Hi readers! The following characters are owned by miss Margaret Mitchell…this is my disclaimer…I own only the parts that differ from the book. This is my first attempt at writing for fan fiction. This story begins after the book ends…enjoy and review and let me know what you think. I edited it myself so let me know of any grammatical errors…thanks!

Sobriety

Scarlett stood by the large Mahogany four poster bed. Eyes full of surprise as she surveyed his entry into her room. He was still as handsome as she remembered. The lapse in time since their last meeting had noticeably changed him though. He swayed slightly on his feet as he came to a stop in front of her. Dark tufts of hair lay disheveled on his tan forehead. His eyes were a bit puffy and he'd lost a minute amount of weight. In was out of character for him to show how inebriated he was. He'd returned to keep back gossip, she thought just like he'd promised. Moving towards him a smile played genuinely across her pale face. Her hopes of him returning to see her diminished with the tone of his words.

"Scarlett," he drawled carelessly. Biting her bottom lip she hovered on his next words wondering if she should once again lay her heart on the line. She had nothing to loose, for he already told her of his intentions before. His current state slightly intimidate her as she remembered his past actions last time he was drunk. Slight embarrassment caused her to look away. The passion they shared that night was never to be duplicated and she knew it. He'd called it a mistake. Building courage, she decided to lay one last attempt his way.

"Rhett, she smiled wiping all embarrassment off her face. "I've missed you."

His eyebrows furrowed purely questioning her admittance and he felt his heart squeezed with emotion as he struggled to keep his face smooth and void of happiness. Walking towards the settee, he lay his panama hat down upon the dressing table. After settling himself comfortably he casually withdrew a cheroot from his coat pocket, snipped the end off and lit it. Examining it he continued, " And why is that may I ask my pet?" His eyes shifting back towards her.

"Rhett you know how I feel for you. I've already told you that. Must you make me say it again?"

Enjoying her discomfort he played along with the façade, "Remind me as it seems I have sadly forgotten."

Anger rising, she pushed it aside. She wouldn't be baited into an argument. She knew that's what he wanted. It was an endless cycle she refused to repeat. While deciding on her answer, she casually strolled towards him and sat down demurely. Meeting his gaze she lifted her chin with resolution, laying a soft hand on his arm. Two could play this game.

"How have you been?" Her small talk annoyed him as she continued, " I hope you found what you were looking for. Obviously it was at the bottom of a bottle."

Choosing to ignore, he stared at her admiring from a distance the sight he'd dreamed about for months. She could turn any mans head and she knew it. It wasn't her beauty he despised, it was her lack for love for any person. It was the way she dragged his heart through the mud. She leaned on him for support and money. In the end, she didn't feel any grief for making him miserable. For years he sat there while she knowingly chased another man. He'd been such a fool to think her feeling of fondness towards him would ripen to anything other than that.

Scarlett stared at him, hating the way his black eyes bored into her, as though he were trying to read her very thoughts. The intenseness of his gaze deepened her discomfort. Slowly the look turned to disgust as he masked his feelings.

"My dear, you look as though you might need relief as well. Are you really belittling me for a habit I know we both share? How I choose to comfort myself is none of your concern." His eyes gleamed in pleasure as he watched her mouth open in shock at the double meaning, and then silently close.

She was used to him throwing back every response with a barb. But sometimes, even he could go too far.

She became quiet, studying the eggshell blue floral pattern on her new dress. She felt like he'd twisted the knife he'd already laid to rest in her heart. The sad reality was that it was her fault that he chose comfort elsewhere. It made her feel vulnerable. She knew that only her honesty would crack through his carefully planned masquerade.

"I know I've loved you for a long time but was blinded by stubbornness to admit it."

Growing frustrated he laughed. She sounded so desperate but so honest. It was unlike her to play fair.

"Love, are you capable of that? My dear, I've waited for you to say those exact words for years. And at one time I would have jumped for joy with even the hint of that knowledge. But after everything that's happened, after years of spending countless nights with three in our bed."

