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Betty, I won't make assumptions
About why you switched your homeroom, but
I think it's 'cause of me

 

It was the first day of senior year and Gilbert’s day was not off to a great start by any means. He arrived at Green Gables bright and early to pick Anne up for breakfast as had become their annual first-day-of-school tradition only to discover that she had already left with Diana. Marilla Cuthbert was not typically a warm woman, but her tone had been pricklier than usual when she turned him away. He could have sworn that Matthew, one of the kindest people he knew, even glared at him from the pastures as Gilbert reversed past him down the winding driveway.

Anne was mad at him about something; that much he knew, but the what was lost on Gilbert entirely. They had been become best friends during the summer after Grade 8 and she had agreed to become his girlfriend during the Christmas holidays between their sixteenth birthdays. Sure, their twenty-month romance hadn’t been without its ups and downs, but what teenage relationship was without at least a little bit of drama. Regardless, Gilbert shrugged it off as best he could. He would simply ask Anne about it when he got to school.

Gilbert walked into homeroom that morning fully expecting Anne to be sitting in the far corner with her friends as she usually did. As he walked through the doorway, his eyes were immediately drawn to the group of girls. However, her unmistakably red hair was nowhere to be seen besides the dark tresses he knew belonged to Diana. Diana was engrossed in a conversation with Ruby, Jane, Tillie, and Josie; but that came to a halt as he caught Ruby’s eye. The girls all silently shot daggers at him, turning back to their conversation. Anne never showed, nor was her name called for attendance.

Miss Stacey went through the beginning of term announcements and it was a good thing that nothing had really changed from the previous year, because Gilbert was not paying any attention at all. Instead, he was lost in thought, racking his brain to try and figure out what was going on with Anne. Nothing had seemed amiss on Saturday, when they had spent hours beneath the old tree at the edge of his parents’ orchard, the one that had not produced apples in over a decade but provided the perfect amount of shade to lounge about and enjoy the fleeting summer’s air. Anne had looked like a goddess or a woodland faerie laying beneath the tree, her hair sprawled out around her creating a stunning contrast with the plush grass beneath her fiery locks. Her simplistic beauty as she read peacefully reminded Gilbert of why he had fallen for Anne in the first place. The soft smile she gave him when he gently carded his fingers through the soft auburn strands of hair caused Gilbert to internally scold himself for ever doubting her.

Anne was the most genuine person he knew, and he had almost lost her. Gilbert’s jealousy had gotten the better of him and he had nearly let the best person he knew slip through his fingers. The better part of August had been difficult as he had tried to come to terms with the fact that his temper had cost him both his best friend and his girlfriend all in one go. It was the loneliest month of his life and no matter what he did to cope with their breakup, Anne was constantly on his mind. Words could not express how truly elated Gilbert had felt when Anne had turned up on his doorstep barely a week ago boldly declaring that she had missed him.

Now, though, Gilbert could not help but wonder what he might have done in the past week since they had gotten back together that would upset her enough to change her homeroom. Not one to typically make assumptions, the harsh glares he was receiving from Anne’s friends were enough to convince him that he must have done something.

 


 

You heard the rumours from Inez
You can't believe a word she says
Most times, but this time it was true
The worst thing that I ever did
Was what I did to you

 

Tillie Boulter said a lot of things. It was common knowledge amongst her friends and her peers at Avonlea High that the girl loved to stir up drama, even if she occasionally had to stretch the truth a bit. Despite the girl’s widely-read gossip column in the school newspaper, everyone—her best friends included—knew to take what Tillie said with a grain of salt.

Tillie Boulter was a known gossip and even her friends knew not to trust a word she said unless they had heard it directly from the source, too. However, the news she chose to share with her friends on the eve of their senior year was spot on. The girls had all been hanging out in Diana’s bedroom, chatting about everything and anything when Anne’s phone vibrated for what felt like the millionth time that afternoon.

“Doesn’t Gilbert know better than to bombard you with texts during girl time?” Diana had asked teasingly while Anne rolled her eyes and typed out a quick reply as she had been doing all afternoon. “I know you guys just made up from that big fight you had last month, but we have important things to talk about here!”

“I’m so glad you two are officially back together,” said Tillie while Ruby squealed in agreement, proclaiming that they were the most adorable couple she could think of. “That blonde girl he was seeing a few weeks ago was pretty, but did not look his type at all.”

Anne felt her stomach drop. “What do you mean?” she asked, voice shaky. “We aren’t ‘back together,’” Anne added using air quotes, “because we never broke up. We had an argument. You know us; we’re both a bit too hot-tempered and stubborn for our own good sometimes.”

