gilbert still seems confused. “Okay. I didn’t expect her to act like that with you, and it bothers me quite a bit that she did, but it might have an explanation?” There’s a slight angry, protective tone to his voice that makes Anne almost smile. “I mean, she knows I broke up with her because of how I feel about you.” She’s already blushing at this point and trying very hard not to smile fondly at his words. “And while I hope she won’t hate me forever, I guess I could have dealt better with things. I saw her a couple of times over the night, and at first she was kind of weird with me, but we talked after, she told me about Prissy, and she seemed happier. I guess she may still be angry, although I expected she wouldn’t be angry with you since none of it was your fault, but I hope things will get better now.”
Anne nods, a little distracted already by the feeling of his thumb caressing the back of her hand in soothing motions. “Um, okay then. I’m glad we’ve cleared this out. It was all very confusing for my drunk mind yesterday,” she tells him, laughing weakly.
He chuckles again, leaning in to peck her lips. “Well, now you know.”
“Indeed I do,” she says, giving him a longer, chaste kiss, before settling back into his embrace.
They’re in silence for a while, both just enjoying each other’s presence, Anne’s face tucked into his chest and his hand rubbing her back, when Gilbert suddenly speaks up.
“I thought you were with Roy Gardner.”
Anne snaps her eyes up to him. “What?” she blurts out, incredulous.
Gilbert looks at her like he doesn’t understand her surprise, and shrugs. “What?” he echoes.
She can’t hold in her laughter then, falling into hysterics as he assumes an offended expression. Roy Gardner! Gilbert had thought Anne was involved with a self-involved, narcissistic dumbass called Royal Gardner.
Honestly, and everyone thought she was the one with the wild imagination.
When she finally manages to get herself under control, he’s staring at her with his arms crossed and an unimpressed look on his face.
“You done?” he asks drily.
Anne almost laughs again. Instead, she presses a quick kiss to his lips.
“You’re lucky you’re cute, Gil,” she tells him. “Because that was incredibly dumb.”
He frowns so hard this time she’s afraid his forehead won’t ever be smooth again.
“Excuse me?” he says. “I had to watch that pretentious idiot fawn over you for weeks, months even. And you smiling and laughing and being all-too-pleased by his attention. I’m sorry for thinking the two of you were a thing after he actually said he was ‘courting you’ and that you were ‘the light of his life’.”
It’s probably very evil of her, but Anne has to count to ten not to start giggling again. What a blind, jealous boy she had gotten herself involved with.
“And did you ever see me react to any of his advances with anything other than amused surprise?” she asks him, shuffling closer.
Gilbert is one step away from pouting. No matter how dumb he’s being, it’s also incredibly cute.
“Does blushing and giggling count?” he grumbles under his breath.
Anne pecks him. “No, because I’ve never had anything with Roy. Or considered having, even. He’s a weird, admittedly entertaining and slightly flirty friend, but that is all. He’s way too extravagant for my tastes. I like the quieter, intelligent ones better.”
He stares at her pensively.
She rolls her eyes.
He stares at her some more.
“Okay,” he mutters before kissing her.
In the back of her mind, Anne can’t help but think that his kiss feels a little more possessive than the others.
“God, you’re going to be such a high maintenance boyfriend,” Anne mutters, chuckling against his lips.
He pushes away from her. She only realizes what she’s said when she sees the enormous grin that takes up Gilbert’s face. Her cheeks are instantly on fire.
“Does this mean you’re my girlfriend now?” he asks, sounding way too delighted for his own good. She narrows her eyes at him.
“Well, I don’t know,” she says in a nonchalant voice. “It’s not like you’ve asked.”
He breathes out a laugh before sitting up on the bed. He pulls her up by her hands as well, arranging them until they’re both sitting cross-legged in front of each other, their hands held together between them.
Gilbert clears his throat, pretending to look serious, and Anne has to hold back a laugh at the idiotic face he’s making.
