Anne with an E Fanfiction: More than Pride - 7. He hurt more than just my pride
“Elaine? Dearest Diana, you must be joking!”
Anne almost let her books fall to the ground at the news. It had taken her a few moments to fully process her companion’s words and her agitated exclamation was the only thing she had managed to say in result of said processing. Diana looked at her with the sort of self-content that made her think of Jerry – had she been in control of her own mind and body, she would tease the other girl mercilessly about it; however, that she was not, so instead she just tightened her grasp on her books, shifting her gaze from one of her friends to the other.
“You’re serious?” she stuttered eventually.
Diana’s composure was gone the second Anne had said the words.
“Very serious, Anne,” she said with even more enthusiasm ringing in her voice. “Miss Stacy told us to read the poem before Monday after you left school yesterday. Of course, Josie Pye had to remind everyone that we had already worked on it with Mr Phillips; she used that annoyingly sweet tone she always assumes when she’s talking to Miss Stacy, and I swear I get positively sick every time she does that. Anyway, Miss Stacy only said that repetition is key to learning – and how differently it sounded than when that old teacher said it, Anne! – and that if that’s the case, the task is even easier and we should not complain. I am pretty sure she’d overheard us talking about it earlier; you know, when she had first announced interpreting Tennyson last Tuesday.”
“We decided it was a perfect reason to give ourselves another chance and try to enact it again, hopefully with more luck this time,” Jane picked up the other girl’s explanation. “We agreed on it yesterday too, and spent the evening learning our parts, so you don’t need to worry about prompting us and fully focus on playing Elaine instead.”
“It is most wonderful news,” Anne admitted, feeling her own voice crack with emotion. “But how could we do it? The last time we tried, Diana’s mother came and told us directly not to even think of it. She might like me a little more than she did then or be a little more understanding in regard of Diana’s manners, but I am sure she would not approve of us trying to do exactly what she told us not to do before. And Diana, didn’t you say that your father made it clear about not wanting anyone to come anywhere near his boat?”
Diana shook her head, the mischievous smile still playing on her lips. “He meant his new boat, the one he only auctioned last month. He is perfectly alright with using the old one – he said we could use it whenever we wanted, as long as there’s someone watching from the shore, and there will be all three of us standing there! And as to my mother, I dare say she never really knew what we were planning on doing, and she only got angry because we went out for too long when it was still really cold.”
“Come on, Anne, it will be fun,” Ruby murmured from her spot, although Anne couldn’t tell whether it was anxiety or excitement that she was speaking with.
She rested her gaze on each of the visitors in turn and raised her eyebrows slightly. “There is something else you’re not telling me.”
Diana’s face fell a little and she shifted nervously.
“Well,” she began. “There is also the fact that my parents won’t be back from Charlottetown until tomorrow evening, so they will not interrupt us again.”
Anne couldn’t help but laugh openly at this final admission, unintentionally making her bosom friend blush with embarrassment.
“Diana Barry, you mutineer!” she exclaimed, still laughing, and only the books in her arms made her refrain from throwing her arms around Diana’s shoulders and hugging her fiercely. “Why, this is indeed a perfectly wonderful news. Let me just go to my room and put those back on place, and you, could you please walk over to the barn and tell Matthew where we are heading? I don’t suppose he’ll answer you with anything more than a nod – dear Matthew still doesn’t feel very confident in the company of any girl that isn’t me, although I think he’s rather used to Diana by now – and if you don’t find him there, you can always tell Jerry. Just please make sure he passes the information to Matthew this time!”
She was running towards the house in the next moment, while the girls strolled towards the other building, chatting animatedly. Anne didn’t stop to look at them or to hear what they talked about – she knew exactly what it was and cared for nothing more than to join them as soon as it was possible.
Latin could wait and so could algebra. The adventure could not.
The four found themselves leaning over the well-used boat sooner than any of them expected.
“Alright, girls, you all know what to do,” reminded Jane, the managing body of the whole operation. “Ruby will play Arthur, I will be Guinevere, Diana is our one handsome Lancelot. And Anne, of course, is Elaine.”
“I am so very excited I can hardly hear my doubts,” Anne whispered, her voice trembling with agitation. “But I would lie to say I don’t have any. Are you sure you want to have a red-headed heroine? Of course, red is far better than green but I still don’t think it’s enough.”
“Nonsense,” Diana protested immediately. “If we wanted to follow every detail, we would have to put Ruby in the boat, and we already know that she will not play the part.”
“I have no intention of dying of fright, thank you very much,” Ruby confirmed resolutely. “You’re the only one that could even think of enjoying that.”
“Besides, your hair has darkened so much since winter, and auburn looks so beautiful against that white dress of yours,” Diana continued. “I am sure it will look even more wonderful if you let it down now.”
Anne wanted to oppose with another of her long-prepared arguments, but her love for romance took the better of her. She agreed to play the part and walked towards to boat, decorated with an old, dark shawl Jane had bargained from her mother when Mrs Andrews wanted to discard it. Anne was readying herself to lie on it, when Ruby suddenly bade her to wait.
