A/N: This is my first fanfiction, and it's of my favorite book/movie of all time. Go easy on me, but also please feel free to give me helpful critiques. I am horrible at writing accents, so I'm sorry if anyone (like Mammy for example) talks and it's not in MM dialogue.
For one month, Scarlett allowed herself to wallow in her despair, at Tara. For one month she drank away her pain, saw as little people as possible, and absolutely refused to cry. On the thirty-second day she left her room, with a stiff back, and walked down to join the family for dinner. Suellen and Will were already sitting at the table, and the children, including Scarlett's own Wade and Ella, had already ate their meals and had been sent to bed. They'd visited her only an hour prior to dutifully say their good-nights.
It pained Scarlett to look at either of them, they were a reminder of all that she'd lost. Wade, a connection to Melly. Ella, a reminder of her other daughter, Bonnie. They both asked her, although Wade more-so than Ella, about Rhett. When was he coming home? Where had he gone? Scarlett couldn't answer them, partly from choice, and partly because she had no idea where her husband was. Further, Scarlett knew she hadn't been a good mother, and every time they appeared in her room, she felt like she didn't truly have anyone left in her life.
"Good to see you, Scarlett." said Will, although he didn't bother to stand when she entered the room and just continued to eat the food on the plate in front of him.
"I'm not used to having a house guest stay in their room when they visit." Suellen looked up at Scarlett, pointedly.
"Well, as it's my house too, Suellen, I thought I might behave as I wished." Scarlett took a seat at the table and looked at the food that had been prepared. For the first time since Bonnie had died, it at least looked somewhat appetizing. Since her death, she ate for need only.
The trio ate in silence for a while, until Scarlett couldn't stand it anymore. "The place looks dreadful Will, is Tara not making enough money to keep it looking respectful?"
Scarlett felt a glimmer of regret as she saw Will's subtle wince. "I do what I can Scarlett, me and the few male servants that didn't leave after the war."
"Well, we'll have to make Tara profitable again, won't we? I won't watch as it becomes a shadow of what it once was like all the other houses in the county. Tomorrow, I'll look at everything, and we'll decide where to begin." With that, Scarlett's mind was made up, and with a gusto she hadn't felt in years, she threw herself into Tara for the next nine months.
The ten months that Scarlett had been away from Atlanta were somehow both the longest, and the shortest, of her life. Forced to return on matters of business for Tara, she'd felt her stomach tighten into a knot as she and Will approached the city. She'd left the city, and the memories, the day after Rhett had left her. She had no desire to return to face the town that still believed her in love with Ashley, and who'd never approved of her, or her actions. Now, there was not even Melly to defend her. There was nothing here, accept an empty house and painful memories. As far as she was concerned, the quicker they left, the better.
Will and Scarlett has chosen the best method was to divide and conquer, so while Will attended to his list of things, Scarlett attended to hers. She was walking past several shops, looking about to see if she could spot Will, when a voice came from behind, and stopped her in her tracks.
"From the rumors, I thought you might be harder to track down Scarlett, and yet here you are."
Rhett. She knew the voice instantly of course, and had only a second more to decide her course of action. She wanted to turn around and scream at him for abandoning her, to throw herself at his feet and beg him for another chance, but she did neither. Instead, she turned around, keeping her face as plain as possible, and looked up into his familiar face. "Why, Rhett, if I'd known you were coming, I would have had a room in the house prepared, as it is-"
"I've already secured my lodging for my time here, Scarlett. An old friend has made available a room for me."
Scarlett's eyes narrowed at the news. He knew he referred to Belle Watling, of course that's where he would choose to stay, somewhere he knew she would never go. It took all of her strength not to let out a snide remark, but she was determined that he wouldn't see how much he still affected her. "Well then, if you do need in the house, Uncle Henry can let you in. I must be on my way. I need to find Will." She offered no pleasant farewell and instead turned and walked away. Willing herself to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not look back. Hoping he wouldn't stop her. Hoping he would.
She found Will a short time later and breathed a sigh of relief. "You've got everything we need, then?"
"Almost everything, Scarlett. A few things were delayed, they'll be here on the train, tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? I needed them here today. We can't go all the way back to Tara and then make this same trip again. We'll have to stay here a night, now."
"Yes, Scarlett, I suppose so."
"Well, I suppose we should head to Peachtree Street then."
The house smelled stale when she opened the doors, the result of no use. When she'd left, she'd ordered the furniture covered, and the windows all secured, then she'd dismissed all the staff, except Mammy, who went back to Tara with them. At the time she'd hoped, spitefully, that Rhett would come home a week or two later and see that she'd left. For once it would be him waiting for her to return, but Uncle Henry never informed of her of any such event. "I'm sorry about the state of the house will, but I don't suppose it will matter much since we're only staying a night."
Will nodded his agreement, looking around at the opulent surroundings, that still shown. "Yes, Scarlett."
Scarlett began walking up the staircase, and gestured for Will to follow her. She paused half way up, taking time to run her fingers across the banister. This staircase; it was a scene of consuming passion, and one of horrible pain. She looked up, noticing Will eying her strangely, and let her hand fall to her side, before beginning up the stairs once more. She led him to a spare room, directing him to remove any covers he needed, and to utilize whatever was there. She didn't want to talk anymore, and so she left him to himself, and walked down the hall.
She paused at a closer door, one more significant than all the rest, for this was closed with more purpose. It was Rhett's room. The one he'd occupied since Bonnie had been born. The one where Bonnie had lay, with him watching over her, both in life, and in death. The one from which he'd packed his suitcase, and left her ten months prior. She hadn't planned to go in, but she found herself pushing the door open, regardless. This room, like all the others was draped in plain white fabric to protect the furniture. She pulled the piece that covered the bed off, and stared at her for a moment before sitting down upon it. Scarlett could still picture Bonnie's little body laid out on top of it, with Rhett forbidding them to bury her. His grief, much like his love for the child, was expansive, and unlike anything anyone had ever seen. It was then, as years of memories, and lost chances, and bad endings rushed over her, that Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler, cried.