Tohru12: Thanks for your review! I hope this chapter meets your expectations.
Missysammy: You did convince me to write the last chapter. I would write more but sadly this is the last chapter. Don't worry though, I have another story in progress.
violet blossom: You are quicker then I am! I hadn't realized I never finished writing what Melanie was going to say. haha But I don't think I will so I'll leave it up to your imaginatation. Thanks for the review!
Maria aka Tuduvant: Sorry to mispell your name! I loved your review. It's the longest I've ever had! Anyways no matter how much I love your reviews, you must continue your story! Please! And about Ashley being dead? I don't know what you mean? he didn't die... he might in the future... just kidding. Thank you for loving my story and your reviews.
Joyce Lakee: Thanks for your review. I love your story even if I don't get around to reviewing that much. I'm glad you think I have a lot of emotion since that is my goal. I hope you enjoy.
Now without furthur adieu Part 15
Rhett Butler knew he was a fool. He had admitted his love to Scarlett exactly two days ago and hadn't seen her since then. It wasn't from his lack of trying but she had seemed to vanish from the face of the earth. Every time he asked for her, she was either at the Wilkes' or in her room, not to be disturbed.
He knew he shouldn't have told he loved her. He hadn't intended to. But the words burned in his throat and he had said them against his will. He hadn't expected her to accept his words with open arms and fall at his feet. God, he didn't expect her to say she loved him, for he knew she didn't give a damn.
It was exactly a week today when he had made his promise to her about staying and now he was leaving. He had kept the end of his bargain and that was that. He had just picked up Wade and Ella from the depot and had went to the Wilkes' to pick up Beau.
A dense mist covered all of Atlanta and obscured anyone's sight. Many didn't venture out but the weather wouldn't keep him in. He was leaving, even if he didn't see Scarlett before he left. He would leave her the note he had written telling her of his departure.
What an interesting thing the weather was. It changed so rapidly as life changed. He wouldn't have thought he'd be leaving Scarlett. For he was leaving her in a way. He wouldn't be returning for months. Only he wouldn't be divorcing her. For he still had morals even though he wouldn't admit it. And he didn't want to see the children suffer, for the world was such a cruel place and they had seen enough cruelty in their lifetime.
He closed the last of his bags. He didn't have much for he didn't need it. This place had only been a home to him when Bonnie was alive. Now that she was gone, it was almost as if he was living in an hotel. A temporary place. He only had two bags and with one last glance at Bonnie's small bed he left the room and walked down the hall to the children's room.
He set down his bags and pushed open the door. He was met with the sight of Beau, Wade and Ella playing war. It was too foggy to go outside so they were playing in this small room. They were chatting lively and yelling with loud voices. A sad smile tilted the corner of his lips and only Ella noticed him in the doorway.
"Uncle Rhett!" she squealed and threw herself in his arms. The boys quit talking as he picked her up and held her, soothing her hair and giving her a kiss to the cheek.
"Thank you, honey. Are you glad to be home?"
She nodded vigorously. "Yes, I missed you and mother so."
He set her down with a smile and looked at the two boys. They were growing up quick. "Hello Beau. What are you and Wade playing?"
"War, Uncle Rhett. One day Wade and me will be soldiers like our fathers."
He ruffled the boy's fair hair and gave him a wink. "I'm sure you'll make us all proud and you too, Wade."
Wade beamed and so did Beau. He would miss the children but he needed peace from Scarlett. He would have taken the children with him but they were first Scarlett's as Bonnie had been his first. But Bonnie was gone and there was not a damned thing he could do about it.
He held open his arms. "Come over here all of you and give me a hug. I'm leaving for the train."
All three ran over to him and nearly knocked him over with their tight embraces. When they pulled away, Ella looked up at him with sad eyes.
"Oh, Uncle Rhett, must you leave?" She looked over at the window. "Surely the train won't leave when it's so foggy out."
He smiled. "I'm afraid Ella the train always leaves sun or rain. But I'll send you all presents form Charleston and I'll write you. Now how does that sound?"
She launched her small body at him and gave him another fierce hug. "I don't care about presents Uncle Rhett as long as you come home. I'll miss you so much."
"I'll miss you too," he said with feeling. Looking over at Wade he smiled. "And when I'm gone, son I'll need you to look after your mother. Will you do that for me?"
