DISCLAIMER: All of the characters of "Gone With The Wind" belong to Margaret Mitchell. This story depicts romantic feelings and some physical contact between to adult women. I am not a native English speaker, so I apologize in advance if my grammar is not perfect. Other than that, enjoy!

A DRINK AND A SECRET, by Artemis Misteriosa

Scarlett looked around the room, which had recently became empty. It had been a fun evening, with neighbors calling and the nicest meal that could be dreamed of during war time. Of course, the chicken was not really a chicken, but the oldest, very last one of Aunt Pitty's roosters. And of course, the tea that they had all enjoyed and praised like nothing less than liquid gold, was really a watered-down, tobacco flavored drink that Carey Ashburn had found in the pouch of a Yankee he captured.

It had been uncomfortable when Rhett showed up at the door, for none of the other guests would ever give him the time of the day had they encountered him outside. But this was Pittypat's House, and if she received him, they would have to be polite to him. They all wondered why she received him at all, but…what else could she do? He always brought her presents, thought Scarlett, halfway between amused and jealous that Rhett felt the need to bring gifts to that old maid.

- A box of bonbons, candy, a new fan, and she cannot resist him- said Scarlett to herself, failing to notice that she was the exact same way.- Oh well, I guess we should be grateful that the words between Rhett and Doctor Meade were not stronger ones…and grateful that they didn't end up having a fight right in the middle of the dining room. Ooh! I think I am still a little light headed!

One of the best treats of the night had been when Rhett produced a bottle of gin. It came out of his coat pocket as if out of nowhere, and it was celebrated cheerfully by the gentlemen, whom did not want any relations with Rhett Butler, but had no problems with drinking his liquor. After all, these were difficult times and they all needed to sacrifice a little bit of their pride, right?

Of course, the ladies would not be joining in the drinking after dinner. However, Rhett had thought it would be a delicious joke to slip just a little bit of gin in each and everyone of the ladies' tea cups, and see them get happy and dizzy. It had been quite entertaining, really. Pitty had fainted, then excused herself as Uncle Peter helped her upstairs. That had marked the end of the evening, and now everybody was gone. Melanie was somewhere in the house, feeling embarrassed about having drunk, but also feeling the liquor so strongly that she had had to sit down.

Right before he left, Rhett winked at Scarlett and pointed at a shelf, behind a tower of books.

- The bottle of gin, the cause of all of tonight's troubles, has been casually forgotten on that shelf. I thought you should know, my dear Mrs. Hamilton.

Scarlett took a quick look and answered:

- Why in the world would I care?

- Oh, I don't know. My excuses- his white teeth flashed underneath his small moustache.- Just in case you were feeling a little lonely, or bored…consider it a parting gift…or a thank you for the lovely evening.

And he was gone. Scarlett walked across the house, wondering if everybody had gone to bed already. For some reason, after all the laughter and fun, she did not want to go to sleep yet. It had been almost as it was before the war, before she was married and widowed and became a mother, before she spent all of her days working at the Hospital with those poor wounded, dying, dirty, hopeless men…

- Melly?- she called, wondering where she was.

- In here- said a small voice. Scarlett walked into the living room and found Melanie sitting on the sofa, a phenomenal piece of furniture that had indeed known better times. Melanie looked so tiny in the half dark, just surrounded by some candles.

- What are you doing in here? Why aren't you in bed?

- Oh, Scarlett, I'm sorry…I just had such a nice time tonight, that I felt I was too awake to lie down quite yet. But…- she looked down, embarrassed- you don't think I made a fool of myself before, do you? After I drank that tea?

- Don't be silly. That was just one of Rhett's jokes. You barely had anything to drink at all- replied Scarlett, annoyed that Melanie was making such a big deal out of a shot of gin.

- Well, I…- said Melly, and she shut up. Then Scarlett looked at her hands, and noticed something she was trying to hide in them.

- What the…?- She reach onto Melanie's hand.- Why, Melly! Is that the gin bottle that Rhett left behind the shelf?

Melanie trickled with laughter, like a child busted during a naughty escapade. Scarlett could not believe her eyes: so that stupid Melanie had found the liquor and was sitting here in the dark, drinking all by herself? Who would have thought…! She was not the type of woman you would ever expect to do that. She was not the type, yet somehow, she managed to surprise Scarlett a lot of the time.