“Anne Shirley-Cuthbert,” he starts, in a deep voice that gets a snort out of her. “You have spent years making my life hell as my friend, judging me for calling you Carrots.” Anne gasps in outrage. Gilbert’s lips twitch as if he’s also trying to stop himself from laughing. “Will you spend many more years doing the same thing as my girlfriend?”
She stares at him.
“That was the worst dating proposal I have ever heard in my entire life,” she deadpans. He quirks his head to the side, letting a smirk show.
“Is that a yes?”
Anne rolls her eyes, wondering just how she ended up falling in love with this idiot.
“That’s a yes.”
Then he laughs, happily, opening his mouth to probably say something else stupid, but Anne’s faster. She kisses him before he can ruin it even more, as non-romantic as the proposal was (is it even a proposal if he didn’t ask her to marry him?). Even so, as she feels his smile pressed to her own, she can’t help but think it was perfect for them. After so many emotionally heavy conversations, so much crying and hurting and failing to communicate with one another, it felt fair that at least this moment could be light-hearted and filled with banter as their relationship always was.
They separate, Gilbert pressing one more close-mouthed kiss to her lips before looking down at her, hazel eyes sparkling.
“I really love you, Anne-girl, you know that?”
For a moment, she doesn’t think she can breathe properly. He leans his forehead on hers as she whispers back:
“I love you too, Gil.”
He kisses her softly, tucking her hair behind her ears before cupping her cheeks. They’ve kissed so many times already since yesterday, but every single one feels like the first, like the world tilts when her lips touch his, her entire life changing by the fact Gilbert Blythe is kissing her like it’s their last day on Earth. And when she looks at him, it’s insane how it seems like he feels just as overwhelmed as she does.
As discreetly as she can, Anne reaches over to pinch herself again, just one last time, but Gilbert’s fingers wrap around her wrist before she can do it. He frowns down at what she was just about to do before his thumb smooths over the spot of her skin she’s been abusing slightly since they woke up.
“Hey,” he calls, in a soft, careful voice that’s so different from the humorous one he was using a moment before. “This is real,” he says, voice unwavering and smile in place. It almost makes her cry, the way he knows her so well that he can tell what she’s thinking. And that he cares enough to try and dismiss her insecurities before she even asks for it. “I promise.”
“I know,” she tells him, because she does, even though it’s hard to wrap her mind around it. She can see it in his eyes, the complete realness of it.
As they settle back down with her back to his chest, Anne’s not scared of what will happen when she wakes up. She knows Gilbert will still be there.
Anne’s almost asleep when Gilbert suddenly sits up on the bed, stirring her so much she almost falls off the edge. Groaning, she turns to him, who has a slightly desperate look in his wide eyes.
“What?” she mumbles.
“Didn’t you have to leave early for Avonlea today?” he blurts out. “To spend Christmas with Marilla and Matthew?”
Anne groans again, closing her eyes and settling down to sleep again. “You’re dumb,” she manages to grumble out.
“Anne!” he hisses urgently.
She blindly reaches back until she finds his arm and then pulls him down to lay next to her, his arm around her waist once again.
“What are you doing? You need to get up,” he insists, and Anne groans again as his voice grows louder.
“Jesus, Gil, I made that up,” she explains tiredly. “I needed a reason to why I wasn’t drinking. I’m only going home tomorrow, with Diana.”
There’s a beat of silence.
“I can’t believe you. You’re terrible,” he mutters, annoyed, but doesn’t say anything else before settling back down as the big spoon around her.
She hums in contentment. “Yeah, love you too.”
Anne’s asleep before she can hear if he answers.
When she wakes up, he’s already looking down at her. They had shifted in their sleep and are now cuddling chest to chest, her head resting on his collarbone and his hands both rubbing her back and playing with the ends of her hair. Apparently, that’s something he likes to do.
“Hey,” Gilbert whispers when he sees her open her eyes.
“Hi,” Anne replies, a smile already on her lips.
Sometimes she feels like she won’t ever stop smiling around him now.
He leans down to press a soft kiss to her lips. “How are you feeling?”
“Good,” she says honestly, not feeling any remnants of her hangover.
