Rilla Blythe stared out of her bedroom window, then glanced down at the diary on the desk in front of her. Sighing slightly, she picked up her pen, and continued writing.
It is the night before my wedding, and yet somehow I am not as excited as I should be.
Miss Oliver was beaming, Miranda was radiant - even Mary Vance (who I still can't think of by any other name, even after six months of marriage to Miller Douglas) got fully in to the mood, and she was raised by Miss Cornelia!
Perhaps it is because of The War.
Ever since that night at the lighthouse, it has become second nature to fear anything good. For four years every good thing that happened was followed by something equally bad.
And maybe now I'm worried that if I enjoy my wedding to Kenneth - if I let myself stop worrying about the future, then something bad will happen.
She paused and glanced out of the window again.
Of course, there is another reason - one that I hesitate to commit to paper, because it either means I am going out of my mind, or that the impossible has happened.
I was coming home from The House of Dreams - Kenneth had been showing me the changes he has made for our new home - and I saw someone on the road in front of me.
Rilla walked down the hill towards Ingleside, then, as the wind blew through the willows along the side of the path, she looked up to see a man stood underneath them.
As I got closer, I froze. I knew his face - knew it better than my own - but it couldn't be him.
She stared at him for a moment, then, as a gust of wind blew up the hill, she blinked. When she opened her eyes again, the man had vanished.
I convinced myself that it was just wishful thinking. That the one person I wanted at my wedding more than anyone else had magically appeared in time to attend it - despite the impossibility of such a thing happening.
And then I saw him again.
She walked up to the Ingleside gate, then turned at a soft noise behind her. The same man is stood across the street, this time bathed in moonlight.
She stared at him for a moment, then shook her head, turning back, pushed the gate open and walked towards her house.
It was him. Looking exactly the same as he did when he went away. But that was three years ago. Two years before he died in battle.
Rilla looked up at the moon, then back down at her diary.
By this time tomorrow, I will be Mrs Kenneth Ford. I will be in Europe on my wedding tour, and I can finally stop thinking about the past. About HIM.
Smiling to herself, she picked up the diary, and tucked it away in the top draw of her dresser. She turned round, and froze - mouth hanging open in surprise.
"Oh my...." She stared at the young man standing in front of her "Is... is it really you?"
"Yes, Rilla-my-Rilla" Walter Blythe smiled back at her "It is me"
GEMINI PRODUCTIONS in partnership with
HOME OF THE ANGEL STUDIOS proudly present
A SammyWrae Story
Rilla Blythe, Walter Blythe, Una Meredith
Gilbert and Anne Blythe,
Jem and Faith Blythe,
Jerry and Nan Meredith
Shirley Blythe, Susan Baker
John and Rosemary Meredith
based on original
stories and characters by
LM Montgomery and
THREE YEARS LATER
Una Meredith smiled as she walked down the winding path towards The Manse. She was reading a letter from Di Blythe - her friend has stayed in England after The War had ended, was now engaged to a Scotsman named Edmund and was, in her own words, blissfully happy.
As she reached the fork in the path, she became aware that two people - a man and a woman - were walking towards her. They were holding hands, and both smiling broadly.
Una blinked, then frowned. There was something about the woman she thought she recognised, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
She was about to walk past them when the woman looked up at her, and Una stopped dead, staring in disbelief.
"Rilla?" She said faintly. The woman paused, then bounded up the path towards her.
"Una! Oh Una! How I have missed you!" Rilla flung her arms around her childhood friend, hugging her tightly.
Una allowed herself to be hugged, her mind whirling with questions. A few moments later, she eased out of Rilla's grip and took a step back.
"Rilla?" She shook her head "Where have you been? Have you seen your parents? Have you seen Ken? Have you..."
"Hold your horses!" Rilla held up her hand, still smiling "No - I haven't seen my parents yet. We are on our way to Ingleside right now. And no - I haven't seen Ken yet either" She paused "If I'm honest, I don't know if I will"
"Una - this will go a lot more quickly if you let me finish" She paused as Una nodded "I know that I hurt Ken, and that I probably owe him an apology. I just don't know if he will want to see me after all this time"
"But he..." Una started, then stopped as Rilla put her hands on her hips "Sorry" She blushed.
