A/N Hello everyone! This is my first attempt at Gone With the Wind fan fiction even though I have been a fan of both the book and movie for years (I think I read it the first time in the 4th grade) I've been writing Harry Potter fics for about a year now but I just got into GWTW fics about a month ago...This is a what if picking up right after the war while Scarlett is still at Tara...I play with the time line a little bit on certain events to make the plot work, but nothing to drastic, and after all that's why it's a what if right? So enough from me and I hope you all enjoy!!
Scarlett collapsed heavily, exhausted from a hard days work, on the second to top step that the porch of Tara provided. Leaning wearily against one of the once majestic white columns she released the top couple buttons of her dress to allow herself to breathe easier. It was only May, but the weather already was bordering on stifling, even at dusk.
As the sun set over the much beloved land, she closed her eyes and she could almost imagine that she was sixteen again. For a precious moment, she was no longer simply sitting outside on the porch steps at dusk because she was desperately searching for a retreat from the hardships that continued to plague her every waking moment, even though the war had ended a few weeks ago. No, she was sitting outside because she was instead so caught up in flirting with one of her many beaus, that she had simply "forgotten" herself and stayed outside much too late. She was almost expecting Mammy to come bursting through the front door any moment, prepared to scold both her and her suitor.
As she sat back and absorbed the residual warmth that was radiating off the bricks from the long hot day, she could almost hear the hoof beats of Pa's horse, as he traveled back home from an afternoon at one of the neighboring plantations, full of news and stories to tell over dinner.
Wait,she thought as her eyes flew open, I'm not imagining that, those are hoof beats! She stood hurriedly, quickly spotting a man riding up the driveway causing her stomach drop to her feet and her heart rise to her throat. Her breath quickened as she knew that no one she knew these days had a horse that fine and from this distance all she could make out was a dark blue coat.
She straightened her back and squared her jaw as she calmly reached into her pocket for the gun that she always kept on her person since she was forced to shoot that Yankee deserter. The rider was backlit by the setting sun, so she was unable to make out his face as he dismounted the horse and causally made his way towards her.
"Stop right there," Scarlett commanded, raising the pistol. "I've shot your kind before for setting foot on this land, I won't hesitate to do it again."
Scarlett was surprised when the response she received from her declaration was a deep throaty laugh that she knew all too well.
"Is this how you always greet old friends?" a Charlestonian drawl, that belonged to one Rhett Butler, asked.
"God's nightgown Rhett!" Scarlett exclaimed, lowering the gun as she raised her other hand to her rapidly beating heart. "You're lucky I didn't shoot you, showing up at this time of night, and in a blue overcoat no less."
Rhett laughed again at her scolding. "My sincerest apologies for frightening you my pet," he said with a deep bow that proved he was anything but sorry. "I should have had the foresight to see what kind effect my appearance would have on a delicate lady such as yourself."
"Oh hush Rhett," Scarlett admonished, "before I change my mind and shoot you anyways. And don't think you wouldn't deserve it on principle, I haven't forgotten how you abandoned me that night."
"Abandoned?" Rhett laughed once again. "Hardly, I had every faith in you that you could and would make it home unscathed. And see, here you are all in one piece, proving that I was right."
Scarlett was ready to retaliate with some sort of biting remark, perhaps something about being sorry a cannon didn't land on him, but then decided she was too tired to battle with him and instead decided to simply sit back down and rest her aching back against the pillar.
Rhett noticed her change of heart and was surprised when she didn't take his bait as he moved to sit down on the porch a few steps below her, thankful to be able to stretch his long legs after the long, hard, impromptu ride out of Atlanta. They sat in silence for a long moment before Scarlett turned and looked at him as if she was just now realizing that he was actually there at Tara.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, clearly puzzled.
"Can't a gentleman check up on the welfare of the lady he, how did you phrase it, abandoned, so many moons ago?" Rhett asked with mock sincerity.
Scarlett laughed cynically as she raised her arms above her head and arched her back in a futile attempt to relieve some of the soreness, but also, having forgotten about her open buttons, unknowingly giving Rhett an eyeful. "As if you actually care what happened to me. I might believe that if I didn't know you and believed that you are a gentleman, but you're not, just as I am no lady, as you so love to point out. No Rhett, tell me the real reason you have appeared so suddenly on my doorstep."