- Oh you shameless thing! Give me that!

- Scarlett, you won't tell anyone, will you? I would die if you told the ladies that I was…drinking!

- I don't know- Scarlett took the bottle and the small crystal glass that Melanie had. Catching a whiff of the delicious smelling liquid, it seemed like no one would care if she had some of it herself. She poured it on the glass and drank it in one quick motion.

- Scarlett! So you wanted some more tea, too?- said Melly, smiling happy that Scarlett seemed to be joining her in her mischief, instead of disapproving of her.

- Just hush!- replied Scarlett, as she poured herself another glass.- You wouldn't even know what to do with this anyway.

- And you would?

- I have seen my Irish father drink for years- said Scarlett, while grinding her teeth after having swallowed a second shot.- I can handle a few drinks. But I am a lady, and nobody needs to know that I can drink. But you…- she looked at Melly with a mix of disdain and pity- you would be on the floor if I let you have even one more sip of this. Come on, up to bed.

- Now, that is not fair!- protested Melanie, reaching for the bottle again. - I am absolutely fine, I am not dizzy at all, and I think I should be able to have a little more.

- Don't be stupid!

- I am not! Just, please, Scarlett, let me have some more.

- Oh, fine, fine, do as you wish- Scarlett watched as Melanie had another glass of gin. And almost without interruption, another. And then, after a breath or two, a third one. Scarlett's mouth was starting to drop, between surprised and impressed, even admiring a little, seeing that tiny mousy woman down all of that alcohol without blinking.

-By God, your throat must be burning now!

- A little!- screamed Melly, and she burst onto laughter. Scarlett couldn't help herself, and she started to laugh too. The room was spinning slowly around them, and they were both definitely feeling the effects of the alcohol now. But it was nice, and warm, and fun. Melanie, with her normally pale cheeks now rosy and glowing, her eyes sparkling from all the laughter, scooched closer to Scarlett and put her head on her shoulder.

- You are such a beautiful soul- she said.- It is such a blessing to have you in the house.

Scarlett didn't say anything, but she pouted. She never liked it when Melanie praised her. Melanie thought very highly of her, and Scarlett had never loved her, never really respected her, never considered her to be more than the annoyance that stood between her, Scarlett, and Ashley.

- You are so good to me, indulging me in this guilty pleasure instead of telling Uncle Peter on me.

- Well, I am not going to tell on you. Especially when he would get angry at me too.

Melanie laughed again, still looking at Scarlett. She was excited like a little girl.

- Oh, this has been so much fun! Scarlett, you are so fun and…and so smart. And brave. I think you are magnificent- she grabbed onto Scarlett's arm with both her hands, and hugged it tight.- I don't know what I would ever do without you. I love you so.

Scarlett rolled her eyes. Here we go again, she thought. She's going to thank me for being here with her and Pittypat, like she does everyday. Oh, if only she knew that I don't do it for her. That it's all for Ashley!

- Scarlett, do you love me? You are almost my only family, now that Charles is gone and Ashley has been captured! Scarlett, say, do you love me?

- Oh, what is with you? Why can't you just hush?- snapped Scarlett, looking at her for the first time. Melanie's face transformed, from happy excitement to deep pain, and she looked down. After a couple of seconds, Scarlett saw tears rolling silently down her eyes.

And here we go with the tears. Now she's crying. For God's Sake!

- What are you crying about now?

- Oh Scarlett! I am just so sorry. I am so stupid, and clumsy, and I have annoyed you with my words. I…I am sorry.

She was not crying hysterically, but she seemed upset, and out of polite manners, Scarlett mumbled:

- It is alright.

- What?

- It is fine! Now just stop crying!- she patted Melanie's hand, that was resting on her lap. Melanie jumped at the touch and threw herself into Scarlett's arms, hugging her neck and still sobbing a little bit.

- I am sorry…I just don't know what I would ever do if you left me…- she cried into Scarlett's neck. Scarlett was annoyed at her words, but the feel of Melly's breath and her lips against her neck was making her warm and a little tingly. It had been so long since she had been touched! Why, no gentleman caller had had a chance to court her in such a long time, let alone put his lips to her neck!

