Hello. This story was actually something I wrote about a year and a half ago, and if you frequented Yahoo or perhaps Network54 back in the day, you may have read it. i've never posted anything here before, so I thought I'd give it a shot for some reason. The story is complete and I'm going to split it into about 5 or 6 parts. This part is rated T for Teen, but the rating will be upped to M for Mature from the next segment on out because it is a bit racy, so if you get offended by that, my bad. Ummm, what else. let's see, I think i should point out from the very start for those who haven't read this before, that is is not a spinoff, nor a continuation of GWTW. Rather, it's its own entity if you will, and a hallenge for me to see if I could actually write something to this effect. A majority of the story takes place in a flashback, so look out.
I do not own GWTW, yadda yadda yadda, it's just for fun. So here we go, I hope you like it at least.
The handle of the silver brush was cold in Scarlett's hand as she ran it through a lock of her jet black hair. She was seated at her vanity, on the same bench with the plush red velvet cushion that she had used for so many years. The hard wood of the tabletop where she kept her beauty products was no longer shiny and new, but aging, as everything does with time.
She raised her green eyes to study herself in the lavishly framed glass. Gone were the days when her vanity had been one of the most important things in her life. Now looks were not so imperative, for she had no one to please. She was still beautiful, of that she had no doubt, but as she set the brush down and brought her delicate fingers up to lightly touch the faint lines that were beginning to show at the corners of her cat-like eyes, she knew that even she could not escape the markings of age forever. Those eyes, they had been the one thing that had not changed over time, yet many people who knew her could testify that the emerald flames that had once burned so bright in the widows to her soul had dwindled that morning in early November and had never fully regained their life.
Still, many people who saw her on the street in her fine clothes with her head held high, still held a secret admiration for the former belle, and some were even envious, as they'd always been of her enduring beauty. Scarlett took no notice of the citizens of Atlanta, though she knew they were watching her, had been watching her since the day she and her husband, Rhett Butler, had moved into the large house on Peachtree Street, and even before that.
Even if she was not planning on going out for any special reason, she still felt the need to go through her daily routine, to retain some hint of that air of beauty that she was so revered for, and that is exactly what she was doing at that very moment. She had finished powdering her face and all of the other necessities that came with beautifying oneself, and now she had only her perfume to apply. Her eyes darted around the cluttered vanity table, looking for the bottle of the same scent she had been presented with as a gift from Rhett during the war so many years ago. Yet today it was not sitting in its normal spot next to her rouge, though she remembered putting it there yesterday and hadn't picked it up since. How odd, she thought. Surely she would have remembered putting it somewhere else. She couldn't be losing her memory already, could she? Impossible, she said to herself, dismissing that thought; she was not old.
Shaking her head back and forth and sighing lightly, she opened the top drawer on her right, shuffling through the combs and brushes, boxes of hair pins and other objects, but still, she could not find that perfume. "Oh it has to be here somewhere," she whispered, slightly annoyed. She reached her hand in further, and suddenly her fingers felt a hard rectangular object and she gasped. She knew what she was touching but she had long forgotten that she had put it there, for it had been too painful, too difficult to look at, and she would rather have not had to think of it at all then have those memories resurface. Yet instinctively her fingers grasped the mysterious object and she slowly pulled it out of its hiding place and into the light of day.
The small box had a thin layer of dust that had accumulated on its lid despite being hidden in the back of the drawer all those years, and she blew it off, revealing the delicate brown leather cover with the gold vine pattern framing the outside. The surface was slightly rough in texture as she traced the outline with her finger, a sudden shroud of memory creeping to the forefront of her consciousness. These memories were often repressed during the day, or at least she tried to as often as she could. Once, a long time ago, a good part of her free time was spent basking in the warmth and comfort that things like this object she now held provoked. But now it was only when she was dreaming at night that she let herself be swept away on the tide of memories, because only then would they come alive in front of her.
Her hands started to quiver slightly, and she took a difficult but anxious breath as she ran her thumb over the small gold clasp on the side of the box, unhooking it. It felt as though there was some unknown force compelling her to look upon this object that she had hidden away for so long, and she slowly opened the small lid, revealing the shiny metal mirror inside, and she held it up to her face at an angle to better see the image clearly. It was a daguerreotype, one of many that Scarlett had accumulated of herself and her loved ones over the years, but this one was special, and as she longingly stared at the reflective image of the figures in the picture she felt the familiar pang of sadness in her heart. She could not put it down, the hold this image had over her was too strong. She brought her finger up to trace the black and white figures as a single tear fell from the brim of her crystal green eyes and splashed across the glass frame, blurring the image in a bead of liquid. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to gather her courage, and when she opened them again, she allowed her mind to be transported through the looking glass she was holding and into the memory that was so cherished and guarded in her heart.