“Oh, you didn’t know, did you?” Tillie clamped a hand over her mouth, a shocked expression painted on her face. “I’m so sorry.”

Okay, now Anne was beginning to panic. “Can somebody please tell me what’s going on?” There was no way Gilbert could have cheated on her. He was always so good to her, so gentlemanly. Anne trusted him implicitly, trusted him with her stories and her secrets. Most importantly, she had entrusted him her heart, something she did not give away easily after the childhood she had, bouncing around from foster home to foster home until she finally arrived at Green Gables. Gilbert could never cheat on her.

“I’m so sorry, Anne, but Tillie’s telling the truth,” Jane confirmed, opening the Instagram app on her phone. Anne’s heart stopped. There was no way Gilbert could have cheated on her, even if they had the worst fight of their relationship; it simply wasn’t him.  Nevertheless, Jane had managed to find photographic evidence and was handing over her phone so that Anne could see for herself.

The photo was dated 13 days ago, a week before Gilbert had turned up at her door, begging for forgiveness. Based on the lighting, it appeared to be sometime early or mid-morning light filtered over crisp white sheets which pooled at the waist of a sleeping figure whose back was to the camera. The caption read Morning views followed by a little sun emoji. At first, Anne thought the form might belong to someone else, but as she zoomed in on the subject, there was no mistaking that the boy in the photo was her boyfriend. There was no mistaking the smattering of freckles beneath the curls at the nape of his neck or the birthmark nestled just below his right shoulder blade.

Tears welled up in Anne’s eyes as she returned Jane’s phone. “Wh-who is she?” Anne’s voice was shakier than ever. Don’t cry over him; he doesn’t deserve it.

“Winifred Rose,” Jane answered confidently. “One of Prissy’s best friends at university. She’s from Charlottetown, I think.” And she’s absolutely gorgeous, Anne noted, based off the other photos the girl had posted. Of course Gilbert had cheated. She simply could not compete with an older woman, certainly not one as stunning as this Winifred.

A tear rolled down Anne’s cheek as everything sunk in. Gilbert had cheated on her.

 


 

I was walking home on broken cobblestones
Just thinking of you when she pulled up like
A figment of my worst intentions
She said "James, get in, let's drive"
Those days turned into nights
Slept next to her, but
I dreamt of you all summer long

 

Gilbert only saw Anne twice throughout the day and each time, she was flanked by at least two of her friends. Whenever he thought about approaching her, he would look up to see Diana glaring at him and he knew better than to face the wrath of Diana Barry when she was angry. However, Gilbert knew that he couldn’t fix things until he knew what exactly he had done to upset Anne in the first place.

As soon as he was dismissed from his after-school student council meeting, Gilbert made a beeline for his car and drove directly to Green Gables. He had barely gotten the chance to knock when the door swung open to reveal Diana Barry, who did not look happy at all. “You have a lot of nerve coming here after what you did,” she spat angrily, causing Gilbert to flinch. For such a small stature, Diana could be awfully intimidating when she wanted to be.

Gilbert was confused. “W-what did I do?” Obviously, he had said or done something that upset Anne, but nothing came to mind after that argument they had in the middle of Josephine Barry’s summer soiree. Gilbert had readily admitted fault a week ago and things had been good, he thought things had been so good.

“You really don’t know, do you?” Anne appeared from behind Diana, her voice icy and emotionless.

Gilbert shook his head while Anne stared at him silently. Maybe his mind was playing tricks, but he could have sworn that Diana muttered, “bullshit,” under her breath.

“Does the name Winifred Rose sound familiar to you?” All the colour drained from Gilbert’s face as the source of her anger became clear.

Sleeping with Winifred Rose was not something he was proud of by any means, but Anne had told him that she could never be with someone who couldn’t trust her around other guys. Their argument on Josephine Barry’s front lawn had blown up to greater proportions than any other falling out in their four years of friendship or their nearly two years together. Anne had refused to see him in the days following their fight and a defeated Gilbert needed something to numb the pain. So when Winifred had expressed interest in him after a long day of observing Dr. Ward, Gilbert had given in. Why a beautiful, older woman was interested in a bumbling virgin like himself, Gilbert would never know but he needed something to take his mind off of Anne and how much he missed her. He needed something to help him move on in case Anne never took him back.

