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sleep with me (platonically, of course)

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Anne squeezed her eyes shut for a second, used to their burning. Miss Stacy’s equations wavered before her as she stifled a yawn. Anne was used to the effects of sleep deprivation- she hadn’t slept more than a handful of hours in the last few months. That wasn’t just one of her fantastical exaggerations, either. In the last 97 days, Anne had only snagged up to ten minutes of sleep at a time a couple of times a week. At first, she had attributed it to the stress of upcoming entrance exams, but after a few weeks of not sleeping through the night, Anne brought it up to Marilla. Even with the teas Marilla supplied her, Anne stared up at her ceiling the whole night through.

 

Eventually they took Anne to a doctor who remained flummoxed. After listening to Anne and Marilla describe her symptoms, he said she honestly shouldn’t be able to function at all. They kept her in Charlottetown overnight to watch her night routine of getting in bed and staring straight up at the ceiling. At home, Anne normally read or wrote or studied, but none such luxuries were afforded to her at the doctor’s office. They even gave her sleep-inducing drugs after a couple of hours, but she still remained firmly awake. With no explanation, they released Anne the next day. The doctor said scientists still aren’t exactly sure why bodies need sleep but eventually they will break down and force you to sleep. He told her to just wait patiently for her body to literally shut down. A cheery prescription.

 

Anne had kept her ailment a secret from everyone except Diana. She didn’t even understand it herself, so she couldn’t fathom trying to explain it to others. She also didn’t want people to look at her differently or afford her excuses or let her take the lead in class out of pity.

 

Normally Anne was unmoved by the symptoms surrounding her mysterious extreme insomnia, but the irritability was especially affecting her today. Every time she yawned, Anne could feel Diana’s eyes on her and it was grating on her nerves. Anne knew she meant well and was just concerned for her health, but everything was getting on her nerves today. Even when Miss Stacy called for a spelling bee, Anne found herself groaning.

 

She sluggishly walked up to the front of the room, lining up beside her classmates. She stayed away from the windows, the bright sunlight streaming through making her head pound. The only thing that gave her solace in being so miserable is that Gilbert Blythe looked just as tired as her. He hadn’t been answering questions with his usual fervor and was pinching the bridge of his nose as he walked to the front of the room. It wasn’t that Anne was happy Gilbert was miserable, she was just glad she wasn’t the only one. She wondered what had kept him up, probably Mary’s new baby.

 

Sleep deprived as she was though, spelling was still Anne’s strong suit. Her classmates dropped out one by one until, as usual, Anne and Gilbert were the final two. Her head pounding, Anne was frustrated at how well Gilbert was doing. All she wanted to do was go sit down at her desk. She didn’t want it badly enough to misspell a word, though, of course.

 

“I-N-N-O-C-U-O-U-S. Innocuous.” Anne’s voice rang out through the classroom.

 

Miss Stacy’s spelling bees were different from Mr. Phillips. Whereas he prompted the students on what words to spell, Miss Stacy allowed the students to pick their own words. She used it as an exhibition, a time for everyone to prove what they knew. The trick was picking words that were difficult, but you were still confident you could spell. If you chose a word she thought too easy, she would disqualify you. She created that rule after Billy Andrews spelled ‘cat’ for the second time in a row.

 

“Correct!” Miss Stacy called, earning a whoop from the girl’s side of the room.

 

Anne looked over at Gilbert with a smug look on her face. It didn’t matter how tired she was, their educational rivalry always took over.

 

“C-A-R-D-I-O-V-A-S-C-U-L-A-R. Cardiovascular.” Gilbert replied, smirking at the end.

 

Anne rolled her eyes, crossing her arms across her chest. Why couldn’t he just lose so she could go sit back down? It was hardly fair for him to use medical terms seeing as that was his area of expertise.

 

“Correct!” The boys thumped their fists on the tables, eliciting more eyerolls.

 

“U-N-S-P-O-R-T-S-M-A-N-L-I-K-E. Unsportsmanlike.” Anne replied, looking into Gilbert’s eyes as she pronounced each letter.

 

Gilbert’s smirk only grew wider as Miss Stacy affirmed Anne’s spelling.

 

Eyes not leaving hers, Gilbert said, “M-E-L-O-D-R-A-M-A-T-I-C. Melodramatic.”

 

Anne’s eyebrow quirked up as Miss Stacy confirmed the spelling and Diana shifted nervously in her seat.

 

Turning her body to face him fully, Anne spelled, “V-E-X-A-T-I-O-U-S. Vexatious.”

 

Without waiting to hear Miss Stacy’s judgment, Gilbert turned to face Anne and spelled, “E-X-A-S-P-E-R-A-T-I-N-G. Exasperating.”

 

“O-B-N-O-X-I-O-U-S. Obnoxious!” Anne practically shouted.

 

“I-M-M-A-T-U-R-E. Immature!” Gilbert’s brows were knit together, his eyes blazing. They were standing closer together now, having originally started across the room from each other.

 

Anne’s fists were clenched at her sides, anger rolling off of her in waves. “S-T-U-P-I-D! STUPID!”

 

“ENOUGH!” Miss Stacy’s voice snapped Gilbert and Anne out of their tension, both taking a step back and staring down at their shoes.

 

The silence in the classroom was deafening as all of their classmates stared at the pair of them. Anne and Gilbert had engaged in many arguments in class before, but the arguments hadn’t been this mean-spirited since the slate incident.

 

“What has gotten into you two?!” Miss Stacy demanded. The blush grew higher on both Anne and Gilbert’s faces. “You are both acting absolutely ridiculous! Do you have anything to say for yourselves?”

 

“I’m sorry, Miss Stacy,” Anne mumbled to her shoes.

 

“Sorry, ma’am,” Gilbert muttered, never looking up.

 

“You will both stay here after class in detention. Return to your desks.”

 

Feeling well and truly embarrassed, Anne shuffled back to her desk, avoiding looking at Gilbert. Diana squeezed her friend’s leg and offered a weak smile, but Anne spent the remaining hour of class staring down at her book. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Gilbert doing the same thing.

 

Anne decided the lack of rest had finally cracked her. She had stood in the front of the room and called Gilbert Blythe stupid to his face in front of everyone. Sure, their relationship was rocky at times, but their competitive natures were always good at heart. Their friendship had been on the rise lately and she found his company enjoyable. Now she had gone and ruined it by insulting him. She started to feel bad, but then she remembered he had called her exasperating and immature. Focusing on that, she let her anger take over her guilt. Immature! He was the one who wouldn’t concede the spelling bee when he knew she was a more gifted speller than he.

 

And exasperating! Anne almost scoffed aloud. Gilbert Blythe was the most exasperating person she had ever met in her entire life!

 

Eventually the school day ended with the rest of the class scurrying out of the room, the tension still palpable between the two remaining students and Miss Stacy. When Diana had at last left the classroom with one last supportive smile thrown Anne’s way, Miss Stacy addressed the two of them.

 

“I am so disappointed in you two.” Miss Stacy said, leaning against her desk.

 

Tears pricked in Anne’s eyes as she stared at the desk in front of her. She felt there was no greater sorrow than disappointing someone you truly admire. She would’ve preferred Miss Stacy yelling than the sound of true resignation in her voice. Anne glanced over at Gilbert, who looked just as sorrowful as she did.

 

“I allow the competition between the two of you to run because it pushes both of you to do your best academic work. But today’s display was absolutely ridiculous. To hurl insults at each other in front of everyone! Like children! It’s not what I expected out of you. I thought you two cared for each other much more than that.”

 

Anne glanced over at Gilbert at the same time he glanced over at her, the slight panic in her eyes reflected in his. They both whipped their heads back forward.

 

Looking at the both of them, Miss Stacy only sighed. “I will not force you to apologize to each other in front of me, I’m sure you can do that on your own later. I want you to both sit here and work on your revisions.”

 

Anne sniffed and wiped the tear out of the corner of her eye as she reached to get out her pencil and paper. Miss Stacy eventually left to prepare the science experiment for tomorrow’s lessons, leaving Anne and Gilbert to work in silence.

 

After a few minutes, Anne’s eyelids started to feel extremely heavy. The words in front of her wouldn’t focus properly and she felt her head snap up a couple of times, weighed down with exhaustion. Certain that a little bit of rest wouldn’t hurt, Anne put her head down on the crook of her elbow and fell into a deep sleep.

 

 

 

Anne awoke to Miss Stacy gently shaking her shoulder.

 

“Anne. Anne, wake up.”

 

She opened her eyes groggily, confused as to where she was.

 

Miss Stacy smiled softly at her as Anne blinked awake. “I let you sleep, since Marilla told me you haven’t been able to get any lately.”

 

Anne suddenly realized what was happening. She was waking up. Which meant she was asleep. She had fallen asleep. This realization shook her so hard her entire body jolted awake.

 

“I was asleep...” Anne looked over at Gilbert, who was also passed out on his desk, his breath rustling the papers beneath him.

 

“I didn’t think it would be fair to wake him and not you.” Miss Stacy said, standing up. “Plus, it seems he needed some sleep as well.”

 

Anne put her papers back in her books as Miss Stacy roused Gilbert. While Anne’s mind had been blissfully in the throes of slumber mere minutes ago, now it was reeling. She had been asleep. For over an hour, based on the clock at the front of the classroom. Even with just that little bit of rest she felt exponentially better than she had earlier that day. What had she done that she was able to sleep? Maybe her body had finally relented whatever stubbornness it had left.

 

After she tied up her school supplies with her belt, she stood to leave the classroom. Gilbert was gathering his things and weirdly looked just as confused as she felt. Their eyes met as they glanced at each other before turning their attention back to their things. Gilbert’s brows were drawn together the same way they were when he was pouring over an equation and Anne found herself wondering what had him so confused. Maybe he had been so deep in sleep he had forgotten why he was in the schoolhouse so long after dismissal.

 

“I want the two of you to reflect on your behavior today while you’re at home. Tomorrow I’ll be assigning partners to collaborate on a lab report and I intend to pair you two together. I think working together instead of as adversaries would be good for you both.” Miss Stacy eyed them pointedly.

 

Nodding emphatically, both Anne and Gilbert muttered their goodbyes and exited the schoolhouse, lost in thought as they started off their separate ways.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to go talk to Gilbert and see when he wants to work on this assignment,” Anne sighed, picking up her things.

 

Miss Stacy had just dismissed them for lunch after explaining the lab report and pairing everyone up. As she had said the day before, Anne and Gilbert were partners. Anne wasn’t particularly looking forward to speaking with Gilbert after yesterday. She felt bad for her outburst and she was truly sorry, but she always hated the awkward wait out on who was going to apologize first that always happened between her and Gilbert. Anne had been up all night thinking about it. Well, she had been up all night anyway, and naturally her mind had ended up there. Since her insomnia insisted on keeping her brain active, she was forced to relive the argument until the sun came up.

 

“Good luck with that,” Diana replied, offering Anne an encouraging smile.

 

“Yesterday was so entertaining!” Ruby said, giggling.

 

Anne groaned before heading outside to where Gilbert sat, enjoying his lunch. He was at the back of the schoolhouse, sitting against the wall. Watching the younger boys take turns hitting each other with a stick, he ate his lunch slowly.

 

“May I join you?” Anne asked as she approached him.

 

Gilbert’s head turning towards her at the sound of her voice, he gestured at the ground across from him, “Of course, of course!”

 

Anne sat and took out her sandwich. They sat in awkward silence for a minute.

 

Unable to bear it any longer, Anne burst out, “Gilbert, I’m sorry!”

 

At the same time, Gilbert said “I’m sorry, Anne.”

 

Anne’s eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. “Why are you sorry?”

 

“For yelling at you yesterday, I was rude.” Gilbert said.

 

“But I yelled at you first. So, I should apologize.” Anne replied.

 

“But I still yelled at you and called you immature and it was stupid so I should apologize.”

 

“But I started it!” Anne exclaimed.

 

Gilbert smirked at her as her voice rose. “Are we really arguing over who should apologize again?”

 

Anne snorted, picking at her sandwich. “And just like last time, I’m right.”

 

“Fine, fine.” Gilbert surrendered, laying his head back on the wall behind him, closing his eyes to the sun.

 

Anne looked at his face for a moment. He looked tired, maybe he had been up all night thinking about their argument, too. The thought comforted her. Not because he didn’t sleep, she knew how that felt and she wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but because he cared. She imagined Billy Andrews never lost a wink of sleep over the things he’s said to her.

 

Anne scooted up to sit beside Gilbert, resting her own head against the schoolhouse wall. “So, this lab report…”

 

As they talked, the sun warmed every bone in Anne’s body, dulling her senses. The sound of the creek streaming through the schoolyard mixed with the deep timbre of Gilbert’s voice started making Anne’s eyelids feel like lead. The lab report completely forgotten, all Anne could think about was how tired she was…

 

Anne jumped as the sound of the schoolhouse bell signaling the end of lunch broke through her slumber. She had fallen asleep again… She looked over at Gilbert, who had also been jolted out of sleep. He rubbed his eyes, his brows drawn together, confused.

 

“I fell asleep…” He said, still coming back to consciousness.