He doesn’t seem to believe her, frowning at her suspiciously. “Really?”
“Yes,” she assures him, laughing.
He stares at her for one quiet moment before shifting them so she’s laying on her back and he’s hovering over her. Anne, although surprised by his sudden change in mood, is not complaining. Especially not when he leans down so his lips are mere inches away from hers.
“Does that mean I get to kiss you now, then?” he asks.
She considers for a brief moment making a point to say they should probably brush their teeth before kissing, since they were asleep, then she sees the darker, nearly lustful look in his eyes and her resolve shatters. Anne grabs the back of his neck and pulls him down to end the distance between them.
His body settles over hers, and they’re in the same position of last night, although this time on his considerably more comfortable and spacious bed (which definitely makes her entire face flush red, but since Gilbert is busy ravishing her with his mouth, he thankfully doesn’t see it). Kissing him still feels like she’s in some kind of dream wonderland, except for the fact that he feels so real and alive under her hands. So much so that she doubts even her imagination could conjure up something like this.
Gilbert kisses her slowly at first, and every press of his lips feels like a promise. His hands, warm and careful, move over her body like she’s something to be protected, lazy caresses over her waist and ribcage feeling as if he intends to keep her safe in his arms forever. The weight of his body over hers is like she’s finally home. And as they kiss, taking their time and discovering each other, Anne is almost overwhelmed with the amount of sensations that fill her body as they move together like calm waves lapping at beach sand.
Then she bites his lower lip.
The change is immediate. Gilbert groans against her mouth and tenses above her, before the kiss turns more intense, more rushed. Anne gets whiplash from the difference in rhythm, but she does her best to keep up. Now, as his tongue sweeps inside her mouth and his hands tighten around her waist and his fingers entangle themselves in her hair, the care and love that had been so present before give way to heat and lust. Anne can’t say she cares. If before they had been moving like calm waves, now they were almost a tsunami, comforting warmth becoming the heat of lightning.
When Gilbert separates their lips and starts to press kisses down her cheek, jawline and neck before sucking on the spot where it meets her collarbone at the same time his hand moves underneath her shirt to grip her bare waist, she’s left wondering where the hell he learned all this as a moan leaves her mouth.
She’s embarrassed for about 2 seconds before his more than energetic response to the sound makes all thought leave her head.
Honestly, when one has Gilbert Blythe with his hands on their skin and his mouth everywhere on their body, there is really no reason to try and be rational.
It was all too much at the same time that it was too little, as if she was never going to get enough of him. Anne had never felt this way before, especially not when kissing a boy. She’s greedy, needing more from him, more heat, more intensity, more lips and tongue and teeth. More. And so she searches for it, her back arching up into him as her hands both sink into his curls and grab and pull at his shirt. What a great idea. Maybe he should just take it off. The room was getting so warm he was bound to feel hot.
But before she can voice that to him, Gilbert pulls away, lifting his body on his arms until she can’t reach his lips anymore.
They’re both heaving, completely out of breath, and the sight of him, cheeks flushed, eyes wild, lips swollen and hair mussed is enough to get her to reach for him and bring him down once again. But Gilbert is talking before she can.
“I think we should slow down,” he says, with a little difficulty, still panting.
“What?” Anne asks, taken aback, her voice breathy from disuse.
His eyes snap back to her in a heated gaze, pupils dilating and his tongue peeking out to lick at his lower lip, and she considers telling him he really doesn’t seem like he wants to slow down, but then Gilbert shakes his head.
“I think this can get out of hand pretty quickly and,” his eyes nervously shift down and he blushes even harder. She follows his gaze and doesn’t know if she wants to laugh or hide herself in embarrassment for all of eternity when she realizes what’s happening. “I think we need to calm down before this gets out of control.”
Anne’s blushing as well by now. This was not the conversation she was expecting them to have today.
“This is our first day together,” he interrupts her, voice almost pleading. “We have so much time ahead of us, I don’t want to rush this. I don’t want to ruin things when neither of us are probably ready for this step yet.” He shifts his weight to his elbows, coming closer to her once again, one of his hands cupping her cheek as his eyes focus on her almost radiating love out of them. “You deserve so much more than rushed, Anne-girl.”