Gilbert thought that Winifred would be the solution to his heartbreak, but she only seemed to make him miss Anne even more than he had before she had insisted on driving them both back to her parents’ deserted house. The first time she sunk down on him, enveloping his cock in her slick heat, Gilbert could have sworn he saw stars, but in the aftermath he felt hollow. His first time was meant to be with Anne. It should have been with Anne.

Their fling barely lasted three weeks. Gilbert kept falling into bed with Winnie, hoping that one day, he might wake up to find that he wasn’t missing Anne anymore. But that day never came. Instead Winnie insisted that August had been fun, but they were never meant to last.

“You’ve been hung up on another girl the entire time this,” she gestured between them, “has been going on. Whoever she is must be really special.” Winifred had told him. “This has been fun, but we could never work long-term…especially not while you’re clearly in love with someone else.”

Was Gilbert in love with Anne? He knew that he cared for her more than he did anyone else, but was it love? Was seventeen even old enough to know? Gilbert wasn’t sure, but he did know that Winnie was right, so with an awkward hug goodbye, he left her bed for the last time, determined to make things right with Anne. There was always the chance that she had decided that she would be better off without him, but all he could do was try. Fortunately, it had taken little more than a heartfelt apology and some minimal pleading for her to agree to get back together with him.

“We were, we were broken up,” Gilbert stammered. “I was hurting and she was there.” He knew that it was a sorry excuse for a few weeks of meaningless sex with a girl he barely knew, but it was the raw truth.

“We were never broken up!” Anne shouted, angry tears beginning to roll down her cheeks. “Couples fight; it happens all the time! Instead of waiting until we were both calmed down enough to talk things through, you just jumped into bed with the first girl to bat her lashes at you! Do I really mean so little to you?”

Gilbert wanted to shout back, to explain that it was all a horrible misunderstanding. He wanted to defend himself, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t because she was right; their fight was still fresh in his mind and the heartbreak was still so raw when Winnie came onto the scene. He should have known better, fought harder to reconcile with Anne. In that moment, standing on her porch steps, Gilbert knew that he was head over heels in love with the girl who had dumped her milk over his head when he had teased her for the colour of her hair back in Grade 6. He was in love with the girl who had dared him to climb to the top of the tallest tree in the orchard in the summer before Grade 9, the same girl who had stayed with him in the hospital while the doctors cast his arm after he had fallen out of said tree. He was in love with the girl who had nothing but kindness and beauty in her heart despite the terrible childhood she had endured. Gilbert Blythe, at seventeen-years-old was irrevocably in love with Anne Shirley. Only it was too late.

Before he could form any sort of words—no matter how hopeless they might be in this scenario—Diana stepped between Gilbert and a heartbreakingly devastated Anne.

“I’d think you better go now,” she told him sternly before closing the door.

Gilbert knew he would never forget the look of hurt in Anne’s eyes. He would never forgive himself, but he would do anything to make it up to her.

 


 

The only thing I wanna do
Is make it up to you

 

The thing to know about being seventeen-year-olds is that they can be naïvely selfish. Gilbert Blythe was no exception to this and he knew it. In the aftermath of his fight with Anne, all he could think about was himself and how his own heart was hurting at the idea that she was lost to him forever. He never stopped to consider that they were both hurting, but one argument wouldn’t break them. Instead, he had assumed that they were over and hopped into bed with the first girl to express interest.

Anne was well within her rights not to forgive him, but that didn’t make his heart ache any less. In the weeks after Anne had learnt of his infidelity, Gilbert made a conscious effort to keep his distance. He had already caused her enough hurt and upset without persisting in trying to explain himself. The least he could do was give her the space she needed and try to keep his longing glances to a minimum.

Gilbert thought that things might get easier as time went on. Perhaps the impending hockey season, student council, and the pile of college admissions essays he had to write would provide an adequate distraction. Perhaps in time, he would find himself thinking of Anne less and less until their friendship was stuck in the past as if one of them had moved away and lost touch in the process.

Three weeks into the school year and Gilbert was just as heartbroken as he had been the day that Anne told him she knew what he had done with Winnie. He could not stop thinking about the free-spirited redhead who had captured his heart so completely. Knowing that he had been such a great source of her pain was devastating. All he wanted to do was make things right.

The thing to know about Anne Shirley is that she is stubborn; endearingly and frustratingly so. Gilbert wanted nothing more than to apologise to her and work to earn her friendship back at the very least—if she won’t let me love her anymore, perhaps we can still salvage our friendship—but he knew that getting her to listen would be the biggest hurdle.