 

“We both did…” Anne said, still dazed.

 

Gilbert stared at Anne for a bit, confusion still written all over his face.

 

“We better get inside,” Anne said, standing up.

 

“Yeah…” Gilbert stood, too, both of them gathering their things and walking inside lost in thought.

 

Anne had trouble focusing on lessons for the rest of the day. This was the second time she had slept for longer than 15 minutes in two days. She hadn’t slept more than fifteen minutes in the last month. Even the thirty minutes she got during lunch made her feel ready to run a marathon. Well, not a long marathon, but still she felt great. Was her insomnia gone? No, that couldn’t be or else she would’ve been able to sleep last night. Maybe she could’ve but her anxiety over her argument with Gilbert had kept her up. She looked over at Gilbert whose brows were still knit together.

 

“Anne, do you know the answer?” Anne quickly looked back down at her slate as Miss Stacy called on her.

 

“Uh… 97?” Anne hoped. Geometry was already her weakest subject, and she really hadn’t been paying attention.

 

“Afraid not.” Miss Stacy said before pointing down at Anne’s slate. “Try reworking it.”

 

Grateful for Miss Stacy not pointing out that Anne was staring at Gilbert instead of doing her math, Anne bent back over her slate to start the problem over again. She had to push the sleep out of her mind- she had more important things to focus on. She could worry about why she was able to fall asleep later. As she scratched out the measurements of the angles, though, Anne could feel Gilbert’s eyes on her.

 

-

 

“Diana, I need to talk to you.” Anne pulled her friend out of the schoolhouse, Diana barely having time to grab her bag.

 

“Geez, Anne what is it?” Diana looked at Anne, worry in her eyes, when they stopped under the tree outside school.

 

Anne started wringing her hands, her mind still buzzing. She looked up at Diana, “I fell asleep today.”

 

“Oh?” Diana’s face drew up in confusion at first before understanding dawned on her. “Oh! Anne, that’s wonderful! So your insomnia is cured, then?”

 

“See that’s the thing, it isn’t.” Anne pinched the bridge of her nose as Diana looked at her questioningly. “I fell asleep for almost two hours yesterday when I had detention with… Miss Stacy. And then again today at lunch. But I still couldn’t sleep last night.”

 

Anne looked away, crossing her arms across her chest.

 

“But that’s good, why do you seem so upset?” Diana asked.

 

“Because I don’t know why I fell asleep those two times. I don’t know what I did. I’ve been racking my brain all day trying to figure out what I did that was so special that I could fall asleep. But I don’t know. Nothing was out of the ordinary...”

 

“And you want to know why so that you can keep doing it when you’re meant to sleep.” Diana supplied.

 

“Exactly.”

 

The girls sat in silence for a second as they pondered the situation.

 

Slowly, Diana turned to face Anne. “Wait a second… You ate lunch with Gilbert today, right?”

 

Anne turned sharply toward her friend, not liking the tone that crept into Diana’s voice whenever she talked about Gilbert with Anne. “Yes, why?”

 

“And he was in detention with you yesterday?” Diana said, a small smirk growing on her face.

 

Anne only narrowed her eyes in response.

 

Diana rolled hers. “What if heis the reason you can sleep?”

 

“What?!” Anne choked.

 

“What if you can only sleep when Gilbert is around!” Diana exclaimed.

 

“That is preposterous, it doesn’t even make any sense. Why would that work?”

 

Diana gestured around them, “I don’t know, why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west? Some things just are.”

 

“The sun rises in the east because of the way the Earth spins.” Anne said, picking at the sleeve on her dress.

 

“For someone so romantical, you sure know how to take the romance out of things, Anne Shirley-Cuthbert.”

 

Anne’s head snapped up, indignant. “There is noromance between me and Gilbert.”

 

The smile on Diana’s face only grew wider. “No, of course not. But he may be the reason you can sleep.”

 

The idea of Gilbert’s company being the only thing able to make Anne sleep made her want to groan. During literature lessons, Miss Stacy had discussed types of irony and Anne was sure this was a perfect example of cosmic irony.

 

 “It could be the schoolhouse! Both of the times I fell asleep were in or around the schoolhouse” Anne said, though not believing it.

 

“I don’t think so. Because then you would just sleep during class all the time.”

 

Anne knew she was right, of course. “Okay but why now? Why has it just started now? I’m with Gilbert all the time in class. And we study together”

 

Diana shrugged. “Maybe it only works when it’s just the two of you.”

 

That time Anne actually groaned out loud.

 

“I’m sure there isn’t an exact science to this, Anne.”

 

“If there was, I’d be much better at understanding it,” Anne grumbled.

 

“You’ll just have to test it and see if it is him.” Diana said.

 

“And how am I supposed to do that, Diana? ‘Oh, Gilbert, I’m going to bed. Would you care to join me?’” Anne’s cheeks flushed even through the sarcasm.

 

Diana threw her head back in laughter.

 

“You could stand to be a little more sympathetic to my situation, Diana!”

 

Diana tried to calm her laughter but was pretty much unsuccessful. “I’m sorry, Anne, it’s just quite a funny situation.”

 

Anne pinched the bridge of her nose. “Seriously, how am I supposed to test this?”

 

“Oh, I know!” Diana said. “Invite him over to Green Gables to work on the lab report and see what happens. Then, if you fall asleep when you’re at home, you’ll know it’s him because any other time you’re home you can’t sleep.”

 

“I suppose you’re right.” Anne sighed, resigning to her fate. “I’ll invite him over tomorrow afternoon.”

 

The girls turned and started their journey out of the schoolyard. If Anne was being honest with herself, she did enjoy spending time with Gilbert. He was vexing at times, but she found a certain solace with him. Her thoughts required far less explaining with him. They had been spending a lot of time together lately, studying for exams. She often came over to his house, helping Mary with the baby while Gilbert quizzed her on their textbooks. Now that she thought about it, though, she hadn’t spent any time with Gilbert without someone else in the immediate vicinity since her insomnia started…

 

Even if Gilbert was the answer to her problem, what did she do with that information? She couldn’t very well ask him to sleep over at Green Gables. If Diana was right and the only way it would work is if it’s just the two of them together, that would require him sleeping in her room and Marilla would absolutely explode at the impropriety of it all.

 

A blush forming in her cheeks at the idea of her and Gilbert alone in her room, Anne made herself think about other things, like the trees surrounded the path. She looked to the woods, hoping for some kind of answer from them. When Anne had first been unable to sleep, she had tried to camp out in the woods, hoping nature and its comforting stillness would lull her to sleep. It didn’t work though, she had just ended up with several bug bites and an angry Marilla the next morning.

 

“I hope it works and you do sleep,” Diana said, “because you’ve been awfully cranky lately.”

 

“Hey!” Anne said, swatting Diana’s arm.

 

One thing was for sure, Anne was tired. If Gilbert Blythe was her only chance at rest then so be it. She would do what she could.

Chapter Text

Her stomach twisting, Anne approached the schoolhouse in a death march. Objectively, she didn’t understand why she was so nervous to ask Gilbert over. She had had him over for reports before. He had had dinner at her house before. They were friends. Friends working on a lab report together.

 

But something about asking him to come over so she could run a secret experiment on him was making her stomach knot up. What if she didn’t fall asleep? How would she even go about falling asleep? She couldn’t very well lie down in bed under the covers while they worked on the lab report, fall asleep, and expect Gilbert to just sit there. There were a million different ways it could all go.

 

Rather than focus on what could go wrong or how to make things go right, Anne decided to think about the lab report and the lab report only. As Marilla had told her (several times), there’s no sense worrying over what you can’t control. What would happen, would happen. If she fell asleep, then great. She would worry about the rest later. If she didn’t, oh well. They would finish the lab report.

 

Caught up in her thoughts, Anne didn’t notice she was already walking up the schoolhouse steps. She also didn’t notice the lean figured leaned against the wall beside the door until he spoke her name.

 

“Anne!” Gilbert said, pushing himself off the wall.

 

“Gilbert!” Anne’s hand fluttered to her chest. “I didn’t see you there.”

 

The corner of Gilbert’s mouth quirked up, “I’m not exactly hidden, Carrots.”

 

“No, I just… Was lost inside my head.” Anne smiled weakly at him. Sometimes she found Gilbert hard to look at, like right now, as he smiled down at her, his eyes beaming, curls framing his face. It was like staring into the sun.

 

“So, this lab report.” Gilbert said after a beat.

 

“Oh! Yes, do you want to come over to Green Gables after school? We can finish working on it!” Anne asked, squeezing the books in her hands.

 

“Yeah, actually I was going to see if you wanted to come over and do it at my house but Green Gables is fine!” Gilbert smiled, opening the door for her.

 

“Okay great!” Anne said, the knot in her stomach loosening.

 

“Great!” Gilbert followed her into the schoolhouse, smiling that too bright smile.

 

Anne hung her coat and went to her desk, unsure why she ever felt nervous about asking Gilbert anything.

 

 

 

The rest of the school day continued uneventfully, much to Anne’s ever-growing dismay. She was ready to get home and test Diana’s theory. She wanted to sleep so badly. Now that she had started sleeping again, even just those two times, the craving she had for it when her affliction first began was back tenfold. Finally, Miss Stacy dismissed them and Anne practically ran to grab her coat. The only person to beat her to the coatroom was Gilbert.

 

Mirroring his actions that morning, he opened the door for her on their way out, grinning at her as she passed. As they walked through the path in the woods, Anne began to doubt Gilbert could be the key to her sleeping. Her heart was beating too fast as he laughed at something she said. There was no lethargy in her steps as they passed the trees surrounding them. Her eyelids weren’t drooping as she listened to him talk about Bash & Mary’s baby.

 

Times like this, Anne was so grateful for Gilbert’s friendship. It had been in these woods where it first began. He was kind, defensive, welcoming. He had always tried to be there for her, even when everyone else in class thought she was a freak. As their steps crunched the leaves beneath them and the birds chirped around them, Anne was so glad she had a friend like him.

 

Eventually, Green Gables came into sight and Anne and Gilbert went inside to work on their reports. At first, Anne worried Gilbert would want to work outside since the weather was so nice, but he didn’t say anything as she steered him into the living room. She decided sitting on the couch was the best idea. If she fell asleep, they both would be comfortable. If she didn’t they would work on their lab report comfortably.

 

“Marilla, Gilbert is here!” Anne shouted as she heard noises from the cupboard.

 

Soon, the only woman Anne had known as a mother appeared in the entryway of the room. “Gilbert! So glad to see you!”

 

Gilbert smiled warmly at Marilla, already sitting in the chair across the couch from Anne. “Nice to see you, Miss Cuthbert! How’s Matthew?”

 

“Oh, he’s well. Tending after the chickens, right now,” Marilla finished wiping her hands on the apron hanging on the front of her dress. “Are you here to work on something for school?”

 

“Yes ma’am, we have a lab report to work on. Last time we worked on it, Anne and I both fell asleep.” Gilbert laughed as he took out his books.

 

Marilla looked over at Anne in alarm, who just shrugged. Anne hadn’t said anything to Marilla about the two naps she had taken because she didn’t want to get Marilla’s hopes up. Anne knew Marilla fretted over her and her condition, she didn’t want Marilla to think she was cured if she wasn’t, truly.

 

“Well, I’ll let you get to it, then.” Marilla smiled at the two of them before leaving back towards the kitchen.

 

Anne looked over at Gilbert, who was writing something down on the paper in front of him. She prayed to God that this worked. She knew they needed to actually get their lab report done, but she wanted to sleep so badly. She just hoped Gilbert wouldn’t get angry at her for falling asleep on him again.

 

They started reviewing what they knew but it wasn’t a minute before Anne felt sleep pulling her down. She laid down on the couch completely, propping her notebook on her knees. Gilbert didn’t seem to mind, she even saw him yawn himself. Before they even got a single sentence down on paper, Anne closed her eyes and fell into a deep, deep slumber, a smile on her face.

 

 

 

Anne lay her head down on her elbows propped against her windowsill. Up in her tower, she could see the ever-empty roads surrounding her prison. The stone room she was left in held a perpetual draft and even though it was pleasant during summer, the fall months were creeping in and the chill had begun. Sighing, Anne started her daily routine of counting every road leading to her tower, every empty road. When she got to the road she called The Great White Way, though, something caught her eye. Instead of leaves scattering across the gravel, a knight rode towards her. He sat tall on his destier, his black curls visible from even this distance. She gasped as she looked out at-

 

“Anne,” a whisper sounded, shaking Anne from her dream.

 

Anne blinked, sleep fogging her eyes. Marilla’s face swam before her.

 

“Anne, I let you sleep as long as you could. You missed dinner, but it’s late and I think it’s time Gilbert went home.”

 

Anne propped herself up on her elbows as Marilla stepped back. Gilbert was peacefully asleep on the chair across the room. Anne had thought he’d surely leave if she fell asleep on him again, not sleep the day away himself. The windows were dark, the moon bright against the sky.

 

“What time is it?” Anne said, her voice crackling.