Moving her hand away she stood up, her mouth forming a thin line. "What are you talking about?" she fumed, forcing her mind to decipher his hidden meaning. For he always seemed to talk down to her on purpose.

"Surely you can recall your childish fascination with Mr. Wilkes. Does it escape your mind that I might have known who you wish was laying with you at night? I'm not daft. You've pined over him for years. Sadly you've wasted years of your life chasing something that would never have made you happy. And even more amusing is the fact that when you can finally have him, and the prize is within your stronghold it is of no value anymore. I blame the both of you really. You for whole heartedly throwing yourself at him in front of the old guard, and Ashley for leading you on and making sure you were always within reach. Your mother was truly a great and respected woman. But surely, she taught you when a man was merely toying with you." Pausing, he searched her face and found remorse shading her eyes, while her hands crossed across herself as if to shield her from his barbs. Swallowing hard he resumed. "To Ashley you meant his past. A matter of importance because before the war, your presence meant happiness. It was a pleasant time to which most was void of hardships. Being the dreamer he is, when things got too hard for him to face, which was frequently knowing his character, he'd use you. Thinking of you would be a release. You're a pleasant reminder of all that had been. Your spirit and exuberance of life is often refreshing to be around. You were just what he needed. A sort of vacation from reality. Of course he loved his wife that was obvious. I've always known Melanie knew his feelings for you and vise versa. She was much too grand a lady to ever accuse you of any wrong doings, which is sad. She'd never call you out for what you are. She loved you too much. I think it's quite tragic, the whole situation playing out right under her nose. You pretended to be her friend yet stole her very foundation." Putting out his cigar he casually laid his arm across the back of the settee, enjoying every moment of awkwardness that radiated fro her. "He got his strength from you. Drained your very soul. That in itself made you weak. You're a fool Scarlett and it's high time you admit it."

"Why does everything revert back to Ashley?" she pleaded.

"Well my darling isn't that the root of the problem? Isn't he the cause of this mess?"

She hated the way he mocked her as he stated the truth. Ashley's existence in her relationship was a devastating blow. One that she'd regret for the rest of her life.

Pausing she gathered her thoughts and studied the Persian rug on the floor. "I've already apologized to you for that. But I daresay that that was the root of the problem."

Rhett tilted his head in sure wonder of her theory.

"Come now," he began, "it's difficult to sleep knowing every intimate minute we've had you've fantasized it was him."

Surprise evident she retorted, "No, your wrong."

Standing up he ran his hand through his disheveled hair and faced her head on. "Am I? Then tell me this, that night you kicked me out of our room…who's idea was that? Was it your idea that my children were repulsive , or the elusive spineless Ashley? Did he make you feel guilty that Bonnie was not his?"

A blush rose to her face confirming his accusations as she turned towards the window to hide the truth. She didn't know what to say and the silence made it that much worse. Walking slowly towards her, she turned her head to glare at him. He could sense the pain in her eyes. His blunt words had clearly hit the mark harder than he intended. A single tear overflowed and she brushed it away. When she at last gathered her wits she spoke softly, trying to hide the pain her emotions conjured.

"When I agreed to marry you, you knew I didn't love you. Well, at least at the time I didn't think it was love. I've been so foolish Rhett. How could I not see what was so clearly in front of me?" Rhett wanted to take her in his arms and sooth her pain but he couldn't, his pride would not allow it. He continued in silence, allowing her to face it on her own. "During the war I couldn't wait for you to visit. You made the war seem almost bearable. Yes, at first it was the things you'd bring which I'd look forward to. Who wouldn't want to be the envy of every girl during such hard times? Later I realized I enjoyed having someone who I could be myself around. It took all the energy I had to pretend to be someone I wasn't just to fit into society's creed." Placing a hand on her should her he turned her towards him.

"I don't love Ashley," she implored. "I don't want to loose you."

She was playing with his emotions and he couldn't take it she was too close. Stepping back he added, "I'm too old for games Scarlett, I just want peace."