Perhaps a letter might do. But would she read it? Gilbert knew Anne better than he knew himself most days and while he knew she was a big fan of written word, he also knew what a temper she possessed. Surely any letter he penned would end up torn to shreds in the bottom of a wastebasket. Unless… Gilbert had an idea but first, he had a letter to write.

 

Dear Anne, he began, knowing he dare not call her Anne-girl until he was back in her good graces.

I have no idea where to begin, but apologising seems like a good start, so Anne, this is me telling you that I’m sorry for what I did. It was inexcusable and something I’ll never be able to forgive myself of.  

I never should have let my jealousy get the better of me when you were dancing with Cole at Josephine Barry’s party and I should have trusted you when you told me that there was nothing going on between the two of you. You have never given me any reason not to trust you implicitly. Even now, knowing how much I’ve managed to hurt you, I’m placing my heart into your hands and entrusting it to you.

I know we both said things that we didn’t mean that night. At least I know I did. You told me that you didn’t know if you could be with me anymore and then you refused to see me every time I tried to apologise. You sent my calls to voicemail and never answered my texts. As far as I was aware, you had broken up with me. Weeks passed, and I heard nothing from you.

If  there was even a semblance of hope left that you might forgive me, I never would have slept with Winifred. I never felt even an ounce for her what I feel for you, but I was hurting and I was willing to do just about anything to take my mind off of you. It never worked. I felt just as empty afterward as I did before and I missed you more than ever.

What I did was unforgiveable, quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever done. I understand if you never forgive me. The smart thing to do here would be to accept that I’ve ruined everything we’ve ever built together. However, I hear that love makes one a fool, so while I understand if you never want to see me again but I miss you and I’m willing to do anything to get my best friend back.

I’m so very sorry.

Yours if you’ll have me ,
Gilbert

   

Gilbert folded the letter neatly. Finding the right words had been difficult, but he was still at the bottom of an incredibly steep mountain. There was no guarantee that Anne would ever read his words of apology, but he had to try and if that meant swallowing his pride…

The next morning at school, Gilbert approached the group of girls in his homeroom tentatively. While the glares had lessened, he knew that he was far from their favourite person after what he had done to Anne, but he couldn’t think of any other way to get through to her than to request their help.

“Er, Diana, could I have a word please?” he asked politely, a hint of desperation in his tone.

Diana simply rolled her eyes. “I don’t think so.”

“Please, Di, it’s important,” he pleaded. If he couldn’t get Anne’s bosom friend on board with his plan, there was absolutely no way his apology would ever reach its intended recipient.

“You have two minutes,” she replied, exasperated. “But I reserve the right to change my mind.”

Gilbert shyly produced the letter, folded neatly inside the cover of his biology notebook. “Before I say anything else, I want to remind you that we’ve known each other since junior kindergarten. Have I ever given you reason to doubt me before?”

Diana thought for a moment before shaking her head. Gilbert Blythe had always been one of the most dependable, trustworthy people she had ever known. Until he went and cheated on her best friend.

“I truly thought Anne had broken up with me,” he did his best to explain. “I didn’t come to you to make excuses, but I do want to apologise to Anne so I wrote her this letter. Only I don’t know if she’ll read it if it comes from me.”

“So you want me to play the role of messenger?” Diana raised a brow, still sceptical of the boy who had broken Anne’s heart. “I don’t think so.”

“Please, Di,” Gilbert pleaded as if his life depended on it. “Here,” he held out the letter. “You can even read it if you’d like. I just need her to know how sorry I am.” I need the chance to tell her that I love her.

Gilbert half expected Diana to tear the letter in half. Instead, she read through it—twice by the looks of things—before folding it neatly.

“Well?” he looked at her expectantly.

“I’ll pass it along, but I won’t force her to read it.”

Like anyone could force my free-spirited Anne-girl into doing anything she didn’t want to.

“That’s all I could hope for.” He was about to thank Diana when she turned away from him and went back to where the rest of the girls were sitting.

All Gilbert could do is hope and wait.

 


 

Betty, I'm here on your doorstep
And I planned it out for weeks now
But it's finally sinkin' in
Betty, right now is the last time
I can dream about what happens when
You see my face again

 

Gilbert was laying in bed that night, staring at the ceiling, willing sleep to come and put him out of his misery when his phone buzzed, the glow of his screen illuminating his room.

Diana: Anne read your letter. She’s having her annual autumn bonfire Saturday night. This is your ONE chance.