 

“Nearly 10. You’ve been asleep for hours,” Marilla whispered, glancing between Anne and Gilbert, offering Anne a soft smile. “I let you sleep as long as I could.”

 

“Thank you, Marilla, I’ll wake him,” Anne swung her legs off the couch, padding over to where Gilbert slept.

 

His notebook lay forgotten on his lap, his pen on ground, as if he had fallen asleep with it in his hand and dropped it.

 

Anne put a hand on his shoulder, shaking him lightly. “Gilbert,” she whispered.

 

He blinked awake, mild panic in his eyes at first from waking up in a strange place, but his eyes found Anne and a smile spread across his face. “Anne,” he whispered back.

 

Anne took a step back, wanting to put distance between herself and Gilbert smiling at her like that. “We fell asleep again,” she said.

 

He rubbed his eyes, standing up from the chair. “Fell asleep…” he whispered to himself. “You fell asleep, too?”

 

“I think I fell asleep first,” Anne replied, confused at his question.

 

“Hm…” Gilbert said, looking around the room.

 

“You should probably get going, I don’t want Bash and Mary to worry,” Anne said.

 

“Right! Right…” Gilbert picked up his things and slung his bag around his shoulder. “Good night, Anne,” he smiled, pausing in front of her on his way out the door.

 

“Good night, Gilbert. See you tomorrow.”

 

Gilbert nodded and left, smiling one more time at Anne before the door swung shut behind him.

 

-

 

“So it worked, Gilbert is the key,” Diana whispered to Anne as the girls bent over their geometry work the next morning.

 

“Yes, it seems so,” Anne grumbled. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with the situation. Sure, now she could sleep, but how did it help if she could only sleep when she was with Gilbert?

 

“What are you going to do now?” Diana asked, perfectly mirroring Anne’s own thoughts.

 

Anne sighed, frustrated at both the math in front of her and the entire situation. “I don’t know. I know the answer, but it still isn’t the solution.”

 

“How poetic,” Diana smirked at her friend. “Maybe if you just explain the situation to him, he’ll be understanding and you guys can work something out.”

 

“He’s studying to be a doctor, he is just going to try and find some medicinal fix for me like the last 3 doctors did. He won’t believe it. He’ll think I’m being weird,” Anne lamented, glancing over at Gilbert. He was finished with the math problems, so he spent the time waiting reading through his latest medicine book.

 

“Gilbert does not think you’re weird and you know it, Anne.” Anne could practically hear the eye roll.

 

“This is so torturous!” Anne said, letting her head fall on her hands.

 

 

 

 

“Anne, can I talk to you?” Gilbert glanced around at Anne’s friends. “Alone.”

 

Anne looked back at Diana, who nodded at her to go. Ruby, Tillie, and Josie Pye only stared. Anne nodded and followed Gilbert out of the classroom, her stomach in knots. She hated when people asked if they could “talk to her”. Nothing gave her anxiety more than that question. Her mind raced over everything he could be angry about. They hadn’t argued since the spelling bee, but she still went over every interaction they’d had, just in case he was upset with her.

 

Finally, the two of them were outside and far enough away from eavesdroppers. Anne could see her friends peeking through the window at them. Anne and Gilbert talking alone was not out of the ordinary, but Gilbert asking her to talk in such a serious manner certainly was. Anne tried to ignore them as she turned towards Gilbert.

 

“So, what do you need to talk to me about, Gilbert?” Anne asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

 

Gilbert wrung his hands. “This is going to sound weird…”

 

His nerves were doing nothing to soothe Anne’s. “Okay…” She glanced back her friends, their faces pressing closer to the window.

 

“Just… okay.” Gilbert took a breath, preparing himself.

 

Anne looked up at him, arms crossed.

 

“Okay. I haven’t slept in 84 days.” Gilbert looked her in the eyes, waiting for her response.

 

Anne’s mouth fell open, shocked.

 

Gilbert’s nervous behavior started again, hands flicking between the back of his neck and his pockets. “I know how it sounds, trust me. I’ve read everything I can about sleep but it’s a pretty under researched subject and I haven’t found anything about people not sleeping for almost 3 moths, the longest I’ve seen is someone not sleeping for 12 days and they went clinically insane over it and honestly I’m not sure how I’m still alive, I shouldn’t be really, I-”

 

“Gilbert!” Anne put a hand out, stopping him. Her brain was suddenly clear of any thoughts whatsoever. She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe.

 

“Sorry,” he said, his mouth slamming shut, his pacing stopped.

 

“Gilbert, I…” Anne realized how weird this situation was. Neither of them had slept in almost three months. And yet, they had both slept when they were together. Now she understood why he was so confused every time he woke up. He was thinking the same things she was.

 

“I know, it’s weird, Anne, and I know you’ve seen me sleep but that’s the thing-”

 

“No, Gilbert, listen.” Anne interrupted, unable to hold it in any longer. “I haven’t slept in over 3 months.”

 

Gilbert’s brows creased, him looking at her in shock. The two of them stood there, staring at each other, for a few seconds. Their thoughts flew around and between them in silence.

 

“So, wait…” Gilbert said, trying to make sense of it all. “But you’ve slept around me.”

 

“And you slept around me!” Anne said, half-laughing at the incredulity of it all.

 

The look of confusion on Gilbert’s face only deepened. “This is… weird.”

 

“You’re telling me!” Anne laughed outright that time. “I had no idea how to tell you!”

 

“Well I didn’t know how to say it either!” Gilbert laughed with her.

 

After they finished laughing at how ridiculous it all was, Anne said, “So, what do we do now?”

 

Gilbert sighed again, looking out at the schoolhouse. “I have no idea.”

 

“So, neither of us have slept in 3 months...” Anne started.

 

“But we can sleep when we’re with each other…” Gilbert said, still not looking at her.

 

“Then…” Anne continued, not sure how to finish the sentence.

 

Gilbert laughed suddenly, turning back towards her. “This is so weird.”

 

Anne started to laugh again, the nervousness and tension gone. She was glad it was Gilbert, he always made her feel comfortable.

 

“I’m glad it’s you,” Anne said.

 

Gilbert smiled at her. “Yeah?”

 

“I just mean… imagine if it was Billy…” Anne shuddered, trying to make light. “I would throw myself off of a cliff.”

 

Gilbert scoffed, “Yeah, same here.”

 

“So what do we do now? Now that I’ve slept a few hours, I am longing for it even more…” Anne said.

 

“Me too, Mary and Bash have me taking all the night shifts with the baby since I’m up anyway…” Gilbert scratched the back of his neck. “How about we get together in the afternoons for naps? We can say we’re studying and meet up somewhere and just have a nap for a few hours.”

 

Anne nodded. “That’s a good idea. Even a few hours every other day would be great.”

 

“Great. But we really do need to finish this lab report.” Gilbert reminded her.

 

“You’re right,” Anne replied, thinking. “But it seems like this… connection… doesn’t work if there are other people around, right? Or else we’d both be asleep during class.”

 

“Right.”

 

“So what if we worked on it during lunch in the schoolhouse since other people eat their lunch inside?”

 

“Good idea. So tomorrow during lunch we’ll work on the lab report,” Gilbert agreed.

 

“And we can figure out when we’re going to sleep later.” The rest of the students started heading inside, lunch time coming to an end.

 

Both of them visibly lighter from sharing the load they carried on their back, they turned and made their way back towards the school. Anne felt like she could breathe a little better; sharing her secrets always made her feel that way. But this was even more relieving, not only did Gilbert know her secret, but he was part of it, too. She wasn’t so alone. Now, when she was up at 3 in the morning, she would know he was out there, also awake. It’s an isolating feeling, being the only one awake in a house full of slumber, but at least now she knew there was another ship lost at sea. There was a certain solace in the knowledge that she wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

Anne stared out the window, the dark of the night allowing her reflection to shine before her. She looked at herself in the glass, freckles visible even in the darkened pane. She had gotten used to the bags under her eyes, they were just a part of her now. Though, maybe they did look a bit lighter.

It was late, and Anne was revising her part of the lab report. Her and Gilbert had worked through lunch and divided up some of the work for them to work on. They were a bit behind their peers in terms of progress, but they would be caught up easily. Unlike their classmates, they could work through the night. They had no other option.

Anne sighed as the candlelight flickered across her paper. Marilla and Matthew had went to bed hours ago, giving her their now-signature sympathetic smile. After Marilla had found her and Gilbert asleep on the couch, Marilla asked Anne what happened, if she was cured, how she fell asleep, and every other question she could think of. Anne couldn’t figure out how to explain that Gilbert was her cure, so she just told Marilla sometimes she would be able to fall asleep unpredictably. Marilla worried that would affect her schooling, but Anne assured her it wouldn’t, and she would talk to Miss Stacy about it.

Anne was snapped out of her thoughts to the sound of a sharp tap on her window. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the second one came, a small pebble hitting the window inches from her face.

A wild part of Anne’s brain thought maybe birds were throwing pebbles at her, but a third tap on the window put that idea out of her head and she opened the window to see who was outside.

“Gilbert?!” Anne hissed, hanging out of her bedroom window.

He was standing just below her window, hand back to throw another pebble. At the sight of her leaning out, he smiled.

“Anne!”

“Gilbert what are you doing?! Matthew and Marilla are asleep!” Anne whisper-shouted down at him.

“I-“ Gilbert began.

“Nevermind! You’re too loud, I’ll come down.” Anne shushed him before softly closing the window.

She creeped out of her bedroom, leaving the door cracked behind her. Anne tip toed past the creaky floorboard in front of Marilla’s room and down the stairs. Grabbing a coat, she carefully opened the door and squeezed through, praying the creak of the hinges didn’t wake Matthew or Marilla.

As she rounded the corner towards where Gilbert had been standing, she saw him kicking the dirt with the toe of his shoe.

“Gilbert Blythe, are you insane?!” Anne whispered with as much force as she could.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Gilbert said by way of apology.

“Well that’s not particularly out of the ordinary, is it?!” Anne was still fuming. If Marilla found her outside at this hour…

“I thought I could… sleep here…” Gilbert didn’t look her in the eyes as he rubbed the side of his face.

“You what?” Anne squeaked. Gilbert had really lost his mind.

He shrugged. “I don’t know, I thought… I know we said afternoon naps, but I am so tired I thought I could sleep here.”

Anne just looked at him, her anger ebbing away. She couldn’t blame him, she was exhausted. And bored. That was the worst part of not sleeping to her. The waiting. The boredom. Her wild imagination had supplemented her well enough the first week but after a while she couldn’t entertain herself throughout the night.

“Fine,” she sighed, turning back towards the house.

Gilbert silently followed her up the porch stairs and through the door. She led him to the living room where she gave him a blanket. Marilla would have a start finding him on the couch in the morning, but Anne would just have to explain it all.

“You can sleep down here,” Anne said, nodding her head towards the couch before heading back towards her bedroom.

“Wait, Anne,” Gilbert reached out and grabbed her arm. “I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“Why not?” Anne whispered.

“I think we’ll be too… far away…” Gilbert wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“What do you mean?” Anne asked, her heartbeat thumping loudly in her chest.

“I just… I have been here for a couple hours,” Gilbert said, scratching the back of his head. “I tried sleeping on the ground outside because I didn’t want to bother you, but it didn’t work, I still couldn’t sleep.”

“You tried sleeping on the ground?!” Anne said, her voice coming out too loudly in shock.

“Ssh!” Gilbert put his finger to his lips. “Yes, but like I said it didn’t work. I think we have to be closer together.”

Anne looked at him then. She could see in the dim light of the living room the dirt on his pants, the leaf in his hair. He really was desperate. That alone was what made Anne say, “Okay fine, you can sleep in my room.”

At that, Gilbert’s eyes flicked to hers and her stomach did a flip as they connected. She turned and started towards the staircase, already recognizing what a horrible idea this was. She motioned for him to follow her and they made their way up the stairs silently. As they passed Marilla’s bedroom, though, Gilbert, new to this part of the house, stepped on the noisy floorboard right at Marilla’s door.

Anne’s hand flew over Gilbert’s mouth as if he had said something. The two stood frozen as they heard rustling from inside the bedroom. Anne looked over to Gilbert, both of them staring at each other, eyes wide as saucers. They waited for a few seconds to make sure Marilla wasn’t getting up.

After what felt like an eternity, Anne realized her hand was still on Gilbert’s face and she snatched it back down to her side, before giving Gilbert an accusatory look.

Sorry, he mouthed.

They creeped down the hallway just a bit more and finally got into Anne’s bedroom. Anne slowly and softly shut the door behind her before turning to see Gilbert standing in the middle of her room, looking at everything in it. She suddenly felt very self-conscious. People had been in her bedroom before, but Gilbert here in the middle of the night felt strangely… intimate. He had never seen her room before and she felt on display.

She was also thankful for Marilla’s militant cleaning reminders; the only reason Anne’s room was even remotely tidy. Books still spilled out in piles around her room but at least none of her bloomers were out.

“Is this your desk?” Gilbert asked, approaching the writing desk she had shoved in the corner.

“Yes…” Anne whispered back, watching as he picked up the drawing Cole had done of her forever ago. “Cole drew that.”