Confusion playing on her brow, "Please I'm sure we can start over. We were happy once remember?"

"Yes, I was happy, I loved you and you….you loved the security my money gave you. You loved that you had at least one person who you could share your pig headed ideas with. What do you think I owe you? My emotional bank account in overdrawn. I'm sure Ashley has a shoulder for you to cry on."

"Ashley and I are not the only weak links in our marriage. That's where you are wrong Rhett. Anytime things got too hard to face, you would run. I've always imagined you as strong. Whenever we'd had a disagreement…even after Ashley's party , after we….after we….you took Bonnie and went to London."

"What did you expect Scarlett, for me to turn around and pick up the pieces of a relationship that never existed? I have and always will be your friend. I don't think it ever graduated beyond that. Sadly Ashley made sure of it."

"Rhett, after I asked for separate rooms, I ….well I regretted it. I just didn't feel like I could take it back. Your reaction that day was very daunting."

Shaking his head he responded dryly, "How did you expect me to respond? Did you think I'd be understanding and accept your decision wholeheartedly? Your reasoning for your decision was obvious. You had that far off look on your face when I walked in. You only get that way on days when you've just returned from the honorable Wilkes' presence. I was mistaken to hope that what we had was real. It was just a facade, an illusion to be more clear."

Scarlett's hand rested at the bridge of her nose in frustration. Muscles tightening she squared her jaw. "Your such a hypocrite, you make it seem as though you played no role in this at all Rhett. Must I remind you that physically I have always been faithful to you, but you….you can't deny the double standard you've set. Here you are mocking me and blaming me, but yet where were you Rhett? God's nightgown, you made Belle your bedfellow. I would sit at night and wait for you to come home. It makes me sick that somehow you think your actions are justified."

Guilt set in as the truth of her words rose to the surface. He'd hurt her when he hadn't thought he could. Somehow during their life together, that think skin of hers had thinned, letting in real emotions. Smiling he threw it back at her. "When you banned me from your room, did you not that think that I might find comfort elsewhere? You my dear, are quite easy to replace."

Shocked at how devoid his voice was of emotion she felt her throat tighten. Standing up she walked as far from him as she could. Hoping that his cruel words couldn't reach that far. She was just a body. One for which he used when he needed. He'd proved that with his last comment. Tears pricked her eyes as she pressed her lips together trying to compose her emotions. It would do her no good now to cry. He'd mock her saying she was on the verge of a crying jag. She'd worn her heart on her sleeve the whole time hoping against hope her last ditch efforts were not in vain. Fumbling in his coat pocket he pulled out a folded stack of papers.

Eyes intent on his action she swallowed and whispered, "I don't doubt that Rhett. When we got married you made a vow of loyalty to me."

" And I kept it until you threw me out of our room. What are you getting at?", he laughed sarcastically.

"Regardless of my loyalty to you, you still would have visited Belle. She's a paid lady Rhett!"

He could control his anger no more. Belle was his friend. Though love was not an emotion he felt towards her, he felt it his duty to stand up for her. She had never turned him away when he needed her, never tried to hurt him. Gripping the papers in hand he weighed his options. Could he go through with it? Hundreds of times he had relayed this very moment in his head. He had imagined her reaction and concluded it was the only way for his freedom. Looking at her he saw her waiver. Beads of sweat formed on worried features as she waited for his next move, almost as if she knew what was about to play out. With eyes closed he shoved the papers toward her, knowing if he didn't now, he never would.

Hesitantly she advanced feeling as though she was meeting the gallows.

"Just sign them Scarlett," he drawled, "for once stop being selfish and think about all involved. Which means in plain terms my dear me."

He watched her emotions shift as she struggled to comprehend the reality of his words. With shaking hands she took a deep breath and took the papers. Knowing full well the direction of her fate was taking her. Utter shock left her for once in her life speechless. She chose her words carefully, grasping at anything to prove that his was a bad dream. When she spoke her voice came out as a forced effort, a raspy whisper gradually growing in strength.