"That's alright, dear one" Rilla grinned "I will decide about Ken after we have seen mother and father" She paused, then turned to the man, who had been standing quietly, observing the reunion "Are you ready?" The man nodded, then smiled at Una, who blushed.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" She asked, slightly sharply. The man's grin widened as he turned to face Rilla.
"I know, I know - I owe you twenty pounds" Rilla shook her head, then turned to Una "I know it has been a while since we were last here, but do you not recognise your old Rainbow Valley playmate?" She glanced back at her friend "I guess you have changed more than I thought" The man grinned back at her.
"Have you looked in a mirror lately, Rilla-my-Rilla?" He paused, then laughed "No - I don't suppose you would have" Rilla smirked back at him, then turned to Una, who's face showed dawning comprehension.
"Walter...." Una started, then collapsed in a dead faint. Walter and Rilla stared down at her, then Walter sighed.
"That didn't go well, did it?"
"Better than I expected" Rilla shrugged, then bent over and swept Una up in to her arms "Are you ready?"
"Yes, my dear" He leaned over and kissed her softly on the cheek "My triumphant return to Ingleside" He paused, then grinned "Do you think they missed me?"
Susan Baker leaned back in her rocking chair on the front porch of Ingleside, then shook her head sadly.
"If Providence has decreed that the son of Owen Ford and Leslie West will marry" She paused, then let a touch of sarcasm slip in to her voice "Irene Howard" She resumed her normal tone "Then all I can say is that things have gone badly awry" Faith Blythe looked across at her husband Jem, a sly smile on her face.
"The wedding is tomorrow, Susan, so I think you will have to accept Providence's will" Susan turned to look at her, a frown furrowing her brow.
"As if I would do anything else, Faith Meredith! How dare you suggest...." She trailed off as she saw the looks of amusement on their faces "So you've decided making fun of me is the way to distract me?" She shook her head "Ungrateful children!"
"Sorry, mother Susan" Jem replied, causing Susan to smile fondly at him "Do you know what mother and father are getting them for their wedding gift?"
"They're giving Ken and Irene...." Susan trailed off, staring in surprise at the garden gate "Rilla?"
"They're giving Ken his ex-fiance?" Faith shook her head in confusion "I don't see Irene accepting that...." She trailed off as Susan jumped to her feet and started bounding down the steps. Following her gaze, Faith stared at the two people stood at the garden gate "RILLA?"
"At least they remembered my name" Rilla smiled.
Three quarters of an hour later, Walter and Rilla were leaning against the wall in the front room at Ingleside, surveying the group that had been gathered.
Gilbert and Anne were sat on the sofa, both looking slightly confused. Jerry and Nan Meredith were stood behind them sofa, Nan resting her hand on her mother's shoulder. Susan was sat in one of the arm chairs, Shirley perched on one arm and Faith on the other, while the other arm chair held Carl Meredith, a black patch over one eye. Una, who had yet to come round from her faint, was lying on the other sofa, with Rosemary Meredith watching over her. And, near the back of the room, Jem was leaning against the wall, glaring at the two prodigals.
When it became apparent no one was going to speak, Walter glanced at his sister, then turned back to the group.
"I suppose you are wondering why I called you all here" He paused dramatically, then sighed and turned to his sister "No one gets my sense of humour"
"There, there" Rilla patted his arm. He smiled at her, then turned back to the group.
"Rilla and I came here today because we owe you an explanation. An explanation as to why Rilla left three years ago, and why she came back today"
"And why Walter is here, when all of us believed he was killed at Courcelette" Rilla continued. She paused, but when no one spoke, she turned back to Walter, and nodded.
"Six years ago, I was shot and injured on the battlefield, and I lost my dog-tags in the process" He said softly "I don't know what happened after that, but I woke up about five days later in Holland. A family took me in, and looked after me"
"Why didn't you let us know?" Gilbert leaned forward and looked intently at his son "Why didn't you get in touch?"