“It’s very pretty,” Gilbert smiled, still looking at the sketch. “He is very talented.”

Anne’s cheeks heated.

He put the drawing down and turned towards her. The candle cast shadows across the room.

“So, do you have a blanket I can sleep on?”

“Yes!” Anne turned and went to her closet, opening it to the extra linens Marilla stored in there. She pulled out two quilts and a pillow. “You can use these.”

Gilbert thanked her as she handed them to him. Anne watched as he spread the quilts out on the floor just beside her bed, toed off his boots, and started to settle in his pallet.

“Marilla will knock in the morning, but she doesn’t come in.” Anne walked over to the end of her bed, crawling up it. “After she tells me to start getting ready, she goes outside to fetch eggs from the roost, so you’ll be able to sneak out the back door if you’re careful.”

His eyes already closed, Gilbert nodded.

“Seriously, Gilbert, you have to be careful. If she catches you, I can’t even begin to fathom the punishment Marilla cooks up.” Anne pulled her blankets up over her chest.

“I will, Anne,” she heard him say.

Sighing, Anne blew out the candle sitting on her bedside table. The room was enveloped in darkness. She thought it would be awkward but strangely, it wasn’t. Normally, when she had friends sleepover, they giggled and whispered through the night, the darkness offering them a certain sense of secrecy.

But with Gilbert here, there was no whispering or laughing. Anne didn’t even feel the need to bridge the silence between them as she so often did when situations with others grew quiet. She felt this overwhelming sense of comfort, and it wasn’t long before she was asleep, listening to the sounds of Gilbert breathing.

 

The sharp rap of Marilla’s knuckles on her door woke Anne with a start.

“Anne, it’s time to start getting ready for school.” Her voice came, muffled through the door.

“Yes ma’am!” Anne said, her heart beating violently as she remembered Gilbert was in her room and the precariousness of the situation they were in.

Gilbert and Anne stared at each other, eyes wide, as they listened for Marilla’s retreating footsteps. They remained still until they heard the front door close behind her as she went out to fetch the eggs, as she did every single morning.

“If there is one thing we can count on, it’s Marilla’s sense of routine,” Anne said, sliding out of bed. She deliberately did not look at Gilbert and his sleep-mussed hair.

“So the back door?” Gilbert asked, folding up the blankets. “Won’t Matthew see me?”

Anne grabbed the blankets from him. “I’ll take care of these, you just go. Matthew is in the barn, he won’t see you. Now go!”

Gilbert almost fell slipping his boots back on. He crossed the room, grabbing for the door handle, one last look at Anne. She put her finger to her lips.

“See you in a bit,” he said before disappearing through the door.

Thankfully, Anne didn’t hear anything as he went down the stairs. She wouldn’t have even known he got out the door if she hadn’t seen him running through the back of the yard through her window. When he was safely in the tree line and out of sight of Green Gables, and its occupants, Anne released a long breath, heartbeat slowing. This was the most stressful thing she had ever done, and yet, she loved it. She had snuck a boy into her house. It wasn’t for a romantic reason, but still. It was very daring. Anne loved being daring.

Anne frowned at the mirror. Her hair was sticking out everywhere, she looked like a mess. Gilbert had seen her like this. Shaking her head, Anne started getting her clothes out. Since when did she care what she looked like when she was around Gilbert?

The smell of toast wafted through the kitchen. A pile of bread sat in the middle of the table with eggs and jam accompanying it. The usual breakfast spread for the Cuthbert’s. Anne came bounding into the dining room, barely sitting down before grabbing for a piece of toast.

“Anne, my word! Calm down,” Marilla chastised her.

“Sorry, Marilla,” Anne mumbled between bites. “I’m starving.”

Marilla only quirked an eyebrow up before returning to buttering her own toast. “What were you doing walking around so late last night?”

Anne almost choked on her bread, taking a swig of water before answering. “Oh, I just needed to get a book out of the living room.”

Anne looked back down at her food, hoping the lie was convincing. What else could she be doing? Sneaking a boy into her room? Certainly not.

“Well, next time take your books upstairs before everyone is asleep.”

“Yes, of course. Sorry, Marilla.”

Anne finished her breakfast fast, jumping out of her seat and almost running out of the door to get to school. She needed to talk to Diana. She shouted her goodbyes as she flew through the door and down the stairs, not even hearing Matthew and Marilla’s responses.

The wind chipped at Anne’s face as she ran down the path leading towards the Barry’s. She hoped she would be able to catch Diana on her walk towards the school, so they could talk in private. Thankfully, Diana appeared in the fork between the paths just as Anne was a few feet from it.

“Diana!” Anne called.

Diana turned towards Anne, alarmed. “Anne, is everything alright?”

Anne tried catching her breath, her hands on her knees. “Yes, yes. I- I need to- I need to tell you something.”

“Okay.” Diana replied, dragging out the last syllable skeptically.

“Gilbert slept over last night.” Anne blurted before she could lose the nerve.

The shock on Diana’s face could be read a mile away. “He what?!” she practically shouted.

Anne cringed. “He… He showed up at Green Gables and asked to sleep over.”

Diana said nothing, her mouth gaping.

“Oh, I know how downright scandalous it sounds, but really nothing happened, I swear it. He showed up, threw pebbles at my window and I opened it to find him standing there asking to come in. I tried to get him to sleep in the living room, but he said that wouldn’t work because we’d be too far away from each other, so I let him sleep in my room, but he slept on the floor by my bed, of course,” Anne rambled, Diana still frozen in shock. “And he had to sneak out this morning because I obviously couldn’t tell Marilla, but thankfully he didn’t get caught but I just had to tell you immediately.”

Anne grimaced again as Diana only stared. Suddenly, Diana started laughing. Tears coming down her face, holding her stomach, laughing.

“What is so funny?!” Anne demanded.

“You! And Gilbert!” Diana wheezed between gales of laughter. “You slept together!”

Anne’s cheeks went up in flames, she was sure she was as red as a tomato. “Don’t say it like that!”

Ignoring her, Diana only continued. “Oh, wait until Cole finds out!”

Pushing the memory of Cole’s declaration at the train station to the back of her mind, Anne asked, “And what does Cole have to do with it?”

Diana only laughed harder, wiping the tears from her eyes before starting down the path to school. “Oh, this is fantastic!”

“I don’t think I particularly like your reaction to this, Diana,” Anne said, narrowing her eyes at her friend.

“I’m sorry, it’s just… you two…”

“Us two, what?!” Anne said, earning only a smirk from Diana in response.

The girls walked down the path to school, Anne’s arms crossed across her chest and Diana giggling. When they got inside the coat room, Gilbert was inside, hanging his coat.

“Oh, good morning, Anne! Good morning Diana!” he said as he saw them walk through the door.

Anne avoided eye contact, embarrassed of Diana’s implications from earlier.

“Good morning, Gilbert,” Diana replied, smiling sweetly at him. “You look well rested.”

Anne kicked Diana, glancing at Gilbert who only smiled back at Diana. Diana didn’t even flinch at Anne’s kick, walking to go put away her lunch. Anne and Gilbert were left alone.

“Thank you, for letting me stay. I feel much better,” Gilbert whispered.

Anne wanted to tell him that it couldn’t happen again, that it was inappropriate, that they would figure something else out, but the words wouldn’t come. A full night’s sleep had made her feel better than she had in months. If sneaking around granted her that, then so be it.

“No problem,” she said, smiling at him. “I do, too.”

Chapter Text

It had been a week since Gilbert had snuck over. He and Anne had met up a couple of times in the afternoon to sleep at the Blythe homestead, but it had been a few days. Anne’s leg bounced up and down anxiously as Miss Stacy reminded them of their test the next day. She really didn’t want to take the test with little to no sleep, but she didn’t think her and Gilbert would be able to meet up that afternoon. Between homework and chores, it had become increasingly difficult to arrange naps. Anne knew there were other times they could sleep, but she didn’t want to think about it.

 

In truth, Anne’s nerves around Gilbert had grown recently. Every time he smiled at her, her stomach would twist. When they accidentally brushed hands while working on problems, her skin lit on fire. She didn’t want to compound that by trying to sneak him into her house at night again.

 

Mind elsewhere, Anne almost didn’t notice when Miss Stacy called for everyone to stand and begin the experiment she had set up around the room. The sound of chairs scratching against wood grabbed Anne out of her train of thought. She grabbed her notebook, looking up to see Gilbert approaching her. Anne felt rather than saw Diana slowly walk away from her, leaving the two of them alone while their classmates began talking and working throughout the room.

 

“Hey, Carrots, can I come over to study for the test tonight?” Gilbert asked.

 

Anne considered it for a moment. It was understood that he was asking for more than just a study session. She vowed to herself she would never let him sleep over again, it was too risky and inappropriate, but the tired side of her won over.

 

“Yes, I suppose so,” Anne replied, offering him a smile.

 

Gilbert nodded and walk away to continue working on the experiment before them. To any of their classmates, their conversation would sound completely normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, just Anne and Gilbert studying together. But as Anne looked away from Gilbert, she caught Diana’s eye across the room. A smirk was already forming on Diana’s face, knowing exactly what Gilbert was asking Anne about.

 

 

 

As the sun was setting lower in the sky, Anne took one final look around her room. She had spent an hour tidying up, making sure nothing embarrassing was lying around. She knew Gilbert would end up in there. The thought made her blush. She knew planning to have a boy come in your room was… inappropriate. She knew, objectively, how it sounded to say, “Oh, Gilbert is sleeping over tonight.” That’s why she never said it out loud.

 

Anne walked over to the papers sprawled across her desk. She picked them up to straighten and tuck them away but dropped the papers back on her desk in a huff. This was stupid. It was Gilbert. They were friends. She didn’t need to impress him with a tidy workspace. Just then, a shout from Marilla caught Anne’s attention.

 

“Anne! Gilbert’s here!” Marilla’s voice rang clear, even up the staircase and down the hallway.

 

“Coming!” Anne shouted back. Without another look at the state of her bedroom, she grabbed her schoolbooks and went downstairs.

 

Gilbert was already setting his schoolbag on their dining table as she descended the stairs.

 

“Hello, Gilbert!” She greeted him, rounding the banister to join him at the table.

 

“Good evening, Anne,” Gilbert smiled at her.

 

They took their seats across the table from each other, taking their notes out. Marilla would be working in the kitchen beside them, her presence keeping them both from falling asleep on the table. Not that she knew that. Anne still hadn’t told her the whole truth.

 

“So how long will you be over, Gilbert?” Marilla inquired, sending Anne into an internal panic.

 

Gilbert, not missing a beat, replied “Well this is the biggest test we’ve had all year, so we have a lot of stuff to cover,” he offered Marilla that signature Blythe smile. “We might be here a while.”

 

Marilla, having no reason to think that Gilbert was actually going to sneak into her adopted daughter’s bedroom that night, only smiled back. “Of course, you’re always welcome here. Good luck.”

 

Anne stared down at her papers, trying her best to keep the guilt off of her face. Marilla had no reason to be suspicious, she told herself. None at all. And it’s not like her and Gilbert were even doing anything wrong, they were just sleeping... together. Platonically, of course.

 

Marilla went back to her work throughout the house and Anne let out a long breath.

 

“You know, Anne you could try to look a little less guilty,” Gilbert whispered.

 

“Well I’m sorry I am a little nervous about lying and sneaking a boy into my bedroom!” Anne whispered back harshly, a blush flaming across her face as she said it.

 

Gilbert only laughed, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Come on, Anne, it’s not like we’re doing anything wrong…” He quickly looked back down as the notes in front of him as Anne ignored the implications of what, specifically, they weren’tdoing.

 

 Both of them blushing, Anne cleared her throat. “So, where should we start?”

 

And so they jumped into studying, all the awkwardness gone. This was normal, familiar territory; arguing over definitions, competing on equations. Gilbert wasn’t lying to Marilla earlier, it really was their most comprehensive test yet. Everyone was going to spend their night studying for it. Diana had told Anne she was going to ask to come over and study with her but decided to ask Ruby when she saw Gilbert asked. Diana wouldn’t hear any of it, though, when Anne insisted that Diana could still come over and study with her and Gilbert.

 

Their papers fanned out between them, Anne and Gilbert really did study for hours. They were comparing notes on a chapter review when Marilla interrupted them to inform them she was going to bed.

 

“Well, I’m going to go to sleep, but it seems you two still have studying to do,” Marilla looked at the pages of notes spread between them.

 

“Yes, unfortunately this chapter is especially torturous,” Anne said, eyes still roving over the page before her.

 

“Well, Gilbert, I don’t mind you staying to finish studying as long as you think Mary and Bash don’t mind you walking home this late.”

 

Gilbert looked up, giving Marilla a reassuring smile. “I warned them this might take a while. They won’t mind.”

 

Marilla nodded, walking around to where Anne sat. “Goodnight, then,” she said, putting a hand on Anne’s shoulder and squeezing in a half hug.

 

Anne smiled up at her, trying to push away the thought that she was pretty much lying to Marilla’s face. “Goodnight, Marilla.”

