Fandom: Anne of Green Gables
Disclaimer: Of course I don't own these characters. And of course I get nothing for this.
Summary: Anne and Gilbert share a few moments with each other while at Queen's.
Notes: I wrote this for tma as a gift as she came in third place in my song guessing competition.
Anne sat on the banks, watching the few leaves which had fallen from trees into the stream. They spun slowly as they were carried slowly along by the current. She sensed movement behind her and looked back to see the cool breeze had blown two more leaves off the tree not four feet away. They drifted down to the ground, adding their gold and orange to the smattering of other colors attempting to cover the green grass.
She looked back at the stream, folding her arms over legs bent at the knees and using them as a pillow. Even when the stream held no leaves at all, it was still rather enjoyable to watch it winding along there. It seemed to know just where to go, and seemed to have done so forever. Anne was sure she'd never felt anything of that sort in her whole life. If anything, she was more lost than ever.
Out of the corner of her eye she caught more movement and turned to see which leaves had fallen. It wasn't leaves that she saw, however, but a pair of trousers which had appeared out of nowhere with the man attached to them. She gave a start, clapping her hand to her hear. "Gilbert Blythe, shame on you! You nearly scared me to death."
He chuckled and kicked up a few of the leaves with the toe of his boot. Then he sat down beside her. "I did call to you. It's not surprising that you didn't hear me. Where were you just then?"
"If you must know," she snapped back gently, "I was absorbing the beauty of the season. I find the falling autumn leaves very inspirational."
"You have time to write? I'm swamped with classes."
She sighed and picked up a leaf. She held it by the stem and rolled it between her fingers, making it twirl in an orange and gold blur. "This is the first free moment I've had in a while, but I feel it's important to make time for some things like this, don't you?"
"I suppose so," he agreed noncommittally. They sat together in silence for a while, watching the leaves fall. First red... then a red and orange... then a red and yellow... then one that was just yellow. "Makes you think of home, doesn't it?"
Anne nodded at once, remembering the pangs of homesickness she'd been doing her very best to fight. She had been so looking forward to attending school at Queen's and now that she was there, she was longing to be back home as well. But the beauty of the place was only a small part of why she missed it. "How could you tell?"
"Your tongue is being unusually dull," he replied with a coy smile.
"Gil!" she laughed, giving him a bit of a shove. It was childish and unladylike, but he rocked with it, grinning and waiting patiently for her to answer him. "I do miss Avonlea. It is always so gorgeous in autumn." She smiled, reflecting as much on how nice it was to have someone there to confide in about this. "But, then, it's always so nice in Avonlea, isn't it?"
"I suppose so," he said, looking over at her. "And it's nice here as well of course but it's also quite chilly. Aren't you cold, Anne?"
She shrugged. She was wearing only a wool shirt and a blouse. "I am willing to sacrifice for the appreciation of beauty." She gestured around towards the stream and trees in a dramatic fashion. "I shall embrace the season of colors and cold--"
"If you stay out here too long," said Gilbert, shrugging off his jacket, "You're liable to catch a cold."
"Gil..." Anne said reluctantly as he put the jacket around her shoulders. He gave her a look and she gave him a gracious smile back along with a simple, "Thank you."
They were momentarily distracted by a gust of wind that passed over them, stirring up the leaves and making them dance. The majority of leaves on the ground were brown, but a few of other colors were thrown into the mix as they spun in the wind then settled down again in different spots far from where they had fallen.
Anne pulled the jacket more tightly around herself, then she looked up past the branches that were gradually becoming barer. As she took in the sight of dark grey clouds which covered the blue she was so fond of, she felt something wet strike her cheek. "Is it..." She felt another strike her hand, then realized more small raindrops had already fallen upon her clothes. She looked over at the stream to see some strike the water, causing small circular ripples for a moment before they were lost to the current.
"It's raining," agreed Gilbert, holding his palm flat out, opening himself up to more raindrops. "We should get going." He stood and gentlemanly offered his hand to her.
She took it without hesitation and let him help her up. She brushed the seat of her skirt as discretely as possible, as she was sure dirt and leaves must be clinging to it. Then she started to pull the jacket off.
"Keep it until you're inside," he insisted, patting her back to encourage to go. Anne didn't exactly need encouragement as the rain began coming down harder. By the time they reached the edge of campus, it was pouring, and they were both relatively soaked by the time they reached the boarding house where Anne was staying.