Wade nodded and with a small wave, the children chorused good-byes to him as he walked out of the door. He heard their playing resume as he grabbed his bags and walked for the stairs. He saw Mammy and smiled.
"I couldn't leave without saying good-by to you, Mammy."
"I sure hope not, Mistha Rhett," the old woman chided. "But don't be gone too lon' Mistah Rhett, de house will be awfully lonesome without ya here. Miss Scarlett will miss ya somethin' fierce."
"I won't Mammy. Watch over the children and Miss Scarlett for me. Scarlett's such a child you know and she's been through a lot. She's not as strong as she thinks."
Mammy nodded. "I's will. And ye take good care of yerself too."
"I will Mammy, I will. Good-by... oh and can you please give this note to Scarlett." He handed her a simple note. "I don't want to disturb her."
Mammy said she would and he walked down the stairs, a bitter twist upon his lips. So this was the end of life as he had known it with Scarlett. Even now he wanted to open her door and pull her body against his. He would miss her glares and the sound of her voice. Even her stubbornness. But the end was the end and he knew when it was over. He was a man that knew a lost cause when it stared him in the face.
Opening the door, he looked out. The fog was even more dense and he could barely see anything in front of him. How ironic that this mist was something like Scarlett's dream. How many times had she had this reoccurring dream and would wake up crying? He would hold her and soothe her, glad that she came to him. But she hadn't wanted him anymore or his comfort.
He wondered why he was thinking about her now? He wanted to forget her and leave her behind in Atlanta. But she would always haunt him, even in Charleston he wasn't safe from her. He would want her to his dying day and would love her. What a misfortune to love a woman that didn't want him. He had once laughed at the Greek tragedies but now he understood them.
He made his way out of the door and closed it behind him. Tipping his Panama hat on his head, he began to whistle softly as he made his way through the gate and turned left for the depot. The depot wasn't that far but the walk gave him much needed air and cleared his mind. He began to whistle "When This Cruel War is Over" as he made his way through the overshadowing fog in long strides. His only intent was leaving, he wouldn't even say a farewell to Belle but would send her a message later.
"Rhett! Rhett!" a voice flittered through the fog and his heart stopped. He shook his head with a slight smile of irony. He thought he had heard Scarlett's voice. Maybe he was becoming senile. Even her voice haunted him... He continued walking.
"Rhett, wait for me!" he heard the cry again and stopped. There was the quick clicking of feet against the ground and turning around Rhett saw her. She wasn't a vision or some figment of his imagination. She stood there, face pale and clutching an handkerchief, the fog swirling about her. He couldn't have been more surprised and gauged the feeling of hope that rose in him.
"When Mammy handed me the note I rushed out here, hoping you hadn't left," she said quickly, her chest rising and falling rapidly. "Please don't leave. I need you and the children need you. If you go... what shall I do?"
"I don't know, Scarlett," he heavily said, staring down at her with a speculating look. Her eyes were wild and her hair tumbling about her face. "I'm tired of everything, my dear. This sham we call marriage and loving someone you can never have. Do you know what I mean?"
"No, I don't understand. For I- I never loved, Ashley. But Rhett we can have a second chance. I did call for you when I was sick but I thought you didn't want me and I- I did want the baby but I couldn't tell you when you were so mocking. I do care."
"Care? God it's not enough." He laughed with no mirth. He took a step near her and dropped his bags. Grabbing her shoulders he pressed her body near him even though he knew it was a mistake, he had to touch and hold her one last time. "Tell me you love me, Scarlett and I'll never leave you."
He was looking intently at her face and he saw her eyes dart frantically as he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her with all the love he had held back, he kissed her desperately and his mind was lost in the swirling fog and her lips under his. He pulled back as she stared up at him with a look of amazement. "Tell me you love me," he demanded and kissed her again. "I know you do..."
"I love you," she whispered and Rhett pulled away, instantly sobered from the passion he had felt. He looked down at her intently. She was staring at him with her mouth slightly open and a look of endearing confusion on her face, as if she were slowly waking from a dream.
"You mean it?" he asked, his heart in his throat. "You don't want to take it back? Or was it just to make me stay?"