Gilbert grinned. He had hoped that Anne might hear him out, but to invite him to her party was more than he could have imagined. Anne loved Fall. She insisted that there was something so inspiring about the changing colours and crisp air made it her favourite season. Gilbert always teased her that it was because her hair blended quite nicely with the foliage. He knew how much she looked forward to this party each year. To be invited was just what Gilbert needed. It gave him hope.

Gilbert: I’ll be there. Thanks, Di, really.

Gilbert: *blue heart emoji*


That night, he dreamt of what he might say to Anne when he saw her. Sometimes she was amicable and others, well Gilbert was glad when he awoke from those nightmares.

 


 

Yeah, I showed up at your party
Will you have me? Will you love me?
Will you kiss me on the porch
In front of all your stupid friends?
If you kiss me, will it be just like I dreamed it?
Will it patch your broken wings?
I'm only seventeen, I don't know anything
But I know I miss you

 

Gilbert stood on the front porch of Green Gables, a small bouquet of yellow roses and purple hyacinths in hand. According to Google, both flowers meant forgiveness and he knew that their message wouldn’t be lost on the girl who was more attune to nature than anyone else he’d ever met. He paced back and forth for a few minutes, nervously trying to decide what to say to Anne when he saw her.

Although Diana had told him to come, Gilbert was worried that Anne may have changed her mind. He also worried about what might happen if someone other than Anne answered. Diana, he supposed, would call Anne over, but what if it was one of the Cuthbert siblings? By now, he knew that he had not imagined their hostile attitudes toward him on that first day of school. Surely they had heard the full story from Anne and he would not blame either one of them if they turned him away from their home yet again.

There was only so much pacing, so much wondering and worrying that Gilbert could do before someone was bound to notice him so, taking a deep breath, he stepped toward the door and rasped his knuckles against it in a resounding knock. His heart began to speed up with nervous anxiety as he watched the doorknob turn in front of him, the door opening to reveal Anne, who looked stunning as ever. Gilbert may have teased her in the past about blending in with the Fall foliage, but there was a truth to his words. The reds and yellows, oranges and browns, only accented her natural beauty.

“Hi, uh, I got these for you.” Gilbert handed her the flowers. “And, er, I want you to know that I am immeasurably sorry.”

Anne took the bouquet, holding it up to her nose so she could inhale the floral aroma. She looked ethereal, a fiery goddess under the glow of the beginnings of an autumn sunset. “Did you mean it?” she asked him, eyes wide, referring to the letter.

“Every last word.” Gilbert stared into her grey-green eyes. “I can never forgive myself, but everything that’s happened has only made me realise how much I truly love you. I’ll do anything to earn your forgiveness.” He blushed, realising that this was the first time he had admitted aloud that he loved the girl standing before him.

Anne shrugged. “I suppose the reason everything hurt so much is because of how much I love you too,” she admitted shyly, a pale blush creeping onto her cheeks. “It’s going to take a long time for me to trust you again,” she warned. “But I’m willing to try.”

That was enough to restore Gilbert’s hope. “I’ll do everything in my power to regain your trust…you know, if you’ll have me.”

“Gil,” she sighed, stepping toward him. “I’ve tried to move past this, but it seems that all my heart wants is you.”

Boldly, with all the courage she could muster, Anne handed her heart over to Gilbert, this time a little more bruised, battered, and guarded than before. Neither was sure who stepped toward the other first, but they stood on the porch, wrapped in each other’s embrace for as long as they could, sharing gentle kisses and enjoying a warmth that they had been longing for. They were both broken. They still had quite a long journey ahead of them before their hearts would be fully healed, but it was something. It was a start.

 


 

Standing in your cardigan
Kissin' in my car again
Stopped at a streetlight
You know I miss you

 

Monday morning, Gilbert arrived at Green Gables just as the sun was peaking over the horizon, just as he had on the first day of school. Only this time, Anne was standing on the front porch, wearing a well-worn cardigan and jeans, waiting for him.

As they sped off toward Avonlea Village, Gilbert tried his best to focus on the road rather than how ethereal Anne looked beside him in the warm orangey glow of the morning sun. Crawling to a halt as the yellow light hanging above the intersection turned to red, Gilbert put the car in park and leaned across the centre console to press his lips against Anne’s.

Anne pulled away quickly, a pleading look in her eye. “You guys didn’t…in here…did you?” she asked awkwardly. It would be a long time before she could fully trust him again, before she stopped comparing herself to the blonde girl behind the Instagram account.

Smiling softly at her, Gilbert whispered a resounding, “No, never,” which was all Anne needed to hear before kissing him back with fervour.

It would be a long time before Gilbert was forgiven, but they were going to be alright.