"I was very ill father, and for a long time I didn't know who I was, let alone that I had a family waiting for me here" Walter closed his eyes for a moment "Even when I got better, I couldn't remember much about my life"
"Couldn't the family help you?" Jem asked with a frown.
"They didn't know who I was either, Jem" Walter sighed "I knew my name was Walter, but without a last name, and with my dog-tags lost on the field, there wasn't much they could do to find out who I was"
"The night before my wedding, he came to me" Rilla continued the story "He met me on the road back from our House of... from Kenneth's house, and asked to speak to me"
"And you decided not to tell us?" Anne asked, her eyes flaring with anger. Rilla felt a growl rising in her throat, but stopped when Walter stepped in front of her, looking in to her eyes. She looked back at him, then nodded, smiling slightly. He returned the smile, then turned to face Anne.
"Don't blame her, mother" He snapped, then - as Anne's eyes widened in surprise - he calmed his tone "Sorry - I didn't mean to snap" He paused, taking a deep breath, then continued "This isn't easy, for either of us" He smiled softly, then jerked his head round at the sound of a sarcastic laugh from the other side of the room.
"Oh forgive us, Walter" Jerry sneered "I'm sorry we're making this hard for you, because the last six years - ever since we learned you were dead - have been wine and roses for us" Without thinking, Rilla reached out and took her brother's arm, just in time to stop him bounding across the room. He closed his eyes and took another long breath. As he did, Rilla looked across the room.
"If you can't be civil, Jerry, we will leave again, and this time neither of us will return. Is that clear?" Her voice was as cold as steel, and one by one, everyone else in the room nodded.
"After talking to Rilla for half an hour, I realized I had been away too long" Walter continued his story as if neither Jerry nor Rilla had spoken "I couldn't just come back in to my life - in to your lives. So... I left again"
"And where does Rilla fit in to this?" Anne asked, glancing at her youngest daughter.
"It almost killed me the first time I lost him" Rilla replied calmly "I wasn't going to lose him again"
"If I'd explained why I was leaving, Walter's secret would have been somewhat less of a secret" Rilla interrupted her mother.
"So you left your mother without a word?" Gilbert stared at her, shaking his head "Do you know how long she worried? And what about Susan? And me?"
"I know" Rilla held up her hands "I know"
"And what about me, Rilla-my-Rilla?" Everyone turned as Kenneth Ford walked in to the room, followed by Irene Howard. Rilla gazed at him for a moment, then glanced at Walter, who nodded slightly.
"Hello Kenneth" She said softly, then inclined her head "Irene" She looked back at her former fiance "I suppose we need to talk"
"Let me see if I understand this" Kenneth was pacing back and forth in Rilla's bedroom. Rilla, sat on the bed, watched him, her glance occasionally flicking to Walter - who was leaning against the doorway - and Irene - who was sitting on a chair by Rilla's desk "Three years ago, Walter turns up out of the blue, on the night before our wedding, and convinces you to run away with him, without telling anyone else" He turned to face her, and she tilted her head to one side.
"It was my idea, Ken" She replied calmly.
"Either way, you decided to jilt me. To leave me standing at the altar with no explanation as to where you were, or why you had gone"
"And I'm very sorry"
"You don't very sorry, Marilla" Irene sneered. Rilla's head snapped round to stare at her, but - at a quiet cough from the doorway - a slight smile crossed her face.
"I didn't know you were so discerning, Irene" She smiled, then, glancing at Ken, added "Though I admit your taste in men has improved" Irene bristled.
"If you think for one minute you are going to come back here and...." She started, but Rilla held up her hands.
"I am not here to win back my former fiance" She said with a smile, then, frowning, glanced at Ken "I assume I am not your fiance any more?" Ken stared back at her in disbelief. Rilla smirked "I didn't think so"
"Irene, Ken" Walter stood up straight and walked in to the room "We came back because we thought it was time people knew the truth" He paused "We're going to leave again...."
