Five Endings for Scarlett Hamilton Kennedy Butler O'Hara
So he leaves.
She cares, and he knows she cares, and he's damn cruel for it. Well, see if she cares.
So she can't bring herself to go out, and there's no company for her, even if she could. And the night's cold and lonely, and it's a big house but not a home. She's Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler, and by God, the war didn't lick her, the Yankees didn't lick her, poverty didn't lick her – nothing did, and neither will that fool husband of hers.
So she's drinking. Well, it's no longer anyone's concern but hers what she drinks, and when, and why. She can pay for her own brandy, and, in fact, she will. And that Rhett Butler can't do anything about it. And it's really not so much, she's not really drunk, and she's not licked. No.
So she's upstairs and alone. So it's quiet and she's dizzy with the emptiness.
So she goes looking for something to hold on to, and instead finds his revolver.
So it's a coward's way out, but it's a way out, all the same.
(And let it be said she left him.)
So she pulls the trigger.
So she gave a damn, after all, Rhett thinks when he hears, weeks later.
It takes a succession of five hard blows to bring Scarlett to her knees.
First is the miscarriage. Second is Bonnie's death. Third is Melanie's. Fourth is Rhett's departure. Fifth is marriage to Ashley.
She knows she should have never said yes, but Scarlett's never really done what's good for her and this is probably as bad as it gets. Ashley himself doesn't break her – he couldn't have, not if he tried – but waking up and realizing how bitter victory is, how worthless and low this result is does.
She's lost. She's been licked. And she's done it to herself, too.
Let Rhett Butler laugh, she thinks, but as the years go by, she's less herself than someone else. Scarlett hides, biding a time that will never come, surviving, but always she is chained behind the quiet Mrs. Wilkes.
She does one thing, though: she makes sure Beau grows up to be nothing like his father, so no poor girl will suffer the same fate she did. And if Beau has a rakish tilt to his hat, a devil-may-care gleam in his eyes, and a reputation that's none too white, well, all the better. He's an honest boy.
Rhett Butler's boy.
Scarlett Hamilton Kennedy Butler O'Hara does whatever she has to, just to get through the first night alone. She's not proud of the tears or the brandy or the frantic pleadings to Mammy to hide the revolver, but she pulls through.
Work isn't a life, but it is a good substitute in the years to come. She is a fine businesswoman, just as she always had been. She makes money, hand over fist, and is still the most successful in Atlanta.
She makes good on one of her three promises to Melly – she sends Beau to a fine school, a fine college, on a fine Grand Tour, and finds him a fine young lady to settle on. Beau has no more head for business than his father (Rest his soul, Ashley didn't last long after his wife), but she gives him a job, just the same.
And the years pass, and she grows old and proud and independent. No matron, she, and too hurt to take another man. She weeps for days and days when she hears of Rhett's passing, and cannot even bring herself to say goodbye a second time.
Sometime later she meets a Mrs. Stanton, and while the woman definitely disapproves of Scarlett's drinking habits, the two can agree about women's rights. Scarlett finds a cause, old and tired as she is.
It is a long life, and a lonely one, and, a long time after women win their suffrage and another great war is fought, she's not sure what's waiting for her when she dies of old age.
Perhaps it is Rhett, her gone-but-not-forgotten rascal, waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs.
Scarlett's been queen of many places, but she's never been outside the South.
So she travels. Why settle for being a pariah in Atlanta when she can rule another city? She goes west to wild California, learns to ride astride and to really shoot straight. Her language coarsens and so do her hands; the men drink hard, laugh harder, and remind her of Rhett. When she gets tired, she leaves.
She passes the North – she's got better things to do than confound Yankees, as much as it pains her to pass up such an opportunity. London's next, and high society is both mortified and fascinated by the hard-drinking, coarse, forthright, and beautiful divorcee. She gets a bit of her old hypocrisy back, but learns when to lie, though she still has the annoying habit of not doing so when she ought to, or doing so when she ought not to.
She waves goodbye to the land of fog, and sets out across the Continent – gay, immoral Paris greets her with a cheer and fine brandy; sunny Rome and its serpentine politics; Catalonia with its bright petticoats and lively music; old Athens with its mystery and ruins.
She must be near fifty when she sets off through the Pillars of Hercules, never to return. The steamer goes round the Cape of Good Hope, up past Madagascar, where they stop for repairs and the Captain tells stories about Henry Avery, the Pirate King. He's gruff and honest, too, and not above nasty remarks.
Scarlett comes to India, next, and has her fill of the game (she can still pip the ace at 500 yards, thanks to those years in the west) and being a memsahib. Luck finds her back on the same ship, with the same Captain, and bound through the great South Pacific.
She's getting old, she figures, and he's a good man who understands her wanderlust. Maybe she's not the settling type, but she's never in port more than a few days, after all, and he tells her she's always free to leave.
But Scarlett doesn't, and the sea goes on forever.
So he leaves.
Scarlett makes it through the night, and the next, and the next. She's strong; she survives, even if the wound never really heals. It doesn't have to for her to go on – she's seen many an old campaigner with painful stumps or ugly scars who do just fine by.
She sees other men, and it's nice, for a while, because she doesn't expect much and can't be disappointed. She's complacent, with her cozy not-quite Tara and her ugly townhouse and booming business.
It's when she's North, in Philadelphia, banking, that she realizes she wants a challenge. And she's on the train, first class, when she bumps into Rhett again.
Mr. Butler, she nods.
Mrs. O'Hara, he replies.
The silence is deeply awkward, and they could go their separate ways again, but they don't. Their first argument hurts like – like something awful, but it had to be done – to tear away the bandage, so to speak, and to flush the rot out. Because that wound is a testament: she never quite forgot Rhett Butler, and he never forgot her.
For better or for worse, the wedding vows are.
Well, now they are older and perhaps wiser (if they can manage it), it will be for better. The wound will heal properly, and she'll have daughters, and even if it's not perfect, she'll never be able to quit him.
It's a challenge she wants, and a challenge she gets. But she's never been happier to try.
A/N: First GWTW fic, movieverse, not mine, only borrowing, etc.