- I am not going to leave- she said, so Melanie would calm down.

- Please, don't! Ever!- Melanie buried her face on Scarlett's neck, covering it with kisses while hugging her even more tightly.

- Okay, okay- Scarlett squirmed to make it stop, because the idea popped into her head that neither one of them was behaving like a lady.- Now, we should get you to bed.

Within minutes they were climbing up the stairs. It was not an easy task, since their steps were heavy and tentative because of the liquor. Scarlett had brought the bottle with them, because leaving it downstairs would mean that it would be discovered the next day and they would be reprimanded.

Holding each other by the waist, they slowly made their way upstairs. The house was ghostly quiet, everybody else was sleeping, and each step they took made the wooden old floor creak in a way that sounded like an animal in pain.

- We must be quiet, we must not wake them up- whispered Scarlett, while the still playful Melanie couldn't stop giggling at her own inability to walk straight. What a dumb little girl, thought Scarlett, looking at Melanie. Scarlett's mind was a blur. She hated Melanie as much as she had always hated her, but there had been a confusing moment while they were downstairs, in which the contact of Melanie's lips against her skin, her tight embrace, her hasty words demanding that Scarlett told her that she loved her…why, for one second she had forgotten who Melanie was, and it had all felt frankly exciting and intriguing! But now, she must remember who they both are, and stop the nonsense. How in the world could she, Scarlett, have enjoyed the touch of Melanie? That was absurd.

- Oh, dear…I miss Ashley! I miss him so much!- said Melanie, suddenly not smiling anymore.

- Me too- said Scarlett, too fast before she could stop herself. She froze in horror for a split second, but Melanie did not seem to have understood her words in the way she meant them. Thank God.

- I know you do, honey…- she clang onto Scarlett's arm, as they ascended one more step.- But you are so strong, and independent, and you do not need anybody to protect you. I wish I was like you.

One more step. Melanie's voice got lower as she whispered in the dark:

-Sometimes, as I lay down in my bed at night…I can't sleep and I just wish that you would come into my room and held me.

- Oh, what are you talking about.

- I am telling you the truth…sometimes I lay for hours, and I think of how smart and strong you are…and how beautiful…you have such great qualities, such strengths that I have only seen in men before.

- How dare you?- Scarlett turned, a little insulted.- Are you saying that there is anything less than ladylike in me?

- Oh, Scarlett, it is not my intention to offend you! Please forgive me, dear. I am just saying that…I…I don't know what I'm saying. Sometimes I forget who I am. Sometimes I wish you would just…just take me in your arms like a man would, and…- Melanie's hands found Scarlett's waist, and she threw her cheek on Scarlett's chest. Scarlett was paralyzed, only now beginning to understand what Melanie was really saying.

- What is this? What are you saying?

- I don't know!- Melanie lifted her head up and looked her in the eyes. There was a faint ray of moonlight coming through the stairway's window, and Scarlett could see her face. It was not the Melly that she knew. It was not the calm, collected, dull girl that she had lived with for the last two years or so. There was some strange drive, some strange anxiety in her eyes, now sparkling, in her trembling lips, that made Scarlett feel something stirring up inside her. The way Melanie was looking up to her and clinging to her, up to this moment had been nothing but annoying. But right now, she felt strangely flattered, like a powerful lion who was being adored by a smaller animal that needed protection.

- Oh, Scarlett! Kiss me!- cried Melanie.

- How…? Why in the…?

- Kiss me like you would've kissed Charles! Kiss me like Ashley would kiss me!- in her desperation, Melanie was raising her voice to a very dangerous volume. Completely caught up in the moment, and without really thinking of what she was doing, Scarlett threw her lips onto Melanie's. It was not soft. It was strong and quick motioned, and when Melanie's hands tightened behind Scarlett's neck, Scarlett found herself taking control, she felt her own hand going to the back of Melly's head and bringing her closer. The exact thing that many men had done to her when kissing her.

When they finally separated, both gasping for air, Scarlett recognized herself in Melanie's eyes. So that's what I must have looked like when I was kissed, she thought. When somebody just took me in their arms, and kissed me.