"NO!" Ken and Irene jumped in surprise as Anne's voice echoed through the room "You can't go - not when I have just got you back"
"This is not our world any more, mother" Walter said sadly "Do you think I will be able to to just fit back in to my old life? A life I can barely remember?"
"You could try" Anne said pleadingly "Please? Please don't leave again" Walter stared at his mother for a moment, then turned to Rilla, who nodded.
"We'll think about it, mother" Anne smiles "We're not promising anything, but Rilla and I will discuss it later"
"Ken" Rilla turned to face the engaged couple "I am sorry I ran out on you, but I didn't have a choice. I don't want you to forgive me - I am not going to ask" She glanced at Irene "I am happy you found.... someone who to love you, and I will gladly offer you best wishes for your coming nuptials"
"You understand why I'm not going to invite you to the wedding" Ken said, and Rilla nodded "That being said, I'm glad you're not dead in a ditch somewhere, and if you do decide to stay in Glen St Mary, I would like to catch up" Before Rilla could reply, Irene cleared her throat noisily. Kenneth turned to stare at her "Yes, dear?"
"Not that I don't love a good reunion and a hearty gossip, but if that woman comes anywhere near my house, I will chase her away with a skillet" Kenneth gave his wife a fond smile, while Rilla merely grinned.
"Irene - I promise I will not come near your House of Dreams without an invitation, and I will, of course, leave your sweet, innocent Kenneth totally unmolested" Rilla stood up, and walked over to stand next to Walter. They smiled fondly at each other, then turned to face Anne.
"We're going to go now. We've to a place to stay - we're not going to tell you where it is yet - and I promise we will come back tomorrow morning" Rilla paused, glancing at Ken and Irene "You are both welcome to be here, though I think Irene might have a different opinion"
"You don't say"
"Mother - I know this is confusing, but it is just as hard on us as it is on you"
"I understand, darling" Anne walked towards them, then reached out and stroked Walter's cheek "Are you sure you are alright, dear? You feel a little cold?"
"I'm fine, mother" He grinned back at her cheerily "I'm better than I've been in a long time" He turned to Rilla "Are you coming?" Rilla nodded, then, slipping her hand in to her brother's, they turned and walked out of the bedroom. Anne watched them go, then turned and left the room without a word.
"Ken?" Irene walked over to her fiance "Are you ready to go?"
"Yes, my dear" Ken leaned over and kissed her softly "I am"
Gilbert watched his wife pace back and forth, then slowly reached out a hand to take hers.
"What is it, Anne'o'mine?" He asked softly. She gazed at him, then shook her head.
"There's something wrong, Gil. I know it - I can feel it in my bones"
"Can you tell me what it is?" She paused, then shook her head again.
"No - no, I can't" She sighed "They scared me, Gil" She closed her eyes "I know they were close before Walter di... before Walter went off to war, but now..." She shivered slightly "They way they kept looking at each other - the way they touched...."
"What is it?" Gilbert stood up and pulled her in to a hug.
"It goes against everything I know, and I can't believe I'm saying it, but it's like..."
"Like they were married"
A deserted farm house sat in the middle of a field. A moment later, two blurs of movement raced up to it and vanished inside without stopping.
The blurs resolved themselves in to Walter, who walked over to a moth eaten sofa and sat down, and Rilla, who wandered over to the window, and sat on the sill.
"I think mother suspects something" Walter said after a moment "She didn't talk to Ken or Irene after we left"
"She always was very observant" Rilla tilted her head to one side "If anyone was going to notice, it would be her"
"Do you think she suspects the truth?" Walter asked, then smiled at the smirk Rilla gave him "No - I suppose that would be unlikely"
"I know she has a vivid imagination, but somehow I don't think that it will extend to this" She waved her hands at him "After all - it took me long enough to accept it"
Setting Sun Farm, October, 1919
Walter slowly pushed Rilla down on to the moth eaten sofa, then started pacing back and forth in front of her. She watched him for a few minutes, then slowly reached out her hand and touched his arm.
"Walter - you're scaring me" She said hesitantly. Walter gazed at her for a moment, then let out a short, sharp laugh.