"N-no," she breathed, shaking her head. "I only realized how much I love you. I do love you, Rhett. My whole life I've been searching for something. You were the one I was searching for in the mist. I knew it when you left and I chased after you. I thought I must not let him leave for I'd go crazy if he didn't know that I do care."
"Tell me again," he begged.
"I love you, Rhett. And I won't let you go. Please tell me you'll stay or I'll chase you every step of the way to Charleston. I'll-"
His lips silenced hers and her arms crept around his neck. They both were lost in the kiss and swirling fog around them. It was a fervent kiss of feelings too long held back and they both trembled under the force of it. Finally, Rhett was the one that pulled away and stared down at her, their eyes meeting and glowing with passion and love. He dragged his eyes from hers and looked around them.
"You'll catch your death. I'm afraid I was caught up, you know I have waited so long to hear those words from you..." He bent and picked up his bags with one hand and put his right one around her, drawing her close to his body. "Let's go home."
She smiled up at him, the first true smile he had seen on her face in a long time. One that wasn't calculating but genuine. Her lips were curved softly and there was a softness about her he had never hoped to see when she looked at him.
"It's finally home, Rhett," she said. "Now that we're truly together and I found what I was looking for. How long have you loved me?"
Her eyes were sparkling and he softly chuckled. "I'll tell you some other time."
"I'll hold you to your promise," she said, leaning her head against his shoulder as they walked forward through the mist.
No more words had to be said as they walked down the street towards the gate of their home. Opening it, Rhett and her slipped in and looking over at her, he still couldn't believe she loved him. He had waited years and now what he had wanted was right in front of him. He felt uncertain and scared to death that tomorrow she would change her mind and use his love against him.
But he had to give it a try. For he would always regret it if they didn't have a chance. Opening the front door, Scarlett grabbed his hand and they walked in together. The children were waiting by the door with anxious faces but smiled once they saw that Rhett had returned and their parents were holding hands. Wade and Ella dashed towards Rhett and Mammy had a huge smile on her face.
"Uncle Rhett, Uncle Rhett! You came back!" they all cried in unison and rushed towards him. Rhett grabbed them and gave them big hugs.
"I knew you'd come back," Ella whispered, looking up at him.
He smiled. "I couldn't stay away. Your mother is very persuasive." He looked over at Scarlett and she shyly smiled as she drew near to him and looked up at him. As punctual as always, Rhett saw Mammy hustle down the rest of the stairs and usher the children upstairs. He smiled gratefully for he wanted time with Scarlett and to make a sense of all that had transirped. The children's merry voices disappeared down the hall and they were completely alone now.
"Let's go into parlor, honey," he said, grabbing her hand. "You look like you're about to fall over."
"So much has happened Rhett in such little time. I do need to sit down..."
They walked together across the foyer into the parlor and Rhett shut the door behind them as Scarlett sat down and she made room for him to sit down next to her on the settee. He was pleasantly surprised when she leaned over and rested her head against his shoulder and deeply sighed.
"I always loved your smell of cigars and brandy," she muttered against his shoulder. "You've always made me feel safe."
"I'm glad. That's all I've ever wanted to do, Scarlett is for you to feel safe and warm. To quit struggling."
He thought of Bonnie and his face became shadowed. He had wanted Scarlett to be as carefree and happy as Bonnie. How he missed her. He felt Scarlett's hand on his cheek and looking down he saw her staring up at him with a small smile, her head still resting against his shoulder.
"The nightmare is over now, isn't it Rhett?"
Wrapping his arms around her, he buried his face in her hair. He had finally found the comfort he had needed since Bonnie's death and he sank against Scarlett as she wrapped her arms around him.
"Yes, my darling. The nightmare is over."
"I'm glad," he heard her murmur.
He soothed her hair gently. It's almost as if Bonnie were here, watching them with a sweet smile and he could almost hear her voice and the patter of her feet as he would hear when she ran across the room. He would never forget her, but in time both Scarlett and him wouldn't look back with so much pain. Later, they could pick up the broken pieces of their marriage and learn to live again.
But for now he was content to be holding the woman he loved in his arms and to have her return his love. He had lost Bonnie but he would always remember the good times. And he had gained Scarlett's love and a new chance to live another day without shadows in between them. His eyes met hers and they kissed, a slow and sweet kiss. One that took away the past pain and cruel words they had shared over the years. They weren't a lost cause after all.