Anne and Gilbert squeezed against the door on the stoop to get out of the rain. Anne could feel his breath against her face as they huddled there together. Gilbert's dark hair in front was plastered against his forehead and his shirt and slacks stuck to him. She felt guilty that her own blouse was relatively dry, thanks to his jacket.
Her 'Thank you' was drowned out by a loud clap of thunder as she shrugged off the jacket and handed it back to Gilbert. He was soaked to the skin, dripping wet as though he'd fallen right into the stream. Had she not felt so guilty, she would have stopped to be amazed about how quickly the storm had arisen. One moment it had been a few light sprinkles, and the next moment it was a torrential downpour.
Though he could hardly get wetter, Gilbert held the jacket up over his head with both arms. "See you around, Anne," he said. Then, "Some advice for you? Next time you decide to admire the leaves, you might want to pick a day when it's not meant to rain!" And before she could reply with something undoubtedly witty, he was off at full speed across the grounds towards the Academy's residential building for men. The end of his jacket streamed behind him as he ran, waving goodbye to her. She smiled and headed inside to change and get warm, but only after he'd turned the corner and disappeared from her view.
In a class of more than fifty, no one was likely to notice one student sniffling through a lesson. On the contrary, now that the weather was growing colder, every nose was a bit red and sniffly after coming in from the outdoors. But Anne could not help but notice that the next day in classes Gilbert looked and sounded like he was suffering from more than just a bit of a runny nose.
Gilbert looked up several times, catching her eye briefly then looking away. After each incident there was a long period of time before he began sniffling again, however. And when he rubbed at his nose, he always glanced over to be sure she wasn't watching him. He didn't seem to realize she could watch him out of the corner of her eye, like the falling leaves.
She did not have a chance to speak to him after class, as Josie and Jane approached her outside the building about taking lunch together, and Gilbert disappeared with Ruby Gillis as he almost always did.
He did not resurface until classes resumed that afternoon. As she grew older, Anne grew better at not letting her imagination get the better of her. But as she glanced over at Gilbert across the classroom during their lessons, she was sure she was not imagining the fact that he did indeed look ill. It wasn't long, in fact, before he sneezed. And though it was just the one, Anne had a feeling that there were quite a few more that he was doing his best to keep from surfacing. Class was interesting as always but, strangely, her concentration was not fully upon the lesson. She felt distracted and kept glancing back over towards Gilbert. And, by the end of the day's lessons, she was rather convinced that the reason was not simply friendly concern. Though she headed in Gilbert's direction when class ended, he took off before she reached him.
In fact, Anne did not speak with him again until him the following day. It was one of the first weekends she had not gone back home. Her studies were becoming more and more intense, and she felt she owed it to herself and those she'd left in Avonlea to study as hard as she possibly could.
This was how she ended up in the library on a Saturday afternoon, making her way steadily through history books for anything that might help her with her term paper. One thing that wasn't helping, however, was the frequent interruption in the form of sneezes which she heard from somewhere else in the usually silent library. After losing her place a half dozen times, she sighed and stood, determined to put an end to it. It wasn't so much that she was annoyed by the disturbances, simply that she thought whoever it was should know better.
Somewhere within her she'd somehow known it was Gilbert Blithe sneezing. But when she navigated through the stacks and came upon the sight of him, she couldn't help but be a little surprised. He was sitting at one of the small tables that were lined up along the wide isle. Anne was sure that his condition was the reason no one had elected to sit at the tables on either side of him. Gilbert looked just awful. Sallow face, flushed cheeks, and an expression of utter exhaustion which started in his eyes and spread throughout him so that he moved unusually slowly. He had the back of his hand pressed again his nose. His shirt cuffs were unbuttoned and loose, and the top button of his white shirt just above his vest was likewise.
As she watched, his breath caught and eyes closed. But it was almost a minute until he actually sneezed. In the meantime, his nostrils twitched and mouth turned down into a frown. His body rocked back and forth very slightly as his chest rose and fell. Finally he leaned back further in his chair, lifted his head, and snapped forward. "HUHHTChihhhhh!" Gilbert looked up and jumped in his seat with surprise. "Anne Shirley, you scared me to death!" he said with much more amusement than annoyance.
"I'm sorry," she said with a smile, walking over to stand beside him. "You seemed rather distracted for a while, there. But I'm not surprised. You sound terrible, Gil."
He nodded but shrugged. Innocently, "I'm all right."
"So where is Ruby?" Anne asked, trying to sound as though she actually cared, rather than was simply asking to be nice. However she did wonder how Ruby could let Gil be out and about like this when he was so obviously sick.