Scarlett's face was blank as a slate as she watched Dr Meade close the door to her bedroom on his way out. She had been ill with what she thought was the stomach flu for the past week and had been ordered by her very concerned husband to stay in bed, for he had never known her to be ill for more than a couple days at a time. Now as she sat propped up against the pillow, she ran her hands over the coverlet with nervous anticipation at the news that she had just been delivered. A baby? How was that possible? "Oh, don't be such a stupid fool," she breathed. Of course it was possible; it was more than possible. After all, she thought as she brought her hands up to her face, feeling her cheeks turn warm in a blush, she and Rhett had never shied from being benevolent when it came to pleasure in their marriage. In fact, she and Rhett were extremely close behind closed doors, and she was surprised, now that she thought about it, that this had not occurred sooner.
She was not sure how she felt about this news. Most women she knew would be overjoyed at becoming a mother for the first time, but Scarlett knew she did not possess these feelings. She was not angry, but she was not happy either. Her figure would be ruined, and as if that was not enough, she knew right then and there that within a few months time she would be confined to this house, not able to go to any parties or enjoy herself in the least. Scarlett groaned at this last thought and slid down under the covers, bringing her arms up and stretching them above her head. Confinement-that was all she needed right now, now when she was having such a good time and the spring fashions were showing off her petite figure so well. But what could she do about it? Being married to Rhett had allowed her to come in contact with many people she would never have associated with had her first husband, Charlie Hamilton, not died in the war, and she had overheard some of the women discussing remedies to such things as sicknesses and unwanted pregnancies. Yet she did not know where to get the ingredients to perform such a task, and even if she did, she was afraid of what might happen if something went wrong.
Her plaguing thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door, and before she could answer, Rhett opened it and stuck his head inside, his face lighting up with a sly smile. "Good afternoon, my pet. I have a surprise for you."
Scarlett sat up in bed and cast curious green eyes on her husband who was walking toward her with his self assured stance carrying a tray with a bowl of steaming hot soup and another filled with fresh strawberries. "I thought you might like some lunch." Rhett set the tray on the table next to the bed and bent over Scarlett, kissing her sweetly on the lips. "How are you feeling? Better, I hope."
"Yes, better, thank you," said Scarlett as she reached for the tray. Rhett beat her to the task and moved the tray so it sat on her lap, and she picked up the fancy silver spoon to slowly sip the warm liquid which worked wonders on her queasy stomach.
"What did the doctor say, Scarlett?" Rhett asked her eagerly before sitting down next to her on the enormous feather bed and wrapping his right arm around her back. "Is it anything serious? When will you be better? I miss you, it's no fun being downstairs in this big house alone while you're stuck up here in bed," he quietly pouted before he kissed her warm cheek.
Scarlett wiped her mouth with the white linen napkin that had accompanied the food and tossed it back on the tray before leaning back against the propped up pillows and sighing. "It's nothing serious…I mean, it is serious I suppose…" She turned her eyes to meet Rhett, studying his face as his eyebrows came together in confusion. What would he think about being a father? For as long as she'd known him he'd been such a vagabond, a free spirit who never seemed to be tied down for more than one short period at a time. Well he did marry me, she thought, and it is his baby, no one would dispute that now. Perhaps before and even during the war people would have suspected someone else as being the father of Scarlett's child, after all, she realized she had made quite a quiet spectacle running after the aloof and married Ashley Wilkes for so long. But Ashley had taken a job with a bank in New York shortly after the war, and he had taken his wife, Melanie, and their son with him. Scarlett had been more than heartbroken when Ashley told her the news of his plans, "It's the only way that I can prove to myself that I can survive on my own, Scarlett," he had told her. She could do nothing to stop him, say nothing to persuade him to stay so she could have him close to her heart spiritually if not physically. Now the only news she ever heard of the man who had once held her adolescent heart in his hands was contained in the flowing script of the letters Melanie sent on occasion, and slowly, the physical distance between Scarlett and Ashley had created an emotional rift as well, and she no longer felt for him what she used to.
"Scarlett?" Rhett pulled her out of her thoughts with a slightly impatient voice. "What did Dr Meade say was wrong with you?"
"Oh. He said…well…he said there's—well that is I'm…we're, we're going to have a baby." The words hurriedly slipped out of her mouth and she felt relieved being able to tell Rhett, but was nervous about his reaction.
For an extended moment there was only silence in the room, and it pounded in Scarlett's ears. Why won't he say anything? Then she felt his hand under her chin and he turned her face around to meet his. His face showed no emotion but his eyes were searching hers in question. "Are you happy about this, Scarlett?" he finally asked.