Okay, so she’s a little bit melted inside.
“Don’t I get a say in this?” she asks, even if his speech has already convinced her, because she’s still Anne and he’s still Gilbert and it’s in her blood to contradict him.
But he frowns. “Do you disagree?”
She has to bite her lower lip to refrain herself from smiling (and yes, his eyes do follow the movement, but he’s apparently very determined to keep himself under control because he doesn’t do anything).
“No, I don’t,” she tells him, at last.
Gilbert sighs, moving so he’s no longer above her as he lays down next to her. They’re still incredibly close, their sides pressed together, but when he grabs her hand and presses a kiss to the back of it, the heat has simmered down. She tries not to picture what could have happened if he hadn’t pulled away, how she would have been all too happy to keep going and there’s a bit of disappointment brewing low in her belly alongside the relief that he had the clarity to stop them before things got too far too fast, but, really, her imagination is way too fertile sometimes. She’s really happy Gilbert can’t read her mind right now.
“Thank you,” he says, but she’s not sure what for. “I know you probably don’t want to discuss this right now, but I promise you that when, or if, the day comes,” Anne’s pretty sure her entire face is beet red, “I’ll make sure it is just as wonderful as one of your romance novels.”
Anne’s smiling again, even through her continuous embarrassment over this topic, but his promise, as nerve-wracking as it is to think about, is also very sweet. God, he’s too much sometimes.
She tries not to focus on the fact that he’s thinking about future days with her, and that does something to her insides (even if she also feels like teasing him and calling him a pervert).
“Oh, yeah?” Anne teases, turning her body towards his. “You’ll treat me like a princess, will you? Spoil me like a picture-perfect fictional character?”
He fidgets with the carrot charm on her wrist, a smile playing on his lips that mirrors hers.
“I’m going to spoil you forever,” he says, nudging her nose with his. “You know that, right?”
She laughs, because he’s absolutely ridiculous and she’s completely in love with him and she doesn’t know how they’ve moved on from such an awkward conversation to this soft, loving one.
“It’s the least you could do,” Anne replies and Gilbert chuckles before he kisses her once again, softly.
They leave his room after a while, because they know their friends and they’re fully aware that at some point Cole would come knock on the door very loudly, making very inappropriate comments until they came out.
They head to the living room hand in hand, where the mess from the party has been cleaned up and most of their friends are gathered. Diana and Jerry are conspicuously missing (and they all enjoyed teasing Anne and Gilbert when those two had been sneaking around for months already and no one said a word about it).
Gilbert stops her in her tracks before they can reach them, pulling on her hand and wrapping his other arm around her waist. Anne’s pressed against him, and, even though she’s not complaining, her cheeks are burning because they’re in the middle of the living room and their friends are all staring.
And yet, Gilbert Blythe is smiling down at her and she finds she doesn’t really care.
“What?” she asks, anyway, with a breathy laugh.
“Look up,” he replies, shrugging.
Anne does. There’s a branch of mistletoe still hanging from the light fixture on the ceiling. She frowns, but does a quick sweep of the place and, yes, it just so happens basically all the mistletoe is still up even though everything else has been cleared out.
It seems like a very weird coincidence.
She looks up at him, and the pure mirth in his eyes.
“Did you tell them not to take the mistletoe down?” she says in disbelief, unable to hold in a laugh at the utter ridiculousness of this boy.
And to think she used to believe Gilbert Blythe was so cool and collected compared to her fumbling awkward self. Turns out, he was just a huge dork.
He grins, wiggling his eyebrows. “Maybe.”
Anne laughs, then, but is interrupted by him pressing his lips to hers as one of their friends very audibly whistles (most definitely Cole). The humor dies pretty quickly as she kisses him back, one hand on the collar of his shirt and the other diving into his unruly curls. For the hundredth time that day, she can’t believe this is actually happening.
This time, though, she doesn’t feel the need to pinch herself.