 

She turned and went to her bedroom, leaving Anne and Gilbert alone in the dining room. The only sound between them was the rustling of papers.

 

“You’re good for them,” Gilbert said, head still bent down towards his papers.

 

“Hm?” Anne replied, reading over her notes.

 

“Marilla and Matthew. You being here is good for them.”

 

She looked up at him then, he had stopped reading over his notes.

 

“I just mean,” he started, “Before you were here, Green Gables wasn’t this… bright. Marilla mostly kept to herself and was even quieter than she is now. And I never saw Matthew outside of the farm.”

 

Anne was quiet. She knew Gilbert had known Marilla and Matthew before she got here, of course, but she hadn’t really thought about it all that much. She knew the Cuthbert’s were reserved but she couldn’t imagine them being even more closed off than they are now. It was a sad image to think about.

 

“My dad always said he wished something good would happen for Marilla,” Gilbert smiled at her. “You make them happy. And they love you very much. It’s good for them.”

 

Anne was stunned into silence, her mouth slightly open. She knew Matthew and Marilla loved her, but Gilbert’s speech brought tears to her eyes. Matthew And Marilla especially weren’t the most physically affectionate people. She could count the times Marilla had hugged her on two hands. Anne didn’t mind, though. She knew Marilla showed her love in different ways. Through the ribbons tied around her lunch to the new dress Marilla had sewn her stuffed secretly into her closet. Anne thought her heart might burst. From what Gilbert said and from the fact that he looked down at his notes, pretending not to notice her wiping her eyes or hear her sniff.

 

They worked a bit more, the candlelight flickering between them. The house was quiet, Matthew having retired to bed long before Marilla had. The song of crickets drifted in from outside. They reviewed their vocabulary and equations in whispers, careful to not wake the rest of the house. Soon, though, as was typical when just the two of them were together, drowsiness overcame them.

 

Anne stifled a yawn behind her hand. “Sorry. So, right, We’re supposed to multiply here, but then add there.”

 

Gilbert opened his mouth to speak but a yawn came out. They both laughed, putting down their notes.

 

“I think it’s time to sleep,” Gilbert said, resigned. “We’ve covered everything we can. If we don’t know it now, we’re never going to know it.”

 

Anne nodded, “You’re right. And I want to have a good night’s sleep before it anyway.”

 

They stepped out of their chairs and stood, both piling their books and papers neatly on the table before them. When they were done, they just looked at each other.

 

Gilbert gestured toward the stairs with his hand. “After you,” he said, smirking.

 

Anne rolled her eyes. “Go open and close the front door.”

 

Gilbert’s brows furrowed, confused. “Why?”

 

“Just in case Marilla is still awake.”

 

Then it was Gilbert’s turn to roll his eyes, but he turned and opened and closed the front door anyway. When he finished with the charade, he made another exaggerated gesture towards the stairs. Anne walked forward, stepping on the first stair.

 

“Try and be quieter this time,” she whispered.

 

Gilbert nodded, mockingly solemn.

 

Anne started up the stairs, sure her heartbeat was loud enough to wake the whole house. It was like it was screaming, MARILLA! OPEN YOUR DOOR AND LOOK! YOUR BELOVED ANNE IS SNEAKING A BOY INTO HER ROOM! AGAIN! She held her breath as they passed her door, but they slipped past it and into her room without any problems.

 

When they were safely inside, Anne let out her breath. “This is going to give me a heart attack one day,” she said, taking the extra bedding out of her closet.

 

Gilbert huffed out a laugh but then they were both silent, thinking the same thing that neither of them wanted to talk about. How long was this going to last?

 

Anne turned towards her drawers as Gilbert made the pallet beside her bed. “I’m going to go change into my nightclothes,” she turned back towards him. “Wait, are you going to sleep in your clothes?”

 

Gilbert was wearing what he had worn to school that day, trousers and a long sleeve cotton shirt, sleeves rolled up. “Oh, yeah,” seeing the look of worry on Anne’s face, he added, “Don’t worry about me. This is fine. More comfortable than it looks.”

 

Deciding there was no sense in arguing with him since she didn’t have any clothes to let him sleep in anyway, Anne walked out of her bedroom to the bathroom down the hall.

 

When she came back into her room, Gilbert was already tucked into his makeshift bed, offering her a quick smile. He had two blankets beneath him, but they were both thin, giving him practically no cushion against the hardwood floor. She blew out her candle and crawled into bed, but she couldn’t think about anything other than how uncomfortable he looked.

 

They were both quiet, but she could tell he wasn’t asleep yet. It was a miracle he would sleep at all, lying on her floor.

 

“Gilbert, you can come lay up here,” Anne said, surprising even herself.

 

The darkness around her was quiet.

 

“Gilbert,” she said again.

 

“I… um….” His disembodied voice replied from below her.

 

Anne huffed. “Just come up here. I know you’re not comfortable.”

 

“This is fine, really,” he tried to insist.

 

“No, it’s not.”

 

“Yes, it-”

 

“Gilbert, just get up here!” Anne whispered fiercely. She was just being a gracious host. Guests should never be uncomfortable in your home.

 

Again, he was silent, but it wasn’t long before she could hear him getting up. She shifted over more, making room for him in her bed.It was a good thing Marilla and Matthew had recently bought her a new bed or else they wouldn’t have both fit. Since Anne had grown so much in the last few months, Marilla decided it was time for her to get a bigger bed. They had moved it into her room a month ago.

 

Anne felt the bed shift as he laid down in it. The bed was big enough that there was a significant amount of space still between them as Gilbert lay on top of the blanket as far away from Anne as the mattress would allow. She was on the other edge, her right arm brushing the wall beside her bed.

 

An uncomfortable silence enveloped them. She should be asleep right now, having Gilbert with her, but having him this close made her body buzz with electricity. She couldn’t see him in the dark of the night, but she could hear his breathing more clearly now. Gilbert had to be more comfortable in her bed than on the floor, but Anne was starting to regret the decision. This was awkward territory. Taking naps with someone was one thing. Having them sleep on your floor was another thing. But having them sleep in your bed was something completely different. Anne started to think about how terribly, terribly inappropriate this was. Gilbert Blythe was in her bed. Next to her. If Marilla caught them, God himself couldn’t save Anne from her wrath.

 

“Thank you,” Anne heard Gilbert whisper next to her. After a beat, he said, “Your floor is lumpy.”

 

She could hear his smile through his words and all the tension left her body. Anne snorted.

 

“Just stay on your side,” she said, though her words didn’t come across as stern as they could’ve.

 

“Goodnight, Anne,” Gilbert’s voice rumbled over her in the dark.

 

“Goodnight, Gilbert.”

 

A smile on her face, Anne fell into a deep sleep.

 

 

 

Soft light filtered in through the window as Anne blinked awake. She breathed in deep, casting her eyes around the room. She froze as she looked down at her own arm. In her sleep-addled mind, she had forgotten who else was in her room. The rhythm of Gilbert’s sleeping breaths sounded in her ears. Anne moved a lot when she slept, and last night was no exclusion. Her and Gilbert now lay right next to each other, their arms touching. The pressure and warmth of his skin pressed against the length her arm. Anne’s heartbeat was thudding in her ears. She looked down at their hands. Their knuckles touched, almost imperceptibly. As Gilbert’s body moved with his breathing, his knuckles rubbed against the back of her hand, light at a feather. It almost looked like they had fallen asleep holding hands.

 

Anne was transfixed on their hands lying side by side. Gilbert’s large, tanned hand, next to her smaller, paler hand; the freckles dusting her knuckles the same color as his skin. She was shocked out of her trance at the sound of a knock on the door.

 

“Anne, time for school!” Marilla’s voice came muffled through the door.

 

Anne jumped at her voice, sitting up abruptly. Her eyes were wide, almost like Marilla had walked into the room and found her and Gilbert like that. At the sound of her retreating footsteps, though, Anne looked down at Gilbert. He had woken at the knock and was frozen still, looking at Anne. She had moved before he woke up, she was sure, so he didn’t know how close they had gotten through the night.

 

His black curls fanned out around his head in a halo, mussed from sleep. They stick to his face and her pillow, spilling black ink everywhere. His eyes were wide in worry of being caught, the hazel looking green in the morning light. The closeness of him was suddenly very, very overwhelming.

 

“You have to go!” Anne practically shouted, pushing Gilbert away from her.

 

Unprepared, Gilbert lost his balance and fell off of her bed, landing with a loud thud on her floor. Anne’s hands flung up to her mouth as she gasped.

 

“Anne?” Marilla’s voice rang up from downstairs. “Are you alright?”

 

Anne looked across her bed in horror, though she was unable to see Gilbert from where he lay still, sprawled across the floor.

 

“Yes ma’am! Just knocked over my…” Anne looked around the room, trying to find something to blame the noise on. “chair…”

 

A long pause as Marilla considered Anne’s response. “Be more careful, silly girl.”

 

The front door closed as Marilla went outside. The house was silent again.

 

“Ow.” Gilbert said from below.

 

“Sorry…” Anne replied, though she wasn’t sorry she wasn’t looking at him anymore. Her stomach was still tied in knots.

 

A hand came up from the ground, grabbing the mattress. Gilbert pushed himself up off the ground, brushing off his pants. He looked at Anne for a second before looking back down.

 

Scratching the back of his head, Gilbert cleared his throat. “I’ll see you at school.”

 

Looking at her one more time before quickly looking away, Gilbert turned and left the room, leaving Anne alone. She sat for a second, still in shock of where her life was. Gilbert walking out the door had been like a vacuum, leaving Anne sitting in bed alone, clutching her sheets in silence. She looked down at herself; she was sitting back on her heels, her nightgown wrinkled around her. Reaching up, Anne felt the fly-aways haloing her head. Snapping out of it, Anne jumped up to see Gilbert sneaking through her yard, just barely avoiding Marilla coming back inside. This had been close.

 

“Anne!” Anne’s stomach dropped as she heard Marilla call her name. This was it. They were caught. “Gilbert left his books!”

 

Anne pinched the bridge of her nose in exasperation. He must have forgotten to grab them on his rush out of the house.

 

“Oh! I… I’ll take them to him this morning!” Anne called in what she hoped was a convincingly nonchalant voice. “He must have forgotten them because of how late it was…”

 

“Alright. Hurry down, he’ll be needing them.”

 

Finally, Anne let out a slow breath. Too close.

Chapter Text

They were caught twice.

 

Surprisingly, neither time was when Gilbert stayed over night. After the second time, Gilbert narrowly avoiding Marilla, Anne told him she didn’t think it was a good idea to sleep over at night anymore. Gilbert agreed, and they instead started taking afternoon naps together more often.

 

The first time they were caught, Anne wasn’t sure she’d make it out alive.

 

Gilbert and Anne walked to Green Gables side by side, Anne chatting animatedly about her latest story and Gilbert listening, enraptured. At this point, they had been sleeping together (she still hated saying it that way) for 3 weeks. They knew each other well enough that neither had to ask to come over anymore. Just a look from one and the other would understand exactly what they were asking. A simple nod in response and they would go about their day, walking home together after school. It had become routine, easy. Comfortable.

 

“Is it weird that I get so excited to go to sleep?” Anne asked as her and Gilbert walked through the woods. “Like, before this… affliction happened I just saw sleeping as another chore our bodies required of us. Now I get so excited.”

 

“No, I don’t think it’s weird. I feel it, too.” Gilbert eyed the books in Anne’s hands. “What I do think is weird, however, is that you won’t let me carry your books.”

 

Anne stepped forward and walked backwards in front of Gilbert. “And why would you carry my books, Mr. Blythe? Because I’m a girl?” Anne raised an eyebrow.

 

Feigning surprise, Gilbert furrowed his eyebrows together. “You’re a girl?!”

 

Anne only rolled her eyes, “Ha ha.”

 

“Letting someone carry your books doesn’t make you weak, Anne. I’m just trying to be a gentleman.”

 

Anne clutched her chest, mirroring Gilbert’s fake shock. “You’re a gentleman?!”

 

Suddenly, Gilbert lurched forwarding, grabbing at her waist with his free hand. He started tickling her and Anne, incredibly ticklish and surprised by his sudden attack, squealed and dropped her books in her attempt to get away from him.

 

Gilbert stopped, picked up her books, and looked at her with smug satisfaction.

 

“Oh, very tricky, Dr. Blythe.” Anne said, still breathless and very conscious of where his fingers had touched her stomach moments before.

 

“If you weren’t so stubborn I wouldn’t have to resort to such tactics,” Gilbert teased, eyebrow quirked up.

 

Sticking her tongue out at him, Anne resumed her place beside him as they continued walking to Green Gables. Gilbert had both of their books slung over his shoulder, the two of them talking about Billy’s latest classroom antics. Anne found this was always her favorite part of the day. The easy comfort of walking and talking with Gilbert. When she walked home with Diana they had fun, of course, but with Gilbert it was just… different.

 

“We could sleep in the barn,” Anne suggested as they entered Green Gables. “Matthew and Jerry are repairing the fence in the back, so they won’t bother us. Marilla never comes into the barn.”

 

“Sure,” Gilbert said, following Anne as they walked that way.

