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Intensity and Steadiness

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After the war, Anne finds Diana and when she looks up at Anne, both so weary, Diana wonders who is this paler, thinner creature with red hair that grasps her hands. Where was the starry-eyed girl she watched at her wedding to Gilbert? Where was the young girl that she played with in the woods, wandered around Avonlea with?

And Anne then smiles, queenliness unmistakable under the weariness, and Diana remembers and their hug is all-encompassing of the girls they once were and the women they’ve become.

"Shall we go to Hester Gray's garden again?"

"Yes," Diana said simply, gathering her bosom friend in a hug.

***

"I love that it is still somehow blooming after all these years, Diana" said Anne.

"Yes, I come by sometimes and I know that Small Anne Cordelia does too" she said. "Do you remember our old Story Club days, Anne? I was thinking about them because Small Anne Cordelia was writing a story for class the other day and having problems with what to write. I wanted to dig up my old stories and show her, then I remembered what I used to write and got them out and laughed at them."

"You used to kill off so many of your characters, Diana" Anne replied. "My gentle Diana, so kind outwardly, but woe to anyone who walked into one of her stories then!"

They burst into fits of laughter as they recalled those Story Club days. 

***

“And then Mr. Harris died under mysterious circumstances. They found that his food was poisoned, and since he always fed the dog off his plate, the dog died too. And because before the hired boy had brought the food to Mr. Harris he had snuck one of the biscuits on the plate, the hired boy died too. In another area, the beautiful Ms. Donnell also died, this time by being stabbed by a knife. Attempting to save her, her handsome beau, Mr. Right, perished in the struggle between him and the wicked, mad, Master Dave,” Diana read.

How could Diana, her dear Diana, write so many murders in her stories, Anne thought morosely during one of their Story Club meetings.

"Well, I don't really know what to do with them, so I just make them die," Diana said decisively when it was finally brought up.

Anne looked shocked but decided to hunt for a  solution to Diana’s problem. "Diana, well, maybe you could make less people die?"

“But it’s hard to end the story with so many characters since we have to mention what happened to them at the end, you know” Diana protested. “At least when they die in the story you know what happened to them.”

Ruby Gilis laughed. “Maybe you should just have some of the people get married and take honeymoons to get them out of the story.”

Jane, perfectly satisfied with her stories, commented that the best way for Diana not to have to kill many characters would be to have less characters at the start of the story.

Diana thought that was amiable. "Less people to write about."

***

"Oh, Mrs. Andrews, you've come to call?"

"Yes, Anne, I heard that Anne Shir- I mean, Anne Blythe had come to visit and I was sure she'd be here visiting with your mom."

Small Anne Cordelia, smiling faintly as she set the table for her father and her brother's meals, nodded. "Mom went off with Aunt Anne today; they planned to make a day out of it exploring their old haunts, she said."

"Humph, they are certainly too old for that-"

Mrs. Lynde, talking with Mrs. Barry, stopped to smile.

"When Anne comes to visit, she and Diana always can go back to acting like they used to, like they were fourteen years old again."

It was a friendship that had stood the test of time: of love and heartache, drunkeness and croup, separation and raising two families.

It was the best friendship any of Anne's generation could ever claim to have.

***

"Why don't we visit the other places we used to go to," Anne suggested, looking much like the girl she used to be before marriage and childbirth and war had changed her.

"Not the Haunted Woods," Diana said quickly. "Well, not at night. Anne, I can't even tell the children about that woods without remembering how scared we were after what we imagined of it. I'm just glad that Fred doesn't know else he'd tease me about it in front of them and then there would be no getting out of it."

"Then let's go there first" Anne said, smiling as she took Diana's hand.

***

When Diana had given birth to a girl, there was much consternation about the name she had chosen for the wee mite.

"Anne is fine, you know, but why Cordelia? There isn't anyone with that name in either of your families. Why not name her after your mother or Fred's?"

Diana would not be moved. "That is my decision about her name" she said firmly, feeling rather Anne-ish. Fred, next to her, just grinned. Small Anne Cordelia would not easily understand the significance of her name until Auntie Anne is introduced to her, "Mama's bosom friend" though she did not know yet what 'bosom' meant. Auntie Anne smiled, saying that Diana was her bosom friend too, and that she hoped that someday Miss Wright would also find her own bosom friend. 

Looking at how Aunt Anne and her mother smiled at each other, thinking how much they looked younger, Small Anne Cordelia agreed.

***

"And once, you know, Diana, I saw you with Fred and then I realized then and there that I was really going to lose you one day. Though not to the wicked man you once wanted, of course, but Fred Wright." Anne laughed. 

"And I always knew that you would somehow make it up with Gilbert and eventually marry him, maybe even from that time you broke that slate over his head" Diana laughed as they found their way to Lover's Lane. "I wouldn't really want a wicked man," she confessed.

Anne smiled. "I realized that I didn't really want a prince either."

***

Bosom friends.

After all these years, Diana wonders if she and Anne are still bosom friends as she sweeps the floor of her house in Avonlea about five years after Anne had left Avonlea for Four Winds and the Upper Glen.

It was a wonder how Anne and Diana were friends, in all honesty. She knew her parents looked askance at the friendship she had struck with the then newly adopted orphaned girl at Green Gables, had even condemned it when Anne had unwittingly made her drunk (something Diana herself would not care to repeat after so many years, even if she was of age and how lovely Marilla's currant wine had tasted), but they had come around.

Everyone came around when it came to Anne. Well, except the Pyes, but no one cared about them.

Anne was never the most beautiful of the four of them (Diana, Anne, Ruby, and Jane), but when she was in the crowd one could hardly not look at her, with her infectious smiles and starry gray eyes.

And to have that person, someone blessed by starlight she'd say if she would indulge her old Story Club similes, look at you and call you her bosom friend even for a short while was something Diana Wright would never give up.

When the next letter comes from Anne inviting her to visit her in Ingleside, Diana leaves in record time as soon as she can make arrangements.

And when Anne shows her the wonderful places of Ingleside and Four Winds and tells her their stories, it is like finding Hester Gray's garden all over again, again, again.

***

Later on, Anne would name one of her girls Diana and though Small Anne Cordelia and Diana did not become bosom friends like those they were named after, the age gap and distance rather hard to surmount, whenever Anne or Diana would look at their child named so after her bosom friend, sometimes they would let fly thoughts on their friendship.

"And even if Diana and I don't see each other, maybe don't think of each other with all that happens each day, there is always small Anne Cordelia and my own Di to remind us of each other and our troth, our promise."

***

After they had walked through all their old haunts, they end their walk at Violet Vale. The violets Anne thought were souls of amethysts were in full bloom that day, a rare sight that warmed Anne's heart.

"There is so much beauty to see in this world, Diana. I wish I could share it with you, one day at a time. Each day, there is something beautiful to see, maybe it's unexpected and sneaks up on you or something that you actively look for when your day has been a Jonah day. But it's there and one just has to look for it."

Diana smiled and clasped Anne's hand in hers.

She was never as good as Anne with words, with the grasp that made thoughts fly and become formed. She hadn't studied at Queen's, hadn't gone to Redmond and become a BA. But Anne would understand, she knew, so she still made up her mind to say it.

"My life has been forever changed since you came, Anne. I can't tell you how much."

Anne's smile was unforgettable in its brightness. "And mine with you,"

"Can we stay bosom friends forever?"

"As long as the sun and moon endure," (1) said Anne earnestly.

Diana grinned widely, showing off the dimples Anne very much loved. "No. Longer."