"She's not here in the library on a weekend, I can tell you that much."
He sniffed a few times and she gave him a look.
Gilbert cleared his throat.
She narrowed her eyes at him.
He closed his. And then he cupped his hand to the lower half of his face. "HUHChihhhhhh! Snff! Excuse me."
When he opened his eyes, she was still staring at him, leaning closer, bearing down on him.
He sighed. "It's just a little cold. I've had it for a few days."
Anne crossed her arms across her chest. "Well you must be terrible at hiding this sort of thing because it does not look all that little to me. And I have a feeling being out in the rain didn't help any. Am I right?"
"You didn't need to know because it isn't your fault," Gilbert insisted, rubbing his nose. He coughed, his whole body shaking, then leaned forward in his chair with another five or six coughs. He received glances from several other students and he cleared his throat.
"Gilbert Blithe, you're sick and should go straight to bed this instant!" She hesitated for a moment, then pressed her hand to his forehead, feeling for fever. "Or you'll make me feel terribly guilty."
His cheeks flushed more and he froze as he touched her. Then he turned away when she was done, in order to muffle another sneeze in his sleeve. "hut-CHUFFF!" He cleared his throat with some difficulty, then looked back up at her. "I'll be fine, Anne."
"Well you're not going to get any better sitting here studying," she said, gathering up his books and papers into a pile. She was about to scoop them all up when she thought of the handkerchief she carried. It was a bit too dainty for this sort of thing-- thin linen with her initials embroidered in one corner by Marilla who had been appalled once upon a time to find Anne hadn't any proper handkerchiefs of her own-- however, it was certainly better than sniffling into one's sleeve. She pulled her handkerchief out and handed it over at once. As Gilbert sheepishly dabbed at his nose, Anne picked up his things.
"You don't have to do that," he said, reaching up for his things. "I'm all right here."
But she shook her head. "The decent thing to do when one is sick is to stay in bed so as to not pass it on to the rest of us." Her tone softened slightly. "And you should really get some rest instead of working. It's the only way you'll get better. Now let's go."
He coughed but reluctantly stood. "You just want me to take it easy so you'll have a better shot at winning the Avery Scholarship."
She smiled innocently. "I can earn that award fair and square," she told him.
Then she watched him pitch forward, giving a double-sneeze into the handkerchief she'd given him. "ihhh...HEH-Schhhhh-Heh'KSchhhhh!"
She put a hand on his shoulder. "And you've also got a great chance to get the Avery or a medal, but you can't do so when you're sick. Isn't that right?" He nodded back and when she turned to lead him out, he followed.
This time, Anne walked Gilbert to his dorm. Their pace was moderate, and Anne made a point of checking that that sky was clear. The last thing they needed was another rain storm.
"h'CHIHshhh! hehhShihhhh! Excuse me." He dabbed at his nose, then folded the handkerchief and sheepishly offered it back to Anne.
"Keep it until you're well again," she insisted.
He smiled and closed his hand around it. "Th-thank you," he managed before his face fell.
Anne's 'You're welcome' was drowned out by another of his sneezes.
"HIHschhhhh!" He rocked a bit in place at the force of the sneeze.
"Bless you," she said, weighing the pros and cons of reaching out to him. Her concern just fell short to the rules of proper relations. She managed, however, to express herself as always in words. "I am sorry, Gil, about you coming down sick."
He shook his head. Insistently, "I would have been caught in the rain anyway. Please don't feel guilty. Hihhh... h'KShuhhh!" He sniffled and rubbed at his nose for a few moments. Anne started to worry he might be growing worse while standing and talking with her.
Luckily Gilbert reached over to the door and pressed his palm against it to keep himself upright and still. He smiled and gave a chuckle. "I can tell you feel guilty, though."
"How could you tell?"
He just smiled back at her and she laughed, remembering his words the last time they'd spoken. "I would never think to tease someone who is unwell. However, a light scolding might be in order to remind you that you should stay in bed when ill."
"Your point is well taken," he said, glancing towards the door to the building and taking a step closer.
"Take care, Gil." Anne briefly considered placing a kiss on his cheek, but she stopped herself before getting swept away in the moment.
He thanked her and headed inside.
Anne stood on the steps for a moment, looking out over the campus. The wind picked up briefly, hitting a tree in her line of sight. A handful of leaves broke free from the branches but were caught in the wind. It sent them down at an angle, far from the base of the tree. As she watched them being blown about and finally falling right where they were supposed to fall, Anne could not help but smile. She thought she had an idea now of how they might feel.