 

Sure enough, it was empty save for the piles of hay. Anne jumped backwards, landing softly on the hay beneath her.

 

“It’s more comfortable than it looks. Jerry and I used to take naps here all the time after farm chores.”

 

Gilbert set their books down on the ground beside their designated pile before jumping and landing beside Anne, blowing bits of hay all over her.

 

Spitting a piece out of her mouth, she said, “Oh, thanks for that.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Gilbert smiled, eyes already closed beside her.

 

Anne looked at him for a second, smile still on his face. The sun coming in through the slats in the wall caught on his eyelashes. The tips of them were golden in the light, making him look like the sun personified. It was a nice contrast to what he normally reminded her of. His dark hair and dark eyes, bright smile and soothing laugh. He had always reminded her of nighttime, the stillness of a full moon night. A comfort, and yet, a mystery. Anne would be lying if she said she didn't look at Gilbert often. It would be impossible to not, with how much time they spent together. But she relished in this time, being able to look at him, to really look at him without anyone noticing. Anne lay with her head pillowed on her arm, eyes moving across Gilbert's features. That was how she fell asleep, staring at Gilbert Blythe.

 

 

 

“Anne.”

 

A sharp shake woke Anne. Anne opened her eyes to find Marilla looking down at her sharply.

 

“It’s time to get up and send Gilbert home,” Marilla whispered low enough to not wake Gilbert.

 

Anne realized then the state she was in. In her sleep, Anne had shifted and she now lay with her head against Gilbert’s shoulder. Anne jolted away from him, earning a sniff from him in response, though he didn’t wake. Her body immediately missed the warmth, it mourned the loss of the feeling of safety, being so close to Gilbert.

 

“I- I’m sorry, it’s not what it looks like,” Anne pleaded. She noticed then the sun was low in the sky, her and Gilbert had slept the rest of the day away.

 

“I will save you the embarrassment of discussing this in front of him,” Marilla said, hearing none of what Anne was saying. “Wake him up and send him home. You and I will speak inside.”

 

Anne stared after Marilla as she stiffly turned and walked out of the barn, heading inside. Anne’s stomach was lead and tears started to form in her eyes. Not wanting to worry Gilbert, though, she took a steadying breath and shook him awake.

 

“Gilbert,” she whispered.

 

His eyes opened and he smiled when he saw her face. He always did that, and it always made Anne feel like liquid. She ignored that, however.

 

“Probably best you went home now,” Anne nodded towards the open bar doors, the sun setting. “Don’t want Mary and Bash to worry.”

 

“You’re right,” Gilbert yawned, stretching out the length of his body. Anne stood, looking away.

 

Handing him his books when he got up, Anne told him goodnight, giving him what she hoped was a convincing smile. If it looked forced, though, he didn’t notice.

 

Gilbert took his books and said, “See you tomorrow!” before turning and leaving Anne alone in the barn. For a minute, Anne didn’t move, seriously considering running away to avoid Marilla’s wrath. This was her worst nightmare come to life.

 

Knowing that dragging out the inevitable only served to make Marilla angrier, Anne left the barn, starting her death march into the house. When she got inside, Matthew and Marilla stood waiting for her in the dining room. She sat down and looked at her lap, not daring to speak.

 

“Anne Shirley-Cuthbert. What were you thinking?” Marilla asked. She wasn’t yelling, which terrified Anne even more.

 

“It wasn’t what it looked like!” Anne tried again.

 

“Oh really?!” Marilla asked incredulously. Matthew shifted behind her, uncomfortable.

 

“We were just sleeping! I swear it!” Tears flowed out of Anne’s eyes, sobs starting to form in her chest. She knew what it looked like.

 

“Well be that as it may it certainly didn’t looklike that!” Marilla said, her voice rising.

 

“I’m sorry!”

 

“Honestly, Anne what were you thinking!” Marilla asked again.

 

“I’m just so tired and-”

 

“Imagine if Rachel Lynde had come by! And saw you two in that… state!” Marilla gestured wildly with her hands. “She certainly wouldn’t have waited for an explanation!”

 

Anne wiped the tears from her eyes, looking pleadingly at Matthew and back to Marilla. “I know, I-”

 

“The state of you two!” Marilla continued. “Unacceptable, I never-”

 

“I- I don’t see what the fuss is about.” Matthew said quietly.

 

Marilla was shocked into silence and Anne’s eyes widened.

 

“Did you see them, Matthew?!” Marilla asked, now turning her irritation on him.

 

“Well, I- yes I did.” He said, leaning against the counter. “I saw them about an hour before you when I went into the barn to find some rope and I didn’t think anything of it.”

 

Anne’s heart swelled so much she thought it might explode out of her chest. Matthew loved Anne, she knew he did, but standing up to Marilla was a difficult thing.

 

Didn’t think anything of it?!” Marilla repeated, aghast.

 

“Well, no.” Matthew started again, looking between the floor and Marilla’s steely glare. “They were just sleeping. They weren’t doing anything wrong. And sleep is hard to come by for Anne as it is, so I let them be.”

 

Marilla only stared at Matthew. He shifted his gaze over to Anne who offered him a tight-lipped smile as thanks. Matthew’s words worked on Marilla, though. When she turned back to Anne, her anger was only a at a simmer while earlier it was at a full boil.

 

“Well… you still can’t be seen like that, Anne. Matthew might not think it was a big deal, but other people may. And you of all people should know how people in this town like to talk.”

 

“Yes ma’am,” Anne whispered, staring back down at her lap.

 

“Anne, I know you like the boy, but you can’t just-”

 

Anne’s head snapped up, her eyebrows knit together. “Like?! I don’t likeGilbert. It’s Gilbert.”

 

Matthew and Marilla just looked at her, the only sound coming from the water dripping from the faucet behind them. Marilla turned to Matthew, who returned the glance. When Marilla turned back to Anne, her expression was softer than before.

 

“Just, don’t let it happen again. I know it’s hard for you to sleep and you can’t control when you do sometimes but just try to not fall asleep in such… suspicious ways.”

 

Anne, still confused at Marilla’s implication and their shared glance, just nodded. “I’m sorry.”

 

“I know, dear,” Marilla said.

 

Anne considered telling Marilla the truth of the whole thing, that Gilbert was the reason she could fall asleep at all, but she wasn’t sure if that would make Marilla more or less angry. Deciding it was too big of a gamble and she had ended up getting out of this relatively okay, Anne didn’t risk it. She bid them good night before heading upstairs to endure another sleepless night.

 

 

 

A few days later, Anne and Gilbert found themselves at the Blythe homestead. Anne closed the book in front of her. Her and Gilbert had been studying for a while; she had gone home with him right after school. The cooing sounds of the baby drifted in from the living room, mixed with Mary’s whispered singing. The rest of the house was quiet, Bash’s normally boisterous behavior absent as he was in town. Gilbert sat in the chair beside her, reading his own copy of Miss Stacy’s assigned reading. He was leaned back in the chair, one leg propped up, his book against his knee. Anne watched as his eyes scanned the pages, taking in every word. The crease between his brows, something Anne noticed was characteristic when he was concentrating, was present as he turned the page. Anne’s stomach gave a lurch as she continued to stare at him.

 

“Do you want to go outside?” Anne asked. “The weather is lovely…”

 

Gilbert’s eyes flicked up to hers from the book. “Sure,” he smiled, closing his book.

 

The underlying question was there, of course. They could read later. The two of them rose and left the dining room, Anne following Gilbert to the tree in front of the house. It was the spot they normally took to when the weather was nice, and they were outside studying. Anne hadn’t told Gilbert about Marilla catching them and yelling at her for it. It was just easier to pretend it never happened. A breeze tickled Anne’s cheek as they crossed the yard.

 

“I do love when the breeze rolls in,” she said wistfully.

 

“Yeah?” Gilbert asked as they laid down on the ground beneath the oak tree.

 

Anne smiled dreamily. “Oh, yes. It brings the smell of the orchards in and it so heavenly. It makes me feel like I’m on an apple scented cloud, far away.”

 

Gilbert chuckled. They lay angled away from each other, their heads close together. Anne looked up at the sky, the leaves of the tree casting flickering shadows above them. Gilbert’s head was on his hands, clasped behind his head. Already, Anne’s eyelids grew heavy. Her head, however, would not get comfortable. She shifted this way and that, trying her hand beneath her head, too lumpy, on her side, too painful, and just flat against the ground, too hard. Anne huffed, tired and frustrated.

 

“You can just lay your head on my arm,” Gilbert suggested, sounding half asleep.

 

Anne froze. Her and Gilbert had gotten… touchier lately, that much was true. It was inevitable when you were sleeping with one another. It wasn’t uncommon for them to wake up, arms pressed together or legs touching or Anne’s head on his shoulder. But that happened when they were asleep. They always fell asleep separate and if they woke up touching well, then, that was their sleeping body’s fault.

 

This was different, though. This time she would intentionally be laying on Gilbert. What did that mean…

 

“It’s only weird if you make it weird, Anne,” Gilbert mumbled.

 

Anne scoffed. “I’m not making it weird.”

 

“Yes, you are.”

 

“No, I’m not.”

 

“Then use my arm as a pillow and go to sleep.”

 

Anne narrowed her eyes up at the sky. Gilbert was so infuriating. Why would it be weird? Why would she make it weird? They were friends. It was fine. Not weird.

 

“Fine,” Anne said, determined.

 

She sat up and shifted her head over. He kept his arm bent behind his head, Anne lowering the back of her head to just above his elbow, where his bicep and forearm met. She definitely didn’t think about how muscular his arms looked. Definitely not. She felt the warmth of his skin on the back of her neck, her heart beating frantically in her chest.

 

“Your arm’s lumpy,” Anne said, eyes closed, trying her best to sound casual.

 

“Well, you’re welcome to go back to sleeping on sticks,” Gilbert teased. Anne could feel his voice rumbling through him, sending shivers through her spine.

 

“Or, you could be a gentleman and go get me a pillow.”

 

“Fresh out of pillows,” Gilbert said through a grin.

 

Anne huffed, though only halfheartedly. The sun warming her face, the scent of Gilbert (soap and apples) tickling her nose, Anne fell asleep.

 

 

 

“Oh, they’re so cute.”

 

Whispers greeted Anne’s subconscious.

 

“I am never going to let him live this one down.”

 

“Hush, you’re going to wake them!”

 

Anne started to wake up, the voices becoming clearer. She blinked her eyes open, finding Mary and Bash standing above them, huge smiles plastered on their face. Anne jumped up, gasping.

 

“You whisper too loud!” Mary scolded Bash, slapping his arm.

 

Bash burst out into laughter as Anne scooted backwards away from Gilbert, who had woken up and was cradling the arm Anne was laying on to his chest, like he was trying to hide it.

 

“We-” Anne began.

 

She was drowned out by Bash laughing even harder, Mary trying to shush him.

 

“It’s not- We weren’t-” Anne tried again.

 

“Blythe!” Bash shouted between laughs. “You finally made a move!”

 

“What?” Anne said, confused. Why weren’t Mary and Bash yelling at them about how inappropriate they were being?

 

Gilbert jumped up, putting himself between Bash and Anne. “Nothing!” he said to Anne, panic in his eyes. He turned back to Bash, “Nothing happened!”

 

Anne got up then, trying to make Mary and Bash understand. “He’s right, nothing happened! We were just sleeping!”

 

Bash continued giggling, their discomfort apparently hilarious. Even Mary laughed, her baby on her hip, as Anne looked at her pleadingly.

 

“Oh sweetheart, we know, we trust you guys,” she tried shushing Bash again, who was getting a death glare from Gilbert. “Gilbert told us all about you guys’… condition. It’s alright.”

 

“Okay…” Anne looked between Mary, Bash, and Gilbert.  The former still laughing and the latter looking mortified.

 

Gilbert scratched the back of his neck, his cheeks blazing red. Anne didn’t think she had ever seen him blush so hard. He kept shooting glances between her and Bash, who was holding his stomach, still laughing.

 

“Oh, you two looked so cute, I am almost sorry I woke you,” he said, wiping his eyes. “But Gilbert’s blushing makes it worth it.”

 

Anne’s cheeks blushed deeper. Her and Gilbert stood before them, two twin tomatoes. Anne fidgeted with her sleeve, avoiding looking at Gilbert. Gilbert scuffed his toe in the dirt, avoiding looking at Anne. The four of them sat in an awkward silence for a beat, making Bash start laughing again.

 

“Oh, leave them alone!” Mary said through her own laughter. “Anne, you’re welcome to stay for dinner.”

 

“But I’m afraid our dining room chairs aren’t as comfortable as Gilbert’s arm,” Bash teased, earning another slap from Mary.

 

Anne was sure her blush was so intense you could actually hear the blood rushing through her cheeks. Gilbert groaned beside her.

 

“I- I have to get back home.” Anne said, trying to get away as quickly as possible. “Marilla will want me home for dinner!”

 

With that, Anne took off inside to grab her books. She heard Bash yell “Ow!” behind her, followed by Gilbert and Bash arguing. She tuned them out as she grabbed her things. Mary had followed her in, Bash and Gilbert still outside.