"Oh Rilla-my-Rilla, if you only knew what the next few minutes held...." He paused, then his face fell "I want to explain why I'm here"
"Why you're not dead?" He nodded "Explain away"
Courcelette, September, 1916
The last thing I can properly remember is standing in the trench, waiting for the attack order.
Walter stood in a long line of soldiers, all waiting to go over the top of the trench.
When I heard the whistle blow, I closed my eyes, said a prayer for you, Una and mother, then I pulled myself up.
As he ran across the field, Walter was hit by a bullet, spinning him round and sending him crashing to the ground.
All I knew was a short, sharp jab in my chest, then... nothing. No pain, no feeling of any kind. I simply stared up at the sky, counting down the seconds until it all went black.
A figure blurred across the field, and a moment later, Walter vanished, leaving his dog tags lying where his body was.
I knew I was moving - someone was carrying me. I didn't know who, why or where, but I realised that - as long as they were carrying me away from that incarnation of hell on earth - I didn't care.
The blurred figure swept in to a barn, then resolved itself in to Carlisle Cullen, the unconscious Walter in his arms.
He put the young man down, then dropped to one knee, staring at the boy he had saved.
"Talent such as yours can not be permitted to die, my friend" He said softly.
As I gazed up at him, I realised that - even though he was a total stranger - I could trust him. That he would never hurt me.
Carlisle stared down for a moment, then he pushed Walter's sleeve back, bent his head down, and sank his teeth in to the young soldier's arm. A second later, Walter let out a piercing scream of agony.
Well, relatively speaking.
Setting Sun Farm, October 1919
"From what he told me after, I writhed in agony for three days straight. I had no idea - all I knew was the pain"
"Oh Walter...." Rilla jumped up and flung her arms around him, then pulled back in surprise "Walter... you're freezing!" She raised her hand and put it against his forehead "Are you ill?"
"No, sister'o'mine, I'm fine" He smiled down at her "Just let me finish my story"
Courcelette, September, 1916
When I woke up, I realised two things.
First - that I wasn't dead. And second - that I was thirsty. I opened my eyes, and found Carlisle staring down at me, a compassionate look on his face.
"The burning you feel is the desire to hunt, to feed, to drink. It won't ever go away, but if you let me, I can teach you to control it" Carlisle said softly.
"Who are you? What did you do to me?" Walter glared up at him in confusion.
"You must drink this" Carlisle reached behind him and picked up two bags full of thick, red liquid "Drink it now, or the thirst will drive you insane"
I stared at the bags, and a moment later, I realised what it was.
The bags contained blood.
Setting Sun Farm, October, 1919
"Blo... blood?" Rilla stared at him, looking slightly doubtful.
"Yes, Rilla-my-Rilla" Walter's smile stayed the same "Carlisle Cullen is a vampire" He paused "And now, so am I" For a moment, Rilla continued to stare at him in disbelief, then she laughed.
"I think you've been reading too many horror stories, Walter" He tilted his head to one side, then he blurred to the far side of the room, picked up the piano and held it up over his head in one hand.
A second later, he dropped it, and before it hit the floor, Rilla found herself rising in to the air as he picked the sofa up.
When he had put it back down, she stared at him in utter horror.
"Are you here to kill me?" She asked, voice deathly silent.
"No, sister dear - I'm not here to kill you" He grinned.
Courcelette, September, 1916
"You made me a monster?" Walter jumped to his feet and stared at Carlisle.
"You don't have to be a monster, Walter" Carlisle replied calmly "You can choose to live your life any way you wish"
"Why?" Walter asked "Why did you do this?"
"I read The Piper, my boy, and I didn't want a talent like yours - a mind like yours - to be lost to the world in such a senseless way"
"You think this is senseless?" Walter gestured towards the barn door "Boys are fighting and bleeding and DYING out there to stop the shadow falling across the world, and you think that is SENSELESS?" Without thinking, he reached out and grabbed Carlisle, then threw him across the barn.
