Author's Note: Book centric- not movie centric. This starts out sad, not lying, and it stays sad for quiet a while, but there is hope. It's a little happier than my last two pieces. No I am not a depressed person, I am actually a very upbeat person, but Rhett and Scarlett were not happy people. Just read it and see what you think. And I also wanted to mention that in the book Rhett does not leave in the mist, he goes up stairs to bed, and you need to know this for it to make sense. I've gone through and tried to find any spare typos.
The Night Before Tomorrow
But tomorrow would not be soon enough. Putting it off until tomorrow was of no benefit to her. He was leaving in the morning, and already the dullness was being replaced by a searing pain. The shock had faded, leaving the blinding agony behind.
She had nothing. She had ruined all of it, everything. All because she had not understood, nor even really tried to understand who he was or why he had done everything he had for her.
She choked back a sob. She loved him. She really loved him, but his love had worn out. How did love wear out? Wasn't love supposed to be the one thing that would last forever? How unfair the world seemed, how dark and cold. She loved him and she would never even get to know what it felt like to be held by him and to be in love, to spend the night in his arms. It was just another thing added to the list of the difficulties that her life had been littered with. But she knew that she would survive.
But wait, there was still hope, a single spark of hope that glowed brightly, stunning her with its brilliance. It contrasted so with the darkness that surrounded it. Even if he didn't love her, even if she could never have the love that she had tossed aside so carelessly and impetuously, he was not yet gone from her. He was only up the stairs and down the hall. He was not yet beyond her reach.
She smoothed her skirts and slowly walked up the stairs. Surely he wouldn't turn her away, surely he wouldn't turn down this one simple request. She needed this, desperately needed someone to hold her, someone just to be there, even if just for one night.
She softly knocked on his door, a room she had only been in a scant number of times. The last time she had stood before this door had not been a happy time, not that their marriage had been abounding in happiness. There was no answer to her knock, so she timidly turned the handle and opened the door. He was sitting on the bed as if ready to rise; his eyes drooping and even more weary. "Did you need something, Scarlett?" He asked unemotionally.
She nodded, as a single tear made its descent from her watery eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but was unable to find her voice.
"Well, what is it? Surely we have nothing more left to say to each other." He was clad only in his nightclothes, a worn pair of loose fitting pants that he wore without a shirt. He looked worn out and empty, much older than she remembered.
"Rhett? I need to ask you a favor." she confessed.
"What do you need? I am exhausted, and I need to get some sleep." Even his voice was hollow.
Summoning all of her courage, she began, "Please, just for tonight, can you hold me in your arms? I know I was horrible, and I'm not asking for anything else. But please, please, just for tonight, I need to be held. I need someone to hold me. I'm terrified, and I'm lonely. And I just lost the only friend I've ever really had. And I've lost you too. But for tonight, can you let me pretend? Can I please sleep in here with you?" She faltered, not knowing how she could continue.
He stared at her for a moment, as if considering her proposition. "You're not hoping for marital intimacy, are you?"
She shook her head nervously, her eyes downcast.
"You understand that it's just for tonight?"
"Yes, Rhett. I understand. That's all I ask. Just tonight in your arms." She said as another tear slipped past her guard.
"All right, come on." He told her.
"But I need to get changed." She protested, motioning towards the door.
"I think I can still manage, even in my old age." There was a hint of his old self peeking through, as if it were one of the few relics of a former life that had been missed in the fire that had ravenously engulfed his soul, leaving only a hollow charred shell like the ones littering the country-side after Sherman's savage march.
He rose from the bed and undid the snaps and buttons and clasps and lacings, until Scarlett was standing in her chemise and nothing else. She shivered from the cool air that blew through the thin material covering her.
Rhett returned to his bed, and Scarlett climbed in after him. She nestled herself against him, laying her head on his chest. He wrapped one arm around her loosely. She closed her eyes and savored the moment, the smell of his skin and the weight of his arm around her, shielding her from the world. She sighed as the memories of the day assaulted her, the rushed trip from Marietta, the expression on Rhett's face at the train station, the frenzied drive to the Wilkes. More tears began seeping from her eyes as she remembered Melanie and the unselfishness of her love that had used her last breaths to try and save someone else.
Through her tears, she whispered softly to Rhett. "Thank you." Thinking that he wouldn't hear her.
"What for Scarlett?" He asked her, surprised by the gratefulness in her voice.
She gasped softly at his question, thinking that he was already asleep. "For this. For letting me cry, and holding me, even though you don't feel the same way. I don't know if I could have taken it alone. I don't know how I would have managed." She whispered softly, ashamed at her own weakness. "I'm sure that I've ruined the one thing that I had left. I couldn't even leave you with an illusion of my strength so that you could still respect me."
"Shhhh- Scarlett. It doesn't matter anymore. You are strong. You always manage somehow. Just close your eyes and let the sleep take you. Don't think about anything." He smoothed her hair away from her face as if soothing a child crying in the night, a similarity that he had no desire to ponder.
She sighed again and closed her eyes, listening to the sound of his heart beating, strong and steady as it lulled her to sleep. There was a certain peace and quiet and calm that stole over her features, revealing an innocence that could not be seen at any other time.
She remembered how safe his arms had always been. It was as if for the moment, they were transported back in time, to a time when there were no heart aches and sorrows, to a time when war was a distant talked about thing to come, when the gentle breeze had trickled through the the pale leaves of early spring. She was safe and warm and protected, and she had love and she knew what love was. There was no sorrow or loss, only the safety and security of home.
Tomorrow was waiting, and it would be there all too soon. And so she allowed the memory of the right now to consume her thoughts. She stored the feelings of contentment and safety, allowing it to fill her up so that she could have it to draw from in later days as she needed it.
And as she slept, he sat awake although his eyes begged him and his mind pleaded with him to sleep. He couldn't sleep now. There was a feeling, so faint, so impossibly dim, that if it hadn't have been for the numbness of his heart, he would never have noticed. But his heart was now such a dismal, barren hole that the dim light of this feeling glittered like a distant star, obvious in the vacant spaces that love had once filled. He breathed in the soft scent of her hair, cherishing the weight of her slack body pressing down on him.
Tomorrow was coming; there was no way to stop it. But with the faintest glimmer of hope he realized that maybe, just maybe, everything was not gone.