 

“Anne,” Mary said, placing a mothering hand on her arm.

 

All Anne wanted to do was crawl under the nearest rock and die. This was the most mortified she had ever been in her life. What they must think of her….

 

“Anne.” Mary said again, placing her hand over Anne’s own.

 

Tears pricked at the back of Anne’s eyes.

 

“Look at me.”

 

Anne turned and looked at the woman, sure she would see disappointment in her eyes. Instead, she saw a smile and affection.

 

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Mary assured her. “I know you must think we think you improper, but we don’t.”

 

Anne only swallowed in response, tears almost spilling.

 

“There is nothing wrong with two… friends sleeping side by side,” Mary offered Anne another smile, cooling some of Anne’s worries. “Especially two people with conditions like you and Gilbert.”

 

Tears slipping over, Anne wiped her eyes.

 

Mary reached up and wiped Anne’s tears herself, Anne’s heart swelling at the affectionate touch. “Don’t worry about Bash. He teases Gilbert like it’s his job. It’s okay.”

 

Unable to form her own words, Anne nodded and took a deep breath.

 

“Please, stay for dinner,” Marry smiled at Anne, all affection and mothering instinct coming out.

 

“I’m sorry, I have to go,” Anne turned and picked up her things to walk out the door.

 

Her stomach was still in knots, she felt like she might throw up. She knew Mary was being honest when she said she wasn’t judging her, but the knot deep in her stomach wouldn’t loosen. All she could hear was the whispers around town of the orphan slut who knew too much and said inappropriate things.

 

She was so caught up inside her own head, she didn’t hear Gilbert approaching her until he grabbed her arm just before the gate.

 

“Anne.”

 

Anne turned, seeing his face full of worry, full of genuine concern. It made the tears fall faster.

 

“Anne, hey, don’t cry,” Gilbert ducked to continue facing her as she tried to turn away. “Bash was just kidding. I’m sorry.”

 

Anne sniffled, wiping her eyes.

 

“We didn’t do anything wrong, Anne, it’s fine.”

 

“No, Gilbert, it’s not fine,” Anne said, voice and eyes steely as they looked at him.

 

Gilbert froze, unsure why she was so angry.

 

“It’s not fine,” she repeated. “It’s not fine for me. It might be for you, but it isn’t for me.”

 

“Anne, I-” Gilbert tried, brows drawn in confusion.

 

“You don’t get it! You’re a boy. People see you sleeping with a girl on your arm and they think, ‘How cute!’. It’s finefor boys. It’s not finefor me,” Anne spit the words, anger flaring up inside of her.

 

Gilbert was only stunned into silence.

 

“People see me sleeping on a boy’s arm and they think, ‘Oh, there goes the orphan girl again! She says improper things, she does improper things. It’s just her nature,’” Tears were falling freely down Anne’s cheeks now. “You don’t get the whispers around town of how terrible you are or to keep kids away from you because you’re a bad influence. I do. You don’t get dirty looks. I do. You don’t have to constantly worry about every single thing you say or do in front of people, lest you accidentally live up to their expectation of you. I do.”

 

“You think I don’t get my own fair share of ridiculous prejudices from people in town?” Gilbert stood taller now, gesturing behind him at the house where Bash and Mary sat, anger lighting in his eyes.

 

Anne’s own anger wavered, seeing her ignorance. Of course he knew where she was coming from. She didn’t back down, though.

 

“Anne, why do you even care? Just ignore what they say.”

 

Anne scoffed, “Oh, that’s easy for you to say.”

 

“Is it?” Gilbert asked, getting angrier. “Mary and Bash would never judge you. I don’t judge you. We’ve done nothing wrong.”

 

“That doesn’t mean people won’t assume other things,” Anne crossed her arms across her chest.

 

“Who?!” Gilbert almost yelled. “Who else is here? Who else will see us like this?”

 

Anne looked down at her feet, angry with Gilbert, angry with this situation, but mostly, angry at herself.

 

“Anne-” Gilbert began, his voice softer. He reached a hand out towards her arm.

 

“I have to go.” Anne stated before turning and leaving without another word.

Chapter Text

“What’s wrong with you and Gilbert?” Diana asked.

Anne looked over at her ever-perceptive friend. “Nothing,” she lied.

The two girls walked down the path towards the schoolhouse. It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in sight, the sun bright in the sky. Wildflowers crept along the path, through the trees and rocks. The yellow and purple petals opened up towards the sun, drinking in the morning rays. It was the type of morning that would normally send Anne into rhapsodies about the beauty of nature, but she was quieter this morning. It had been a week since her and Gilbert had fought. They hadn’t spoken to each other since. This also meant neither of them had slept since then.

Diana only clicked her tongue in response. When Anne still didn’t offer any explanation, she pressed further. “Anne, I can tell when you two are fighting. It’s obvious to pretty much everyone. Just because you aren’t yelling at each other in the front of the classroom doesn’t mean I can’t tell.”

Anne knew she was right, of course. There was a lot of awkward tension between her and Gilbert when they did have to interact in class. She didn’t know what to say to him. She knew she was wrong for some of the things she said, and she was definitely wrong for blowing up at him like that, but she didn’t know how to even start the conversation. Instead Anne only looked down at her feet, not knowing how to respond to Diana either.

“You guys are so close, you can be honest with him about whatever is bothering you,” Diana said, gently.

Anne offered her friend a smile, grateful for her understanding and support. Anne changed the subject and the girls chatted animatedly as they finished their walk into the schoolhouse and sat down at their desks. When Anne heard Gilbert come in and sit at the desk to her right, she resisted the urge to look at him. Instead, Anne saw, out of the corner of her eye, Diana smile at him and then glance worryingly at Anne. Anne only kept her attention at the front of the classroom as Miss Stacy came in.

“Good morning everyone!” She greeted them.

The presence of the pants-clad woman lifted Anne’s spirits astronomically. Miss Stacy had a way of making Anne feel like she could do absolutely anything. She allowed herself to forget her issues for a moment and live in the infinite possibilities Miss Stacy represented.

That moment was short-lived, though.

“I just wanted to let you all know we are taking a semi-surprise science examination tomorrow morning,” Miss Stacy announced before being met with a resounding groan. “I know, I know. But parents are eager to see marked improvements throughout the year, so it is a must.

Anne dropped her head into her arms. She couldn’t be mad at Miss Stacy, of course. She could tell by the pained expression on the woman’s face that she didn’t enjoy giving tests much more than the schoolkids enjoyed taking them. However, Anne hadn’t slept in a week. She could already tell her mind was muddy and she was constantly groggy. The best thing for her to do before the test would be to sleep. Which meant…

Anne glanced over at Gilbert then. He had looked over at her at the same time and their eyes clicked. Understanding went between them instantly before Anne quickly looked back down at her desk.

-

At the end of the day, Gilbert walked up to Anne’s desk as she packed her things. Diana, leaving her things on the desk, turned and walked away to leave them alone. Anne really did love her.

Gilbert kept his voice quiet and ducked his head so no one would overhear. “So, can I come over tonight?”

Neither of them looked at each other as Anne replied, “Yes, that’s fine.”

They were silent for a second. Anne looked up at him. She decided she was just going to skate over their fight and not talk about it. Easier that way.

Gilbert searched her eyes for a second before saying “Okay.” He turned and left the schoolhouse. So that’s where they were now. Awkwardly avoiding each other until they needed to sleep.

Diana didn’t ask Anne about what Gilbert had said their entire walk out of school. Nor did she pressure her to talk about Gilbert at all. Anne would tell her everything one day, when she could make sense of her feelings herself, but Diana understood Anne often had problems talking about personal matters. She always gave Anne space when she was troubled, trusting Anne would come to her when she was ready. When they parted ways for their respective homes, Anne hugged her friend tightly. Diana gave her a knowing smile, squeezing her hand before turning towards the path leading to her house.

The minutes ticked by as Anne spent her afternoon studying her science notes. She, thankfully, was stronger in science than she was math, so she wasn’t extremely worried over this test. She would’ve liked to have Gilbert over to help her study, though. The edge of competitiveness when studying with him always helped her remember things more. Anne frowned down at her book as she thought of Gilbert. She hated not being on speaking terms with him. It left a permanent knot at the bottom of her stomach, and she felt the distance between them with every fiber in her body.

They had grown close, inevitably, over their weeks sleeping beside one another. When they would take their afternoon naps, they didn’t always fall asleep right away. They often found themselves under trees, heads together, telling stories to each other. Anne, rather than focusing on her notes, found her mind drifting to one afternoon in particular.

Her and Gilbert had settled down beneath the tree just below her bedroom window. They both looked up at the swaying branches for a minute, watching the wind move the leaves.

“Gilbert, tell me about when you traveled,” Anne said after a bit. She knew he wasn’t asleep yet either.

“Well…” Gilbert started. Anne heard him shifting around, figuring out where to start the story. “I started working on a boat. A big one. I was working below deck, in the furnace. My job was to shovel coals into the engines to keep the boat moving. The heat was unbearable at times. Sometimes I would psych myself out when I thought about the fact that I was so deep below deck, water all around me, stoking fires. I was sea sick for the first two weeks, I couldn’t keep any food down.”

Anne could practically feel the waves of heat she imagined from the fire roaring as Gilbert tossed a shovel of coal into the flames. Anne hadn’t ever seen the furnace of a ship before, but her imagination was active enough that she felt like she was there in the boat with him as he told the story.

“We weren’t allowed above deck, either. That was for paying passengers,” Gilbert continued. “But the first time I snuck up there… The first time I saw open ocean… That made it all worth it.”

Gilbert’s voice had taken a faraway tone as he got lost in his own memories. “What was the ocean like?” Anne asked. She had seen the ocean before, when Matthew and Marilla had taken her to the beach, but she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to look around and only see the ocean. Open water, completely surrounded.

“It was… Incredible. You would’ve loved it,” Gilbert said. Anne could hear the smile in his voice. She smiled to herself. “You would be able to describe it much better than me, I’m afraid I won’t do it justice.”

“Oh, come on,” Anne said, flattered still. “Just, tell me exactly what happened when you went out on deck.”

“Okay.”

Anne closed her eyes, ready to begin picturing the scene in her head.

“I had been in the furnace all morning. I won’t bother describing those, they’re terrible. But I snuck away and found my way up the stairs and above deck. I opened the door to the public deck and walked out. The sun was bright, hurting my eyes. The boat was swaying slightly in the waves. It was much quieter above deck without the furnaces roaring beside me and the foreman screaming at us. I walked up to the rail on the edge of the deck and looked out.”

Anne could feel the wood of the rail beneath her hands. She could smell the salt in the air, feel the sway of the deck below her.

“Everywhere I looked was blue. There wasn’t a cloud in sight. Blue sky, blue water. I remember looking out into the water and thinking about how deeply blue it was. It reminded me of…” Gilbert paused, but Anne hardly noticed, so enraptured in the scene she was conjuring in her head. “Anyway, all I could think about was how small I was. I was on a boat that looked so giant at port, but now was so, so tiny in the water. I remember seeing a-“

Anne was snapped out of her day dream by the sound of Matthew coming inside for dinner. Anne looked up to see him lumbering in through the door. The sun dipped low in the sky behind him.

“Ready for your test?” Matthew asked, smiling his close-mouthed smile at her.

Anne stifled a yawn and nodded, her stomach in knots at both the thought of the test and as the memory of her and Gilbert faded from her mind.

-

Candlelight flickered over the doilies laid across the dining room table. The only sound throughout the house was the sound of paper shuffling. Matthew and Marilla had went to bed a little over an hour ago, after dinner. Anne had a good grasp on the material, but she was just killing time before Gilbert got there. He rarely stayed overnight, they opted to do their naps during the day, but they still had a routine for those occasions. When Anne knew he was coming over, typically before a test, Anne would choose to study in the dining room. When Gilbert got there, he would knock twice, softly. Anne would let him inside, and they would make their way upstairs. Anne chose to not think about how easy it had become to regularly lie to Matthew and Marilla.

Even though she was expecting it, Anne still jumped when the two, barely perceptible knocks sounded at the door. She quietly got up and opened the door for him. The night behind him was pitch black, Anne could barely make out Gilbert’s features as he stood before her in the doorway. He gave her a tight-lipped smile. It was awkward between them and the secrecy of the situation only made the knot in Anne’s stomach grow tighter.

Anne moved to the side, letting Gilbert in. Anne blew out the candle on the table and they silently made their way up the stairs in the dark, Gilbert just behind Anne. By now, Gilbert knew exactly which planks to not step on outside Marilla’s door. The silence of the house pressed down on them so hard, Anne could hear her heartbeat in her ears. It felt like the two of them were deep in the ocean, swimming through silence As she did every time, Anne let out a breath of relief when they got into her room. A separate blanket lay folded at the foot of the side of the bed Gilbert usually slept on, illuminated by the lantern Anne had kept on in her bedroom.

Wordlessly, Anne crawled up and into her side of the bed. Normally, the two of them would chat a bit about their day in quiet whispers, but neither of them knew how to start the conversation. The situation was awkward enough as it was, but with the tension of their last fight still between them it was downright unbearable.