She turned her head away again and nervously placed her small hands on her still flat stomach. "Oh I don't know what I feel, Rhett. I was having so much fun, going to balls and parties with you, and my waistline won't be small anymore, and I'll be locked in this room for forever, and…"
Rhett chuckled at her words as he took the tray of food from her lap and put it back on the nightstand before pulling her into his lap, "And what else, darling?"
"And, well, I'm nervous, Rhett," she quietly confessed.
"Why are you nervous?"
"Well because—because I don't know anything about caring for children…"
"It's not that, Scarlett. We both know I can support children, and we do have a houseful of servants, including Mammy who knows everything under the sun about babies. What's the real reason?"
Scarlett looked around the bright room, trying to collect her sporadic thoughts before turning back to Rhett. "I'm afraid of something happening, of something going wrong. My mother had three boys before she had me and they all died. I remember overhearing Mammy in the nursery when Carreen was small saying how Ma almost died having her third boy. Rhett, I don't want to die," she said fearfully while gripping his arm.
"Scarlett, what is this talk?" Rhett responded concernedly. Then, as if something just occurred to him, he pulled back and held her at arm's length. "Scarlett, look at me," he demanded. "You haven't been talking to anyone, have you? No one has told you things, things about…alleviating the problem, have they?" His blank mask had fallen and she saw concern written all over his face.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Have you done anything, Scarlett, taken anything?"
Scarlett was frightened at the emotion in his voice. "No," she shook her head, her eyes wide with fear.
Rhett sighed with relief and brought her to him again, burying his lips in her hair and holding her close to him. She felt his strong heartbeat through his clothes and her arms instinctively went around his back. "Scarlett, you will have your baby. It is immaterial to me whether you have one child or twenty, but please don't try to do anything foolish. I know some people around this town that I wouldn't put past to give you information about getting an abortion, but I won't have you doing that, do you understand?"
Scarlett was uncomfortable at his vulgar mention of the word 'abortion', and she squirmed in his arms, but he held her close and passionately whispered in her ear, "I don't want to lose you."
Scarlett's eyes were wide with anxiety as she looked into his deep black pools. "Do you really care so much, Rhett?"
"Well, yes, Scarlett, I do."
Her eyes went soft at his words. He had always been kind to her in their marriage for the most part, and she knew they shared a bond that she felt with no one else. He was her best friend, the only person who understood her. "Rhett, what about you? Are you happy about this?" she gestured with her eyes and watched as he rested one of his large hands on her stomach.
"I'll be happy if you are, my pet. But don't you worry, I promise to keep you company during your convalescence, and I assure you, if you are still having fears about it when the time comes, I will get you the best doctor money can afford. And uh, don't worry," he smirked," you still have a few months before we can't, well, you know…"
Scarlett's whole face turned red with embarrassment at his last comment and she reached out and put her left hand on his cheek, playfully pushing him away before smiling and climbing off his lap. Rhett chuckled and leaned down on one arm, bringing his face close to hers. "Are you feeling better now? About having the baby, I mean."
Scarlett locked her gaze on his, trying to will some of his strength into her heart. "Yes. But Rhett do promise to let me have a good time while I still can," she begged in a child-like voice.
"I promise," he whispered before bringing his lips down on hers in a protective kiss.
"Well, how do I look?" Scarlett excitedly asked while twirling around, emphasizing her new dress for the ball that night in front of Rhett who watched amused with sparkling dark eyes.
Rhett was idly sitting in the arm chair next to the bed, and he crossed his right leg over his left and lit a cigar, taking a long drag. "You know you're too beautiful for your own good. So why even ask when you already know the answer?" he replied. Scarlett, who was in an exuberant mood in her anticipation for that night's festivities, turned a dazzling smile on her husband, and walking over to where he sat, put her face close to his and stuck out her tongue before smiling triumphantly much like she used to do to the country boys who would chase her through the rolling fields of Tara.
"Ah," Rhett commented, "then it's agreed. You do already know the answer, and willingly admit it. My dear Scarlett, you're too much for me." Scarlett tossed her head seductively so her black ringlets bounced about her face, but before she could turn away, Rhett stubbed out his cigar and grabbed her by the wrist. He pulled her down on his lap, and grabbing her head with both hands he proceeded to kiss her numerous times all over her face. Scarlett squealed with laughter and tried to escape, but he only continued; his strong but loving arms overpowering her weaker defenses.
When he finally did let her go, he pulled back and saw that she had tears running down her cheeks, and immediately asked her with a guilt laden voice if he had hurt her.
"No, Rhett," she smiled. "I'm only crying because I was laughing so hard, and this tickles," she said as she brought her finger up and ran it along his close clipped black moustache.