“We forgot to pick the flowers!” she explained immediately. “We can’t have Elaine laid in an empty boat with nothing but an old shawl, can we? We need flowers!”
The rest agreed with the observation and quickly decided on where they would go to search for the decoration. Jane and Ruby went first, Diana closely behind them, until Anne caught her arm and made her stop. She didn’t say anything, only sending a silent plea with her eyes, hoping her bosom friend would understand the cue.
Diana did understand.
“Ruby, Jane, you go and gather the flowers alone, and I’ll take care of Anne’s hair so we don’t waste any more time,” she explained, having turned towards them with perfect reflex. “We all need to get back for tea and we don’t know how long exactly Anne’s… cruise will take.”
When the other two resumed their walk, Diana turned back to Anne, ready to question her about the sudden need of her exclusive presence.
She abandoned the idea as soon as she saw Anne’s pensive, slightly wistful gaze. She gave her friend am inquiring look – and waited.
Anne looked away, fixing her eyes on the water before them. She sighed.
“Diana, what is it really about?”
“What do you mean?” her companion stammered, taken aback.
“I mean this. Lord Tennyson. Lancelot and Elaine. My dress, and the flowers and – why are we doing this now?”
“I told you everything already, back at Green Gables. What else do you want to hear?”
Anne sighed deeply, again. “Please don’t think I don’t appreciate your efforts, Diana, because I really do. And you know that I’ve dreamed of enacting this scene with you, even more so after our first attempt. But I’ve always felt like I was the only one that did, and that you’d never want to try again – and then you come to Green Gables and tell me that you want to do this, and more, you have it all planned out… I just don’t understand what could possibly have made you care about this so much, so suddenly.”
“I’ve explained it to you, Miss Stacy -“
“Did not hear us talk about it on Tuesday, ” Anne looked directly at her friend. “She was helping Moody with geography at the time. But fine, she told us to read Lancelot and Elaine and it doesn’t even matter why she did – but you three insisting on playing it now? That’s a very different story.”
Diana pursed her lips and sank down, seating herself on the side of the boat. “We just wanted to make you feel better.”
It was Anne’s turn to show her astonishment, her brows rising high, her mouth parting a little as she searched for suitable words.
“Make me feel better? Why would you think you needed to do that?” she asked eventually.
“The way you left school yesterday made it pretty clear you weren’t feeling well,” Diana answered patiently but couldn’t refrain from giving Anne a knowing look. “You and Gilbert quarrelled, didn’t you?”
Anne’s eyes seemed to grow even bigger. “What? Why would you -“
“You worked so well for the whole time, scribbling your ideas as if your lives depended on it – you were very quiet, but I could see you smile and all those satisfied looks you threw at one another – as you always do – clearly showed that you made progress, too. And then suddenly you stood up and called Miss Stacy, no, interrupted Miss Stacy, Anne! And I saw Gilbert say something to you, too, but you just ignored him, only to storm out of the classroom the next moment.”
“Well, you must have great attention span to have noticed all that while simultaneously working on your own essay,” Anne muttered, forcing a weak smile, hoping her words didn’t come as too harsh. “I could never do that.”
“Stop mocking me, Anne,” Diana protested. “You are my friend and I just wanted to know how you were doing, taken your initial reaction for the results of the draw. And then it was difficult not to notice things.”
“Alright, fine,” Anne admitted eventually, sitting down by her companion’s side at last. “If knowing it will make you feel better then yes, Gilbert and I had a little… difference of opinions, I suppose. Again.”
Diana shook her head with a smile. “Anne, you two are always having a difference of opinions. What is so special about this one?”
“Perhaps the fact that he usually refrains from insulting me to my face,” Anne huffed with irritation. “He didn’t yesterday, however, and I honestly think the only thing we should be marvelling at right now is that I succeeded in staying as calm as I was.”
“What did he say?”
“He called me Carrots again,” Anne’s voice had turned into whisper now, no matter how hard she tried to keep it loud and even. She cleared her throat. “I know it seems rather ridiculous to you, as it’s just a meaningless word, and presumably with no bad intentions behind it, but I can’t help it that for me it is still more than that. And I can’t be friends with someone who consciously ignores that.”
“So you’re just going to ignore him in turn?” Diana asked, alarmed. “Only because he hurt your pride? Anne, you know it makes no sense!”
“He hurt more than just my pride, Diana,” Anne answered surely, her jaw tightening a little after she did; all of the sudden, she felt completely exhausted of their short exchange. “And given the circumstances, ignoring him is the best I can do, for everyone’s sake. Don’t worry, though, I am not going to be mean to him like I once was – I suppose I will keep saying my ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’ without much trouble, and I’ll do my best to answer his questions politely; if he cares to ever ask any. I’m just not going to look for his company anymore, that’s all. I’m sure Ruby will be glad.”
“I think you’re making a mistake,” Diana summed up after a while of pondering over the matter. “You two could be great friends, I know this – but I’m not going to try to persuade you, since you have clearly made up your mind about it. And speaking of Ruby, I think the girls are coming back.”
Anne nodded with silent gratitude and together they rouse, turning towards the approaching party.
Her hair was very much the same as it had been when they had left.