With her eyes still glazed, Melanie just stood there shaking. Scarlett was surprised at the passion fit that had just come from that little woman. Who knew she had been hiding that? What else had she been hiding from her? Scarlett wondered.

They did not speak for a minute or two. They were both collecting their breaths, and neither could hold the other one's eye. The notion of what they had just done started to down on Scarlett, a feeling of shame and panic mixed with excitement and defiance.

She was about to say something when she looked at Melly. Her eyes down, she was too embarrassed to look up, yet she was doing something even more inconceivable that asking to be kissed. Her small white fingers were working on her own clothes, as she seemed to be unbuttoning her gown. Scarlett eyes grew big with alarm when she saw that.

- But Melly, what are you doing?

- I don't know what I am doing- replied Melly, still looking down, but without stopping. She reached the final button and her shirt was open, but still covering her. Scarlett was fixated on her movements, but she did not know why.

- Why are you doing this?

- I…I just want you to see me…I don't know why- answered Melanie, and she softly pulled the open shirt to the sides, exposing herself to Scarlett, but still not brave enough to look her in the face.- I want to expose myself to you. I want to give myself to you. I want you to…to look at me.

Scarlett did look at her. The white skin, the small round breasts, Melanie's untidy hair falling on her shoulders. It all felt oddly compelling. Scarlett had seen a nude woman before, she had seen her sisters, and she had looked at herself in the mirror, and she had never given it a second thought. But there was something different about this. Nobody had ever exposed their nudity to her in this way. Melanie was offering herself to Scarlett, like she would offer a present. There was a strange sense of power about that, Scarlett thought. She was at the receiving ending of the deal. Melanie was offering, and Scarlett could choose to accept or to decline. But Melanie wanted her to accept, and Scarlett knew that, and that was exciting. There was something expected of her, she was not sure what, but she knew she could deliver.

- Touch me…- whispered Melanie.- Please, touch me…- she took Scarlett's fingers and brought them to her bosom. Her skin was soft like a child's. When she felt Scarlett's hand on her breast, she sighed in a way that Scarlett had never heard before. It was scary, and confusing, and fascinating. Wanting to hear it again, Scarlett let her instinct take over and her hands run free on Melanie's exposed body. She was rewarded with sighs that grew louder and faster.

- Oh, Scarlett! Oh, Scarlett!- Melanie just kept repeating the two words, like there was nothing else in the world that she could say.- Oh, kiss me again!

Scarlett did not let Melly reach her lips again, instead she held her apart, with one hand still in her breast and the other in her neck. Finding an even stronger feeling of power in doing this, she tightened her own small hand around Melly's fragile neck. Melly looked at her, still out of her mind with excitement, and Scarlett felt like she owned this woman. She could choke her, she thought. She could just strangle her right now. Melly was weak and she would never defend herself, and Scarlett could be rid of her forever. At the same time that she was thinking this, Scarlett was also realizing the extent of Melanie's true devotion for her, how she trusted her with her heart, how she was truly hers. Scarlett's hand was pressing hard around her neck, and still Melanie did not fight, she did not try to loosen it up, she just let Scarlett do.

All of a sudden, as if hit by lightning, Scarlett dropped the strangling hold she had around Melanie's neck, and just embraced her as they melted onto a very long, very intense kiss, Melanie's exposed chest pressed against Scarlett's dress, her hands on her neck, or pulling her hair, not knowing where to go.

Somehow, Scarlett broke down into tears, she found herself sobbing, and Melanie stood there, holding her firmly in her arms, as firmly as she could in her small stature and fragile frame. Scarlett did not know why she was crying, or why any of the last hour's events had happened, nor why did it feel so comforting to be held in Melanie's arms, her hair stroked by Melly's soft fingers. There was no answer to these questions right now, thought Scarlett. Well, in that case, there was no point in wasting time thinking about it now.

- Come- said Melanie, taking her hand and entwining her fingers with hers. She started ascending the two or three remaining steps to her own room.

- Come where?- asked Scarlett.

- With me- replied Melanie.

Without another word, they both reached the room and Melanie opened the door. Scarlett entered first, not looking back. Melanie followed her in and closed the door behind her.

THE END