"Rhett, you must be joking," walking towards him her eyes skimmed it's contents. Pausing at the large amount disclosed. "Half a million dollar? You'd pay me half a million dollars?" Her eyes met his. A soft glow was very evident. This was exactly the way he hoped she wouldn't react. Though he shouldn't be so surprised. He had been waiting for the "changed" Scarlett to appear. The heart broken one who loved him more than his money. His dark eyes narrowed in disappointment. She would never change, it would always be about he money. Her sadness had always been a weakness for him. He felt as though he had to shelter her from harm. Not this time, he wouldn't be a victim once again. Once reeled in by her charms, she'd discard him as she'd done before.

"It's tempting isn't it my pet, admit it. Your eyes have certainly divulged all the right information. They hold a wonderful loving glow whenever money in involved."

"You don't understand do you Rhett," she snapped. "You never will. I've told you that it's you I love. I'd prove it if you'll let me, the money means nothing."

Amused with her scrambling efforts he knew how selfish she could be. They'd been married too long for him to not know the inner workings of her mind.

"That's where your wrong my dear. I noticed the way your eyes lit up when you read the amount. Don't play coy, it doesn't suit you."

With frustration she threw the tainted document towards him, scattering them consequentially.

"You're crazy if you think I'll sign them. Imagine what everyone will think when they've found out. Neither of us will be received."

Annoyed with her excuses, he responded, "Grow up Scarlett. That never stopped you from doing anything before. As I seem to remember you reputation has been disputed among many mouths for a long time. I grow tired of your childish games. All you care about is yourself. You don't give a damn what anyone thinks. Your cornered, admit it. Just think you could have my money and your precious Ashley.

As inebriated as he was he was still quick to barb every reply. Complete control was one characteristic she'd always admired from him. One didn't have to guess just how practiced his drinking had become. It was no use she thought to her self. All of a sudden the room seemed too stuffy, she needed fresh air. Pulling up the hem of her skirt she hastily headed for the closest escape route. That entitled passing by Rhett's ominous figure. Before she got completely to the door she heard heavy footsteps and felt his rough hands grasp her arm, it's force pulling her back to face him.

He was so close and she could smell the Brandy on his warm breath. Familiar masculine smells of leather made her instantly yearn for things to be right between them. His grip tightened on her arm as the other came up to form a cage.

Looking down he meant to intimidate, but didn't calculate the affect her closeness would have on him as well. Her surprise turned to fear as he began shaking her.

"Look at me Scarlett!"

"Stop you're hurting me," she cried, trying to free herself from his tightening grasp. She'd only seen him like this a handful of times. Once, After Ashley's party and also when Bonnie died. She feared this new stranger.

"Good I want you to hurt like you hurt me. You'll never know to what extent you've pained me. It sickens me that you don't even care. You'd rather stay miserable in a farce of a relationship, living on hopes than face reality. Neither one of us is happy. Please, humor me, what exactly do you wish to gain by denying me the divorce?"

She stopped struggling, knowing how futile her effort had become. Welled up tears betrayed her, silently cascading down angry red cheeks. She looked so vulnerable yet beautiful. Dark raven hair had tumbled out of loose pins, and now billowed at her heaving shoulders. How he wanted to pull her closer, run his fingers through her silken hair.

Her lip quivered and when she finally found her voice, it came out matter of factly. "You Rhett."

Her sincerity surprised him. Every second he was close to her he felt himself being reeled in by her charm and beauty.

"You." Her admittal left him momentarily unguarded. A thorough search of her eyes confirmed her answer. It was the truth. Something so unusual from her. Pulling her closer his hands left her arms and circled her face bringing their lips to meet. He felt the tension in her body relax as her hands made their way around his waist. The kiss intensified with every second. And as quickly as it started it ended. He pushed her away, eager to take control of his surfacing emotions. Shock evident on her face she stumbled backwards and from his angry grasp, and tripped on her dress, landing unsuccessfully against the mahogany bed post. A loud crack could be heard as her head slammed against the wood, knocking her to the ground.