"Well, I'm glad it was only that, Scarlett, and I'm sorry I made you laugh to the point of tears," he whispered while wiping away her tear tracks with his thumbs. Then he stared into her green orbs and Scarlett watched as a devilish grin appeared on his tanned, handsome face and he winked and said quietly, "At least I still have my magic touch."
Scarlett rolled her eyes at his self absorbed comment and feigned annoyance. "Oh, you're impossible," she told him matter-of-factly before standing up and proceeding to the bedroom door. Before she could get across the spacious room she heard his voice floating behind her: "Wait, just a minute."
Scarlett spun around to find Rhett advancing toward her. The sight of his tall but well built frame, looking impressively stylish in his black suit with the white cravat that Scarlett had picked out especially for this occasion made her unconsciously smile in adoration and the knowledge that she would be seen on his arm at the dance made her even more prideful. But it was his eyes that gleamed so mysteriously in the soft evening light that was pouring through the open draperies that made her stay rooted in place, unable to escape the magnetic hold they had over her. When he made it to where she was standing he stopped, smiling down on her before bringing his hands up and resting them on her shoulders.
"I don't believe I really answered your question earlier, did I?" he asked softly.
"Whether or not I liked your dress," he replied silkily, examining her burgundy satin dress with the red ostrich feather accents on the short sleeves and along the flowing train. Scarlett though it brought out her eyes, and was the perfect accent to her dark hair that was ornately swept up and fastened with a hair ornament decorated with tiny diamonds. Her dress was bought in New Orleans when they were there on their honeymoon, and the diamond hair ornament had been a wedding gift from Rhett. "You've never looked more radiant, my pet."
Scarlett blushed and turned her head away, but when she faced him again she had a playful look on her face, and spoke in her best coquettish Southern Belle voice, "Why Rhett! How you do go on teasing a poor country girl like me!"
Rhett laughed and leaned down to gently kiss her forehead. "Shall we go then, my pretty belle?"
"Yes, I don't want to miss a minute of dancing!" Scarlett smiled excitedly.
Rhett pulled out the gold pocket watch that hung from a chain in his vest pocket and pretended to seriously examine the time. "Well," he sighed, looking out the window and observing that the sun had not yet set, "if we don't go right now I'm afraid we'll never make it in time." He gave Scarlett a playful wink and put his watch back in his pocket before offering his arm in an aristocratic manner that made Scarlett giggle in delight. "Our carriage awaits, madam."
When the Butler's carriage arrived at the park, there were already a good number of people making their way across the green lawn. The men and women were dressed in their best, even if it was not what it would have been had the members of the Old Guard still had their money that they so coveted before the war. This was one of the few times during the year that the prideful patrons of the city, who had been there since before the war and lived to see it burned and rebuilt by their loathed enemies, forgot their bitterness and celebrated the lives that had been spared. Being the beginning of May, the weather was warm enough for the gala to be held under the stars. Chinese lanterns and crepe streamers were strung up about the trees around the spacious area in the middle of the park, and a wind and string orchestra was awaiting the conductor's signal to start playing.
Scarlett was delighted to have been invited to this special ball. The members of the Old Guard did not approve very much of her marrying Rhett Butler, the renowned scalawag. No one besides Scarlett knew he joined the army late in the war, and she was confused as to why he never told anyone. But she did not let it bother her for too long. Still, to the Old Guard of Atlanta, Scarlett was a different story. Though many were suspicious of her, they held a secret respect for her because word had gotten to them that she had risked life and limb, toiled in the fields like a slave and nearly starved all to save her Tara and to keep her family alive.
In truth, Scarlett cared little about what the old cats thought. Only the fact that she knew they whispered about her behind her back mildly disturbed her, and she was determined not to let that bother her tonight when she was feeling better than she had for the past couple of weeks. She was prepared to dance until dawn if she could. Now, as she made her way down the lawn beside her husband, she imagined what a handsome couple they made, and she secretly reveled in the knowledge that women were jealous of her because she was married to such a well off and handsome man…even if he was a scalawag.
The conductor tapped his podium with his wand and just as the sun completely slipped below the horizon and the lanterns were lit, the soft music of the first waltz drifted out into the open space and the feet of the guests began to move in unison with the notes. Scarlett and Rhett stood in the middle of the crowd as the music began to play and she looked up at him expectantly. Rhett took her small hands in his and raised her left to his shoulder and took her right in his left while seductively splaying his fingers on the small of her back and pulling her close. Then with a nod of his head, they both were swept away on the tide of Strauss' Blue Danube. As the night descended on them and the stars overhead provided a dazzling canopy, many noticed that Rhett and Scarlett were oblivious to anyone else around them, and those who stood watching on the outside of the group, tracking the tall, lithe man as he led his dainty wife around the lawn that gleamed silver in the moonlight, were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the secretive, adoring look that was penetrating from their eyes and meant for only each other.