Carlisle smashed through the far wall, sending splinters of wood flying everywhere. As Walter stared at his hands in confusion, Carlisle blurred back in to the barn and stood in front of him.
I'm sorry - I didn't mean to offend you" He said in the same calm, deliberate voice "But this.... all this blood and sacrifice, it won't change a thing"
"How do you know?" Walter growled.
"I have lived three hundred years, and in all that time I have never seen the world change for the better, no matter how much blood is spilled, how many are sacrificed" Walter stared at him for a moment, then shook his head.
"I think you're wrong" He said intently "The red rain of Verdun will bring forth a golden harvest - one that will redeem the world" Carlisle gazed intently at him, then shrugged.
"Perhaps you are right" He admitted "We can't stay here much longer - the battle is coming this way, and if you are caught here, there will be questions"
"Questions?" Walter raised his eyebrows.
"Your unit thinks you died in the bayonet charge, Walter" Carlisle continued "They found your dog tags after the skirmish"
"My unit thinks I'm de.... my family? My parents?" Walter shook his head back and forth "I have to go!" Before Carlisle could respond, Walter blurred out of the barn.
"You're not ready...." Carlisle called, then sighed "You won't be able to cope"
Setting Sun Farm, October, 1919
"He was right, of course" Walter was knelt in front of his sister, looking up at her "The first time I walked through The Glen at night, I was almost overwhelmed by the scents I smelled"
"The blood in their veins, the smell of their hair.... I could smell it all, and I wanted it" He looked up at her seriously "I smelled Jims and all I wanted was to rip his throat out and drink him dry" Rilla gazed down at him, then a smile crossed her face.
"But you didn't" She reached out and took his hand "You didn't kill Jims, or me, or anyone else"
"Only because I realised I couldn't do it" He smiled sadly "I barely got inside the town limits before I had to turn and run away" She leaned down and kissed the top of his head.
"I'm sorry you had to go through that, dear one"
"I spent the next two years travelling round the world, learning to control the thirst I felt inside me. I knew that if I came back while it still controlled me, I would be a danger to everyone I loved" He realised she was staring at him in confusion "What, dearheart?"
"You still love?"
"Just because my heart doesn't beat, it doesn't mean that I can't care for those I left behind" He reached up and stroked her cheek, noting that this time she didn't flinch "I came back next on the night of The Armistice. The entire world was celebrating, and I wanted to be with my family"
"The night was almost worth the price we paid for it" Rilla smiled at the memories of the year before.
"I remember. The sight of the bonfires burning along the coast is one I won't forget" He smiled fondly "It was also on that night I realised I wasn't a part of your world any more"
"What do you mean?"
"I knew that you missed me, and that you would always mourn my death, but that you were happy. You had learned to accept it, and I didn't want to come back and upset you all over again" Rilla's eyes filled with tears.
"I came back a few more times, and when I learned that you were to marry Kenneth Ford, I knew I had to be there" He paused, then smiled sheepishly "I think it was the excitement I felt that my dear little sister was getting married that lead to this" He gestures to where they are.
"What do you mean?"
"I didn't mean for you to see me the first time. I had intended just to watch you, then watch your wedding, then disappear and not come back" He sighed "But you saw me, and I knew - just knew - I would have to come and speak to you"
"You weren't going to...." She paused, then shook her head "Never mind" She looked him in the eye "You're a vampire"
"And you drink blood?"
"No" Walter shook his head "I hunt animals. Mountain lions, deer, grizzly bears - whatever is handy. I haven't had any human blood since Carlisle first fed me when I woke up" Rilla looked him up and down, considering this, then pulled him up to sit next to her.
"What are you going to do now?"
"After your wedding, I'm going to leave again"
"And you're not coming back" Rilla nodded.
"I don't belong here any more" He said intently "I can't come back" Rilla frowned, then suddenly brightened.
"Take me with you"
"What?" Walter jumped to his feet and backed away across the room "No!"