Gilbert picked up the quilt from the bed and stood there. Anne looked over at him.

“Do you-” Gilbert cleared his throat. He looked away from Anne, and down towards the floor. “Do you want me to sleep down here?” These were both the first words said between them outside of class work in days and the closest they would get to talking about the fact that they weren’t on particularly good terms.

Anne furrowed her brow and looked away. “No, you can still sleep up here.”

Gilbert didn’t move for a moment before saying “Okay.” and laying down in bed beside her. He blew out the lantern and the room was enveloped in darkness. The comfort and easiness of their naps was gone and replaced by an impenetrable awkwardness.

Anne stared up at the ceiling. They both lay perfectly still in the bed. Huffing, Anne rolled over on her side, turning away from Gilbert.

“Goodnight, Gilbert,” she whispered.

“Goodnight, Anne,” he muttered back.

Soon, she was asleep.

Anne had had nightmares for as long as she could remember. Obviously though, since her affliction started, she hadn’t had one. She saw that as a silver lining- you can’t have nightmares if you can’t sleep. And even when she did get to sleep with Gilbert around, she didn’t have them. Since it had been so long since she had one, though, the one she had that night had an intensity unlike any before.

A sharp tug on her braid brought Anne’s head down to the left, closer to the rat being shoved in her face.

“Kiss it, Princess Cordelia! It’s your prince!”

The giggles and laughter rang against the walls. Sweat dripped down her body as Anne’s breathing got shorter and shorter.

“It’s the only boy who will ever love you!”

The girls pushed the dead rat onto Anne’s cheek. She gagged at the smell of it, vomit threatening to burst through her lips. She wouldn’t see anything, only the jaunting faces of her torturers swimming in front of her. She could feel the walls behind her, their bodies pushing against her. Every now and then, one would stomp on her foot or elbow her ribs. Each hit would bring her doubled over in pain, bringing her face closer to the dead rat.

“Please, please stop!” Anne begged.

Anne’s heartbeat pounded in her ears, her lungs aching. She couldn’t breathe. They were too close, it was too much.

“Kiss your prince!”

With that, they shoved the dead rat against her mouth. Anne felt the hairs tickle her lips. The sharpness of the rat’s bones pressed against her mouth. She screamed through closed lips, thrashing as hard as she could.

“Kiss him, Anne! Kiss him, Anne!”

“Anne!”

“Anne!”

“Anne!”

Anne felt the sheets twisted around her legs, sweat covering every inch of her. She opened her eyes to see Gilbert’s swimming above her.

“Anne! Ssh, it’s okay. It’s okay.”

Anne’s eyes darted around, not sure of her surroundings. The faces of the girls faded and she saw she was in her own bed, in Green Gables. Gilbert was sitting up beside her, his arms on both of her shoulders.

“It’s okay, you’re okay.”

Anne’s breath coming in rapid puffs, her chest heaving, she barely registered Gilbert reaching up and brushing the sweaty hair off of her forehead.

“Ssh, you’re okay,” Gilbert kept repeating, still running his thumb along the side of her face.

Anne stared up in to his eyes, his calm eyes, as her breath slowed and her heartbeat receded. She kept looking at him as he whispered to her, calming her down. His voice was achingly soft, like he was trying to calm a wild horse. His face inches from hers, Anne though about how old Gilbert’s eyes were. They seemed so wise. That’s what she focused on to forget the demons haunting her subconscious.

“You’re okay.” Gilbert said one more time, brushing her face with his thumb again. When he was satisfied her breathing was under control, he sat back, allowing Anne to sit up, back against the headboard.

They both sat perfectly still for a moment, just looking at each other. Then, the mortification set in. Anne had woken him up with her nightmare, he had seen her thrashing about on the bed like a lunatic.

“Oh, Gilbert, I’m sorry,” Anne croaked, her voice breaking as tears spilled from her eyes. She threw her head down in her hands and sobbed.

“Hey, no no no, stop.”

Anne felt rather than saw Gilbert move towards her, pulling her hands away from her face. She looked away, not wanting him to see her tear streaked face. Gilbert pulled her towards him, holding her. This only made her cry harder, sobs wracking through her body as he pulled her up into his lap, holding her tightly. Anne pressed her face against his chest, clinging to him. One of his hands rubbed circles in her back, the other running along her hair.

“Ssh, it’s okay,” he whispered to her as she cried. Cried over her nightmares, over her fight with him, over how incredible this boy was, to hold onto her while she cried.

Eventually, the tears stopped and Anne’s breathing returned to normal. As she sat there, in her bed, arms wrapped around Gilbert Blythe, Anne realized a truth so real and obvious, it didn’t even shake her. Instead she looked at the truth for what it was: something she had known all along. She loved him. She loved this boy, rocking her back and forth as she cried after her not speaking to him for days. How could she not?

“I still have nightmares,” Gilbert said.

Anne felt his voice rumble through his chest. His shirt was soaked through from her crying, but his body was warm against her cheek. She pressed her face against him harder.

He continued rubbing circles into her back. “I’m outside, just out of earshot of the house, and I don’t hear Mrs. Kincannon call for me. I don’t hear her, so I don’t get to tell my dad goodbye. He dies alone and I’m not there to say goodbye…”

Anne tightened her arms around him at the sound of heartbreak in his voice. Their arms were tight around the other, clinging onto each other. Two souls, lost at sea, clinging onto the life preserver before them. Gilbert’s chin lay atop Anne’s head, the side of her face pressed into his chest. She felt and heard the air pass through his lungs as he breathed. They rocked back and forth, Gilbert’s hand still running through her hair. The motion was so soothing, Anne’s eyelids grew heavy quickly. They sat like that for what could’ve been minutes or hours.

“I’m sorry, Gilbert,” Anne said quietly. “For yelling at you and assuming you couldn’t understand how I felt.”

“It’s okay, Anne. I’m sorry for not taking it more seriously.”

Eventually, they untangled from each other and laid their heads back down on their pillows They both lay on their sides, facing each other. Comfortably silent, Anne only looked into Gilbert’s eyes.

Gilbert reached up, cupping Anne’s face in his hand. “You’re my best friend, Anne,” he whispered.

Those five simple words lit off fireworks in Anne’s chest and brought tears to her eyes. She knew what it was, he was telling her his truth; he loved her. A smile broke out across her face, mirrored quickly by Gilbert’s own smile. He brought his hand down from her face and grabbed her own. That’s how they fell asleep; smiles on their faces, hands clasped together.

When Anne woke up the next morning to the sound of Marilla’s sharp knock, their fingers were still interlocked. Gilbert, a much heavier sleeper than her, was still asleep. She smiled as she looked down at their hands, his bigger one holding her smaller one. Anne had never understood hand-holding, she thought it would get sweaty and uncomfortable after a while. But feeling Gilbert’s calloused hand against hers made her realize she never, ever wanted to let go.

“Anne, it’s time to start getting ready,” Marilla’s voice sounded through the room.

Anne regrettably pulled her hand from Gilbert’s and sat up. “Yes ma’am!” She called back.

Sunlight wafted in from her uncovered window as Gilbert rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He sat up and looked over at the girl beside him, a small smile on his face. Anne couldn’t find it in herself to feel embarrassed about her nightmares the night before. Gilbert had that effect on her, making her feel seen and unashamed. He saw her in her darkest moments and never looked away. He looked like he wanted to say something to her, but the sound of Marilla heading downstairs stopped him short. There wasn’t any time. Instead, he hurried to put on his boots and disappeared through the door with one last look back at Anne.

When he was gone, Anne let out a small laugh. Birds sounded in the trees outside, a beautiful calmness settling over her. Anne looked down at her hand, the one that had held Gilbert’s all night. Her fingers didn’t look any different, but they felt different, somehow. New.

In contrast to the feeling in her room when she woke up, the rest of Anne’s morning was hectic. Chickens escaped the roost and by the time she had helped Matthew and Marilla round them up, she was late getting into class, bursting through the door and into her seat in a flurry of apologies. Miss Stacy excused her tardiness after Anne let out a stream of excuses, ensuring the girl she had not missed the test.

As Anne sat down at her desk, she glanced over at Gilbert, who was already looking at her. Her stomach did a somersault as his lips tilted up in a smile. She blushed and smiled back before glancing away and back to her books.

Diana leaned over and whispered, “So you two aren’t fighting anymore I see.”

Anne shushed her fiercely, her blush deepening further as she took a test from Miss Stacy as the woman walked around the room handing them out.

Throughout the day, Anne wanted desperately to talk to Gilbert. She wanted to tell him how she felt, she wanted it out in the open. As usual, though, Anne lamented at God’s predisposition to never be on her side and instead threw her into one of the craziest days she had ever had. The girls kept her busy all through lunch with news of Josie Pye’s cousin arriving in town and how well suited he would be for Ruby. Anne wanted desperately to break away but could never find a way out. Then, it turns out it was Anne’s designated day to stay back after the day was finished to help Miss Stacy clean up the experiments for the day, making her miss Gilbert on his way out.

As Anne arrived back at Green Gables to tell Marilla she was going to run over to the Blythe stead, she found Jerry and Matthew struggling to replace the faulty fencing in the chicken coop. Seeing as the chicken coop fence was for her, Anne couldn’t justify leaving them alone to deal with the problem. By the time they were done fixing the coop and eating dinner, it was dark outside and far too late to go see Gilbert. When Anne collapsed on her bed in her room that night, she was bone tired and grateful it was Friday. At least she would get the next few days to relax. Anne closed her eyes for a second, resting her burning eyes.

She woke up the next morning in the exact same position, still in her clothes from yesterday. Her first confused thought was why hadn’t she changed into sleeping clothes and then her sleep muddled brain caught up to the really confusing aspect of her state: how had she fallen asleep?

Anne shot up in bed, looking around. Had Gilbert snuck in? After an inspection of her room, finding nothing amiss and no lanky teenage boy in her room, Anne truthfully started freaking out. Anne looked out the window, seeing the sun had just risen, Matthew walking out towards the barn. Without hesitation, Anne took off down the stairs.

“I’ll be back!” Anne shouted as she flew past the kitchen where a bewildered Marilla asked where she was going so early in the morning.

Birds started twittering around her as the redheaded girl ran through fields and paths. Dew covered the grass, giving everything a glimmer. Morning fog hung low through the pastures and roads. The sky was lightening quickly, turning red and yellow from the light blue it had been. As Anne passed through the gate at the Blythe homestead, she saw a figure rush out of the front door of the house, running towards her.

“Anne?” Gilbert called out, running towards her.

“Gilbert!” Anne replied.

The two of them were running full speed at each other and when they met some meters from Gilbert’s house, Gilbert grabbed Anne as she tried to bring her body to a stop.

“Did you fall asleep last night?” She gasped out, breathless. As Anne looked up at him, though, she already knew the answer, she’d know that sleep-mussed hair anywhere.

“Yes! Did you?” Gilbert searched her face for her own telltale signs of sleep.

“Yes!” Anne breathed.

They both broke out into grins, laughing as Gilbert held her arms. Anne jumped up and threw her arms around his neck.

“How is this possible?” Gilbert said as they broke apart.

“I have no idea…” Anne wondered. “But we also don’t know how or why this started so it’s only fitting that the solution is so mysterious as well.”

Anne just looked up at him, a smile spreading from ear to ear on her face. Gilbert’s smile matched her own as he searched her eyes. Her heart swelled in her chest at the sight of him. Suddenly, he jumped forward, bringing his hand behind her neck. As he pulled her towards him, Anne brought her hands up, cupping his face. Their lips crashed together. Whatever little breath Anne had left in her lungs at the sight of Gilbert’s smile immediately rushed out of her as she felt Gilbert’s lips against her own. He was warm and soft against her, her fingers winding through his curls. Electricity exploded through her brain as he pulled her against him even more. Anne had never been so glad to have never been kissed before. Nothing could ever compare to this. Everything else would’ve been a disappointment.

“Wait,” Anne said, breaking apart from him. Gilbert’s eyes were dark as his pupils were blown wide and slightly glazed over. The smile on his face was blinding.

“What?” he said, concern starting to slide into his face.

“I haven’t brushed my teeth,” Anne brought a hand up to her mouth.

“I don’t care,” Gilbert smiled again, leaning forward into another kiss.

Anne was arched back, one of Gilbert’s hands on the back of her neck and the other holding her waist. Nothing existed outside of the two of them. Anne couldn’t think of anything other than this moment, not even the fact that they were kissing out in the open field, Mary and Bash probably watching from the window.

This time it was Gilbert who pulled away. “Wait,” he said.

Anne only stared at him, unable to get her brain to function.

“This means you don’t have to use my arm as a pillow anymore,” he said, a look of real concern knitting his eyebrows together.

“You are absolutely obnoxious, Gilbert Blythe,” Anne rolled her eyes, trying to pull away.

Laughing, Gilbert didn’t let her go and instead pulled her in for another kiss. Dew soaking her socks as Anne didn’t even stop to pull on her boots in her rush out of the door, Anne thought nothing else in her life had ever been this perfect.