His heart stopped momentarily as her cries sent a bitter reminder of the last time she'd made that exact sound. For a moment a flashback played in his mind of her falling head over heels down the staircase.

He froze too shocked by the event to help her.

Pulling herself into a sitting position, she felt Rhett's presence next to her. Wincing as she found the point of impact, she heard him call for help.

Ashamed feelings surged through him as he watched her. "What have I done?" he murmured. Scanning the room he found the wash basin and poured water on a hand towel. His movements being swift and meaningful. Kneeling down, he placed a cool cloth behind her head, she looked up with disbelief and recoiled at his touch.

"Don't, I think you've done enough," she cried.

"At least let me help you. You don't think I meant for this to happen do you?" his eyes pleaded with her hoping to find understanding.

Pushing him away she fought to stand up only to find Rhett's strong arms steadying her. Once he'd helped her sit on the bed he sat next to her. What was he thinking? He hadn't been. He'd let his passion override his better judgment. She sat in front of him emotionally worn and injured. He wanted to hurt and surely he had. Though this was unintentional.

Pulling every ounce of strength she had left, she stood up, despite Rhett's concerned efforts. Gathering the papers she walked quietly to the desk. After pulling out a quill and ink she looked at Rhett as if weighing her options. He had been such a huge part of her life. She'd learned to rely on him, love him. She couldn't give up this easily. Her mind surveyed their present condition. He was right neither one was happy. They'd both hurt each other intentionally. As much as she wanted his love she knew it was useless. After what just happened she knew any efforts on her part would end with a consequence. Once he felt something he'd leave, as to convince himself he had no feelings for her.

"Scarlett, come sit down. I fear that you may injure yourself further." When she didn't he joined her at the desk, laying a soft hand on her arm. Turning her slowly he took the cloth from her hand, surveying the damage. A large angry lump was forming. "What's taking mammy so long. Dr. Meade really should take a look at this." he snapped.

Turning her head towards him she backed away, tail tucked between her legs.

"I'm sorry Scarlett," he whispered. "My actions were uncalled for and I wish I could take it back."

Rhett had never apologized to her before. Maybe he was just telling her this to make himself feel less guilty. It was strange to see him lay his cards out voluntarily. Meeting his eyes, she held his gaze, knowing this would be the last time she would see him. Moving her hurt gaze back towards the papers she picked up a pen, intensions obvious. Hesitating briefly she squared her shoulders and raised her head. Reaching down she deliberately signed her name as neatly as she could, and handed them back to him. Holding back tears, she stared out of the window. Regret evident as the finality of her action began to process.

Rhett wondered why she'd done it. He had prepared himself for a battle. Had she signed them out of anger? Did it really mater why she had? Wasn't that the final outcome he had anticipated? Why then did he feel so terrible? He knew he had been lying to himself. He cared and yearned for her but knew she was his undoing. He didn't like the way her very presence controlled his body. No one had ever affected him as much. He knew he'd been cruel, but was he justified in his choice of ending their marriage? A part of him felt he was bullying her, forcing her to make a choice. He wanted to believe that she would be signing due to the large settlement. His actions earlier had been the last straw. He was drunk and she knew it. Staring at his wife he felt sorry for her. She'd had a hard life. His thoughts wandered to different moments when he had admired her strength. From her love admission to Ashley to providing for her family during the war. She'd married out of convenience to save her family. He'd never known anyone with as much courage, save Sherman himself. She'd always arrived at the party too late it seemed, for loves fate seemed to always skip over her. A dull light of hope seemed to slowly fade from her emerald eyes, leaving a tired aged look upon her petite features. She'd surrendered and it took out the radiating vibrance she always carried with her.

With words barely audible she concluded, "The only way I can prove I love you is to let you go."

"Thank you Scarlett," he at last stated, faltering as the words came out.

Without a word she turned toward the door and left, leaving her pride at the door.