"I thought I'd lost you once Walter" She continued "If I have to loose you again - if I have to watch you walk away a second time - it will kill me"
"You don't know what you're asking" He started pacing back and forth "My life.... my life isn't something you would want to be a part of"
"I don't work, I don't sleep - I don't live like a mortal. If you come with me, you would need money. You would need food, a job, clothing - I can't provide you with any of those" He paused "And even now, as we're talking, I can hear the blood rushing through your veins, and I'm finding it harder and harder to resist...." He shook his head and smiled "Besides - aren't you supposed to marry Ken in twelve hours?"
"Do you think I could be happy knowing you are out there?" She reached out towards him, but he batted it away "Please...."
"We don't belong in each other's life any more, Rilla. I can't live in this world, and you can't live in mine" They both fell silent for a few minutes, then Rilla stood up and walked over to stand next to him.
"What if I could?"
"What if you could what?"
"What if I could live in your world?" She tilted her head to one side "You said yourself you are finding it hard to resist the urge to drink from me" She slowly reached up and pulled the shoulder of her dress down "So don't" Walter stared at her in horror, and started backing away.
"You don't know what you're asking, Bertha"
"It worked out well for you, brother dear" She walked slowly towards him "Make me a vampire, and we can always be together" He continued to stare at her, then took a hesitant step forward.
"This is forever, Rilla. Once it's done, you can't change your mind"
"I know" He took another step forward.
"I can't do it here. We'll have to leave The Glen, tonight, and we won't be back for at least a couple of years"
"You won't be able to marry Kenneth" Rilla tilted her head to one side, then nodded.
"I know" Walter stared at her, then reached out and took her hand.
"Then, Rilla-my-Rilla, I will go back to Ingleside, get some of your stuff, and we'll leave tonight for pastures new"
Setting Sun Farm, July, 1922
"Do you regret it, dearest?" At Walter's question, Rilla turned from gazing out of the window.
"If I hadn't been so weak - if I hadn't given in when you asked - you'd be married to Ken now. One or two children, maybe more, given mother's affinity with twins - and almost certainly blissfully happy" Rilla smiled wryly at him.
"You don't think I am blissfully happy now?" She asked "What do you think I lack?"
"A mate, dearheart" He said simply "Someone who will love you as you should be loved - the way you deserve to be loved"
"And let me guess" She sighed "You don't think you deserve the same?"
"I brought you in to this life..."
"A life which I will live forever" She interrupted him "I can watch as the Golden Harvest you predicted appears - I can see the future unfold" She blurred over to the piano Walter had picked up three years before, and threw it up in the air, catching it a moment later "A world where I will never grow up, never get sick... never die" She blurred back to his side "I swear, Walter Cuthbert Blythe, if you bring this up one more time, I will get annoyed" Walter laughed, holding his hands up in surrender.
"Very well - perhaps I would like someone as well" He paused "You don't regret not being able to have children?"
"Another squalling little brat?" She laughed "No thank you! One was quite enough for me!" Walter laughed as well, then they both dropped on to the sofa.
"Mother will expect us to stay" Rilla continued.
"I have been giving some thought to that" Walter said, then fell silent. When he didn't continue, Rilla smirked.
"Are you planning to share the outcome of that thought? Or would you like me to guess?" She paused, then grinned evilly "Or shall I use other methods to get it out of you?" Walter held his hands up in mock horror.
"No - not the other methods!" He laughed "We could both get jobs in the area, and fix this place up. Make it look like a home, rather than somewhere we are just staying"
"To what end?"
"Mother and father will not let us go again - not now they know I am alive. And with the friends that they, and our various siblings, siblings in law, honorary siblings, aunts, uncles and friends have made throughout the Island, we would have to leave PEI for good if we want to get away" He paused "And with Di in England, even that might not be far enough"
"Let me guess, you've missed the auld sod?"
"There's no place like home" He paused "If we tell them we are moving back, but not back home, maybe that will satisfy them"
"Perhaps" She nodded slowly "But what about the sun? And our hunting trips?
"We can hunt at night, or just vanish for the day" Walter replied "And if we keep a large enough supply of our... protection, we should be able to deal with most of the weather" He shrugged "On the more... glorious days, we can say we have commitments we can't get out of, and stay inside" Rilla tilted her head to one side, thinking it over.