Rhett cringed inwardly at how hollow her laugh had become and also at the fact that she was both right and wrong on her assumptions. She was wrong in thinking that he didn't care about her welfare. There were many a night when he had lain awake, surrounded by sleeping soldiers while he berated himself leaving her like he did. When he rebuked himself for not taking her all the way home to Tara and at least making sure that it was still standing, before leaving her to fend for herself amongst two armies. The shocked and betrayed look on her face when he told her that she was leaving her haunted him throughout his turn as a confederate soldier. If something had happened to her, he never would have forgiven himself. He couldn't recall a time that he had been more relieved than he had been just a few moments ago when he saw that Tara still standing and Scarlett was sitting on the porch. However, she was right in believing that his concern for her wasn't the only reason for his unexpected arrival.
"Well, my pet," he began lightly, "I see that I am utterly transparent to your keen observations, so I will tell you the real reason I am here. It seems that I actually find myself here after a harrowing, but very exciting escape from Atlanta."
"Escape from whom?" she asked with honest curiosity.
"Why, the very Yankees that you mistook me for earlier this evening."
"I don't understand, the War is over, why are the Yankees after you?"
"Well you see my dear Mrs. Hamilton," Rhett said leaning towards her conspiratorially, "for some reason, the Yankees are under the belief that I am somehow in possession of the Confederate gold."
"Are you?" Scarlett asked breathlessly, leaning in to meet him.
"Am I what?" Rhett asked back, also leaning in further so that they were only inches apart.
"Do you have the Confederate gold?"
"What a leading question Mrs. Hamilton," Rhett teased, as he sat back in his previous lounging position.
Scarlett blushed, but didn't back down. "Well it's an honest question Rhett and regardless, I still don't see how any this has anything to do with me or your presence here."
"Fair enough," Rhett laughed. "Let's just say that I have enough gold, regardless of who it once belonged to, to catch the Yankees' interest. Enough interest in fact, that they wanted to arrest me in hopes of getting their greedy Union hands on my vast wealth, which is what they had hopes of accomplishing today. I was planning on making my escape to Charleston, and then hop a ship to England and wait for this to blow over in Europe, but they somehow caught wind of that idea and were staking out the train station, waiting for me. So my only other alternative to jail, was to ride out of Atlanta, and since I find prison air oppressive, here I am. And I can't think of a more pleasant place, with more amiable company than here, that I would like to be harbored."
"Well, you are going to have to think of one Rhett, because you can't stay here. I will let you stay the night because it was such a long ride from Atlanta, but you are going to have to leave in the morning," Scarlett told him firmly.
"Aww, surely you still not that sore for what happened at Rough and Ready when we last parted," Rhett asked with practiced indifference, but also a bit disconcerted by her declaration.
"No Rhett, it's just that as the head of this household, I am responsible for the welfare of everyone residing here. And it is my duty as such to keep them from as much harm as possible. I will not give the Yankees any excuse to come through here and turn our lives upside down and rip apart everything that I have worked so hard to build. I wont let it happen, not again, not even for you Rhett."
Rhett couldn't help but take note of the fierce look of pride, power, determination, but also fear that shone through her emerald eyes, despite the dim light. He was curious about the way she phrased her words, but decided not to press her about them now, he knew he would find out in time.
"You don't have to worry Scarlett," Rhett assured her, without the slightest trace of his usual sarcasm. "As far as the Yankees are concerned, I have no connection to you and they have absolutely no reason to even think about looking for me here. I assure you that I wouldn't have come here if it was going to put you or your family in danger."
Scarlett didn't seem convinced, but she seemed to be softening. "You promise?" she asked after a moment.
"I promise," Rhett reassured her.
Scarlett considered this for another moment before finally making a decision. "Alright then, you may stay. However, as I am sure you have already assessed, we are not in any condition to entertain guests, so if you are going to stay here you are going to have to earn your keep," she said getting right down to business.
"Alright Scarlett," Rhett laughed. "I promise I will earn my room and board. You wont be sorry you let me stay."
"Well, we will see about that," Scarlett said doubtfully, with a single raised eyebrow, causing Rhett to laugh again. She stood and dusted off her skirt, "Come on now, dinner should be almost ready and I have to tell Dilcey to place another setting. And I'm sure Melly and Wade will be thrilled to see you."
Without waiting for a response she turned and walked into the house leaving Rhett no choice but to follow after her. Right before he stepped over the threshold he couldn't help but pause and wonder for a moment just what he was getting himself into.
A/N So what did you all think? Is it worth me continuing? If you tell me it is I will try to update as much as I can...the only thing is that I also have three Harry Potter fics going and I tend to write whatever I have inspiration for (If you like Harry Potter you might want to check those out while you wait) and I'm also in college in a really intense Architecture program so sometimes it gets in the way of my writing time...