"What about our other problem?" Walter raised his eyebrows curiously "The lack of a lover?"
"If we're going to be here for a while, we could - perhaps - find ourselves one from The Glen?" He smirked "Thinking of setting your cap for young Kenneth again?"
"After he's been with IRENE?" She replied in a scandalized voice "Do you think I have no taste?" He stared at her for a moment, then both burst in to laughter.
The next morning, Anne walked out into the garden of Ingleside, then let out a small yelp of surprise.
"Walter! Rilla!" She walked up the path, and pulled the gate open as her two wayward children walked up the path towards her "You came back"
"Yes, mother" Walter nodded.
"Just as we promised" Rilla added "We came to tell you our decision"
"Is everyone here?" Walter asked.
"Susan, Jem and your father are in the front room" She paused "We thought that, after last night, a smaller group might be better" Anne sighed "And..."
"And some of our kith and kin are still angry and don't want to see us?" Walter asked, and Anne nodded sadly "Well - lay on MacDuff"
Five minutes later, Walter and Rilla stood in the same position they had the day before, though this time facing a smaller group.
"As we told mother, we've decided to stay" Rilla said with a slight smile. Gilbert and Susan smiled, but Jem glared at them. Rilla narrowed her eyes, but continued "We have some... conditions"
"Conditions?" Gilbert raised his eyebrows curiously.
"As I said last night, we have our own place. We're going to live there, and while we're happy to have visitors, we'd rather you don't stop by unannounced"
"Something to hide?" Anne asked.
"No, mother" Rilla shook her head "We're not hiding anything untoward"
"We've been away for three years" Rilla said calmly "We want to come back to our lives in our own time, not anyone else's" Anne frowned at her daughter, but Gilbert nodded.
"We're not going to hide out - we'll be around, but we don't want to be pressured...." Walter said, but was interrupted by his father.
"We understand" Gilbert glanced at Anne, who nodded reluctantly, then at Jem, who was still glaring at Walter "We will give you your privacy"
"Thank you" Rilla smiled "We're also going to find jobs - pay our own way" Anne opened her mouth, but Walter held his hand up.
"We've been doing this for three years, mother - we have learned a lot of trades, and I'm sure we can find something in The Glen" He paused, then smiled "After all - I am a returning War Hero, and Rilla, from what I'm told, is the darling of society" He smiled at his sister, causing her to roll her eyes.
"I can speak to Miller Douglas, if you want..." Gilbert started, but Walter shook his head. Gilbert frowned, then continued "You seem to be very independent" He looked over at Anne, then turned to the other two "Susan, Jem - could you give us a moment?" The two of them looked surprised, but both stood up and walked out of the room. Gilbert walked over and pushed the door to, then turned back to face his children. He stared at each of them in turn, then looked at his wife.
"Father - you have something to ask?" Walter asked, causing Gilbert to turn back.
"You two seem very.... close" He said hesitantly.
"Far more than before Walter went away" Anne continued "Last night.... last night, when one of you got angry, the other was able to calm them down with just a touch, or a look" She paused "You were very...."
"Tactile" Walter and Rilla exchanged amused looks, then both turned back to their parents.
"We have spent the last three years together, mother" Rilla said, still smiling "Spending every minute of every day with each other"
"We are not sleeping together, mother, nor are we married" Anne blushed "We've become very close, but we are still just brother and sister" Anne nodded, still blushing, causing Walter and Rilla to exchange another amused look.
"Now - if you don't have any more insulting and embarrassing questions, Walter and I should be going"
"You won't stay to tea?" Anne asked hopefully.
"Would it be just you and father?" Walter glanced towards the door "I am not sure that Jem is up to having a.... civil meal with us"
"If that's what you want, yes" Anne nodded. The two vampires exchanged a third look, then they both nodded.
"Yes, we'll stay" Rilla grinned.
"Welcome home, my children" Anne said, smiling widely.
"Thank you, mother" Walter returned the smile, then looked around the front room "And I have to admit, it is nice to be back"